-pray for Matt : He is still in Waco, TX, still in EBS board meetings today, and has also been leading Bible studies at some church breakfasts, doing conference calls with OMS, and who knows what else...we've barely had a moment to speak. Pray for his travels as he returns Lord willing on Friday. Praising the Lord for the encouragement that this busy time has been!
-pray for Nora : Nor is a bit of a hot mess...I'm not sure if it's teeth or daddy being gone or something else, but she is waking multiple times in the night, crying uncontrollably, awake for hours a night...which means so is Lily, so is Sofie, so am I, so have our guests been, and by today, we are all SO tired that we need extra grace and patience and love. I'm not sure what to do...thank you.
-pray for our students : I can't even begin to detail here all of the many challenges, battles and struggles our students are daily up against. One student just lost all his books and clothes in a house fire during the soccer match Friday, another lost his mother Wednesday, several are dealing with persecutions of many kinds in their communities and churches.
When four of the students came for dinner last Thursday, they each commented about how young my father looked. I finally asked, "Well, how old is YOUR father?" Wilem tells us his father died when he was a teenager, but that his mom is still with he and his SEVEN siblings. Evens slowly explains in English that his father died when he was 3 months old, so he never met him. Jopnel smiles, and says that his father died when he was in elementary school. Death statistics in Haiti come alive again in my living room, fleshed out in Wilem, Jopnel, Evens having no fathers, having moms working like crazy to help and support and raise their children, having the burden of being young men, instantly responsible for their siblings and mothers...young men called into ministry, nonetheless.
It reminded me heavily the great need for our prayers our students have. Please continue to pray for Emmaus, to pray for the men and women living the Gospel out in Haiti.
-pray for me : Matt is up to preach in chapel tomorrow, and I was on for next week...because he is gone, we've been traded, and you know public speaking is NOT my forte...please be praying for the Lord to solidify a message on reconciliation loud and clear, and for my ability TO share in this time of extra fatigue, running the kids to school without Matt, etc.
-pray for Aunt Sharon, Uncle Martin and Isaac as they travel...as they continue to adjust to life without their precious mom/grandma, as they get ready to meet their first precious grand baby in just a few days, as their father/grandpa goes through major medical treatments...and as they STILL, somehow, manage to give so freely of themselves for Him through our family. They have homeschooled and read and played and crafted and ridden along and cooked and washed dishes and been beautiful love and peace and laughter in our home the past few days.
thank you, dear friends.
I leave you with Matt's "Saturday Sermon" for this week as we all prepare for Lent...a season of transformation and focus that I am really looking forward to this year...
Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a big deal in Haiti. Mardi Gras, in French means "Fat (gras) Tuesday (mardi)". Fat Tuesday is always celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday which is the start of the Lenten season. The Lenten season is the seven-week period leading into Holy Week and Easter which commemorates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Many Christians abstain from eating certain foods during the Lenten season (also know as "fasting") in order to discipline themselves for the purpose of introspection. This time of introspection prepares the heart to receive the great joy and blessing of Jesus's ultimate victory over death in his resurrection that is celebrated on Easter. This means that for seven-weeks, starting on Ash Wednesday, people cannot eat whatever they want; they cannot indulge. Fat Tuesday, then, is the last chance to indulge, hence the name "Fat Tuesday". Mardi gras is a time to give into unhealthy impulses; it is at time to let it all hang out. It's a time to satisfy your desires.
In a way, Mardi gras attests to the fact that many people do not understand Christianity. Mardi gras grows out of the idea that Christianity is all about denying what we want. This makes us think that God is the one who smacks our hand every time we go to another cookie from the cookie jar; that God is the mean uncle who doesn't let us have any fun.
Contrary to the message of Mardi gras, Christianity isn't about refusing people their desires, it's about transforming our desires. The Christian life isn't about never getting to do what we want and being miserable until we eventually make it to heaven. Christianity is, however, about making us entirely new people so that our desires change. Outside of Jesus, we want that which is self-destructive. Our impulses, our desires, and our passions are lethal. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus through the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from the power of sin, our very nature becomes regenerated. We experience a rebirth. For Christians, Mardi gras should be a celebration of giving to the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and liberating the captives. These are the sort of things that bring true and lasting joy to the heart that's been transformed.
You see, this is what Holy Week is all about. This is what Jesus's death and resurrection is all about. Jesus put to death the old desires and impulses that are lethal, and through his resurrection, he raises us to new life so that we can share in his passions and desires which lead to eternal life.