Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, to heal the broken,
To feed the hungry, to release the prisoner;
To rebuild nations, to bring peace
Among brothers, to make music in the heart.
Howard Thurman

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A New Joint

It's been 11 days since I went to The Medical Center, Beaver to receive a new knee. I am such a wimp or at least I feel that way. Surgery went well and I was discharged on Friday, Dec. 12. Now that I'm home I can't seem to find a lot of comfortable places to sit and I wonder if any progress is being made. But, then, I stop, take a deep breath and remember that a week ago, I couldn't lift my leg by myself. I couldn't get into bed without difficulty. I couldn't walk up and down the steps without talking to myself for 5 minutes first to "gear myself up." And, a week ago I couldn't get into a bathtub. Yes, the exercizes are painful and some may be from Satan instead of the Lord, but, little by little, the right things are happening. I can't drive yet (It's too cold outside anyway) because I don't have a 90 degree angle at my knee. That's fine with me! Last year I was in Ghana for Christmas and I was hoping to be around for some of the festivities at church this year. But, I'm not sure if there is a comfortable chair to sit in, where I can put up my leg. I'll try to work this out for Christmas Eve. All in all, God is good. It's His mercy and grace and the prayers of believers that have gotten me this far. I'm looking forward to using this new knee in Ghana!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Blessing of Family



The holiday season always brings the thought of family to mind. I have been blessed with two brothers, a sister, their spouses, their children and grandchildren. They mean so much to me. I have such wonderful memories of times spent together.

This year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my sister, her son and daughter in law in Texas City, Texas. It was wonderful! So relaxing and warm! I was able to visit and reconnect with my nephew and his wife. I don't see them very often. This trip has been another of the great blessings of our God.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Successful Failure


Apollo 13 was called "The Successful Failure" because the three astronauts returned to earth alive and safe although they never walked on the moon.



Gene Krantz, Flight Director of several Apollo flights always wore a vest made by his wife, each one specific for each flight.


While at the Johnson Space center, I, too, wore a vest for a brief time. The vest I am wearing is NOT one of Gene Kranz's vests, but he did wear it. Thanks goes out to the volunteer who put the vest on me for a picture!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Heavenly Father, on Thanksgiving Day
We bow our heads to You and pray.
We give You thanks for all You've done
Especially for the gift of Jesus, Your Son.
For beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family;
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days.
~ Mary Fairchild

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude

Gratitude...takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.
~Thomas Merton

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Basking in God's Grace


I went home today to check my mail and messages. The good news is my stress test was normal. I am basking in God's Grace.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Preparation or Battle?

The question I pose today is this: "Is God preparing me for Ghana or am I in a spiritual battle?"

When I had my EKG for my previous surgery, no one made any comment that something may be wrong. But, when my surgeon for my knee replacement had whom so ever look at the EKG he saw something irregular. It seems like I have had a heart attack in the past. Now, I am waiting for a stress test to be scheduled. This is providing stress in my life.

So which one is it...preparation or battle?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random Thoughts on Surgery

Last week I had surgery. Nothing major, but it was surgery none the less. As I waited to be taken to the OR, a few random thoughts crossed my mind:

~ There were no chickens running around.
~ Everything was very modern and very sterile.
~ I don't like not being able to take care of myself.
~ It's hard to ask for help.
~ I want my mommy!
~ I wish I had my favorite blanket with me.
~ God is still in control.

One surgery done, one to go. I have to admit, I'm not looking forward to being the patient again. This time it will be for a knee replacement. The hospital stay will be longer. The recovery time will be longer. The two good things about it are: 1. My knee will quit hurting and I'll be able to walk a lot easier and 2. God is still in control.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Disturb Us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord when we are too pleased with ourselves,
When our Dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost the thirst for the waters of life
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity.
And, in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas where storms will show Your mastery;
Where loosing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes,
And to push into the future in stregnth, courage, hope and love.


