Unexpected Blessings!

I’m sure you have all had them, times when you least expect God to show up, intervene,  or just plane bless you unexpectedly. I love it! That is the extra “ummph” that no one sees coming.

You may remember John Mihigo, our local partner in ministry in Rwanda? His wife’s name is Gladys. She is a tireless worker for the Lord. I can’t get started on her many ministries there for the folks in that war torn, poverty filled country! That is another blog! But just know that she always has a project of one sort or another going on to try and improve life for the needy, actually, they both do. They are so giving and generous to folks…they have little themselves, but they squeeze a nickle out of every penny, if you know what I mean (except they have Franks, not pennies, lol).

Gladys text me (via Whatsapp, don’t you love it? no charge) last week and wanted to know if I might be able to find an inexpensive wedding gown to bring with me when we go there next month to teach. (That is our primary reason for going there, but God has expanded it so much!!) I was surprised since one daughter just got married and I did not think any of the other ones (4 daughters) had any prospects on the horizon. As it turned out, she was wanting a dress (or 2, or 3), so that the young girls in the community and church who were extremely poor might have something they could borrow, to wear for a wedding. You see, a church wedding in that culture is the only thing that is looked at as legitimate. If you marry outside the church, the church does not recognize your marriage! No JP will work there. Young couples are in such a dilemma as they are mostly from poor families (some, desperately so), and cannot even pay the dowry that is demanded by the girls parents, let alone the expenses of a church wedding. A wedding is about the biggest cultural event that exists. They have to invite everyone, near and far, and help with the expense of there transport and stay, which could be many days long.

The Mihigos are really trying to change some of the cultural “stiffness” of the entire thing, because they have found that most young couples get so frustrated with the expense and the long wait to acquire the money, that they just leave the church and go off to live together, unwed. No pastor wants that for his young parishioners. They have begun meeting with the gals’ folks to try to reduce the dowry to a more reasonable amount (as culturally this is really just a show of respect to the parents). Giving the alternative of them running off to live together, they are starting to comply with the requests. Then the expense of the wedding has to be dealt with. They are now trying to get their church families to help by housing many of the visitors and bringing food for the ceremony, rather than having big catering bills. (Yes, there are businesses there that cater the local foods for special events.)

Then there is the issue of the wedding dress expense. Every young girl wants a beautiful wedding, including a dress!! So Gladys came up with this brain-child of supplying a few dresses that they might borrow. Now you have the background to this story. (Sorry, may be a bit lengthy.)

I was on the internet searching all the local sites and Craigslist for inexpensive wedding dresses. I was amazed how many there were and some were not that expensive. So I acquired one that had never even been worn, but I did have to pay a bit for it, but Gladys and I both loved it. Then I proceeded to try and find a few more. I found a gal who was actually giving hers away. I jumped on it and we met nearby Sunday and got it. It is in bad need of cleaning…hoping we can work on that in Africa and get it presentable. Yoo-hoo! 2 gowns! One was a very small size and one a larger size. I needed one more that was a medium size. Back to the ads.

I found one that was inexpensive and in a size 8. Perfect size. Meanwhile, Gladys is wondering about the expense that is adding up. : )  I contacted the gal and she already had someone interested in it. They were to be sending her money the next day. Ah, shucks! Missed it. I kept looking. The next day I decided to reconnect with the “3rd dress girl” to see if it was finally sold. She told me she did not get the girls money and was ready to sell to me. Yeah!! I explained to her about how I was wanting it for the Africa project and why. To my surprise, she wrote back and said, ” You do not have to pay me for this dress. I told my best friend I am holding this dress for another reason other than I just can’t find a buyer. I believe God allows us to cross paths and do things unknown for a reason. This is my purpose for this wedding dress.”   I tell you, as she went on about things of the Lord, I just got goose bumps (or as some would say, Holy Ghost bumps). I was just amazed and thrilled that she and I had made that connection. The Lord filled me with awe at how he cares so much for me, and her, and Gladys and those many girls in Africa who will benefit from this small transaction!!   Then she went on to ask other questions about what else we do there. I told her we take in vitamins and pre-natals,  have a bible project where we raise money to buy them bibles, the Mihigo Hope, which supports local kids so they can attend school and get an education, etc. It was a real encouraging conversation. Then she says, “I can give you a little money when we meet up.” What?? I set out to buy an inexpensive dress and end up getting money to help the folks in Africa. Only God does that sort of thing in our hearts. Only He gives us these mutual relationships that benefit people all over the world. I just had to stop and worship when we ended our chat!

