28 April 2017

better off!

You know how you think everything's good...and then something happens and you realize it WASN'T as good as you thought?

This week two such things have been breaking through, and I am SO. THANKFUL for the way He's provided for them both.

First, when the film crew was here several weeks ago, they brought along some crazy amount of equipment, and on the first night, asked what kind of camera we use at the Seminary for all our marketing.

At the time, I was rather pleased to hold up my cell phone against their mountain of equipment, noting that we all used our phones to do all our photos and videos, personal and profession, from every picture you've ever seen on the blog, to our prayer cards, to newsletters,  to the EBS website. 

They were not super impressed.

But by day three, and I had all their rich and dreamy and beautifully lit and intentionally focused photos on my jump drive, and all those photojournalism classes started to come back...and there was just. no. compare.

So we asked the experts what we needed to get before they left.  Like bare minimum.

And they crazy graciously astounded us by sending us one of their old cameras and lenses and the links to a few mics and cards we might need.  

You're now realizing you've noticed, huh.  I've still got a lot to learn, but man alive, such. a. difference!  I'm so excited about showing you BETTER what life actually looks like, and so thankful.

Which brings me to the second.

I thought our classes were good, our teachers did a good job, that I did a pretty good job teaching, that all was well at Emmaus.

And then we applied for a grant through OMS' Theological Education department to get Dr. Ray Easley down here, and this week, our worlds are changed.  From 1-5, he's been teaching our teachers, and we are all crazy humbled and shaking our heads.
We can do this SO. MUCH. BETTER.
We can teach God's Word and each of our areas of expertise so much more clearly, on so many more levels, with so much more powerful results.  He has us all thinking about things we've NEVER thought of before, which slaps yourself in the forehead with how much sense it makes!
We've been talking about all the different levels of truly LEARNING something, talking about how to get our students past simple memorization and into fully understanding and being able to recreate what we are teaching.
We've been talking and praying about how to not simply turn out men and women who have memorized what we're teaching them, but who are transformed by the Scripture we are studying.
Been talking about how to form world changes...not just cram some info in there.
We've always been talking about how to form each of our classes all supporting the goals and calling and purposes of Emmaus Biblical Seminary, instead of independently developing our curriculum and syllabi.  
how to write educational objectives
how to construct a syllabus
the dimensions of fully-formed leaders
philosophies of teaching and best practices
and so much more!
I know it's the very last week of school next week, but suddenly our weary souls are charged up for a new semester, ready to spend the summer taking our courses apart and rebuilding them in a way that we might truly and better see the disciples of Emmaus ready to be and do and accomplish what He's training them up to be through EBS!
GOOD teacher training was something we didn't even know we so desperately needed...but God did, and made a way.  

So thankful for these provisions, and to be poured into so graciously.







26 April 2017

simply remaining true

The past several weeks I've been deliberately trying to simplify things in our life.

I went through all the kitchen cabinets and our closets, giving away anything I found that we haven't used or worn in the past month or two.  I even went through my desk and filing cabinet and got rid of extra newsletters from 2011 and even some technology that I'm pretty sure even Haiti doesn't use anymore.

I stopped eating all added sugars and caffeine, which if you know me, was and is a horrible idea, for I LOVE gummy bears, York Peppermint Patties and lots and lots of coffee, and life without them has been difficult (as well as full of headaches and sluggishness and great battles with grouchiness.)

I've tried to simplify meals and hostessing and the girls schedules, letting go of lots of little things and looking more at big picture.  I let a book we just couldn't get through go from our curriculum, I asked Haylie to help me with my grading, my homemade dessert for prayer meeting was opening a bag of chocolate Easter eggs last week, and I am incredibly ashamed to say that my sunrise service breakfast contribution, instead of hot-crossed homemade buns like last year, or sausage quiche the year before, may have been strawberry pop-tarts.  

I cut them into diamonds.  I don't think that fooled anyone.

I'm saying NO to guilt, saying YES to simple.

I realized while reading My Utmost this morning with a fevered and miserable dear Nora that most of what I love about Chambers is how he cuts through all the crud of this day and age, all the clouds in my heart and speaks. the. simple. truth.

It's what I love about God's Word.  It's just true.  And even when I don't see HOW it can be true, or don't think THAT something should be true, or don't get WHY something is true...it's still simple.

