Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Praise God! I leave for Ghana on Wednesday February 2, 2011. I believe that God has His hand in this since I have my apartment until January 31, so I will only be "homeless" for 2 days. Plus, I can cancel my renter's and car insurance knowing that I will definitely be gone! What a great reason to celebrate. Thanks, God!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Step at a Time

This past week I received word that I have a house in Lawra, Ghana! The money for the rent has been wired and all should be well. (The house in the picture is not my house.) I have not seen it, but I do know that it has two bedrooms and a living room. I also know that it is unfurnished. So, what I'll do is travel to the Upper West Region. I'll see my house. I'll sleep on the floor. I'll cook on a wood fire. I'll find out where to buy a bed and a stove and a refrigerator and a water filter. That will be February.

In March, I'll work on finding a desk, a kitchen table & chairs and a lamp or two. Maybe even a bedside table. I'll have to do furnish the house one step at a time, very possibly one item at a time.

I know with patience, perseverance & the Grace of God, this empty house will become my home. It will be a place where I can be myself, a sanctuary from all that is going on around me. It will also be a place to study language, to entertain guests, to study God's Word with others and to fellowship with one another. I pray God's blessing on my house and on all who enter it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Christmas Prayer for the Children of Lawra Orphanage

I have only one hope for these children,
That Jesus knows their grief,
That He carries their sorrows,
That they will call on Him and they will answer,
And that His presence will be a healing balm in their lives.
There is too much to fix in the lives of these children.

But Jesus does more than fix.
He redeems, delivers, heals and restores.
He reconciles. He brings peace.
He can be God to them right where they are.
That really is their only and best hope.

~ Cathy Temmerman
IBS Staff Member

(I would like to add that He can be Father to them, too.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Paradox Continues

This week I went shopping. I didn't visit too many stores - Wal Mart, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Staples and K Mart. All but once, I went in, looked around and bought only what I intended to buy when I walked into the store. The one time I didn't, I only spent an extra $2. Shopping is not one of my favorite past times.

But, it is Christmas season. There are so many pretty things to look at: Christmas mugs and plates, Christmas napkins, Christmas towels, stuffed Christmas toys (soft & cuddly), warm jackets, mittens...all kinds of fun stuff. It's so tempting. I have to remind myself that I don't "need" any of it. I'm moving in two months. But, it;s so nice..."No, let it go, don't even go there." And, I keep walking. It's fun to look - sometimes.

Yes, the paradox continues. I'm torn between two worlds. One foot is here in Pennsylvania and the other foot is ready to be placed in Ghana. It's happy & sad at the same time. And it's all good. I'm getting through it because of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ and the prayers of friends. And, I will continue to get through it because of them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


This morning most of my belongings are going up to my church. I will have a moving sale there on Saturday. And, although this excites me and makes me happy, there is some sadness, too. This apartment has been home to me for 15 years. Along with help from the Lord, it has been transformed from the place where I live to home. There are a lot of memories here, connected with the "stuff" that I am saying "good bye" to. So, it is a bittersweet day. And, I know that's OK because God is in control and He is leading me. Before I realize the time that has gone by, I'll be saying my good byes to friends and family, not to "stuff." And through our tears that will most likely mark our separation, we will be rejoicing because God has done a good and marvelous work in my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Weight of the World

I have been thinking about the phrase, "The weight of the world is on my shoulders." I've felt like that a lot in my life, in the past, and to a degree, even now. Ever since I was divorced, I have bought into the idea of "pulling myself up by my bootstraps." After awhile, I realized that the body of Christ is ready and willing to help with those things that I can;t do or am clueless about; things like fixing my computer or a ride to and from the airport or doing a web page for me or even fixing stuff in my apartment that needs fixed or even making me chicken soup when I'm sick.

