Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Under Fire

 Contrary popular belief, being a missionary doesn’t instantaneously morph you into Super Christian. The moment you step off the plane you’re not transformed into some super spiritual being. Nor do you become immune to the stress, chaos, temptations, inter social drama or business of “normal” life. In fact, I’d suggest it’s quite the opposite. Stepping off the plane into a new culture away from the support of your family and friends, away from all the comforts of home does, however, force you to often evaluate yourself and the world around you in a new way, and if you let it, acts as a catalyst for a lot of growth and changes God wants to make in your life.

I’ve recently been reminded that when we take these giant steps in faith, our heavenly father is not the only one who notices. The enemy lurks and feel threatened by our newly refreshed confidence in the plans our Lord has for us and launches an all-out attack.

Since extending my term here, that’s exactly how I’ve felt. I am reminded of the story of Job. Satan was determined that if God stopped blessing Job, stopped protecting him from the suffering of the world, that if He allowed Job to suffer severely or long enough that he’d eventually curse his heavenly father. But praise God, we serve a God who is so much bigger than our enemy. May we learn a lesson from Job 1:21-22…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

But we need to be alert, 2:2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”  The enemy prowls, and he’s waiting to devour us! He hopes that our faith is fickle enough to collapse under the suffering of the moment. But we serve a God who is so much bigger than our enemy. A god who, when we call on him, fills us with hope and courage. A god who, when we cry out in weakness, becomes our strength.  A god who raises us up out of the miry clay, who washes us white as snow, who protects us from the arrow of the enemy. Thanks be to God who is our light and our salvation. Our hope and our strength. May we always remember his sovereignty in times of suffering and may give us endurance, that our lips and our lives would always glorify his name.

This is just a brief summary of my thoughts on the awesomeness of our God who saves.

God is good, ALL THE TIME… and I will give thanks in all things.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suggering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1Pt 4:12-13

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

~ LoVe Is A vErB ~

"Give your hands to LOVE and your hearts to SERVE"
 -Mother Teresa (emphasis added)

Women's Bible Study

Picture from women's bible study a while back...

Alyssa, Lia & I take turns leading a Kriol women's bible study, for any women in the village who wish to attend, every Sunday afternoon from 4-6pm


"How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. "
 - Mother Teresa

 As Mother Teresa said, I have also I've found to be so true. The last two months I have begun to identify the shift in perspective. I'm unsure if this is the shift from a history of very short term missions or more relationship based focused assignments, but God has certainly been at work in this. It’s one thing to be sad or shaken over someone else’s tough situation, but it's another thing to sit and suffer with your friends here when they receive a grave medical diagnoses, anguish over a chronically ill child, or live with abusive spouse. These things are no long longer sad problems of the third world, but daily the daily sufferings of your best friends. Recently one of my friend was enduring a really emotionally and physically bad situation in her home and I was distraught. My heart hurt for her. I didn’t sleep well. For a short time I tried to figure out how to love and support her without experiencing all the pain myself. I was afraid of perhaps “burning out” with so many people to love and so much suffering all around, or perhaps not knowing how to handle the grief myself. However, I have been reminded that we serve a God who loves to fill us up. He is our strength in weakness. Our ever present help. So, I am here in Catel. A nurse, a woman, a missionary, and most of all a friend here to love the people God is putting in my life, even when it hurts.


I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”
-Mother Teresa

These are a few of my favorite things!

*** Learning more Kriol... ***
I recently restarted language lessons with a young adult in the church.
My goals for this are; to be able to pray for people in the church, clinic, and my friends in the village in their native tongue, to memorize bible verses in Kriol so that I can share God's word more readily, and to be able to communicate with "local" doctors to provide more streamlined health care.

*** My little man Mamanjan (see him and his Pape below) ***
Mamanjan, who has spent most of his 9 months suffering from various illnesses, is finally gaining weight! He gained 0.8kg in the last month and I'm so excited! I've been praying for him for months and am so happy to see him sitting up, smiling, and becoming more interactive these days. Please continue to pray for God to strengthen his little body and that his parent's would come to know Christ, and be overcome by love for him and each other, that he might grow up a man after God's own heart.

*** Jumbai ***
When we first got here I saw people constantly stopping by as an interruption and found it difficult to get anything accomplished. Now I can barley imagine a day without people stopping by to sit and talk (what they call Jumbai) or being called over to stop and eat a few bites on my way somewhere. Imaging days in a big bedroom or eating alone seems like punishment. I look forward to all the random visitors throughout the day and thank God for helping me embrace these cultural differences.

*** Worship ***
Learning Kriol worship songs has been a great way to become engaged in worship services here, has helped with language, and is a fun way to interact with local kiddos. Lately I've been learning some new songs and a friend is going to help me buy me some sounds files of worship songs in Bissau next week so I can enjoy them and continue to learn while I cook or do laundry. SO excited!

***Privileged to Serve ***
And of course, I'm excited to officially announce that I'll be extending my term and staying here in Guinea-Bissau until sometime this fall. I've be so blessed by my time here and seeing God at work. God is helping me to continue to learn language, to learn more about the culture, and most of all has exploded my love for the people of Guinea-Bissau. My prayer is that He will use all these things to further His kingdom.

***Please Pass the Mangos***
After being here for a while it seems that people's perceptions of my have changed from a walking dollar sign (ie American), to a person. A person who's a nurse, a Christian, a friend. When we first got here it seemed like people asked us for anything we had with us. Because they did. Our camera, water bottle, shorts, glasses, you name it, they wanted it, and I'm not sure I blame them.
This still happens occasionally, but has changed dramatically, and I think how people interact me with me has helped me to see the relationships God's forming. We recently entered into Mango season, and all my friends here quickly learned my love for the luscious fruit. Now my language tutor shows up to lessons with giant grocery bags of mangos for me and when I go to jumbai (sit, talk, hang out, very strong and even sweeter hot tea) with my friends at night, the first thing they do is bust out a huge mango. This is symbolic in my opinion, of more than hospitality (which of course these people are infamous for), or even friendship. God is at work here, helping us to build relationships in which He can reveal his power and lead people to Himself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Dynamic Duo

Sadja & Adromani

Sadja (left) was a good friend of Andre's and Annette's long before we got here. He's a hilarious, smart, fun loving 13year old son of our village Chief. Sadja is infamous for the riddles he loves to tell which always involve something about a man’s child which is never actually a child but more so a metaphor for something. Needless to say, I never understand his riddles, but its hilarious when he tells them! Sadja is a bright kid who seeks truth and wisdom and dreams of serving his people as a physician one day. We just love hanging out with this little guy. He actually spends M-F in another village to go to school but we always look forward to him coming home on the weekends!

Adromani (right) is Sadja's older brother. These 2 are an awesome duo that God is really going to work through to reach the people of Guinea-Bissau. Adromani is nearing his 22nd birthday and is a fantastic teacher, friend, leader, and man after God's own heart! He spent his adolescent years attending school in Bissau (the capital) and is a youth leader at His church there. He also blesses our congregation here in Catel with His musical gifts of guitar, piano, and singing and helps to lead the children's worship Saturday evenings. Adromani has also recently become my new language tutor and is doing a fantastic job with that as well!

I'm so thankful for the work that God is doing in both Sadja and Adromani's lives and for the passion they have to live a life transformed by His will. I consider myself blessed to fellowship with them and I pray that God will continue to bless them with strength, courage, and hope to withstand the persecution of their friends and loved ones.