Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18th, 2014

June 18th, 2014

Both last week and this week have been a continuation of seeing God move, work and answer prayers.  What a blessing it has been!  It started up where it left off…the amplifier for the Army base.  First thing Monday morning, the money was in the account as promised.  I, then, went shopping.  :)  I found the amplifier that would fit our needs and placed my order.  It would be here on Wednesday.  But that isn’t all.  As is often the case, when God blesses, the blessing is greater than we expected.  Not only did we have enough money to get the nicer, larger amplifier that we needed, but a new microphone as well!  Amen!  Isn’t God just Wonderful??  I picked up the amplifier on Wednesday, tested it and boy, does it sound MUCH better than our other little setup!!  :)
Our new amplifier and microphone!  

The next blessing came in the form of new students.  During the past week and a half, we’ve had three different families come to talk to us about transferring their children here.  So, come August when classes start back, we will have FOUR new boys studying here at Familia Feliz, ranging from ages 8-14.  We are very thankful for the opportunity to work with these new boys, three of which are not practicing Christians.  We ask that you prayer for them, even now, as they prepare to come here…that they can have a special encounter with Christ here.  And pray that the Lord will grant us the wisdom and knowledge we will need to work with them and to rightly represent Him to them.  
Here's a short video our our little Janet "walking" across the dining hall.  She is doing so well!

On Friday, I was so excited to get to the Base and share with the soldiers all that God had done on our behalf and to confirm to them, once again, that God truly does hear and answer our prayers.  The time finally arrived for us to head out.  We all loaded the equipment on the truck and headed to town.  We were singing hymns as we road down the road.  Just as we were arriving to the edge of town, however, our front tire blew.  The tread even tore, so there was no hope for repair.  It was 6:50 pm.  We were due to be at the Army base at 7:00 pm.  We were about a mile away and didn’t have a way to get there.  Ori and I walked to a tire place that was a few hundred feet from us to see if he had a tire we could purchase and have put on.  No luck.  He directed us to town to another place.  The problem, however, was getting to town.  There were 9 of us, plus the equipment (laptop, amplifier, mic, speaker, projector, backpack, etc.).  So what to do??  Pray!  :)  God had brought us this far and was the reason for all of the excitement of getting to the base today, so we knew that He would provide a solution.  And no sooner did we finish praying that He started working.  Normally, in this area, I don’t have cell service.  I have to be closer in town before my phone picks up signal.  But at that moment, I had service and was able to make calls.  I called Sergio (from Narguilas) to see if he could arrange for a cab to come and pick us up.  He said he’d see what he could do and would call me back.  I also texted the Coronel to let him know that of our situation and that we would be late.  About 10 minutes later, Sergio called back and said a taxi was on its way.  Praise God!  It arrived and all of us were able to fit inside with our equipment (it was a mini van! :) ).  Not only that, but the driver was an acquaintance and agreed to help us as long as we needed it.  So he dropped us and the equipment at the Army base so that the kids and other staff wouldn’t be on the side of the road.  While I was getting things set up there, Oriel and Jancy would go with the driver to see about finding a tire before the stores closed.  Once they found one, they’d come back by and pick me up and we’d go back to the truck while John and Jonathan stayed to do the Bible study.  
I got everything set up inside the Base and explained what was going on to the soldiers, apologizing for our delay.  I stated that Satan, evidently, didn’t want us to arrive there that evening, because He knew that God would be glorified and that something big was going to happen.  Then, I shared our testimony about the amplifier.  They were thrilled!  Their faces lit up with smiles as they saw the new equipment, heard us through the microphone and realized that God was concerned with them, so much so that He would impress upon a complete stranger to them to give such a large sum of money.  Amen again!    

Our new amp in use at the Army base.

The soldiers singing.

John leading song service.

Jonathan having special music.

The "baker" for the Army base, making bread at the rear of the dining hall where 
we are giving the Bible study.

