Tuesday, March 24, 2009

thursday at 3.

-As you know, or don’t know, we were in Mozambique last week. We were doing a survey trip alongside the missionary family to look for places that they will be able to potentially move in a little over a year. The place we live now is in a village in Malawi, but the places where we were surveying was in the bush, the remote villages, of Mozambique. It was very interesting, long, and eye-opening. We slept each night in tents in Pebane, and from there each morning would drive 8 or so hours on incredibly bumpy roads. The thing that stuck out to me more than anything was that the people we were waving at and locking eyes with were people that many people don’t even know they exist, and for those that know people might be living there, haven’t ever seen them. Sometimes we would wave and wouldn’t get a smile or a wave, and other times there would be an immediate reaction. The ones that touched my heart the most were the ones that you made waved at, then they would make eye contact with you, and then decide to wave back. For that split second, our eyes would meet, and I felt as though our souls connected. In that split second if I could tell them one thing it would be this:

“The Lord has not forgotten about you. He knows the number of hairs on your head and He loves you so much.”

We weren’t able to talk to these people much though. There was a Portuguese and Lomwe language barrier. But pray for these people. Pray that the will see the love of our Almighty Father. The love that is so great that He sent His one and only sinless Son to die on the cross for us, and to raise from the dead, giving us the opportunity of a relationship and eternal life with Him. Also, pray for those who may be called to this area either now or in the future and for their obedience.

-For the past couple of weeks, I have had the privilege of watching the Lord begin an amazing thing. It all began at the prayer retreat we had at the beginning of March at Lake Malawi, the Lord placed Scripture and an idea in my head. The Scriptures that were used were:

MARK 10:13-16: Let the children come to me.


Luke 11:5-13: The story of the persistent knocker and how the door would be open not because they were friends, but because he was persistent. Our kids that knock on the door are definitely persistent.

The village kids that have been coming to our door should not be turned away or ignored. Yes, we should continue to sew torn clothes, but there is more that could be done. That is when the idea of doing a backyard bible study “Malawian”-style came to mind. And then I thought to myself, wait, I don’t speak Chichewa. Then the Lord spoke again and Thoko- the girl mentioned in the past blog- came to mind. She is a girl that I have been wanting to initiate a discipleship relationship with and she is from Thyolo which means she speaks fluent Chichewa and she will be here long after we head back to America.

From this time on, I began to pray over this idea, and for Thoko, and even things that I’m not sure to pray about for the bible study. The week after we got back, Thoko and I were able to sit down and just have some precious, precious time together. I was able to share my testimony of how I came to the Lord with her and then was able to hear about how she came to faith in Christ Jesus. She also shared with me that both her father and brother are Muslim and how she prays for them all the time, and I told her that I would pray for them alongside her. We set the goal before ourselves to memorize 5 verses while I was away in Mozambique. The verses were:

John 15:5
Romans 6:23
1 Timothy 4:12
2 Timothy 1:7
Matthew 28:19-20

I also presented the idea of the backyard bible study to her and she said she would love to be a part of it. She said she thought it was very wise to begin to teach children about the Lord at a young age, so they will grow up in faith. She said that she would love to translate and help however she can.

When we made it back from Mozambique, we met up again. We recited our verses together. She was able to recite all of them except the one in Matthew. I asked for this next week if we should just work on the same ones again, or if we should begin 3 more or 5 more or what? She told me that she wanted to begin 5 more. The new ones we are working on are:

Psalm 51:7
Psalm 92:1
Luke 10:27
Romans 8:31
Romans 10:9

We are still going to continuing working on the others as well. I also asked her if after a couple of weeks of translating for us if she would want to lead the bible study herself. And she said she that on the 3rd one that she would do it. She also tried to teach me how to tell the kids “come on Thursday at 3 for a Bible story”. We ended our time together sharing prayer requests and praying together.

I have been continually praying that the Lord would cover this bible study, and that it would not be of our own doing, but His alone. I have been praying that kids would show up at the house this week, so that we may tell them.

Today, they did just that. They showed up. I had the opportunity to sew three little girls’ dresses. I even tried to say my “come on Thursday” line, but I didn’t think it went over well, so I had Thoko come to the house to tell them herself. She told them, and she told me that she even told them “bring your friends with you.” Our God is faithful, and has a plan way bigger than we will probably ever now.

