Sunday, May 10, 2009
What a day! Filled with so much food, too much laughter, and a whole lot of learning! I have enjoyed watching our friends throughout the week following the Jesus Retreat and see the lasting impact Jesus has imprinted on their lives so far! Some of my favorite quotes from the day were,
“I have never learned these things!”
“My stomach, it is asking me, is this Christmas?!”
“I will never forget this day, not for as long as I live.”
The Lord continues to amaze me with His goodness. The day we got back to TAYO (after our safari weekend full of elephants, zebra, hippos, and more!) we were each blessed with wonderful conversation with our friends about what they have continued to learn as they’ve chewed on the events and topics of our Friday. I particularly loved my conversation with our friend Francis as he told me the two things that have stuck with him the most. “The ACTS way of praying, I have never thought of this; and this wonderful idea of praying while I walk, intentionally! It is so simple, but it has so much power! I want to do this more! And Laekan, as you talked about nailing our bad stuff to the cross with Jesus, because He will take our burden. I have never thought like this! I feel so much lighter all week… because I know I laid down all my evils on that cross that afternoon. Jesus has freed me!”
I stand amazed at the goodness of God, our Savior.
There are several other stories like our friend Francis’, and I can tell you all about them when I am home! But as for now, I will try to keep this relatively short. This next week is our last week of “regular” ministry here in Thyolo. Tuesday and Thursday we will be visiting some schools and doing different ‘life skills lessons’ with our TAYO friends, Wednesday we will lead TAYO Bible study for the last time. Josh, Shaila and I will each lead a little segment and have a sort-of commissioning service for our friends. We want them to understand that as they are identified in Christ more and more, they are to serve each other and their community more and more. That means not only telling Bible stories along with their HIV/AIDS awareness programs, but becoming real with people and telling them the Truth, the Good News, even when they feel like it’s hard. We will end our Bible study with a time of service commissioning as we get the privilege of washing their feet and sending them out as Jesus did with the disciples before He left them.
Please pray that our TAYO friends will have understanding
hearts, open ears, and automatic obedience to the Lord as He speaks to them
this week and in the coming months ahead.
Please pray that we may continue to speak boldly,
love with reckless abandon,
and serve this community whole-heartedly
these next two weeks.
A team of three girls, and the Brownfield’s youngest daughter will arrive May 19th. This is also the day of Malawi’s presidential election, which leads to two more prayer requests.
Pray for these girls safety as they arrive.
And please pray for peaceful elections here in Malawi.
Pray God will allow a leader who serves Christ to continue leading
We American’s will be laying kind of low around election time here, as we are not sure of the outcome and actions of the people in Malawi. Democracy is still a new idea here. After elections, we will be showing this team of girls around Thyolo and helping them get oriented to our ministry before we hand it over to them.
Please remember these girls as they
continue what we started
and also build on that foundation!
Monday, May 25th, we will be flying out of Malawi and heading to debriefing in Johannesburg! And who, but the Lord, knows what happens after that! “Every ending is a new beginning,” and I’m excited to see what new chapters the Lord has written in my life here and back in America!
Thank you for sticking with me, praying, and serving alongside me!
Friday, April 10, 2009
While looking through blog entries, I realized I have so many amazing God moments that need to be shared, and haven’t on this blog! So I want to take a minute to tell you two that I had this week…
Tuesday afternoon Shaila and I had the privilege of watching the Jesus film with 7 little girls from our village. Four of these little girls go to church with us, and after missing out on cookies, kool-aid, and Bible stories at our house several weeks ago, they went to our supervisor’s house and asked if she could tell them a story. She shared kool-aid with them and told the story of Jesus in Chichewa while Shaila and I listened, the four girls accepted Christ that day!! Since then, they have continued coming to hear Bible stories, and they always bring more friends! So this week, we had 7 in our supervisors home to watch the Jesus film! As we watched, I loved watching the girls faces as they saw the story portrayed for the first time on film. I prayed as their eyes grew wider and different expressions of excitement and anticipation, fear, and sadness swam across their faces, “Lord, please let them know YOU did this JUST for THEM.”