I don't have to "get" God's Word, understand every element, or even AGREE.  Simple fact is that all we need to be faithful to God in regards to His Word is to simply believe that God is Right and that His Word is True, and get behind Him in spite of ourselves, in spite of the modern day.  If what He says doesn't seem right or fair to me...then very simply, I am wrong.

"Be ready in and out of season," 2 Timothy 4 says.  In other words, says Chambers, be ready whether we feel like it or not.  So many of us are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. We are spiritually feeble and weak, and refuse to do anything unless we are supernaturally inspired.  The proof of our relationship being right with God is that we do our best unto Him...whether we feel inspired. or. not.

A few nights ago at staff meeting, a visitor was being asked about what he'd like to help with this week, and his willing response made me laugh: "I am very ready to do whatever you are able to get me to do this week."

As I have simplified lots of external things these weeks like food and closets and schedules, has God only been able to get me to do what I was already easily wanting to do?

Do we often agree very adamantly only with the portions of Scripture we adamantly agree with?  Do we often purse very passionately the roads that we were quite already inclined to meander?

I heard a radio program once where some woman called in and explained all the reasons she found it difficult to spend time in the Word and in prayer each day.  She explained her job, and her kids, and her husband's schedule, and her workload, and then asked the host for pointers on how she could find time to spend focused time on God each day.

I don't remember who the man was, but he infuriated her with his simple response.

"You do it."

YES, she argued, but she had so many other things to do and so many places to go, and he interrupted her again with, "Every day you spend concentrated time with the Lord."  

Yes, but how do I find the time? she tried again, and again, "If you're saying it's your great desire, you.  will. do. it."

His simplicity seemed unfeeling, but it it was God's truth, cutting through all the human complicated in her life.

I know without a doubt that He wants to hear from me more, is beckoning me to be quiet and listen.  So will I simply do it?  Simply decide that before I go to bed each night, no matter what time it is, I will spend quality time in prayer?

I know without a doubt that there is a specific Bible study that was dropped when Junior left that the Lord has brought to my mind again and again to pick up....as I have waited and waited for someone more qualified and more Haitian and more perfect to do it.

I know without a doubt that there is a huge way we can help another family, but it's expensive and it's messy and I'd really rather someone else...but He brings it upward again and again.

Are we only doing and being for God whatever God can get us to do and be?  

Or are we simply remaining true to God, ready in and out of season, moving as He moves, pouring as He pours, breaking as He breaks, believing what He says, standing where He stands, valuing what He values, and naturally following our Father SO closely that we are free of our preferences and comforts and opinions.  

I can clean my house and body out all day long...but THAT is how God purifies our faith.

25 April 2017

churches, schools, babies, friends for the victory

Sunday, Matt left at 8 am for alumni Brave's church...and returned at 3:30 pm.  He was thinking it would be an easier trip without three kiddos, and he was right :)  However, he came home energized nonetheless, using the 3+ hour service to read through Romans several times, and he was blessed to be a part of what God's doing through Brave in AuBois.  Of course, he took no pictures :)

We didn't miss out, because we got to spend some precious time with John Kennedy, who is growing like a weed and couldn't BE any more adorable.
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Nora continues to be overcome with her great love for this little man, hugging him and kissing him endlessly until he couldn't take it any more :)  She LOVES her a good baby, and found his hair particularly fun to play with!
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We love Job and his precious family (he is our head of security, and his older son and daughter are two of Lily's best friends) out of their current 10'x10' mud home and into one he's building (hence the bags of cement in their current home).
The project is certainly coming along...but there's still a lot to do before these 5 are in!
Sunday evening, Bubba returned to Haiti for the week, and this morning he and Lily are out visiting schools, Lily thrilled to death with a small camera one of John's friends sent with him for her!  She's hard at work taking pictures of schools and students and professors, translating for John, making new friends and having the time of her life.  Lily keeps asking me when she'll finally be done with school so she can start doing "the good stuff!"

Dr. Ray Easley also arrived yesterday, joining us on a grant from OMS for faculty training...looking forward to being a part of that with all of our teachers and administration on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!

Meanwhile, Luna, our Academic Dean and friend Lucner's wife, preached in chapel yesterday.  She is a third year student, leading a huge church in Vaudreil alongside of her husband, and it's just such a joy to see her growing and hearing her passion for the Lord through her message on reconciliation yesterday.  This is truly a special special couple, continuing to grow as they pursue him and parent their four-under-five...Victoria, Victor, Victorious and Victory.

