To stay united and updated about this process of getting to One Mission Society, what's happening throughout this support-raising journey, and where I am in the meantime!




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Update

Well, I'd say it's about time for a new title to pop up when you hit this page... Jesus is doing exciting things in our midst, and even in circumstances of loss, there can be growing and things to be thankful for.  Despite the rough start to the trip to Houghton, it was a valuable time!!  It was such a blessing to get to invest time with the women who interned this summer, as well as meet new students, talk through things with prospective new missionaries and see the ministry that our missionaries in residence, Bruce and Donna, have so invested in!  Thank you so much for praying over this time and for your emails.  It really made such a difference.  Here are a few photos from our time:


I met Alice after sharing in a Sunday School class and she invited me to this coffee house where she performed poetry she has written about human trafficking


Lauren and Sarah (above) and Jody and Megan (below) were some of our awesome interns this summer!



Boy, am I thankful for deep community.  Can I just tell you that is one of my favorite things?!  Deep conversation with others at a heart level and walking alongside each other in times of need... so valuable!!  And that was one of the ways the Lord encouraged me on this trip, was seeing Him provide some deep one-on-one convos with a few of the girls at the perfect time.  He knows!

After meeting students and sharing at a few gatherings in Houghton, Sarah and I traveled to PA and were able to have some time with some Grove City College students and visit my aunt, uncle and cousins!  This was a huge encouragement!  That Friday night, Sarah and I met with a couple of students a co-worker asked me to check in with and they were so excited about the Lord and asking the Holy Spirit to really move on their campus-- it was such an encouragement to hear their desire to see Him move.  The following morning was just as great when more than 30 students gathered for a breakfast meeting to talk about missions with us.

Grove City College Students


It was amazing to see even in the midst of a busy schedule how the Lord provided opportunities to connect with so many people between trips!  My first day back in the office after Houghton, I headed to Lousiville, KY where a teammate and I met with a pastor at Sojourn Community Church to network and brainstorm about community, church-planting and training new emerging leaders.  This was a huge blessing and it left us challenged with lots to bring back to our team.  The ideas excited me- thinking of what it will take to make the ideas a reality, challenged me.  A few days later, a young Colombian pastor named Oscar visited headquarters.  At 22 years old, he is heading up the missions department for a denomination of over 700 churches.  Although we met hoping to come alongside him, we found him pastoring us and it was great to have time with him and learn from him while he was here.  (We're praying and looking for people to send to Colombia for one year or more to serve alongside him!)  Then, before Oscar's visit was done, I was off to Chicago for Moody Bible Institute's missions conference...


God really answered prayers for open doors and effective time there.  It was great to visit this campus for the first time and it was OMS' first year to be represented among the 60 missions agencies there.  The week included main sessions, break-out sessions, intercessory prayer and lots of time with students.  I was so impressed by the unity among the student body on this campus!  Part of the conference design is that the mission reps stay in students dorm rooms.  Below are my roommates from the week, Liann and Kelsey and Kylie, another girl from our floor!  They were such sweet hosts and awesome girls to get to know.  Can't wait to see how God continues to sharpen them and what He has prepared for their next steps.


While at Moody, Jesus so graciously provided a few connections in perfect timing.  One of the main speakers for the conference is an experienced church-planter that made time to sit down with me for a couple of hours and patiently listen, process and offer mentoring to some questions I've been wrestling with.  Another night, one of the girls on our dorm floor gave up part of her evening to pray with me over  a family in need at the hotel and our church.  I am thankful that the Spirit can bond hearts quickly and provide family no matter where we are.  Thank you again for your prayers over these trips and for your faithful support and encouragement! I praise God for how He is moving and am thankful for you.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mourning



Yesterday morning started with a call that an 18-year-old girl we knew from the hotel died unexpectedly.  She would’ve been 19 on October 8th.  Sunday, she and Robin and I were in my car, driving to pick up her medicine from a relative’s house. And just Wednesday night, she was laughing with us, defending my driving against a friend’s jokes, and making plans to celebrate her birthday.  We met her a few weeks ago and she’d been living in the hotel since she moved in with her boyfriend two weeks ago.  He is heartbroken.  So are we.

