Monday, April 27, 2009

Ready to learn to teach

Teaching is not my spiritual gift, but I'm determined to learn to teach English as a second language. This Saturday and next, I'll be taking an all day class to be able to get certified throught the International Mission Board.

Being able to practice teaching before I go on my mission trip will help me refine and hone my skills, but there's another reason for going too. The country we're going to will more than likely require proof of the fact that we're teachers so, the teaching certificate we'll be presented at the end of our course, will provide necessary documentation just in case it's necessary.

This weekend, I had an opportunity to hear what being in another country might be like. I was having my hair done in a little salon very close to my home. I knew that I could go anytime of day, with no appointment and get a permanent. Now that's unheard of in most American salons because they usually require you call ahead and schedule to have one done; but since this was an oriental salon, I knew I didn't have to worry.

In the salon, the hairdresser spoke and understood just enough English to get by, and while she was working on me, I began to really listen to what was going on around me. There was Vietnamese music playing on the radio and though I couldn't understand a word of it, I listened for repetitious words and intonations. As I listened, I learned that their language is full of gutteral sounds and strong inflections. All of the hairdressers in this shop were Vietnamese, so they conversed freely with one another.

Sitting there for over an hour, during the process of my perm, many other nationalities came in to have their hair done. That's part of the beauty of living in's an international city. I listened to people from Ethiopia, Iran, Bosnia, and Somalia speaking. All of their languages unique and different. While I couldn't understand them, I prayed and asked God to give me a genuine concern and love for each of the people represented in the shop that day.

When I was ready to leave, there were several people sitting in chairs waiting their turn to have their hair done. I realized as I left that a smile is the same in any language, so I smiled a big smile and walked out feeling blessed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

He's getting me ready

Wow! When I asked God earlier this year to stretch my faith, little did I know that He was going to continually use taking me out of my "comfort zone" to do it! At work this week, I was asked to help out with the senior adult ministry. Of course, I said I'd be glad to. Little did I know that I was about to learn to let go of my fear of performing in public!

A small group of our staff had been asked to help provide the entertainment for this monthly senior adult gathering. We thought we were going to help provide backup singing while one of our pastors led the group singalong. Well, that was partly true. We did provide singing, but they wanted us to go a step farther and add dance steps to it, too!

Well, most of my family and friends know that I'm not the most coordinated person on the planet. In fact, I'm pretty much a klutz. My mother always told me, when I was growing up, that she should have named me "Grace" because I was always having some sort of mishap due to my clumsiness. So you should have seen my shock and surprise when I found out that I was to participate in this! Overwhelmed is an understatement...I was mortified!We had about five minutes to practice 3 mini dance routines before it was time for us to "go on." I tried to smile as I watched the feet of those next to me. They didn't seem to have any problem at all and it seemed to come naturally for them. As for me, I was struggling to keep from stepping on someone else's toes. All I could think was, "I am going to look like the biggest fool ever up there. What will they think of me?"

It was time for us to begin. The music started to play and everyone spread out across the room in front of about 50-60 senior adults. The singing started and we had our que to begin..I watched very carefully the person next to me...I whispered I can't do this and she said "just smile really big...they won't be watching your feet anyway, they'll be watching your face!" I prayed she was right and smiled the biggest smile ever. All of a sudden, I found out that I was enjoying being out there. My fear was gone! I focused on the faces of those in the audience and suddenly I didn't care anymore whether my feet were doing what they were supposed to or not!

Are you willing to be a "fool" for Jesus, letting Him take you out of your comfort zone so He can use you in places you've never been used before? I wasn't, but now I am! I figure if He can take someone as uncoordinated as me and use something like that to show me that He loves me so much that He wants me to trust Him in everything, that I am willing to take the next step (no pun intended) and follow anywhere He leads me...lookout Broadway - HERE I COME!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feasting at His table

Today I chose to fast and pray for my trip to China. Fasting is a discipline that I've chosen for each Wednesday between now and the time I leave on the trip. God has honored me by allowing me to do this in His strength.

