Thursday, October 30, 2008

But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Acts 15:35-36 (NIV)

Good day mates! Yes, we are back from the land down under and we celebrated a joyful time with our blokes (friends)! As I reflect on our missionary journey to Australia, I am reminded of Paul and Barnabas going on their missionary journeys. I realize our time was all about the Word of God! The Father allowed us the privilege to encourage the saints and find ourselves also encouraged. We prayed, we discipled, we ministered grace, and we taught the Word. We received prayer, discipleship, grace and heard incredible praise! One thing is for certain, I have asked GOD to teach me to praise as our brothers and sisters do in Australia. They do a minimum of an hour of prayer, praise and worship before the teaching even begins. Without a doubt, many miraculous things happened, but this trip will remain one that we will have to wait and see the details of all that took place when we are in heaven. The Word was prevalent and grace was evident. Joy manifested itself in expressive ways. The Deep was pursued and He never fails.

Maurine and I had the privilege of visiting Ayudell and Adeola our first full day there. (Their four month old passed a way just before we came.) The Father allowed me the privilege of washing their feet. Sometimes I wonder what people must think of me. It simply came to this… as I prayed for them I asked God what would Jesus do if He were here. I knew my words were useless and it was not the time to share a personal story or even speak the Word. Jesus would cry and touch. I told them so and that I simply wanted to be Jesus to them by touching them in a loving way to let them know Jesus loves them. By God’s grace they both humbly allowed me to wash and massage their feet. AND YOU KNOW I PRAYED OVER THOSE BELOVED SOLES!

Until mid day Saturday, I dealt with a daunting spiritual oppression. It fell on me the minute we arrived in Australia. I do so hate oppression. It is such a frustrating nemesis. I always battle my mind when this happens. The only way I can describe it is like a fog covers my mental capabilities and I cannot think as clearly. I know it is oppression and not digestion because it typically remains for a specified amount of time and is only released as prayer is upped! I confessed to Maurine what I was dealing with mid Saturday morning and she began praying over me and I know this would have been Friday morning for ya’ll and this would have been when ya’ll would have started praying. Thank YOU! Clarity is a good thing when you are teaching and I really want it evident in me when I am teaching.

Someone did pray to recommit their life to Christ. At first I thought it was someone asking for salvation, but after clarification it is someone that walked away from GOD and is now returning. Please pray for this loved one. Also, after the Saturday night service Shally brought Gloria up to me for me to pray. She has a benign tumor on her fallopian tube that is causing her great pain. I always feel so inadequate praying for someone in pain. I am so glad GOD is great and HE alone is healer and sustainer. Anyhow, I prayed with fear and trepidation that I only honor GOD and HIS perfect power. Gloria’s face was so sad and her eyes showed that the pain was intense. On Sunday morning as I saw her walk in, I was amazed by her appearance. She looked lifted so I went to her to ask her how she felt. She leaned in and whispered to me, “I had something happen to me last night. While driving home I felt something and I no longer had pain after.” Her eyes were clear and bright. Praise GOD! She is scheduled to have surgery this week. Please pray that the pain stay gone and that they are able to remove it without destroying her female organs.

The LORD is good in that Pastor IB and Shally both said that they will want me back. This is only to the glory of the LORD! God willing I will go again someday. This trip also solidified for me in my heart that someday I pray GOD will allow me the privilege of going to Africa as well. The Father has given me a great passion for the Latin American Cultures and the African American Cultures. Both make me want to be bolder in reaching them for Jesus. Once again I am reminded of how Paul was assigned to the gentiles while Peter to the Jews. Isn’t GOD wonderful!

Their women were so generous to us in so many ways. Jo Holley, our hostess, fed us every meal and made us tea! Living with her and visiting with my Maurine was truly a girls retreat! The church commissioned a lady in London to make me a traditional dress and headdress that is typical of Africa. Remember, we ministered in a Nigerian Church in Australia. It is a beautiful mint green with detailed embroidered flowers around the nape of the neck! INCREDIBLE! They said it makes me look like a angel! I sure felt blessed!