There have been times since I have been with The Mission Society that it seemed that I had to do everything myself. Since I am single, there is no spouse to help with packing, unpacking, getting stuff ready for visas, raising support, speaking, writing letters, making phone calls, fixing meals, cleaning the apartment, helping with income, taking care of day to day life stuff so I can have some relaxed time for myself, grocery shopping, language learning, and the list goes on. Some days can seem so endless and so hard. And, yet, because I am alone, if I need to stop what I'm doing to do something else that "just came up" I can do it. There's pros and cons to it.

Right now, at 7AM on Wednesday, November 17th, I feel as if I have that weight on my shoulders. I am getting ready to move to Ghana. My moving sale is December 4th. I have to decide what to keep and store for ten years, what to sell, what to give away, what to pack keeping in mind that I am only taking three cases with me. I do have people helping here and there at random times. And, some stuff others just can't do. I have to practice going out of my comfort zone and call people, asking them to come and help for a couple of hours. I can't do it alone. I need the body of Christ including my "Home Team" to help me with various projects.

Part of the problem is that many people are not available when I am. The other problem is that I feel as if I am imposing on people if I call and ask for help. (My problem, not theirs!) When I can't sleep, I'll get up and do odds and ends that need to be done, like empty a book shelf or a dresser drawer. Then, I'll get ready for the day, have my quiet time with the Lord and continue with what needs to be done. By the time people are home from work, I'm ready for bed!

The solution? Give it to God. Let Him carry the weight. Make phone calls. Ask people to help at specific times. And, keep on keepin' on, relying on the strength that comes from Him. God's hand print has been on all of this so far. I know He will continue to lead, guide, strengthen and give wisdom. And when all is said and done, I will praise Him!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Difference a Year Can Make!

A year ago I was hoping to be in Ghana by the end of June 2010 at the very latest. Obviously, that didn't happen. God had other plans. And, as usual, He knew what was best for me. This past year has been a a year of preparation for my move. But, it has also been much, much more.

In July 2009, I took the Holmes and Rahe stress test. I quit counting my score after I passed the 700 mark. Anything over 300 indicates that there is a possibility of having a stress related illness. I was a prime candidate. And, I could see how the stresses in my life were affecting me. I was behaving - acting and reacting - in ways that were foreign to my natural, God given personality and characteristics. I didn't like who I was at times. And, I knew I needed to do something about it.

So, I spoke to my pastors. I asked for help, for ideas on how to deal with the things in my life that gave me a 700+ score. I spent more time with God. I breathed deeply. I exercised. I learned how to relax. I tried to make better food choices. I took time for myself without feeling guilty! I spent time with family and friends. I began to see the importance of a Sabbath rest. I continue to learn to give things to Christ and leave them at the foot of the cross instead of worrying about them. All of these things, plus more, over the course of this past year, has made me a different person.

The person I am today is one who knows that the weight of her world is not on her shoulders, but on God's. And, if He is truly leading me someplace, He will absolutely provide for me. That doesn't mean it will be easy. But, I know I can depend on His words in Isaiah: "I have called you by your name; you are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; "Isaiah 43:1-3 (AMP)

I have no idea where this great adventure that I am on will end. I know I am excited, energized and ready to embrace what God has for me. And, as I prepare to move, I will be taking with me the lessons of this past year. A new, improved, more mature daughter of the Most High will be boarding that plane in February. May He receive all the glory!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Homeward" Bound

It's "official." When I first arrived in Ghana in October 2007, I felt as if I were "home." I had such a peace in my heart even though I did not know what lay ahead. And, now, for what seems like forever, my prayer has been that I would return to Ghana, not just for two months, but for an extended period of time. The time has now come! Praise God!

I will begin my journey to the Upper West Region of Ghana sometime between mid February and mid March, with the preference being mid February. So, I am finally on my way "home." I can't wait to see the faces of the children whom I love. I can't wait to return to my Ghanaian "home town," Ankaase. I can't wait to see my friends, Mary Kay & Charlie and Anne & Cam and Ritchie & Maggie and their families. But, most of all, I can't wait to be Jesus to the children at the Lawra Orphanage and to the Dagaaba people in the Upper West Region.

