Monday, December 6, 2010

Cheerful Giver

Lessons Learned.

Don't underestimate what God puts on your children's heart.

At the beginning of this year, Maggi had to make a pledge for the Boys and Girls Missionary Club at church. This is a program that teaches children to give money to foreign missions. They collect the money in "buddy barrels". The first week in each month the children return their barrels to the church, filled with change, and that money goes toward special projects (like digging wells for clean water). In Jan. Maggi wanted to pledge $1,000. Dave and I tried to explain to her that $1,000 was alot of money for an eight year old little girl. Dave and I talked her into pledging $500, as that seemed like a reasonable goal.

Immediately Dave and I felt guilty. Who were we to put limits on God. God placed a number on Maggi's heart, and why should we try to change it.

Being a parent is a hard thing.

On the flip side, we wanted her to be able to meet the goal she had pledged.

We were torn.

She went with the $500 dollars, but we decided we would not limit what God wanted to do.

Maggi gave buddy barrels to anyone she could think of.

When her birthday rolled around, she asked her friends to give money to her, so she could give it to missions. She called it her Birthday Sacrifice.

She put the money her grandparents gave her for her birthday in her barrel.

She put her toothfairy money in.

She put the change she found in the street in her buddy barrel.

Spare change around the house was placed in the barrel.

Even a missionary couple we meet this summer placed a sacrificial gift in the barrel, all you have to do is share your vision. (this act humbled everyone in our family)

She and her sister helped make and then serve breakfast to raise money.

This Sunday, Maggi turned in her buddy barrel.

She had raised, $1007.00.

unbelievable. A nine year old who is learning what sacrifice is all about. She was willing to sell toys, rake leaves, clean out a pool, sweep garages, to boldly ask her neighbors. . . to fulfill a need.

She has taught our family so much.
Emma now has her very own buddy barrel. She is thinking of ways to give and raise money.
She taught her parents to believe that God uses and speaks to children.
We as a family watched people give sacrificial to something we are passionate about. We watched the girls carry their yellow buddy barrels to church with excitement.

This Jan. we will have 2 little girls making pledges. You can bet, whatever the pledge, mom and dad will remain silent.

.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It is official!



We have finally started!
It is official.

Yesterday we were accepted as fully appointed missinoaries of the Assemblies of God to the country of Costa Rica.

It was a really big day here!

We are so humbled, and excited, and a little scared. . .

We are getting ready for a new way to view things. And learn alot about iteneration, a double OO account, booking services, promoting ourselves, prayer cards, etc.

And we are ready. We are excited to watch and see what God is going to do. And how He is going to do it. We have converted the dinning room in to a home office, and learned excel, how to print envelopes, design stationary, etc.

The girls are working on their own blog, and working through their own fears, excitement, and futre plans.

But we as a family are so in need of God to prepare us.
Prepare our steps, Prepare on hearts, Prepare our hands, Prepare the way, Prepare the Cartwrights.

We accepted the call to missions with humble hearts, wanting to serve God, and answer a call He placed on us. We are excited to discover some of the great things God has for us. So our prayer is that we are guided by his voice, and not a paper trial through iteneration, and that we share His passion for the lost and hurting people of Latin America, not our personal agenda and our budget, that young children, families, and older saints are inspired to answer the call to missions, and that we continue to look to our Father for the answers.

We are excited to share this journey with you.

" to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." Ephesians 4:12


Oh by the way. . . we got the call on my birthday, just another way my father lavishes gifts on me. . . Oh How He Loves Me. . .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Location Location Location

"Father, Give me your eyes to see others around me, to see their needs and their hurts. Fill my heart with your compassion for my lost neighbors, colleagues and family members. And Lord, May my location always be in the center of your will."

Amen

From the book, Voices of the Faithful.

What an awesome reminder today, that no matter where I am, Costa Rica, Clover, Springfield, or California, may I always desire to be where He wants me to be, and to be reaching out to hurting people.

God puts each one of us in a place for a specific purpose. We may not be able to see it now, but as time and circumstances begin to reveal themselves, we will see we are part of His bigger plan.

I look back at all the things he has woven into my life at a particular time, but it didn't reveal itself till years later.

Things like

. . . A friendship made at the age of seven at summer camp, became my college roommate, and then her dad the minister that married me.

. . . A few classes at Bible College seemed like it didn't fit into the degree I earned, but became what I needed to become licsenced with the Assemblies of God 15 years later.

. . . that a house we bought 9 1/2 years ago, after seeing it at dusk, placing an offer on it the next day and remodeling it would bring us financial stability and a beautiful home a few years down the road.

. . . That the beauty of country I had worked in as a young teenager, would become the country my family will begin a new life in 20 years later.

. . . the list is endless and I have gotten way off track. . .

All that to say, that whatever your physical,financial, spiritual, or mental location right now, God has a reason for it.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" I Corinthians 2:9

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

didn't See THAT coming. . .

