20 October 2016

God at work

They were ready to go, a dear invested brother jumped in and covered the trip (12 people, 4 days and nights, food, water, borrowed sound system, generator, fuel, Bibles, transportation and tent materials...$247 USD) and that's how a part of the Emmaus body spent last weekend.  

My very favorite part about these trips is when they get back.
Leading up to this weekend, 3 or 4 students have been sharing the Gospel in Difou 2-3 times a week. Unlike other places they have visited where they've had little or no interest in the Gospel, no person of peace, and have had to "brush the dust off their sandals", they were touched from the start by the number of people in Difou (the community right past Fev) who were incredibly interested...who seemed to never have heard It...who were anxious to hear more.

And this weekend gave them the opportunity to do just that!  Emmaus can now say with confidence that every single person in this village has heard the Gospel, and continued to hear the Gospel unpacked throughout the weekend.  On Sunday morning, EBS built these small tents, and when they asked if anyone was interested in giving their lives to this God they have been hearing of, forty people (FORTY PEOPLE) said they were all in.  Dozens more said they want to hear more.  Hundreds (HUNDREDS) came for morning worship.

Leme couldn't believe how little Difou knew of "traditional" Christianity.  He said no one knew the hymns they were singing, no one knew how Sunday morning worship worked, no one had horror stories of crooked pastors or divided congregations or denominational disputes or unkind Christians...there is literally no church, no Christ, in the history of Difou.
That will never be the case again.  

The one thing each student and staff member has repeated to me over and over again is how interested everyone is...how anxious to hear and learn more, how great their desire to know Him and be pleasing to Him.  This is rare in ANY culture, and we're all just in awe of how God has prepared their hearts and how soft Difou is...

What an awesome opportunity to give the true Jesus, deep and wide and free.
I wish I had more pictures (always) but I'm just thankful that Leme grabbed a few on his phone the morning they put the "church" together.

(Me heading into a zone like this as a foreigner to take pictures of everyone is the opposite of the indigenous, culturally relevant evangelization and genuine conversions and spiritual growth we are praying for!  No matter how hard I try, as a foreigner I am seen as being in a position of power...and trying to lead people into a true relationship with the Lord from a position of power rarely works)
I'm also incredibly excited to see evangelism happening in Difou, in culturally relevant ways, in the heart language of the people, by men and women living right down the road, and with DISCIPLESHIP following right after...continued.

This isn't a "40 conversions!" statistic and on with life.  This is the planting of seeds of Truth and Hope and Redemption in people's lives, by His power, and then all of the watering and sunshine and TLC that must follow.

Though right now Phida and Leme cant 't stay behind, as begged, can't leave some of the students to live among them...Difou is nowhere near abandoned.  This week, several of the same staff and students went from 1-3, as always.  With so many zones even further than Difou who may have also never heard the full-Gospel, no one is anxious to abandon the road, either.
So, Leme and Phida are praying with the students about which of them God is calling to care for and grow all these new brothers and sisters in Difou (ideally, two of them will stay in Difou, going on weekends and 3 times a week) and the rest of the students will keep moving on.  

I know this is no captivating marketing campaign. I know this is not a complicated or impressive strategy.

But I love how much this sounds like the Bible.

May that always be our strategy.  
Add Difou to your prayers!  Pray for growth, pray for more to follow, pray for our staff, our students, pray for sensitivity and humility and wisdom and great enduring love.
 Keep on helping us do THIS.

thank you

18 October 2016

the greater work

Deep sighs tonight, not all bad, but all heavy.

I always remember thinking growing up that it was a parents' job to pray. I didn't always feel much moved by it, I had a lot of things I wanted to do, I was busy, I was making it happen...praying faithfully and passionately and continually and all that would come later, I figured.

And it has.

How quickly does parenting bring out the prayers in us...it leaves us SO aware of how weak and needy and helpless we are.  It would be, I think, almost impossible NOT to be continually giving Him our children, so deep our love, so precious their lives, so big and scary the world we carried them into.

But it has been lots of kinds of parenting that have deepened my prayer life.

Marriage, marriage stretches your prayers, for there is much I cannot do for this man and much he needs...there is much I cannot fix or change, but that HE can.  So I care and I love and I am learning these years to close my lips and open my heart and pray and pray instead.

Teaching, teaching grows up your prayers, for there is much to teach and to learn, and much that is needed I cannot give, many to shepherd only by the Mighty Help of the Shepherd and so I miss movies to make grammar posters and we all laugh at pronunciation together and I PRAY.

Serving at Emmaus, man, does that laden my prayers.  I'm not anyone's mother, but they are all in our care, all their feet are in our bowls, and they share bits of their struggles and callings and joys and fears and we care and we equip and we send and we visit, and my mother-heart stretches as they go out and go out and when the night is finally quiet and everyone is in their dorms, I am praying.

This past weekend alone...

Our 12 in Dufou all sharing and leading and I see mothering in Phida's eyes as she talks of all of the interest in her God, of the darkness of the zone, as she talks of the services and prayers and quiet times and the women who held her hands and begged her to stay from now on and walk Jesus among them.

Jodenel traveling crazy miles to train a few pastors far away in our discipleship materials, only to find 28 waiting and so many hungry and not knowing the first thing about intentional discipleship.  They are greatly wanting to be discipled and there is parenting in his tired voice as he shares their great desire and the beauty of the sacrificial day.

