Saturday, June 29, 2013

No More Itsy Bitsy!

My friend sent me this link and it made me want to shout, "I am not alone!!!"  Two years ago we visited Michigan in the summer time.  I knew what I would see on the beach would be disheartening but I was very disappointed when I couldn't tell the difference in the way Christians dress and dress their children.  Yes, I admit I wore a bikini when I was a teen and probably inappropriately dressed at times.  Did I know it at the time?  Deep down, yes.  I knew it got attention and I liked it.  Was it wrong?  Yes.  Is it ultimately our brothers in the Lord who need to control their minds, yes, but it is our responsibility to not cause them to stumble.  As I grew older and grew in the Lord I realized I was wrong and changed my ways.  I really don't think God wants us walking around in nothing different than a bra and underwear leaving nothing for the imagination.  I choose to dress in a way that is appropriate, that I feel beautiful, and can even be sexy FOR MY HUSBAND.  God did make us beautiful.  But our beauty starts in the inside.  I have heard the excuse many times that you can't find one piece suits.  With the age of tankinies it is a choose.  We have a choose.  And we as mothers need to choose for our girls and teach them to choose to honor God and their bodies.  Why would we want guys looking at our daughters with lust?  Why would we want our sons or husbands to be tempted - even when they go to church?  We need to stop and think.  Choose wisely.  Honoring and loving God, ourselves, and our brothers more than our cultural ways.  No more itsy bitsy!        

Please take a moment and listen to this youtube by Jessica Rey and share it with others.

Monday, June 24, 2013

14 Years, Calvin Team, and More...

June 23, 2013

Josh and I celebrated our 14th anniversary!  You have to be a little creative going out on your anniversary date with a nursing baby and living in Soroti.  We did have babysitters with three teens living with us so that was nice.  I bought a red dress from the second hand market to wear, took candles, wine glasses (for our sparkling grape juice!), and music.  We went to our best restaurant, at least scenery wise, and they actually took our table out onto the grass alone with a view of the rock mountain behind.  It was great!  We made it special by ordering appetizer, main meal, and African tea (we were going to have dessert too but we were too full) – a nice long, romantic dinner together.  We talk about all 14 anniversaries, where we were, and what we did for each one.  We’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things.  I am so thankful for our marriage.  Fourteen years just brings you closer together.  Every year we love each other more.  With God as the foundation and center of our marriage we are truly blessed.  May God always remain in His rightful place!

This week was one of our busiest weeks of the year.  We had the Calvin Christian High School team here.  This year they came with 12 students and three teachers.  In three days we visited Obulle, heard from former child soldiers, played soccer against the street boys, visited the blind school, sat in class at a secondary school, did a puppet show at a primary school, ate Indian food and saw their Hindu temple.  I think the best part this year was visiting Obulle.  We split up into groups of four and went to a home of one of our church members.  Our goal was to see village life and interact with the people.  My group took the goats out and tied them up, went to the well and got water, prepared and cooked posho, pork, and rice, and washed clothes by hand.  I was so impressed that our church members allowed the guests to help and that our guests (teens!) helped.  They got a good taste of that it is like to live in another part of the world.  When they showed the kids the outdoor bathing area over rocks and the latrine I heard the girls say, “I am so blessed”.  That’s right.  I think they will use water differently, be thankful for their washers and microwaves, and think about people with so much less.  Other groups farmed with their hosts, slaughtered a chicken, smeared cow dung…  It was a great experience for all of us!

It was a fun but full week.  Emalai and I didn’t do everything with them.  Our Lake City teens seemed to really enjoy the week too.  I love seeing God work in the group each year – it is why we do it.  This year about four people expressed interest in missions and coming back.  And one teen gave their life to Christ!  I am thankful Larry and Linda Klien invest in taking a group of young people.  Every time we visit Michigan kids from former trips, parents, teachers or others come up to us and tell us how much the trip transformed their lives.  That is why we look forward to this week each year.  God has done great things!

My sister and brother-in-law, Angie and Tim, are expecting again!  It may seem like ordinary news but after years of infertility they had a baby one year ago and now a second surprise.  That will make six kids – five 8 years old and under!  To be honest I am glad it isn’t me this time.  I just cannot go through that sickness again.  A lot of emotions for them I am sure.   But most of all we are praising God for His gift of life!