I know there is a lot to do between now and then...documents needed for my visa, housing concerns, raising some more support, a moving sale, Thanksgiving, Christmas, moving out of my apartment, and even dealing with being homeless for a time. But, I can't remember when I have had such peace, such joy. I imagine there will be bumps in the road, too. But, as it says in Isaiah 58:11 "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame." Obviously, God is in control. He has scripted this and, it WILL come to fruition.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wish List vs. Faith List

I have friend, a colleague, a "coach" who works at The Mission Society office. His name is Ron Beatty and he has been such a blessing and an encouragement to me. He keeps me focused on truth by a simple well placed word spoken here and there.

Several months ago we were talking on the phone about my upcoming move to Ghana. I was talking about a few things that I would like to have to take to Ghana with me. Since he is a "computer geek" and is the tech person for the office, we talked about my computer. He asked if I was planning on buying a new one before I left. I told him no, I didn't have the funds for a new one. Then, I said, "I'll put it on my wish list." He responded, "No, put it on your FAITH list. Believe God will provide for you." Every time the phrase "wish list" comes to mind, I think of that conversation. I do have to admit that in my mind, I dropped the idea of a new computer.

Well, (rhymes with Dell), on Sunday, my adapter chord died. It was the second one in less than three years. I've also replaced the mother board, hard drive & speakers on my present computer in less than three years. As I was talking on the phone with a friend (because I couldn't email - I couldn't recharge my battery) she said, "If someone were to donate money for a new computer, would you use it for that or for something else?" "I'd use it for a computer, if the funds were specified." "We'll donate to The Mission Society, to your account for a new computer for you, so you'll have a good one when you move." WOW! Praise God!

I had forgotten about the conversation with Ron from several months ago. God didn't forget. He knows what I need. And, He showed me what FAITH, not wishing can do. Do I still have a "Wish List?" No way! But, I do have a "Faith List" of stuff that I want to pack. When the time is right, God will provide!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I am so Blessed!

Monday, as I was driving home from the Home Group I belong to, my mind began to wander as it often does on an open road. Since my computer was not working, I had checked my email at my friends house before I departed. My messages included one from a church in central Pennsylvania which wants to support my ministry at $100 a month and this was the message to confirm that commitment. I was also asked to speak to the congregation in January.

As I drove, I thought about the lack of "stuff" I'll have. I was thinking about cooking over a fire some of the time, and not having water some of the time, and having very little in belongings with me. And, I was so excited. I was excited because my dream is slowly becoming reality. "I am the luckiest person in the world" was the thought that crossed my mind. Then, I corrected myself, "No, I am the most BLESSED person in the world." The Bible doesn't mention luck, not even the "Luck of the Irish!" All good things come from God.

And, I see living among the Dagaaba people group a good thing coming from God. How else can I see this situation? The Dagaaba people group are an under evangelised people group. Most still believe in traditional or animistic religions. They don't know the love and hope of Jesus Christ. And, many times, when one accepts Christ into their life, the new beliefs are mixed with the old ones.

In Genesis it is written that we are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. The blessing spoken about is not an American way of life, or a certain monetary income, but the blessing of salvation. And, to share that blessing with others who don't have the opportunities to hear about it as we do in the USA...well, it doesn't get any better than that!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Subtle Changes

All week I've been wondering, "How much is enough?" On one of the election promos, all you hear is "Greed is good...greed is good." I don't remember who was slamming whom or for what office that is being pursued at this time. Anyway, the question remains, "How much is enough?"

Today I stopped in a Joann Fabrics and Crafts Store. It is a wonderful place to buy stamping supplies, baskets, paper and seasonal stuff. I was kinda looking for something for my sister for Christmas. But, today, all I saw was "stuff." I don't think I was actually seeing anything. I wasn't tempted to buy anything. Sure, there were a lot of nice things, stamping supplies and some really cute stuff, but, "How much is enough?"