We started our song service as I waited for Ori to call me.  After a while, we decided to move on with the study as Ori hadn’t called yet.  Our topic was the judgment.  It was a great study!  The guys were very interested and were really participating in the lesson.  (They particularly liked coming up to the mic to read the Bible verses.  :) ).  We had a deep study about the judgment, what it is, how it works, who is involved and what each of us need to do to be ready for it.  As I was able to wrap up the study, Ori called.  :)  I gave Jonathan the phone to talk to him so I could continue.  I couldn’t stop then.  I felt like I had to keep going.  At the end of the study, there was an overwhelming response to the appeal to choose Christ as their Defense in the judgment and to surrender their lives to Him!  Praise God!  Something big really did happen that Satan wanted to hinder!  But we serve an Awesome God, One that is Mighty to save, who came through once again!  
We closed with prayer in small groups and then came back together to sing our closing hymn.   While they were singing, I called Ori back.  They were not able to find a tire, as most of the stores were closed.  They did, however, find someone that had a spare tire that was the exact size we needed for our 1994 truck that agreed to loan it to us.  When he told me that, I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, the vast majority of the people here in Rurre do not own cars or trucks.  There are a lot of motorcycles and taxis, but not trucks…much less older 4x4 Toyotas.  He came to pick us up and we went to talk to the owner of the tire to see if we could use it until Sunday, as the following day was Sabbath and we wouldn’t be heading to town.  After talking to the guy, I realized that God’s Hand was even more involved that I had originally thought.  The owner of the tire doesn’t even live in our town.  He lives 3 hours away and was just here visiting friends…in his truck with a spare tire!  Because we are well-known in the community, he had no problem loaning us his tire until Sunday, even though he was leaving town the following morning to go back home.  He said we could just leave it with his friend on Sunday.  So, in short, my God sent a complete stranger with a spare tire, the exact model and size tire we needed, on a 3-hour trip to another town just to answer our prayers and to allow for His love and Gospel to be shared with others….AND impressed upon the stranger to trust us enough to leave his tire with us for two days while he goes back to his home and doesn’t know when he will head back this way to pick up his tire!  All I can say is “AMEN!”  
(We were able to find a shop open on Sunday morning that had the tired we needed and had it installed.  We returned the borrowed tire to the owner’s friend, along with our sincerest thanks and prayers for God’s blessings upon them.)
On Sabbath morning, we went to church at Nueva Esperanza again.  We really enjoy going there because the brethren are so humble and appreciative of our visit and seek the Lord with all their heart.  As soon as we got there, we were asked to take charge of the services again.  :)  John took Sabbath School and did a great job explaining things in a simple way.  Oriel had the sermon, so I would be translating.  We had prayer and went up to the “pulpit”.  The service was going well.  Jodi and Taylor had special music and as soon as I stood up to ask them to come forward, a torrential downpour started!  I mean, the rain was really coming down hard!  Mind you, Nueva Esperanza’s church is just a roof supported by beams.  It is completely open, with no walls or flooring.  Just homemade wooden benches (2x6’s nailed to tree stumps) on a dirt/mud floor.  So as Jodi and Taylor started singing, the wind and rain blew through, wetting everyone and creating huge mud puddles under our feet.  It was so loud that Ori and I couldn’t hear them singing at all, and we were 4 feet behind them.  They finished and we stood up to continue with the sermon.  There’s no sound system here, obviously, as there is not electricity on sight.  So I had yell in order to be heard…and even then, not everyone could hear me.  But we did the best that we could.  Ori was preaching on the significance and solemnity of the Cross and Christ’s sacrifice.  As we were talking, people would get up and move around, trying to avoid the cold, wet wind.  After about 5-6 minutes, the rain grew harder and not even those directly in front of me (1-2 feet away) could hear me.  We had to suspend the service.  So we closed with a hymn (There Shall be Showers of Blessings, of course!  :) ) and prayer.  We all waited under the roof, huddled together to seek protection from the cold wind and rain, hoping it would die down soon.  After about 15 minutes like that, it slacked up some, enough for Oriel to drive some people to their homes, as no one has a car and has to walk to church…some several miles.  After about 30 minutes, we were able to get everyone home and head back home ourselves.  

Taylor and Jodi having special music.  You can see the rain in the background.
It doesn't look like it in the picture, but it was POURING.

I'm trying my best to hear what Oriel is staying to translate.

Translating the sermon.