One little girl was resting her head on my knees and as the crucifixion was portrayed I felt the tiniest hand slide into mine and grip it tightly. My heart melted as we both cried watching what our Savior did for us on the cross. I stood amazed at how God heals hearts so differently, in so many different countries, tribes, and cultures. I was amazed and am so thankful that the same HUGE God loves me just as much as He loves my little friends here, and how He displays His love in such mighty and different ways. It was an incredible experience.
The next wonderfully encouraging God moment was Wednesday afternoon at TAYO Bible study. There was no one there except my team and Francis. A lot of people are on holiday of some sort this week, but we continued with Bible study with Francis. As we’ve been learning about our own testimonies and sharing them, we asked Francis to share with us his “God story”. After praying, he proceeded to amaze us with how God has worked miraculously in his life, and after he finished telling how God worked in his life, He told us the story of how God worked in Elijah’s life as God showed His power by lighting the wood on fire when others were crying out to Baal, and then Francis even continued into how his people, the Lomwe, need to understand the power of God and break their traditions of charms on babies, sacrifices, and traditions at funerals.
It was amazing to watch the love and passion in his eyes as he talked. He LOVES his Lord! When he was through, we said, “Francis, do you realize what you’ve just done? You just led Bible study.”
“Me! Ah, no!... really!? … I just did?? Wow! I can say that it must have been Jesus in me, I did not even know!” He said. Precious. I love it!
Ever since he realized “He, too could LEAD a Bible study”, He has been on fire! Today he was full of ideas on how to get the community involved with weekly TAYO Bible study. He just wants others to know. What a sweet treasure he has been in our ministry! I am pretty sure we have found one of our new leaders to continue Bible study!! Please continue to pray for Francis as he and his wife and small son stand firm in the Word, the Truth, especially when all of his culture tells him to synchronize his beliefs with African traditional culture.
Praise God for His encouragement and incredible Love!
Thank you for the continued prayers and support of our ministry! Continue praying as we head into Mozambique for round 2 of surveying unreached communities today! We will be traveling through next Wednesday. Pray for TAYO as we are gone, Mozambique, as we are there, and us as we travel!
Praise Him! He is Risen!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Climbing this 10,000 foot peak (of which I only made 8,000 ft) was nothing but a God thing for me! Now, let me explain… the name “Nug” is short for “Nugget,” a term some of my camp counselor friends used for the precious campers who just struggled more than others, always at the back of the line, gasping for breath to make it up, as we hiked with our girls every week at GA camp. It was a term of endearment.
This week, I was that nug!! We began what was supposed to be a 3 day hike (which turned into a 4 day hike) up to the peak and back on Tuesday. A sweet 11 year old mk was with us, and she wasn’t too happy about the hike in the beginning! For the first 10 minutes, I was thanking the Lord so much that He had given me someone to encourage so I could take my mind off of my own misery up the mountain. She even reminded me of former campers I loved! … well, that was the first 10 minutes! The rest of the 4 days, that precious girl had to encourage me!
After two days of huffing and puffing, spending a night at a cabin a little lower than we planned the first night, we finally made it to the cabin at the bottom of the hike to the peak. The mountain was simply gorgeous! The farther we hiked, the more beautiful it became. Once we got to the final cabin, I was amazed at the scenery around us. It was completely beautiful! We were above the clouds, and sometimes in the clouds. There was a wonderful stream beside the cabin we could sit at and walk down, and awesome rocks we could sit on that overlooked the valley way-way below (that we could see when the clouds would part). It really was amazing!
The third day we were all supposed to do a semi-technical climb to the peak. You know, one of those, jumping on boulders, sliding on rock faces, slip-and-you’ll-die (because we didn’t have ropes), kind of hikes. Now, while the girl inside of me is all for that kind of adventure, the girl on the outside is not steady-footed, in fact, she’s just plain clumsy! All the way up the mountain I debated on whether I should go all the way to the peak. I wanted to, but I couldn’t decide if it was stubbornness, or pride that was pushing me because all the while I could hear that familiar small voice in the back of my thoughts- “Don’t do it. Just sit, stay with me. Let me pour into you. Be still, be quiet, just BE with me.” It’s that same still small voice I heard before getting on the zipcord and breaking both my wrists when I was little, the same voice I heard right before I went up with on the ski slopes and then fell off the side of the mountain!