You know, it was not even the money we saved that made this such an unexpected blessing. It was the thrill of seeing God work through our lives to His Glory. He wants to bless us, whether we are giving or receiving. He blesses both, the giver and the receiver! He is a God who loves us and wants to make the relationship with Himself and others SWEET! And it is.

I was almost done with the job of hunting gowns when Gladys came back and said, “Can you find a few veils?” Ha, ha. Tonya is the gal who gave me this last gown and she, believe it or not, is trying to track down the loaned veil that goes with it. I think I have a lead on one other one. How about it? Anyone out there want to donate a veil..or 2? LOL!

Until next time, Blessings!

Janie

 

 

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Joy and Sorrow

Christmas is such an amazing time of the year. For Christians it is especially meaningful, as they celebrate the coming of their Savior so many years ago. It is a time when we get together with family and friends and rejoice in their being part of our lives.

Christmas can also be a very hard time of the year. For so very many people, who have loved ones who have died, it can be painful. Every anniversary of their lives, birthdays, weddings, special occasions, is a reminder of how very much we miss them. For those who lost these folks over the Christmas season it can be especially heart wrenching. Among the gaiety of the times we have that hollow ache in our heart while missing those loved ones. At times it washes over you in tremendous grief. The tears just flow!

So many times we cannot understand what God is doing, how He is working in our lives and in the earth as a whole. Who can know the mind of God? A friend and I were just talking the other day about the futility of the human mind to try and know God, who He is, what He does, how absolutely immense and powerful He is. There is no way for a finite, limited human mind to comprehend the limitless, eternal, immutable, all powerful designer of the universe and all it entails.

Yet we know that Psalms 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Wow! I often think of Corrie Ten Boom’s illustration of a tapestry. On the bottom side it is a tangled, unorganized, unattractive design, yet from the top side it is beautiful. The creator of the tapestry has arranged the threads and pattern into an amazing thing to behold, while the underneath side seems to just be a mess. So from God’s perspective, the upper view, our lives are an amazing work of His artful hand, yet many times from our vantage point, all seems chaotic and confusing. We don’t understand what the final result looks like.

God actually rejoices when those He loves, and we love, go to be with Him. Among our sorrow, He is rejoicing? Ouch! That just does not seem right. Just keeping it real!! I know that the Lord joins in our sorrows and comforts us, yet He also rejoices in the homecoming of those He loves. From our perspective it is an unresolvable dichotomy. Yet God is beyond what we can understand. His heart of compassion extent to us in our pain, yet He has great pleasure over the very thing that seems to have brought us such pain.

So I reach out to this very complicated eternal being, believing in who He says He is, and find the comfort for my painful heart. He always meets me there. I will never understand Him completely, yet I hope to know Him better as time goes on and even more so in eternity. If you are a kindred spirit, one who has these “issues” in times of the year when all the rest of the world is rejoicing/celebrating, then I invite you to join me as we lean into the one Heavenly Father, who can give the only comfort we need.

I still celebrate! I still rejoice in the birth of my Savior! Joy and sorrow mingle together. I guess we are a little complicated too!

Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 3:21 am  Comments (1)  

