Friday, June 29, 2012

To All Who Are Hurting

Hosea 6:1 - "He has torn us to pieces, now He will heal us. He has injured us, now He will bind our wounds."

There is a point in all of our lives when the ache in our hearts becomes a physical hurt. It's like your soul is a thousand pound weight crushing your chest, robbing you of breath. That's what I felt today. I went out to visit my boys one last time - to say goodbye before I head off to Marromeu to staff the DTS.

When I told them I had come to say goodbye, I could see the disappointment in their eyes. It has only been a few weeks ago that another volunteer left to return to England. I could feel the Liar creeping in telling me that I had failed them. I felt so guilty. In their little lives they have lost so much.I felt so much like I had let them down. I had become one more person that came and went - the same old story for these little guys.

I promised them that I would pray daily for them and then asked if I could pray a blessing over them before I left. They agreed and as I prayed, I felt like my heart would surely burst! But as I prayed for the peace of God, his presence, his love in their lives - Jesus gripped my heart. He has stored up all their tomorrows. He knows how many more people will come and go. He also knows he will never go.He knows how many hurts will need to heal and how much trust will need to be rebuilt. He knows the answers to their questions and He will not disappoint them. He will be by them every moment of every day for as long as they draw breath. There is such sweet comfort in that!

As I hugged them, I tried to lock away in my heart their little boy smells, their salty tears, and how the smooth skin of their cheek felt against mine. I tried to store in my memory the deep beauty of their dark eyes, the sound of their laughter, and way their little bodies felt in my arms.

I hope one day I'll see them again this side of heaven. If not, I'll look forward to that wonderful day when I can hold them again.Until then, I'll trust the One who has already beginning to heal and bind my wounds and I'll thank him that somewhere in this world He's doing the very same things for 25 precious little boys. He is the Keeper of Time and the Bottler of Tears, and though sometimes it hurts, when I can't trace is hand I can trust His heart.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When God Wrecks Your Plans.....

God has this terrible habit of wrecking my plans. And while I have to admit that all the "wreckage" He has caused has turned out pretty good for me, I am once again left shaking my head. I will be coming home to the states, but I won't be coming home until December. Just in time for Christmas!

As you may remember from my last post, I am leaving Beira and headed to Lichinga. The plan was to come home after moving to Lichinga for a short trip to renew my paperwork and then head back to Mozambique. I also told you that I was going to a YWAM conference in Marromeu for two weeks. That is where the trouble started.

This year, the leadership of YWAM Moz has decided to hold a national DTS. The DTS (Discipleship Training School) is YWAM's most basic school. Through the DTS YWAM teaches their values, doctrines as wells as teaching basics of the faith and preparing students for a life in missions. This is the school I did six years ago in Moz.

Usually each base holds their own DTS, but this year the leadership wanted to hold one large DTS and have staff from each base. Sounds like a great idea, right? I thought so, too and thanked God for all the people who were going to staff the DTS. I did not plan for it to be me. It did not fit in with my timing.

So, I went to this conference and one day the school leader was asking us what we could commit to the DTS. He said he was still understaffed and that this was our collective DTS and we each needed to be willing to give something to it. I heard this still small voice (you know the one) in my head say, "You know you could change your ticket to December."

I quickly squashed the voice, because that was not what I wanted to hear. Shortly after Francisco's plea we had a short break. As I was walking out of the room, my friend Suku grabs my hand and says, "You know you could change your ticket to December." Great.

Thank you, Holy Spirit. So when I don't listen to you, you send someone else with the exact same message. Fine.I guess I'll have to go pray about it.

And I did. The more I prayed, the more I realized that I needed to go ask Francisco what he needed for the DTS. I was desperately hoping he would say "nothing" or "come sweep floors for a month before you go home." Nope, of course not. He smiles and says, "I need English speaking staff. I have three American girls coming to this DTS."


So of course, I told the Lord if he would remove the obstacles, I'd be happy to stay. I thought this was very smart seeing as changing an international ticket is very expensive. There were also a few other obstacles that I thought would make it a no-go. Of course, He did remove the obstacles - right down to changing my airline ticket for less that $200. Of all the things you pray, don't pray for God to remove obstacles.......He can, you know!

So, in a couple of days I am headed back out to the bush. Yep, the lots of mosquitoes, no electricity, barely- there- phone -signal bush. And, truth be told, I couldn't be happier! I'm still getting used to the change of plans and trying to convince myself that 6 months with no electricity isn't that bad - I've done it before. However, there is such peace that comes with giving in to that still, small voice - even when it wrecks your carefully laid plans!

