Tuesday, July 3, 2012

May 26th & 27th

Saturday, May 26th, 6:35 PM:

"We are preparing for our descent into Kigali, Rwanda. In just a few minutes, we will be on the ground finding our luggage and preparing to go to the Iris hotel. When we arrive there, we will have a meeting and dinner before going to bed. Rachel Barber and I will be rooming together. She is from Phoenix, Arizona but plays college volleyball in Indiana.

It has been a quiet flight. I was separated from the group on the plane. I took 2 benadryl for a stuffy nose that started today and slept most of the flight. I kept being awakened by drinks and food: Beef and rice with a roll, cheese, salad, and a chocolate chip muffin for lunch. A "pizza pocket" for dinner. A Belgium ice cream bar between those. Of course, pretzels and a coke was my first snack.

It's dark outside my window. I should be able to see the lights of Kigali soon. Still praying for peace and a blessed trip. May His will be done."

 We have safely arrived in Kigali, Rwanda!

Me & the wonderful Anna Kayisinga      

Sunday, May 27th, 11:33AM:

"I am feeling more at peace today. It feels a bit like home again. We had a wonderful welcome last night at the airport. We were welcomed by Julius, Anna, Seth, and John Tall. I loved the sweet hugs and smiles!

After exchanging money and a short ride to the Iris Hotel, we put our stuff in our rooms and gathered around the dinner table. We ordered and waited for food for what felt like forever. It was after 10 before we got our food. While we waited, Anna and John went over cultural do's and dont's."

The cultural do's and dont's told us that women in Rwanda don't whistle. We learned the acceptable ways to greet and hug someone of the same and opposite sex. We also learned how to shake hands. You shake hands differently with someone who is older than you to show honor to that person. You also shake hands differently if someone is eating or if their hands are dirty. We were reminded that people in Rwanda are no longer identified by Hutu or Tutsi status. I'm thankful for that! We were also told to be cautious about what we ask in regards to that and/or the genocide. We must wait and let others bring up that sensitive subject in the homes; if it comes up at all.

"After a good night of sleep, I awoke to lots of random noise outside. Rachel got in the shower, so I finally got up too. Since then, we've had breakfast, walked by "Hotel Rwanda", and been to the shops in Kigali.

I am now sitting on the balcony listening to Jarred and Haley play and sing beautiful worsip music. Fanny just arrived! Praise God!" (At this point in the trip, our ministry partners (interpreters) like Fanny began to show up. We then anxiously awaited on the team to assemble and then began our journey to Rwamagana, Rwanda).

Walking from the Iris into Kigali
 In Kigali
 We walked by the real "Hotel Rwanda"


 This is where we stayed in Kigali
 The Iris Restaurant
 Rachel & I being silly (We didn't take the picture right next to each other because she's so much taller than I am!)
 Haley, Sarah, and Jarred: Worship on the Balcony
Bridget, Fanny, and Pam are finally reunited! We were all on a team together last year.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Let it Rain

Saturday, May 26, 2011 10:35 AM:

"I am sitting on a plane in Brussels, Belgium. We are preparing for our 8 hour flight to Kigali. I am listening to "Let it Rain" by Michael W. Smith. I am praying for His strength. I feel so inadquate and like I have nothing to give. I cannot do this without His supernatural strength. I fear having to speak in church. What on earth could I say that would bless or help anyone? Lord, help me. I just want to cry. I feel like I'm supposed to be here, but I can't help but ask why. I can't see how God is possibly going to use me this year. I'm in such a different place this year. There is something very raw about this place I'm in. I feel exposed, wounded, and unworthy. I'm very quiet; more than usual. I'm a bit fearful and uncomfortable. I pray that He would do a great work in and through me."


Watch the wonderful video of "Let it Rain" below. It gets really good about half way through! It gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears almost every time I hear it.