For, I the Lord, do not change…

“For, I the Lord, do not change…” Malachi 3:6

I know that this is not an unfamiliar verse for many of you. It is not to me either. But I got to thinking today when I read this verse, how very much unlike God we really are!
We change… all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. Our hair changes from brown, yellow, black or red to grey, unintentionally. We change political parties, intentionally. We lose (intentionally) and gain (unintentionally!) weight. We grow from babes to adults. We tell the truth one minute and may lie the next. We are hot and then we are cold! We wear red one day and blue the next day. We love some people and distain others. We can be bitter or we can be sweet, intentionally! Our eye color may change through the year. We vow to love our spouse till death parts us…how is that working out for you? I know mine is not as perfected as I would like it to be.
Okay by now you are thinking of all the ways we change as well…intentionally and unintentionally! Go ahead send me your list at the end of this blog. : )
But that one fact remains, God NEVER changes. His purposes are always the same. His dealings with men vary but the goal is the same. I always say that God has the same things to teach all of us, he just uses different methods in our lives to accomplish them.
God is love! That love never varies or changes. He is always consistently LOVE. That is impossible to imagine. We swing our love gauge right and left with the change of the wind, so to speak. But not God! He does not change his love for us because of our behavior. I have heard it said “that we can do nothing to make Him love us more and nothing to make Him love us less”. That is unconditional love! We are not like that are we? If we are honest we must admit we mostly love “conditionally”. But God never changes. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man that he should like, or the son of man that he should repent. Hath he said and shall he not do it and hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?” The theological term is Immutable, which means it cannot change.
People say, “Then how can a loving God send people to hell?” Now the dilemma lies in the fact that God is also just. He is a just God. He shows no partiality. He left His Son die for the whole world. But he cannot turn his back on our sin. He is Holy and we cannot spend eternity with a Holy being if we have sin. He must deal with sin and He provided a way for us to have it removed, by trusting that Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross was done in my place. If we believe that, and trust in His completed work, than we can have eternal life with God forever. Period! Nothing more! Nothing less! We cannot add anything to what God has already provided. He will never change this plan. It is settled. There is no plan “B”. He does not say something one day and change it the next. He never changes! But if we reject that gift, then there is no other hope of experiencing life with Him forever, but eternal death (separation) instead.
So, let’s go back to the beginning of this thought. God does love you and has provided a way for you. His consistent, unfailing, never ending love was so intense for you (and me, thank you Lord) that He met the requirements for forgiveness through His Son. And His justice was satisfied in His Son’s sacrifice. That big word is propitiation, meaning sin was forgiven and God’s wrath against it was appeased, through our belief in the redemptive act of Jesus on the Cross in my place. That is true love. Knowing there is a price to be paid for someone else to have freedom and paying it for them, because you love them so.
I am so thankful that God is not like us. He does not change. He remains the same. He is Love. He is Just. He provided a way for forgiveness that does not change also. His Love and Justice throughout time remain the same. If you have not been in wonder of His Immutibility before, I hope you will think about it today. And if you have not believed in His unchanging plan to save your eternal soul by His Son’s substitutionary death for you, I pray you will. We have the ability to change.… He will not.

Published in: on May 13, 2015 at 6:07 am  Comments (1)  

Light and Dark

I have been thinking for many days now about some teaching times in Rwanda. The contrast between our early teaching time, in the day and the later teaching times, have not left me. There was a great difference!

 
The attitude of the people was much the same, eager to learn, but the environment in which we taught was completely different.

 
The church were we taught, in the day time was undoubtedly the cleanest, brightest place I have ever seen in Rwanda. It had white tile floors and white tiles on the wall, with a white painted ceiling. It had clean, white chairs to sit in. There were long windows and many of them, with sheer drapes that blew in the fresh air that came through the openings. It was very lit up inside with lots of sunshine from the windows as well. It even had flush toilets that were very clean. It was large with many rooms for teaching and meetings. Probably one of the nicest (environmentally speaking) places I have ever been in, in Africa. It gave me great joy to be in such a place.

 
The late afternoon teaching was much different. The building we met in, although I have seen this scenario many time there, still makes me pause and be filled with wonder. The great deficit these folks live in, yet with joy filled hearts, is a wonder to me. The walls of the building were mud covered sticks, with mud floors and an old rusty, leaky, metal roof. The center of the room (a one room church building) was held up by big logs sticking up in the middle to support the roof. There was an old metal piece of tin corrugation that was used as the door. I could not see what held it in place, as the building was mud, (so how can you attach a door to mud? but they did)! There were boards to sit on, supported by other thick logs. There was one hole in the wall, with no glass or screen in it, just a square left open in the mud, that, of course, permitted all the mosquitoes from the outside to enter. There was no electricity, no lights. It was very dark inside. I actually had to take a “bench” and lean it against the wall up front to put a flip chart over, so I could teach. (I love using a chart for illustrations, etc.) It was stale and stuffy inside, no fresh air. We eventually had to move to the outside to finish teaching because the light got so bad we could not see the flip chart and barely see each other. : ) I did not thankfully need to use a “choo” , (or toilet as we call it), but I can assure you from previous teaching, that it would have been a hole in the ground, with many critters accompanying me (flies, roaches, mosquitoes, little flying things, just being real, etc.) and surrounded by creaky, wooden boards or metal corrugation.

