Monday, February 27, 2012

Just an Update

February 25

Hi, not too much to report here. Did I tell you we have owls that live in our tree and hang around our yard? A few weeks ago our guard was trimming the hedge and there was a baby owl sitting there. How fun to see a baby owl up close and personal. We could see its mother in the tree above and later another baby owl appeared. Last week we had six owls in the tree! I am sure some were the babies. It is hard to tell because it is very small kind of owl. Anyways, it is kinda cool to have owls around.

We actually got a little rain this past week! Not much at all really but the clouds came and so did the humidity. Every time it rained (it only ended up being a few drops) Luka got his rain boots on, his sweat shirt, and umbrella and headed out the door. Poor kid by the time he got there it was over. I wish it got cool enough for a sweat shirt but it looks like rainy season may not quite be here yet.

Luka continues to prove to me that boys will be boys (even with two older sisters). He now likes to carry heavy things for us and tell us he is strong. When Lydia was carrying something he was determined that he should and then showed us his muscles. It is pretty cute when a three year old wants to be our hero. He also loves to hunt in the yard with his dad. They pretend to get elephants, lions, and of course big bucks. I am not sure if Luka or dad has more fun.

Josh and I continue to see a heart of mercy in Grace. She loves caring for people when they are sick and the other night when we were praying for kids who live on the streets and on garbage dumps she began to cry. The next day she had some of her money that she wanted to give to our teammate to help the street kids in Soroti. Praise God for her love and mercy.

The girls have been a bit homesick for loved ones in Michigan lately. I can’t blame them there just isn’t much going on right now. Thankfully school has been going pretty well. We are half way done with our school year! We get to start book number 2 in most subjects next week. Grace was so excited she thanked me for her new Math book.

I love doing History with the girls. What a reminder it is that our country was founded and built on Christ. We had a sure foundation. No wonder God blessed it. Even those who came over came for freedom to worship God. They were considered “religious fanatics”. Mission was also a desire of those first Americans. It is beautiful, challenging, and encouraging to read the stories of Christians who stood on God’s Word. Over and over I keep thinking, how sad where are nation is now. God is being kicked out of the nation founded upon Him. Christianity is now the only religion that does not have freedom in our schools, courts, and society. How our Father must mourn. I weep for the sins of our nation. We are letting go of God and truth and letting every other religion, falsehood and sin in to lead us. So Christians where are we? Are we going to sit back quietly and watch our country say no to God and His way? Are we going to stand for truth and against falsehood and sins? Are we going to support those defending truth and elect people who love the Lord and obey His Word? Are we going to call out to God in prayer? We must do all we to keep God in our country – the one He built and blessed.

Josh has been busy lately. He taught two days this week, went to Obule a couple times to talk with government leaders about the well digging our teammates will be doing, he has been meeting with teammates, leading meetings… He is really excited about our team and our focus on Obule. I am too. God just put it all together. I am so blessed by the church in Obule. They really love the Lord. What could be more exciting than to work with other believers to bring Christ and His Word to others?

Today we visited two of the families in our church who have had babies. I haven’t sat at a compound in the village in a while. It just takes me back to Nigeria. -- familiar sights and smells. It is peaceful except for all the kids that end up following us. Luka loved it. The girls not so much. They were very worried when Luka was chasing baby pigs and touching them. It’s a boy’s playground out there. The families were so thankful for our visit. For one of the ladies it is here 10th child (in 18 years) and the 8th for the other lady but one child had died. I am shocked to say they both looked good too. These women put me to shame.

Guess that is all for today. We are supposed to have a women’s retreat next weekend so you can pray for that. Looks like rain out right now so here is hoping… Send us some encouragement this week if you get a chance, thanks! (Sorry internet hasn’t been working so well so I didn’t get to send this right away.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Express

Feb. 11, 2012

This week began with the super bowl. A few crazy guys, even my husband was convinced, got up at 2am to watch it live. The rest of us watched the replay in the evening together. There was yummy food and great company so we had a good time.

The rest of the week was filled with teaching – Josh with Freedom in Christ, home schooling, and I taught on purity to the women and teenage girls in Obule. The other ladies on our team came with me. It is so nice to have their support and do it together. I led the Bible study, Jennifer helped with the extras/examples on the results of sexual sin, and Margaret gave her testimony. I enjoyed sharing but wish there wasn’t such a language barrier. 35 women and teens came. I know God accomplished His will. I had more respect for Josh teaching every week when I was done – I was tired.

