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

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."