Attributed to Sir Francis Drake, 1577

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gaurenteed Dividends

I'm sure most people have been watching what has been happening on Wall Street during the last two weeks. People have lost more money than I'll ever see in a lifetime.

But, there IS good news!

When you invest in Missions, in spreading the Word of God throughout the world, you will always have dividends. There WILL be great rewards.

Invest in Missions today. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blessed to be Born in the USA

I am so blessed. So are you.


This week I have been working on lessons for the Children's Program for a week long Mission Festival. I am focusing on Bibleless people groups. And, I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am just because I was born in the United States of America. I own at least 8 Bibles of various translations in my heart language. Some have footnotes and some are study Bibles and some are annotated.


Do I appreciate this blessing? Rarely. Yes, I read Scripture. Yes, I study Scripture. Not as much as I should. I have become accustomed to having Bibles around. The Word of God is easy to access. Yet, I don't always take advantage of it. Most times the child like wonder of it all is missing. I get caught up in "stuff to do" instead of getting caught in the Word of God.


Ghana has 79 languages not counting the dialects. Only a couple of these languages have a complete Bible. People there hunger and thirst for the Word of God in their heart language. I should, too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This IS a Test

This IS a test. I think it has somethig to do with that "5 letter 'T' word" again.

I had excruciating pain on Tuesday night. It lasted for hours. Of course, I didn't call anyone. The good news is, it was not a heart attack. It may be gall bladder trouble. So, I am in the midst of tests. some which aren't scheduled for 3 weeks.

Trust is the key word here. I have knee replacement surgery scheduled for Dec. 9. I am traveling all over PA during the next 3 weeks, speaking at churches and communing with God and driving back home in the midst of it all for tests and doctors appointments. I have to admit, I'm not thrilled about all the driving. But, things need to be done. And I need to trust God to keep me safe and awake as I drive. I need to trust Him as the Great Physician, trusting that all will be well in time for my knee surgery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Girl Effect




In most of the world, girls are denied education. Or, at best, their families cannot afford to send them to school. Families have to pay for the education of their children. Many countries do not provide secondary education that is underwrited by the government/taxes. So, since girls are thought of as being of less worth than a boy, they oftentimes do not get an education.

Girls can change the world!
(With Christ's help. of course!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bibleless People

Most people in Ghana's Upper West Region are illiterate. Less than 5% of the population can read their first or heart language. These men are watching and listening to a Pastor during a sermon. It was the first time a Pastor was ever at their church. The leadership of the church is given by a young man that recently finished Senior Secondary School and can read English. There is NO Bible in the language of these people.




Rev. John Russell visited this church that meets under a tree in the middle of a corn field. He gave a salvation message to the people in attendance. He used word pictures and demonstrated what he could. In this picture he was demonstrating the weight of sin. People listened. Seeds were planted. Only the Lord of the Harvest knows what will happen next.

Pray that the Bible will become available in all 79 languages of Ghana and in all the numerous dialects.

In what language would Jesus speak to these people?
In their own.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Friend or Foe?

This monkey is a pet of one of the churches in the Upper West Region of Ghana that I have visited. Most of the kids are afraid of him. Monkeys can sense fear just like dogs do, which doesn't help. But, if you at least try to act like you are not afraid, the monkey will allow you to pet it and feed it. (I did both.)

Many people in this region of Ghana believe if you have a pet whatever, that the animal will keep the evil spirits away. I can't help but wonder...is this monkey a friend or a foe? Is he just a pet (friend) that is tied in a tree and taken care of by people in the church? Or is he a foe and used as an animal to keep away evil spirits - a part of the ethnic religions that are so prevalant in the north?