When I wrote this journal entry, I couldn't even begin to see what God would do in Rwanda. I listened to the beautiful song above and tearfully prayed that He would pour out His spirit, truth, and love upon the people of Rwanda. I prayed that He would give me the strength to answer His call and do His will. He heard and answered my prayers... He did exceedingly and abundantly beyond what I prayed for and could have imagined...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Next Stop: Kigali, Rwanda

During my second week in Rwanda, I had the privilege of working with some amazing young people from across the United States. Their young hearts were so generous. Most kids wouldn’t want to leave the comforts of their home to go to a third-world country. Not these teenagers. Their Godly lives, faithfulness to Him, and hearts are extraordinary. The stories they shared in Rwanda are amazing. The photos, blogs, and facebook posts I have seen through their fresh eyes since that time have been refreshing and inspiring. Thank you to each of you for being so obedient and for being such a blessing to me and the entire team!
When reading one of the blogs of one of these teenagers, I realized that I could and should do better. As I look through my journal from the trip, I’m not sure what to share. Some parts of the trip were difficult for me. Overall, the experience was more than amazing, and I believe God showed us His mighty power and was ultimately glorified!
I thought I’d begin by sharing a few excerpts from my journal and will continue to do so in the coming blogs.  Friday, May 25th was the day we were set to leave the United States for our flight to Kigali, Rwanda. I wrote on the plane that morning, and this is some of what I wrote:
“After loading the car, Jan and I headed to Hardee’s. There we met Cindy Patton and Cindy Haney. We had a sweet prayer led by Jan before we ate. I felt blessed to be in the presence of such amazing and beautiful women.
After breakfast at 6:30, we loaded up in one car and headed to the Huntsville airport around 7AM. After I checked in, we stood around and talked. We then went upstairs and waited on the rest of the group.
I was super excited to see Pam Walker this morning. She left her stuff and ran to me to give me a hug. : ) Later, she came and sat with me, Cindy, Jan, and Cindy upstairs. She spoke to us about some of the genocide memorials she had seen during her several trips to Rwanda. Memorials at schools, churches, etc. It was heavy…
As the group came up, we got ready for a time of prayer. There were 11 team members and some friends there. We all circled, held hands, and Mike prayed. A little girl was to my left holding my hand and Cindy Patton was holding my hand to the right.
While I love the prayer before we go, I also hate it. It means it’s time to say goodbye...”
While saying goodbye was hard, it was also admittedly sweet for me. The hugs, tears, and heartfelt words of encouragement meant so much. I also had texts and emails that morning and in previous days from several people. That too was an amazing blessing. You have no idea what your support means and how much strength it gives me!
The night before I left, I was invited over for ice cream with some friends from church who are in a small group together. I would normally be home frantically packing. Fortunately, I was mostly done. Aside from that, who can say no to ice cream? I went over and had a sweet time of fellowship. The group also prayed over me, which always means the world to me. I wrote, “all of their prayers and encouragement really calmed my spirit and helped fill me. I felt and feel loved.”
After leaving Alabama, we were headed to Washington D.C. where we would meet up with some more of the team. From there, we were on a 7 hour and 40 minute flight to Brussels in Belgium. Thankfully, they have movies on the plane we can watch. Of course, sleeping is always an option, too; if you can sleep on the plane!

Here is part of the team that left from Huntsville together:
 Welcome to Europe!

Next stop: Kigali, Rwanda : )

Nyabisindu, Rwanda

I just wanted to share this sweet video from my first week in Rwanda. This was recorded in Nyabisindu, Rwanda. : )
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18: 1-5).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Be Transformed!

People have asked me about my trip to Rwanda. I’ve been trying to find words for it: Amazing, wonderful, awing, inspiring, joyful, humbling, and incredible. Those don’t even begin to touch it... There was singing, dancing, praying, praising healing, worshipping, lots of walking, more praying, more praising, more singing, more dancing, etc. : ) I can’t find enough words, but I think this scripture just about sums it up:
“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

I can only thank God for the beautiful country called Rwanda and the amazing people there. I am humbled and blessed on each campaign to work with such amazing leadership, ministry partners, and pastors. Each trip challenges and stretches me to grow in a new way. I’m so grateful for the opportunities. I’m praying about going back with e3 in September and humbly ask that you would join me in prayer about that.

