27 June 2017

drawing on His grace through friends

It's officially summer, which means that we officially cannot imagine not being sweaty, stinky and sticky.  There is no way there is a place that is cool right now, in the whole world,  there just isn't.

But the best thing to do when that's the case is spend good time with good friends, because they are frizzy and sweaty and stinking, too, so you drink iced coffee and cokes and share your toys and talk about ice cream and thank God for the richness of what Oswald Chambers calls "always be poor."

Never hold anything in reserve.  Pour yourself out, giving the best that you have, and always be poor.  Never be diplomatic and careful with the treasure God gives you...and yet possessing all things, 2 Corinthians 6:10, this is poverty triumphant.

It was a joy to sweat with friends at Fanfan's house...watching the girls all play (Could Nathanaielle, one month older than Nora, be ANY cuter??)
It was a joy to catch up, to learn more, to grow together a few hot hours.  To pray for their sweet family in the place they call home.  FanFan was in Matt's very first class here at Emmaus and is now working on his doctorate and our vice-academic dean.  After graduating, he married another student's sister...(now also staff)...Jodenel!  And Majorie is the best, also one of my English students.  Gotta love all that good family!
Marjorie's in the middle

Then today we spent celebrating more dear friends at a nearby hotel.
Micheline and Gertha are such beautiful graces and encouragements and helpmates in our lives, and have loved and nurtured and taught all three girls since they were infants.  So so thankful for them in our lives.
Many have been praying for Micheline, and please continue.  She heads to the Dominican this weekend to seek further medical help for horrible back pain and headaches, one of her daughter's is due to deliver any day now, one has a very sick baby, her father is on his deathbed, her husband is still in Brazil...  Thank you.  
God loves us WELL through these ladies. 
Then tonight we were sticky with some more friends, just moved in down the road (it would be 30 seconds if it weren't for the miserable road between them and us) who have already been such a joy and blessing in our lives.  By tonight Lily was begging to live with the Hari's for a few days...but I'm not sure she'd ever come home.

And beautiful still, tomorrow we have friends coming!

YES, they know that it is almost July in Haiti, and they are coming to visit us anyway!  We are so excited to have the Sunderlands, our good friends from NorthRidge, Kansas coming for a few days.  We've got some great relationship-stuff planned, and some adventure-stuff, too, and are just so blessed to have friends coming HERE.  To our home.  Just to spend time with us and nothing else.  

That's crazy.

Wait 'till they smell us.

Also, our fantastic film crew of February is almost finished with the EBS story, and we are SO excited to share.  Hopefully we'll have it when we start speaking stateside July 9th!  (See the full speaking schedule here!)  If you're not going to be with us at all the four weeks we're in America, we'll be sharing it like crazy in August, so hang in!

If you're coming up short lately, I give you this word from My Utmost that God's been using to work on me.

Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God.  Pray now--draw on the grace of God in your moment of need.  Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself.  

One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.  

26 June 2017

lifting my eyes up

If you KNEW there would be no air-conditioning once you got there, in 100 degree weather?  
If you KNEW you'd be hiking hours over mountains in the sun to get there...and then home again?  
If you knew there'd be no children's church, no coffee and donuts, no road to get there, no awesome worship band?
 If you knew you'd be sitting on a crowded wood bench for hours?
Would you have been in church this morning?  
It humbles me still, just works my mind, still, that we found 100 brothers and sisters on a mountain-top this morning, worshipping the Lord at Coup-a-David, in those exact conditions, just like last Sunday and the Sunday before that and the Sunday before that.
The faithful, coming together to adore The Faithful, with joy.
That alone, before the service even began, was my church, my re-evaluate, my conviction and my praise of our God who does far more than that to meet us.
I am, always, so inspired by our brother and graduate Enick (brother of friend and graduate Walnique, who pastors the EBS church plant in Fev).  By all he is and does without thinking twice.  By persevering for YEARS.
 By the men and women in his church who do it EVERY Sunday, many more often than that, with joy, because worshipping together is their refreshment, their encouragement, their building up, their carrying through, their learning and growing.  
These two young men came forward at the end of the service, asking to turn away from themselves and follow Christ, and Matt had the beautiful chance to pray and talk with them before we left.
Parts of our walk, which is shorter than the walks of many, feel like you're in the middle of the rainforest, and other parts like you're on the top of the world.    
All the parts are scattered by little houses, livestock, gardens and people, stepping out of the woodwork, around every bend in the stream, behind every palm tree, someone steps or sits or sings.
Can you imagine building your house with your own hands?  Not going to Lowe's and buying the things you needed to build it, not getting stone delivered, even, but literally weaving your own home?
Or washing your little one's shoes by hand in the stream and laying them out on rocks in the wilderness to dry.
Can you imagine getting all your water...all for cooking, all for cleaning, all for bathing, all for drinking, from a drizzle coming out of the earth, from a spout made of cactus?
Can you imagine this being your commute to work? The only capable vehicle on such roads being your back?
Can you imagine this being your laundry line?
This is CoupaDavid's prayer hut...the place they climb to in mourning, in praying, in seeking, in praising, in coming together.  On the furthest away mountain you can barely see an old fort.
This imagine made me think of Abraham and Isaac, God's voice finding Abraham faithful, freeing him from the sacrifice of his son, providing a ram tangled in the bushes instead.
I'm just never done being humbled or inspired or small.  The two percent we encouraged people by worshipping where they were today is nothing compared to the 98 percent encouraged and inspired I I was by their faith, by their perseverance, by their joy, by the simple, by their "family".
It was so hot that by the time we made it to church, we were simply pouring.  So grateful to have shared the day with Matt and the girls and Rick, Braden and the Heckmans.

Finally, you know I had to catch up with the triplets and their parents who live not far from the church!
Years ago as we were heading to church, we got to meet these little bundles of joy, born at home, all survived, and cherished by their family (whereas multiples is usually seen as something of a curse, sometimes even left to die).  
Every time we go, I stop and catch up with the family.
Last time we went I found them growing like weeds, their family continuing to just be so joyful and kind and clear-minded....but still saying they have yet to follow Jesus, noting that they do want to convert one day, but not yet.
Today when I rounded the bend, mom called out, "Here we are!  Welcome back!"  I found all three kiddos eating mangoes to their hearts content (along with everyone else in Haiti right now) and the whole family doing well...still SO kind and welcoming and honest, still never complaining, never asking for a thing...still saying they have some things they want to do before following Christ.  Pray with me for them, will you?  His grace is there, and I continue to feel His great love for this family, as He waits.

Our God, who does far MORE to meet us.