-Thoko: Pray that she will be made into a deep disciple of the Lord.

Colossians 2:7
“Let you roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

-Backyard Bible Club type thing: Pray that kids will show up. That translating will be effective. That this will be completely God’s thing and not our own. The bible study is Thursday at 3, which means for those in the central time zone, it will be Thursday at 8 am.

Mark 10:14-16
“He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in his arms, and put his hands on them, and blessed them.”

-For myself, this is the verse I am clinging to today and praying for myself:

Philippians 4:6-9
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me- everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

-Thank you so much for your support. Thanks to those of you who have poured into my life, in order that I may be able to pour into others. Thanks for the words of encouragement. Thanks for the emails, phone calls, facebook messages, letters, and packages. Thanks for the prayers. And thanks for showing the love of Christ in your lives. May you be blessed beyond all measure.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

break our hearts for what breaks Yours.

       Some days, I become bold enough to ask that of God, I ask that my heart will break for what breaks His heart. Today was one of those days. When you work up the courage to ask that, you better make sure you are prepared. Today when it happened I was a little overwhelmed and exhausted to say the least. When You begin to see with the eyes of Jesus, your heart will break. Time after time, conversation after conversation today, this happened. We walked as usual to our TAYO building and on the way passed a man crawling. This man was crawling because something was medically wrong with his legs that had not be corrected at birth and as a result he would spend a lifetime on his hands and knees. This was the first thing to break my heart. I don't even think twice about each step that I get to take. I imagine if Jesus were here He would crawl along beside him. We then went to the offices, where we were going to spend the day cleaning things up, we were working outside on the yard. They don't have lawn mowers or weed-eaters here, instead they have slashers and hoes that they use. Every blade of grass is cut manually. By lunch time, I felt like I was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. So i took a nap and spent some time alone to refresh. Afterward I called my friend Thoko, that I have not seen in a few days, and asked if she wanted to hang out for a little bit. We decided to walk to the market to grab some green beans and a soda. It was a precious time with her. I asked how life had been, because I hadn't seen her in a while and when we talked she seemed a little down in the dumps. We talked and our friend Ruth (her best friend) had just moved to a different village to go to school. Thoko just said that she has been really lonely lately. I am going to try and keep her more accountable and to be intentional in hanging out with her. We then headed to TAYO for the afternoon. I talked to Evance, one of our national guy friends. He is just getting over a case of malaria, and has been having headaches lately. We talked about this for a while and he said that this was the first time he had it this year which was good (its only march), he said he usually gets it 3 to 4 times a year. I headed up to cook supper at our guy teammates house and saw a group of girls playing with things that had collected from the garbage ( a take out styrofoam lunchbox). I took all the paper towels off the roll that i was carrying, because I thought first off, it hadn't been in the trash yet, and second, a paper towel roll can make a pretty cool toy. And then when returning to the house, outside of the gate, a little girl Margaret had fallen down and scraped her arm. I went and took her a wet paper towel and hugged her and sat there with her until she was ready to return home. 
      When you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His that is exactly what will happen. I want to be able to share the burdens of my friends alongside them. I will also walk alongside them as they and myself offer those burdens to the Lord. Today, pray for those burdens. Pray for the hurt that we encounter each day as we are here that we are aware of, but also the hurt we fail to see. Pray that your heart will be broken where you are at for the things that break His heart. Pray for those who are hurt, helpless, and hopeless around you. Pray how you can reach out to them. 

Also, we are beginning to have a lot of great spiritual discussions and lots of questions asked from our friends about different things concerning God and His Word. Pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to them. And that He will speak through us. Pray that we will be aware of the opportunities that we are given each day. Pray for rest for us and that each day we will wake up renewed and ready to serve the Lord. 

We are also taking a survey trip into Mozambique on Monday through Friday. Pray for safe traveling, patience, and endurance. 

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

clothe yourselves with love.