 
The contrast between these two places has struck me because that is how light and dark are. When we are in the light, we can see clearly. All things are fresh and new each day. The light that surrounds us is comforting and makes us warm and enriched. There is freshness in the air and we feel clean. There is “room” for growth and our walk is lite and free of sins burden.

 
In contrast, darkness is so different. In the dark we “muddle” around trying to see. We stumble over many things. We have no fresh enlightenment. All things seem “dirty”. We cannot learn due to our lack of ability to see truth. We are in an uncomfortable “seat”, especially if we have ever been exposed to the light. We are weighted down and our lives are full of, you might say, “bugs”. Some would say the imprisonment of sin. It is DARK.

 
My only question is, “Why would anyone willing stay in the dark?” Okay, in Africa it is a matter of economics. These folks are precious and loving, and they are doing the best they can with what they have and I love each one of them. But in our spiritual life ~ that is different! God provided a way for us to come out of the darkness into the light. Who would willingly stay in a dark, damp, unenlightened, dirty, sin filled life when there is free light, life, forgiveness and happiness?

 
Are you still in the dark? Come to the light by receiving God’s free gift of salvation through what Jesus accomplished on the cross!! He died there to pay for the sins you (and I) have committed against a Holy God. There are no hoops to jump through, just a simple prayer of faith, acknowledging that you could not pay the sin debt you owe and that you understand that Jesus paid it for you when he took your “darkness” to the cross. He will give you a new life full of joy, forgiveness and a clean heart. He will change you as you walk with Him daily in the light of his great salvation. Won’t you believe on Him today??

Published in: on September 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm  Comments (1)  

The Easter Dream

I had a dream last night and it was, as a lot of dreams are, rather disconnected from reality. But in the dream, my Dad was there, healthy, happy, and even in good humor, as so often he was. He was not the old man that we watched slowly sink into death this last year. He was much younger, and vibrant, like he was years ago.

Mom and Dad years ago in their camper. How they loved life!

 

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I awoke in such a state of mind that it took me a while to recover. It did seem so real. Then I got to thinking about tomorrow and realized that he is like that. You see tomorrow is Easter. Yesterday was Good Friday, that great and victorious day that Jesus conquered sin and death. And tomorrow, Easter, as we call it, was the day that he rose from the grave proving that His Father was pleased with the sacrifice made and that new life is assured because of it. Because he has risen, we have a hope of rising to eternal life also. And because of His life and death, I can have confidence that I will see Dad and Mom again.

He, my Dad, is not dead, in reality, he is alive with Jesus and he and mom are together again. He is healthy again and happy, because of what Jesus did so many years ago. Praise the Lord! My heart is filled with joy!! Joy in such a wonderful Savior! Do you know him? I would love to talk to you if you don’t and help you understand how you too can have an assurance of eternal life with Jesus –forever!

Have a Blessed Easter 2014!

Blessings until next time . . .

Published in: on April 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm  Comments (2)  

We Are Finally Home!

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My Dad

Paul Edward Mckee, Sr.

June 24, 1922 -Dec. 26, 2013

 

 

We are finally home! (It’s a long one)

 

This Holiday season was something else! I have no idea how many thousands of miles we put on our car. But at last we are home. I like my home! I love my bed, my OWN bed! I like cooking in my own kitchen! Love a “warm” house, (no offense you “Northerns”, who like “cold” houses). I can get up when I want, go bed when I want, watch TV, or not, if I want. You understand this, I am sure. We have all been there.

 

You see we left “home” the day after Thanksgiving, so John could go do his yearly vacation with his family of males who go to hunt down the big buck. And hunt they did, we thankfully brought home 3 nice big deer for the freezer. I went to my sister’s house about 20 minutes away to be with her family and my dad, who lived with them.

 

We were planning on going to Tamar’s house in Illinois about the 15th, to have Christmas with them and await the arrival of grand baby number 12 who was due the 31st of December. Well, on the 11th she called me in tears to say that she was at the doctor’s office for a check-up and they told her that her blood pressure was so high that she was in danger of going into convulsions and losing the baby, they wanted to induce her immediately. She and I were going to do natural birth together this time around, since I had become an official Doula. We were both excited about that, but it was not to be this time. She was immediately admitted and had her beautiful baby boy early on the 12th of December.  More on Silas Eugene Kern later, but, just to say, he is gorgeous!!