I'm in the process of simplifying my life with the expectation of moving to Ghana in the next few months. So, my dilemma is, "What do I keep? What do I sell? What do I give away?" and"Is the 'almighty dollar' always best as the bottom line?" I think not. Sure, I would like to sell what I can. It would be good seed money for my moving expenses. But, I have to admit, it would be even better to give some of my stuff to a homeless shelter, women's shelter, etc. After all, my "stuff" really isn't my "stuff" and it's on loan from God.

So, "How much is enough?" Just the bare basics. This is what I've been thinking about lately. It's a part of the metamorphosis that is happening in my life right now. Praise God!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pair O' Ducks

As I was driving home from Erie this morning, I was deep in thought. I was thinking about the "Pair O' Ducks" of my life right now. I am so excited and looking forward to moving to Ghana. I am moving forward in that direction. I'm support raising, which is a given. But, I am also packing boxes of "stuff" I want to sell or give away. Little by little, shelves, drawers, closets, cupboards are being cleared out. Some of my furniture is awaiting for me to say, "Come and pick up your 'new' bed or chair or whatever." I'm beginning to simplify my life in this way, looking forward to the day when I will board the plane and fly to the children in Ghana that I long to see again.

Yet, I love this season, the fall colors are beautiful. Once again, I am sleeping under my big, fuzzy blanket from Kazakhstan. Hooded sweatshirts and flannel pajama pants are my work at home "uniform." The scent of fall candles is comforting. Hot tea in the afternoon is rejuvenating. I want to put out my fall decorations and am tempted to buy one or two more. The Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff is beautiful. And, again, my heart is longing...a "pair o' ducks."

My paradox (pair o' ducks) is the contradictory statements or the inconsistency in what I am experiencing. It's not wrong, it's just the way it is. I'm happy to be on this journey, yet it is bittersweet because I am saying "farewell" to things that have been a part of my life for so long. I am embracing both...the happy, pleasant duck, or feelings, and the yucky duck, or feelings. They both need to be felt. Both need to be a part of my life at this time. Some days are easier than others. Some days are harder. It is the peace of Christ that keeps me going at times like these.

I know, at least in part, the adventure He has for me. And I intend to travel on that adventure praising Him and giving Him the glory, even in the midst of the "pair o' ducks" of my life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Geek in Training

I am not a computer geek. When there is a problem, after I panic, I call Chuck or Joe or Cathy. They roll their eyes as they listen to me whine about my computer problem, then, they are gracious and fix it for me. I thank God for them.

But, what happens when I am in a situation where I need to "look like I know what I am doing" and can't call Chuck or Joe or Cathy? Well, I experienced that scenario on Monday.

Monday, I was scheduled to speak at a women's group at a local church. I packed my car in the pouring rain, slowly & carefully drove to the church and parked, and unpacked my car in the pouring rain. As water dripped off my coat and my computer and projector cases, I eyed up the room in which I was to speak. A table of the perfect size was in the back of the room. I dragged it to the front of the room. I unpacked the projector and my laptop. I connected the to blue, projector first, laptop last. I turned on the projector. I turned on the laptop. I waited for everything to focus. I hit the input button on the projector to input from the computer. Nothing. Ugh! But, wait. Maybe I connected the cords in the wrong order. I'll try again. So, I disconnected all the cords and cables and reconnected them. I turned the projector on. I turned on the computer I waited a few minutes. Then, I tried again to get the input from the laptop. Nothing...again. Ugh! So, again, I disconnected everything. And, again I connected everything...still it didn't work! Well, I decided I would try once more, then go to "plan B."

