Saturday, February 4, 2017

We are home

We have been home for a week now and are missing the experiences we have had in the Dominican Republic, the people we have come to love, know serve, and serve with and the relaxed culture.  We laughed, prayed, cried, played, with some amazing people.  Our team of 52 represented 7 states and 3 countries yet we gelled right from the start and worked together like a team who works together on a daily basis, it was  God thing.  We ran out of medications but God always provided what we needed when we needed it.    Our team verse is 1 John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us."  We shared our love and compassion openly with our team and those we met which created smiles, tears, laughter, meals, jokes, opportunities and hugs.  We each left a part of us in San Juan De La Maguana and the experiences we had there has given us SO much more in its place.

On Monday we did our first clinic which we worked to work out kinks and learn a bit more Spanish as we learned our roles.  During our lunch break we were asked to pray over a young woman on our team who is facing a hard time.  No one asked for details or why, we all responded by praying over this young woman, vocally and silently, for God to give her strength and courage as she faces what is laid ahead for her.

On Tuesday we saw a lot of sick people at the barrio clinic and that evening we met a family of three who one of our doctor's had the tough task of letting the parent's know that their 13 year old boy had maybe a year to live.  He has a neurological disease that is degenerative and lethal, he had to drop out of school a year ago.  Their faces are etched in my mind, his mom crying as we entered the room to pray, his dad's face had a brace stance yet broken edge, and the young man's face was pained and after we were done praying he cried out in agony as he thought one of his parent's was dying and then realized it was himself we were praying for.  I can still hear his cries.   I am still praying an d asking you to pray with me for him and his family as they go through this, for Val as she had to relay the diagnosis to his parent's and Roxanne as she helps Val through this.
On Wednesday we saw quite a few patients, two stand out in my mind the most.  The first was a young married woman who has been caring for her younger siblings after her mother's death.  She was extremely overwhelmed in the news that she was pregnant and how her father would react to the news.  One of our translators talked and prayed with her until Pastor Enul was available to talk and pray with her.  The next patient was a young mom of a one month old boy who appeared to be a proud momma, yet when she got the news that her boy was healthy her face and body language lit up the room as nothing else could.

Thursday found a good portion of our team ill, our doctors helping those on our team and those visiting the clinic at the barrio.  By the end of the day about half of us had some type of stomach virus that demanded a bathroom be close at hand.  We still worked as a team and got everything done and got almost all the scrubs cleaned and organized so the staff would not have to.   There are rumors of a large spider being left in Matthew's bed, but Luke got the wake up call instead.

Friday found us doing the finishing touches and heading to Santo Domingo to spend some down time in the historic region and our hotel before leaving for home Saturday.  We got home about 2am Sunday morning.

We saw a lot, loved a lot, prayed a lot, laughed a lot (thank you Kristi), learned a lot.  Each of us experience something different and reacted different so please ask us individually about the experience. We each got different take away from this experience so please don't be surprised at the different answers you hear especially since we are at different stages in our life in Christ.  

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exaclt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

I thank you all, we thank you all, for your support through prayers, hugs, listening, donations, and hugs.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1 John 4:19

Today our short term mission team, Faith In Action, was commissioned by our church at the end of our Sunday worship service.  Pastor Paul Scharf lead the commissioning by reading 1 John 4:12-19 "No one has seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit,  And we have seen and testify that the Fatger has sent the Son as Savior of yhe world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,  God abides in him, and he in God.  And we have known and believed the love that /god has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  Love has been perfected among us in this:  that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us."   




















Monday, January 9, 2017

Final Preparations

As our time to depart draws nearer we are scrambling for things we forgot about, looking for unique and light packing arrangements for supplies and clothing all while keeping up our normal work, school and other schedules. So how are we ensuring our hearts are prepared for the mission ahead? Are we imitating Christ with all our hearts in the things we do, say, and think? Are we intimate with Christ?