I’m so grateful that in the summer of 2010, God began stirring in my heart that it wasn’t just other people that were called to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18). God meant that for me, too. He began to stir something inside of my spirit that I haven’t been able to stop or turn off since that time. The only thing that eases the constant stirring in my heart and life is to obey His word to “GO”. When I realized I was called to go and went for the first time, I was forever changed. Now I want to go, go, go, go, go. : )

I was so blessed to hear some younger people that I traveled with our last week in Rwanda talk about coming back to the U.S. and trying to get back to “normal”. I’ve not only warned them that they may never find “normal” again, but I’ve earnestly prayed that neither I nor they ever settle for what is deemed normal again. My prayer for them and myself is one of my favorite scriptures: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).

Before:
 After:

It's amazing what some time, love, and truth can do through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and the saving grace of Jesus! Don't conform today. Be transformed!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An update: So blessed!

I haven’t updated the blog in awhile, but I just returned from a trip to Rwamagana, Rwanda in Africa. We left on Friday, May 25th and returned Monday, June 11th. Several people have asked me over the last few days how I’ve been doing, and I simply haven’t been able to put it into words yet. Sometimes there just are no words… I promise I will find them though! I just returned Monday. I immediately returned to work on Tuesday. Life must go on, right? There has been no down time. There has been no time to really process. I’ll try to vaguely express how I’m doing though…
Before going on mission trips, some people will warn you about the “culture shock” that one might experience in third-world countries. Some fail to warn you about the culture shock when you return back home. Thankfully, I travel with people who understand the importance of the “return culture shock”. Fortunately, I’ve also been through it before. Still, it is difficult to go through. It’s even more difficult to talk about out of fear that people won’t understand.
Here are just a few examples of things that I’ve been noticing, thinking, and feeling since my return. I find myself so grateful for never having to really worry about electricity, clean water, my next meal, etc. I have a roof over my head and a floor (not dirt) beneath my feet. I have air conditioning. I have clean clothes. Not only do I have clean clothes, but I have too many clothes. I looked into my closet Tuesday morning to pick out something to wear for work and was honestly overwhelmed. I hadn’t had to really pick out anything to wear in over 2 weeks. I hadn’t had to worry about what anyone would think or say. It didn’t matter. I was almost brought to tears and my knees by the choices of clothes in the closet.  It made my heart hurt to think about all of those people in the villages of Africa with only one, unclean outfit… I couldn’t help but stare at my clothes and think about the rich young ruler (Luke 18). Maybe I should sell my possessions and give them to the poor... Maybe you could give up a few things, too? Just a thought…
Here is an example of something else I struggle with every time I return home: I get extremely nauseated before and during meals due to various thoughts, mental images, etc.  I find myself sitting through meals and stopping to just look at the food in front of me. I do this for different reasons, I suppose. I feel so incredibly grateful, yet a part of me feels so incredibly terrible. I’m so blessed to have food. I’m so blessed to have people invite me over to eat meals and fellowship. SO BLESSED!  
Still, I have just come from a place where so many families don’t know how they are going to feed their families today much less tomorrow. Approximately 21,000 children die every day due to poverty, preventable disease, etc. That’s one child approximately every four seconds. I cannot imagine… It’s no wonder I can’t sit through a meal without feeling great sadness and even guilt. There hasn’t been one meal that I’ve had since my return that I’ve had to make myself eat and repeatedly tell myself not to cry. Still, I feel such appreciation and gratitude. I don’t quite know how to explain it…
I could say more, but I won’t. Hopefully, I can write more later. I just want you to know today that you are blessed. I may be daily fighting tears right now. It’s not just because I terribly miss Rwanda and my friends/family from Rwanda and the Congo. It’s so much more. My heart aches for those around the world (and here at home) who are struggling, starving, and hurting. Still, through all things, I/We can have hope and peace:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
 Remember: You are SOOOOOO blessed!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ivannia