By this time I was just a little bit frustrated. I prayed. I asked God to help me in this situation. I disconnected the cords and cables and unplugged everything. Then, as I recited to myself the steps to connect the projector to the computer, I was very nervous, and very careful. Then, I turned on the projector and the laptop. I remembered that I reset my settings to the default ones. I have no idea if any of these setting have anything to do with showing a presentation, but I checked one of them & changed it. God must have been whispering in my ear. I held my breath as I hit the button for computer input. The desktop picture showed! Praise God! I opened up my Power Point program and opened the presentation. I saw it on my computer, but not on the screen. I knew there was a setting to change, but where? Again, God whispered in my ear, "It's over here. Do this..." And I did.

On the screen, was my presentation, complete with music! Thank You, Lord. I am not a computer geek, but I am a geek in training!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Love to Tell the Story

Last week I attended a conference at WinShape near the Berry College Campus in Rome, GA. It was how to share the Bible with oral learners and it was amazing! I learned so much. I learned things like 70% of the world's population are oral learners. They may not be illiterate, but they prefer an oral learning style. They either can't read, won't read or choose not to read. How do you reach them with the Words of Life? How does one reach the people groups that have no scripture in their own language? How does the Body of Christ reach out to the unreached, unengaged people groups that have never heard of the name of Jesus?

It's not going to be through the written word. A printed Bible doesn't help much if you can't read. And, a printed Bible doesn't help much if it is not in your heart language, the one you learned from birth. So, an oral approach is needed. An approach that is heart felt, using the words of Scripture in the peoples' heart language. That's what Bible storying is all about...sharing the Scripture from memory with the voice inflections, body language and facial expressions that a storyteller would use.

A storyteller keeps their audience engaged in the story, and in this case it's His story, the story of God. It seems as if there are as many different methods as there are people. Some, use the words straight from Scripture, not adding anything, not taking anything away. Some, include things that probably happened, but is not mentioned in Scripture, but was the custom of the day, such as taking off sandals when entering a house. Some storytellers use more actions than others, more voice inflections and similar type things.

The one thing that Bible Storytellers all have in common is their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and their desire to see people from every tongue and every nation bowing down at the Throne of God. And they will continue to do so until their last breath in this world, for They Love to Tell the Story...Do you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Being Stretched

When I was younger, I always thought missionaries were people who gave up everything and went to the middle of no where to work for God and share His love, to teach people about Him. They had this aura about them that kinda made them glow, after all, they are SO holy, SO connected to God. They don't mind eating bugs and living among savages.

Well, maybe some missionaries are like that, but I don't think they glow. Now, I have a more mature view of who missionaries are and what they do and why they do it. After all, I am a missionary! (I don't have a halo & my clothes don't glow.) I look forward to giving up most of my worldly possessions and I am ready to embrace the people group with whom I will be working. Language learning no longer scares me. Neither does the thought of killing my own chicken. After all, doesn't Jesus say that His grace is sufficient for me?

What many people don't realize is that God stretches those He calls to follow Him. For me, that stretching doesn't involve moving to Ghana...I look forward to it! And, it doesn't involve eating different foods (well, maybe a little stretching.) It doesn't involve working with orphans - I love the children and have worked with kids most of my life. I know I need to learn new languages and new ways of doing things, especially if I want to eat chicken. That doesn't even come close to the stretching I experienced today.

Today, I drove to White Oak. Now, God gifted me with teaching, administration, working with children and the like. He did NOT gift me in driving in, near, around or through Pittsburgh! I prayed. There was construction. My hands were clammy. Street signs must have not been a part of the budget in several communities in the past decade. I was beginning to get a headache. I kept repeating, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I took a wrong turn. I turned into a gas station. A truck driver from Heildelburg gave me directions & even drew me a map & made sure I got on the correct road. I was thanking God for this person and asked God to bless him today. Then, those street signs disappeared again..."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

I finally arrived at the church. The pastor and I had a great conversation. And he showed me a MUCH easier route home.