You can be praying for our family, kids and team.  There are always a lot of hellos and goodbyes in missions and this year we have our share of them.  Two families from our team will be leaving our team, one this week.  It is hard and sad but in God’s plan.  It is our kids who don’t always understand but just hurt.  Other friends left for a year home service last week and other friends leave the field for another mission field in August.  Lots of loss.  We are thankful for those who are still here with us.  Pray for our team and family as we go through this change.

Today after church we went to our friends for their daughters 2nd birthday.  It was the first birthday they ever celebrated.  I loved it.  I enjoy our friends, cooking with them, seeing my kids play with their kids, the quietness of the village, and beauty.  I look forward to being their neighbors soon. 

As I stop and think we have so much to be praise God for.  He is at work!  Just this month 4 people gave their lives to the Lord!  So easily we could just move on with life and forget to rejoice.  We know all of Heaven is so I want to join in the celebration too.  Pray for the four new believer; Julius, Kristine, Anna, and Dorine.  (Plus the student with the Calvin team!)   

Emalai sat up on her own this week!  So cute.  She doesn’t officially crawl but she is so close and gets around.  This week she will be six months. 

Thank you for all your love and prayers!  We sure appreciate your encouragement! 

Celebrating our 14th Anniversary!
Calvin Christian Team in Obulle (one group)

Getting water from the well

Zephie forever thankful for water!
Our Group on our village visit

Autumn playing goal ball at the blind school

Jimmy playing ball "blind"
Emalai and Mr. Klien

Calvin vs. Street Boys 0-1


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life with 3 Teens

June 16, 2013

Hi everyone!  Josh took the teen, Lydia, Grace, and Luka on safari today.  They will meet up with the group from Calvin Christian High School tonight and return tomorrow with them.  So, Malai and I are home alone.  She isn’t the happiest being away from home and with all the time in the car I decided it would be more fun for everyone if we stayed back.  I am looking forward to a quiet time catching up on things – if Malai cooperates.  It has been busy around here and yesterday I was worn out so the break in action comes at a good time. 

We are really enjoying our time with Jimmy, Autumn and Zephie.  They fit into our family nicely and this morning the left saying, “bye Mom” with our other kids.  They are fun.  God has answered a lot of prayers.  We would not take in just any teens but when we met these three we knew God wanted them to come live with us.  I am so thankful we listened to Him.  I am really enjoying getting to know each one.  Asking them questions to hear their stories, how they are feeling, and encouraging them.  I think the best part is seeing God in their lives.  They are living testimonies of God’s grace.  I love that!  Hearing what God rescued them from and seeing them now amazes me.  It causes me to give God glory.  He is so real when you see Him in someone’s life.  His love, His power, His truth, His mercy, His forgiveness, His healing, His Spirit, His Word… transforms people!  I love walking along side these people and being apart of the discipleship.  What joy!  I hope I take every opportunity and moment to be with these teens, listen, and invest into them.  I can so easily get side tracked with other need and keeping up with feeding everyone.  But their time here is short and soon they will be gone.  Pray that I am able to stop and be all God wants me to be to these three teens. 

The teen shared their testimonies with us when we visited in Lake City this fall but I had forgotten a lot I guess.  Jimmy has only been a Christian for about 2 years.  He was in 15 school by the time he was in 5th grade!  What?!  I asked him how he turned out so normal and he simply said, “God”.  Everyone at Lake City CRC warned me but now I know for myself, Jimmy is a great kid that everyone love.  He is fun, helpful, polite, and is really seeking the Lord.  The other day he said he thinks he may go into missions after the marines.  I asked if he was feeling called and he said he thinks so and that he is really enjoying it so far.  Praise God!   

Autumn and Zephie have only been Christians for a little more than a year, but you wouldn’t know it.  They love the Lord.  I love how they are just learning the stories of the Bible and get excited about all God’s Word is teaching them.  They find out truth in God’s Word and share it with other at school without being ashamed.  Last night Autumn shared with tears how hard school has been since she wasn’t taught in her young years and never caught up.  She is enjoying teaching and learning with Grace – how cool!  Her and Zephie have been amazed at how smart our girls are.  I think it is only God to take two girls who weren’t put in school until Junior High, who were labeled stupid, and now has them as teachers!  They are doing great and I think it was very brave of them to come and teach. 