Junel, a 110% of the time joy to interact with, never discouraged, never grumpy, never rude, travelled the long broken road to the far south, where his father and brothers and sisters and cousins were all calling out under Hurricane Matthew. As he went, as he came, how many were our prayers for him, and he returns with joy over holding their safe hands and with awe over the extent of the devastation, no garden, no boats, no nets left to live by, blessed to have helped a few, burdened to have walked past so many.

And Jonas and Carmel, how many prayers, how many prayers, as they have lost baby after baby, each  lost in nights of bleeding all at the five month mark. She cannot hold them once they start to gain weight, and with no surgeries or procedures in this corner of the world for cervical insufficiency, we have prayed through this fourth pregnancy for a miracle.  Jonas called last night on the way to the hospital, and when we spoke this afternoon the heartbeat was gone, gone once again, and there is no understanding for that grief and no words for that prayer, no children for these friends, not to hold.

And as Matt prepares to leave, to preach through the week at Houghton College (NY) and to defend this doctoral study in England once and for all, I pray. As I work to teach planets and dinosaurs and fractions and reading with grace and patience and wisdom and faith to wiggly and impatient sticky fingers and ever watchful eyes...oh, I pray.  As one friend returns from Iraq and one struggles with her health and that of her precious baby, as one struggles with loneliness and another with her faith, as I hurt for the South and the North and the world...I pray.

And as I do, mothering prayers to the Father, He meets me.

Prayer does not equip us for greater works, O. Chambers assures me.  Prayer IS the greater work.

Prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me,
which produces the miracle of redemption in others,
through the power of God.

The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption.

Prayer IS the battle, and it makes no difference where you are.  However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray.

We refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God's direction, and He says to pray.

What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

And so, trusting that the morning-glory prayers and the night-time prayers of desperate places and all the many prayers in between ARE the greater work, HIS greater work, we continue.

Continue praying, friends.  It is the working of the miracle of redemption, and there is much today to be redeemed.

16 October 2016


We didn't drop off the face of the earth...just off Haiti for a few days.  Our visas are expired and still being renewed, so we recrossed the border for a few days to start over our 90 days and to spend some cherished family and rest time before Matt leaves this weekend for 2 weeks.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are such entirely different countries and cultures...it always blows me away how different life and outlook are just minutes across the border. 

Our side of the North is far more mountainous, but the coastline on the Domincan side in the North is just beautiful and much less inhabited...there is so much exploring to be done.

There are tons of these beautiful salt mines throughout El Morrow...so fascinating to me how they are flooded and how the sun leaves behind the salt crystals.

Most thankful for some less-distracted time in the Word.
So thankful for good friends to explore with!

You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.
Hebrews 12:22

12 October 2016

breathing in

Our friend Brett returned from the southwest a few days ago and filled us in on what he saw...tons of trees down, entire areas without any roofs...there are even more complications than we had realized, including far increased gang activity alongside all roads to the worst-hit areas, stealing money and supplies from trucks bringing in aid.

Several of our staff and students have extended family in these regions, Junel is heading down to see his father in Jeremie this weekend...and it's just a good weekend for fall break, a few extra days off for travel and family and prayer and rest.  These have been heavy-on-our-hearts days....It's incredibly hard to know that many are struggling greatly not far (as the crow flies) and yet incredibly far away (it took Brett far more than 12 hours to get there)...and to know people are struggling, and that darkness continues to seek to destroy.

Mission after mission is saying the same thing...everyone wants to help, everyone wants to help well, everyone is struggling to know HOW.

Please continue to pray.
But life hasn't stopped, not even a little.  Here's what we've been up to...

Noel and her family of I-can-never-seem-to-figure-out-HOW-many live here, without much opportunity to improve life for their family.  After Noel graduated from high school and was sitting at home, another mouth to feed, she told us she'd like to be a nurse, and we committed to her then that we would help her do it.

And by God's grace she did! This past week she graduated, and we are praying for a good job and a way to help her family! 

Gertha's sister-in-law graduated too!

Sunday, we drove through town at 6:30 am to worship with graduate Viony.  He is a special man, and it is reflected in the men and women in his church.  It was a joy to be with them, and Matt preached on the order of salvation...
Nora made a fabulous friend with this little boy and they chased each other around the back of the church the entire service.  Nora has recently decided she is no longer a baby, and no longer needs help, with anything :)

Back at home and sweating Sunday afternoon turned into this wonderful idea...
Monday, back to classes...
I continue to be SO thankful that I worked through my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification last year...it's brought out so many new ideas and different methods for this year. Yes, I am spending FAR more time outside of the classroom preparing lessons, forming exercises and making posters...but it's been GOOD...and already I can tell such improvement in our students.  

Matt's introduction to Old Testament class is well underway as well. So much of his job is administration that he loves being in the classroom on Tuesdays!

Tonight Granny joined us for dinner, and after finishing her chicken, Lily ran off to her desk and came back with these drawings for Gran.  The first is of her drinking blended spaghetti with Granny in the cafeteria (one of her favorite things to do) and the second is of her and Gran (whom all the students call Vayant, which means Overseer) surfing.
Granny was tickled pink.  So thankful to have such sweet family in our lives....all the way back since before Lily was in her arms.
Meanwhile, another one of the projects I was just telling you about JUST was completed...Fev finally has a well, right next to the church...Living Water and fresh water, too.  Praising the Lord for this miracle, for the many new and growing believers in Fev, for the students and alumni still faithfully working there, for them men and women who made this possible. 
So we're just going to keep on praising...keep on praying...keep on trusting...keep on listening attentively.

Please be praying for our group of 12 this weekend, evangelizing, discipling, relationship-ing and church planting in Dufou!  THANK YOU!