Where do you put your trust? Is it in your job? your health? Your bank account? Your 401K? or is your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reading Town Library Dedicated

Reading Town Library, Ankaase, Ghana

Hannah, Assistant Librarian (L), Julie, Head Librarian (R)

Books Needed to be Catalogued

Entering Data, Cataloguing Books

Children Enjoying Books
Reading Town Library, in the village of Ankaase, Ghana, was dedicated to the glory of God on Sat., Sept. 20. It has been in the process of being built for the last four years. The purpose of this library is to give the people of Ankaase a chance to improve their lives by reading, studying, literacy and computer classes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Gift from the Heart

What is the most memorable gift that you have ever received? (Other than the gift of salvation.) Perhaps it was a diamond, the promise of love and a life together. A child is definately a memorable gift from God. Maybe it was a family heirloom. Up to this point for me, it had been a teddy bear given to me by an orphan in Russia. But, I'm thinking the gift I received in Ghana will top that. I was given a live chicken - a rooster to be exact - by the people of the Lawra Methodist Integrated Health Ministries.

Now, what did I do with that live rooster? Well, I graciously accepted it and took it back to Wa where my friends live. I blessed their night watchman with it. I imagine it has been dinner by now.

What impressed me most, both by the teddy bear in Russia and the chicken in Ghana, is that the gift was given not out of the giver's excess, but out of the giver's meager possessions. They both were given sacrificially. The chicken was badly needed food, yet it was given with a grateful heart.

When was the last time you gave sacrificially? When was the last time I gave sacrificially? May God forgive us for being "spoiled Americans" in an "it's all about what I want or what I think I need" type of society.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Someone Who Has Touched My Life



This young boy's name is Kwabana. He lives in an orphanage in Lawra, in the north western part of Ghana. And, he has TB in his bones. He's the oldest child in the orphanage, yet smaller than most. When he smiles, he can light up the whole country. He doesn't have a "Woe is me" attitude. His attitude is one of servanthood, wanting to help. When I was there two weeks ago, I had taken some fruit for the children with me. Kwabana wanted to help, so he took a bag from me. It was filled with oranges! The poor dear tried to lift the bag and put it on his head to carry the oranges. His arm was shaking because of the weight of it. My friend, very politely said, "Here, Kwabana, let me carry that for you. You can carry this for me." and gave him a small, lightweight package. Kwabana held out both his hands and cradled the package as if it were priceless crystal. He carried it safely to it's destination, then went outside to be with the other children.

Sometimes, I, too, try to carry a load that is just too big for me to bear. And, my heavenly Father says, "Here, Sue, let Me carry that for you. You can carry this instead." And, what He gives me is something I can handle because He has taught me how to carry that type of load.

I pray that I will always be open to what the Lord has to teach me through others. I'm grateful for the lessons He has taught me and still continues to teach me. May I always have a teachable spirit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

God Heals Computers!



Yesterday, after church, a couple of friends came over for dinner and to work on my computer. Four hours later, after using the gifts God gave him, Chuck retrieved my pictures & videos from my trip, rebooted my computer a few times and retriieved all my data. God is good! I still will do whatever is suggested by the tech people at the office to insure the health and working condition of my computer. But, for now, I am so thankful to have the pictures back! Praise God!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kolongo

Kolongo Methodist Society

Sharing God's Word

One of the opportunities I had while in Ghana was to visit several village churches. This church, in the village of Kolongo, meets under a tree since they have no building. They have no pastor, either. The people of the village wanted to worship the One, True God, so they drcided to start meeting together. The person who provides leadership for this church is Abraham, a young man who recently finished Senior Secondary School. We found out about the existance of this church only a few days before we visited. It was the first time they had an ordained minister at their service.

That's what it is like in the northern region. People have nothing, yet they want to worship, and they band together. Many give up the opportunity to earn a few cedis so they can attend worship. The caretakers (the people who provide leadership for the village churches) are barely paid. But, they do what they do because of their love of Jesus Christ. The worship at this church was incredible. Let me just say, God was definately there!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back in the USA

I arrived back in the USA yesterday. Ghana was amazing again. I fell more and more in love with the country and it's people, especially with the children in the north who have been orphaned by AIDS. I would love to show you pictures. Hopefully, those will come. (My computer crashed while there and the pictures are on the computer.) The north is a poverty filled area where nobody chooses to live. There are no opportunities there. Children don't get the good education they need because teachers don't want to live in the north. The area where I was doesn't even have a doctor at the hospital.
I'll get off my soap box. Just know that there are many in the northern part of Ghana that need prayer, support and people who are willing to put their faith into action and go there to help people with their immediate needs and help them learn how to provide for themselves in the future.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Going "Home"

