Thursday, May 14, 2015

Where I Live.....

Walking home today, I realized how "everyday" these sights have become.
Where I live, folks carry items in black, plastic bags so no one can see what they have.   It may be food from market or new shoes.    Mine our beans our friend Benjamin brought My Dear from his garden.   He was sure to show My Dear how to snap the ends off.

Where I live, poinsettias are seen growing among the spring flowers. 

Where I live, you never underestimate the occupancy of your vehicle.   This SUV took 5 adults in the front and 4 more in the back...look how those long legs fold up.   We saw our friends loading up for church and asked to take a picture. 

Where I live, this plant called, "Job's Tears" grows.   In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the God of the universe planted it to grow in dry conditions and produce a seed that pops right off and is hollow on the inside.   It has a soft place at each end of the seed that allows a needle and string to go right through so these seeds are made into lovely beaded jewelry.   So easy to make....I made myself a necklace.   You will see jewelry along the mache made of many colorful beads from this plant.  Where I live, God supplied an income for the locals through His handiwork. 

Where I live, water is precious.   Drinking water is especially precious.   So precious that people steal it.   Water trickles out of the tap but there are times when we have to allow our plants to dry out because there is not enough water to spare.   Today, our Miss B. took a shower with buckets at her feet to catch the water so our Dolly could water her flower seeds.  Perhaps, we will even use some of the water to flush the toilet.   Toilets and faucets are things that many of our neighbors do not have the luxury of.    Where I live, we have to lock up our drinking water and consider ways to conserve each drop of precious water we can.

Where I live, people greet one another as they pass.  People smile when they are smiled at.   Where I live, folks know my name.   Where I live, the church doors are always open and the sounds of worship pour out of the open windows.  Where I live beautiful people accept the "blan" foreigners.   Where I live, the Lord is at work. 
 I am thankful to live where I live.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What is going on...

Last fall, My Dear was trained to fill in for a husband and wife duo as they were going on furlough for 2 months.   Once they arrived in the states, they went for check-ups with their doctors.   Roger    learned that he had 95% blockage in three arteries of his heart.   He was going in for a well visit so you can imagine their surprise.   The blockage was so bad they quickly did open heart surgery.   We praised the Lord they were in the states because there are no heart surgeons here.   The 2-months My Dear would be filling-in grew to 7 months.  

Since we are "newbies" the position felt long and grueling at times.   We both learned more about the culture.   My Dear learned more language especially with money and tools.   It was good to learn but I can be honest and say, we are both glad it is coming to an end.  Not because it was so grueling, but because he has had multiple positions to fill in their absence.  We appreciate the lessons learned and have an even greater appreciation for Roger and Judy who serve so faithfully and with vision in this office.      

There were times, while My Dear was serving in this temporary position he wondered what his purpose really was and why we are even here.   Everyone here has multiple responsibilities...the harvest is plenty and the workers are few.   Having so much on one's plate, you can't really do anything well.

For a person that has been in the ministry for 20+ years, and had people stop by his office or meet with him to discuss the Word, this part of his position has left him dry.   His study time to prepare for devotions at Mountain Maid gave him some purpose but he had to leave quickly after sharing to get to operations.   He was unable to spend time with the people and build relationships with them as he worked. 

What I see that really lights his fire is Sunday morning.   This IS his ministry.  It is not a responsibility assigned by the mission but a ministry opportunity that was made available to him.  HE LOVES IT!  This time of turbulence has had him in deep dependence on the Lord and a renewing commitment that He would do whatever the Lord wanted Him to do because He knows what God has done for Him through His Son. 

All of this made me think of the thousands of believers who get up and go to work everyday and are not in areas of so called "ministry."   It is the teachers, the engineers, the factory workers, the administrators, landscapers, business owners, bus drivers, therapist, nurses.....those folks who live out their faith through their occupations.   They make their occupation their ministry and look for ways to share The Gospel each day.  

This meeting of hungry believers on Sunday morning has satisfied My Dear's soul during this time.  Patience is believing with hope.   He has been patient that the Lord would use this and would be faithful to fulfill My Dear's heart desire to share The Gospel and to preach the Word.