Missionaries may be gifted in the work God has called them to, but they need to depend on Him for so much more than most people realize. Today was only the tip of the iceberg for me...I need His help in every area and in every instance of my life!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spiritual Nurturing

Pastor Brad Neel

Pastor Tom Kennedy

About six weeks ago, I was asked the following question: "Who has been a significant person that has nurtured your spiritual life in the last 12 months and how have they had this influence?" Boy, that was a tough question to answer. It really made me think. There are a few people who have nurtured me spiritually over the years who stand out in my mind. But, in the last 12 months, well, I really struggled as I tried to answer this question.

When I think of people nurturing me spiritually, I think of the spiritual giants that have been in my life...Jim and Dee Armour and Ava and Albert Steiner. Jim and Dee live two or so hours away from me now, and I haven't had a heart to heart talk with them in YEARS! And, Ava and Albert no longer live here on this earth. They have entered their heavenly reward. So, who has nurtured my spiritual life? Hmmm...

I finally did come up with my pastors. Each of them has listened to me, encouraged me and challenged me in my spiritual walk. It hasn't always been easy. Sometimes they will challenge me in an area that I may not want to deal with - yet. But, they speak life into situations...God's life! They speak truth into situations, especially when I am too blind to to see it! They have prayed for me and continue to do so.

I know that I am closer to Jesus today than I was twelve months ago because of my two pastors! Thanks, guys!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This morning I was reading in the book of Genesis, chapters 1-4. The portion that jumped out at me, even though I had noticed it several times was in Genesis 1:29. In this section, God is talking to Adam about what He had provided for food:

29 And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth,

and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Gen 1:29 (NKJV)

Later on, after Eve and Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God spoke to them, telling them the consequence for their actions:

"Cursed is the ground for your sake;in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground,for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return." Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)
It is obvious to me that God didn't mention pizza or chocolate the way I think of it, or pie or ice cream or even meat! It seems to me that everything God mentioned to use as food in this passage is in it's natural state and is healthy. There are no additives, no chemicals.

I'm thinking if I ate this way, even sometimes, I would feel better and be a LOT healthier!

Monday, August 23, 2010

SPLICE - Week 3

I've been home for less than 48 hours and SPLICE seems as if it was a lifetime ago! I look at my pictures and my heart aches to see these special people God put in my life.

Week three started out just like the previous weeks...with worship. The first topic of the week was moral purity. My thought was "Having a relationship with a guy is about the last thing on my list about now." Only, I soon realized that the topic moral purity covers all areas of my I spend my time, how I handle my money, how I handle all relationships, what I do on the Internet, how I handle substances (is there any addictive behaviors in my life?) and more...
Grief and loss was an emotional topic to cover, not just for me, but for everyone. We searched Scripture to find out what is said about grieving. There are a lot of references dealing with grieving within community, crying out to God and lamenting. During this session, we were in the "Holy Place."

Of course, we met with our growth groups. One of our assignments was to "waste time together." My group went to the local coffee shop. It was nice just to hang out and talk without any other agenda.

As the class was "winding up" (or is it "winding down?", time was taken to pray around the world. We each showed what country we are going to and mentioned prayer requests. Then, we prayed aloud as we saw fit. Two prayers for me included, "When we get to the ends of the earth, there will be a sign saying, 'Sue - Three Miles.'"and, "God, help Sue kill her first chicken."
Later, we built an Ebenezer to remember all that God had done for us during our time at SPLICE. (For more info, read the post entitled An Ebenezer.)

All too soon, it was time to leave Mission Training International. Since we had learned all about healthy "Good Byes," it was a festive occasion, even with tears!

SPLICE may be over, but the lessons learned will continue forever...

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Ebenezer

Did you ever sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing? There is a line in it that says, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I'm come..." What is an Ebenezer anyway? Do you know? Do you even care? Or, are you like me & you have sung the song but never pursued the meaning of the word?