So, last week I sent out to several people asking you to intercede in prayer for a young girl name Ivannia. Your prayers, responses, and actions truly blessed me. Thanks to God working in you through the Holy Spirit, Ivannia is improving. For those of you who didn’t receive the email and don’t know what I’m talking about, here is her story:

Ivannia lives in Honduras. She is 4 years and 10 months old and has cerebral palsy. At a parade last week, a town leader approached Heart of Christ ministries to see if they could intervene to help save the life of this young child. As soon as they saw they saw her state, they took her to the doctor. When Ivannia was weighed, it was found that she only weighed 12.4 lbs (not 15.4 like the original email said). It was obvious that she would die without an intervention. 





If you’re like me, you may look at the pictures and ask yourself how this can happen. Well, here is what I know... Ivannia's biological father isn’t in the picture, which is so often the case. Worst of all, he actually denies that Ivannia is his daughter. Neither he nor his family will claim her because she has cerebral palsy. They said no one in their family has ever been disabled, so she can’t be his child…

When the ministry leaders took the mother of Ivannia home, they saw their living situation. Ivannia lives with her mom, step-father, and two other siblings. There is a 9 month old girl and a 9 year old boy. A family of 5 is living in a house as big as the kitchen at the ministry. Just so you know, their kitchen is smaller than yours! Did I mention an entire family is living in that one room? Unhealthy? I’d say so. My stomach is actually churning at the thoughts of it. I can so vividly picture the sights, sounds, and even smells of Honduras. I remember the houses (or lack there of) and the living conditions… I remember the children who were standing in the streets begging for food and money… Ivannia doesn’t even have that option.

It was thought that Ivannia couldn’t eat food; only formula through a dropper. God had other plans for her though. I can’t help but think of Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I’m fully believing that for Ivannia and the kids that are soon to follow.

I believe in His faithfulness. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that we can have a hope and future in Christ. I can’t help but think this is evidence: The first night you all interceded in prayer, Ivannia ate. Coincidence? I don't think so. She ate a jar of baby food and had 2 ounces of juice. She’s been eating more and more ever since. Her meals are now consisting of Gerber veggies, cereal, ensure, juice, etc. Her meals have gone from maybe 200 calories a day (of only rice) to 900+ in feedings approximately 5 times a day. Keep praying!

Ivannia goes back to the doctor today to get weighed. We’re trusting God for good news and a little weight gain. Speaking of good news, I have something I'd like to share. Not only is Ivannia eating, but she is eating due to the funding of someone who read the email I sent out asking you all to intercede in prayer. An incredibly generous donation was made up front with a promise of monthly pledge to help feed, clothe, and care for Ivianna as long as she is at the mission. I’m praising God big time!

Isaiah 6:8-10 says, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”

I read this scripture and can’t help but think about all of the people who don’t want to hear, see, or understand. They don’t want to look at pictures of suffering people because it’s “too hard”. Well, imagine being in their in the place of those afflicted and suffering. Imaging not having food to eat, clothes to wear, shelter from the cold and rain, etc. Imagine how they feel... While we’re sitting in a padded chair in an air conditioned structure with the luxuries of technology, clean running water, flush toilets, and unlimited food sources, real people out there are living the harsh reality of a life without all of those things.

If you’re reading this, I implore you to open your eyes. There are people all over the United States and other nations that are suffering. It’s not enough for us to sit and do nothing. We should be willing to say “Here am I! Send me”! We should be willing to eat out and shop less and simply give more. Doing nothing isn’t acceptable. Jesus saw the condition of man and did something, didn’t He? He didn’t leave us here to suffer alone. I can’t help but imagine if He had… What would the world look like then?

I heard a message earlier in this week that talked about giving. We in America like to think that we’re altruistic, right? We like to give and do… to a point. We like to give away our old clothes to goodwill. We like to give a dollar or two to certain charities. We just give out of the extra stuff we have. We don’t usually go diving into our savings or vacation fund to give though, do we? I dare say even if God is telling us to do such things, we don't. We don’t do it because we feel it... It almost hurts us to do it.  Think about Jesus though. In what manner did He give? His giving cost Him everything unto the point of death. Are you really doing all you can? Are you giving all that you could or all that you should? I’d talk to The Master and find out. Jesus didn’t settle for doing little or nothing. He definitely gave until it hurt.

