Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rick-a-Saw

We are now home but I have a heart full of blog posts and I can include pictures this go around. Our last hotel was not blogger friendly. The government attempted a block on Facebook and Satan stepped in to stop the blogging. I truly believe it was warfare with our church checking up and praying on us from our blog posts.

While in Vnam, we took a modern day ricksaw ride. When talking about going, I called it a "rick a saw." Not until it was brought to my attention, did I realize I had added the syllable. The team got a kick that I could make even a "rick-a-saw" a little bit Kentucky. I was sure to point out to them that Vnam people even have KY plastered across the United States on the map so there is no need to downplay the effects of Kentucky on the planet!

We were a parade of about 9 folks on the ricksaw ride. We got quite a bit of attention. People stared to see the line of white folks going down the street. I would wave as if it were a parade and they would smile and wave back. Our drivers were thrilled to have the business. Amy reminded me to take note of how hard the people have to work to make a living.




Doesn't Fay look so stink'n cute in her "rick a saw." Wonder if her boys will get one for Christmas?


We drew attention wherever we went because we looked different. My heart knew that God would use our appearance as being different BUT I had to be obedient to Him to BE different!

Amy asked my driver if he would let me drive him. He agreed and others joined us. We pulled to the side of the road and switched seat. Wonder if that had ever happened to them before?


You can imagine the attention we drew then! Folks honked (which Vnam folks love their horns!) and waved at us. Not only did God speak to the hearts of our drivers but He spoke to the hearts of those that drove past.

Don't let this picture fool you, I was just saddling up! I kept in front of the gang and my little driver waved his #1 sign to the others. The other Vnam drivers attempted to pass but I would speed up, must be the KY Derby in me! The other Vnam drivers thought that was funny and probably in fear for the man I was driving, backed off.


I asked my driver (through Amy) if I was doing a good job. He said, yes and agreed to give me a job if I would move to Vnam. (I should have considered this with the long flight home ahead of me!)
We carried Bible tracts with us. How much more receptive do you think this guy was to the gospel after I paid and gave him a tip for me to do some of the work? I am reminded...
the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.... Matthew 20:28
Ricksaws may not be driving around in my town, but the ministry opportunities are! I saw 3 of them in the airport and on the plane. I am sure there were more that I missed. Be on the look out-I know you will be blessed and you might even have as much fun as I did on the "rick-a-saw!"



Friday, March 26, 2010

To Restore

Our team member Sam, has a story she tells of a family she knows.
Their grandmother was in the hospital and the family gathered. Sam describes them as being dramatic in that if it is good-it is very good and if it is bad-it is tragic!

Grandmother was about to have an operation and the family members were mourning and weeping in the waiting area sure that Grandmother would die. When Grandmother was fine, there was loud rejoicing! The daughter went into her mother's room and began loudly praising God, much to the alarm of the hospital staff. When the staff asked for the "preacher woman" to leave she turned to them and said, "It has long been my prayer that God would restore that which the locust had eaten!" (found it in Joel 2:25)

We have to be careful in using scripture in context but over the last couple of days with my stomach ruling my actions and diet I now feel as if my prayer is "for God to restore that which the locust have eaten!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hotel Water and Upper Room Water

The last post I mentioned the 2 temperatures of water in Vnam. I shared my observation with our group. The ladies all laughed and the men looked at me funny. They informed us that hot water was provided with a flip of a switch, the switch we had all played with but did not know what it did. We are in a new hotel now but last night we ladies enjoyed our first HOT shower!



Before heading to Vnam, God began to deal with me on some baggage in my past. I asked Him again and again why are you asking me to deal with that now? I was hoping He would instead choose to prepare me for this trip. I knew He was speaking to my heart but did not know what He wanted me to do with the baggage. I was certain God would show me after I returned home from Vnam.



We were to go to the training center to meet with the pastors and their wives again. I was truly looking forward to it this time unlike the day before. These women were so heavy on my heart for what they faced each day for the gospel of Christ. I was ready to love on them and get the ME out of the way. Language barriers are only language barriers to the ME not to Him!



Because of their humble positions and lifestyles, I was in awe of them. God called me to humble myself as well. I spoke with Sunny, the speaker for the ladies, and shared that God had laid on my heart to wash their feet. Now, at least 2 of our group members have feet issues-feet gross them out. But they pushed the ME aside and agreed we needed to do this.



The women were unaware of what was about to happen. They were asked to make a large circle and we entered with large bowls and towels. I am not likely to finish this post without tears-I hope I don't short out the keyboard!



