Sunday, October 30, 2016

Planting and Watering

planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6

    Our "back yard" of sugar cane fields 

I saw this verse in action this past week at the XEE workshops.  In case you're wondering what XEE is, it's a tool to share the Gospel with Generation X, who prefers talking about life rather than death and having a conversation than being preached at.

We spent the mornings in the classroom training and the afternoons out in the neighborhood putting what we learned into practice.

My group was able to pray with a couple of Fijians the first day and share the Gospel the next. The third day I felt so discouraged when they were unavailable to follow up.  But when we reached the church our fellow trainer Mei exclaimed with joy how they had met that couple who today were now ready to accept Christ!!  With that news, my sadness turned to relief and joy!!

       My group meeting with a local 

Then the last day we came across a guy whose 2 uncles were pastors, knew about a personal relationship with Christ and whose life has been radically transformed even!  But he, like many I've met, sadly are not sure they're going to heaven!!  That breaks my heart yet gives me great privilege to proclaim the truth that anyone whose trust is in Jesus alone and not our own efforts--even good things like going to church, reading the Bible, and praying--have power to save us.  What good news!!!

        Last day of XEE workshops!!

Thank you so much for your prayers for this past week.  We all have different parts to play in God's plan of salvation.  None of us can do it alone. Your prayers are a major part of the work! Vinaka!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Clinic Time!

The last week was full!  We had our Hope For Kids workshop where we were able to train 10 locals and 23 internationals.  The last day we shared the Gospel with 11 children.  I loved learning from Rusila, my friend and roommate these 6 weeks!

Then Sunday I actually got to visit her church.  We were finishing the worship time when they announced that their "sister from Switzerland" would share her testimony. Good thing our motto during last year's internship was "I was born ready!" 

 It was actually really special to be in this small village church surrounded by sugar cane fields which reminded me of my own home having grown up with tomato fields in the "back yard."

Today was a prep day for the XEE workshops which begin tomorrow. Thanks so much for your prayers. We've been reminded of our need for them . Please pray for good health, unity, and protection and for open hearts as we train and share.  More later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Take two!

"You are part of a group who was never supposed to exist." 

Joana's words pierced the air in the training center last Saturday.  She had arrived from Australia to teach us communications. As if to drive the point even further that God has chosen us, she informed us of the bigger picture:

Eight years ago, a donor had provided funding for a project called Implementation Field Worker (IFW) Training.  Not only did the funding run out last year, but sadly the man who had run the program recently passed away from cancer. This meant no money and no leader.

But God had a different plan: someone provided funding, and Rod (VP of EE Internstional) pooled together people to teach and lead another training!  Take two!

    Practicing dramas: God is both 
                  loving and just 

Apparently it's been a bit different than normal; but I have a feeling it's just what it's supposed to be for this time.

Back to Joanna: she taught us a lot about how to communicate effectively, and today we had to perform dramas we learned last night in front of the class while getting critiqued!  Then take two as we re-performed trying to improve.  I'm not gonna lie. It was scary!  But good.  And really funny.  

  Hope 4 Kids skit: Heaven is a free gift 

The skits were prep for the Hope 4 Kids (H4K) and XEE workshops we're running later this week and next. It's quite a challenge as some of us, like me, have never learned H4K before, but we're up for the challenge!  

Giving demo: Jesus paid our debt and     
    restored our relationship with God

Still, please be praying for us!  We'd really, really appreciate it!

Friday, October 14, 2016

What's in your way?

 For me this morning, it was a goat. This one actually, who was standing between me and the path back to a shower and breakfast:

 I had just descended the hill from my morning walk when I came across quite a lot of goats! But this particular one was right there in front of me, blocking my path back to the center.

Could I just slide past him, politely excusing myself?  Despite the fact I'm a farmer's daughter, I'm not up on goat etiquette and went with my gut which said to find another way. So I ducked left over a bush, into a ditch, and across a few meters of a field to respect the animal known for butting anyone that gets in its way!

It got me thinking about how sometimes things get in our way to keep us from moving forward, at least according to the path we had planned to take.  In our training here, we devoted the entire week's sessions and homework to Master Planning, an exercise designed to create a plan that states your purpose, needs, areas of life/ministry, etc. in order to create goals.  One column in the plan is called roadblocks and actually considers those things that keep us from advancing.

       EE's purpose/mission statement 

Then I "happened to" read Acts 16 this morning, where I was reminded that sometimes the seeming roadblocks are the Lord Himself!!  In the passage, Paul wanted and planned to go to Asia to share the Gospel. Sounds like a good, God-approved plan, right?  But scripture says twice that the Lord kept them from going!!!  And if we read on, we find out that they were led by God to Europe, (Yay!) where many who were crying out to God needed to hear the Gospel not only heard, but believed. (And in case you're wondering, Paul actually would go later to Asia.) But the point is that God Himself "got in the way."  

        my purpose/mission statement 

So maybe next time there's a goat in the road, and we're forced to take a different path we weren't planning on taking, it's worth checking in with God to see if His Spirit is the "culprit" because He has a different plan than we expected.

And just as each of us here who have created Master Plans for ministry will submit them to those in authority over us, may we submit the "Master Plans" of our lives to our Lord who has the perspective we lack and knows how to refine our purpose statements, goals and plans to be all that God created us to be.

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

All for One and One for all

This week our focus is spiritual growth,  goal-setting, and communication.  In the book we're going through for spiritual growth, Green, Archbishop Harry Goodhew speaks of the past, present, and future blessings we have in Christ: we're already chosen, in His family, and will be unified along with other believers with the Lord.  I could spend hours contemplating all this!

