Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God Is Not Late

Our "offical" Tuesday Together in the Word reading group is taking a summer break and will be starting back in September. Please contine reading and be ready to start back the first week in September.

Matthew 9:36-38, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”

The day after we arrived in Ecuador, we gathered on the hotel roof at 2pm to meet all the pastors who would be working with our teams. I was already a little nervous because I did not have a translator. The person who was to be my translator was running late to the meeting. At the meeting, Brother Sam discussed the upcoming events of the week and reviewed with the pastors the things for which they would be responsible, for example, providing our transportation and food for the week. At the very end of the meeting, I noticed a pastor running in the door holding a motorcycle helmet. I prayed, “Please Lord, don’t let that be the pastor that I am assigned to.” He had missed the entire meeting and obviously was not that interested in working with a team because at that point he was two hours late. Can you guess which pastor I was assigned to? Yep, you guessed it!

One of my fears going into this trip was that I would be matched with a pastor who was not truly interested in working with our team. Looking at the circumstances surrounding the day, it appeared that this was going to be the case. All the other teams started leaving to do prayer walking in the village to which they were assigned. At that point, my translator still had not arrived, and I could not communicate with the pastor. I was getting that “freaked out” feeling again. One bright spot was that Tabitha Hyde and I were assigned to the same team. I used her translator to ask the pastor how we were going to travel to our assigned village. He said that he did not know because all he had was a motorcycle. He asked if Tabitha and I could ride on his dirt bike. This was a problem because Tabitha’s translator also needed to go with us. We started to try to find a second motorcycle. Luckily, my translator arrived and came to our rescue, and we were able to use his car. I discovered that my translator had been late because he had seminary classes that morning, and he was working with Child Evangelism Fellowship in the afternoon. Tabitha was disappointed about not getting to ride the motorcycle. I think the Lord knew of her disappointment and “blessed” her with another motorcycle ride later in the week (I will save that wild story for another blog).

I can honestly say that God totally took care of every worry that I had about this trip. Not one concern that I had came to be, including my concern with the pastor. I thought his two-hour lateness was because he was not interested in working with us. I found out that he was late because he was one of the three pastors that had asked for a team but had been turned down. In a previous blog, I mentioned that three pastors had to be turned away because we did not have enough team members. I asked you to pray for the teams that would be put together. Thank you for your prayers! God answered them in amazing ways.

My pastor was named Pastor Omar. He had been contacted the previous week and told that a team would not be able to work with his church because there were only enough workers for 10 other teams. His church desperately wanted a team to help them start a church in an area with no church. His church began a weeklong time of fasting and praying. Pastor Omar said he begged and cried out to God to send workers. He then received a phone call at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon telling him that there was a change in plans (one of the ten pastors had not shown up to the meeting). He was told that if he could get from his church to the city of Ventanas in about 15 minutes, he might be able to have a team working with his church. He said that he jumped on his motorcycle and made the normally 30-minute drive in about 15 minutes. Thus, that is why he ran into the meeting at the last minute.

Thank you God for not answering my prayer of “please don’t let that be the pastor.” If that prayer had been answered, I would have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life. Pastor Omar is a wonderful man of God. It was an honor to work with him. He and his church of about 30 members have such a passion for the lost and a deep concern for areas that do not have churches. Most people do not have cars, and in remote villages, walking is their only means of getting to church. If a church is not within walking distance, people cannot go. Pastor Omar and his church wanted to start a church in a remote village about 45 minutes away.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Omar shared that his church had been praying for several years for a missionary to come to their church. He said that no one had ever come. As he was telling Tabitha and me this, I decided that I would begin praying for a missionary to visit his church one day. I could see how desperately they wanted this. Tabitha said she was thinking the same thing. But then, he started telling us how thankful he was that God had answered their prayers and sent us. I had never felt more unworthy and undeserving than I did at that moment. I really do not deserve to be the answer to anyone’s prayers, especially for the prayer of a missionary coming to their church. Why God chose to use me in this way, I really do not understand. I am just very thankful that He did.

Thank you for all your prayers!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Amazing Day

Events of Saturday:
We travel by bus two hours today to Ventanas Ecuador. It gave everyone a good chance to talk with their translator. I showed Stephen’s translator (who is from Ecaudor) a picture of my family. She said, “Your husband look like Stone Cold Steve Austin”. Several others have said the same thing when seeing the picture. I don’t know how they know who “Stone Cold” is in Ecuador.

Today after getting settled into the hotel in Ventanas, we were to travel to the village that we would be working in and doing prayer walking (walking through the village and praying the Lord would open the heaven, their hearts, their home, the highways and our hands). Tabitha and I were placed on the same team. We meet our pastor and he explained to us that the only form of transportation that he had was a dirt bike. He asked if we were ok with traveling an hour to our village on the back of his dirt bike. I had prayed and told the Lord to make me willing to do whatever He asked. I did not have a dirt bike in mind but I was willing. Luckily, my translator came up with a car. Andy Gill was glad to hear that we scratched the dirt bike idea. He said my husband would have killed him because Steve put Andy in charge of watching out for me and Stephen.