The night before I taught Luka got a 103degree fever. How quickly I can become scared. He was so hot and uncomfortable. Josh and I prayed over him. By morning the fever was 101. He didn’t have any other symptoms. By the time I left to teach the fever was up to 102 so we prayed over him again. While I was teaching Josh let me know the fever was gone and he was playing again. The fever never came back and he never got sick. My only explanation is attack. I believe satan was trying to stop the purity teaching in Obule. How better than to make the teachers kid sick. But our God heard our prayers and healed our son. And brought His message of purity to the women in Obule. Victory!

Last night our team celebrated Valentines. We had our first ever progressive dinner. We had appetizers at one home, dinner at another, and dessert at another. It was a fun change of pace. Our evening ended with a team dance party. What a riot! It is good to see another side of each other and just have fun. The kids loved it. Dancing under the African stars is pretty memorable.

Josh and I watched the movie The Express the other night. It is the story of Ernie Davis. If you don’t know who Ernie Davis is, I didn’t, he is the first African American to win the Heisman trophy (the best college football player of the year). Most of you know I like to watch football but even if you don’t this is a great story!

I was so moved by the story I was weeping by the end (surprise, surprise – me emotional.) The story took place in the late 50’s early 60’s and racism was ramped. I was struck again by the hatred simply because of color. I was sickened by the behavior of white people, my people, and even shouted at the TV for the first time in my life. I was embarrassed by what we did and said. I was so ashamed. I cried. For the first time in my life I took responsibility for the sinful treatment my people were apart of. I needed to repent. It was wrong. It hurt so many people. We hated God’s beloved children. What a sin.

The beauty of the story is how Ernie and others responded to the hatred. He was the most humble, sweet young man. He was brave yet respectful. He was wise and fought peacefully for what was right. He was calm yet gave his all. He did not give up and showed so many people he was a good person. He was respected by so many people because of his character. He rose above the evil of the world and did what was right – and won.

In the movie I saw that some of the root of the hatred was fear. Fear of the unknown. They didn’t know the African Americans but feared them. Fear because of their differences. I love how it showed once someone got to know an African American as a person the fear was gone. How thankful I am for the few people who stuck out and got to know African Americans as people and stood up for and with them. Saddly, there is still some of the same sin that remains today. The fear is there when someone if different than we are. When we group people together instead of getting to know a person. We begin to think we are better. Pride sneaks in. Injustices happen and we just keep quiet because it isn’t affecting us.

After watching the movie (I wont tell you the whole amazing story so you will go and watch it for yourself), I went into the other room got down on my knees and cried. I repented for the sin of my people and nation. How we have sinned. I want no part in it. I will love because God is love. He made and values all of His children and I will too. He hates injustice and I do too. I also thanked God for His people. Black, white and all colors who where courageous enough to stand for what is right. What an example. I want to make a different by standing for truth and loving the unloved. How good God’s grace is! He has spoken, forgiven, and now will use us to do His will.

I challenge you to watch The Express not just as entertainment but allowing God to speak to you through the story of a brave and humble young man, Ernie Davis. (Warning: there is some swearing and taking God’s name in vane.)

Now I am sick today. I am super tired and ache all over. Thanks for your prayers for all of us. God be with you this week,


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Just sharing my week with you...

February 4

The exciting news around here is that Soroti has a fruit and veggie stand. You may be thinking big deal, but it is a big deal! Our smart Indian friends at the supermarket decided to have a lady sell Kampala and Kenya veggies and fruits we can’t get in Soroti. Twice a week she brings new stock in of lettuce, plums, cantalope, broccoli…it is such a blessing. We use to have to drive almost 7 hours to get these things and when we ate them they were gone and we had to wait till our next trip to the big city. But now our lives have changed! We can eat as much veggies and fruits and get more. Since God is the giver of all good gifts I give Him thanks for this blessing. The rumor is strawberries are arriving today!

Lydia was sick this week with strep throat I’m pretty sure. She was really hurting and you could see it with every swallow she took. It took a few days on antibiotic to get her feeling better. Thankfully she is healthy again expect for the headaches we are all suffering with because of the heat and dust.

School was ruff this week. Between the weather (you literally walk down the hall to the classroom and get blown with a 100 plus degree wind and it takes your breath away – who wants to sit in that for school?), not feeling great, and being off schedule we all had bad attitudes. There was a lot of complaining this week. Grace was yelling at everyone this week and I thought why is she doing that? Then I realized because her mother has been doing that. Ouch. I guess everything got to me like it did them. I needed to confess and make a change. So we will be taking more time in prayer next week before school and asking God to help us.

