Monday, March 18, 2019

Possessions and Pity


"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him,
how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:16-17, NIV)

Saturday morning proved to be a fast-paced trip to the city for us. Our primary objective and first stop landed us at the Mac store where our friend and tech guy waited for his frequent visitors. Yes, we now have a Mac store in Bolivia. My computer decided to go on strike the previous night. It messaged me that I had no more space to download files. How could that be whenever in another location it told me I had plenty of space. If only I could talk back to this "smart" companion––smarter than I am.

Two hours later, the problem was solved and the download safely in my files. Ahhh! Any writer will tell you how valuable the files of their books are to them––even though we have backups and more backups. Next, we took advantage of the trip to town and set out to do some needed shopping, mostly groceries. I've been in Bolivia 38 years and grocery shopping now in 2019 is a day out for me. Why?

For many years in the past, our shopping was anything but a day out. It was a day of exhaustion and frustration. There were no supermarkets, so we trekked from one location to another to find our needed items. First, we walked to a street where we bought meat at dawn before it sold out. Then to buy bread on a corner from a lady who made the best bread around, and so on through the day. Did I mention flies, smells, and thieves lurking around waiting for a chance to steal our wallet or purse? And, of course, Americans were their prime targets of the day. 

Now you see why it's a day out for me to go to the supermarket––it's clean and safe and most things are available in one place for the necessities of life. Oh sure, we have specialty shops or favorite other places we like to go, but on the whole, the super gives us the main necessities for cooking, cleaning, and goodies to enjoy and even some clothing items. 

On our last trip home to the States, I remembered mentioning in an email that we had a supermarket somewhat like Walmart now in Bolivia. Arriving in the States one of our first stops––you guessed it––Wally World. We step inside, and our eyes almost bugged out from the vast view––and they stung from the bright lights. We stood there, mouths opened and yes, eyes widened, just like I can imagine a foreigner looks like the first time he experiences the overwhelming availability of products in the United States of America and the beauty and cleanliness of it all. Lest I should forget to mention the humongous building. Indeed the USA has material possessions unlike anywhere in the world. If you doubt me, step outside the USA. BTW, our "Walmart Not" could fit inside a real Walmart many times over.

Ahh, but what do we do with our "possessions"? 

On this day of leisure for us, we decided to stop at a new fast-food chicken place for lunch. We chose to sit outside in a corner spot and watch the traffic and the scenery––mostly traffic and people hurrying by on their Saturday quest for weekly necessities. Smoke from the outdoor "kitchen" engulfed us, but the aroma pleasantly filled our nostrils. At this quaint locale, big glass windows separate the eating area from the street to block the traffic noise and prevent unwanted intruders. But, what we saw through those windows pierced our hearts and challenged us, even more, to do what God has put on our hearts for the building of His Kingdom through Worthy Words Press to gift children's books. 

Sitting in that outdoor section, eating our chicken possessions, we soon saw necessities--sad necessities of a developing country––where we live so we can share the gospel to the unreached and especially children. And, there in those windows leaned three children watching us eat. Not just any children, but poor, ragged and hungry children.

I had hardly touched my food––chicken, rice and french fries, I had passed on the noodles that came with the meal not wanting to waste food. But now, I regretted that decision. The children appeared to range from six to ten years of age. Many times the mother is hiding somewhere waiting for the children to bring any food they can gather, but restaurant owners discourage these little ones from hanging around. The oldest boy showed me a plastic bag, and I motioned for him to come--we paid for that food so what could the owners say to us? We filled the bag with food, and they ran off. 

Yes, we fed them lunch but no time to tell them of Jesus. Soon we can do more. How I wished we had my books already printed so we could have given them books. Books to read about the One who is the Bread of Life to fill their hungry souls. Since God put this idea in our hearts, He daily shows us it is of Him, and that Worthy Words Press is a tool He will use to reach kids for Him. He has promised to guide us and provide for what He wants done––for His will.

Since our first days in Bolivia, we asked God never to allow us to grow cold or insensitive to the needs around us. How exciting for us to see God working to put children's books in Spanish into the hands of little ones like these three precious, hungry children. What a joy for me to see my books being translated into Spanish and used to tell children about Jesus.

We know what He calls us to do, He will do it––He'll provide all we need. And, He is doing that daily. We have professional help, we have the first monetary gifts to begin, we have faithful friends and supporters who pray and give to God's work, and we have the One who keeps His promises. What an awesome God we serve and love! 