I hurried over to the hotel Friday morning and we wept and prayed with our friends there.  As sad as this has been, it is much harder for them, because now their home is a reminder of this sad sad thing.  The staff is burdened, too.  Please pray for them, pray for the residents, pray for us… for comfort for all of our hearts, for strength and stamina, for words for our friends.  Please pray that Jesus would use this and be lifted high in some way.  Our prayer is that many of our friends who have been on the fence with the Gospel, would be compelled to accept Jesus after this tragic loss.  Pray that God continues to move and that His Gospel would penetrate broken hearts.

Wednesday night she did Bible study with us for the first time.  She was late but sat in as soon as she got home.  Afterward, she was excited to share with us that she was late because she just came from a church.  She couldn’t remember the name of the church but she said she was helping with the four and five-year-olds class.  When I asked her what they learned, she said they were learning about how God created the animals and Adam and Eve.  I couldn’t believe it because we had been studying Genesis 2 that evening, and when I asked her to share it again with Christian, he smiled and the first thing he said was “I think God really wanted you to know tonight that He made the animals.”

Yesterday, the first thing I found myself thinking to myself while Paul was telling me about her death was, “knowing God made the animals doesn’t mean she’s with Jesus…” What seemed so beautiful Wednesday night all of a sudden didn’t seem like enough yesterday morning and that is what has been so hard and sad about this… The truth is we just don’t know … We know she heard the Gospel and was prayed with and we know God is good, but this is a hard loss and many of our friends are also grieving.  Please pray.

Sarah, who has been such a sweet friend in this, adjusting our trip plans, meeting me at the hotel instead of my home and helping me finish packing, shared this verse with me on the way up to New York…

“Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.”  Psalm 55:17



** I’ve mentioned briefly in another post that we started doing church at a hotel that has become a short-term home for many people, but really it’s been much more than that…  Our prayer has been not to do church but to be the church in that community and for Jesus to show the transformational power of the Gospel. Building relationships there, praying and spending time in this community has become a major part of the Coxes’, MacKinnons’ and my life in the last three months.  It has been amazing to see what God has been doing in changing our hearts, building trust in relationships and seeing people who don’t know Jesus openly seek Him.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strong





I just finished talking to a dear heart friend- Jen.  She and her husband and I went through Cross-training together and she is here at OMS Headquarters this week... there are many things that I just love about this couple, a few of them being: their love for the Lord, that they pray with power, their enthusiasm about Jesus and their fearlessness of what other people think (believers or not) in terms of proclaiming their identity in him.  It is also very likely that she's the only one to ever, while praying, refer to me as her "sweetest homegirl."

Anyway... deep conversations with Jen are one of my favorites and tonight was no different.  It was beautiful to hear about frustrations and joys since their return from the field while sharing some of my own.  In all of that, one of the things that came out is how deep emotional investment takes processing time.  I told her this is one of the reasons I haven't been blogging even though I have about 10 things on mind that I want to be sharing with you when I know how... She validated and encouraged me in that, before saying that when she finds herself in the same place, she realizes she has to pick just one thing to share and as God continues to grow and unravel things in her heart, then she'll share more things- but one at a time...

So tonight... the one thing I have to share is thankfulness for two things (see how I cheated there :)  1.  For your prayers.  And 2.  For God's Strength.

Thank you for being strong praying arms around me and the ministry in OMS, our house church and community.  God has been so Faithful to sustain, heal, mend, provide and stretch in these last few weeks, and it has been in large part, I know because of your faithfulness to pray, so thank YOU!

One morning this week, I found myself up at 4:30am-- not typical for this late sleeper, but God had me wide awake and I knew it was because I needed to be in the Word.  So, I found myself in Jeremiah and this is just one of the truths that blew me away...

"I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety.  They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.  I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land."

Jeremiah 32:37-41

Do you know what good news that is???  --I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of their descendants... I will never stop doing good for them.  I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.--

The first part I love about this is God is promising to create unity in His name-- HE will provide one heart and one purpose... what a beautiful promise.  I never cease to find myself with even greater gratitude or amazement when God reminds me that the same restorative and redeeming work He can do in one yucky heart like mine-- He can use to heal, rebuild and redeem a whole group of believers, family or marriage!  It is amazing!!  The power to transform one heart is amazing- but something involving lots of hearts is even more astounding and I'm thankful we can trust the Lord is strong enough to do this through His resurrection power.