So, by day 3, I had made the decision to spend some alone time at the cabin while the rest tried to make it to the peak in the rain! Let me tell you, did God ever have something in store for me! I found a spot by the stream on a rock, hidden, I was all alone, and NO ONE in the world knew exactly where I was at that moment. And, it was just me and Jesus, and it was SO nice. I felt like we had found our own little hide-out, where no one could find us. It was really special. As I listened to the babbling brook beside me, He led me to Psalm 68. I had to read it several times, Every word of it just blew me away as I learned something new about God’s character!! I’m telling you, it overwhelmed me so much; I straight up had to take a nap! Whew!
“He is the one who rides on the clouds!” ( I was sitting IN a cloud!)
“His name is the Lord!”
“He announced the Word!”
“He daily bears our burdens!”
“Proclaim the power of God.”
“His power is in the skies.”
“He is awesome, in His sanctuary!”
“He gives power and strength to His people!”
All these wonderful things I learned about the Character of our Lord! Whew! I could’ve just shouted!! As I sat on a rock overlooking the valley later that day, I was just quiet and listened for the Lord. He brought to mind a favorite song of mine, and tears filled my eyes as I sang, looking over the valley of Malawi “Even in the valley, God is good, even in the valley, He is faithful and true, He carries His children through, like He said He would, even in the valley- God is good!”
Now that I’m off the mountain, I am so encouraged and awed by the words of that song. He did carry me through, just like He said He would. And although I was the little nug of the group up and down the mountain, I was the little Nug that could. For no other reason than He promised He would.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Discipleship takes many forms. Wednesday we spent time with the guys and girls of TAYO as we slashed grass with them in the front of the TAYO offices. It was quite an experience as everyone who passed stopped to watch the azungu slash the fields. That day, I missed a lawn mower more than I ever thought I possibly could! It was fun though, as our friends taught us how to slash grass with a machete-type tool, I taught them fun songs to help work go by faster!
We did about 9 rounds of “I do some ___ for my Jesus,” as they filled in the words with “I do some slashing for my Jesus,” “I do some hoeing,” “I do some carrying” (as we carried the excess grass and threw it in the cornfields). We had a lot of fun with it. But, two blistered hands later, my respect for Malawians has been raised, yet again. While I was picking up the grass and soil after slashing some of it, I received possibly the best compliment ever since being here. (haha) Francis, a member of TAYO, looked at me and said, “You are such a hard worker. You do not count your fatness, you just work hard!” Now, understand, in Africa, being called fat is a great compliment. Yeah, you never get quite use to it though. I laughed SO hard as I was reminded of the passage in Philippians “I count it all loss that I may gain Christ.” Yep.. that’s just what I decided to do!!
That afternoon we had our third TAYO Bible study. Josh dressed as Joshua from the Bible and told the story of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. It was fun, and in the end, there were many good questions, deep questions, and others began to put their input into the discussion.
Thursday and Friday I got a new and unexpected ministry opportunity as I've started teaching computer/typing lessons to some friends at TAYO. As they watched us type on their PC to help them complete their strategic plan, they said, "Laekan, will you teach us to type ?" So, we began with turning the computer on and getting into Microsoft Word. They were so fun to watch as they got excited every time a new screen popped up due to them clicking on something! We started writing new sentences, then started typing Scripture. They got such a kick out of themselves! We will continue typing lessons when we return from Mozambique in a week!
Tomorrow (Monday) we are headed to the Indian Ocean in Mozambique! We will be assisting the Brownfields as they survey unreached people groups in Mozambique as they plan where to move within the next year! Yay for a week of camping and scouting and praying with them!!
Things are going well in the cornfield! Thanks for the prayers and encouragement. Keep serving the King, as we serve here!
Pray the Lord would give us discernment
on how to continue to minister and love on these children.
We now have all of our furniture, and have made our space a quaint dwelling that our friends have come to feel free to visit anytime! And the same children stop by all the time to either practice English, or just speak their Chichewa to us, we share cups of water and peppermints and we just listen and smile and laugh with them. The wonderful little neon blue, yellow and pink house in the cornfields finally feels like home!