Lord, Send me ANYWHERE, only go with me
Lay any burden on me, only SUSTAIN me
SEVERE any ties but the tie that binds me to THY SERVICE
and to THY HEART

David Livingstone

I am not sure where to start. . .
I am not sure you will even believe it. . .

Last week David and I had our orientation in Springfield Missouri, the headquarters of the Assemblies of God. This is a time when the people who have applied to be missionaries or missionary associates come to "headquarters" for the final process. We receive our Psyche evaluations, have meetings, and interviews.

Canidate orientation is quite. . . intense



We met some amazing people. We were so humbled to be grouped with them.
We were able to sit and listen to the stories of veteran missionaries, who have dedicated their life to the call of God.

Their stories made us cry, and challenged and inspired us. When you think of the missionaries who gave all and left with a few suitcases and trekked into the jungle, that was these guys. We were so blessed to have met them.

On Monday Dave and I met with the person over the International Ministries, Joann Boutrin. She was so patient with us. She gently led us into some serious conversations about how to proceed in our decision "on how and where" to serve in the Kingdom of God. She introduced us to so many amazing ministries that are all over the world. After talking with her, David and I decided that even though we wanted to partner with International Ministries, this was not the best fit for us, as they are based in Springfield and travel to places all over. We want to live in the country we serve in.

So on Tuesday, we met with the field directors for Central and South America and Mexico, Dick and Cynthia Nicholson. We shared our heart for with them. We also talked about our call to missions and our sweet girls. They shared with us the vision they have for the area they serve. We expressed that we want to GO wherever they felt that we would be a fit, and could use our gifts and talents. After some discussion we focused on Central America and the countries that had urgent needs. They asked that we call the area directors for Central America, Jay and Nancy Dickerson. They asked us to consider going to El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize.

Later that night we were able to skype Jay and Nancy. After a difficult sykpe connection, we all felt like there were 2 options, with one being a better fit for us.

I am going to have to say that the Dickersons are such a beautiful example of servants who have been faithful to serve our God over a lifetime.

With all that they have.

We have been blessed to know them more than 15 years, and have been inspired by their life. Infact, having lunch with Jay and Nancy a little more than a year was a huge catalyst for us to start the journey and get our application turned in. (looking back, they were recruiting help :))

So. . . The two countries were Honduras and Costa Rica.

The better fit being Costa Rica.

Dave and I were both taken back, we really did NOT see that coming. I mean really. We had spent the summer there, but not as a goal of scoping out our future home. Simply to have the girls experience life outside the United States, and spend some time in ministry in a third world country. To give them a real experience of life as a missionary. We wanted them to have a really good understanding of what it ment when we said we were going to be missionaries. We spent alot of time in the country exploring it as a tourist, not as a missionary, or through the eyes of a missionary. So we were caught off guard.

The Dickerson believe, as we do now, that the country is ready for a time of great harvest, and that the national leaders are looking for people to help during this window of opportunity. What we will be doing is not completely nailed down, and as I learn more over the next few weeks I will share. But what we understand is that there is a great need for the indigenous people in the lower part of the country. Possibly working with Sustain Hope to finish a project that was started, but needs someone to finish the vision.

So on Wed. we met with the executive committee. This is the grandaddy of all interviews, It really is a little intimidating. We are asked to present our call and vision, with the country we are going to serve to the committee. We had to explain why we chose a country that the field director did not even give as an option, but let us know right off the bat they agreed with. It was a blessed time.

At the headquarters, there is a catwalk on the 5Th floor that brings you over to the missions department. The catwalk is lined with flags from around the world. It is such a beautiful inspiring walk. Really. At the beginning of the week, David and I walked down the hall, thinking by the end of the week, one of these will be ours. We were so blessed to finally walk down the hall and touch the flag for Costa Rica.




God placed a love for that country for me at the age of 15, on my first trip there. Years later, I wanted to take my family there, so they could fall in love with it to. And now, in a plan orchestrated by no one less than the mighty God we serve. . . We will go back as full appointed Assemblies of God missionaries.



We are so small in HIS big plan.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A sweet blossom



This week as we were doing our daily devotions with the girls, Maggi moved us.

The girls receive a sheet from superchurch on Sunday with questions that they have to answer every day. The thought is to encourage daily Bible reading.

On the outside of the sheet is a weekly Bible verse.

This week's verse was "do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character". The reference was in John.

Maggi right away says, "that is not correct, that verse is not found in John, it is in First Corinthians".

I told her to look it up, as it may be a Scripture that had been crossreferenced.
She grabbed her Bible, and found the verse right away,

I Cor. 15:33.

Dave and I just looked at each other.
WoW.

Maggi is hiding the word in heart. We are so proud of the the lives the girls are living.

We love watching them blossom.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moving Forward

We are moving forward.

We received the word yesterday, that we have been invited to attend the canidate orientation in Springfield in October.

We are still unsure of so many things, but we are moving. One phase of the wait is over.

We are clinging to II Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

We are learning so much about faith, and leaning on Him for things we can not see. It is a hard lesson, one that we seem to repeat many times.