Not only is He promising to give Israel one heart, but also to put a desire in their hearts to worship Him and never leave Him.  Oh, how I pray this is a promise He is giving me, too.  When I think of times with Him, I know that this is the most valuable promise of all-- to have a heart that never stops loving Him.

This morning, I was reading and came across Psalm 17:10, David is actually describing "the wicked" and his enemies, but I think I can oh too easily fit the description... is this really ever more than a couple of missteps away? He says,

"They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance."

And as my eyes ran across those words, actually looking for another verse... I was struck by a deep desire to remain soft-hearted to the Lord.  I'll admit, part of this is out of self-preservation, knowing that callousness to Him leads to pain and suffering and detours, but when my heart is joined to His there is life!  But more importantly, He is worthy of a fully devoted heart and whatever Glory that can give Him.  He can do so much when our hearts are not calloused... Would you stop and pray that over me and our ministry right now?  I'm praying tonight as you read this or go about your night or day, that He will soften the calloused parts of your heart, too.

No heart is too hard for Him to break, but oh, how I want to remain tender to Him and His leading.

"We owe Him every honor that is in our power to give Him.  Our everlasting grief lies in giving Him anything less."  - A.W. Tozer



Thanks for journeying with me and praying!

Psalm 18:1-3


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Miracle of Mason


Friday, we celebrated Robin and Christian's son, Mason's, first birthday!  As if a sweet baby turning one is not enough to celebrate, it was also a time for us to look back as a spiritual family on one of the biggest ways we've seen God's provision and intervention in this last year.  If you are looking for hope, for trust that God is big enough or in control, or if you just want a little look into a major stone of remembrance for us as a house church, take the time to click the picture below and listen to this podcast!



Praise God!  He is Gracious, Powerful, Sovereign and Compassionate.  He cares for those in need and He knows our hearts.

He knows everything inside and out... and He is good.  Isaiah 40.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We Want to See Jesus Lifted High



This is one of our house church's favorite songs... and it is the prayer in my heart right now!  Jesus is so good and faithful and in the midst of watching friends and loved ones transition and trying to transition myself, I can't help but be struck by God's faithfulness and sovereignty.  He is so gracious to let us know Him, and He really is our security!


Tuesday, we had the privilege of hearing from a few of our interns in chapel, and I'm so thankful for their boldness and willingness to share with the OMS community about what God has been teaching them this summer... whether it was His faithfulness, our frailty or His goodness in the midst of crisis, these women had open hearts and I'm so proud of them for their transparency and desire to let God grow and shape their hearts.


Thursday, we went to the Refuge, a local food and clothing shelter where the interns and I have been volunteering this summer.  It was so good!  What an encouragement to see the impact these women have made even in just this short few weeks they've had in Greenwood.  They are so great at jumping in and helping wherever and the staff at the Refuge so appreciates them.


Heather, one of the client's I met during a previous visit, dropped by to pick up some school supplies for her daughter, and I was so thankful to see her.  We talked until the staff turned the lights out on us and then we prayed.  She is a beautiful woman in need of boundaries and security in her life.  Would you pray for wisdom for her and for Jesus to open her heart to Him?  Would you pray for me that God would root me more deeply in His Gospel and that I would know and communicate His character for what it really is and not just what I want it to be?


Our house church has started meeting in a hotel that has become a home to a lot of low-income families that are without a place to live.  It has been a beautiful opportunity to get to know the people there and eat, pray and cry with them and love on their kids.  Sunday, I had the huge blessing of praying and listening while my friend Christian shared the Gospel with a sweet family, Pete, Courtney and Skyla who had just arrived at the hotel a few days ago... and I just found myself wanting to know Jesus more and be equipped more to share who He is.  Would you pray for Pete and Courtney, whom we'll be seeing again tonight?