May you too be encouraged that you are EXACTLY where the Lord has called you for such a time as this.   Just as Esther was in a position to protect her people, we are where He has called us for this time.   He will not let any of our lives be wasted but will use and redeem it for His glory (and some parts feel like they need a bit more redeeming than others....amen!)

Lord, we continue to be patient in HOPE as you bring your will for our lives.   Lord, please give Roger and Judy a spiritual heart to continue to serve you and a physical heart to keep up with it!!!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spirit Slammed!

The ladies of the mission gather once a week along with other English speaking ladies for Bible study.   We have been doing video based studies.   It really is an unique time for us to encourage one another in our walk with Christ.

Last week, during our time of homework, I read a verse I am sure I have read or heard before but this time, it SLAMMED on my brakes!

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of  redemption.                     - Ephesians 4:30

Grieve the Holy Spirit?   I know grieving!  I have done that a time or 2.  The children and I grieved a bit during the transition of the move.   I have been praying for my friend and her family who are still in a time of grieving the loss of a loved one.  Grieving is NOT fun!   I don't want to cause that on anyone.   But the scripture says that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. 

Do not quench the Spirit.    -1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quench means to not allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.   So, what it comes down to this:  when I quench the Holy Spirit, I grieve the Holy Spirit.   When I feel the Spirit of God prompting me to do something and I choose not to do it, I am quenching the Spirit and therefore, grieving the Holy Spirit.   I do that with each act of disobedience and sin.  UGH!   I cause the Spirit of God to grieve!  

One night, I went to bed after a conversation with a woman.  She shared with me her concern for the choices another women was making.   I kept replaying in mind, "she knows better!" 

When I went to bed that evening, my heart was heavy for this woman and sorry that she could not just learn from others who made the same mistake but had to learn for herself.   I wrestled a bit through the night as the Spirit spoke to me saying:

 "You are upset about the decisions that this person is making and you don't even know if they have a relationship with me.   Yet, YOU!   You, who knows she is saved by grace, You continue to sin against me day after day.   Making your own decisions instead of what I have in store for you.   YOU, my child, YOU grieve me.   You make a choice and you turn your back on me.   You create a gap between me and you with your choices.  You quench me."

I awoke tired and a bit sad in that I know what the Lord spoke to me was real and was certainly the message I needed to hear.  Do I mess up still?  Yes.   Will I ever get it right?  No.   But what I can do is to come before the God of the universe and dump my heart.   I can spill out all that I have done to separate me from Him, cause that is indeed what our sin does.

I was convicted to spend more time with My Lord in confession.  I will continue to mess-up but what peace comes that I can go before THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE and He forgives me.  He gives me a clean slate and bridges the gap between me and Him....Him, being the SAVIOR of the WORLD! 

What a beautiful time of the year to reflect on the love the Lord has for us.  Time after time I sin.   I quench The Spirit and therefore grieve Him but He forgives me when I humbly come before Him and seek His forgiveness.  When that sin is removed, the gap I have created is decreased.   Thank you Lord for chance after chance after chance.....   I am humbly and eternally grateful.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Once Was Blind

Last week, a team from our hometown were here.   I hope to share more on that later.  Because the team was here, My Dear had to gather interrupters for them.  One of those interrupters is a young medical student that did some language classes with us when we first moved.   The kids were happy to have Hassan back to visit with us.  Since he took time off of school to be here, he stayed with us where he could use the internet to study and study he did!   If he was not out with the team, he was studying....I was very happy for our Billy to see what studying looks like. 

One morning, Hassan stepped out to go to the pharmacy.   I asked him about the medication and he shared he bought it for a friend who could not afford it...a medical student, in much extra money could he possibly have?

Later that afternoon, Hassan walked through the door with a big grin on his face with two black plastic bags from market.   He looked at me and said, "she gave them to me" and just continued to smile!  A young woman was on the porch so I greeted her.   As she left, Hassan told me a bit of who she was so I had him call her back to take a photo of the two of them together.