With the love of God who fills us with pity for these little ones––and even their parents too––we can use our possessions to do His will!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Enlarge Your Tent


"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; 
lengthen your cords, strengthen your cords" (Isaiah 54:2 NIV).

Do you like change? I cringe at the word change, but yet, my life continues to change with each new year that God gives me to continue serving Him. I should embrace change when God says, "Enlarge your place of your tent,"––it means He is enlarging my ministry that I might expand His kingdom with Him. I should live as though I have it all––because I do. I have God, His power, and all I need to do His will. I have a tent (my place of service) but, it's up to me to stretch and not hold back because I am comfortable in my smaller tent. Still, I'm bunkered in––comfortable in my smaller tent and holding back. Stretching my tent curtains wide is hard with my narrow vision. Then, I reflect on my first night in a tent.

My experience with tents is limited to one camping adventure with our Sunday School class many years ago. A member of the class had an enormous army tent and offered it for the trip. Let me say this––we were young. We were energetic, and our group had a unique bond. We did fun things together and always enjoyed food together––lots of scrumptious food. But regardless of the sweet fellowship and great food, this trip would prove I had no missionary blood in my veins––zilch. Comfortable doesn't describe my first and last tent experience. The word glamper didn't exist in the dictionary at that time. 

After our group spent hours assembling the humongous beast, we all placed our cots in family sections and then gathered around the bonfire munching on hotdogs and marshmallows. Before bedding down for the first night of our memorable trip, we had a time of prayer and praise. Sweet voices joined in campfire songs that filled the fresh night air. Toasty and sleepy, we bedded down in our prepared areas. Everything quiet, with crickets rubbing their legs in the distance and a hooting owl hovering near, the night sounds lulled me to sleep. Until in the dark, a shill scream woke everyone. It was me screaming. "There's a snake over there in the corner." 

The campers leaped from their comfy blankets and flashlights beamed everywhere in the tent. Looking for the snake, one man asked, "How could you have seen a snake in the dark?" I didn't. I was dreaming--of snakes! More like a nightmare but oh so real. Of all the memories of that camping trip, which one do you think everyone remembers? A few years later when God called us to the mission field, what story do you think surfaced? Snakes in the tent! In that tent, on that night I couldn't have imagined the snake stories to come––a coral snake in my kitchen in Bolivia–– that I almost stepped on in my bare feet (among other snake stories). My tent stretched to Bolivia where God enlarged our ministry many times. And, now once more through Worthy Words Press to print books in Spanish for underprivileged kids I feel the stretch.

So why not stay where I am––comfortable with a ministry with more than enough avenues of outreach? But, what if I had never ventured from the first tent with the "snake" that didn't exist? The "snakes" in our tents sometimes keep us from strengthening our cords by trusting God to enlarge our vision and outreach. Oh, the blessings I would have missed and the opportunities to expand God's kingdom with Him. God has a bigger vision and more blessings waiting when we stretch beyond our abilities and trust Him who is able to do all things outside our comfortable tent zone.

Do you find yourself stagnant and desiring to stretch your "tent" to do more for God, but you are holding back? Most of us find ourselves in that comfortable zone and like being inside our small tents. But, outside it waits the extraordinary things we never dreamed we could do--and apart from God, we can't. But, when we stretch our tents, we find the joy zone, knowing it's not anything we can do but everything God can do through us. And, God gets the glory.

I know God will get the glory when Worthy Words Press reaches underprivileged kids for Him through books with worthy words that tell of Jesus. I'm enlarging my tent of ministry, and it's not easy and a bit scary, but oh, so exciting too.

When stretching our tents results in God being glorified, that is God's will! Let's not hold back.
Go ahead, enlarge the place of your tent and let God get the glory.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Valentine's Day View 1981

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord 
who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful,
  putting me into the ministry,” 
 (I Timothy 1:12 NIV)

Early on the morning of February 14, 1981, Valentine's Day, we touched down for the first time in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The view of the Andes Mountains from the plane's windows was breathtaking; they made Pennsylvania mountains look like molehills in comparison. Tucked into the mountainside and throughout the valley, we saw little mud huts; that also was a view that made us realize we were in a foreign land.

We were met at the airport by a mission representative, then climbed into the back of a truck and headed to the mission home. This was Cochabamba, the second largest city in Bolivia, but to call it a big city was a stretch. We felt the dust from dirt streets on our tired faces, and bounced around when an occasional pig or cow darted in front of the truck. Our kids, then ages four and 12, were taking it all in and loving every minute. I was wondering why we were told Cochabamba was a big city, it looked more like a town in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I had no idea this trip would seem like a "kiddie ride" compared to our next few weeks.