Tomorrow I leave for Ankaase, Ghana. I am so excited. I can't wait to see friends and all the children. I'll be working at Reading Town Library for the first four weeks or more. Then, I'll travel to Wa for two weeks to go to the orphanage and the school for the blind. I have no idea what kinds of surprises the Lord has in store for me, what opportunities that He'll present to me. But, I am ready, anxious and willing to do as He sees fit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is it Time?

As I have traveled to various countries, I have become painfully aware of the limitations I have because of the arthriris in my left knee. It has been very painful lately, and since I know I'll be doing a lot of walking in Ghana, I went to my doctor yesterday to have cortisone injected into it. I also asked for x-rays to be taken.

I was not ready for what I heard. I have not one, but, two bad knees. The left one is ready for a knee replacement any time I am ready for it. I was hoping to hear those words a year from now.

But, when is it time for surgery? I'd love to wait until spring or at least after the first of the year. I have trips planned, tickets bought and speaking engagements to fulfill.

When is it time?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A "Real" Newsletter - Finally!

Over the past several years, I have been trying to come up with the "definative" newsletter title and design that would work for me and reflect me and my ministry. It finally happened!

The name of the newsletter is "Living Water" because of John 7:38, "Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from Him." I want to be a vessel, used by God, to share this living water. Oh, also because the Kazakh word for "water" is "cy" which is pronounced "Sue."

This is the first time I wrote my newsletter using the Publisher program. I had gotten the program several months ago, but, as I tried to use it, I wanted to throw my computer off of a really high, rocky cliff! This time, it was almost painless. To God be the glory!

I hope when you receive your copy of Living Water, you will enjoy it. If you are not on my mailing list and want a copy, let me know and I'll send you one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dolls, Dolls and More Dolls

I'll be leaving for Ghana in about 2 1/2 weeks. On this trip, I will be visiting the region of Wa. Wa has an orphanage in it. I have been asked to bring black baby dolls for the orphanage. Through the generosity of friends, family and even those I've never met, the girls (and boys) of this orphanage will have plenty of dolls with which to play!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gray Days

Did you ever have a period of time when everything seemed "gray?" Not happy, not sad, but not normal.

I've been going through"gray" days. When I came back from Central Asia, I dealt with the time difference. But, then, there was a peiod of about two weeks or so when I was in a "gray" period. I think it was because when I return from a trip, I feel torn between two countries...the one I just left and the one in which I am a citizen. Don't get me wrong, I love the USA. I am blessed just because of the country where I was born. Within me is a struggle, where am I going, what am I doing?

Isn't that the same in our spiritual lives as well? We live in the world, but are citizens of Heaven. Here on earth, there are so many distractions to keep us from spending time with the Father. I feel that same struggle in a two room apartment in Ghana. I suppose the bottom line is to learn how to stay close to Him, with that relationship being the priority and everything else will fall into place. It may not be easy. Life will still have it's ups and downs, but the peace that comes from above will be within.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ten Ways Every Christian Can Care for Orphans

1. Plead with the Father for them. Matthew 7:7-8

2. Speak up for them. Proverbs 31:8-9

3. Give them what they need. James 2:15-16

4. Support those who support them. Hebrews 10:24

5. Provide them a safe place. Psalm 146:9

6. Go visit them. James 1:27

7. Give sacrificially to them. 2 Corinthians 9:7

8. Cheer them on. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

9. Give them a forever family. Psalm 68:5-6a

10. Mobilize your church for them. Matthew 28:18-20

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Story Continues - Central Asia


While in Central Asia, I was able to have “holy hanging around time” with kids at a feeding program. This is a place where kids who live at home in dire poverty can have a safe place to hang out and do activities and eat a hot meal. The Americans who work along side the nationals were in the States renewing their visas and I helped to fill their place in their absence. I also had the opportunity to administer the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and of Cognitive Skills to two missionary kids. They were great as they worked their way through test after test. They have lived in Central Asia for three years and their home school district in Georgia requires that these tests be given a minimum of every three years.