If you are moved by this story and stories of other children that are hopefully soon to follow, I encourage you to step out on faith and do something to make a difference in their lives: Please visit http://heartofchristhonduras.org/home and go to “How to Donate” for more information.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Giving

God has really been challenging my heart the past few weeks about giving. I look around me and am saddened by things I see and hear. I see so many people who are blessed beyond belief who continue to consume more instead of sharing. I see people spending and spending and giving very little. It breaks my heart. After traveling to countries like Honduras and Africa and seeing children literally eating out of dumpsters, such behavior admittedly frustrates me. It hurts my heart for those around the world, even in our own communities, who are doing without while we continue to multiply our wealth.

I know I say wealth, and most of you will sit there and think to yourselves that you aren’t wealthy. Trust me, you are wealthy! We live in a part of the world that is so blessed. So much of the world looks at us with envy and jealousy; even hatred, because we have so much. We spend and spend. We go in debt buying things we can’t afford. Look at our nation. Look around you. Credit card debit is going through the roof and the national debt is an unfathomable 14.3 billion dollars. We are a rich people who can’t handle all that we have. Perhaps we could handle our wealth better if we gave it away…

I know, I know… You’re still thinking you’re not one of the wealthy or rich ones. You’re imagining those around you with bigger homes, televisions, better computers and phones, newer cars, etc. You don’t have to wonder where your next meal is coming from though, do you? You have a roof over your head. You go to the doctor when you need to. You even have a car to drive. In Rwanda they consider anyone with a car to be rich, and they are right. We need to open our eyes and see just how rich we are. More importantly, we need to gain new perspective. We need to see that God hasn’t blessed us so we would become a selfish, greedy people. He has blessed us, a nation where 85% of the population claims to be Christians (About.com) to bless a lost and dying world where men, women, children, widows, and widowers are without food, shelter, and clothing.

As I write, I can’t help but think about the parable of the widow’s mites that is mentioned in Mark and Luke. Mark 12: 41-44 says, “41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood”(NKJV).

God has been challenging my heart about this very thing the past few weeks. He’s been seeing what and how much I’m willing to give. I pray I’ve passed the tests that have been placed before me. I want to challenge you though. Are you the rich men or are you the widow woman in this story? If God told you to give away your entire paycheck this week; would you do it? If He told you to give it to people in need whom you’ve never met; would you do it? Would you put hungry children here in the U.S. and in foreign lands ahead of your own wants and desires? Would you give all you made last week and this week and the next week? Would you do without so others could live? Would you do without to simply show them the love of God? Would you be willing to show a world without hope that someone does love and care for them?

The widow woman… I can picture it in my mind. I can picture her walking to the front in tattered clothing across a dirt floor with her two mites in a tightly closed fist. I picture her slowly and humbly walking before the Lord to drop in her two mites. Chances are that she wasn’t sure where her next meal would come from. She certainly didn’t have the home and riches that we are accustomed to. She certainly wasn’t going through the drive-thru like we do. Even if she could, she no longer had the money! This woman had a heart of love though. She had a giving heart. She had a heart like Jesus wants us all to have.

Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things...” I don’t think the widow woman worried about tomorrow. I believe she had that much faith in her God. She lived for that day and that moment. She knew what she needed to do, and she did it knowing and trusting that God would continue to provide for her.

I can picture the rich men around her. I can picture them in their nice clothes and nice perfumes. I can picture them going up to give with a “look at me” attitude. Not the widow woman though. She didn’t give to be acknowledged or recognized. She gave simply because it was the right thing to do. She offered not only her money, but I believe she offered her entire being to the Lord when she gave all she had. My, how we could all learn from this parable. We need to have that kind of faith and trust. It is on my heart to be more like that widow woman. Is it in yours?