**so i have been trying to post pictures on here for the last 30 minutes because we are at a retreat center at Lake Malawi, and the internet is wireless and is suppose to be fast (which is relative). I have tried and its just not going to work, sorry. my teammate has posted some on facebook, so those of you who have that or have access to it, you may be able to see them.**

This weekend has been really refreshing. We have been able to meet some incredible missionaries that serve here in different parts of Malawi. We have also had electricity, running water, and meals cooked for us. Not to mention, lots of great prayer time. Its a really nice resort too, but honestly, i miss our little Malawian home back in Thyolo. 

I just wanted to write this blog for two reasons: one was to put pictures up, but that wont be happening. but i wanted to tell you about an opportunity i had the other day. 
  The other day, the girls that usually hang out around our house were there as usual, so i decided to take a markers and paper out and color with them. After coloring a while, they brought another girl up, she was the smallest and shyest of the group. Her dress was ripped on the complete left side and under the armpit on the right. so i asked her if i could sew it, and she nodded yes. she stood there and i was able to hold her in my arms and sew her dress. i was able to love on her and pray for her, while she stood silent and patient. i then used a button that was just for looks and sewed it for her, so that her dress would button properly. after about 5 minutes, her dress was whole again. i buttoned the new button, and turned her around to make sure it was complete. she walked away and as she turned the corner, a huge grin swept across her face. 
   This moment was one of the most special moments this far. it was special because i felt as though i had the opportunity to be used by God and that this girl walked away with a whole dress and could feel beautiful. every girl, young and old, deserves that. they deserve to feel beautiful and to feel loved. i felt as though i played a part in both of those that day. also, i feel as though God does the same thing in our lives. He picks us up, worn and tattered and mends us together, He makes us whole again. He makes us feel loved and beautiful. A verse comes to my mind:
Colossians 3:12-14
-Read it. It talks about clothing ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, humility, gentleness, and patience. verse 14 states, above all clothe yourselves with love. 

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

one very fulfilling week.

One word to describe this week: WOW.

Usually, everything in Africa moves slow. This week we actually had a busy schedule planned, and yes of course some plans were changed and some canceled completely but the week still turned out really full.

Sunday, we went to church at Thyolo Baptist Church, this church was meeting in the missionaries front yard, but now is meeting in a local school room. Usually, when we visit a church, they make us sit on the stage facing the audience, which can feel kind of awkward, but when we are at Thyolo Baptist we are treated like family and sit among the congregation. This Sunday I shared a small school bench with a girl named Linda who is in her teens and a nine year old named Margaret. It was neat, because usually when I am at church I sit by someone else (my teammates) who are also struggling to pronounce the Chichewa words. But these two girls could sing, and while I sat there and tried to mimic the sounds they were making, my heart and soul rejoiced.

Monday was supposed to be the one day that was uneventful, but of course everyday is a new experience in Africa. Monday was a very new experience. We attended our first funeral; it was the funeral of one of our friend’s nephew. And to say the least, it was completely different than any funeral I have been to before. It was an experience that everyone said we needed to have while we were here, and it definitely won’t be easily forgotten. While we couldn’t understand anything that was being said, you could feel the hurt of the family and surrounding village. Everyone in the village and even the chief said that they thought it was very respectable that we attended the ceremony. I hope that in times like these, people will see the hope and love of Jesus through us.

Tuesday was a very important day. We went into Blantyre and renewed our visas for another 30 days. We just renewed it for 30 days because we are traveling to Mozambique on a trip soon and will get an extension. I know this is a small event in the scheme of things, but it is something that if it had not gone smoothly would put a huge rut in things.