Sometime last year, Hassan was interrupting for a team in Qui Qroit.   He noticed the young people were all running around and playing a game.   A young lady sat to the side.   Hassan went to talk with her and asked her why she was not playing.   She said she was fine.   With his probing, she shared that she was blind and that is why she was not playing.   Hassan told her that he did not realize she was blind.   Using his beginning medical background and knowing the culture, he assumed she had lost her sight due to diabetes.   A lady on the team was diabetic and tested the young woman's blood sugar.   Hassan said it was 500 and should be 90.   They gave the young woman some insulin and immediately her blood sugar went down. But that was a one time fix and not something her family could provide for her.   Hassan told her that he did not have money or medication but what he did have was Jesus and he prayed with her.   He asked her if she believed the Lord could heal her and she said she believed. 

Weeks later, Hassan was at the mission when the director introduced him to a new missionary.   Dr. Cowley, the eye doctor.   Hassan immediately remembered the girl at Qui Qroit and asked if Dr. Cowley could remove cataracts.   He said he could not but that a team of doctors were coming to do just that.  

Hassan contacted the young lady and she was able to have the surgery at our hospital, on the mission with Hassan assisting.   As Hassan told the story, he said, "Only God could orchestrate that."  After being blind for four years, this young woman can now see again.   She had walked from Qui Qroit that day.   I have been there and my eyes were probably as big as saucers as I realized the length of her travels and the hours she walked to get here.

As Hassan shared his story of this young woman, his smile widened and he ended it with, "She once was blind, but now she sees."   Praise the Lord for divine arrangements, for prayer and boldness to pray for physical healing that would lead to spiritual healing, and for sweet Hassan...yep, I am a bit bias on that last one and not because of the tshirt he is wearing in this photo.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day

I will be honest, I am not a "holiday" person really.   If I had to pick a favorite holiday it would be St. Patrick's Day because God gifted us with a pink, loud, opinionated,  chubby cheeked little girl on that day.    We enjoy celebrating our children and making them feel special and encouraging them to make others feel special on holidays.   It just seems like a great time to show His LOVE to others.  

Valentine's Day honestly is the hardest holiday for me.   It may have something to do with years working at a flower shop or the world telling me that I "needed" someone on this day as a high-schooler and not having anyone.   Perhaps I dislike it because  when I did have "somebody" to be my so called Valentine, we just hurt one another because.....well, we were kids and had no business being in that kind of relationship.   Anyway, it is just not my favorite!  Now, that we have been married over 18 is just another day......and that works for both  My Dear and myself!

But this year was different.   Since we have moved, there are no "date nights."   (Yes, I see your post on Facebook!)  There is no "running away for the weekend" (but furlough is coming!)   We have kept our kiddos close to us in the early stages of the move because we were all shaking in our boots scared and crying could come at any time (from the children.... or me!)  We had some sweet help with them when we moved over the summer months from an intern as we attended classes (so that time walking up rocky ole Thomassin was pretty precious as I hooked my arm in his so not to stumble.)  

All week, our friends Chris and Jen with a Door to Hope ministry, have asked when we were going to let the kids come over to their house for an evening and us have time to ourselves.   They picked the restaurant for us to go to and everything and said we would feel like we were in America.  The kids caught wind of the offer and cheers abounded!  

So tonight, we packed up some entertainment and refilled the recently emptied nest of The Wards with just what they left in the states....1 boy and 2 girls.....and maybe they left a Nerf gun, a baby doll, Swiss Family Robinson video,  oh and Dolly fixed a lunch box of dinner for everyone.....oh, and socks, jackets, and blankets cause it is really amazing the temperature difference just a few miles up the mountain. 

These two sillies snuggled under a blanket because they had the window down on the way there.

The gang was excited to hang out at The Wards high in the sky high, heat no longer rises apartment!

My Dear and I dressed up and went out on the town!   Miss B. was so funny.   She picked out my necklace and shoes and made suggestions about my attire.  She asked My Dear to wear a certain pair of shoes and told him he better brush his teeth if he was going on a date with Mom.   He asked why and she said, "Cause you don't want to talk to her and she says, (waving her hand in front of her nose) 'Your breath stinks."    Oh, let me add this...I also got to explain what contraception was today to another of our children since we did a grocery run and it is located with those "last minute items" at the check-out you know the ones:  candy, gum, cigarettes (3 choices), playing cards, and contraception.  