Our team had a meeting this week to follow-up our strategic planning retreat. It is an exciting time with a refined vision and mission and a focused goal. Josh and I will now be committed to the area of Obule praying for God to transform that village. We will be working with Guzzaldos, Jennifer, and a new couple the Rossers. The Rossers work with Water for All and will partner with us to bring hand dug wells and help with agriculture. We are very excited to know God has led us here and has a wonderful plan for Obule.

Along with the excitement of new strategy comes change and with that a little bit of sadness. Our one big Team Beyond is now two teams and will be more eventually. Tim and Angie will now be the leaders over the leaders of the smaller teams. We will all still see each other and work together but it will be different. We will be able to focus on and care for our smaller team. Josh is the leader of our Obule team which is a great new challenge for him. It is a new year with new plans. How thankful I am for a team that seeks God and goes where He leads.

Josh visited one of the church leaders, Dan, in Obule yesterday. Dan was sharing with Josh the joy he now has because of the Freedom in Christ training. He said he use to just sit and worry because he has no hope of reaching heaven. But now he knows God loves him and has assurance of his salvation. I love hearing what God is doing in peoples lives! The change is amazing. Simply sharing Biblical truth and the Spirit at work can transform a person. Dan and his wife Rose also said that they never had enough food but since the marriage and family course they now do. Now who would have thought a marriage course would help with a family’s food situation? They said it is because they used to go their own direction and had no communication or care for each other, but now they work together and care for each other. Praise God!

This week in my Beth Moore Bible study on the Psalms of assent I was grabbed by a reality she spoke about applying God’s Word. Too many Christians hear and know God’s Word but fail to apply it to their lives. Here is what she says:

(This is a section from my study on Psalm 126 and Matt. 13.) “Why do some people see the results of the Word and others don’t? Why do some study the Word of God yet remain in their captivity? Some just eat the seed and never sow it for a harvest. You want examples? Why have many of us heard hundreds of messages on freedom, done every line of Bible studies, wept over them, been blessed by them, and even memorized parts of them, yet remain in captivity? Because we ate the seed instead of sowing it. Why have many of us read books on forgiving people, known the teachings were true and right, cried over them, marked them up with our highlighters, yet remain in our bitterness? Because we ate the seed instead of sowing it. Why have we repeatedly heard how Christ has forgiven our sinful pasts and sobbed with gratitude over the grace of it, yet we remain in bondage to condemnation? Because we ate the seed instead of sowing it.”

“Sometimes we don’t even realize the difference. We’ll think we accepted the teaching because we were so moved by it. But you see, the seed of God’s Word can fill our stomachs and give us immediate satisfaction and still not produce a harvest – that’s when we eat it but don’t sow it. Many times we apply biblical truth to our theologies without applying it to the actual practicalities of life. I know because I practiced this approach for years and could not understand why I was still in bondage.”

“I can not say it loudly enough: God’s Word is meant to be applied to our reality. We can amen the pastor as he preaches sacrificial love. We can walk to the car and talk about the great sermon he gave, drive home, and march in as mean and cold as the person who pulled out of the driveway. We decide surely God did not mean us to apply His truth to our reality because He knows how difficult this or that person is to love. What just happened? We are the seed instead of sowing it.”

“I am desperate for you to live in the reality of your God-promised victory. I am concerned that many of us will eat the seed instead of sowing it. Then we charge God with unfaithfulness when we don’t get the harvest He promised. God repeatedly says that a harvest is sown, not eaten as seed. We have to get down on our knees in the hardship of our circumstances and apply God’s Word to the most difficult places, believing God will bring a harvest. Forgiving others, for instance is a beautiful theology but a difficult reality. Those who apply it have a harvest of the rest of their lives. We were meant to eat from the sheaves, not the seed.”

“If we don’t see an immediate result from our acts of obedience, we often decide to dig up the seed and either eat it or cast it in the nearest ditch. Hebrews 6:12 says, ‘imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’ Some of the inheritance God has promised each of us can only be received through faith and patience.”

“Sowing the seed of God’s Word in a terribly difficult situation is not easy! But God promises you – let me say it again – absolutely promises you that if you do, you will receive a harvest of joy. Are you game? Then get down on those knees and start digging in the ground of your reality and sow some seed. He who promised is faithful.”

True? Are you, am I applying God’s Word to my realities? Are we reading God’s Word so we can apply it? Don’t sit in bondage anymore. Choose to sow God’s Word in your heart and trust Him to grow a new life of joy in your heart!