As we washed their feet with our bare hands-walls came down! It was humbling for every woman in the room. Tears fell from their eyes as they prayed aloud in the room. Two languages, 30 to 40 women- all praying to the same God. We prayed as we touched their dark feet, many that had traveled several hours to be there. God began to speak to me over specific prayers for these women. All the while, these ladies were praying for me too. After each lady, I embraced them in tears. I kissed their cheeks, but they push their faces into mine and literally breathed me in. It was the body of Christ- in unity as we washed the feet of Christ.



As I went to wash the last person's feet, I looked up to see the young face of a woman whose deepest prayer I knew. The tears began to fall as I then realized that God was indeed hauling my baggage out of me at that very moment! I sat at the feet of a women and pleaded to God for a gift that I had and misused-the baggage I have hauled for years. My tears bathed her feet as they fell uncontrollably. My pleads for this woman came from a heart that had refused the exact gift she was pleading for. I had prayed for the other women, but for this woman-I begged God.

No one knew what we were getting into! The moment was so powerful that we held up the training! The ladies then circled us up and prayed over us. They usually speak and pray so quietly but this time it was a call to a powerful God in a voice of boldness.

There are so many differences between us and them (I will post some of these later) but from this moment forward our connection to them was truly servants of the living God!! Hallelujah!

Dear God,
Thank you for seeing my life in your time line and for choosing to nudge me along to healing. Your ways are higher than mine and I am beyond thankful.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Full Head-Heavy Heart

It is 4:30 am here and I lay awake in my bed. My head is too full to sleep. Waking and praying is part of the sleep routine here. My heart is heavy for the pastor's wives. I am looking forward to spending time with them today and pray that I will be less hesitant to attempt to communicate with them. My heart is there, but the ME gets in the way.

One young wife, is small, has darker skin, is a tribal minister's wife, and her husband was an orphan. She is heavy on my heart. I hope to give her a gift today as a promise that I will be praying for her. She is one of those I wish to bring home and lavish her with love and the wealth of the states. I noticed her searching through her Bible and tried to help her. I then realized she can not read. I have multiple Bibles-my study Bible, a Bible in our children's classroom and I even have a bathroom Bible! Those are only my Bibles not the other family membes. How often I take for the granted the gift I have to read them.

Yesterday, we attended a Pastor's Conference. Bob at http://www.answeringthecallfor4life.blogspot.com/ did a great job describing many details so I won't go there. I will say that my friend Karen back home did the conversations for the temperature and if it is 97-98 degrees outside, so it was over 100 in that building! The breakers continued to blow due to the fans that the pastors were aiming directly at us. Pete, our team leader carries a towel when he preaches to catch the sweat as it rolls off of his head.

It was completely humbling as they marched us, by name, to the front to give us flowers. Tears rolled down my face. The last time I felt a reception like that was high school homecoming and I was so vain. This time, I stood ashamed of my yucky heart. The yucky heart that was not looking forward to this day and wondered if our time would not be better used somewhere else. Yes, that yucky heart.

I met 2 students who were studying to be pastors. They are English students as well and wanted to practice the language. I so enjoyed talking with them. One of them reminded me of my friend Brian C. from high school. My Dear would have enjoyed these two and a chance to encourage them in their studies and their faith. I am missing my preaching boy today but am thankful for Skype and a friend to share her computer.

When I was leaving, I was introduced to a children's minister. Not sure how to spell his name but I say it, with my southern dialect, Hi. I gave him a cheer when I learned of his heart and he said we would talk today. Children's ministers in Vnam........Yeah God!!!

One of our team members, got sick yesterday. She believes it is from some undercooked meat that she noticed too late. As you can imagine the temperature in the small building did not blend well with her stomach. We had to push Fay out the door to come back to the hotel to rest. She was caught between want and need and so wanted to share with those pastor's wife. She has encouraged me again and again in the role and I knew she would bless those women too.

Amy, the blessing that I have mentioned before, came back to the hotel with Fay. Amy talked with the taxi driver on the way back to the hotel. Although Fay could not understand what they were saying, she knew what they were talking about. Amy shared the news of Jesus Christ with the father of 3. He had NEVER heard about Jesus. He accepted Christ in the taxi with a sick Fay praying in the backseat!!! HALLELUJAH!!! Fay shared that she began to feel better after he prayed! DELIGHT!

Amy had gotten Fay medicine and attempted to fill her with coconut juice-as Amy's Vnam aunt suggested. Amy sat with Fay all day in her hotel room. I ran up the steps (7 flights!) to check on Fay and was surprised to see Amy. I asked what she had done just sitting in the hotel room. She answered so sweetly and matter of factly, "pray." Amy is such a blessing!