All three of them talk about their school a lot.  In a nutshell I am amazed at what takes place there.  I love that these teen are willing to stand out and be true followers of Jesus.  They are such witnesses!  It makes me wonder, where are the other Christians, where is the church?  I am not saying there are no churches and there are no Christian doing anything.  But from what I have heard and asked there isn’t enough.  There are churches all around so it seems Christians are keeping to themselves.  We go to church, to Christian school, have Christian friends, Bible studies…these are all good and we need them, but the world also needs us.  We need to be in the schools, befriending lost people, helping those who are broken and hurt.  We can’t do that unless we go.  There is a mission field in your backyard, down the street, at work, in school…  With 9 or something CRC churches in the area there shouldn’t be a school not prayed for and reached.  There are kids so hurt, lost, broken, into every sin…that deep down just need a friend to love and help them.  You can do that.  It takes time, investment, and probably pain but you can bring them to Jesus.  If you know Him you must share Him!  It’s good news!  How I pray that Jimmy, Autumn, and Zephie’s stories encourage each one of us to desire to do more, to reach out, and to love others to Jesus.

This week Jimmy and Autumn went to Obulle with Josh and farmed with our church.  Poor Zephie was home sick for a few days – no fun.  We are so thankful she is better.  They also went with Josh and Charles to a woman named Kristine in Obulle.  After talking with Kristine she accepted Jesus into her heart!  Awesome!   They went with me to visit a girl who was in the clinic sick with Malaria.  They were pretty surprised by the condition of the clinic.  It is sad.  On Thursday they went with Josh as he taught in Pingere.  Saturdays we help at church with the kids and youth.  It has been fun to play games together and teach about the fruits of the Spirit.  There are plenty of dull moments here, but I think the teens are getting a pretty good taste of mission life.

Emalai almost crawling
Our kids are also enjoying their teenage siblings.  They often play with them and have lots of fun together.  Lydia is really growing up and changing I think.  In some ways she is such a fun, innocent kid who loves to just play and in other ways she is so mature.  She still tells people she is called to Mongolia and talks about it often.  The other day she said in her dream when God called her she didn’t see Him but saw a lot of light.  How cool!  She asked Josh the other day to help her to know how to witness to someone.  She said she doesn’t know what to say when people ask her or if someone is lost.  Wow, I am so thankful she has a heart to share Jesus with people.  The other night Josh read something in the Bible about God’s judgment and started to cry and cry.  She was so worried about everyone who doesn’t know Jesus yet and her uncle Steve who hasn’t turned back to Jesus yet.  Although it is hard to see her wrestle with such big feeling, I am thankful for her urgency for the lost to be saved. 

Luka, is just Luka.  Everyone thinks he is so cute and fun.  He really is.  He talks with expression and uses his big eyes.  He is loving and still all boy.  Emalai is a mover.  She is 5 months and on all fours.  She even stands on her feet with her hands still on the floor.  She kinda sits too leaning on one hand.  She lights up when someone talks to her but can get very scared if it is someone new or too loud.  She just began eating baby cereal this week.  Her hair is long enough for little ponytails but she doesn’t have much hair on the sides (Josh calls it her comb over).  I am trying to enjoy her baby stage since it is our last but sometimes, especially when she wakes up at night, I am glad we wont go through all this work again J.

Josh and Lydia both had a jigger in their feet.  We realize we are getting them from Obulle, which makes me a little worried about living there.  It doesn’t hurt to get them out (an sack with eggs in or something like that) but the more you get we hear it can.  Oh the joys…

Another “joy” is snakes – really we hate them!  The other night I was feeding Malai in our room and heard a big bang.  Later Josh came in and said he killed a small snake in the kitchen.  Yuck!  Instantly I wanted to fear, worry and be done with living here.  But I know fear is not from the Lord.  So I prayed.  I took the authority we have in Jesus name to protect us and our home.  That was weeks ago now and no more snakes.  God is my peace.