Throughout this week, I've been thinking about old blogposts and times I've asked you to pray in the last few months for my restlessness and processing how the things God had been teaching me could fit into action here, this week was such a beautiful answer to prayer and so nourishing-- thank you for praying!


Finally, I just want to thank you so much for your prayers for our intern program.  It is only because of Jesus and your prayers that there has been fruit from this program.  Thank you for praying for them-- God is so faithful and good.  It has been hard to say goodbye to them and other dear friends this week, but I know the tears are really just an answer to our prayers for deep community during their time here.


This weekend, I'll be sharing at retreat for high school girls in Bloomington!  Would you pray over their time Friday and Saturday?  Would you pray for me as I prepare for the session I'm leading on Saturday?


We want to see Jesus lifted high!



Monday, July 11, 2011

OMS Reunion Pics



I'm going to have to set aside more time to blog- because there are a lot of exciting things happening and you all are a part of it!  I've written a little about our OMS Family Reunion/ 110th Anniversary- now here are some pics!  Above is a picture of most of our summer interns- it has been so great to get to know them and I can't believe the first two will be leaving this week!  Thanks to those of you who have been praying over them and me as I've been leading them this summer.  We were lucky to get some time away with Bette Crouse, whose husband is OMS' former president!  She had great stories and wisdom to share with us!  Bette is on the far left, and next to her is my friend and co-worker Cat, who's funding to join the Mobilization department at HQ!


Bette and Dawn, my sweet friend and our director of Mobilization's wife.





There were a lot of people at the reunion... over 300 missionaries gathered from the US and around the world to worship, learn and deepen community together!




Paul, Cat and I were in a skit the first day to share about OMS History.



Kids at the reunion


Our interns were an awesome help with the kids program and skits!



Amanda, Megan and Sarah rocking the skits!


 Hillary is our Mobilization intern and Jody is serving in Hope61


Emily is serving in Communications


Brianna's family serves in Haiti, Tiffy's family at HQ


Jessica, Cat and I got to know Tania and Sergii during lunch one day.  Tania's from Australia and Sergii's from Ukraine, where they now serve with their three kids.  They're going through CROSS Training as a family right now, so be praying for their prep for the field.


Bruce Bennett, director of OMS South Africa, shared about the Into Africa Project and the thousands of churches being planted throughout the continent!




 Travis is our CFO and Patrick directs eXtreme Walk!


Robin!





Cookout on OMS Campus

















Emily is serious about cornhole





Another update is coming soon!!!  In the meantime, join me in praising and thanking God for this nourishing time during the reunion!  I am always so happy to hear what is going on with you, too!




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

110



Tonight, Jesus met with us as we celebrated the 110th anniversary of One Mission Society.  He is so good!   Beth Kinlaw Coppedge spoke, starting by reading excerpts from 2 Corinthians 4-6.  Then, she asked God to come and take over the time, to speak to us "nose-to-nose and face-to-face" and to speak to us and teach us by name and individually instead of in general. She asked Jesus to come not as our guest but as our host, and as she prayed, I could tell... this woman loves Jesus.

Praise God, through her, His Word penetrated my heart, and seemingly the hearts of many others there, and brought me to tears before she was even a quarter of the way through.  My heart had been hungry for this teaching, and as she spoke, sharing about a desire for fresh healing, wisdom and annointing, I found myself yearning for it, too.

OMS is an organization that has a Wesleyan/Holiness background, and so, our speakers have been focusing on holiness and sanctification- some of which I can have a hard time sorting out or resting in... but tonight we digested the fact that Jesus wants all of us and he wants 100 percent-- why?  So that He can dwell in us, and so we don't go reproducing who we are but instead who He is.

What a great time processing with the Lord about sanctification and His transforming power.  His power to transform our hearts, mind, desires and even our belief in the lie that things can never be different.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared with me about being encouraged by the fact that we are not to temper or balance truth and emotions by reigning either in, but instead God calls us to be fully invested both in truth and an emotional relationship with Him.  Last night was a great example of that for me.


I don't think I've ever heard a woman speak with such power, while maintaining such a sweet voice and tender spirit.  Beth shared that she was caught up in her own needs and fears when God told her,


"Give those to me and let me make you bigger than your coping mechanisms."