When Fay awoke, she asked if I heard about the taxi ride and I smiled and said I did. She was thankful that she got sick so someone could hear about Jesus and accept Him as their Lord-that's my Fay! If anyone but Amy had come back, this would have never happened due to the language barrier. I love my God of details!

Vnam lesson of the day.....
The shower knobs are colored blue and red.
Blue means cold.
Hot means maybe.

Heading to the orphanage for children who are HIV positive, I am already mourning over leaving and have not even gotten there. Tear filled for the pastors and their wives who are trying to provide for their families and share the gospel-we will leave them today. I used to use the word "sacrifice" in the states but am pretty sure that word has been redefined for me. Already in tears in this morning.

I (heart) Vnam.

Play Time!!-Day3

God's calling for me to come on this trip was through children! I wanted to spend everyday at the orphanages. Today was the day to go to the one I wanted to visit most. My training is in special education. I was eager to play -therapeutically- with some dark skinned, dark eyed darlins'!

My "preschool whisper" friend Fay was also armed and ready! We brought balloons, beach balls and bubbles! Oh, yeah we brought rag dolls, blankies, and stuffed cars that a lady of our church made and toothbrushes and paste that another sent. I took a picture of my suitcase filled with goodies but did not bring my computer so pictures will have to wait until the states.

Most folks are unsure in such a setting. The kids look different and their medical needs can be intimidating. I was eager to get on the floor and play! Some of them had shaved heads probably due to lice. The center was very clean, the workers were kind and loving and seemed very dedicated to their jobs. They had to be! That center is now their life.

I played with younger children who were laying on a large floor mat. They made eye contact with us. Just like our B. and neighbor Eliza did when they were babies, they mouthed "Hi" when I said hi to them.

One little guy gave me a huge smile but another child did not. The smiler pulled his loose arm (probably due to Cerebral Palsy) up to my face to touch my cheek. I held his hand there and talked while he smiled. Whatever I did for one baby, I did for the other but the response was not the same. I tried balloons, Fay blew bubbles but this little darlin' just stared at me. I clicked my tongue and she watched. After several times, I saw her pull her tongue to the front of her mouth and I celebrated her attempt.

The little boy had pulled his hand up to my face again so I put my check against his and made a kissing sound. I am a sucker for a smile so that continued. I switched sides of his little face and wondered if he would anticipate where I would go next. He did not. He did like the bubbles and raised his arm to swing at them. Yeah for fun therapy!

The little girl was once again staring at me. I tried the check with kissing sounds and got a smile-HOME RUN!! Now, I continued for some time.

There was another little guy flopping on the mat attempting to get the bubbles. He reminded me of Anthoney, a child with CP that I taught in KY. Anthoney (yes, that is the correct spelling) gave me a run for my money but I LOVED that kid! I got permission to hold him and attempted to support his body while he reached for bubbles. He fought so hard, he pulled himself to a standing position although his little spaghetti legs could not support him. He was passionate about getting the bubbles! I laughed as he whapped my glasses off of my face! I think Anthoney did the same thing back in the day!

Chelsia, a team member, made friends with a tiny 11-year-old girl. She was in a wheelchair but hand the fine motor skills to use the wedding size bubbles. Sam had brought some hair clips and this little darlin' was putting them all through Chelsia's hair. This little girl will age out in one year. These children are not available for adoption. Many times, families return to get them. otherwise, I do not know what happens to them at 12. This little girl seemed only to be physically impaired. She feed another child, corrected one of our volunteers and stole our hearts. In the states, she would be in a general education classroom earning a diploma. I was ready to interrupt the birth order at my house and bring her home but I think I would have to fight Chelsia for her.

The workers were patient with us and we had to leave for nap time. I loved watching our ladies nurture these little ones. Of course I see them do it at church as well! We were able to meet with the workers and share why we were there. We loved on these young women a bit and gave them money for diapers, milk and food just what they said they needed.

The team left their hearts there and we stood outside with teary eyes just breathing and looking at one another. He is the Father to the fatherless.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Turn off the Paved Road-Day2

Yesterday was Sunday. We visited a "House Church." The directions to the church included, "turn off the paved road."



We drove to another providence about 2 and 1/2 hours away to attend this church. Our group of 12 took up a great deal of space in the church. We left home with 11 and ended up with 12, when Amy, a member of a church in Washington knew we were here. She is visiting family here and has joined us everyday. She is such a joy and a blessing. She helps us with our money and communication. She ordered lunch for us yesterday since known of us could read the menu. She obviously, has become part of our team and our jokes.