This week is our LAST WEEK of classes, so we're all just keeping up and along for His ride!

21 April 2017

updates!

There's a lot going on, and instead of talking about all of it, I feel like I should just put the prayer/planning/physical needs out there, and then you know and are praying and are with us!

If you haven't read our most recent EBS update, you can here!...some neat testimonies of what our students were up to over Easter break!

1) Graduation is in three weeks...which means these are crazy days of wrapping up classes, getting ready for graduation, final exams, thanksgiving services, fourth year banquet, another IWU Master's program, 50th anniversary concerts...Whew!  

We are grading and planning and preparing like crazy, and meanwhile I'm so blessed to be talking to students this week, and at student dinner last night, about all the many ways God used them over Easter break, the many mission fields they are feeling called to this summer, and even the ministries they are heading into after graduation.  It's GOOD work.
Please be praying for the 13 men and women graduating and heading out into full-time ministry, well-equipped and READY.


2) Our calendar's a little nuts. 

Pray for everybody approaching Graduation, on May 12th.

Pray for Matt the end of May as he heads to Russia to come alongside Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary for their graduation and to meet and encourage some of the men and women we've been praying for for many years along with the honorable reverend doctor Harold. For years we've had our students hearing about and praying for their students, and this is going to be a special time!

Pray for Matt mid-June as he heads to One Mission Society HQ in Indiana for a week of IMAC, International Ministry Action Committee meetings. 

Pray for us in July as he preaches at Seeds of Greatness Bible church on July 9th, and at Sharptown Church on July 30th (the girls and I will be there for those...you should come!).

Pray for him as he serves as the evangelist at Eaton Rapids Camp Meetings in Michigan July 20-30th.  

Pray for him as he works with the EBS Board for board meetings the start of August.  

Pray for him as he heads to South Korea to encourage our brothers and sisters there in October, and to give a series of lectures on "what the new perspective of Paul brings to bear on Wesleyan Theology." If you're not sure what that means and wish you did...email Matt.  Because I cannot tell you :)

Standing on the promises of God, and grateful for the faithfulness of your prayers, one day at a time.

3) I'm just gonna say it : We need some support.

We committed several years ago to put all our funding focus on EBS.  All the speaking, preaching, traveling and support-raising we have done the past 3 years has been all about Emmaus!  

God continues to be so faithful through many of you to help provide the funds needed every day to feed everybody, to pay all the staff, to send out groups with Bibles, to support student ministries and church plants, etc. 

It's exactly as we would have wanted.  And many of you faithful faithful supporters have been vital in God carrying and providing for our family in the background.   THANK YOU. We are so incredibly grateful for you.  Keep on, dear family!

However, with a few donors naturally falling off each year, and without searching out new supporters for our family for several years...we have gotten to a place where we need some help.  We have been and still are completely funded by donors like you.  We are not paid by Emmaus, we are not paid by OMS.  We raise every penny we need for every element of life. 

The thought of adding more to the above schedule to go on some kind of funding tour makes me want to cry.

So instead, we're going to step out on faith and put it out there:  We need some help.  If you have been looking for a place for your tithe or have been feeling led to get more involved or if you are passionate about what God's doing through our family in Haiti (and elsewhere!) or if you simply want to be a part of all that God's doing in His World, we would be so grateful. 

You can support our family through One Mission Society, here.  
You can support our family through Emmaus, here.  

Very grateful.  Living on support with three little girls keeps us constantly reminded and humbled and reliant--it is God who cares for our every need, He who provides, He who calls, He who is faithful. 

One day at a time on his faithfulness, family!



18 April 2017

through Lily's eyes

This girl has decided that she wants to be a "photographer, who takes pictures of the culture in Haiti."  Flipping through the 600 pictures she's taken the last few days, it's awfully fun to see things through her eyes, from silly pictures of her sister, to her science experiments for school, to the ladies she loves to hang out with in the kitchen.  
I also love these pictures from Phida's phone, from DuFour's baptism this past weekend!  I love talking to all of our students now back from break, hearing about all of the prayer vigils, special services, evangelism outreaches, baptism services and community outreaches that filled their past weeks.  
EBS update soon!