 

So I got in a car early the 12th and started to Illinois without John (as he was not done hunting) to be of some assistance to Tamar’s household till she got home. She came home 2 days later and on the next day, I decided to drive back to PA to get John. The following day (Tuesday) we drove to South Carolina for one day to have Christmas with our kids here (Wednesday), before heading back to Illinois (Thursday) to have Christmas with the Kerns as was planned. Christmas was the following Wednesday so we figured we had just short of a week to be with them before Christmas and enjoy the family during the school break.

 

On Saturday, my sister from Pennsylvania called to say that my Dad had taken a turn for the worst. He had renal failure for some time and we knew it was going to eventually take him to Glory. Friday he had not eaten much and slept most of the day. Saturday my sister could not rouse him. We knew he would go into a deep sleep and not wake from it, eventually leaving this earth to be with the Lord he loved and his wife and high school sweetheart of 70 years. There was an ice storm moving into Illinois that day and the next and we knew we could not leave for PA. My heart was breaking as I wanted so desperately wanted to be with Dad before he “went home”.

 

He talked so much about wanting to just be with the Lord and be with Mom and his own Mom and Dad, especially this last year and a half since Mom died. He told me many times that he prayed every night that the Lord would “just take me home.” He truly longed to be there. Dad had trusted Jesus as his Savior from sin when he was 50 (maybe 51) years old and he never looked back. He grew in his faith throughout the years and loved to talk to people about the Lord. He was bold in sharing his faith, always the first to ask a newcomer to any room, if they knew the Lord. He had a great prayer/worship life also. Many times I would walk by his room in the last few years and see him praying with his hands lifted to the Heavens! What a joy to see him in perfect communion with his Heavenly Father!!

 

I did not think I was ever going to get to see my Dad again while he was breathing on this earth. But Monday morning (before Christmas) the ice was melting and at 5 am I called my sister to see if Dad was still here and she said, “Yes, are you coming?” Of course I was. We packed a few items, gave our quick apologies to Tamar’s for leaving again, and headed to Pennsylvania. My sister and brother kept calling throughout the day to see where we were, (10 hour drive), as they feared we were not going to make it home before Dad passed. At the 30 minute mark before we would arrive, my brother called to see where we were and said he did not think we would make it, as Dad’s breathing was getting less and less. But, God was good to me. We did make it to Bonnie’s house safely and Dad was still alive. For the next 3 days I did very little but sit next to his bed and talk to him, read scripture to him, pray over him and sing. I was so thankful to be there. We all assured him that we loved him, and wanted him to be at peace about leaving this world. We are fully assured of seeing him again. Thursday evening about 7 pm he finally breathed his last and “went home”. We cried and cried ~ just the sorrow of missing him is so great. But of the internal peace of knowing where he is, is so much greater. I am so, so thankful to the Lord for that. He is truly home at last!

 

We had missed Christmas with Tamar’s family, so Friday morning, after we all decided to just have a simple memorial for dad a week and a half later, we headed back to Illinois to have our Kern Christmas. Yes, by now we were getting very tired of the car, other folks’ beds, (grateful for them, but they were not like our own), flitting here and there. So we spend the next several days with the Kerns, having our Christmas dinner, presents, enjoying the kids and the new baby, etc., and then came back to South Carolina on Monday. For 3 days we did laundry, wrapped up a lot of year- end responsibilities, cleaned the salt off the car, repacked our bags, filled the gas tank (again) and on Friday headed back to Pennsylvania for my dad’s memorial service on Saturday. It was a wonderful service, with various family members telling great stories about Dad. So many grand kids came, we sang some songs Dad had requested, and we listened to my sister’s pastor give a great message about Dad’s life which included the gospel message. We laughed and cried and reminded each other about what a great man he was. I am so blessed that he was my loving, faithful, and gentle father!

 

The next day John and Jonathan, our son, who had come along from South Carolina for the service, headed back to South Carolina. I got in the van with Tamar’s family of 10 and we headed back to Illinois. Way back in August I had bought a one way ticket home from Illinois for January 15th, assuming that we would go to Tamar’s for Christmas, she would have her baby, John would go home and I would stay a few weeks to help Tamar. Boy were those plans all jumbled up!! But I still had a non-refundable plane ticket to SC from Tamar’s home, so I decided to go enjoy the new baby, help Tamar a bit and fly home the next week. And I did. We did get stuck in that horrible storm that came through with the way-below-freezing temperatures and spent 3 days going a normal 10 hour drive. Yep, too treacherous to travel, so 2 nights in a row after hours of travel, with only minimum amount of miles, we had to get hotels. Crazy, but we got to Illinois safely!