It was quite an interesting (and wet) experience.  :)  But it got me thinking.  How often does a “storm” arise in our lives out of nowhere and blindside us just as this one did?  Sometimes these storms are so strong that we feel as if we cannot go on.  Sometimes they beat so hard that we cannot even hear ourselves think, it seems.  But our God is still there.  As a matter of fact, we are told that He draws nearer to us during our storms.  And while it may appear that the “roof is going to fall”, all we have to do is to remember that our God is Stronger and more Powerful than the storm.  It was He that created the elements.  It was He that spoke and the powerful winds and waves of the storm on the lake had to cease.  And He will do exactly he same for us in our times of trouble and storms if we will just ask Him to and TRUST in His ways and timing.  That’s why Christ could sleep on that small boat in the midst of the tossing and turning waves.  I mean, can you picture that?  You’re on a  huge lake in a small vessel, trying to cross the other side, when a storm arises.  Waves are crashing upon your boat, water is coming in over the sides, people are panicking and yelling.  And you look to your left and you see someone sound asleep, lying on the floor of the boat?!  I imagine that at least some water had to be splashing on Christ.  His body had to feel the tossing of the boat.  Yet, He was peacefully asleep during the midst of the storm.  How could that be?  It was because He fully TRUSTED in His Father.  He knew that God was Bigger and Stronger than any storm and that whatever God allowed to happen was for His best interest.  As long as Christ was in God’s will, He would be fine, no matter the storm, the circumstances, the trials.  And as such was the case, He could have so much peace that He could soundly sleep in the middle of a fierce storm while His disciples were panicking, fearing they would lose their life.  My friend, that peace that Christ enjoyed is exactly the peace that God wants you and me to enjoy at all times.  He longs for us to simply, yet implicitly, trust Him.  He has fulfilled every promise He has ever made and has come through time and time again for us.  What else must He do to prove to us that He has everything under control and will take care of us if we will just let go of our will, wants and desires and embrace His?  
So, our experience this past Sabbath was a reminder to me that God is in control at all times and WILL calm the storms when the time is right.  He will not let them continue any longer than is necessary to perfect our character and create a childlike trust in Him.  Will you trust Him?  Will you turn your life over into His Hands of love?  Will you strive to hear and listen to His Voice in the midst of the storm?
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind, an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice.”
May God bless us as we all strive to trust Him more and turn our lives over to Him.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8th, 2014 -- My God comes through once again!!

It’s been a more laid back week this week.  The kids have left for winter break so there are no classes to teach, no deaning, etc.  There is, however, an unrecognizable silence on campus.  :(  It has also rained a lot this week, which has limited our ability to work around the campus.  
We have been up-keeping our new little orchard.  We’re trying to clear the rest of the land for the rest of the orchard and get the ground ready, but it’s been to wet to do so.  Hopefully we can continue that soon.
We’ve also had some issues with cows from neighboring farms coming on our property.  This has been going on for some time now and we’ve spoken with the owners about it several times, but to no avail.  The cows continue to stroll right on campus.  The problem is they have destroyed dozens and dozens of our plantain and banana trees, as well as eaten the fruit of them, trembled on plants in the garden, etc.  :(  So we've spent a good bit of this week putting up fences and barbed wire around part of our property to protect our plants (and our food supply!).  We still have a bit more to go, but it’s coming along well.  
We had our weekly Bible study at the Army base this past Friday night.  It was great to be there with the soldiers again, as we were unable to have the study last week due to there being no electricity in town.  However, while we were there, a problem arose.  Our little speakers blew.  Previously, we had been using our big speakers, along with an amplifier and our microphone to ensure that everyone could hear, since we meet in a large dining hall (almost the size of a gym).  The amplifier, however, was old and soon broke beyond repair.  We didn’t have money for a new amp, so I just went and bought a small set of surround sound speakers that I could plug into the computer and we’ve been using those without a mic this year.  It wasn’t the best solution, but was the only one we could afford.  However, last night, those speakers blew.  We couldn’t understand the audio coming out.  It was disappointing because the soldiers wanted to continue singing, but we needed speakers for them to hear the music, words, etc.  As I analyzed the situation and was thinking of how to solve the problem by next week, it was obvious that we needed to obtain another amplifier.  So that’s what I prayed for.  Right then at the base, I prayed that the Lord would, somehow, send the necessary funds for us to be able to purchase a new one.  I had priced one a few weeks ago, with the hopes of being able to buy it, but it cost $300 usd and we simply didn’t have that much extra to spend.  But I know that nothing is impossible for our God and I took my concern to Him.  I know, without a doubt, that these studies are the result of His doing.  He has commissioned us to take the Gospel to all the earth and has promised to bless us so that we can do just that.  As soon as the meetings were over, I quickly posted my prayer request on Facebook, explaining the situation and asking everyone to pray that the Lord would send the needed funds THIS WEEK so that we can move forward with the studies on next Friday.  As we drove home, I just knew that someone, somehow would send the money.  I was excited about heading back to town the next day for an outreach activity just so that I could check my Facebook account to get the news that someone was going to donate the money.  :)

