Tuesday, October 21, 2008
(El Shaddai Children's Home)
Had the privilege this past week of giving a presentation to 3 classes of middle school aged students about Swaziland. They are studying about the country in their social studies class; learning about it's people, the culture and the challenges that they face. We even had a 'bucket relay' so about 130 students could experience what it is like to have to walk a distance carrying a 5 gallon bucket of water back from a rural stream (something commonplace in Swaziland). It was great to see their enthusiasm and interest...not only in learning but also in wanting to help, wanting to make a difference. They are 'adopting' a middle school class their same age at El Shaddai Children's Home and will be writing and raising funds to help the children there. Very cool! I came away encouraged and excited as to what this group of young people can and will do.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Pandemic: A mega epidemic.
I've been reading a book lately called 'Red Letters' by Tom Davis. Powerful. Some things he mentions:
-39.5 million people worldwide are living with HIV (24.7 million in Africa
-12 million plus African children have lost 1 or both parents to HIV-AIDS.
-Many people groups, villages and tribes are on the brink of extinction.
-This is the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced.
If ever there was a pandemic...this is it! I don't know about you, but it's easy to look at the statistics and feel overwhelmed. What can I do? I'm only 1 person. Well, we can all do something, because each number represents someone.
-We can give to an organization that is on the front lines
fighting the war against poverty and Aids
(like Compassionate Life Foundation: www.james127.org).
-We can help to send someone else that can be our
representative in bringing hope and help (a cup of cold water) to the
-We can be outrageous and go ourselves .
No matter which option we take...we must do something.
Another quote from 'Red Letters' says: "What if you knew your actions could prevent even 1 death? What if you knew you had the influence, resources, and ability to make a difference in what seemed like a hopeless situation. Would you act...or remain silent?"
We cannot wait any longer. We must do something.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Yeah! We had our first 'team meeting' today after church with the group of people (25 of us) that, by God's grace, will be going back to Swaziland Africa in July of 2009. A combination of 'veterans' - those of us who've been there before, mixed with the 'newbies' - those looking for their very first chance to experience that beautiful country and it's amazing people. I love this group already!! At this stage of preparation the meeting was mostly informational with topics such as: Shots needed, passports, trip dates, cultural differences, etc. But the best part was when we each had the opportunity to answer the question "Why are you going"? One person said "I've seen the faces and heard the stories of starving children in Africa my whole life and now it's time to go and do something about it in person". Another shared "I have to go, God is calling me there". Still another said "The need is so great and from the first time I saw the pictures and heard about the trip I knew God wanted me to go". But the answer that really touched me the most was from 15 year old Clara. She said "People often say that young people my age can't make a difference...so I'm going to Africa to prove to them that they're wrong!". You go girl!! I am so blessed to be a part of this group and can hardly wait to see what God has in store for this team! A big THANK YOU to all who are partnering with us in this work....both financially and in prayer. We cannot do this without you! May we all be encouraged and our faith strengthened as we stand together in anticipation of what the Lord will do!
Friday, July 11, 2008
"After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done..." Judges 2:10 (NLT)
One year ago today. That's when a small group of 25 people (among whom were me, my husband and our 2 daughters) left on a 10 day journey to serve and work with the poor and needy people of Swaziland, Africa. It hardly seems like it's been a year already. But then again there are times when it seems like an eternity. Alot of life has been lived since then. Times of joy & celebration. Times of sorrow and loss. Busy times...fulfilling responsibilities with work, family and ministry. One thing I've come to realize though is that if we're not careful, it becomes really easy for us to forget, doesn't it? Maybe I'm becoming more nostalgic as I get older, but as I spend time in God's word I see that there are many times where God tells us to 'remember'. So it must be important. So here goes...come along with us on our trip down memory lane today...this 1 year anniversary of our life changing trip to Swaziland, Africa. I remember...
- The gracious welcome from the Swazi and Mozambican people when we first arrived.
- The poor living conditions of the people....amazing, they have so little.
- People searching for food in the local garbage dump...which was situated adjacent to the city cemetery.
- Watching a young boy (maybe 5 yrs old) carrying a large bucket of brownish water up a hill after drawing it from a muddy creek.
- The smokey haze hovering over the hillsides as people burned their fields in the hope of producing more fertile soil once the planting season arrives.
- Combis (vans) jam packed with people commuting from one place to another.
- The sick children and the look in their eyes.
- The smiles and games we played with the school children at El Shaddai Children's Home as we painted their school bathrooms. (oh yes...and the smell in the boys bathroom!!)
- The awesome view of the mountains and the valley below that the children at El Shaddai get to enjoy every single day.
- The rugged dirt roads leading up to El Shaddai. (and you think we have pot holes...!)
- The people (both children and adults) that would run up to our van as we drove by, grinning from ear to ear, in the hope to catch some sweets (candy) we were offering to them....and their graciousness once they got some.
- Speaking to the 'Go-Go' (grandmother) and her amazement that people would spend their vacation time and money (of which she couldn't even fathom) to come all that way to Swaziland to help them. **Sadly, she has since died.
- The resourcefulness of the Swazi people....and their hard work ethic.