Please pray for my health. I have struggled so much with my health these last few months and I'm headed into an area where the malaria is frequent. I'm armed with lot's of bug spray and the Great Physician, but I'd appreciate your prayers for myself, the students, and staff.

Please pray for God to do HUGE things for us during the 3 months of lecture and 3 months of ministry. God took enough time to wreck my plans, so I'm pretty sure He wants to do something awesome. Pray that I will have eyes to see it and a heart to embrace it.

 Pray for my language skills. My Portuguese is improving daily. I can understand most things, and my speaking ability is getting better all the time. However, most of the students and staff speak only Portuguese so I need to be a much quicker study than I have already been. Pray that by the end of the first 3 months I will be able to communicate effectively. This will be important for the ministry phase of the DTS.

I am so excited about what He is going to do. I am thrilled with the peace I feel about following His voice. I'm thankful that He loves me enough to wreck my plan.

And, yes, just in case you are wondering, I have already started singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas." ;0)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Raising the White Flag

Some of you may remember the animated movie that came out a few years ago, Joseph: King of Dreams. I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about the movie – I wasn’t too interested in animated movies at the time. But there was a song in that movie, which really did touch my heart. The song was about Joseph’s surrender to the Lord in spite of his circumstances.

That may be the hardest thing about walking the Christian life – holding, clinging, trusting Him when our world is spinning out of control and nothing makes sense. How could God let this happen to me? When will God change my circumstances? Why doesn’t He answer my prayer? Doesn’t He care about my needs? Does He hear me? Does He even care? The questions we have in the middle of our circumstances are endless. I have even found myself bargaining with God, “If my child was asking me for this…..” It's so hard to understand when God could change our circumstances - when we think He should change our circumstances........and He chooses not to.

The thing I have found in my own life is all of my questions are about me – as if I deserve only good from God’s hand. We’ve all said, “I don’t deserve this!” But who really does? None of us want suffering, or loss, or hardship! But it is through those toughest of times, that our Savior molds us and we come to know the wonderful depths of His boundless character.

Here are the words to the song:

You Know Better than I

I thought I did what’s right
I thought I had the answers.
I thought I chose the surest road
But that road brought me here.
So I put up a fight, and told you how to help me
And just when have given up,
The truth is coming clear;

You know better than I.
You know the way.
I’ve let go the need to know why,
For you know better than I.

If this has been a test,
I cannot see the reason.
But maybe knowing I don’t know
Is part of getting through.
I try to do what’s best
And faith has made it easy
To see the best thing I can do
Is put my trust in You.

I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky.
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow.
But it was You who taught that bird to fly.
If I let You reach me, will You teach me?

I’ll take what answers You supply,
For You know better than I.

That last bit always confused me until recently – “I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky.”  Then one day I was listening to this song and pouring out my heart to God and the meaning hit me. We, in our humanness, see a beautiful cloud and are so struck by it’s magnificence that we do not understand how limited our view is. We don’t see what else is out there. If we could just catch a glimpse of the expanse of the sky, that cloud would seem so small and simple. But, God is loving enough not to let me be limited by my own small view of the world.

I came to Beira in November expecting to work with 25 precious little boys for the next three years. I did not expect to encounter such opposition from the leadership about…..well, everything. I did not expect that Satan would be so bound up in this place that I could not function in the ministry God called me here to do. I have cried, and prayed, and done what I can to break through the wall that is around the ministry here in Beira. The good news is, the hands of justice are moving and there will be new leadership at Casa Re’Om soon. The good news is the boys will be okay and that God loves them ever so much more than I do.

The heartbreaking news is, I am not a part of the future at Casa Re’Om. In recent weeks, God has made it clear to me that I am not to stay at Casa Re’Om. I thought He called me here for the boys, but I now think He called me here to speak the truth and bring the challenges here to the attention of YWAM leadership. So many people have come through Beira and left hurt and disillusioned without doing anything. But, God in his wisdom, brought a unique group of people together for this time who were willing to stand up and be a voice for the boys.

Though I don’t like it a whole lot, I will be moving on to the YWAM base in Lichinga at the beginning of July. While I have many friends in Lichinga, and there is a part of me that is so excited about the ministry there, right now my heart is aching because I will not be here to see the growth and change in my boys. I will not be here to tell them about Jesus. But there I go again with ”I”……

 He loves them more than I do. Jesus wants them to know His voice more than I do. Jesus will give them what they need everyday for the rest of their lives. I am not ready for my role in their story to be complete. But, Jesus is ready and He knows better than I.

So for now, I have my questions and my tears. I mourn and I look forward with excitement. He had a part for me to play in Beira and He has a part for me to play in Lichinga. I don’t have to understand Him to trust Him, and so trust Him I will.