Waypoints Defined

The meaningful points along life's way.

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Psalm 119:35

Friday, April 15, 2016

Home Again

Coming home feels surreal. It's a different culture once again. One I'm familiar with. But feels strange at first.

If home is where your heart is, that's why I felt at home in the countries we visited. My heart became connected with people in ways I hadn't imagined. It's a thing of beauty. Relationships are the only eternal thing we have on this earth. I treasure them.

Don't misunderstand. My heart is happy to be with my family and friends in New York. They are SO special to me. Yesterday I was a social butterfly with two coffee dates in ONE day and I loved every minute of catching up with big and little details that I've missed the past 3 months. And when my children have time to talk between college tests and  homework, jobs and dates - believe me - I love to listen.

Re-entry is real. I don't think of it as culture shock because it doesn't take me by surprise. Mostly because I know what to expect. Reality re-entry check which can be positive or not so positive:

  • Jet lag defined as brain fog, waking at odd hours, and waking at odd hours not knowing which country and whose bed I am in. 
  • Getting to do my own laundry, cook meals and clean my house. And who thought I was sacrificing these past three months when I had a vacation from those duties?! 
  • No bug bites, specifically cockroach bites. Thank you, Jesus!
  • Showers. Hot showers. Not that I didn't shower for 3 months. I'm just thanking God for showers. 
  • Assorted clothes to choose from that aren't packed in a suitcase. 
  • Everyone speaks English. Can I at least get a different accent? Maybe, just maybe, I called a customer service line hoping it was outsourced so I could hear a Filipino at the other end.
  • I find myself cooking non-American dishes because why would I be boring like that? 
  • People asking questions and genuinely being interested in what's happened in my past 3 months. Best gift ever! There is something in the act of sharing the stories that seals the experiences in our hearts and deepen the significance of what God has done. 
My heart is full to overflowing for the blessing of LIFE. Let's live fully alive. Dream crazy big dreams and then step out in faith as God brings them to pass. Love. And keep loving through thick and thin. It's what Jesus did for me. I like when others keep loving me in spite of myself. Let's love them. 

Psalm 150:2 Praise Him for His powerful acts; praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Upriver Ride

We've been working with some wonderful pastors here on Samar Island of the Philippines. Pastor Joey has a big, adventuresome heart that reaches into remote places. 

Five years ago a man who was blind from birth experienced God's power and received his sight in a small town two hours upriver from Borongan. It was the start of God opening spiritual eyes to His love and power and his whole family received Jesus into their hearts. 

Early morning we climbed into the boat for our ride with filters and a packed lunch. The only way into this area is by boat or helicopter. Since we had no helicopter we opted for the boat ride. 

Being the dry season meant we climbed out and walked in three places. We passed quiet, peaceful spots along with other locations where people were busy working. Doing laundry or hefting heavy sacks of gravel from the river bottom or hauling timber downstream to sell. We also saw happy children swimming and playing in the river water. No crocs here. 

We reached the village and climbed the 50 feet steep embankment and were told the river rises so high in rainy season the houses are sometimes flooded even there.  

We met the barangay captain who helped us distribute filters. The biggest benefit to this distribution besides clean water was helping to strengthen relationships in the community with those who do not know Jesus yet. 

Sometimes we get to pray with people to receive Jesus, while other times we plant seeds or water ones already planted. 

The kingdom of God is like this, a man scatter seed on the ground; he sleeps and rises – night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows – he doesn't know how. The soil produces a crop by itself – first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head. But as soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come. Mark 4:26-29

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Light always conquers darkness

Nepal was fascinating. The only disappointment was the haze blocking the majestic Himalayas, so when we climbed out of the valley one day and saw the beautiful snow covered peaks in the distance I knew God was giving me another simple heart's desire. His creation shouts His glory. 

Nepal is Buddhist and Hindu  and sharingg Jesus is tough going. It's hard to get people to say yes just to pray for them. Randeep, Pastor from India, taught us how to bind the strongman which proved effective as we practiced Mark 3:27

When the darkness is darkest, the light shines the brightest. Light ALWAYS wins. It won when the witch doctor chanted all night around our tents. It won when bad dreams  disturbed our sleep. Light conquered when fear knocked on our hearts door. 