Deuteronomy 16:7 says, Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you”. I’m guessing some of you are sitting there thinking that I’m only required to give 10%. Think about it though. Really think about it... Are you able to give more? Could you stop doing so much for self and start doing for others? Could you do more to support missions, orphans, the homeless, the helpless, hungry children in your community, etc.? I challenge you to really examine your heart and life. I know I have been.

God has called us to be different. He doesn’t want us to be like everyone else. The world may settle for mediocrity. We are the children of God though. We are not meant to settle for that. We are meant to do all we can. We are meant to give all He can. Jesus gave all of Himself for you… What are you willing to give for Him? What are you willing to give to each suffering person around you and around the world? All of those people, no matter what color their skin is and no matter what language they speak, are His beautiful creation too. 

I don’t know who is going to read this. I don’t know what you may do for a living. I don’t know what you may make in a week, a month, or in a year. It doesn’t matter to me. God knows though. God knows because He’s the one who has blessed you with that job and that money. I don’t know what you do with your money. I don’t know if this scripture speaks to anyone other than me… I just pray that somehow these words that He has put on my heart will touch you and inspire you. I pray that you open yourself up to letting Him speak into your heart and life. I pray that you would let Him use you in ways that you’ve never allowed him to before.

Give… “You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand” (Deuteronomy 15:10)… Give to Him with a joyful heart. “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). God, the creator of you, I, and the entire universe, gave His only son for you. What are you willing to give and do for Him?



Friday, July 29, 2011

Youth

I can't seem to get children and how much I believe God loves all of the children in the world off of my mind. I know how much I love them. I think each child is a miracle, so I cannot even begin to fathom His unimaginable love for them. I look at the faces below… I look into their deep dark eyes and I know that each beautiful child has a story. I look at them, and I can’t image why anyone would ever want to harm them or leave them. I look at their smiles and see what the love of Jesus can do.  I can’t help but be reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV).

As I think back on our time in Rwanda, I can’t help but remember how some were overwhelmed by the multitude of children. Children were running alongside our vans as we traveled hours down rocky, muddy terrain. Children were sticking their hands and heads in our windows. They were screaming and smiling and basically doing anything to get our attention. I, of course, smiled, spoke, and stuck my hands out the window to greet each one that I could.

Just as children can be at home, sometimes the children were a little rowdy. Unlike at home though, these children didn’t have parents looking out for them. I’d say at least 95% (probably closer to 98-99%) didn’t ever have parents with them at our church planting sites. I honestly couldn’t believe how respectful and well-behaved they were. At times, I think it was a little overwhelming for some other team members. A scripture would always come to mind as I watched the children and heard others. That scripture comes to mind now as I look at their beautiful faces.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (NKJV).

As with all things, God didn’t tell us this was always going to be easy. Anyone who has been around a child going through their terrible two’s or who has had the privilege of being around an outspoken adolescent knows how frustrating youth can be. Still, I believe God is instructing us to be patient with them. He tells us to continue to love them in the same spirit and manner that He loves us. What a challenge!

What spirit and manner has He loved us? Well, I’ll tell you. He has forgiven our every sin. He has paid our every debt. He has greeted us with open, loving arms every time we’ve made a mistake, let Him down, and disappointed Him. He’s never abandoned us. He’s always the same. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. I don't know about you, but I am so thankful for that!

We as examples to our youth should strive to be the same example Christ has been to us! We should love unconditionally, yet discipline with that same love when needed. We should always be there with open arms. We should show the same kind of faith and purity that Jesus showed everywhere He went in our words and actions at every chance; whether it is opportune or seems inopportune. We should always, “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity as God tells us to.

I pray that scripture challenges your heart as much as it has challenged mine. I also pray the faces of the youth below bless you as much as they bless me each time I see them. May we all heed His word today and always. God bless you all!


 Learning "Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes"!
    
iPOD photo





 

 At the beach:





 A smile after salvation!


 




 Bubbles are fun no matter where you are!

 Josiane