Thursday, May 29, 2014

“What is church like for you?”

Recently I had the opportunity to Skype with different Sunday School classes at my home church in Idaho. It was so fun to see how much the children had grown since we left almost three years ago! And to see the faces of loved ones…it was priceless! I long for the day that we can visit face to face.

While I visited via Skype, each class had different questions, things they were curious about. One question was, “What is church like for you?”

This was a difficult question to answer. It changes so much from week to week. And therein lays the blessing! Last summer, church was our immediate family. (For a time, that included Rosa, our beloved sister in Christ who was “visiting” from Idaho.) For months it was the 6 of us. Then it was our family, plus RM and Berta.

We would sing praises, pray and share a Bible story. After the Bible story, we would discuss the characteristics of God found in the story. Then we would sing and pray some more. And finally, we would drink coffee and eat cookies or coffee cake while we visited.

Sometimes this is what church still looks like. We just don’t always fit in our living room anymore! Now, we sometimes meet in the big back room of our house. Our friend Miguel comes with his two sons. And his wife came once too!

 Twice a month our family drives an hour to the village of St. Paul where we do the same. The difference is that we meet in a small church building. And I have the privilege of teaching “Sunday School” to the kids. (Last week there were 24 people at St. Paul! And 14 were kids!)
Pray that God will move hearts and that we will see evangelical churches planted amongst the ZK people!



Thank you Lottie!

If you have spent much time in a Southern Baptist Church (SBC), you should know the name Lottie Moon. This lady literally gave her life to the Chinese people so that they would know the love of Jesus Christ. As a result, missions agencies began to form in the US and Canada which encouraged people to “be involved” in missions through tithes and offerings.

 Every December, SBC churches take up a special Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for the International Mission Board. Because of these offerings, our family was able to purchase a generator last year.

This week, we are grateful to Lottie Moon! We have been working on translating Bible stories in the Z language. We had invited a young lady to spend the week in our home to work on translating and then recording Bible stories. When the electricity went out, she was able to keep working for a time…until the battery on the computer died.

And then we began to think about the food that we store in our fridge…

Clay fired up the generator for a couple of hours while we charged the computers and cooled off the fridge.

It may not seem like much, but it allowed us to keep working. (“Translation weeks” start just after breakfast and go late into the night, when our translator is exhausted. The only breaks tend to be for a meal, and possibly a nap. Day after day, for about 4 days. If the computer is dead, the work stops. And our translator lives 3+ hours away.)

Begin praying now about how you can give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering!

Marbella Update

Marbella (“beautiful sea”). She first attracted our attention because she looked like she had chicken pox or some other skin ailment covering her face and arms. At that time, our friend Rosa (a nursing student from the US) was working with us.

Rosa was quick to give Marbella a check-up—looking in her ears and eyes, taking her temperature, listening to her heart, and checking her vaccination card. Although Marbella’s skin condition was a concern, a greater concern was the heart defect that Rosa could hear.

We contacted the local doctor and got everything set up for Marbella to be taken to Tuxtla, the capital city of the state of Chiapas, where the best area hospitals are located. Then, we waited. When we would travel through her village, we would ask about Marbella. The answer was always the same. “No, we haven’t taken her to Tuxtla yet.” Of course there was always a reason given, but as we drove away we could only shake our heads.

Finally, in May, Marbella was on her way to Tuxtla with her mom and baby sister.

We hope to find out the results from their trip to Tuxtla soon. Until then, we continue to pray for beautiful Marbella and her family.



Dirt Poor and Happiness

I followed Clay and our four kids down the narrow, muddy trail, noting the old mattress springs that were used for fencing. Many “homes” were located down this trail, but I had no idea the conditions.

We crossed under someone’s roof…they had no floor poured or walls built yet. Just a roof. The man was there, chopping firewood, but obviously he lived elsewhere for the time being.

 We snaked our way down another trail, behind a simple house. And then we entered into Victor and Felicity’s home. If only I could have taken a picture with my mind’s eye to share so that you could truly understand the meaning of poverty! The tin roof was supported by tree posts.  On one post, they drove in nails to hang their coffee mugs. The walls were red and blue tarps. They had hung wooden crates against the “wall” from the top support beam, forming kitchen cabinets. Their hanging “pantry” contained their few dishes and three boxes of milk. Their floor was uneven dirt.

 They offered us a couple of stumps, a hammock and a kid-sized chair to sit on. As we visited, Victor and Felicity (her name means “happiness”) shared so much with us about their lives, their families, and their home. I’ve lived in this village for a year, and yet had never been invited into a home quite like this one.

Victor and Felicity have three sons and are expecting child #4 any day. They raise rabbits, but mostly because one of many organizations came in and gave away rabbits and all the materials that they would need—a rabbit hutch with watering system, bags of food, etc. The idea being that the people can eat or sell the meat. The problem…meat isn’t a common element in the diet.

In spite of all of their hardships, Victor and Felicity are happy, a smile ever present on their faces. Victor told us that they were offered “piso firme,” one of many government programs to pour concrete floors in the homes. But they refused because they say life is easier with a dirt floor. When it rains, as it often does, water runs across their floor. Victor simply grabs a shovel and digs a channel for the water to run out the other side of their home. He says that if they had a concrete floor, they would have to mop the water up and it wouldn’t dry. A dirt floor soaks up water…or anything the kids spill. And when the kids come in with dirty shoes, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up behind them.

Can you imagine? They prefer to “live simply.”

From my American way of thinking, I was greatly saddened at first. Just look around you as you read this…what do you see? A computer?  TV? Carpeted floors? A comfy couch and a matching arm chair? A book shelf or two, full of books or knick-knacks? Well, that’s what I see in my house in the village.

So often I find myself distracted by the stuff in my life. It’s good stuff. And sometimes necessary stuff. But it has a tendency to interfere with the time I spend with my Lord.

Please pray for Victor and Felicity. Pray that we can minister to them where they are, without expecting any changes in them except their hearts. Pray for Victor as he considers going to another city to work for a time. And pray for Felicity as she raises three boys, plus her baby.


Anayeli and the Smile Train

      A few months back we were travelling through a village, on our way to visit some friends. Just before we arrived, we saw a little girl, running and smiling. Her smile was different than most, but it still lit up her whole face.
     A few days later, we were chatting with a fellow M who mentioned that
 he had been in contact with Smile Train…do we know anyone who might need reconstructive surgery? They’re working in Tuxtla. All expenses are covered.
     The next week we were travelling back to the village and on our to-do list was to find this little girl. Clay found her easily and her parents were very willing to answer his questions. The girl’s name is Anayeli. And yes, they would be interested in learning more about Smile Train.
     Pray for Anayeli and her family. We are doing all that we can to connect her family with the doctors. Pray that her beautiful smile can be repaired. And pray that she and her family will see the love of Jesus shining through everyone involved in this process. (At this point, we’re hoping to set up the initial appointment in September.)