The witch doctor gave his heart to Jesus. When the bad dreams came we worshipped and prayed realizing how much greater is The One within us, than he who is in the world. And let me tell you about one victory over fear. 

An older gentleman asked to receive Jesus into his heart when we met for church under a tarp in a field because the building was too small for us. Off to the side, his daughter sat mocking. When her baby got sick, the village said it was because the spirits were angry with her father's decision. But when Randeep came running down the path with the baby in a febrile fit, the mothers hysteria was fear. The nurses and Doctor began their care while the team worshiped and prayed realizing the battle we faced. On the way to the hospital the fever broke and the baby was admitted for observation. The next morning as we left the village we saw the mother returning with a huge smile blowing kisses to our team. Fear Conquered. Light Shining. 

Our Campsite:

Another favorite dark vs light story was around the evening campfires in the village we visited. The kids came. The young. The future. The hopeful. We told them Bible stories and prayed for them. Three older teen boys asked Jesus into their heart and as we were praying together another young man appeared at my elbow. He gave me the Christian greeting which let me know he was a believer and then I found out he was our translator, Kamala's, brother. On the spot we set up a time for them to get together and study God's Word. Light Wins. 

For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the darkness or the night. 
1 Thessalonians 5:5

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Good News in Nepal

A land of MOUNTAINS, terraced fields, 

switchback roads, trekkers, goats, landslides & earthquakes, poverty, rich agriculture, hospitable people, witchcraft, Buddhists and Christians. 

I welcomed a team of 19 from South Africa, Canada, Australia, and America over 3 days. Our 5 man team from India 

joined us ( Dr. Navish David and Randeep Mathews are missing from the photo) since they had established relationships in different villages as they've helped people recover and rebuild since the  earthquake last May. 

We set up camp in the  first village with our 8 tents, sleeping mats and flexible attitudes.

 Everyone shared the sense of adventure as we had driven 3 hours from Kathmandu over winding and climbing roads. Our elevation was between 7000 and 8000 feet. 

The  first medical clinic was off to a slow start in the morning but suddenly over 100 students showed up after lunch for medical attention ranging from scabies to ear infections.

 I sat at the intake table and found time to pray for three boys with poor vision who couldn't read the fine print "rescuing lives" on my name tag before prayer. After prayer they spelled it out clearly, simply and obviously quite happily. 

The next day David took a couple nurses and 2 other team members up a mountain where they needed clean water. While the men distributed water filters, the nurses saw over 40 patients. 

In the evening we invited the village to a campfire where we shared music, Gobind had a testimony and Steve a short preach. When it came time to pray for people, all five of the women I prayed for were healed of back pain, headache, burning pain in a lady's neck and shoulders, and knee pain. Happy time in Jesus! 

Afterwards we headed down the hill to the church where we were eating for dinner to find it filled with people hungry for more. More spiritual food. Joyous worship and another preach with very happy hearts. 

Sue, Impact Nations prayer coordinator, wrote this short devotional for our Nepal team that day: 

Mark 7:24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered the house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.

"As you prepare to go out today be reminded that the presence of Jesus cannot be kept secret and that you carry His fragrance wherever you go. Allow the Holy Spirit to refresh you this morning and bring a fresh infilling of His love and divine nature."

It was a surprise to us to see the church filled but Jesus is meant to be known and to be made known. He wasn't kept a secret in Nepal today. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

India the Interesting

I have the best travel partner I could ask for. I would not be on this adventure without him because he is the risk taker I promised to follow and support to the ends of the earth  27 years ago.  I'm not sure where the ends of the earth are, haven't gotten there yet, but this journey through 7 nations (yes, I'm counting the 8 hour drive through Kenya because it included a water filter installation!) is definitely as much about me as it is following him. What a crazy way to learn how big my God is along with this amazing international family we are a part of! If you are reading and following these posts, chances are you may be praying for us, which means you are part of any and all fruit God gives us. When we are connected to the vine (John 15) with its many different branches, we all have part in the grapes and wine it produces. Keep your wine skins ready because there is lots of new wine. 