Saturday's quiet time for "MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST" by Oswald Chambers was focused on these thoughts. John 14:9 "Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?  He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say,'Show us the Father?'" NASB Mr Chambers states, "The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Jesus.  The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him."  As we prepare our hearts for serving on this trip we have also been preparing and nurturing our hearts for the ways we are serving now, here at home.  We recognize that we maybe planting a lot of seeds with the kids we talk with at school, work with through Awana, or our co-workers at work that we may not be around to see when the take ground and mature.  It can be as simple as saying hello to the person everyone else walked by without noticing, listening to the boy explain how his new remote car got stuck, or spending the extra time outside of Awana or Sunday school to help a child understand their handbook material and help them figure out how they best learn.

Yesterday, our mission team from Grace made quite a dent in packaging and labeling the vitamins and supplements that have been donated.  We also learned that Scott will be able to join us this year as one member is unable to go due to a medical reason.  We are all excited and thankful for this awesome opportunity.

Please continue to pray for the needed prescription drugs to come, safety in travel, health and spirit, and for our hearts and minds to be open to follow the Spirit's guidance.  We also want to praise Him in thanksgiving for providing the funds, supplies and time through the donations of many for the trip and allowing it to come together as it has.  We now all things are in God's timing not ours.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Am I a listener?

Today's lesson was "Love by Listening" and James 3.  As I dove deeper into the lesson and James 3 I find myself questioning whether I am a listener.  Right off the bat James 3:1 states:  "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." NASB.  

WHAM! 

Do I listen for the Holy Spirit's leading when preparing my lessons?  Do I ask questions to ensure I have a good grasp of the Word I am teaching before I teach it?  Am I listening to the questions and statements from my students, leaders and parents to know if they are accurately grasping the application? Am I teaching for recognition or praise or because of my love for reaching kids for Christ? When I am listening am I speaking the correct word or words in response or just spitting out the first thing that comes to mind?  How do we listen in love?

Well, as you can imagine these questions got me praying, digging and praying some more.  I spent time in Proverbs 12 and 25 and these verses specifically spoke to me: 

Proverbs 12:18-20 "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.  Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy."  NASB

Proverbs 25:11-15, 24  "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.  Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.  Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.  By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone.  It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman."  NASB  (contentious- a person given to provoking argument)

We can listen in love by first listening, being slow to speak, and slower to anger.  We show this by asking questions:  How are you? How was your day at school? How is your family? and truly listen to the answer, watch their facial expressions as they answer.   My mom tells of a pastor many years ago who greeted everyone asking how they were but didn't really listen to the answers.  She told him one week her monkey died, the next week that her monkey died a week ago, then the following week that her monkey died two weeks ago, it wasn't until the week she said her monkey died 4 weeks ago that he truly listened and stated he didn't know we had a monkey.  My mom responded we don't but she wanted to know if he was really listening to her response in how she was doing and that's how long it took him to hear what she was saying.  What an eye opening exercise to go through, I pray that this is not something I do.

I love teaching God's Word and as I prepare for each lesson I pray for clarity and help in accurately understanding and teaching His Word.  I do call for help from my leaders when it appears a student is not understanding how I am teaching or explaining God's Word.  It takes time to prepare first my heart and mind for the lesson, then the lesson and getting to know it well enough to actually teaching it.  Teaching God's Word for me is a labor of love and a passion that I pray I will always have.  


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What kind of sacrifices am I prepared to make as I prepare to go to the Dominican Republic?  What sacrifices are required? Am I prepared to "roughing it" as we travel throughout the rural areas and restrooms at the state park would be more welcome than what they have to offer?