Please pray for the group of 12 students and 3 teachers coming from Calvin Christian High School this week.  Every year they spend about four days with us seeing the ministries and learning.  We always look forward to it because God has used it to touch so many teens.  Pray for health, strength, safety, and for all the details to come into place.  It will be a busy week!  Most of all pray for God to speak into the hearts and minds of these young people.  That He will draw them unto Him and use them to build His kingdom.  Thanks! 

Helping teach kids and youth at church 

Josh & Charles

Games at church 

Big day - first cereal

Emalai and her cousin Eliana

Happy Father's Day!!!  We are so thankful for our Dad!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Praying scripture

June 10, 2013

For about a year now I have been learning to pray God’s Word.  I take what I read in my time with God and pray the words from scripture.  I have found it to be very powerful.  Using God’s words to praise Him, confess and repent, and ask Him to do His work and will has changed my prayer life.  When I pray His words I know it is His will.  I draw near to Him and long to be all His Word wants us to be.  I have shared this with a few people and they often ask me how I do this.  It isn’t a science it is just speaking to my Father.  I pray the words or phrases that God has spoken to me through His word.  I pray the prayer that Daniel prayed.  I confess the sins of the churches in Paul’s day for our church today.  I praise God with the words in the Psalms.  Just start reading and praying.

Today I was in Exodus 20 – the 10 commandments – and prayed through them.  Actually, I confessed and repented through them.  It is very sad how easily we have forgotten, followed the world, and sinned against God.  I decided to share my prayer because it is not just for me but for all of us as a church. 

Holy God, Your commands are not optional.  We must obey.  We have failed to read them, remember, and obey.  I have sinned.  Your church is falling short of your desire for us.  We have taken some, ignored some, forgotten, become lazy and complacent, we’ve obeyed our culture instead of You…we have sinned against You.  May we repent and turn back to You!  We are Your children and want to behave like it.

Forgive us.  We have put other gods before You.  Making idols in the form of money, sports, people, our things, self…and we worship them.  We choose meaningless things and put them before You – the Lord of Lords.  Our time, our trust, our desire, our whole selves must be 100% for You.  Nothing must come in the way the number one spot in my life – it belongs to You alone.   It is clear that You punish those who hate You and bless those who love and obey You – for generations!  May we choose Your blessings.

Forgive us for misusing Your name.  We have allowed the world to dishonor and casually use our Lord’s name.  Your name is holy!  Those who misuse Your name are held guilty.  It is serious.  May we honor and praise Your name alone.

Forgive us for not keeping the Sabbath day holy.  We have not kept it a Sabbath to the Lord our God.  You say we should not work but our culture tells us it’s ok or we must so we have.  And we have caused others to have to work by the things we choose to do on the Lord’s day.  May we obey all of Your Word and stand up for it against the culture.  May we keep Your day holy, rest, and not work.

Forgive us for not honoring our parents.  Often our culture has made a joke of parents and we dishonor them in our talk, attitude, and disobedience.  You have promised long life to all who obey.

Forgive us for murder.  Weather in anger in our hearts, with our hands, or through our allowing murder to happen to the unborn, persecuted and their injustice we have murdered.  It is awful.  Cause us to repent and stand up for truth, defend, and protect life.  May we love instead of kill. 

Forgive us Father for the adultery we’ve committed.  Our minds need to be purified.  We have allowed sin into our thoughts and You hate it.  Your church has accepted divorce and remarriage which you say is adultery.  Remove the lust Jesus.  May we be holy and think, watch, listen to what is good, pure, trustworthy…so we also may be.

Forgive us for stealing.  We so easily rationalize and make excuses.  We take what isn’t ours thinking we deserve it.  Small or big call it what it is stealing is a sin.  Make us trustworthy God.

Forgive us Lord for all the lies.  We have made lying normal and acceptable.  We exaggerate stories, keep ourselves from getting in trouble, and tell “little white lies” claiming it to be innocent.  God may our yes be yes and our no be no.  Our tongues are a small part of the body we need to put under Your control.