The next part is a large one, as soon we will narrow in on the work and the place God has for our family.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We are so blessed to have the support of our friends and family during this "walk".

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sticker Shock


It has been a while. . . I have been processing alot.

The girls started back to school. And ballet, and horseback, and M-pact.
Dave and I are trying to toss around our schedules and the girls, and make it all work.

I have had some time to process what all our future may hold.

This is the week we are supposed to learn if we are invited back to Springfield for Canidate Orientation.

All of the paperwork and medical exams have been completed and are submitted.

There has been alot of prayer and pressing in.

I am going to have to confess, that I was a running a little. OK maybe alot.

I was starting to look at the cost.
The cost that a missionary pays.

Suddenly the things that aren't really important to me, became something that was going to have to be a huge sacrifice for me.

I was trying to come up with a plan for God, like where I was going to store my wedding dress, how we could pack the entire American Girl Collection, how can I get my pampered chef pizza stone to a third world country, you know things like that. . .

So it finally occured to me, that I had taken my eyes off the Lord, I started counting the "cost".

I was in "sticker shock".

I was loosing my focus.

There is a cost, but there is a cost to everyone who wholeheartedly serves the Lord. But what we gain is so much more.

I am not sure what our future holds, I really don't, but GOD is speaking and moving.

Just today as I sat outside on my chair on the backporch the words of Oswald Chambers came alive.

"Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

I didn't know Mr. Chambers, but that word was for me, for today.

Keep paying the price. I am ready. I am refocused. I want a fresh and new vision.

I want God to see that I am willing.

Beth Moore has a book of devotions called, Voices of the faithful. It is stories from missionaries around the world. Each month Beth starts with a focus. And wouldn't you know it, September spoke to me almost as an audible voice. Here a a few things she wrote for me, for this time in my life. . .

The Great Commission can not survive without sacrifice.

Sacrificial living is made bearable and even wonderful two ways. The first one is the absolute marrow-deep convicition that anthing we lose for the sake of Christ will turn to gain. We lay down our lives with the utmost confidence that the One we will find is the One who makes life worth more than a hill of beans. Living sacrificially is not only best for the kingdom, but it is best for us.

The second way sacrificial living is made bearable and wonderful is worship. Romans 12:1 tells us that living sacrifices offer spiritual worship to God. No worship is more expensive, more lavish that that which flows straight from the ache of sacrifice. Does it hurt? Worship God with the pain!. . . Worship Me with it (pain). Bring that ache to My altar, and I will esteem it as a lavish offering.

Trust Him. Worship Him and count your loss but gain.

Thank you Lord, for being faithful to me through my journey.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of school

Last Night Dave and I prayed over our sweet girls as they begin a new school year.

Over the Summer we found this valuable tool in how to pray for your children.

I thought I would share:

1. Pray that they will know Christ as a Saviour Early in Life.
Psalm 63:1,2 and 2 Timothy 3:15

here is an example: Father God, (1) I pray that my children would come to know you as their God and Savior Jesus Christ; or (2) thank you that my children know you as their God and Saviour Jesus Christ. I thank you that they will continue to seek you and your way to doing and being right. Put a hunger. and thirst in them for more of you. Help them to realize that you are their source for all things and only when they have a healthy vibrant relationship with you will they be fully satisfied. As their young hearts experience you, O God, reveal to them your power and glory. Help me as a parent, through my study of your Word, to reinforce and strengthen in them the knowledge they already have of the Scriptures. I thank you for their salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus and that this faith will grow as they learn to lean entirely on him in absolute trust and confidence in his over wisdom, and goodness, and I thank you for your faithfulness to keep them safe and secure. In Jesus' name. Amen!

2. Pray that they will have a hatred for sin. (Psalm 97:10)
"o you who love the Lord, hate evil; he preserves the lives of his saints (the children of God), he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.

3. Pray that they will be caught when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn of your statutes."

4. Pray that they will be protected from the evil on in each area of their lives: Spiritual, emotional, and physical (John 17:15)
"I don't ask that you will take them out of this world, but that you will keep them and protect them from the evil one."

5. Pray that they will have responsible attitude in their interpersonal relationships. (Daniel 6:3)
"Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him over the whole realm."

6. Pray that they will respect people in authority over them. (Romans 13:1)
Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities: For there is no authority except from God (by his permission, his sanction) and those that exist do so by God's appointment."

7. Pray that they will desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (Proverbs 1: 10-15)
"If they say, Come with us, let us lie in wait, let us ambush the innocent without cause; let us swallow them up alive as does Sheol. . .We shall find and take all kinds of precious goods (when our victims are put out of the way, we shall fill our houses with plunder; Throw in your lot with us and be a sworn brother and comrade; let us all have one purse in common--My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path."

8. Pray that they, as will as their future mate, will be kept pure (I Corin 6: 14-20)
And God both raised the Lord to life and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not see and know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the parts of Christ and make parts of a prostitute? Never! Never! or do you not know and realize that when a man joints himself to a prostitute he becomes one body with her? The two it is written shall become one flesh. But the person who is united to the Lord becomes on spirit with hi. Shun immorality and all sexual looseness (flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed). Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit who lives within you. Whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. So then, honor God and bring glory to hm in your body.