Whoa...  I don't know about you but I think that's good news!


I think the part that stood out most to me about all this was just the call to a love relationship with the Lord and a reminder that He is waiting for me to soak up His presence and spend time with Him in His word, and in the midst of serving him in full-time ministry, it is not a worker that he is looking for but a lover-- Wow, what a pointed reminder!  He cares more about us having the intimacy of the presence of Jesus than us being busy serving.

What a generous blessing tonight was!  I'm so thankful for the encouragement, depth and healing He provided for us tonight through His truth and presence.

I hope some of this translates and encourages you more than seeming like a whirlwind recap.  Thank you for those of you who read along and journey with me.  Thank you so much for those of you who pray as you read.  Please pray over the next two days of our Missionary Reunion/ 110th Anniversary.  May tonight just be the beginning of more deep moments with Him!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello, friends!



Hello, friends! It has been an exciting few weeks!! Thank you so much to those of you who have been praying over my transition to Mobilization. I'm loving it and have felt so supported by the headquarters staff in this   move :)


One of my favorite parts of this job so far is getting to sit down and pray with candidates and come alongside young women as they are seeking the Lord's leading in their lives!! What an exciting place to be... in a front row seat, watching God develop His people and reveal His next steps for them. It has been such a gift to get to host these candidates, and to get to know my new co-workers in our department!


This week, we had our first summer intern, Hillary arrive-- she did a great job! I'm looking forward to meeting the rest of the interns that we've been praying over and preparing for! Our director of Mobilization, Paul, and I have been preparing a summer program for the interns, so that they can have the opportunity to dig into spiritual formation and build community despite the fact that they are serving in different departments.


…And in the time since I started writing this a week ago (shame on me), four more interns have arrived and there’s been a Hispanic marriage retreat at headquarters where I served alongside some dear friends that coordinated the weekend.


Needless to say it has been a busy time, but God has been doing exciting things. I’ve been reading Ephesians recently, which started a couple of weeks ago when I found myself clinging to Ephesians 4… boy did I need to hear all of it: a call for unity in the body through compassion, yielding and forgiveness alongside the need to be rooted in Christ in the midst of the waves of life.


Would you be praying this over our team, house church, our interns, OMS and the couples that attended the marriage retreat? I will certainly be praying it over you… what a crazy time some seasons can be, but God is unmovable and unchanging and that’s one of the reasons I want to be more rooted in Him.


In a lot of ways, my heart still feels shaken up and unsettled since being in Africa. I feel a sense of urgency in my heart which I know could just be transition, but I also think it’s me struggling to see how the things I saw there and the truths I believe about wanting to radically follow the Lord fit in with the culture or life here—even within some Christian sub-cultures. This makes it a little hard to write recently, because even at times when the schedule has settled down, I haven’t. It has been more of a seeking and striving phase than one of conclusions. I’m still waiting to see where this change in perspective and desires fits exactly, but maybe that’s just how it’s supposed to be… because it requires dependence.


I guess that’s all for tonight---except that I’m finding myself overwhelming thankful for the good examples of disciples that Jesus has put in my life. What a blessing to live life with them and learn together.


Thank you for praying and for seeking Jesus and for being a part of my life through this team!



Monday, April 18, 2011

Big News and Timing!


Our department has been looking forward to today—it was Jessica and Susan’s first day back in the office since they left for Asia two weeks ago.  They left only a few days after I returned from Africa, and in the meantime one of our coworkers has been out for a week with his new baby and another is in Mexico and another is in Florida…it has been a busy place to say the least!  And weird to be taking turns holding down the fort and working in silence in a department that is otherwise always filled with banter.



Friday, I was gone, too, but on a much shorter trip—I was in Kentucky for my first visit to Asbury University!  I drove down to speak at Friday Night Live at the OMS house on Asbury’s campus. It was fun to see Wilmore and the campus after hearing about it for years from different friends and family. I spent Friday and Saturday with my good friends Mandi and Steven and their two little boys. It was a treat to see a little of their community and where they’re living while Steven is in seminary.