 

So Monday night I finally got home to South Carolina, where I plan to stay for a very long time!

 

I have been thinking often about how wonderful it is to be home. And I can’t help but think of Dad and how much he wanted so much to be “Home”.  I now have many people in his new home also: my mom and dad, my grandparents, several friends and a beautiful sister in law. I am beginning to realize, a bit like Dad, that there is a sweetness associated with Heaven beyond our Blessed Savior, who himself is enough to satisfy any soul. People we love are there and isn’t that really the truest comfort of home? Being with people we love? Heaven is becoming a sweeter and sweeter sounding place all the time.

 

 For now I am glad to be in my Beaufort home, but as I get older, my Lord gets more precious to me, and I have loved ones waiting there, Heaven is beginning to sound a lot like Home as well. How about you? Do you have an assurance of your eternal “Home”? If not I would love to talk with you about how you also can have this wonderful anticipation and peace about eternity.

 

Many Blessings, until the next time  . . .

 

Janie

Published in: on January 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm  Comments (2)  

Amazing Talent ~REALLY!

I know a young man who is full of talent! I mean this guy can paint!!  He is an artist who lives in Africa. Uganda is his home. He is actually the brother of Agape, my Ugandan “doctor”, actually PA, whom I wrote about in another blog. When I first saw his art work in his father’s home, I could not believe he actually did it. You know how you sometimes think that people help with projects and take the credit all for only “me- e-e-e”? I could not imagine that this young man had done the amazing mural in the home that had deer, elk, and other animals native to Africa covering an entire wall. I did not really know how old he was at the time. I thought he might be a high school student. Well, he is out of high school and has had several years of college as an art major.

There were also pictures of African people on the walls, framed, that he had painted. Believe me, before I left there I had not just a few pictures to bring home, but also a lovely handmade vase accented with banana leaf decorations. It is beautifully glazed, over a pretty blue and sits prominently in my living room. Yes, my African décor is building. : )

I am saying all of this to give you a chance to not only see some of his art work, but to offer it to you for sale, as Mark has send me many works that he has done. They depict life, people, animals and Africa. I had the chance to sell some of his art earlier last year that he had sent and I sent the money back home with John (his Uncle) and Gladys Mihigo when they returned in July. He was thrilled. He bought his sister, who is also in college (wants to be a lawyer) a computer for her assistance with college work.  He also managed to rent a small room for an art studio in an area of town where his mother has a seamstress business, and he paid some school debt and made a deposit for the next school year (for which he had no way of knowing where he would get the money!) And he reminded me that he paid his tithe from it also. I was thrilled for him. His family faithfully prays that God will provide the money for school fees, a great challenge for the people of Africa, who make so little wages.

So I am sending a sampling of his work along with this, in the attachments. If you are interested please let me know what style of work you like and I will send you pics of all I have. It is very inexpensive for genuine African art. Maybe he will be able to get all of his school fees paid this year before the year is ended!!

Blessings, until the next time . . .

Janie

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Published in: on January 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm  Comments (3)  

Being Thankful for All Things??

How can one be burdened and rejoicing at the same time? I have been pondering this lately. I know in theory we can have peace and joy among our trials, but watching so many people I care about going through very difficult situations, makes my heart ache. We have a friend whose husband died, a young man who needs a kidney, but no donors on the horizon, my African friend losing his wife after a battle with leukemia, a relative needing a heart transplant, one of our partner’s daughter-in-law died suddenly,  my own daughter looking at delivering a baby who has been diagnosed with difficulties. I could go on at length, with this list.

I am watching them all and listening, as they go through these things, each responding and handling it differently. All these folks are Christians. All know what the bible says about God and his goodness, and trusting Him since he knows best. Yet I imagine all of them have struggled with these truths. I imagine myself in their place, wondering how will I respond when it’s my turn? We all go through hard times. It is the thing that causes us to grow most, even though we don’t like growing in that way. We want to just open our bibles and read, pray, go to church, and do the many things that people who profess to love the Lord do, and experience amazing growth.

