21 December 2012
Well, what do you all-- the readers-- think? Should we expand into Haiti in 2013? We have the opportunity to make a survey trip to visit a specific orphanage with a good partner contact and good ministry references. There are several smaller works that can also be visited. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Since the earthquake, the situation of orphans and other needy children are all the greater. It is a short plane flight to go to visit and would be easy to manage our program-- at least as far as time and distance is concerned. But- we do not need any more added to our work load. Our small staff stays pretty busy as it is. Another country means more travel, more paper work, more recruiting sponsors, more evaluation, accountability tasks and expenses. I am sure there are many children in need in Haiti, but we have no shortage of children in need. And-- I am not attracted to Haiti-- not at all. When I think of Haiti, I think of dirt and disease, hardships and heat-- all things that are true of Asian countries and no issue at all to me there. Haiti is one of the few places on the planet that I really have no desire to visit. But that is one reason why I think this opportunity has come from the Lord. It has not come from my own desires. I would like to add in a people group from along the Amazon River in South America. What a delight it would be to see that famous river and the tropical birds and fish that have always delighted me. Or.... we have been asked many times to consider orphanages in Mexico and I am ready to go there. We've had some strong invitations to various places in Africa that seem to fit with what we do. And my love and longing for Asia is well known. But it is not any of these, but Haiti which is developing in front of us now and just as in other countries, we are taking one step at a time. Please pray with us as we consider this important decision.
The women on this team received an excellent overview of our ministry in Nepal. They visited most of the areas where we work and experienced a little bit of what life is like in Nepal-- such as the food, the rough mountain roads, the unheated buildings and the lack of hot water in the shower. One of the places we worked was Trisuli-- a village up in the mountains, where-- as far as I know-- no foreigner has ever gone, except those with Allow The Children. The little church in Trisuli rests on a ledge of ground carved out of the side of the mountain. One is wise to avoid walking too close to the edge, where the drop is too far to see all the way down. The space between the drop off and the side of the church building, is perhaps not as wide as I would choose. I often wonder about the children getting too close to the edge. Why do they not put up some kind of fence or safety barrier. But I suppose if they did, the whole world of these people would need to be fenced. They would probably wonder how we can live with busy streets coming right up against our property and no protective fence. In Trisuli, we slept all together on the floor in one room. The toilet required a short hike, which was no problem, except for the cliff edge which was still there in the dark and the leopards which were also there- somewhere in the dark. No I am not kidding. This was a missionary trip, not a tourist experience. Yes. I love it.
facilitated medical clinics for about two weeks each year for a number of years now. We set up in churches or whatever building is made available to us-- or even the open air. Most of the people from the village can think of some reason to see the doctor. Typical problems are skin rashes, infections from insect bites, pain in the knees or any joints, gastric (heartburn) discomfort. But we also see some potentially serious conditions suffered by people who have little access to medical care. They are hard busy days, but it is very satisfying to bring some help to these people. For the Hindu people in each community, it might be the first time that they have come inside the church. Now-- after meeting the pastor and some of the believers, it will be easier to join a worship or fellowship gathering in the future. As we are busy with the patients, other members of the team are filling their own roles. The pastors move among the people meeting them, praying for and with those who are open to that, building the relationships that will bear fruit in the future. As the people wait for the doctor, a woman was sharing the gospel with her picture flip chart. Each time we hold the clinics, the village churches grow. Many were hearing the story of a Savior who loves them for the very first time.
One of the places where we held a clinic was at our Maranatha Children's Home. Last year, we set up on the front porch, but this time, the church building was complete. We had prayed for it for years. We were working on it and fund raising for it for years. Now the ground floor was finished and we were using the building for the very first time. We look forward to pastor training, gathering for our children's sponsorship program, medical clinics, and the growth of the infant local church in this place.