As I was thinking about going without food today, I was reminded that we constantly have a beautiful, bountiful table set before us each day covered with the various fruits of the, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. God gives us overflowing mounds of each of these if we will choose to partake of them. Along with the abundance of these fruits, He gives us the bread of life and living water. How blessed we are! Even without being able to physically taste food on Wednesdays as I fast, I am full and satisfied with the abundance my Father provides for me. Are you full? Have you tasted His bounty today? Reach out, it's right in front of you...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your sheild and buckler." Psalm 91:3
We have many Canada geese on the property where I work. The staff always get a kick out of watching them through the large plate glass windows as we enjoy our lunch. It's so fun to watch their antics and see how they interact with each other.
This morning, as I was prayer walking around the building, I was privileged to see something I had never seen before. I watched a mother goose gently herd all of her babies beneath her wings. She gently and patiently worked to get each one nestled securely under her feathers, then slowly began to sink down into a sitting position. The babies were hidden so well, that if you hadn't seen them before they moved into her protective wingspan, you would have never known they were there. As I thought about the love this mother goose had for all her babies, I was reminded of Christ's love for us and how He protects us from the storms of life by hiding us under His wings.
Often we don't even realize when a storm of life is headed our way, but our Heavenly Father gently herds us under His wings to protect us. Aren't you glad we serve such a loving, caring God? I sure am!
As I think about my upcoming mission trip to China, I know that I will rely even more closely on my Heavenly Father than ever before. I can just picture myself as a fluffy, little baby gosling edging my way closer and closer up under His wings. I can just imagine the warmth of His love surrounding me and enveloping me as I trust that He will protect me from any storm that threatens to shake me. Under His feathers, He will keep me safe...what a wonderful thought.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Ouch! Both of my arms hurt! Today we had to get our shot for our mission trip. I had to get Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, and Tetanus. I guess some people might say we've already begun "suffering for Jesus" but I think it's a very small price to pay for the privilege of going to share Him with those who don't yet know Him.

At our team meeting today, we discussed various items including security issues. We are continually reminded that we must be extremely careful with any electronic transmissions such as emails or blogs before we go and also text messages or phone calls while we're there. In a land where we're free to say and do pretty much anything we want to, it's hard to imagine falling under strict censorship. As I think about it, I'm reminded of those early Christians who went out to share their faith. Often, they would etch the symbol of a fish in the sand as they were talking to see if the person to whom they were speaking was "safe". If the person reciprocated, there was freedom to share without repercussions, and if not, it was time to move on. Though that type of caution was used many, many years ago, it seems we still must be on guard in some areas of the world. It's sad to think that this is so, but Christians aren't welcomed in many parts of the world, nor do they have the freedom to share openly.

I am thankful that God has already gone ahead of us and has already prepared the way for our team. We know that He has orchestrated every minute of every day, so we can trust that He will use all things for His glory.

We'll be purchasing our plane tickets tomorrow! As the time draws ever closer, I want to thank those who are already praying for us. Being bathed in prayer is the most vital part to this trip. Without your prayer support, we could not go thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Preach Christ at all times

Preach Christ at all times...
if necessary, use words!
St. Francis of Assissi

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:19-20 states what has come to be called the “Great Commission”: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Jesus gave this command to the Apostles shortly before He ascended into Heaven, and it essentially outlines what Jesus expected the Apostles, and those who followed them, to do in His absence.It is interesting that in the original Greek, the only specific commands in Matthew 28:19-20 are "go," and "make disciples." The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are going throughout the world and while we are going about our daily activities.

How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. "Go," and "make disciples" are the commands of the Great Commission. "Baptizing" and "teaching" are the means by which we fulfill the "making disciples" aspect of the Great Commission.

Many understand Acts 1:8 as part of the Great Commission as well, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The Great Commission is enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be Christ's witnesses, fulfilling the Great Commission in our cities (Jerusalem), in our states and countries (Judea and Samaria), and anywhere else God sends us (to the ends of the earth).

I'm excited at the opportunity to actually take part in fulfilling the Great Commission on my mission trip. But we don't have to wait to go on a mission trip to teach others about Christ. We, as Christians, should be about doing this daily with those whom we encounter.