So, this place did not automatically take me back to the states because it was SO NICE!  Nicer than where I would have eaten in the states.  But I did find one thing on the table that you just don't see in the states anymore, an ashtray.   Thankfully, no one was using one of these while we were there.

We had a nice time being alone!   The folks saw us coming and knew it was an American holiday.   They seated us, handing us menus in FRENCH!  (Darn you high school latin!)   I recognized a few words from Creole but glad to know that BBQ is pretty universal.   The people were so precious.   Our server was Ulysses.    He was kinda  "Unconditional Surrender" (U.S. Grant, get it U.S in Grant's name....I would not have gotten it either if not for homeschooling.)  Mr.Ulysses came to the table and replaced the light bulb over our table.   Then someone came and lit a candle for us and twisted the lightbulb off.   Ulysses came again to refill drinks and turned the light back on.   SO funny and it just cracked me up that they were trying so hard to make it romantic as they respected our holiday.  We were just happy to get to finish sentences that did not contain interjections using "Stop!" or "Don't!"   It was good, so good to just be us and to breathe...good think Miss B. reminded us to brush our teeth!

Have you ever seen a more fancy plate of French fries?   We did have an idea what was coming with this meal.

BBQ chicken and I got to pick between fries of bannann (plaintains.)   Those sticks are carrots.

We had left something for Chris and Jen at the house so after we ate,  we came back to get it.  When we got home, Dolly's pup Chester came out to greet us.   He ran to the car and looked at me.   I stayed outside so he could do his business but he wouldn't.   Came back in with head down and tail tucked....and we finally got it.   He couldn't find the kids.   He probably does not remember a time when they were not with us.   He was confused.  When we returned from getting the kids I noticed that Chester pup had gone and gotten Billy's dirty sock out of his floor to love on...that is some kinda love...a dirty 13 year old boy's sock.

We are thankful that God saw fit to send the Wards to Haiti...and our part of Haiti just months after we moved.   That the "chance" meeting of their friend to our friend on a beach in FL would lead to a discussion about their friends (us) moving to Haiti and their praying that we would meet.   That following Sunday we did just that!  God arrangements!   He knew we (ALL 5 OF US!) needed this precious family to spur us on.   Former KY youth ministers....meeting in this country....a continued reminder of  God's great big LOVE!  Thanks for loving us Wards!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Favorite Day of the Week

When we first moved to Indiana, My Dear had Fridays off of work.   It quickly became my favorite day of the week.   He was home or at least with us!   My love language is acts of service and his being home meant extra hands with the babies or a task accomplished at home.   It was all good and he even got to sleep in on those days!

It is a 6 day work week here on the mission and the 7th day is "on call."   It is, what it is!   Much like a nurse, doctor. pastor, police officer, fireman..... if something happens, they have to be there!   For My Dear it could be issues with our water supply or transportation to and from the airport.   If someone passes away there will be a knock on the door for a coffin and he will need to take care of that.  Any range of things really!

Sunday is a day that much of the mission is shut down with the exception of the playground and zoo which is managed by a guard.  This allows for some rest for My Dear.   That in itself could be why Sunday would be welcomed each week!  But it's not!  Sunday is our favorite day of the week because of these people.....

We love spending Sunday morning with these people....some are absent from this photo that was taken a few weeks ago.   The church at Fermathe has an English speaking Sunday School class.  They have needed a teacher for awhile with another man filling in.   They asked a missionary staff person if they knew of anyone who would be interested in teaching and we are!   My Dear LOVES this!!!!  I have never been with a more eager group of students!   They want to learn English so that they can read and study their Bibles.   (The Creole Bible is not a direct translation but is paraphrased.)They are hungry for The Word.   They fulfill the place of  my small group Bible study in the states.   We are working toward sharing life together as Mark has 2 of these men going along with him when he knows language will be an issue and needs a translator to help him communicate or to help him understand.   He loves these men and his time with him.   Another of the man in our class is being mentored by another missionary staff member once a week.  