Our first bus trip to the mission school eight hours from the "city" confirmed that Bolivia had some of the most dangerous roads in the world. I tried not to look over the cliffs; they had no guardrails and a view of 1000 feet drop-offs. And I can't forget to mention the drunk bus driver who drove as if he were in the Indy 500. 

In our first month in Bolivia, Chuck was arrested in the market place for not having ID (his passport was in the capital city with our visa applications), a bomb went off down the street from the mission home where we were staying, and the president of the country threatened to cut the fingers off all missionaries in the country. Before having to be evacuated, there was a government overthrow, and a new president was chosen who was more sympathetic to missionaries. We still have all our fingers.

Our life has continued to have the same thrills for 38 years. So why do we stay here? There can only be one answer; God put us in the ministry. And, in fact, God has opened a new ministry for us through Worthy Words Press––printing books in Bolivia to gift my children's books in Spanish with Bible principles for underprivileged kids––kids with no resources to buy books and who live in remote areas of Bolivia, many who have yet to hear of Jesus.

For God so loved the world... Someday we'll have a view in heaven of those we came to serve and accepted God's free gift, Jesus. 

   Happy Valentine's Day

We're thankful God enabled us and put us in the ministry, 
so we can share the
 Greatest Love Story of all time. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Valentine's Day Words


Worthy Words or Just Noise?

Valentine's Day is here, and images of hearts emerge everywhere. But, how is my heart and yours? Missionaries tell of how we came to our respective fields of service to love the people. Sounds easy, doesn't it? And, of course, it is what every supporter (and God) expects of their missionary. It's truly the desire of most of us. If I had to guess, I'd say most missionaries won't admit how hard it is at times to love the people they serve.

So let's examine the myth (the traditional story). You know the one. "We love the people we serve." Let me say; it's only God's love that allows us to love the people we serve. We love them because of God's love. However, you don't have to be on the mission field to find it hard to love others. Let's face it; some people are hard to love––maybe I'm one of them.

 On the field, we serve the unwanted, the poor, the not so clean, and sometimes even the wealthy who want nothing to do with God. But, God loves us all and desires for all to hear His Word and know and love Him.

How many times have I said, "These are the people we came to love." When I see a two-year-old child playing on a busy road with little clothing my first remark is, "Where is that mother?" And, not with loving words do I spit those words from my mouth. It's heartbreaking. Or, how about when the people I came to love don't want to hear about God and despise me? Do I love that person? It's not easy but possible. But how?

If we're honest, most of us know people who unnerve us. It may be a family member or even a good friend, but they are there to stay--stuck in our lives. So what can we do about these unlovable ones in our lives?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (TLB)

"If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making noise...If I gave everything I have to the poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever."

There you have it--just making noise. I must love that mother who doesn't care for her children, and cuddle the dirty and unloving. That is God's love--not mine. So instead of making noise with my words, I must speak with God's love and show His love. Only then will I make lovely noise with worthy words.

The world begins the big love celebration in a few days, Valentine's Day. Let's celebrate God's love every day with a year-long Valentine's Day. The noise we make can wake a soul to find God but only with lovely noise that is from God's heart! Let's make lovely noise this Valentine's Day and not only love the lovable but the unlovable also. They too need God's love that flows through us.

Let me add one thing to clarify how much missionaries love the people we serve--no matter how hard. We know that we love them when we cry as much leaving them behind to go on furlough as we do when we leave our family and friends after furlough. We do love the people we serve. It's not always easy, but with God's love, it is possible.

Celebrate God's heart this Valentine's Day–-with chocolate too. I'm sure God loves chocolate! He made it for us. He loves us that much--and much, much more.

Let's be of value and make lovely noise with worthy words.

Happy Valentine's Day––all year long!





Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fairies Making Beds?


New Year's Desires

Up early this morning and accomplished a lot by 10 am. Suddenly, I thought I'd forgotten to make the bed. I walked into the bedroom and discovered the bed perfectly made. The bed-making fairies? No, I was ahead of myself this morning. LOL

This year, I'm working daily to do what pleases God without thinking because I'm reading and memorizing His Word more, so it is hidden in my heart and becomes a part of my character.

Just like making my bed automatically without thinking, I want to automatically look to Him and His Word minute by minute, day by day to please Him more! #WorkInProgress #HisPower #MyDesire.

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is––his good, pleasing and perfect will."

How will you please God this year?