Through the past weeks we have struggled with blatant spiritual warfare in the form of seeing ‘witchcraft magic,’ from the bottle our guard has placed beside him at night, to the yellow bamboo ‘airplane curse’ placed as a barricade outside of Josh’s gate one morning. Yes, African traditionalism is still alive and well here on the edge of the bush and the boma (government circle).
Pray the Spirit of the Lord would
permeate each of these places
and these people affected and influenced by these false Gods.
I have been stretched and pulled as I have had to learn to give away my “rights,” which were never really mine to begin with. The difference in cultural timeframes and communication abilities were the first frustration factors I had. Then as the water became scarcer and the electricity became more unreliable, I was beginning to reach my limit. As I remembered that those rights were given up as I died to myself as a servant of Christ, I began to see our predicament in a new light.
Our first week in the house, water only flowed for about two house out of the entire week (cumulatively, not consecutively). I was able to talk with some people back home about my frustration, and I know that they began to pray and tell others to pray. Alibe, our house worker who is a relatively new believer, has also been praying for God to send water to our home to make her job a little easier. She is so wonderful, and fills our buckets with water from the well each day we don’t have any. For the past two days we have had water almost all day!! She told us, “I have prayed for God to send water, and He has! Just to help me!” We praise Jesus, the Living Water, that He has shown His faithfulness to us and to Alibe through water. Every time I hear our toilet begin to run, I praise God and say, thank you Jesus, somebody is praying for us!
Pray that regardless of water or electricity,
we share the Living Water with this village.
This week has been a particular start to new ministries. Monday we went to a funeral in the village. Our friend, Willard’s toddler nephew passed away. We found out as we got to TAYO Monday morning, so we all walked to the village together. As we sat in the dirt with the other village members around the hut the funeral was being held in through the four hour service, I was amazed at the presence of the Lord and how different it can look. It was a sobering and eye opening experience for the three of us.
Wednesday TAYO had its first bible study. We were so excited that in planning for it, the members of TAYO began to own the Bible study as their own. They did not like the idea of separate Bible studies for guys and girls. Malawi is going through it’s own women’s rights movement, and all of them agreed that the Bible is something they should study together. So, we changed our thoughts and ideas, and Wednesday Shaila led the first TAYO Bible study and told the story of the parable of the sower. We will continue meeting on Wednesday afternoons at 3:30 (8:30 am eastern time), and prayerfully after we’ve led a couple, leaders will rise out of the group and continue teaching and we will sit and listen. Next week I will begin the story of Moses and the water of Meriba and Josh will continue the story the next week.
Pray the Holy Spirit will give us the words
to say and will raise up two leaders in TAYO
to continue this Bible study.
Last night was probably the best night in Africa I’ve had so far! We invited all 20 members of TAYO over to our house for dinner. We planned on blessing them, but they decided to bless us as well! It was a fun afternoon of teaching and fellowship as they brought ingredients to make their staple foods, and we provided chili and taught them how to make cookies. Snickerdoodles to be exact. They taught us how to make a relish for their enema (staple food, a mix between corn-meal mush and grits). We made something with pumpkin leaves, ground peanuts, and tomatoes, and then made ensema for the first time! They also made their version of fruit salad. While we were waiting on things to cook, we wound up having a little dance party in our house! We taught them the cupid shuffle, and they showed us some traditional “African moves”. I’ve decided white American’s weren’t created to move like that though! ?
Then it was time to teach them to make the cookies. Most of them have actually never seen a cookie before. The girls giggled and joked as they prepared the dough, we let them all try some of the dough before baking it, and their response was, “Is this like sweet bubble gum?” Hehe, it was wonderful. Several of the children in the village sat around our house, some even came in to join the festivities. We gave them each a snickerdoodle and they all sheepishly smiled and talked amongst each other. Two of the girls, who are our most frequent visitors (Fanny, pronounced “Funny”, and Cecilia) even joined us for some of the food. We invited our guard, Bambo Tambala, in as well for dinner.
As the three of us watched all of the people go through the line, we had the same through running through our head. This is church. Not dinning with the elite and the well-to-do, but with the sinners, the beggars, the children, and the poor. I was overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord. The water and the electricity stayed on ALL day so that we were able to provide the meal for everyone. Jehovah Jirah- the Lord provides- at His best!! We enjoyed food, laughter, learning, dancing, and praying together with our Malawian friends that night.