The couple who work with the feeding program have been great for the kids. They are a good example of how a marriage relationship should work. They love the Lord & love the kids. They have great ideas and even greater energy. Some of the kids have gotten a bus to travel to church and then go to this couple's house afterwards to help prepare lunch and hang out, playing Uno, talking, doing magic tricks and just being kids. When I left them last Sunday, to catch my flight home, there were four sad, puppy dog like faces staring at me. I didn’t want to leave.


Another opportunity I had was to visit a day care for special needs students of all ages. The day I attended, a friend, fashioned a splint for a two year old girl who had a severely deformed hand. It’s amazing what can be done with a little bit of supplies and a lot of the grace of God!


A man who dearly loves children is another dear friend. He has numerous ministries. I went with him to an orphanage where he has monthly birthday parties for the children. Because April was a busy month for the orphanage and the more than 350 children who live there, we celebrated the birthdays of children who were born in April and May. Children sang and danced, played and just “hung out” with us. They had a birthday treat and gifts were given out to the 60 or so children that had birthdays. Then, too soon, it was time to leave.


This man also works with Al Ateen. He knows each child & their story and loves them all. Most of these kids do not have a positive role model in their lives. George helps to encourage them, educates them and helps them break the cycle of alcoholism in their families. About 10 days ago he had a picnic for 100 of his kids. We went to the park, played volleyball, sang, ate hot dogs and ice cream, played around the lake and had a great time. And, when the kids thank him, he replies, “Don’t thank me, thank the Lord. He is the One who provides all of this.”


Another of his ministries includes opening up a new “coffee house,” a place where kids can hang out a couple nights a week, play, watch a movie and just be a kid. The place where this newest coffee house opened also started a weekly cafĂ© where people can come, listen to Christian music (in a Muslim country), eat shashleek and just relax under the evening sky. This helps to defray the costs of the outreaches that the church is involved in.


The night before I left, I met with a group of six women who gather every week for Bible study. These women are Christians and want to learn more about Scripture and how to apply it to their lives. Typically, in this culture, a person has to know you for a long time before they show any physical affection. As I was preparing to leave Bible study, one woman came up to me and said, “You are my sister, and I would like to hug you before you leave.” What a gift! I’ll always treasure it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Central Asia, Good Bye

I'm sitting in a hotel room in Norcross, GA at 3:47 AM wondering when I'll sleep normal hours again. I think of the people who shared my last few days in Central Asia with me. I have been blessed so much, especially those last few days. I was there to visit, encourage, test home schooled kids and to be an extra pair of hands. I believe that my life is richer from what I have experienced.

The love of God, expressed through His people, no matter what the cost may be to them, was so evident in the small things as well as the big things. A cup of tea shared, a fellowship gathering, times of study and prayer, times of just hanging out and just having fun.

I can't be more specific here, this venue is too public and Central Asia does not hold out open arms to Christians. But, I do want to say that saying "Good Bye" is hard to do. If it is God's will, I'll return and reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. And, some day, every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Central Asia, Part 2


Al Ateen Picnic

Having Fun with Friends


Singing


Hanging Out at the Lake


Lunch


Mmmm...Good!

Reunited after Four Years!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Central Asia, Part 1

An Orphanage Birthday Party

I Love My Toothbrush!
Testing

Meeting Old Friends
Doing Some Stretches...

Maybe!

Hanging Out with the Guys



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Pencil in the Hand of God

It is His work. I am like a little pencil in God's hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.
Mother Theresa

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Trust

Trust involves letting go and knowing God will catch you. James Dobson

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Personal Touch

Did you know it takes seven to twelve significant contacts with another before they will put their trust in Christ? Are you a "significant contact" with anyone?