Amy joined us at the house church as well. We unloaded our bus to look for a place to use the restroom-tissue and "han-a-tizer" (as Dolly calls it) in hand. We walked to the back and were lead to a little building. It has tile floor and was wet. There was no toilet-which I expected-but there was no hole either. We learned it was a shower instead. Another building was located at the back. We had to practice our squatting!! We dipped water out of a bucket to "flush." Just to think we actually have heated and padded toilet seats in the states.



The church was attached to a house. The house was open-as in few to no walls. I actually thought the kitchen was a barn-it was covered in tarps with an open fire. I assume the dog and chickens in the kitchen threw me off. We store a lawn mower in a better facility.



In the service, we were seated in a variety of plastic chairs and stools. My roommate, Fay and I were seated on backless stools. We were there for about 3 hours in worship. The temperature is 36-37 degrees Celsius...check the conversions on that one! We assume that is the 90s.



Let me paint the picture of this church: hard-backless chairs, heat, lizards, roosters, and chicks....this was their church. Many times I groan at having to get up out of my comfy bed to go to church. The cushy seats and climate control are not considered. I could not help but think of how self-centered we are. There are churches in our backyards with all the comforts and we don't drag ourselves out of bed! I do not want to forget the privilege of worshipping as a body in such a wonderful facility.

Despite the conditions, there is something amazing about being in a room of believers. Although we we were not able to communicate with them, we were able to worship. The love for one another was obvious.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Eagle has Landed!

After approximately 28 hours of flying....THE EAGLE HAS LANDED!!

We were welcomed to Vnam by 2 pastors and Grace our interpreter and a bundle of beautiful flowers. Folks were gathered outside the airport as if waiting for a celebrity. Apparently, there is no waiting inside the airport. No, they were not waiting for us but it still felt like a red carpet event-minus the cheers and photographers.

First lesson I learned in Vnam:

Laughter and Hallelujah are universal!
We were warned that sharing our faith and praying aloud may not be welcome. We pulled our luggage aside to get in the taxi. The taxi is a mini bus that plays Happy Birthday when it backs up. Not just this one, but many of them. Returning to the original thought....we gathered together to pray. Pastor "Smiley" raised his hands and loudly prayed thanking God. I was surprised by his boldness but could not help but say "Amen" as he spoke even though I could not understand a single word.
I did not get to sit with any of our group on plane but God arranged for me to sit with young women on the flights. One of which gave me a history lesson. She was returning to Vnam from the US after being gone for 16 years. Her mom is dying of cancer. She was sent to the US as a teenager by her parents when the US invited Vnam Americans-her father is American to relocate to the states. Her friend rode in a boat for 30 days to arrive in Hong Kong before the border closed to them. Amazing! Sad, how you miss history even while you are living in it!
I seem to be going backyards in this post. I will blame it on the time change!! To bad is does not upload like pictures!
On the morning we left, I was attempting to tie up loose ends at our house and left so much undone. We arrived at the church to find a host of warriors there to send us off. I had to remain in the vehicle awhile to have time with God but still fell apart when my cancer surviving sister stepped toward me with her arms opened. Just months early we celebrated the end of her radiation in a surprise gathering just like this one. My eyes tear up even now as I see God at work and the blessings of amazing folks in my life. Many folks said they were praying for us but not until I saw them standing at the church, was I able to see prayer in numbers. Overwhelming! I read a flair on Facebook that says, "If prayer was rain-you would be soaked." I felt drenched!
Check out these 2 bloggers also on our team:
this little light of mine at www.chels1988.blogspot.com
You can click on both blogs by going to the blogs I follow.
Yesterday, 2 friends took off to North Africa.......pray for their safety.
Today, my friend Stacie left for Ethiopia to bring home her baby girl. There story is in my follow list as well, The Gift of Mercy.
We are to go to a house church tomorrow to lead their service.....should be fun for us and Grace our interpeter. She will be a busy lady!!
Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our Dolly and oh my....

Our Dolly turned 6 today! It still seems like she is 4 and as the years go by, I forget more and more of what the children were like when they were younger. Seems sad, BUT I am SO thankful for healthy, thriving children.

As part of the celebration, Dolly got her nails done. She got to pick out the color and they painted her fingers and toes. She even got to sit under the dryer.

Our neighbor camped out at our house while B. napped so we could enjoy this event together. We are so blessed by our friends living right on our street. Not just this family but several. I think it should make the property value go up-just sayin'!