Shally is a real tease. She can joke and never crack a smile. Well… she knows how on our Russia trip we were required to wear only one skirt and take only three tops. So she told me i in jest, along with Adeola, that I had to wear a skirt and head scarf every time I taught. Ayudell’s face proved they were teasing me. I shared with Jo what happened and she determined to help me get back at Shally. Her dear friend Moreen is the same size as me so we borrowed a traditional African skirt, sash and head piece. I showed up for my first teaching time dressed in this since Shally said I had to wear a skirt and scarf. She did not blink an eye. She simply said, “Go home and change. You cannot wear that!” Needless to say she got me again. But I did not change because she was teasing. I wish you could hear the laughter that roared through the congregation as I told the story that night. It was fun! The funnier thing was I waited about 15 minutes into the lesson to share it and Moreen’s husband had walked in and told his friend Austin, “WOW! Moreen has a dress just like that!” Apparently, his surprise was the greatest.

Now for my sweet blessing... Shally took us to the zoo on Monday as our treat for serving. Their zoo is very similar to ours but one thing is different. They allow many animals free range. For example the kangaroo exhibit is an enclosure that allows you to walk a path that the emu’s, kangaroo’s etc can walk on too! While standing next to the separating bar near their feeding area a kangaroo hopped out and visited a lady. She petted him and he hopped back in. I was so disappointed because I wanted so much to touch the kangaroo. I said in my heart, O God I want to pet a kangaroo. We waited a bit and then a kangaroo stood up looked at us and hopped right up to me. I knelt down and petted his chest. He loved it so much he took my hands and pressed them up to his chest tighter. I scratched more. After a while he tired of me and he pushed my hand away and hopped off. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! I felt like GOD kissed me personally! What a blessing! I touched a kangaroo! How cool is that!

Australia is very much like North America. In fact, the influence of Britain and America are profound. It felt like America, but sounded different. You might say it is America with an accent. I don’t say that to take away their wonderful identity. I say this so you can know best how to pray. They suffer the same cultural pit falls that we do. Of all the places the LORD has allowed me to visit it is the one that I had a hard time remembering I was not in the US. Even with them driving on the wrong side of the road. I came to the conclusion they did this because of the Corealus Affect. This makes their toilets swirl the opposite direction of ours. So if something was a bit different I blamed the Corealus Affect.

Thank you for praying! God heard your prayers and allowed us a great privilege and honor! Thank you dearly! I love you and I praise GOD for you!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This photo is from a garden in front of a house that Chris and Donna took us to deliver food. It is hand dug by the men.

Walking in the Garden
Chapter 6
By: Tara Rye
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8

There is nothing more enjoyable than walking through a garden with your loved one or with one precious to you. Somehow, their presence enhances the experience. It is the shared joy of celebrating the planting or harvest together. I recently went on a field trip with my son touring Lauritzen’s Gardens. Grant and I both could not wait to take Greg and Mikayla to see the mini replica garden of Omaha made out of twigs and leaves. We think nothing of asking another to come along and celebrate a garden’s beauty, but what if the garden held danger like risky terrain or snakes in the grass? Would we still be willing to invite another to come along? In many respects, a missionary is the one who takes another by the hand to walk them through a particular garden to cultivate what has already been sowed by another or to reap the planting. Often their places of service—their garden is dangerous or risky at best. Missionaries Chris and Donna Mooney of Bethel Ministries International takes about fifteen teams a year by the hand to walk them through the garden in Guatemala. They do not stop at just walking the people through. They hand each person a tool and say, Get to work! Plants don’t grow by just looking at them. It takes love and hard work to cultivate a rich and bountiful harvest! In the summer of 2008, a team from our church had the privilege of being taken by the hand to walk and serve in the garden with the Mooney’s. One afternoon while our team dug out the ground to lay a house, Chris picked up an old fashioned pick and hoe combination and started to give us a sermon while he broke hard chunks of earth. “You know this hoe and pick is a lot like the LORD. He has to break up the hardness in us to make us soft for planting.” I paused in my labor to ponder what he said and without thinking I blurted out our theme verse, Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 (NIV). Chris turned and looked at me and laughed! I discovered as the days unfolded I was going to love that laugh as we toured the garden with this couple because the LORD reminded me that the purest laughter often comes from great depths of pain. Through the simplicity and purity of their ministry in a land scarcely loved by man our team saw Jesus in Guatemala.