We literally traveled an hour into a banana field to get to the village where Pastor Omar would like to start a church. There are 200 people in the village and only four Christians. Pastor Omar said he does not think an American has ever been into their village. The following is from Tabitha's blog about Anita:

This afternoon, we were prayer walking, and Sam had recommended that we pray for a person of peace. God showed up 4 years ago in the life of Anita (that is as close as I can get to her spanish name.) Anita was sent to Ventanas to develop and build a Catholic Church. As Anita built the church and searched the sciptures, God told her to stop worshipping idols. The next day she cleared out the church of all forms of Catholisism. When the priest found out that Anita had accepted Christ, he came and removed all the children from her care. Therefore, we have a catholic church turned Christian, and a community of 200 where there are only 4 Christians in which to present the gospel. We are in the country, on a bannana farm, but we expect to reap a more spiritual harvest. May God prepare their hearts! Please pray for Kelly and I as we teach the mother church how to disciple, because discipleship is their heart. The church is not confined to 4 walls and a roof. Praise God!!!
Tabatha Hyde

Amazing-they already have a building and a person willing to lead the church.

We had a great time of prayer walking. Only one minor problem: I am only afraid of one type of dog- a routwiller. A friend in high school was attacked by a routwillier and they have scared me ever since. Do you want to guess what type of dog followed us while we were praying walking and circle around while we walked? You guessed it- a routwiller. He circled around us for about half of a mile.

At the end of our visit with Anita, we went into the church building to pray. She has a son name Clever that has Down’s Syndrome. Anita has put him in charge of keeping up with the keys to the church. They call him guardian of church. He was so proud to unlock and open the church doors for us. We went inside the church and prayed. Inside the church was an old guitar hanging on the wall. Tabitha’s translator is a guitar player. He took down the guitar and played/sang the 23rd Psalm. We all sang and worshipped together as Anita’s 1 year old granddaughter danced in the middle of us. I loved hearing Clever singing praises.

The road into the village are too rough to travel by car. For the next week, Tabitha and I will be traveling each day standing up on the back of a bananna truck. We are going to wear bandannas to keep the dust out of our face and the bugs out of our teeth.

I believe it is going to be an amazing week. God has already provided the building and a leader for the church. We just need for the people to be drawn to the church. I know that the Lord is going to do a mighty work. Please be praying.

Hello from Ecuador

Holah! We had a great flight to Ecuador yesterday. We left Atlanta at 5:15 and landed in Ecuador at 10:15. Can you believe it only took five hours to get here? Going 2500 miles in 5 hours is pretty good time.

When we arrived at the Guayaquil Airport, we were required to wear face masks the entire time we were at the airport. I was concerned that there was a Swine Flu outbreak in Ecuador. Turns out it was just the opposite. They were worried about us bringing in the Swin Flu.

Today we are leaving Guayaquil and traveling by bus to Ventanas. We will be staying and working in villages around Ventanas all week. We will meet our translators in Ventanas. We will also be meeting the pastors that we will be working with. Bro. Sam said that 13 pastors are supposed to be coming today who are wanting us to work with them to start churches. We only have enough on our American team to work with ten pastors. We are going to have to turn 3 pastors away. That makes me sad.

Please pray as we match our teams with the pastors and the translators that we will have matches that can only be "made in Heaven" and the Lord will be glorified in all that we do and say.
Keep pryaing!
Blessing to you,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Realize That "Freaked Out" Is Not The Most Spiritual Phrase

In three days, I will be going with my 14-year-old son and 18 other people from various Calera and out-of-state churches to Ventanas, Ecuador on an E3 mission trip. Our group of 20 will be divided into groups of two (one group leader and one children’s worker) and will go into ten different villages that do not have churches with the purpose to start a church in each village. If this sounds like a God-sized task to you, you are right!

One of the many things that I love about the E3 Partner’s ministry is that our group will be partnering with established Ecuador churches. Ten Ecuador pastors and a few people from each of their churches will travel from other areas in Ecuador to work with us. Through the partnership with the ten established Ecuador churches, the new churches will each have a “mother church” in Ecuador.

On Saturday, one other person from our team and I will meet the group that we will be working with all week and then go to our assigned village. My group includes myself, one other person from the American team, our two interpreters, an Ecuador pastor from one mother church, and a few people from his congregation. On Sunday, I will be going to the pastor’s church for the morning service. That afternoon, we will train the pastor and his volunteers in evangelism, discipleship, and church growth. From Monday to Thursday, we will go into the village to share our testimonies and the gospel. We will invite everyone to come to a “cell group” each afternoon to study God’s word further. This cell group will be the first church service ever held in many of these villages.

Last week, I found out that since one of the leaders is not able to go on the trip, I am now a team leader. I will be training the pastor and his volunteers and leading the door-to-door visits and the cell group meetings for the first few days. After the first few days, the nationals from the mother churches to take the lead.