Huummm ~ no, we rarely grow when things are good, even though we are thankful for it. But are we thankful for our difficulties? So, as I pray for all these folks and think of them so much of the time, I am a bit amazed as they all say the same things. They are trusting God, He is their only Hope, He is good, even though things are hard . . .  I agree with all this! I just hope that when it is my (our) turn. . . I (we) can be faithful and thankful, like I see them being. I Thessalonians 1:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is one of the reasons I continue to lift them up to our only Hope, because they are living these verses. Even though you may not know them, will you pray with me for them? Thanks! and Blessings!

Published in: on November 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  

Heart Prints in My Chest

Theogene's village92I have a friend who always tells me I should write a book. I guess I am not as impressed with what we do as she is. : ) But the other day I was reading a book to John as he drove in the car. We often read books together and enjoy reading to each other while one drives, or we are out on a little coffee date together. We both enjoy reading and value the information we gain by doing it.

I was reading Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Rose. She was a missionary in Papua New Guinea during WW II. We had heard her testimony several times and even have a CD of it and DVD as well, but a friend had recently read the book and we were excited to read it as well. So much of what she was saying in the beginning parts of the book, I could identify with.

As she was telling about the first time she ever came over the hilltop and started down into the village where they would live I had to quit reading. I could go no farther. My eyes were filled with tears. As she came down the hill and village people, who had long awaited her coming, began to see her, and as they did they began to “whoo-whoo” and celebrate. Soon all the people were around her touching her, stroking her clothes and pushing up her sleeves to see if the white skin continued up the arm.

It brought back a flood of emotion in me, that I could not “clear from my throat”.  I was instantly taken back to a day when John and I, along with 2 representatives from a mission in Kigali, Rwanda (one of those support-a-child type) parked our car on an dirt clearing, along the roadway several hours from the capital city, and started down an old dirt path along the edge of a hillside. My cousin, Peggy, had supported a little boy in Kigali for many years and asked us to visit him, when she knew we were in his area of the world. So we were making a visit to his family, and bringing some simple gifts from her and us.

Suddenly, as we came around the corner of a little mud house, in a small village of about 4 houses, there they were. The entire “village” was waiting for us. When they saw us, they began to sing and celebrate and dance around. It was totally unexpected! Theogene, the little sponsored boy came to me with an old dirty bottle that was filled with wild flowers and gave it to me as a welcome gift. It brought tears to my eyes then too, as we saw the gratitude of these simple living people. It was very humbling and as I read the story of Darlene Rose, all the emotion of that moment came back upon me.

We had such fun with that little family that day. There were 4 children in all, all younger than Theogene (he was about 6), a mom and dad and grandma. They all lived together in a simple 2 room house, which they warmly welcomed us into. All the people of the village crowded into the little “living room” as they began to present us gifts. There was a shoe box with some fruit. We had never seen the fruit and did not especially love it, and eventually gave it to our guard, who was thrilled. We later found out it was a very expensive fruit (which she grew) and brings a big price in the marketplace. There were pictures from the children and a beautiful basket that the mother had made. She weaves baskets to try and make money for the family. We later gave it to our cousin and she keeps it in her living room.

We gave them our few gifts and they said they wanted to sing a song for us. So they gathered all the children, about 7 or so, in the front of the living room doorway and they started to sing. It was in Kinyarwanda so we did not understand the words, but you could tell they were celebrating and worshiping the Lord’s goodness. It did not take long until they all started to join in singing and then, in typical African fashion, dancing. It was a beautiful worshipful thing to behold. The old grandma started to worship in dance and made her way over to John and I, and tried to get us to join in. Nobody on the face of this earth could ever get John to dance, but I could not resist. I got up and twirled around with the old lady till we were all laughing hilariously. It was a fun time which left a heart print in my chest forever.

I can only imagine what heaven will be like when we can all sing and praise and worship together in common languages. I can’t wait to see that old grandma again and “worship” with her.

Well, we have moved on in our story, but I can not forget that page, as my heart so identified with Darlene’s emotions. Maybe my friend is right, maybe someday I will write a book!! : )

Until next time,

Blessings!

Published in: on September 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Last Ugandan Update

Dear Friends,                                                 2/5/2013                                                                                                                                         

We are home! After several long flights and some layovers we arrived home at 830 pm Sunday night, South Carolina time, but 430 am Uganda time.  Needless to say we are trying to reset our internal time clocks.