Why is it so easy to think about presenting Christ to complete strangers, when it's often very difficult to share Him with those we know and love?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A unique blessing

Last night, I attended an ESL class. It was a small class with only three students. There was one man from Korea named Chun, a woman from the Republic of the Congo named Justine, and one woman from Ecuador named Martha. It was really interesting to sit among these students who had come to learn to speak our language. What was more interesting was watching them interact with each other. As they listened and then repeated the English phrases they were learning, the teachers were very patient and kind. The students struggled to say even the simplest words, but they didn't give up...they pressed on repeating the word over and over again after the teacher until they "got it."
I felt honored to be in the class. I was amazed at their tenacity. I wondered if I would be so eager to learn another language if I was in another country. As the class drew to a close, the woman from the Congo gave me a hand painted picture that her 16 year old nephew had done. She said it was of an umbrella tree. As I looked at the painting, I felt a love for her country and the people there. I know that I felt that because God gave me an understanding of the way He looks at each individual's heart. As I looked into Justine's eyes, I could see that we were so very different, but so much the same. I could see a hunger in her to understand who Jesus was...and that is why I'm excited to be going on a mission trip, to help feed that hunger, one crumb at a time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Another team meeting

Our small mission team meets monthly to prepare mentally and spiritually for our journey. As we meet, we discuss lesson plans, share prayer requests, and talk about the mandate God has set before us. Each of us will be required to attend a 4 hour cross cultural training class to help us deal with the culture shock and differences we'll face in this country. We'll also have to take a series of shots to protect us from diseases that are prevalent in that country.

As we get to know each other better, we find that though we are each very different, we're very much the same. We all want to share Jesus with those who may not know Him and we all want to be obedient to the call placed on our lives. In preparation for the journey, I've decided to sit in on a class where English as a Second Language is being taught.

The journey begins...March 2009

Several months ago, as I was walking with a friend, she mentioned that she was going on a mission trip. I listened intently as she shared about a previous mission trip that she had taken several years ago to this same country. She talked about how excited she was as she prepared for the trip and how God had blessed her as she'd been obedient to His leading to go. Silently, in my heart, I prayed and told God that I would love to have the same opportunity one day. Little did I know that my opportunity was going to come so soon.

Each morning, before beginning our workday, my friend and I walked and prayed together. One day I shared my heart with her and told her that I had been asking God if He would allow me to go on this mission trip too. As soon as I finished my sentence, my friend began to shout and praise the Lord. She said, "oh, I've been praying that He would lay this on your heart!" I was shocked to know that while I'd been seeking the Lord's will for me concerning this trip, that she had been praying that God would put it on my heart to want to go.

Smiling, we continued our morning walk and she began to share more about the upcoming mission trip to ....( I can't share the location because it's in a very dangerous location and could jeopordize the safety of those going.) As I listened to her share, my heart began to overflow with love for people I hadn't even met.

When my friend told me the cost of the trip, I just knew that God was going to have to show me that He really intended for me to go. There was no way I could raise $3000 on my own within such a short period of time. I asked God to blow me a way with His perfect provision and then I sat back to watch what he was going to do.

I attended the first team meeting and was surprised to find that there were only 8 people going on this trip. There were 6 women and 2 men. We were from all walks of life and from many different nationalities, but we all had a heart for spreading the gospel. After receiving details on our location and a brief overview of our goal, we left the meeting with much to do. We would each have to prepare a support letter and send it out to those God laid on our hearts. I was excited because all of this was so new to me.

The next day, I began drafting my letter. I found a map of the country to which we would be traveling and copied and pasted it into my flier. I added some scripture and the details of our mission. As I was working on the letter, I asked God to give me specific names of those to whom I would send the flier.

Over the next few days, I was amazed at how God would put one person after another's name on my heart and in my mind. People I hadn't even seen in many years came to mind. Sometimes I would question the Lord and ask if He was sure He wanted me to send them a letter. The answer was always the same... "Trust Me."

I set up a database on my computer so I could keep up with the ever growing list of names God had given me. I sent out a few letters ever couple of days and then sat back and prayed. I asked God to let the recipient be receptive to the letter, but most of all, I asked Him to lay it on their hearts to commit to pray for me. I'd never been out of the country and I'd never flown on a trip longer than 2 hours, so I was a little scared at the thoughts of flying many, many hours and thousands of miles away from home.

Every week after my letters went out, the team leader would send me a weekly report of my financial support. The first report I got shocked me beyond words. People I didn't even really know were giving $100 or $200! God had told me to trust him when He gave me a name and I took Him at His word.

My letters started going out the second week of March. It's now the second week of April and guess what...God is amazing! I have almost 86% of my support goal met! I am taking this as a confirmation that God really intends for me to go on this journey. In the days ahead, I will be writing more and more thankyou notes and praising God for His faithfulness and lesson on trust.