All that to say, David has done a fantastic job writing about the 
house churches we visited in northern India where we stayed for a week with our wonderful friends, Randeep and Anu Mathews. Their house has an open door with people coming and going all day. Lots of young people with responsibilities of teaching children in slums,

 worship leaders, 

and all around serving however needed. 

Here is what David has to say:  

"Attending a house church in northern India is unlike anything I have seen or experienced anywhere else in the world. It is the Power and presence of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, amazing testimonies, healing, salvations, deliverances, community, tea, food, teaching and worship all wrapped up in one organic 2-3 hour package.

 Everyone is empowered to contribute something and every meeting looks somewhat different. There are house church meetings every night of the week and then on Sunday, they all meet together for one big celebration of all the wonderful things that God has done among them during the week. "

"The house churches are where people are saved, healed, delivered and discipled, driving the growth of the big meeting on Sunday. This makes for a dynamic combo. House churches are started when an interested "man of peace" invites a Christian over to hear more. He also invites his unsaved family and friends. Someone is touched by the love and power of God and soon many have invited Jesus into their lives. This is the beginning of a house church."

John 15:5-8 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Opportunity knocks on a dusty road

A walk up the dirt road past small brick houses with swept dirt yards and friendly faces who waved their greetings and children who called, "Hello, Muzungu!" (white person) led me to Annette's house. 

But when I reached her place I found  her veggie stand sitting empty in the  front yard where last year it had offered avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic and Irish potatoes. We call to Annette who is behind the house working in her outdoor kitchen. 

I wanted to catch up and know  how things were going in her life. It was small talk until suddenly it wasn't. "My oldest son can't go to school. My husband won't pay his school fees because he isn't his father. "  I struggled to be sure I understood. Language and cultural barriers sometimes leave me with more questions than answers. But, yes. I had understood correctly. 

There are three brothers but the oldest has a different father. The family fell on hard times and school was the first thing to go. Like most developing nations, education is the ticket out of poverty. It is sought after and valued highly. Innocent, the oldest of Annette's boys is 12 years old and should be in P (primary) 6. Instead he is in P3 because his stepfather doesn't pay his school fees. Emanuel and Robert, Annette's younger boys, have not finished last years exams allowing them to pass to the next grade. Now it's time to register for the new school year.  The family still lacks the money to enroll. 

Hope and Care School is a close walk down the hill from Annette's house. It would be a great option for Innocent and his brothers. It's a private Christian school with over 400 students, and teachers who are diligently teaching to a higher academic standard. Just this past year the P7 class ALL passed their end of the year testing with the highest grades in their region making it possible to pursue the next level of secondary grades. 

My heart went out to this mother, my friend, because I get her heart. My kids have it good. Education choices and options abound.  But what about Annette and her children? They can't even afford the government school fees which isn't a great option academically because teachers don't earn much and aren't motivated to teach well. 

For just $30/ month, you can make a way for Innocent Ssebwatato to go to school. And not just pay his school fees. Sponsorship provides a meal everyday, clothing, school supplies, and medical and dental care. What a small way to make a huge difference! You can check out the details here: https://impact.yoursponsorship.com/child/306/51071a1b6a59c8156ea663a386a05b422a01c28a

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

5 a.m.  My alarm goes off and a song is already playing in my mind.

" I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testifies
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives"*

Fifty minutes later we are meeting our tuk tuk driver outside our Siem Reap hotel in the early morning darkness. We've heard watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is worth the effort. 

Cambodia has a very interesting history. At the turn of the fourteenth century, Angkor Wat, one the worlds wonders, was the largest city. The temple itself was built in the twelfth century and was Hindu before turning Buddhist.  Surrounded by a wide moat, there are 4 walls and 3 levels with numerous towers. Interestingly, temples like this aren't built for the purpose of gathering to worship but rather for housing a deity. It becomes a home for gods. 

There are about 45 other ancient temples around Angkor Wat open for touring. We toured one called Ta Prohm which is overgrown with jungle and trees. 

From the bottomest bottom of my heart, I am thankful my Redeemer lives. I follow a living God, the One true God who does not live in a temple built by man. Yet He humbles Himself to come live in the stable of my heart. That messy place of my life which desperately needs a Savior, a Lord and King. 