This morning, as Alibe began to wash the dishes, she timidly turned the water on, and I saw the biggest smile come over her face. “Water!” I said, “Jehovah Jirah, He is providing!” “Yes!” she exclaimed as she burst forth in laughter. We had a little praise party right there in our tiny kitchen!
Through all of these events the Holy Spirit is teaching me several things. None of which I can quite understand together yet. I feel kind of like the apostles must when the meaning of things were hidden from them as they walked with Jesus. The constant thoughts of “turning to look,” “discernment of giving from the Holy Spirit not from obvious need,” and “persistence, in prayer and other things” and “waiting to see Him do the impossible” keep recurring in my prayer life and when I sit alone with Him. I don’t understand what they all mean together, or what the Lord is molding me into through these thoughts just yet.
Pray for my personal discernment
and Walk as I continue to learn. Pray I
am always obedient, above all else.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update and for praying for all of these things! Your partnership and love mean more than you can ever know, especially as I continue to learn to live so far away from everything and everyone I know. Please email me and let me know how I can be praying for you, or you can even just give me an update on your life! Until next time…
Living in His Grip,
*Thankful for: the Living Water, Snickerdoodles, and laughter*
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Speaking of tea leaves, I don’t think I will ever look at tea the same. Every day I pass fields of workers with a bucket strapped to their back, hand-picking each tea leaf and throwing it in the bucket behind them. I have seen them continuing in blazing heat, in torrential rain, and with mosquitoes all around them. The next time you drink an awesome, cold glass of sweet tea, or enjoy a cup of hot tea with a friend- think of the Malawians. Pray for the women who work in these fields, that they would know the beauty of the Lord, that someone would share with them the freedom that’s found in the Jesus Christ.
Today while sitting at TAYO before a meeting, the girls got a hold of my hair! We are close enough now that they feel comfortable enough to play with my pony tail, they’ve asked Shaila and I both if we have ever had braids. Of course, our answer was no. I told Nafae she could play with my hair anytime she felt like it, meaning- I love people playing with my hair, not necessarily braiding it. After which, she proceeded to take my clip down and braid my hair. Two girls worked on mine, and two or three worked on Shaila’s. Yea, we pretty much look awesome. One of the police officer’s we saw while walking home greeted us with “Good afternoon sisters.” I feel like we’re pretty much in ;).
I apologize that there are not pictures yet, I am trying to paint pictures with words since uploading may not ever be a possibility. I will try to do one post with just pictures soon! Thanks for staying updated, and for praying! Feel free to drop me a line and update me on your life and how I can be praying for you!
Monday, January 26, 2009
I have made it through 42 hours of travel, 10 days of orientation in a fish-bowl, and more mosquito bites than I can count! And He’s been here all along. The time at Heron Bridge for orientation really has been wonderful. It has given the 26 of us serving in Africa a great chance to get acquainted with each other and the time and culture change. The place we are staying is beautiful! I have gotten to see God paint the sunset each night, as I have either sat on a green hill overlooking the river, or walking around the retreat center with new friends. Just so you know- He makes ‘em Good here!!
During our orientation time I learned a lot about myself as we had team building seminars, religion seminars, and practical application seminars. One day, we had a 6 hour revival, that was completely spirit lead, each team had some Bible study time, which wound up lasting 4 hours, and then we moved into worship through song which lasted 2 hours. When we were done, we were amazed at how much time had passed! The Lord has been all over each of us, and the Spirit has been so near. It has been so wonderful to just spend time with Him! My team is very unique and wonderful. There are 3 of us, myself, Shaila, and Josh. We have claimed Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” And we are praying that for each other!
The time here has been a unique chance to learn about the culture and effective ways to minister as we adjust to time change. It has been a wonderful experience, and while there were days that were long, I cannot believe it is already over and it’s time to head to Malawi! As we travel, please keep my team lifted, along with travel, the m’s were working with, the wonderful people we will be meeting this week, and last but not least- the spiritual warfare we will encounter! I covet your prayers, and feel privileged to have you along on this journey with me!
**Pictures will be posted soon! Please be patient with the African internet!*