Before speaking at the Friday night group, I met a student on campus, who’s considering applying to serve in communications with OMS.  She’ll be coming to visit our headquarters tomorrow, and we’re looking forward to showing her the communications ministry and getting to know her!

This trip was especially fun for me, because it was a brief glimpse of what I’ll be doing in the coming year with OMS!  April 25—that’s right, a week from today—I’ll be starting a new position in OMS’ mobilization department!!  I’m so excited about this opportunity and think it will be a great fit!  God really confirmed this move for me during my time in Africa, and I can’t wait to come alongside applicants, candidates and our current missionaries as they seek God’s direction in their lives!  One of the things I’ll be doing as a mobilizer is building relationships and discipling students on a few different college campuses, and Asbury is one of them!

Isn’t it funny how this trip to Wilmore happened to be just a week before I start as a mobilizer?  Speaking at Asbury has been in my calendar for a while.  It was way back in the fall when I was asked to come April 15th.  While planning the trip to Africa, I remember thinking it was pretty convenient to be coming back right before I was to share in Wilmore, but little did I know, headquarters would be approving my first day in mobilization to be just one week after I spoke.  I didn't know, but He knew.

God knows me in and out, and He knows the timing of my life. He knew the timing of lessons I needed to learn in Haiti.  He knew that even though going to Africa in March seemed rushed to me, it was the perfect timing to be away, seeking His direction in changing ministry positions. And He knew in October, when the Colemans asked me to come speak at Asbury, that April was the perfect time to go and get to start a new relationship with them!

I’m reading this book right now, Sacred Waiting, and today, I read an example that really made sense to me. The author’s referring to a little league baseball coach, training kids on how to steal bases. (I used to love going to the ballpark to watch Steve play little league!) He writes:

“…it seemed to me that the training shared the three facets of waiting on God: (1.) recognize the voice of your coach; (2.) run immediately when the coach says “Go!”; and (3.) trust that the coach’s sense of timing is better than your own. The coach, after all, is watching the entire field and can see the whole play unfolding. The runner must remain focused entirely on the next base.”

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes the third one seems the hardest to get through my head, which is one of the reasons I just love when God lets me see, through things like this weekend, that He’s known all along.

"You know when I sit and when I rise... You discern my going out and my lying down... Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord... All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139

Anyway, I'm so excited to be sharing with you about this new opportunity to serve Jesus.  Would you be praying over my last few days in the communications department and this transition into the mobilization department next week?  

If you have any questions for me about this transition or new role, please let me know! I'm looking forward to sharing more with you as I get started next week.

Thank you so much for being my teammate in this ministry!






Friday, April 8, 2011

Kids' hearts for Africa


It has been such a joy to share with people about my time in Africa.  Last week, I had the chance to share some stories and pictures with a few kids, and they were just soaking it up.  A few of them had seen some of the photos the day before and so whenever I’d ask what they thought was happening in a certain photo, they remembered!  I was so glad to just see their excitement and know that some of the stories were sticking with them.



One of the things they kept asking about was this little boy.  He was a smiley little guy at a YFC orphanage in Burundi.  You’ll notice his shoes are mismatched.  I didn’t realize until I picked him up that he’s wearing a tennis shoe on one foot because he has a prosthetic leg.

Another thing we talked about is water and how lucky we are to have running water and faucets in our houses.



While I was sharing with the kids, my friend Robin had one of them grab a milk jug from the fridge.  The kids took turns trying to carry it on their heads, and we told them to try to imagine carrying something 10 times as heavy.  I shared with them that I had seen kids smaller than the girl in this first photo carrying water jugs.





















They were soaking it up and asking so many questions, which just makes me happy!  We finished the night by praying for the little boy from Burundi and missionary Aimee and the Mozambican women she serves with.

Would love it if you would pray for them, too, but pray also for these sweet kids who are already learning about other cultures and how big Jesus' heart is for the world.  Pray that He'd keep shaping their hearts and giving us the tools to help them find ways to serve (which they've been asking about a lot!).



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heavy Burdens


I’m home from Africa, and I’m so thankful for the chance to have gone on that trip. I'm thankful to be home, too.  Exciting things have been happening as a result of the trip, and I want to tell you about them, but right now my heart is too distracted by heavy burdens.