20 December 2012
One of the special blessings of the October 2012 trip, was a visit to a little school in the village. It is a new project attached to one of our partner churches. It had not been there when I last visited about a year ago. The school is a very simple cinder block building divided into four sections or classrooms. There were no supplies or equipment or teaching materials of any kind. Parents should provide notebooks to write in for their child, but many do not buy them. Children wandered in throughout the morning with no particular attention to a schedule. They filled the seating available in each room. The special blessing was that these children were being taught by a boy who was a graduate grown up in our Maranatha Children's Home-- a boy who many have had little education himself without our program. He did not have any particular teacher training, just the basic education approximately the same as high school in the US. Now, he was sharing what he knew with these young children, moving from room to room-- giving some instruction and assignments, then moving on to the next room. Since the school is so small, he was able to keep ear shot of each group as he worked with another, but all the same-- it looked to be a challenge that would stretch a professional, experienced teacher in the US. The school is in a village more than an hour from a road. They rarely see anyone from outside their own community. Whether from cultural habit or fascination with a foreigner, every child sat attentively as I spoke with them. I learned that while the school is a project under the church, most of the children are Hindu. Our boy from Maranatha--now a man with a big responsibility-- is a strong believer, but would not be allowed to openly teach faith based topics in the school. If he taught a Bible story directly, there could be some complaints from parents, but not much could be done about the foreigner. With a translator who had come along with me, I dove right into New Testament theology, telling the story of a small man who climbed a tree to see Jesus and his surprise to find out that Jesus knew his name, and cared about him and wanted to visit in his home. I told the Hindu children that Jesus knew their names too and love them and wanted them to know Him. Then, I moved to the next room to tell the story again--four times to four different age groups. Every child's eyes were intent upon me and a few had lower jaws dropped. What a privilege to tell the story. As you read this account, please stop and pray for these children and for God's Word to grow richly in their hearts and for the witness of their Christian teacher to the children and the whole village.
19 December 2012
01 September 2012
As I write this post, my next mission trip is still more than a month away. This has been my longest continuous stay in the United States for some time. Though I am certainly eager to get to Nepal, my first stop will be in Bangladesh-- where I have not been for almost a year. I will visit each of the three children's homes there and we will have a gathering of the children in the Bangla Pastor's children program. It will be a lot to pack into one week and it will be HOT, but I am looking forward to it. Then, I will go on to Nepal, where I have a relaxed schedule for about ten days. Lord will certainly fill my days and there is a lot I need to accomplish, but no specific task or conference is on the program. I will spend most of the time in Kathmandu, with the five children's homes and two church programs we have there. There is some advance preparations for the medical clinics to be done, such as choosing, purchasing and organizing the medicines. Then, as soon as the calendar turns the page to November, our medical clinics start. The doctors will arrive from the US and we will begin a very intense schedule of traveling and holding medical clinics in different rural villages-- many of which never have access to medical care. Our Nepali pastors will be busy at the same time, distributing evangelistic literature and talking and praying with the people as they wait for their turn to see the doctor. THEN I will make a quick trip back to the US for less than two weeks before returning to Nepal for the Women's Christmas/sponsorship trip-- which will probably be added to the annual schedule. The team of women will be filling and distributing Christmas bags to all of the children in the program-- using the contributions from donors to the Christmas Fund. As we visit each children's home or church sponsorship program, we will be teaching from the Christmas story. Most of the children are from Buddhist or Hindu backgrounds. If they have come within the past year, they have probably never heard the story of the Lord's birth. What a privilege to be the first one to tell them how the very best gift in all the world came to us. And finally, we will do our sponsorship tasks-- taking new photos, updating our information on each child and trying to encourage each one to write a letter or draw a picture for his or her sponsor. It is a lot of work and I used to do it alone, but there are too many children now. I am thankful to have the team to help. Contact us if you would like to go in 2013.
31 August 2012
In 2012, we had groups doing projects like replacing a roof on a elder home. We went into villages and gathered children for Bible stories, crafts and games. We held a medical clinic. We worked in feeding centers. We did some construction, some painting, some lifting and carrying. And we shared God's Word along the way. They were little seeds dropped and nurtured as we were able and then left for what the Lord would do with them.
For 2013, we will be forming groups to go to Guatemala in March and in June. Contact us to join the team.