Wednesday was a big day in the ministry we are doing here. It was the first bible study we did with our friends at TAYO (Thyolo Active Youth Organization). I had the opportunity of facilitating the bible study. The study was over the parable of the sower found in Mark 4. I collected rocks, thorns, soil, and concrete to help illustrate the 4 types of soil. It went well and we discussed questions afterwards. We are going to continue to have bible studies with them and halfway through, we are going to encourage them to begin leading it themselves so that it will continue on after we leave in May. Wednesday evening we invited Aaron, a peace corp guy from Boston, over for dinner. We thought he might delight in some American conversation after already being here for 6 months. I feel like this is going to be a great opportunity to minister and serve Aaron along with the nationals here is Malawi.
Thursday this week was our team day, which is usually on Friday but was moved due to plans we had made for Friday. So for team day, we decided to go fishing. For those that know me I’m not a great fisherwoman. My goal was to catch one fish. I was told that this would easily happen, because everyone always catches lots of fish here. Well imagine this…I didn’t catch a single thing. I don’t even get a bite, at least I don’t think I did. Because of my lack of success, mid-afternoon I decided to go take a nap on a picnic table nearby. It ended up much more gratifying than that of not catching any fish. As I was having a lack of fish-catching, I began to look at the story in Luke 5 with a much better realization. When Jesus tells them to let down their nets on the other side, and they said they have fished all night and caught nothing, and then obeyed and the nets were so full that they were about to break. I could identify with the frustration, at least to some degree, that they might have had. And then to think about the excitement and belief that came when they realized what had happened.

Friday is probably the best memory I have of Malawi thus far. Friday evening (actually afternoon) at 2:30, our friends from TAYO were suppose to come and make and have dinner with us.
We have this little girl, her name is Funny, she always want to hang around our house. She always talk to us in Chichewa and I try to explain that we only know English, but she carries on anyways. She was here again today and kept coughing. After trying to communicate for a while to see what she wants, the missionaries’ son stopped by and was able to translate for a little while. He said she wanted some medicine. And you know what, incase you have forgotten, I use to not be able to swallow pills, and because of this I brought along some liquid Tylenol. Its amazing to see that God uses even something like that my inability to swallow pills to minister to children in Malawi. As I was giving her medicine, less than the recommendation because she is underweight for her age, it took her a while to swallow it, because she wasn’t a fan of the flavor I guess, so I gave her some water to follow the medicine. Afterward, I used one Chichewa phrase I have learned and that is “let us pray”. I began to pray for her, and after one line, she said AMEN. And then I continued on one more line and then I concluded with an AMEN.
2:30 came around and no one from TAYO was anywhere to be found. We didn’t worry, but come 3:20 we started to question whether anyone who should up or not. At 3:40, they arrived, we shouldn’t even have worried this is the African culture, and we are trying to get adjusted to it. When they arrived, they began to show us how to prepare local Malawian vegetables. They also showed us how to make their staple food, ensema. We had already had chili made and showed them how to make Snickerdoodles. They enjoyed saying this word, making the cookies, and devouring them. We had an amazing time cooking with them, eating with them, fellowshipping, and just living life with them. When we sat down to eat we had a ton of food, and when I did a head count, there were 11 TAYO members, 3 of us HANDSon Missionaries, 2 little girls from our village that had hung around all day in hopes of some food, and we invited our night guard to eat as well. Towards the end of the meal, I noticed a couple of girls sitting on our porch and peering in through the window. I had more than enough food left on my plate and was satisfied, so I took my plate and two forks out to them, and the smiles that came across their face were indescribable. By the time they had finished, one of my teammates had some leftovers as well, and a little boy had showed up to see what was going on as well. Around dusk everyone started to leave, and we were so thankful for the time that we had gotten to have with our friends. There was only a little relish and two ensema patties left, we thought that we came pretty close to just the right amount of food. Not even 10 minutes later, our guard’s wife and daughter had stopped by and our guard wanted to introduce us to them. We were also able to give them the leftovers that we had. When the night was concluded, it was amazing to see the provision of God and how amazing He is. When I looked at the 11 TAYO members, 3 of us, our guard and his family, and the 5 kids from the village being able to share a meal together, I thought to myself: this is what the body of Christ looks like, this is what loving each other and living life together should look like. The body is not made up of people who look alike, who have the same talents, who are the same age, who speak the same language.

Thank you so much for all the prayers. This is an update (sorry if its too long and you stopped reading long ago) that finally gives you more of a look at what is going on here in Malawi, Africa. Also, I just feel as though I should add this as a disclaimer, I don’t know how much I will be able to update this. I have been able to get on the internet once, sometimes twice a week, but I’m going to try to even cut that back. I do enjoy the emails and comments that are written and though I may not always or ever respond they mean a lot to me. You guys are the best and I thank God every time I think of you. Thanks for the prayers, keep it up.
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