For lack of a more spiritual phrase, I was “totally freaked out” to find out that I would be leading a team. Hundreds of reasons why I should not lead a team ran through my head.

Seeing how freaked out I was, my son reacted very sweetly. He said, “Mom, would it make you feel better if I helped you? Let’s get all your leader information out and work on what you are most worried about. What are you most worried about?”

I answered, “Everything.”

He said, “Let’s start with the sermon that you might have to preach on Sunday.”
Yes, you read that right; one of the E3 staff told me that I need to have a sermon prepared in case they ask me to preach on Sunday since I am leading a team—talk about being way outside my comfort zone!

Stephen helped me organize all my information and then proceeded to make suggestions for my sermon, “Mom, why don’t you preach something simple like John 3:16 and then go into John 3:18.” He then told me how lucky he thought I was and how he wishes that he could lead a team. I offered to trade with him.

I later talked to Brother Sam, and he said that women usually did not preach in the churches, and I would probably not be asked to do so. One of my friends suggested that if I do need to get up and speak that I should just share some of my blogs. She suggested I share the bird attack story. I don’t know. I do not think that is what they have in mind, and I am not sure how well that story would translate.

To sum up this whole blog, please pray for me!

I am asking for you to pray for me, Stephen, and our whole team. Stephen will be on another team in a completely different area and village. As a mom, it bothers me that I will not be in the same area as Stephen. He will be the children’s leader in another village. We could have been on the same team but Stephen would rather be on a different team. That is a subject for another blog. I do agree that it could be a potential witness hurter if we had a mom/teenage son argument at the first cell group meeting.

When I think about this trip from a human perspective and what we are attempting to do (start 10 churches), I am just overwhelmed. There is no way that I can do this! I can’t do it, and thankfully, I don’t have to! The Psalms reading from our Tuesday Together in the Word has really helped me this week:

Psalm 65:5: “By awesome deeds of righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth.”

I don’t have to have the confidence that I can do it because He is THE CONFIDENCE of all the ends of the earth.

Psalm 63:7-8: “Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”

I will be protected under His wings; He will hold me up and He will lead the way. I just need to follow close behind HIM!

I am claiming Psalm 67 as my passage for this trip. Please join with me this week in praying these words for our trip.

Psalm 67: “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the people praise You, O God; let all the people praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Let the people praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”

I hope to post updates to my blog from Ecuador. We also have a team blog at http://e3ventanas09.blogspot.com/or go to www.brothersam.net. If you would like to be a prayer partner for us, please comment and give me your email address and I will email you a prayer calendar. Thank you for praying!

Also, please be praying for me to feel better. I have been sick with a kidney infection for almost two weeks. I just finished a round of antibiotics but I am not any better. I am still running a fever and I went back to the doctor today. I really feel rotten. Please pray that I will feel better very soon.

Blessing to you,


Thursday, July 2, 2009

How did a big pizza stain get 6 foot high on my living room wall?

Welcome to Tuesday Together in the Word (two days late). We are a group of ladies reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs together in 2009, and sharing what we are learning along the way. Visit DeeDee to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" posts.

Last week, the boys went to the University of Alabama Basketball camp. Steve and the boys stayed at my niece’s Tuscaloosa condo during the camp. This meant that I had several nights home alone. One thing that was nice about the testosterone break was that I was able to clean my house on Monday and it was still clean on Wednesday! It was a great feeling walking in the door from work on Wednesday and everything still being clean. Everything was exactly how I left it. There were no basketballs in my living room, no wrappers on the end tables, no socks scattered all over the floor from sock wars, no half empty cups in their rooms and no pizza stains on the wall over my fireplace (I still have not gotten to the bottom of how that happened). I breathed in all the glory of a clean house and then the thought occurred to me that in just six years I can come home EVERYDAY to a clean house when the boys graduate from high school. Then it hit me- in just six years there will be no basketballs in my living room, no wrappers on the end tables, no sock wars, no half empty cups and no mystery stains. All of the sudden, a clean house did not seem so great. All of the sudden, I was very sad.

During this week, I have thought a lot about our previous week’s Tuesday Together in the Word verse:

Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

One of my many flaws is that I just can’t seem to disconnect myself from my house. Meaning, I have the hardest time relaxing if things are all out of place in my house. I find it near impossible to sit down, relax and just ignore a messy house. The verse from Proverbs has caused me to ask myself if wanting a perfectly clean house is building up my house or tearing it down? Is it promoting peace and disrupting peace in my home? Obviously, expecting a constantly clean house while living in a house with three guys does not produce a lot of peace.

Since my Globetrotters have returned from camp, I am really trying to make an effort to choose my battles and let the little things go. I am trying to remind myself that my time with them is limited and I need to focus on much more important things. For instance, I resisted the urge to post a picture of the big pizza stain that mysteriously appeared 6 foot high on my wall and instead posted this picture that I believe is much more important:

Blessings to you,

Please join us this week as we read Psalms 62-67, Proverbs 15 and Matthew 1-3.