"He lives
To take away my shame
And He lives
Forever I'll proclaim
That the payment for my sins
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive and
There's an empty

*written and sung by NICOLE C. MULLINS

Friday, February 5, 2016

Welcome to Cambodia

When we followed the smiling man with the  personalized welcome sign at the airport, we didn't expect to be led to a tuk-tuk. 

He proceeded to load all 250 pounds of luggage along with approximately 330 odd pounds of us ( I see you doing the math in your head!) and drove  25 minutes through the quiet midnight streets of Phnom Penh. 

With four airport stops I honestly expected a few bumps along our 25 hour trek from Uganda to Cambodia. Instead it all went smoothly. 

Even when our luggage tickets didn't have the proper numbers to transfer from Rwandan Air to Emirates in Dubai, the airline staff at the counter sent an employee to locate all four bags and tag them for us. 

The unexpected blessing of strong Wi-Fi in the Bangkok airport let us face time my mom and Rachelle  so our  short delay was even appreciated. 

Then we were bumped to first class for the last leg of our journey. Thank you,  Father! I'm feeling spoiled rotten and so grateful for your goodness and mercy that follow us every single day of our lives. 

Psalm 33:4-5 For the word of the Lord is right,and all His work is trustworthy. He loves righteousness and justice;the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Uganda Journey of Compassion 2016

Our team of 29 has had some wonderful experiences. We have been to four different villages where we do medical clinics, pass out mosquito nets and distribute water filters. We also do evening meetings and have opportunities to pray for people all throughout the day.  
Water sources like this pond are typical: 
An endless line of jerry cans waiting for water from a village well because the water is clear; but who knows if it's actually pure and clean: 

David went out to do water filter distribution with 4 other team members and translators. As they walked down the road into the countryside, the village leader kept walking and walking. After a mile they came to a small u- shaped compound; a great location for a filter since we ask families to share. They had the opportunity to pray for a deaf woman whose ears were opened. The team left rejoicing and singing on the walk home. 

Our experience in the village of Kabamba was a first for me. According to one report, Muzungus (white people) hadn't visited since 1975. It's a small village with no running water or electricity. We set up camp with over a 100 pairs of eyes enjoying the entertainment. 

We prayed for families as we went house to house distributing water filters and deworming meds, passing out mosquito nets and getting an idea of the needs in the village. Malaria is a huge problem here. One doctor said 60% of the population gets it every year. The nets were well received. There were 3 bore holes (wells with pumps) but two were broken and one was on private land so the owner sometimes charges a fee. Some villagers were getting water from a swamp which was brown and murky. They loved seeing the water undergo its transformation as it went through the filter. 

I love village life. Here's a taste of what it looks like. 

The outdoor evening celebration: 

A hardworking single mom weaving a mat out of water reeds and recycled bags that sells for $7: 

John 7:38 The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” 

A Bag of Avocados

My love affair with avocados goes way back.  Freshly sliced, in salads, guacamole, salsa, baby food, and even as a face mask.  In grade school  while living in La Ceiba, Honduras, I planted an avocado seed in our backyard. Years later after I was married, my husband traveled to Honduras with my dad and saw the fruit of that seed. My avocado love saga is ongoing and today's story is brought to you from Uganda, a land of the fresh, large fruit. 

Three years ago I met Frieda on the first day I came to Kalonga. A young mother wanting prayer for peace. Every time I return to her village I pop in to reconnect. This visit I was delighted to hold her newborn baby boy with a name I can't pronounce in Lugandan but in English it means Gift. How special! 

But I discovered things weren't going too well at home and there were troubles with her husband. I prayed and promised to drop in again since we were staying longer this time. 

David and I walked the short distance up the road with our Ugandan friends and translators, Emma and Jackie, this past Sunday evening to see Frieda one last time before flying out on Tuesday. Her husband, Paul, was home and in the course of our conversation we shared Jesus with him. Peace in the midst of troubles, forgiveness for sins, love abounding and guess what? He wanted HIM. We prayed together and Paul invited Jesus into his heart and received the washing away of all his sins.  David explained how he was a new person on the inside. The seed had fallen on good soil and would need to be tended and watered to grow and bear fruit. Paul listened attentively, but Frieda slipped quietly away. 