9. Pray that they will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one.
(2 Corinthians 6: 14-17)
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness" or how can light have fellowship with darkness" what harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement can there be between a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. So, come out from among, separate yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not unclean thing, then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor.

10. Pray that they learn to submit totally to God and actively resist Satan in all circumstances. (James 4:7)
So be subject to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

11. Pray that they will be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ (Romans 12: 1,2)
I appeal to you therefore brethren, to present all your faculties as a living sacrifice, holy and well pleasing to God, which your reasonable service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

12. Pray that they will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places, and the wrong people cannot find their way to them. (Hosea 2:6)
Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes, I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way"

I am praying these things over Maggi and Emma this school year.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

System Error 99

Warning, this is going to be a long personal post. . .

On our last week in Costa Rica, my camera malfunctioned. I was at the award ceremony for Maggi and Emma, when it started. Literally hours from our vacation. After I snapped a picture, the camera screen said. . .

System Error 99, please turn the camera off and retry.

For those who know me well, know that I love taking pictures.
It is my thing.
I love trying to catch the one perfect picture that captures exactly what is happening or an expression that I want to remember for ever. I love looking at pictures from way back when. As soon as I see some pictures, the memory of the event becomes so real.

Anyway. . .

I love my camera. I saved my money for a while, researched the camera industry, asked people, and worked extra shifts for my camera and lenses.
I even took a class with a great friend who shares the love of pictures and photography.

So, I was really looking forward to some phototherapy while on vacation in Costa Rica. Beautiful sand, clear water, amazing wildlife, sweet southern girls. It was a perfect situation.

Until system error99.

I could tell you the detailed report of how I handled it, but lets just leave it at, it was not good. I was already having a melt down over other things, the one thing that I was looking forward to, was taken from me in a split second.

I tried several times, with different lenses, but still, system error99.

It was my last straw.

I had a great friend who let me borrow her camera, which I was very grateful for, but it was not my camera. Not the one I had brought the book from the states for to be able to take award winning pictures with.

But life goes on and so did vacation. I still have some great pictures of the vacation.

I tell you all this to tell you that I myself had a system error99.

Let me back a few days. Last Friday the family packed up and went to Lake Bowen with our long time friends, the Collins. Wes and Sherry became our friends shortly after Dave and I got married. They were the pastors of the church we attended as a newlywed couple. The first time we met them, they asked us to come over to their house after the evening service for an "afterglow". We were the first couple to arrive, and Sherry put a vacuum in my hands, and asked if I wouldn't mind to run that around the room a little before others got there.

And just like that we were friends. They became the family that Dave and I would model our family after. We watched them sacrificially serve the church body, come home, cherish the time with their children, and still have time to minister to us. We were at their house practically every Sunday night after that, and Sherry always fed us, and shared their home. We played many hours of cards with them.

There is alot of history between us. Good stuff. Life changing stuff. The stuff that binds you together. We are so blessed by our friendship.

OK back to last weekend. Sherry and I had a chance to catch up on each others lives, and I was able to tell her all about Costa Rica. And before we left to come home, Sherry got something out of her purse. She handed us a twenty dollar bill and told us to eat at our favorite Bar-B-Q place while we were in Springfield.

And that is when it started, my system error99.

I cried from Spartanburg to Clover. We were having friends over for dinner, and cried before they got here, a little while they were here, and then when they left.

The next morning Dave and I got on a plane to go to Springfield, MO for our Candidate evaluation. This is where we go for psyche evaluations, medical testing, dental xrays, etc, and the clencher, "the personal interview"

I cried some more on the plane.

I recognized that I was having the system error99.

The next part of the story is painfully honest.

I started running. Not physically (you know I can't do that it isn't even a pretty mental picture) but running from the call that has been placed on my life. Running from something that is so much bigger than I am, that I can't even wrap my mind around.

I told David I didn't want to be a missionary anymore. I couldn't do it, I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't spiritual enough, to fat and unhealthy. I was going to have to tell them in the interview I was not going to do it. Sorry, end of story. Nothing to discuss. Lets go home.

What I didn't tell Dave, is that I heard the Lord speaking to me. Let me change that, I knew the Lord wanted to tell me something, but I specifically would not listen to him. I knew what He would say, but I didn't want to hear it. So I wouldn't listen to my IPOD, because that has music that inspires me, I wouldn't pray, because that would give God and opportunity to speak. I just ran.

Knowing what I was in, a strong spiritual battle, right before the interview, I had about 4 minutes of alone time. I quickly asked for prayer from a few friends before going into the interview. And they responded, and touched the throne of my father on my behalf, and He listened.

The interview went well, we think. But after, we believe to be a divine appointment. The person who performed the interview, encouraged us to spend a little time with the people with Health Care Ministries.

God Humbled me.