- Looking into the clear southern hemisphere sky at night and seeing the Southern Cross constellation. God you are amazing!
- The choirs singing and dancing at the 4 hour long church dedication service, and the table filled with food that the Mozambican and Swazi women prepared for the celebration. (took them 3 days to prepare!)
- Being charged by a somewhat irritated elephant that stopped just a foot away from our landrover. (and the look on our girls faces as that was happening :)
- Being just a few feet away from a pride of lions, seeing giraffes perfectly camoflaged in the thick brush, eating some impala for lunch, and being captivated by the beautiful African sunset.
- Children just wanting to be held. And held. And held.
- The privilege and joy of meeting our sponsored child, Nkosimphile.
- The emotional sharing from each group member during our debriefing sessions each evening. None of us will ever be the same again. (1 group member has answered God's call and has since moved to Cape Town, South Africa!)
- The ache in our hearts as we were leaving. It's still there.... (Lord willing we'll be returning in July 0f 2009!)
- The culture shock when we returned to America.
- Witnessing God's love, God's presence, God's faithfulness in every situation.
So there you have it...just a few of the things we've been remembering today. But wait, I remember...there's 1 more thing! Nothing new, but it's been on my refrigerator for years and kinda sums it all up: "Love God, love people....nothing else matters". I hope we never forget that! God bless.
Monday, May 19, 2008
This weekend has been anything but 'dull'. It started out Friday morning with my husband (my best friend) Mark and I sharpening our rummaging skills...seeking and successfully finding a nice, used kitchen table and chairs for our oldest daughter. Then later on that afternoon we had the opportunity to serve alongside other friends for a few blustery hours at an outdoor book sale...with proceeds (over $2,000!) going to help support the Compassionate Life Foundation and their work with orphans and widows in Swaziland, Africa. Then before the crack of dawn Saturday morning I had the blessing of meeting with some Bible Study Fellowship friends/leaders as we thanked God for the many truths and blessings He has showered upon us this year through our study of Matthew. Once home, I was blessed to spend some uninterrupted phone time with my dear friend (and sister in Christ) Becky in Boston. A time of laughter, tears, encouragment and just catching up on life. After that my husband and I took a leisurely walk in a local county park with man's best friend...our dog Rapha. Then today was baptism Sunday at church. A powerful time of worship and hearing many men, women and children give testimony of what their faith in Jesus Christ has meant in their lives. And tonight, wrapping up the weekend, a small group of friends met at our house for pizza & fellowship as we let lesson #2 of 'The Truth Project' sharpen our biblical worldview. Now it's late. The house is quiet, and I'm tired...ready to call it a day. But not before giving thanks to God for the many friends He has used to 'sharpen' my walk with Him. Thank you Jesus!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We all know what it feels like to be 'sent' don't we. We're sent to the grocery store for food. We're sent across town to run errands. We're sent to the neighbors for a cup of sugar. In a few short weeks athletes from all around the world will be 'sent' to represent their countries in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. All different scenarios, but each with a specific purpose. So then...what does it mean & how does it look when we're sent by God? Good question! Looking at these verses, I see some hints. First hint: there's authority behind the sending. The God of the universe is backing us. (No small thing there!) Second hint: The supernatural power of God is in action. We may feel inadequate (we are!), but God can and will enable us to do what He's called us to do. Third hint: there's work to be done - make disciples. People who are willing to hear about, learn & live for God & His Son Jesus Christ. Fourth hint: It's an adventure. My friend Jen would often say "God has a wild imagination!" So true! And is there anything more exciting than to be willing and eager to go wherever God might send us? Fifth hint: We never go it alone. Wherever God sends us, He's promised to be with us. So whether He 'sends' us to the grocery store, the neighbor's house, across town, Beijing, or Africa ...being 'sent' by God truly is the greatest commission!
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
I have a friend who had spent many years as a teacher at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. Because of the gravity of what's been happening in that country, she is asking that we join her in spending some specific time in prayer today (Jan. 25th) for the people and situation in Kenya. Here's the link to her blogsite that gives more specifics. http://acupofteawithme.blogspot.com/. God alone is able to transform that situation. So let us expectantly and by faith, join together in prayer on their behalf.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Years ago, in my athletic years, I remember racing against a team of riders that had printed on their jerseys in big bold letters: "NGU". Not knowing what it stood for, naturally I asked one of them. She said that even though they were a small unsponsored team, and even though they might not stand a chance racing against the powerhouse teams of that day, they were still a team...and that the letters on their jerseys stood as a vivid reminder to each of them to "Never Give Up". Sure they had some successes, but for the most part during races they found themselves just part of the pack. But no matter how hard things got, no matter the disappointments, the challenges, the ups & downs....they were committed to pressing on. I've never forgotten that.
Now apply that to life. Life is truly a gift from God. But it's not easy is it? Full of ups & downs. Joys and heartbreaks. Successes and challenges. Many times we feel like we're just part of the pack. Other times we wonder if what we're doing is really making a difference. Well let me tell you...you are! Press on! Keep committing yourself to making the most of every single day God gives you. Give out lots of hugs. Give out lots of encouragement. Give out lots of love. Let us not become weary in doing good...NGU...for in the long run, it'll all be worth it.