When she returned she handed  me a bag of large avocados from her tree and said she wished she had more to give. The next morning Paul sent us  another large bag of avocados. 

My love affair with avocados has just deepened and expanded. It now represents new life and spiritual  fruit. 

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Red Light District

Red Light District

I'll admit it. I was nervous. Heading into the red light district with 5 guys with the intent of buying girls for the night. Buying them and paying them double for their time. Not for their bodies but for their time and a chance to give them love. Not mans love. Gods. Love. 

I know I'm writing in fragments. My brain is only thinking in fragments right now because I feel broken after spending 2 hours with these girls. 

It was harder to get girls than I thought. At first we were surrounded by them because they thought Muzungus (white people) were coming for their business. When they heard our offer to come with us for dinner and double pay they didn't understand. They had never received an offer like that. Everyone wants something for their money in this district. Some of them thought it was a set up to take pictures and walked away. I have to say only the most desperate came with us. Those who were willing to take the risk. 

Five girls and one guy came back to our hotel where we had prearranged a chicken and chips dinner. We shared a little about ourselves and our purpose in asking them to join us. 
We weren't there to judge or shame them, just to experience God's love. The same love that had changed our lives when we were without hope. 

We listened as a couple shared about their lives. Abuse, abandonment, and poverty were the common themes. I had a hard time keeping control of my emotions. Part of me wanted to leave the room and sob my heart out. Sharing their stories took courage because this was NEVER their dream or first choice. They all felt the shame of being trapped and caught in a cycle they couldn't break on their own. 

One girl with downcast eyes very quietly and hesitantly shared how she had lost her family and then suffered abuse at her foster family. To escape she married young but when she got pregnant, he left her. She married again but he was abusive and also left when she was pregnant. Here she was, five months pregnant, trying to put food on the table and pay the rent. Last nights job had paid pennies to abuse her and she had reached the end. She was ready to die. 

After hearing more from Mike about the love of God, we asked if they wanted to pray to receive this love and forgiveness. It was unanimous. They all prayed together as Steve led them. When we paired up to pray individually with them the tears started to flow. They said they felt different, changed and each one said they were not going back to the street. 

Mike Brawan, our Kenyan friend, has a group of women called Daughters of Destiny. Women who once worked the streets and were rescued just like these girls. They start small businesses and make a new life. They give back from their earnings to help other women caught in the cycle they were set free from. It was some of their money that we used to help these new girls. 

We got the names and numbers of these girls to connect them to people who can help after we leave. 

Oh, yes. The guy's name was Samuel and he got the same treatment as the girls; dinner, a listening ear, God's love and prayer. He had come with us because he had heard our offer and wondered if it was true. He had come to town several weeks ago looking for work and hadn't found any so far. He left with a smile on his face and hope in his eyes. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Day to Remember

I've wanted to do today for about a year. Ever since I watched The Good Lie, I've wanted to somehow help refugees. I had no idea how, when or where. Yesterday when Steve Stewart (Impact Nations Founder and President and all around good guy 😊 www.impactnations.com)  asked David and I if we would be interested in checking out a bad water situation in a refugee camp called Sango Bay,  we jumped at the chance. Andrew Banman  www.thebanman.com picked us up at 6 am and we drove about 5 hours to the southern border of Uganda where the population fluctuates between 4000 and 6000 people. 

They live on an unused airstrip left over from Idi Ammin's regime hoping for the government to grant them land after a border dispute a few years ago. 

The water source is a nice sized lake shared with herds of cattle. 

Children are dying because of the bacteria present in the water.  We took 5 filters today as a pilot project to test how well they are maintained and used. 

Dan, a young Ugandan missionary Doctor, has a big heart for his people and works on a regular basis with this camp.  

He organized and translated for us as we set up the filters and trained the 5 families who will be sharing the clean water with their neighbors. We passed out deworming meds to about 250 children who are the most vulnerable to water borne sickness. 

Psalm 2:8 Ask of Me,and I will make the nations Your inheritanceand the ends of the earth Your possession.