Forgive us when we desire things others have.  We have looked at those around us and longed for more.  We pay for things we must have with money we don’t have.  We want to be better, look better, have more fun…we are selfish.  You have given us all we need Lord.  We are not in need – we are so blessed!  Yet we sin by wanting more.  The world knows true need – hunger, nakedness, sickness, homelessness while we live in wealth.  May we live in thankfulness and generosity.

God you love us.  By Your grace we are rescued from our sin.  May we know Your word to us and live in obedience.  So that we may glorify Your name and be Your witness to the world.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Moving to the village!

June 5, 2013

We are so excited – we are moving to Obulle!  Many of you know we have been praying for about a year now weather we should move to the village where we serve, God has confirmed and given us the peace to move.  We love our friends in Obulle and see God is working there, but moving there is a big decision because it means no electricity and no water just to name a couple changes.  We did not want to say no because of a possible harder life if God was saying yes this is the plan I have for you.  God kept the idea on our hearts so we kept moving forward.  It seemed so complicated to be able to live in the village though.  Do we buy land?  Build?  How do we do all that?  How long will this all take?  I might back out if it takes too long!  So easily I could look around my nice, comfortable house and think it would be better to just stay.  Fears and worry creep in.  But every time we were in Obulle we knew we were suppose to be there.  There is one “permanent house” we knew of in Obulle (a somewhat modern house – walls, metal roof, yard…not a hut).  We looked at it once and were in shock I think.  It was more of a barn than a house inside.  But after a few months I asked Josh again about renting the house.  It just seemed to be the easiest way to live out there.  We looked at how we could change the house and what the landlord would have to agree to (like finding another home for his 37 turkeys and all his relatives).  Josh met with the landlord Saturday and he was more than happy to work it out (the turkey’s and relatives could live at one of this other 4 homes J) and let us rent the house.  Praise God! 

Our whole family is excited and that is a confirmation from God too.  I am so thankful the kids look forward to moving.  The renovations will begin in September when Josh’s Uncle Larry and Aunt Susan come to help.  Larry has done building projects in Africa before and they have been waiting for a reason to come and help us (thank you God because we would be STRESSED building here and it would consume Josh’s time and take away from ministry).  They are able to come for three months so hopefully by the new year we will be living in our home in Obulle.

We went to see the house again yesterday with other missionary friends.  I was so surprised how much I loved it.  It looked less like a barn and bigger than I remembered.  We are going to be able to make a wonderful home there.  Thank you God!  Looking at all the ideas is exciting.  I can’t wait to get started.  We told a few of our friends in Obulle and they so glad we want to come live with them.  One of our teammates prayed the people of Obulle will see our moving there as Jesus love.  As Jesus came from heaven to earth to be among us, so we are Christ’s love among those in Obulle.  Thanks for praying with us everyone!!!  God has led us and provided a home in Obulle.

The other joy we are experiencing is our three teenagers from Lake City.  They arrived last Friday to Soroti and already I know we will greatly miss them when they have to leave.  (Maybe we should add on three bedroom to that house in Obulle?)  Autumn, Zephie, and Jimmy are so helpful, polite and fun.  Every day we get to know each other better.  At times they are quiet and overwhelmed with all they are taking in.  But they are getting a good taste of life on the mission field.  The girls have been teaching our kids.  It has been going so well – Yeah!  Jimmy has been going with Josh to the village, farming, praying with people…  He said he saw Jesus at work before his eyes as Josh prayed with a man here.  Jimmy met a boy here who has no father and mother left him.  It was touching for him to be able to relate to how this boy feels.  Jimmy can relate to so many children here.  I love the faith I have already seen in the teens.  They haven’t been Christians long but they love the Lord.  The other day Jimmy told me they are going to study I Peter together at night if Josh and I want to join them.  What teens do that?!  Praise the Lord they do! 

Although we are really busy right now with three extras in our home, proceeding with moving, ministry, and a whole bunch of team stuff, I am thankful.  God is here with us.  He is our strength in our tiredness.  He is faithful and true. 

Be praying for our team.  Wish I could say more but I know you will lift us up to our Father and He is all we need.

First local food experience for our teens

School with Zephie

PE with Autumn
Our home in Obulle!

Gracie playing with Emalai - she put her doll glasses on her.  :)