The next part is amazing. Butch (the man we had the interview with) walked us over to introduce us to some people from Health Care ministries. There were 3 women and 1 man in the room. And that all started looking at each other, kindof smiling. I thought great, another system error99. They asked us where we wanted to be assigned and a little about ourselves. We tell them we are nurses, and that we don't know where God is leading us, only that we want to use our nursing skills, to share the love of Christ with others, to build His church through compassion. I added that I love teaching women about childbirth and how to care for their babies. They started glancing around again.

And then

They say, this morning, we prayed,

LORD SEND US WORKERS.
LORD SEND US WORKERS.
LORD SEND US WORKERS.

They went on to say, we have so many needs, around the world, we wanted God to send us workers who were equipped and ready to serve.

Over the next few minutes, it got personal.

My husband connected with this. My husband who is 6 feet 4 inches, broad shoulders, big guy, a man of few words, melted. He wept, he wept the tears of man who was ready to be sent. He wept, because someone finally put to words, what we can not, He wept because He knew this is what his family has been prepared to do, what he will lead them to do. He became so excited to hear about simple acts that changed a peoples heart, and built a church in a community that once spit on the pastor. Because some was willing to be sent, touched someone in a compassionate way, met a physical need, all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish I could tell you that I stopped running, but that would be a lie.

The next stop, we went to meet Craig with Convoy of Hope. This is a national and international program, that feeds children, responds to disaster, and meets peoples spiritual and physical needs. Craig is in charge of the International department that responds during a disaster. After Dave and Craig talk for a few minutes, the story goes something like this. . .
Craig says he served as a missionary in Romania, Dave responds by saying, I was there to. But they were there during different years.

A few minutes later, another connection had been made, Dave and Craig had worked together before Craig had become a missionary. Craig worked with the construction team that helped remodel the orphanage Dave help start. Another Divine Appointment.

You would think all these events would help calm my spirit.

But it had not.

I still had more tears. I felt like I was in mourning. Like my life was slipping away, a little bit by little bit. I still didn't want to listen to what the Lord was trying to say.

I don't know if I have ever had a time in my life, where I was acting like that. Knowing what I should be doing, but refusing to do it. I could sense the Lord so close, but denied Him access to my heart.

I don't know how far I though that would get me. Being outside God's covering would have to be the scariest place to be.

So, Dave and I had alot of alone time in the car and plane. We avoided, ok I tried to avoid any more discussion of the subject of missions.

But my husband is pretty awesome. He remained calm, and refused to give in to my fears and sprint backward. He wanted to know my biggest fears, and tried to find ways to solve them. I didn't really want to hear it.

I wanted him to know how painful some things were for me. Crazy ridiculous things. An example is my scrapbook closet. Any time over the last week that I think about scrapbooking, I cry. I cry because in my head I can't take my scrapbook closet with me. I cry because I can't take my supplies with me. I cry because I don't even know where I will store the books I have already completed. I cry because I associate scrapbooking with friends. All of it considered a loss for me. I cry now because I have friends are at scrapbook convention and I am not there.

I think the closer we have gotten to the final steps in this process, the more fear I have, and it became overwhelming. Where I should be digging in deeper with my prayer life, and going deeper in the Bible, I have not.

I need more of the Lord.

I let what I considered failure in Costa Rica dictate my attitude and behavior for the future. Isn't that just like our enemy.

System Error99.

It has been painful.
I am ready to move on.
I am ready to accept that I have alot to learn.
I need to become more dependant on my Father.
I need to be thankful for my husband who sees past my faults and believes in me.
I need to realize that I am a little scared, sad, nervous, and unsure of my future.
I need to learn to let go of material things.
I need to remember
"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace"

Acts 20:24

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From Jungle to Jungle



We are all in missions. Some are called to foreign lands. Some are called to the jungles of the workplace. Wherever you are called, serve the Lord in that place. Let Him demonstrate His power through your life so that others might experience Him through you today.

Os. Hillman

Friday, July 30, 2010

Home



We have finished our summer journey.
We are back home.
and it feels so good to be back home.

Our friends and neighbors, did a great job of helping us ease back into the states. We felt so blessed to have friends who would pick us up at midnight, let us do 8 or 9 loads of laundry, provide cake and icecream, and disrupt their routine. And was overwhelmed to come home to find our home clean, the fridge stocked with fresh summer fruit, dinner, and desert, and a wonderful sign welcoming us home.

We were so humbled. Thank you for our warm welcome.





We are mostly unpacked now. We have our treasures from the oceanside, our letters that friends and family sent us, we even have some sand and dirt in the bottom of our suitcases.

Now we are settling back into summer.

I have been asked if I was able to communicate in Spanish, and honostly I am not able to. I understand alot more than I can say. While we were there in Costa Rica we were at the point where we were able to start to form sentences. They are very simple sentences. I am hoping to be able to really practice my Spanish at work, and do some on the job training.

We are also asked if we had a good time. That one is tough one to answer.
We did have a good time. We met alot of new friends. Ones that we hope to be ministering side by side one day. We saw so many beautiful new things and places. We were so blessed to go to many different parts of the country of Costa Rica. Almost every weekend we went somewhere new. The things that we were able to do overwhelms us. My girls will never know how blessed they were to participate in the activities they were exposed to.