There are 2 ladies that have been consistent to class.  One a mom and a teacher...just like me!   She borrowed my Handbook for Reading book that I used to teach the children to read and photo copied every page to continue to work on her English skills.   The other lady is a young woman in her early 20s perhaps.   She makes me smile.   I have laughed and grown much in my relationship with young women.   In fact, when we moved, I missed those young women!   They were perks to My Dear being in youth ministry!   *Shout out to the small groups of ladies that I love....interrupted movements, scented candles, Fazoli's bread, and "that may or not have been me" kinda love!

The class members are inviting people to come with them.   We are reading through Genesis and reading Francis Chan's book Multipy together at home and discussing it in class.   These people spur me on!!!  

This is our class.   We had a team of Hoosiers working on the mission this week so they joined us.

Literally, every chair in the building was in use.   I took a seat on the floor and sent the girls and their friend into another room to create more room.  Mark sat on an upside down trash can!  

We look forward to what God is going to do in us and through us (all of us!) as we continue to meet together on our favorite day of the week!

I am eager for my home church folks to meet these people.....very soon!

Friday, January 2, 2015

One Word

A few years ago, I was challenged to choose one word for the year.   I prayed about the word and asked the Lord to reveal it to me.   He gave me the word LESS.   In LESS,  I was to purge my life.   I assumed much of that was physical stuff that cluttered our home but as the year played out God showed me oh so much more that needed to be purged.   My heart was a mess.   I was holding onto stuff that needed to go.   My year of LESS actually was 2 years long!

After 2 years of LESS, God laid on my heart to LOVE.   As I think back, LESS was hard but to LOVE was just as hard.   I had healed quite a bit through the season of LESS and now God was going to teach me to LOVE.   It started with a young man that  needed a place to stay due to domestic violence.   It brought new challenges having a teenager in our home and setting boundaries to protect our younger children.  It was okay.   But then another teenage boy came into our home.   This one, although he did not know it, showed me all kinds of areas where I loved conditionally.  This young man rocked my world and my heart.  I could wring or hug his neck at any given minute and it could change within seconds.   I smile as I type this, thankful for what God showed me through this sweet/rooten know wring or hug his neck!

Last year, I knew our lives would be turned upside down.   So I thought CHANGE, it will be a year of change.   Our family sold our beloved  home in the woods nestled close to wonderful friends.  We left the community we had grown to love.   Put our possessions out in the drive way with a for sale sign on it and drove from all that had been important to us for the past 10 years. 

Looking back now on our arrival in Haiti, it is a blur.  I was sick so often and the physical sickness brought out mental and emotional sorrow.   The children and I grieved and to comfort them, I just cried with them.   At that time, my precious sister in Christ sent me a token of the word GRATEFUL.   I hung it in the bathroom because I was spending sooo much time there!!!  I had to choose to be grateful in the change!   The reminder of GRATEFUL meant more to me because my friend had suffered a year of unexpected lost and God had given her the word GRATEFUL before her year began.   The reminder was not just a word but I watched her live GRATEFUL through a year that should have left her in a heap on the bathroom (or kitchen -CN) floor.

Now, 6 months later, it is time to choose a new word.  Looking back on 2014, I know I was just floating along, head above water, simply trying to survive.  I believe God showed me this, just this past week.   Nana and Pops came to visit so we went for a day to the beach location of the mission.    I had never snorkeled.   My Dear helped me to get all of the equipment on and to be comfortable.   I laid on the top of the water looking down at a whole new world!   Rich colors of life were covered by the sea.  To see such beauty, all I had to do was swim out into the water and be still to take it in.  I found myself swimming from one reef to the next and occasionally looking back to keep sight of the others.   There was so much there!!  I realized the past year I was too busy trying to survive, just keeping my head above water, to notice the reef!

So this year, I will SWIM!   I will no long just try to survive but I will put strokes in.   I will pursue more.   I will linger over the scriptures like I did the reef with a snorkel and goggles on so not to be limited by the time I can spend there.   I will dive into my language learning.   I will pursue relationships with others that speak a different language.  This year,  I will SWIM and allow God to show me the beauty of the reef that I have been floating above.