Saturday, May 25, 2013

Eternal Entrance

I'm thankful to be an American. On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who gave their lives for our country––the ultimate sacrifice. I'm also thankful for all who are serving our country now to ensure its safety. Because I am an American, I can serve God on the foreign field. I have that freedom and God's resources to sustain me to do His work outside the borders of my country.

We'll be heading to the States in a few weeks. When we go through customs, we'll be greeted in our native language, English. There's one thing that brings tears to my eyes when we finally cross that line into our country. The custom's official always says, "Welcome home!" Then we'll leave the airport, and on our travels we will see our flag flying––a reminder that we are home.

Imagine when we reach our heavenly home and we hear Jesus say, "Welcome Home." We'll live there for eternity with Him. "That we should live on eternally," Psalm 49:9 (NASV) What a day that will be when we make that eternal entrance! When we see Jesus, His scars will be a reminder of His sacrifice for us. He willingly gave Himself for us, so that we might have an eternal home with Him. He gave His life for all, not just those of our country, but for all the world.

May God Bless the United States of America and all our brave men and women serving our country. Thank you for your service! You are in our prayers always! And, for those who gave their lives in the service of their country––you are never forgotten! This weekend, and always, we remember your sacrifice!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Missionaries ~ Then and Now

Way Back Then

Since I've been writing about missionaries this month, I thought I'd share a few things that missionaries love. Okay, some things I love, especially this one thing. And, just for the record, my husband and I are not in this picture.

Some of my dearest friends are my most faithful encouragers. Some have been my friends for many years and others for a short time––but all are my blessings from the Lord. One precious friend of mine made a promise to me many years ago. In a sweet voice she said, "You don't look like a missionary, but if you ever do, I'll let you know." She never has, but then she doesn't see me in my Quechua niche or in my office at midnight or early morning. I border on a little scary at those times. You'll find my head buried in my computer, my Bible, and all those helps books for writers. I'll be sitting in my pajamas, sweater, fuzzy slippers or socks, and usually not one thing matches another. And, sometimes I may be pulling at my hair that looks a little like Einstein's. Too bad what lies beneath the hair (brain) doesn't look like his.

So what does a missionary look like anyway? That question has been haunting me for the last few weeks because another dear friend recently wrote and told me this. "You don't look like a missionary, and you don't act like one either." I know she meant it as a compliment because I tend to be a little crazy around my friends. I keep them laughing––at me, with me, it's not important as long as we are enjoying each other. That's not the missionary you expect to see in the pulpit. Am I right? So yes, I embrace that statement as a compliment.

And yes, I love it when someone comments that I don't look like a missionary. You know that image of the little bun, long skirt, and sad, serious look. Not me at all! Friends tell me they usually can find me by following the giggling down the hall at church or conferences. And how I look––I'll be the missionary in designer jeans I found for a bargain or at Good Will (love that place), and the hairdo that I cut and color myself and never comb. I love the windblown look. It's easy. That look is far from the look of my 20's––first rollers, then tease and spray, and then please don't touch! I never had to worry about a windblown look back then––not even a tornado could have moved that stiff hairdo.

After mulling over my friend's email about how I look and act, I had a whoa moment! I stopped in my tracks that day and examined myself––as God says to do in I Corinthians 11:28. So here's what I learned from God's Word when I delved in to find how a missionary should act and look.

When I was a teenager, I was chosen to model prom gowns for a popular store near our hometown. I have to admit, I only desired to walk down that runway and look like a model. But what does God say about how we should look and act? He says, "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity..." Titus 2:7 (ESV) Now that is what I desire to model––good works! That's what a missionary should look like––modeling good works! Then he says to show integrity and dignity––and that's how a missionary should act––showing integrity and dignity.

But we know that verse is not only written to missionaries who cross the seas but to all Christians. And after all, everyone who has received Christ as his Savior is a missionary––sharing God's message wherever we are in the world! My goal of how I look to the world––a model of good works. And my goal of how I should act––with integrity and dignity.

So no more worries of how I look or act because this is my goal:

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

I love it when I'm told I don't look or act like a missionary because that's not my goal. But I do hope glimpses of God can be seen through my life because it is my goal to imitate Him––to act and look like Him!

More Recent "Then"

Yikes, maybe our first prayer card from 1981 does resemble the picture at the top of this post!


Saturday, May 4, 2013

God's Guidance

Juan, Victor, Janet, and Amelia

My publisher's authors are highlighting missionaries on their blogs this summer. I'm highlighting national missionaries that have impacted their country for the Lord. All of the Bolivians that will be featured on my blog have worked with us at some point in our mission work. And, most of them have grown up under our ministry and in our churches.

On February 14, 1981, my husband and I, and our two children landed in Bolivia, S. A., to begin our missionary work. One month before, a baby boy named Juan was born in a remote mountain village high in the Andes Mountains. Gaze at the picture of the mountain at the top of this page, and try to envision people living at the highest point. That's where Juan and Amelia were born and grew up. They worked on the mountain slopes daily, planting potatoes, and tending to their families' llamas and sheep. Most of the people in the village made their living by selling their potatoes in the city at the bottom of the mountain. The village had no firewood because of being located high above the tree line. Bread was a delicacy rarely available unless someone from the village traveled down the mountain and returned with bread for the whole village. The daily diet of the community consisted of boiled potatoes and dried llama meat.

It was the custom in their village to marry at a young age. Juan was 17 and Amelia 15 when they married. They were both still in their teens when a preacher came through their village on horseback preaching about Jesus. Juan and Amelia and their families accepted the Lord. Juan's father began traveling to other mountain villages nearby to share his faith. Sometimes Juan traveled with him.

There was little chance of change on the mountain, and life was hard. Amelia spent her time tending to their animals––sometimes in the pouring down rain all day. Needless to say, there were no stores to buy boots and raincoats to protect her from the elements. She developed arthritis at a young age. Led of God, Juan moved his family down the mountain to the city of Cochabamba where he found work tending to the cows of a farmer––the year was 1999.

That same year, we began construction on our house and ministry base in a rural area of Bolivia. Juan was living a few miles from our construction site. When the time came to pour the foundation for the house, the construction foreman told us that he needed a night watchman to guard his equipment. We had no idea who we could hire. Later that day, a young man came to ask for a job. That young man (boy actually) was Juan. He started to work that night––just when we needed him. God supplied our need and Juan's also.

A few weeks later, we learned that Juan had a wife and a baby boy, and another on the way. They moved into the little house on our property, and they have been with us ever since. They are family, and they are a blessing to the ministry and us. Juan helps with maintenance and teaching our computer classes, and he's a leader in our Quechua church nearby. Amelia helps with our teen girls' cooking and Bible classes and is active in the community and our Quechua church. She is my best friend in Bolivia!

God guided Juan and Amelia down the mountain, just as He guided us to our place of ministry to begin construction. His plan brought us together for the ministry of Rumi Rancho. How awesome is our God to have orchestrated two incredible journeys such as ours and Juan and Amelia's! He brought us together at the location of His choosing to fulfill His will for the building of His Kingdom in Bolivia.

This sweet family grew up physically and spiritually in Rumi Rancho!
They are missionaries to their own people!

Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go;
 I will guide thee with mine eye." (KJV)