Today's lesson is on Mark 12, the widow's mite which was a true giving sacrifice over the leader's donation of silver.   Our trip costs are about $1100 a person plus $100 spending money for meals that are not included along our journey and to buy some local trinkets brought in to help the local economy.  We also are asked to bring supplies to leave behind for the guest house and future guests (aka mission teams following us).  As I ponder the question what sacrifices am I prepared to make I am also preparing for our T&T lesson... "The Bible Teaches us How to Live."  I am loving how my different lessons continue to bend into each other and I can glean more from each of them as I continually review them.    We have used a majority of our savings and "fun" money to cover this trip and are already planning a garage sale or two in the spring to raise more for next year's trip.  But that is speaking financially, I am prepared to love on the different people we meet and to show God's love through my actions and words.  Sacrifices on a trip as we are taking will be financial, but also emotional and mental.  I know our Matthew is going WAY out his comfort zone on this trip and I am prepared to give him as much space as I can so that he can be himself and decompress when he needs to.  I am so thankful for Matthew's help as we prepare for this trip, he has been inspiring and I can't wait until he is ready to share this part of the journey through his eyes.

So what sacrifices are you willing to give?  Is it sponsoring a child?  Supporting a local missionary (Awana and CEF are two but there are also Campus Crusade for Christ, New Tribes, Navigators and many many more)? Will you consider joining a short term missions team or supporting one?  What about sending a missionary spices, books, movies, cds, a tablet or laptop?  What will you give so that God's Word and love will be seen and heard throughout the world?


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Battle

We have already had some bumps in our preparation for our mission trip and this verse is a reminder that God is our fortress and strength in times of trouble.  If we are doing His Will He will provide, we not know when or how, but His Will does prevail.  At this time we have had some financial set backs due to mistakes I had made this spring and now we are searching for some interesting ways to help raise funds for the reminder balance of our mission trip.   I have also had some health issues, asthma and blood pressure, and am praying to get them under control soon so that they will not interfere with our service here in Columbia County and also in the Dominican Republic.
As part of the Short Term Missions Team, each of us is going through the book: CALLED, Mission Trip Devotions and Journal by Lena Wood.  My reading from it today was, In God's Hands, and a good reminder that the spiritual battle is worldwide not "just" in Africa, Cuba, etc...  We face the same spiritual battle here in America, online, in schools, downtown, urban areas as places we "go" to serve.  1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  Satan is everywhere, our focus should not be this though but in God and HIS presence and mighty power is everywhere and within us who chose to believe in His almighty power on the cross.  Our Truth and Training lesson this week is GOD IS WITH YOU, what an amazingly encouraging Bible study I have had today as both my preparations are the same.  The memory verse for this lesson is:  Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you. 
So as you prepare for battle along side us, remember to put on your armor of God.  Ephesians 6:13-20 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.  Many of us do not have the literal chains that Paul was wearing but we have social chains of today that are not visible (do we pray or not in public, in schools? are we visible lights for God at home, school, work, within our communities? what about our social media presence, do we filter what we post or feel so we don't offend?).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Comfort zone.... What's that?

In January Matthew and I will be going to the Dominican Republic with the short term missions team from Grace Bible Church.  We are really looking forward to the opportunity to serve God in a way we haven't before yet maybe we have.   

Our family has been involved in reaching boys and girls for Christ through teaching Sunday School, Awana, and being involved within our community and school activities.  Just by being involved and open to listening to the kids has created opportunities for us to share God's love and gospel that we may not have otherwise had.  While we are in the Dominican we will either be helping on the medical side or construction side showing God's love through our actions, reactions, and conversations.  We may not see immediately the fruits of our labor but we will be happy to plant the seeds for growth.  

A menu of rice and beans sounds okay and the restroom facilities may lack a sink, mirror, lights or toilet....  may be a bit out of our usual routine and comfort zone but loving to be challenged in new ways, camping, and loving kids will help us stay focused on the mission and on God.  

Today's lesson is on 1 Peter 1:17-21 "You call out to God for help and he helps-he's a good Father that way.  But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living.  Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.  It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know.  He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb.  And this was no afterthought.  Even though is has only lately- at the end of the ages- become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you.  It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God."  (Message paraphrase)   What a beautiful reminder!