My family was amazing. The girls loved Costa Rica. They adapted so quickly. The loved the challenges of a new way of living. The were able to quickly communicate with those around them, and even got high marks for their phoenitics. They are ready to win the lost for the Lord, ready to go to any new country. They both feel they are ready to be missionaries, and are excited to find out where God will lead us (so am I for that matter).

They also realize that we were not on the mission field when we were there. They understood that the activites like horseback riding, or zip lining, would not be the normal way of life. They are still ready to go back.

They made sacrifices while there. They gave one of the things that were most important to them, "silly bands". This was no easy thing, let me assure you. But in the end, they called it their silly band sacrifice, to "reach" the children around the world. They have even prayed for the children that receive the bands, that they will come to know the Lord, as our missionary friends give them the silly bands.



The girls didn't complain about their bug bites, or having to walk a ways to get to the grocery store, etc. And God kept them safe. Emma did end up with a staph infection from a spider bite, but we were able to take care of it before we left. I praise God for His hand of protection on my babies.

David also did great. That man will go to great lengths to make sure his family is comfortable and safe. He keeps us well feed, and pays a great price to give his wife the things that make her happy.


(those were the most expensive cheezits I have ever eaten. But they were good.)


But I am going to be honost. It was hard too.
I found my self struggling with a call that was placed on my life over 20 years ago. The frustration and exhaustion of everyday living became a huge burden to me. Which then made me question if I had the charactor needed to do such an amazing call. I felt very raw and exposed.

The enemy wages such a strong war, and uses such powerful tools. I was not ready for that battle. I don't know why I was caught off guard. I wish I would have been stronger, not complained as much, not wavered. I have so much to learn. I need to really learn to live the Word, to hide it my heart. I need to believe His word. I need to learn how to "enjoy" and not just "endure".

I have so much to learn.

I can't remember if I have used this before, but this statement if from David Livingstone who was a Scottish missionary, doctor, and explorer who helped open the heart of Africa to missions.

"Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me.
Lay any burden on me,
only sustain me.
Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Thy service
and to They heart."

I want this to be my prayer. I fall so often, I need God's forgiveness and strength. I am so glad I serve a God who is there to walk beside me, and forgives me, who strengthens me.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thig I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to witn the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Operation Vacation



Friday, we got all packed up and tried to head out of town.
But living in Central America, you don't always get what you bargained, or even paid for.
We had rented a 7 passenger 4 wheel drive, and ended up with a 5 passenger. We needed a bigger car, because we had invited some friends along for the weekend.

So, we were left with the option of taking the car, or taking nothing. So we all piled in and put our luggage on top of the car again. The girls rode in the cargo part of the car. We are not going to win any awards, for the safest parents in town, but, that is how it goes. The girls loved it. They named themselves the "talking luggage".


We had the apartment we called home packed up, the car and talking luggage secure, and needed to make one phone call before heading out. Well the phone call was to the property manager of the house we were going to rent to give her an approximate time of arrival. She informed us that someone was in the house, and our reservations were going to be for the next day.

So we were in a little bit of a panic. But we were able to find a place to stay, and the owner of the home refunded that night's stay.

God takes care of us in so many ways.

We were finally on the road, about 3 hours later, but on the roads of Central America none the less. Once you get out of the city of San Jose, things are much easier. You have to watch out for potholes the size of bathtubs, and the occasional monkey, but then you are good to go. Our drive was uneventful.



We arrived in Manuel Antonio for the first part of our week of vacation. The house we stayed out was wonderful. We were able to sit on the rocking chairs of our balcony and watch the slow moving sloths, the howler monkeys, the capuchin monkeys and the tizi monkeys. We even hand fed the tizi monkeys. It was such a treat to stay there.



On Sunday we went to the national park of Manuel Antonio. What an amazing place. We know understand why people LOVE Costa Rica. On our hike through the park we saw, monkeys, sloths, a boa constrictor, agoutis, iguanas, bats, and a poisonous tree. The water was beautiful. It was a great start to a much needed vacation.

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We brought our new friends Lorin and Rebecca Harris with us. They got married in December, and had honeymooned in Manuel Antonio. They were alot of fun to be around. We had alot of good food, and enjoyed playing cards, and watching the wildlife with them.




On Monday we took a catamaran tour. So we were able to watch the dolphin play along side the boat, did a little snorkeling, and had some fresh pineapple smoothies. After lunch, we lifted up the sail, and cruised back. What a relaxing afternoon. Emma said, and I quote, "we are living the dream".


Tuesday, we drove the Pan American highway to our final destination, Playa Conchal. This is a gem of a place. We have this beautiful white sand beside aqua blue water. We feel so pampered. We rented a condo in a reserve here. We were able to get a great price, because this is the off season in Costa Rica. The reserve has a pool, steps away from the ocean. The staff here will take a lounge chair for you and place it ride beside the ocean, underneath the shade of the tree. So you can go for a swim in the ocean, and then cool off in the refreshing pool.



