April 17, 2014
And I thought the week of my last entry was a busy and tough week! Isn’t it funny how that happens sometimes? As soon as you think you've seen it all or things can't get any “worse” (per se), you quickly learn the opposite is true? That’s what it’s been like this week.
It’s definitely been a trying week for me. Jodi and Oriel left for Cochabamba last Tuesday (April 8th) to complete some of their residency requirements. Upon arriving, they found the system down nationwide, so they were unable to complete everything in the time we had initially planned. What was supposed to be a 3-4 day trip has turned into two weeks, as at the time of this writing, they are still not back yet. Then, on Friday, April 11th, Hunter, Chris and Amber left Familia Feliz to head back home, as their year as student missionaries came to an end. On Thursday evening, we had a little “Going Away” party for them. We played games, watched a video the three of them made for us, shared memories, enjoyed cake and peach cobbler and tried to enjoy our last evening together to the fullest. We had a really nice time. The following morning, after breakfast, it was time to say or goodbyes. It was definitely an emotional experience for all of us. Hunter, Chris and Amber are part of the Familia Feliz family and have done so much for us and the kids during their time here. They will truly be missed! Sam and I took them to the airport and saw them off. One more reason I’m looking forward to Christ's return…no more goodbyes. I so look forward to that great reunion on the shores of the Sea of Glass!
Me and Hunter at the airport
Amber, Hunter, me and Chris...our last moments together in Bolivia.
Then, that Friday afternoon, we had a couple of situations arise at Familia Feliz that required immediate action. And as a result, I’ve spent every day this week meetings here on campus, as well as in Rurre and Reyes (another town about 30 miles away). I cannot go into details here (and even if I could, you’d probably have to take the day off to read it all), but suffice it to say I’d rather not have another week like this one! And it didn’t help that we were shorthanded on staff. We went from 11 to 6! But God is Good and has blessed us with a wonderful group of volunteers and they really came together to fill the gap this week! Thank you ALL so much! I do solicit your prayers for all of us here at Familia Feliz, especially for those involved and for me, as I realize my insufficiency to handle things without God’s Guidance and Wisdom.
There was also a virus going around this week and several staff and children caught it (including me). And our dear sweet Janet had the chicken pox this week. :( Everyone is better now, but we were really stretched thin there for a while.
Janet handling her chicken pox like a CHAMP!
I know it may not seem so in these couple of short paragraphs, but A LOT has happened this week. A lot of trials, obstacles, and difficult situations. And I must admit, there were moments where I wasn't sure if I’d make it through. But serve an AWESOME God and through it all, He upheld me with His Right Hand of Righteousness. I’m SO thankful that His compassions fail not, His mercies are renewed every morning and GREAT is His faithfulness! (Lam. 3:22-23) And amidst the trails, He sent “manna moments” to brighten the days and get me through the difficulties. Since I’ve shared some of the “obstacles”, let me share some of the good moments as well. First of all, my son, Ezekiel turned 5 years old on April 10th! I can’t believe how quickly times goes by. I couldn't be more proud of my little buddy! I love you Zeke!
Secondly, we started our Bible studies at the army base again. If you’ve read by blog from last year, you know how excited I am about this door the Lord has opened and how much I’ve been looking forward to starting up the studies again with this new group of soldiers. There are 84 new soldiers so far, 20 of which are stationed at a sister base nearby. So out of the 64 soldiers on our local base, more than 50 were present at our meeting on Friday now. Everyone from Familia Feliz went (except Shundel and Janet since Janet wasn't feeling well). The kids sang special music for them. It was really fun getting to know the new guys and teaching them the songs. Just like the previous group, these young men love to sing. :) We had a really good study. God provided and we were able, once again, to give a brand new Bible to each soldier so that he can read and study it daily. At the end of the meeting, four soldiers came up to ask for a copy of the songs we sang and several others wanted to know when we’d be back again. Upon hearing that we’d return on Friday, we heard several soldiers sigh and say they were hoping we'd be back the following night. You just don't know how that warmed my heart! Even in the midst of stress, confusion, and trial, the Lord blesses His children with grace, mercy and strength, signs of His Presence with us during the rough times. What an Awesome God we serve!