Well, yesterday, during our last full day of SPLICE we built an Ebenezer. That caused me to do some research. The term "Ebenezer" originally comes from the Bible (I am not surprised) in 1Samuel 7:12-14. It is formed by the two Hebrew words that mean "stone" and "help." So, an Ebenezer is a stone of help. It is a stone that is used as a reminder of God's real, holy presence and His divine aid.

That is what SLICE was all about - reaching out for, calling out for and leaning into God's divine help. As I learned more about myself, how I respond to situations, how I interact with people and especially as I look at the task set before me, I know that I can't do it on my own strength. All I can say is, "God Help!" I've said it many times in my life and many, many times these past three weeks. "God Help!"

And, God did help. He continues to help. Our Ebenezer is a testimony to "The Secret Work of God" that took place at Mission Training International in August 2010. I do raise my Ebenezer, God is my help! Without Him, I can do nothing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Avenue of Growth

I am still in Palmer Lake, CO at Mission Training International. When I saw this morning's topic I knew there was potential for all those feelings and emotions that I don't like to feel to surface. And, I was right. But, it didn't happen right away. We first searched the Scriptures to see what they have to say about grief. This is some of what they say:Weep with anguish of soul and bitter mourning; Weep and wail; Cry out; Wailing loudly and bitterly; Cry out to Me from their hearts;A lament they will chant; Teach your daughters how to wail; Teach one another a lament; compose laments...and on and on...

Our American culture teaches us that after a few days or a few weeks, all should be well. We need to "suck it up & get over it." It has been my experience that whatever "it" is, doesn't go away in a few days or a few weeks or even a few months. It takes quite awhile.

But, if I look to Scripture, it teaches us how to weep, how to mourn, how to grieve. And, many times it is done in community, with the body of Christ. Other than the obvious - during a funeral - I don't think I've ever seen that happen...

Until today. We grieved together. We wrote our laments to Father God. We spoke them aloud. We mourned together. We cried together. We called upon our Abba Daddy God and told Him how we felt about the various areas in our lives where we have experienced grief and loss. And, He was here. He heard each and every one of us. He held us close to His heart. He counted our tears and placed them in a bottle. He put His healing salve on our wounds.

We were on holy ground. It was a sacred time.

As the body of Christ in America, we need to grieve with one another as He teaches us so that we may grow in understanding, compassion and courage in the midst of our losses. We aren't being wimps, we are becoming more like Him.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

SPLICE - Week Two

Another week at Mission Training International has come and gone. It has been a very interesting and enlightening week...

Each day we start with worship. We worship as a community, so the children and youth worship with us. Of course, the only day they didn't join us was the day that songs were intentionally planned with them in mind. I think sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and God was showing us that we are never too old to have fun, even during worship times.

This week, our classes touched on some serious topics...conflict styles and how we can better deal with conflict...stress - what stresses us out, the signs of stress and how to deal with it. Then, the next day we participated in a very serious simulation of something that could happen to any of us while we are on the field. We needed a break after that, so...

The next day we talked about Sabbath rest. We participated in a day long guided retreat. It is amazing to see what Scripture says about observing the Sabbath! Check it out!

After our souls were refreshed and renewed, we talked about crossing the bridge from our home culture to our new culture along with all the uncertainties that go along with it. There will be differ values along with different language, food, etc., and, how does a person deal with that? The picture below was a great visual of this time in our lives.

Fridays, the singles get together for lunch and talk about issues that are very different for us than they are for married couples. During these times, no topic is banned...we cover everything from what couples expect from us to relationships and finances to how does our new culture view singles.
Then, it's the weekend again! We celebrated with Friday night at the movies outside. There was no problem with the kids movie. The second movie more for youth & adults was good, too, until the sprinkler system came on!

Today was a day to rest, relax, renew & shop! Tomorrow, church & lunch with friends. My time here will be coming to a close soon, but the lessons learned will stay for a long, long time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

SPLICE - Week One

It was obvious that SPLICE would be very different from PILAT right from the beginning. The week started with lights flashing and alarms sounding before 9 AM Monday morning. We all had to vacate the building. The fire department came in full gear and checked the building.It ended up to be a dirty sensor, but it also showed that we are flexible and ready to respond to a crisis.