After some stressful weeks of trying to learn a language, and adapt to a new culture, this vacation has been . . .replenishing.

We feel so spoiled.

God has blessed us with an amazing time.

Our only regret, is that our friends and family can not be here with us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CINCEL






Did David and Amy actually go to school down there? all their pictures are of vacation. Well, here are the certificates to prove that we are now fluent in spanglish. we can ask how much this costs, when does it start, where are you from? this is to add to our expansive knowledge when we got here of where is the bathroom and what is your name. We did go to school for six weeks four hours a day. but there was certainly little to take pictures of and little exciting enough to blog about. but it was a humbling experience for sure. it was really hard learning another language. however, it was a good taste of humble pie. the whole experience was challenging but fruitful. dealing with most the elements you would need to handle if living here for an extended period all smashed in six weeks as well as dealing with the culture shock and new inconveniences was certainly stressful by the time six weeks was up. It was a great experience and Cincel was good for us. Though we may not be fluent in spanish, we did actually learn some spanish, we did met some great new missionary families that became good friends and gave us good advice, gave our children a positive experience living in another culture and country and the chance participate in ministry. It also gave us a much better idea of how to prepare should the Lord call us back here again. We are glad to have moved on though to be honest. We got all we could handle for now. We are enjoying some amazing experiences and absolutely gorgeous parts of Costa Rica our last few days here. Amy will blog those later. I just wanted to sign off our time here by saying thank you Cincel for lessons learned, friendships made and our hearts and sprits changed. Soon it will be back to work, and moving forward in whatever God calls us to do. For now a friendly farewell to Cincel. Hasta Luego.

David

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Meaningful Experience

When we allow God the privilege of shaping our lives, we discover new depths of purpose and meaning. What a joyful thought to realize you are a chosen vessel for God-perfectly suited for His use.

Joni Eareckson Tada.







On Sunday, we were able to go to a church about 1 1/2 hours away from San Jose to a town called Turrialba. To date, it was the most beautiful drive I have been on. The view was spectacular. My favorite part was the coffee fields springled with tall Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. These trees are beautiful. I am going to do my best to take a picture, to share with you. The trunks are smooth, and when the bark peels off it gives the trunk a striped rainbow appearance.

When we came out of the mountains, we watched the Volcanoe Turrialba, sprew a steady stream of steam and ash.

We were prepared to give a short testimony or greeting. The other students attending the summer intensive group also came along, as well as one of the missionaries training here. During the first service the other students gave their testimony, and one classmate sang a song she had learned in Spanish, How Great Thou Art.

Before the service started, I ran into Don (the director of the Language school)outside, and told him how very nervous I was. He told me, I didn't have to go, if I felt I couldn't.
The majority of me wanted to say, "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, I'll meet you in the van at noon".

But I couldn't. I knew my girls were watching me. And how could I tell them to be brave, sacrifice their summer, live a fearless life, and not do a simple task.

So, I said thank you, but I will try.

The first service went really well. The missionary gave his first Spanish sermon, and the others gave their testimony, and it was good.

After the first service, Maggi became very emotional.
I wasn't really unsure of what was happening.

Maggi said, "I really feel like I want to do something important. Can I say something with you. I want to help you mommy".

As I sit here now, tears are streaming down my face.

Because I was watching my sweet Maggi listen to the Lord.
He was gentling asking her to follow Him, and placed something on her heart, and she said yes. I don't think she could put into words what she was feeling. She was just answering His call.

So she decided she was going to go up there on stage, and speak to audience of 250 people in Spanish.

So we asked Emma if she wanted to go, and she said "No Way". So we didn't force the issue. We just asked if she would go up with us.

So our part of the service came.

I gave my greeting.
and then handed the microphone over to Maggi.

Maggi said, "Hello my name is Maggi, Jesus loves you".



She was giving the microphone over to her dad, and Emma grabbed it from her.
And said, "Hello my name is Emma, The Lord is my shepard I shall not want."
(in perfect Spanish).



UNREHEARSED AND BEAUTIFUL.

Dave went on to preach his heart out in 3 minutes.

And it was over.

But it was a sweet beginning.

Maggi learned to step out in faith, and amazed us all.
Emma just leaves us speachless.

I can't that say that people were saved, or healed, or that they even understood what we said. But none of that matters.

Our family is being prepared.
And stretched.
And answering a call, one small step and word at a time.








Thank you Lord, for using vessels that are broken. . .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A week in Review

And what a week it has been.

Last weekend, for the fourth of July, we went on a joint trip to Tambor. We went with the Walker family, missionaries to Mexico, they have 3 sweet boys. And Janiel, she is a missionary to Paraguay with an awesome testimony of God's grace. She is one of the only people I personaly know who became a Christian because someone gave her a "track". And the Harris family (Lorin and Rebecca), a newly wed couple heading to El Savador to work with Kings Castle.