The kids leading out song service at the base.
The soldiers singing.
Special music by Familia Feliz
The Bible study.
April 19, 2014
Update: I just wanted to update this entry. I know I mentioned it being a rough week in my above entry….and it has been. But the last two days have been full of blessings and I just had to share. Thursday I was able to stay on campus all day (which that in itself is a blessing!) and that afternoon we all played games outside. It was a hot day so we played with water balloons and did different team-building activities. We had a blast! That was a nice break from the stress of the week.
Rodrigo and I playing...He's LOTS of fun!
But the greater blessing came Friday evening. We all went into town for the Bible study at the army base. The kids really enjoyed going last week and they asked if they could join us again. When we arrived at the base, the soldiers already had everything set up for us and were anxiously waiting for the meeting to start. Sergio, Omar, Janet, William and Raquel joined us at the meeting. They are the family that owns Narguilas, the restaurant in town where we always meet at. There were about 53 soldiers at the meeting and I could tell they had been practicing the songs we sang last week. :) We had a good study about the Bible and it being the Word of God. Then we talked about God's love for us and Christ’s sacrifice, since it’s Holy Week here in South America. At the end of the meeting, seven soldiers made the decision to give their lives to Christ! Praise God!! Words cannot describe how that made me feel! Then, we broke off into small groups for prayer. In my group, every single soldier gave a prayer request. They are concerned about their families, comrades, friends and their personal wellbeing. After praying with them, we took some pictures and sang happy birthday to Maria, one of our students. The army band members actually went and got their instruments to play for us. Maria loved it! :) Again, the young men didn’t want the meeting to end. And to be honest, neither did I. It was a big blessing to me!
The group of soldiers that gave their hearts to the Lord. Amen!!
Happy Birthday Maria!
All of the soldiers with their Bibles.
All of the soldiers and the rest of us. :)
On the way home, we had a bit of a scare. About three miles from FF, we passed a man lying motionless in the middle of the other lane of the road. We stopped and backed up to check on the situation. It was dark and late (about 10:00 pm). When I got out of the truck and walked towards the man, my heart sank, as I honestly thought he was dead. He didn’t move at all and there was liquid all under his head and upper body. Sam, Jonathan and I approached him while the kids and female staff stayed in the truck. About this time, a motorcycle stopped also. The man driving the bike knew the man on the road. He came over and called the man by his name and tried to wake the man up. The man moved and it became immediately obvious that he was drunk. We were able to get him up and the man on the motorcycle walked him home. As I rode the few miles home, a sense of relief came over me that this man wasn’t dead and that the Lord had sent us that way when He did. The road is really dark at night here as there are no street lights and that man could have been run over extremely easily. Yet another blessing of God’s mercy and caer for His children.
We made it safely back home and got the kids to bed. Then, I went outside to think and pray. As I stood in front of the Big House, looking up at the beautiful, starry night, I received yet another blessing. A meteor shot across the sky, its green “tail” brightly contrasting the black sky. What a beautiful sight! It was the perfect ending to the night!
Wednesday night service at the church just up the road.
You know, as I sit here and type this entry, reflecting to all of the activities of the days past, I am so thankful to God that I am where I am, doing what I’m doing! I can honestly say that the past three weeks have been full of challenges and obstacles that I’ve never had to face before. And it has been…rough to say the least. But, at the same time, I’ve never loved a job more! Working in the mission field with these kids and this great staff, doing our best to lead our little group of children to Christ’s Feet…and sharing the Gospel with everyone we can truly does fill my heart with more joy and love and hope than I can express in words. From getting a drawing from one of the kids or a hug from a teenage boy, thanking you for listening to seeing their eyes light up because you take time to play with them to hearing their heartfelt and sincere prayers in your behalf completes you in a way you never thought possible and makes all of the trials and sacrifices worthwhile. It is truly a GREAT feeling to be in the Lord's will! I pray each of you experience this feeling today as well! Blessings to you all!