There are a lot of tough things going on this week- mostly in the lives of loved ones. It seems like every other conversation I’ve had this week has involved a major need. Not just like a lot of people are having bad days, but major things.  Friends or family in crisis. Last night, one of my good friends lost her mom. Today another close friend is getting an MRI. Friends are struggling through unemployment. One of my family member’s is waiting on medical test results from earlier this week, while other dear friends are processing a tough diagnosis one of their children received a couple of days ago. A family I love feels like they are under spiritual attack—and I don’t doubt it for a second, as I know how much they impact others by showing real love in Jesus' name.  And there are a few more things like this I can think of off the top of my head.

Whether in Africa or the States, there are deep needs.  I just feel so reminded that life is fragile and extra aware of the needs and heartache of those around me.  I don’t like it.  My heart hurts for them, and yet with so many needs at once, God has been reminding me that I’m not the One carrying them, holding them, as much as I may want to be.  It’s been a reminder to me of the need for His strength and His care, because mine is not enough to fill them up.

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you."  -Isaiah 54:10

Junior's words in this Haiti missionary's blog encouraged me today.  Hope they encourage you, too!








Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jackie's Home




 


GITEGA, Burundi-- My second day in Burundi, I left Bujumbura for Gitega to meet up with the Sister Connection team. This awesome ministry, provides sponsorship and homes to Burundian widows and their children. Many of these women were widowed during the civil war between the Hutu and the Tutsi. In fact, such a large part of this generation was wiped out that, when we saw an elderly man on the street Friday, Denise (the U.S. Director of Sister Connection) stopped mid-sentence to point it out. There just aren't many men older than late 30s or early 40s there, she said.

It was great to meet up with Michelle after all our emailing back and forth about this trip. She was the one person in Burundi that I had met before.  We arrived at the hotel where they were spending time working. There is a team of about 11 engineers and architects from all over the world, here to serve with EMI and work on building plans for Mount Hope, a mountain donated to Sister Connection by the governor, who was orphaned himself in 1972.


That afternoon, the EMI team, Denise, Michelle and I went to visit three widows. The pictures below are from our visit with the first woman, Jackie. She was so grateful. She kept saying, I want to thank Jesus for the blessing of this house and thank you. Praising God. In fact, she was so grateful that she told Denise she wanted to give her a chicken. Jackie had no idea Denise wouldn’t be able to take it on the plane, but it would’ve been horrible if she hadn’t accepted it.






Denise asked her if she had children. She brought out all three. They were 11, 8 and 6 years old. The 11-year-old was about the same size as the eight-year-old, and I would’ve guessed that the six-year-old was only three or four. It was so sad to realize that they were that undernourished. The smallest boy’s stomach was bulging out, but obviously he had been underfed for long enough that his growth was greatly affected.


Then, Denise had one of the team members pray for the family. I couldn’t stop my tears, realizing that many of the children who had sung for me the day before were probably in the same situation. I had learned after visiting them, that many of them were orphans, but it was just dawning on me that the kids I would’ve guessed were three years old were probably closer to five or six. My heart just broke for them even more.


However, these women that we visited were able to see the blessings in the midst of their poverty. Instead of focusing on what they lacked, they gave praise to God for their new homes and were so happy to receive us as visitors. Jackie shared with us that before receiving her home from a donor through Sister Connection, she had a thatch roof. I thought she would say the problem was rain came through, but what she shared instead was worse. Her own family set fire to that roof in an effort to scare her away and gain whatever her husband had left behind.

I was also so surprised to hear that the women we visited didn’t have sponsors yet. Though they could certainly use the aid, no one is currently sponsoring them through Sister Connection. The reason this surprised me because they were so thankful—thankful to the point of saying their lives had been changed—and by what? $600.


Their lives were changed by God using a gift from someone with more resources. What does it take to qualify as having more resources?  Take a look here.


If you’re interested in learning more about Sister Connection or in providing a home to a widow and her family go to http://www.sisterconnection.org/.


Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support!

 
 Jackie ripped a piece of the tree off to tie the chicken's feet together before handing it to Denise.