 

The final week in Lira was amazing! We love sharing Biblical truth with people. It is great watching the light of God’s Word come alive in them. As was true each week this trip, the folks wrestled over the truth of scriptures and in the end found new freedom in their relationship with God. The local pastor who manages the guest house we stayed in, asked us to come again next year and stay for about a month and teach new people. I don’t know if that will happen, but we would love to go there again and teach. It is a nice little town. We both found it to be the most pleasant place the entire month, even though it was extremely hot the first few days. It is close to the Sahara desert. It was fun being with Logan and Gracie also and mutually encouraging one another.

 

We traveled in a bus back to Kampala on Thursday which took most of the day. Friday we had a little “vacation day” planned, something we rarely do when in Africa. We planned to go to Jinja, a town about 3 hours away, to see a great waterfall on the Nile River. Mihigo could not stop talking about how beautiful it was, as he had been there several times. We took the long ride, with the road becoming increasingly more like a cow path as we went. Finally we paid an entry fee to the waterfall park and went down the road toward the river. Well, to make a long story shorter, as we approached the area, it became strangely apparent that something was wrong. There was no sound of a waterfall!  Six  months before they had finished construction on a dam farther down the river and had flooded the entire area where the falls used to be.  We were all so upset! We had spent the money on the trip and an entry fee to a park with nothing more than a lazy river strolling by. There were many young men there who had previously made a living giving small boat rides near the falls for a living. They were trying to be upbeat about the whole falls flooding event, but it was apparent that they were not selling many boat rides these days since there was nothing to see that could not be seen from the river’s edge. After chatting with them for a while, we were preparing to return home, having felt the whole day to be a disappointment. Somehow the fact came up that we were missionaries visiting Uganda. One of the boys suggested we come and pray with them. Surprised, John and the pastor went over to talk with them again. They wanted the men to pray that the man (in the government) who pushed for the falls to be flooded would be killed or die. Oh My! So John began sharing the gospel with them. In the end 7 of the 8 prayed to receive Christ. The 8th one said he was already a Christian. So what we perceived to be a total loss, turned out to be something quite profitable for God’s kingdom, even if it did cost us a chunk of money. Pastor Ben took their contact information and will follow up with them, making sure they all get a Bible as well, thanks to all of you who send money to the Bibles for Africa fund!!  : )

 

The last week in Uganda was wonderful and emotional. It is always hard when it is time to leave. The tug in our hearts, that pulls each direction, starts. We miss our kids, grandkids, even the dog! Yet we have once again become attached to the local people we have come to know. We stayed in the home of Pastor Ben and Florence the last several days. They are Mihigo’s  sister and brother in law and they are so sweet and sincere. They also have the greatest kids! They are an amazing family! The few inconveniences that we had in an African home were well overlooked by the sweet, sweet fellowship we shared together. There was a gathering in their home Saturday with all the folks from the first 3 weeks of training invited. We had a feast with fresh Nile perch, French fried potatoes (chips, they call them), steamed cassava, and fried cabbage salad. Then in true African style, they each had an opportunity to share what the time together meant to them. It is all very flattering and complimentary, but it does give us good feedback about the teaching. Then they presented us with a local gift to bring home and they all departed to their homes.  When Pastor Ben’s and Mihigo took us to the airport later, Saturday night it was a bittersweet parting.  We had to say goodbye to them, not knowing when we would see them again. 

 

So another trip is over and we are reflecting on the goodness of the Lord and “recuperating”. :  ) A few more pics, in parting . . . 

#1, Pastor Ben and Florence, #2, Home along the street, #3, Sugar cane, #4, Menu in Gulu restaurant, #5, Janie teaching in Lira, #6, waxed print by local artist (can order these prints if you want, email me!), #7, John teaching in Lira, #8, John and Janie getting a bodo ride to town, #9, plantain bananas, #10, boys who prayed to receive Christ at the Nile River, #11, local monkey, #12, Ben’s long horned African cow (6 months old), will get much longer horns!, #13, Ben’s family, #14, Local mosque (yes, there are 10 % Muslims in Uganda)

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Till the next time . . .

Blessings,

Janie (and John)

jnjchitester@gmail.com  (with Harvest Alliance Int., Oceanside, CA.)

 

 

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 7:19 am  Comments (2)