Billy went with us. It really was not painful for him, silly boy!

When I went to pay for Dolly's fancy nails, I realized I did not have any money. I was a bit panicked. The only collateral I have is the children and I was NOT leaving them!
They allowed me to leave and come back since the amount was so small. I picked up B. and headed back out to settle my debt. I was a bit anxious and then decided that is exactly what Satan wants so I chose to do otherwise!
When we got home, the beautiful weather allowed the children to play outside. Dolly called for me. She had a project going on in the backyard.
Two hours after our trip to the nail salon....check out my girl's fancy nails...



Lucky for her, her toes have been covered all day and still have all the polish on them!
Now for the oh my! part....
In 7 hours, I will be meeting with my team to head to Vnam! They day is finally here! We have marched through battles of Spiritual Warfare and are about to take off!
I read Good Night Moon with B, Moostletoe with Dolly, and started a Magic Tree House book about the Titanic with Billy before putting them to bed and I got a 12 day supply of hugs.
We will meet early (not yet bright) in the morning to head to the airport. Lucky for me, we have a handsome driver and his 8 year old sidekick taking us- buying me more time with them.
I have been building up to this day but it did not really hit me until our sweet Nana T walked into our AWANA club tonight. She has migrated north to help with the children. Nana was a confirmation from God that I was to go on this trip when she offered to help My Dear with the children. He is a great daddy but even great daddies need to show up at the office!
Please pray for our team of 11. I am looking forward to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those children. It is like Christmas morning waiting to see what God wants to show me!!! I hope to share with you from Vnam!
Until them......


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pleasing God?

We have just left that stage in our lives where you chance going anywhere! You never know when or where you will be when it breaks loose! Yes, we are exiting....

the "Potty Training Zone."

We have used jelly beans, stickers, Skittles, and Tootsie Rolls to reinforce our children's potty usage. We paired these with the winning ticket-verbal reinforcement.

It was our cheers of "Good Job!" and "Way to Go!" that meant the most to each of the children. In fact, with our youngest, she announces to everyone in the house about her "performance" so that she can hear the approval again and again. If you do not respond, no problem, she will repeat herself! She may even announce it as she runs through the eatery you are dining in...eager to hear words of approval.

Galatians 1:10 says,
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.



Just like our 2 year old, we all appreciate words of approval but we must be careful. We have to discern if the approval is that of man or of God.

We must be careful that we are doing what we are doing for the Lord and not for men. Am I teaching a class at church, singing in the choir, or doing Bible Clubs for the attention of other people or for the Lord?

Allow God to be praised through you and seek out the approval of THE ONE who matters most.

Friday, March 5, 2010

DELIGHT!


Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart! Psalm 37:4

I have a brown coat that I love! I love that it is brown, it has a hood, works for dress or play and it was FREE! I love that old coat but I noticed it is looking just that, old! Sometimes love is blind even when it comes to coats!

I emailed my sister to see what she had hanging in her closet. It is pay backs for all of those times we shared a room and my clothes disappeared! She had nothing but said she would keep an eye out for a good deal on a ski jacket....it gets cold here!

I needed a white shirt to serve at a banquet being held at the church. I invited Dolly to ride with me to the donation center. We went by the ATM-that would not work. Dolly asked how much the shirt was and then told me she could pay for it cause of course she had her wallet! I took her up on it!

I took the shirts to the dressing room and did the lift and bend test-you know, lift your arms up and bend over to insure full coverage-only one shirt won. Got the shirt. Dolly found the coat she had spotted earlier that week for her baby and a purse. We were about to leave when I turned to find a ski jacket in GREAT shape. I checked the size-mine! Asked the price- 1/2 off of winter-$2.50! Tried it on-fit! Now...oh yeah, I don't have any money!

Dolly dumped her wallet on a bench, I dumped my change and we counted coins! I counted several times but we were just cents short! I hesitated, but asked Dolly if she would be willing to put the purse back. She agreed-how sweet is that!?

We went to the counter to pay. I reached into my pocket and found my grocery cart quarter so we got the purse too! When we left, I thanked God for providing every cent and for Dolly's willingness to do without. Dolly, thanked God for the bench that we counted our coins on.

I was SO excited about the coat and proud of the price! I put it on to model it for My Dear. He was impressed! I stuck my hand in the pocket and pulled out $4 in McDonald's gift certificates. I looked for information to return the coupons but no luck.

God not only provided the coat I had in mind, the blessing of a child who put her wants aside for another, but he also bought my dinner! Yep, that is what I call a DELIGHT!