Thursday, September 30, 2010

Amazon September 2010

Ok, so I plan to write some really detailed blogs, but I wanted to go ahead and get a general one out because we have so many people asking about our trip!

If I could summarize it in one word..... well, it would be impossible to do! It was by far the best trip yet and God's hand was all over it from start to finish. I'll just give some highlights and elaborate on some of the biggest blessings in future blog posts:
  • Absolutely no trouble going through the Bogota airport! With a group of 11 and big containers of water filtration systems, an inverter charger, and lots of other potentially "scetchy" looking items, we thought for sure we'd be held up in the Bogota security checkpoint. Nope! Got through without so much as a box being opened.
  • We were going to have to pay over $500 in extra baggage fees on our Bogota-Leticia flight and the lady who checked us in completely waived the fee! It worked out perfectly because we ended up needing that money for supplies later on the trip.
  • No one got sick on the trip! Between a new environment, hard work, lack of sleep, food we were unaccustomed to (though very good!), and bug bites galore, we anticipated some sickness during the 10 day trek, but God protected our immune systems the whole time!
  • The entire water system was set up in 5 days and the filtration system worked like a charm!
  • No one was injured (aside from some cuts and bruises) and there was plenty of opportunity for injury!
  • Richard was able to attend a tribal council meeting with several influential tribal leaders to share the reasons behind our efforts to bring clean water. This meeting also helps us get a name with the tribal leadership for the future of our ministry. HUGE!
  • The team worked GREAT together and each evening we had an awesome time of sharing and connecting. This was the first mission trip for 5 of the guys and they were all flexible and I don't remember hearing a single complaint even though we were packed tight on a houseboat and the heat was intense. God brought together a great group!
  • One evening, the houseboat was stuck on the shore. For 2.5 hours the group worked to free the boat and God miraculously made it happen! (More to come on this story!)
And the stories go on and on of how God provided! Thanks to EVERYONE who prayed for us. We have no doubt that God is going to use these efforts to further his work in the region.

Please stay tuned for more detailed updates!

Our Home for 8 Days

Friday, September 10, 2010

God's Training Ground

I think sometimes I tell myself that I'm more spiritually equipped and ready for what God has for me than I really am.

Let me explain.

Our trip is in less than a week now and my mind has not slowed down for days now. There has been, is, and yet will be a LOT of planning and coordinating involved in this trip. There is an unbelievable amount of materials to bring down with us and a lot of logistics to take into account. So I found myself yesterday excusing myself for not spending some quiet time with God. After all, I have a lot to prepare for over the next several days....

Even typing that I out now I realize just how absurd that thought process is. We are preparing for a trip that could potentially have an eternal impact on the people we are going to work with and I tell myself that I'm too busy to spend some time with an Almighty God because I need to prepare for it?


What preparation could possibly be any more important than me seeking God in His Word and being on my knees in prayer that God's hands will be all over this trip making it more fruitful and "successful" [whatever that may mean] than we could even imagine?

That's when I read this devotion from Oswald Chambers in his famous "My Utmost for His Highest" book:

If I don't praise God and "make time for Him" while I'm on His training ground, what makes me think I'll be ready to stand when the time comes to stand?

Thank you God for once again giving me a spiritual slap in the face.

I am so thankful for a God who loves us enough to pursue us.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

When God Pays the Bills

Have you ever prayed to God to provide food for you and your family?
I don't mean that little, "God, thanks for this food. Please bless it to our bodies. Amen."

I mean literally prayed that God would provide food because you have no idea where your next meal will come from.

I haven't.

And I'd venture to say that very few, if any, of us have.

That hit me the other day as I was praying to God. I remember stopping in mid sentence while I was talking to God and saying, more to myself than to God [though I think He overheard], "What's wrong with me? What am I praying for?" This thought came to me because I realized how selfish my prayers are. It's all about: God, please do this for me and please do that for this other person. Thank you, Amen.

I realized that I, in the life I lead right now, don't NEED God. I never pray for clothes to wear. I never pray for food to eat or clean water to drink. I never pray for a place to sleep. I never pray that I'll have the strength to get out of bed or the courage to stand up for what I believe in. Why? Because I have never needed to pray for any of those things.

When I go to the kitchen, I know there will be food. And not just food, but choices about what food to eat. And if I don't see what I want there, then I'll run to the store or pick up my phone and order food to be delivered right to the front door.

I've never prayed for a clean water source. As a matter of fact, I buy a filter to filter my clean tap water.

I can't think of a single time when I've prayed for somewhere to lay my head....except maybe that one time when our air-conditioner went out in the middle of summer and the part was on back-order for 3 weeks. Then I was begging for some relief for my "discomfort".

So what's the big deal? If I have no need to pray for these things, why should I concern myself with them?

Maybe the problem isn't so much that I don't ask God for these things, but the fact that I don't thank Him for them either.

I expect them. I take them for granted, day in and day out. I think our spiritual state in America makes it pretty clear that if we continue to live at this comfort level, we will need God less and less. And now that we've redefined Christianity, we think it's ok to be comfortable. We think that God has blessed us for us.

When Richard and I started our Radical Journey, we told God together that we wanted to suffer for Him. Why would we pray that?? Because suffering brings true fellowship with Christ. As Paul put it in Philippians 3.10, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..."

That's a pretty bold prayer to pray because I think it's one that God will answer. And I wouldn't say He's answered it yet, but I have noticed Him testing our faith on numerous levels: including financially.

This is somewhere that I struggle: trusting God in the area of finances. Like many people, I find security when our bank account and savings shows a certain number. There's just a certain peace that I get when I check it and everything seems in order. So, naturally, if those numbers aren't quite within my "comfort range" there's a certain uneasiness that follows.

In other words, I have no faith in regards to money.

Without going into a lot of detail, we've had some big expenses come up as of late. Things that we weren't expected like car problems (oh the stories I could tell) and some other "inconveniences". I've watched as our savings have slowly dwindled well below my preferred number and I've felt that stress level begin to rise.

You know what's been great about it though? Seeing how God steps in and says, "How about you just trust me."

So I thought I'd give that a try... you know, let God take care of us instead of trying to figure it all out. Novel idea, right? After all, my worrying doesn't seem to accomplish much.

And guess what. He has provided. In marvelous ways that glorify HIM.

Richard sold his truck to the first person he showed it to (who does that??). His flying schedule has been out of control [in a good way] for the past month. I recently got a bonus at work that couldn't have come at a better time. We've seen the random generosity of several people who have given directly to us or towards our mission trip coming up.

And we've been able to give more to missions than we ever have before. Praise God!

What have I learned? Well, for one, it sure is nice to be able to relax in God's hand when unexpected bills and expenses come along knowing that, while they may have come as a shock to us, He knew about them all along.

And at the end of the day, regardless of what the numbers in our bank account are, God is in control. And our situations and frustrations and trials and heartaches are all designed to bring glory to Him.

But even more than those things, it's nice to know that even if we didn't have food to eat, a place to sleep, good health, or clean water and even if we didn't have the money to pay the bills....God would still be a good God. Because He is God. And good is one of the things that defines Him.

God didn't meet these needs so we could be happy and content and say, "Thanks God." God met these needs so we could tell others what a great God we serve and it's by Him and through Him and in Him that we have all that we need.... and more.

"But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through." -Francis Chan
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