After class (yes, we really are in school), we packed our 12 passenger van (the 13 of us), tied our luggage to the top in the van (in the pouring rain) and headed out of town. The drive there was very adventorous. We drove the infamous roads of Central America, where the pavement suddenly stops and you are on a gravel road, and then after a few kilometers you are back on pavement again. It had rained so much, that many of the bridges had rushing water running over them. It was CRAZY. Being in a van loaded with people, I have no photos to prove how the roads and bridges were, but trust me, it was a little crazy. Thank you Darren for some awesome driving.

We reached a ferry boat, drove the car on, and headed to the Nicoya Peninsula. It was about an hour long ferry ride. By the time we reached the other side, the roads were quite dark. We made it to our rental in good time, and got all settled in. The house was a little. . . "rustic". It is probably just fine for Central American standards, but I like to rent a HOUSE. So I had a little adjusting to do. The first hour we were there, we had to chase a mouse out of one of the rooms. The house ended up being perfect for us, because we all had a room, (ok Janel had a couch, but it was in a room. . .)and a table big enough for all of us to play games, a kitchen, and an AMAZING view. And it came with its own sounds (we could hear the iguanas walking on the roof).




The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast, cooked on, what Dave calls a camping stove, we explored a little. We were right on the ocean. The heavy rains had caused a lot of debris to be washed up on shore, so the shore was really litered with logs, sticks, and "trash". The girls quickly called it stick beach. We felt like we needed to find a safer, cleaner beach, and settled on a place called Montezuma. The ocean was cleaner, but the waves were huge, and had lots of rocks. So the kids played on a little stream, and had a blast. They ended up making a damn over the stream, and people starting using it as a bridge. The ocean is beautiful here, because the jungle comes right up to the shore. It is an incrediable view.





Later that day we celebrated the fourth of July with a meal of tacos (with some of Daves famous salsa, and Darren's guacamole). We finished it off with Dave's apple pie (Darren's birthday is actally on the fourth, so that was our gift to him). We played silly games with the kids (like doggie doggie who has your bone, monkey in the middle, etc) and we all had fun.



The next day we were able to swim right outside our house. The girls really enjoyed learning how to boggie board. We enjoyed our time so much.




Later we packed up, and headed back to San Jose. Darren wanted to go eat at the Outback for his birthday, so after heavy traffic, we were finally able to get there. The Outback here is a little different than the states. Steaks are about 30 dollars, and the salad to go with it is 10 dollars. So we all had burgers. . .and shared a bloomin onion.

The girls had a good week at school, and wrapped it up on Friday with "Olympic" style games. They are having a great time making new friends and learning songs. They made sock puppets, and are working on several things for their last day of school. They were very sad about a new friend that had to return to the states after contracting Lime Disease. She will have to go home for the treatment. If you could remember to pray for Tess, her family would appreciate it.



Judy comes home every day, completely exhausted, but happy. She is really being challenged with her assignment. One day she had to fill in for the PE teacher. She is an amazing blessing to us, and the families here with children attending Sojourn. The kids at Sojourn are also getting sad that she only has one more week to go.

This week we felt an earthquake. It measured 5.0 richter scale, with the epicenter about 45 to 60 minutes from here. Dave and I felt it in conversation class. I am going to have to say it was a sick feeling, having my kids 15 minutes away. But I think that tremors are felt alot around here.

Dave and I had some exams this week, and so far are making straight A's. Learning a new language is so humbling. It really is. I thought I would walk away from here, able to do so much more, but am only now starting to form sentences and questions. I am really good at my adjectives. I can say things like,
My husband is tall
My husband is smart
My husband is handsome. . .

Kinda sad huh?

Anyway. . .

Saturday was fun for all. Dave and Judy were able to go on an off shore fishing trip. They went Darren, Lorin and Rebecca. They left at 4:30 in the morning and spent all day on the water. They all had an incrediable time, and were able to catch some fish a sailfish and some bonita. No one got sick or sunburn. So it was a perfect trip.






The girls and I slept in, the second time since being here, and then went with the Walkers and Janel to the Childrens Museum here in San Jose. It was alot of fun. We were there for 4 hours, and didn't see it all. The signs were all in Spanish, so I had to make stuff up for the girls. Please don't tell them. They think that their mom is so smart. The meseum had some really interesting parts, but the girls favorite was the bannana processing plant (where they wash, weigh, and package the bannanas) and a "mock" earthquake (they are on a platform that actally shakes).









That finally brings us to today. I am going to have to save it for a post of its own. We went to a church to give our testimonies in Spanish. I have it on tape and can't wait to share, but will have to wait. . .

We are having an amazing time.
God continues to keep us safe, and healthy, and well fed.

The missionaries we have around us are such a blessing to us. They are constantly encouraging us, giving us tips (on how to itenerate, stretch a budget, raise well adjusted kids. . . etc) and challenging us to become closer in our relationship with the Lord. I want to be able to give you a link to their blogs and sites on line, so you can see the awesome people God is using around the world.

P. S. I started the blog yesterday, but was unable to finish. . .so I will get tell about Sunday sometime soon.