But just to consider our future promise, it also creates an amazing effect on earth: unity.  This is what I want to focus on in this post.  This group here with me is a living example of that as we are from 13 countries, many languages, and a variety of denominations.  We are quite different from each other! And yet we are all in God's family with one goal and able to live and learn together despite the real differences!

Each night, like a camp would, we have kitchen duty.  Sunday night is a volunteer night.  Instead of having to search for helpers, here is what happened: a kitchen packed with smiling, laughing bodies ready to go! Now that's unity!

Kitchen Duty

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Then yesterday after dinner, everyone gathered together to celebrate Fiji's Independence Day.  The Fijians shared the national anthem, its history, and a couple of songs. We had so much fun laughing and dancing together!!  It was a great way to end a long day, and it was a another beautiful picture of the unity that we have in Christ.  

"All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name." Psalm 86:9

Saturday, October 8, 2016

One Week Down, Five More To Go!

     My group: Robert from Romania & 
           Maxwell from Zimbabwe 

We spent last week learning in the classroom.  Then yesterday we went out in groups of 3 to share the Gospel.  My group met many people and were able to present the Gospel to five people, all of whom wanted to receive God's gift of life now and forever.  Just like my own culture, many people here in Fiji believe they will go to heaven, but cannot answer why. Or at least the why doesn't match up with God's plan of salvation: a free gift that cannot be earned, but must be received through saving faith or trusting in Jesus alone as the One who pays the price of our sin. 

 It's always amazing to watch someone who understands for the first time and truly has Hope, not having to rely on good behavior or Godly practices, but through God Himself who has accomplished what we cannot.

    Tala Tala encouraging us with sermon  

This morning we had a worship service here at the center.  Tala Tala (Pastor) Nakiti reminded us that we are each a unique child of God, chosen by Him for this very special time in history.  He chose Daniel and Elijah for an earlier time in history, but we were made for now to accomplish His work right here and now, at such a time as this.  Our calling and appointments aren't dependent on how we feel about ourselves or our abilities, but on what God has decided.  

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you." John 15:16

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Who turned off the lights?

And the water, the fans, and the Internet?  Apparently the Fijian government!  To provide a very large hotel that is under construction and requiring extra power, they are cutting power in other parts (ours) on a daily basis lately.

On the one hand, we adjust and make the best of it, like having class outside!  (It's actually cooler because of the breeze and shaded burrĂ©, i.e. canopy structure.  On the other hand, it causes real issues like not being able to flush toilets, wash hands, or keep the refrigerator cold.  Or use the Internet, which restricts learning resources as well as communication (So sorry if I haven't replied to you.  I want to!).

We have much to be thankful for, and we even have a generator to rely on a bit, but it can't support all of our needs and was down yesterday all day.  We would appreciate prayers for good health, good attitudes (which have been so far!), and ability to accomplish everything we need however God chooses to do that, electricity or not. Vinaka!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bula from Fiji...again!

If you've been following me, you may be thinking Fiji?! What are you doing in Fiji? I thought you were going to Switzerland!  Well, I am.  So, let me explain...

Reuniting with some of our lovely Fijian ladies

After a short, medium, and super long flight starting Wednesday early afternoon, I arrived at the Nadi Airport super early Friday morning.  It's always strange just losing an entire day coming to this side of the world, but it's not like it was a surprise. When I left Fiji last time, I had a sneaky suspicion that I'd return one day; but I didn't know that it would be for another 6 weeks of training!  That is what has brought me back here.  This time is Leadership Development Training for those going into full-time service with EE.  I'll try to fill you in along the way on what types of things I'm learning and experiencing, but for the past 48 hours, it's mostly been reuniting, resting, and prepping for the conference. 

I may or may not have spent some time here this Sunday afternoon. :)

I'm thankful to have had a couple of days to get over jet lag before we start full-force. We'd all appreciate prayers for health and grace as we embark on 6 weeks of close quarters with 22 people from 12 different nations.  Vinaka! (Thanks!)

Where I'll be spending a LOT of time the next 6 weeks

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Nothing Too Great, Nothing Too Small

One thing I love about the Lord is that He is macro and micro.  He's the Lord of the universe, but He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  There is nothing too great that He cannot do and nothing too small that He isn't concerned about.  He has the long-range plan--for humanity as well as our individual lives--yet also directs each step on the paths that we're on.  When we know and accept this and engage with God personally as a God who cares and is able to act on our behalf, we encounter the beauty of His majesty and the wonder of His love.

This has been true in my own life, and yet despite a lifetime of evidence of His faithfulness, each new season places before me a fresh opportunity and really a choice of whether I will act in faith or unbelief.

As I prepare for some major life changes, this is the case.  I have witnessed God's extraordinary accuracy to detail in His provision, blessings, and timing.  This leads me to a high of amazement, adoration, and praise.  On the other hand, human nature has a way of magnifying setbacks and distorting truth to where we can lose our steam before we even get to the starting line!

I'm very thankful for the reminder of the power we have through Jesus Himself over difficult circumstances, fears, or lies.  The truth is that nothing can separate us from our God of love who not only created the universe, but created me and you!  Whose love is so authentic that He put it into action, not just words or feelings: He gave up His rights as God, subjected Himself to human conditions and even suffered a brutal death, all so that all persons could live...and not just now but forever!

I hope that wherever you life's circumstances find you--whether you're on a high, low, or in between--that you can know the joy and security of the life that is connected to the love of a God who cares deeply for you and can do something about your needs, no matter their size! 

     "Is anything too difficult or too wonderful for the Lord?" ~Genesis 18:14 AMP*

* 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631.  All rights reserved.