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Andes Mountains Ministry


Every Christmas, our Bolivian church group and the Rumi Rancho staff travel to remote mountain villages in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, taking with them gifts, food, and medical supplies for needy children and people. Our church has a vision to reach these people and start churches where there is no gospel witness.
Last year, after three days of hard work, our group was exhausted and ready to go home. They waited patiently for the rickety old bus that would take them back down the mountain road where hot showers and a warm meal awaited. But the road was washed out by a torrential rainfall. They were stranded. The youth pastor and young men decided to walk for help. They left the women and teen girls safe in the village. After walking five hours in the pouring rain, they reached the main road where they called for help. Two men from our church headed out in a four-wheel drive vehicle to rescue the women.
Meanwhile, after waiting for many hours, the ladies began walking down the mountain hoping to meet a bus or car to take them to the main road. After a few hours of slipping and sliding in the mud, a small car stopped. Gratefully, they accepted a ride. But after a short distance, the road was washed out making it impossible to continue. They were left standing alone in the rain. Except for the birds tweeting and the rain pouring, silence loomed.
In the distance, a house stood alone in a field––the women ran for shelter under an overhang. The man of the house saw them and invited them inside. He offered hot drinks, food, and shelter. He built a roaring fire and began telling his story. After receiving Christ on a trip to the city, he believed God directed him to construct a large room onto his house for church meetings. But he had no one to teach the people who came. He prayed that God would send a preacher. It was not a coincidence that the road washed out at this location. It was God's stop sign.
Help finally arrived from the city. Hugs were exchanged, and plans were made for the beginning of a mountain ministry year round. God prepared a way to begin a church. The gospel is being preached where it never was preached before.
This week we are ministering in a different mountain area. Children's eyes light up as they receive their only Christmas gift this year and hear the Christmas story for the first time. Unreached people in another remote area are being reached––where we minister and bless many with gifts, food and medical help, and the most wonderful gift of all––Jesus.
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish;"
This mountain man had a vision. Our Bolivian church has a vision. God brought us together so the people won't perish.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Merry Christmas from Bolivia

Rumi Rancho Reindeer

"There really are reindeer in Bolivia,"
said Abby to her sisters, Ellie and Olivia.

"They seem to me just a little bit strange.
Aunt Peggy says it’s because they’re open range.

I’ve seen them and they are strange indeed
Because their funny antlers are red and green."

Many kids walk far to go to Rumi Rancho to play
They hear stories of Jesus and always want to stay.

They heard that Jesus was born a long time ago
  His birthday is on Christmas day and He loves us so.

Missionaries travel the whole world wide
To tell the Good News that Jesus is alive.

He was born in a manger on Christmas day
So that we might learn of all God’s ways.

The way to heaven is still the same
Believe in Jesus, He knows us by name.

We know we celebrate because you are the reason
So Happy Birthday, Jesus, this Christmas Season.

From Rumi Rancho you can hear the kids cheer
Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!
  
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
     who is Christ the Lord.”

And before you go, check out this recipe all the way from Bolivia!

BOLIVIAN BUÑUELOS RECIPE:

Buñelos are a popular snack throughout Latin America. While they can be eaten at
anytime, Bolivian tradition sees them eaten on Christmas morning with syrup and hot
chocolate.

Buñuelos are a soft doughy sweetbread that is deep-fried in the same way doughnuts are
made, with a similar flavor but a slightly more chewy texture, traditionally served
drizzled with a syrup or honey. The buñuelos are often puffy with a crispy crust and air
pockets on the inside.



Ingredients:
2 tablespoons fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anise
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 cups butter
Molasses to taste
1/2 cup sunflower oil to moisten hands

Preparation:
In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in water, add the fresh yeast, let it stand for about 7 minutes,
then add the salt, anise, eggs and flour, mixing it slowly with your hand until you obtain a
watery dough. Let the dough stand and rise twice before you start frying in hot butter or
oil.

To fry, first spread oil over your hands, take a handful of dough with the fingertips and
stretch it into a 4-inch round; rotating the dough occasionally to form a circle. When
about to fry, poke a hole in the middle, and put in the frying pan with a stick or the back
of a wooden spoon through the hole. Let it acquire a golden brown color on both sides
before retiring and leave in a colander to drain away excess oil; then put all in a bowl to
serve.

Serve with a jug of hot sugar cane syrup, molasses or honey for each person to add the desired amount on the buñuelo. Note: Some Bolivians prefer to eat their buñuelos covered in sifted powdered sugar.