30 August 2012
11 February 2012
Hatibhanda Village is in Bangladesh, about 3 hard driving hours outside of Dhaka. By the time I arrived, I felt beaten up by the travel and the attempt to protect myself from being constantly thrown about inside the vehicle. It jerked in all directions, bounced over pot holes, slammed the brakes. The car did drive almost all the way to the village this time. The previous and only time I came before, we had to walk along the soft, slippery road (rainy season) , me holding a man's arm on both sides. The children for our new home gathered happily to meet me for pictures. Each one has a difficult story of the death or abandonment of parents. Each one now lives with a widowed parent who barely survives, or a step parent who abuses him/ her or relatives eager to be relieved of them. They need to be out of the situations now, but I cannot do it now. I can only move it forward one step at a time. We need to build up sponsorship support first, then build the house, then move towards a better life with solid discipleship for these children. There is a small church planted in this village,with a young, faithful pastor. But we will literally be building the church with this home. We will train up 20 well grounded leaders, who will then be lights back to their own families and throughout the village. Hopefully, some pastors and missionaries will come from the group, but the Lord needs laborers and vegetable sellers too. Now, I am back in the partners home in Dhaka. The sounds outside are similar to any city in Asia. Men are walking through the streets "calling" out whatever they are selling, looking for customers, trying to bring home enough for the night to bring a meal for their families. Horns are blowing as vehicles make their way through the streets. Water is running from someplace. Children are laughing and playing. Life is going on as it does every day. I am the one who is different-- a middle aged woman from central Virginia, trying to do something to bring the gospel to people in a poor village, hours away from the capital city where I am sleeping tonight. When I return to US, I will work on the support that will enable us to provide a home and bring the children into it. Bangla beleivers are ready to care for them and teach them. We will invest in the precious small ones and also raise up some witnesses and leaders for this place. My role is actually the smallest part, but it does not happen without me. Some ministry does not happen without you. What is it? We all need to find what the Lord has for us to do, and serve it faithfully.
05 February 2012
Here in Nepal, the electricity comes only a few hours each day. As I share life in the Nepali home, I shiver with the rest of them as the temperature drops in the evening. It is February and there is no heat in the home. Our littlest one, 4 years old, has a fever. The electricity clicked off a few hours ago, but that did not prevent us from having a good dinner, cooked with propane. Now, the family is huddled around a battery lamp, trying to see their Bibles and read aloud, each one in turn. Lord is honored in this home and words of thanks are lifted up to Him in the midst of circumstances that are very common and ordinary here. Some requests were certainly made to the Lord, but I doubt that electricity or heat were even mentioned.
21 January 2012
As I write, it is late on Friday night, and into the last 48 hours before I will leave once again for Nepal. That I love being in Nepal is without question. I do dread the long, miserable hours in an airplane seat that are necessary to get there, but I have done it many times before and I hope many more trips still to come. What I am pondering tonight are all the ways my life changes when I move from the US side of the ministry to the Nepal side-- or any of our ministry countries. My schedule for the day changes. My tasks change. My food changes. The language is different. Even my name is different. Everything is different and I love it. I know that what I do when I sit in front of my desk in US is very important for the goal of bringing help to the people, sponsorship for kids, funding for projects. But I do not need to consider very long to know which life I personally enjoy more. I begin longing for Nepal as soon as I get on an airplane to leave I am NEVER ready to leave, but tonight I realize that I do not feel ready to leave the US either. It almost feels like an imminent death. My life here is about to end-- for a month. Someone else will need to cover the day to day things that I normally do. Life here will continue- but without me. I will be living and serving in a different way, in a different place. It reminds me so much of heaven. I do long for the time when I will be with the Lord. I am sure I will have wonderful work to do there and I will love it more than here. I am ready to go in most sense, but not so excited about the events of passing from here to there. And-- I do not really want to leave here quite yet. There are a few more things I want to do, ducks to line up, T's to cross. But the time will come for each of us, will it not? Ready or not. There are a lot of people in Nepal who are not ready. They do not have the reason to long for eternity thatI have. Hope I can help just a little bit more as I go this time.