The following morning, we went to church at the small congregation just up the street (Nueva Esperanza).  We got there after Sabbath School had already started and quietly approached the open church to sit down.  The teacher, however, stopped class to greet us.  Then, he walked over and asked me if I could teach the class.  I questioned him, because he was already teaching.  Class had already started and, to be honest, I hadn't prepared to teach that morning.  He continued to insist that I teach.  So, what could I do?!  I finished teaching the class and then Jonathan had the sermon.  We had a really good morning there with the brethren.  As soon as church was over, we came home, had lunch and then loaded on the truck again to head to town.  The church in town was planning on going house to house to hand out DVD’s and books about Jesus and we went to help.  We had a great experience and were able to distribute over 900 DVD’s and books!  We then met at the church to close out Sabbath and share the experiences and testimonies of the afternoon.  It was amazing to hear how open people were to receive the material.  And many of them asked us to come back and study with them later.  God is Good!
Everyone just before leaving to pass out the DVD's and books.

My dear friends from Narguilas and I before heading out to give out literature.

The Familia Feliz crew ready to distribute!

Agustin and I after church Sabbath evening.

When we arrived to town, however, I immediately checked my Facebook page to see if anyone had offered to help with the amplifier.  I just knew that someone would have sent $10 or $20.  We would keep fundraising until we had enough funds to make the purchase.  I opened my account and guess what was there?!  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  9 likes and one comment saying “Praying.”  I was very glad that people were praying, but I was expecting more.  All morning I just had that feeling that God was going to answer that prayer request today.  Not sure why, just felt that way.  Then, as I was looking at my account, Satan came and started planting seeds of doubt.  Maybe I had expected too much.  Maybe I should have given it more time.  But I still had that feeling that God was going to answer this request.  So I prayed again and decided to leave it in God’s Hands.  About 10 minutes later, a lady sent me a message on Facebook asking how I was doing and how things were going at Familia Feliz.  She is from Argentina but she and her family lives in Bolivia now.  They have helped us financially in the past.  We chatted for a couple of minutes, updating her on things here.  She then asked me directly about the amplifier.  She asked what we needed, if it was available locally, how much needed, etc.  I answered her questions.  She then asked when we needed it by.  I explained that we would use it for the Bible studies that occur every Friday night at the Army base…so there really isn’t a “deadline” as to when we have to have it.  As soon as we get all the money, we’ll buy it and immediately put it to use.  She asked what we would do in the mean time at the base.  Honestly, I didn’t know what to answer.  I told her we would figure something out while we wait.  She then said, “Well, you won’t have to wait long.  We will have $300 usd deposited in your bank account first thing Monday morning.”  I almost tripped and fell while I was walking down the street!  I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, I knew that God could and would meet our need.  All morning I had that feeling that He would.  I just didn’t expect Him to do it all at one time through one person.  I expected several smaller donations to trickle in through the week.  But God had something bigger in mind.  Isn’t that how He always works?!  His thoughts and ways are higher than ours!  :)  What makes this even more meaningful to me is that my post on Facebook was in English.  This lady doesn’t speak any English!  Plus, it served as a much needed reminder to me that God is concerned with every little detail of our lives and while, many times, things do not turn out like we expect or hope, God IS working all things out for our good.  I know I’ve said it many, many times, but it’s worth repeating time and time again…we serve an AWESOME God!!  So, tomorrow we will be purchasing our brand new amplifier!  :) :)  Praise God!  I cannot wait to take it to the Army base on Friday and share this wonderful testimony about how God hears and answers prayers and is concerned about their learning more about Him with the soldiers!  
What about you?  Have you seen the Hand of God move in a mighty way in your life this week?  Have you reached out in faith, begging for a much-needed blessing?  If so, kept your arms extended…God WILL give it to you.  However, you might want to hold both arms and hands out, as His blessing will probably be bigger and better than you’re expecting!  :)

God bless you all!