Our training sessions can be very intense. PILAT was academic, lots of stuff to learn to pronounce, recognizing sounds, learning methods. SPLICE is very relational. It digs deep into who you are and why. It searches out how I respond to others, and how they respond to me. It challenges me to grow spiritually as well as in relationships. We have been assigned to Growth Groups and are urged to bring out the best in each other, and when necessary, to speak the truth to one another in love when conflicts arise.

The activity below was used as an example showing us how we work with others and, how we see we include them? How do we approach them? Are we really an example of Christ's love in action?

We have also been assigned a Coach with whom we meet once a week. This person is here to be someone to whom we can ask those tough questions, get advice, learn from their vast experience of living abroad.

So, our days are very busy with class, worship, Growth Groups, Bible study, living in community and learning about ourselves and those heart issues that can make or break us depending how we deal with them.

We also have tome to reflect, rest, renew and get to know each other while we spend our "free" time together. The person (well, not really a person) below wanted to rest among us in the available shade. She spent hours with us one day last week.

During the weekend, I spent time with new friends whom I've met here at SPLICE. Saturday, we took the Cog Railway up to Pike's Peak. While we were there, we saw awesome sights and ate the World's Most Famous Donuts. YUM!

After that, we visited Seven Falls. To get the best views, I had to climb 185 steps to the one lookout point and 224 steps to the top of the falls. Praise God! The knee replacement works quite well! (So do my lungs!) I took my time, imitating The Little Engine That Could..."I think I can, I think I can...I know I can...I know I can..."

Then, Sunday after church and staying into the evening, I went with a friend to The Garden of the Gods. I saw so much more than I did the last time. Again, God blessed us time and time again with little "gifts" showing us how much He loves us. The scenery was incredible!

Today, it was back to class. But, more about that next week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

PILAT - Week Two

The second week of PILAT was just as amazing as the first. Each morning started off with devotions. And, one morning we were blessed with several gifted musicians who led our worship time.
After devotions, it was back to work learning all about pitch, tone, intonations and reviewing phonetic drills.

I never knew that 5 vowels could make so many different and distinct sounds! It is incredible. What is even more amazing is that I could differentiate between the sounds! We had transcription practice daily to check our understanding of the sounds that we heard. At times, it was challenging, but it also taught us to have fine tuned ears...and how to watch, look, and listen as someone speaks!

Our class in which we practiced the methods we had learned was a lot of fun. Our language helper was so very patient with us. We each had several opportunities to lead the language acquisition activities. I know I feel a lot more confident about language learning after attending PILAT.

Later in the week, I had my one on one with one of the instructors to review my plans for language learning. Basically, it is up to me, how much I do or do not learn after I move to Ghana. PILAT gave me the tools, now it is up to me to take ownership of my language learning & put those tools to good use.
The weekend was an opportune time to walk on the New Santa Fe trail and check out the fresh bear tracks. It is a beautiful trail, and an easy one to travel if you have bad knees!

I walked into Palmer Lake to see the sights, but one of the best sights is the lake itself!

The last two Sundays, I worshipped at the Little Log Church in Palmer Lake. Again, it is close enough to walk, about a mile and a half or so. The people there are very welcoming and love the Lord.

All in all, PILAT has been a great experience and I know that everything I have learned will be put into good use. The people here are dedicated to equipping people to serve the Lord in every nation AND in every TONGUE.

Friday, July 23, 2010

PILAT Week One

This first week of PILAT (Program In Language Acquisition Techniques) has been a busy one. After moving in to Missionary Training International (MTI) in Palmer Lake, CO I had some time to get to know some of the other participants of the program.

We began classes right away on Monday afternoon. PILAT is all about helping you acquire the skills to make language learning easier. It's all about methodology and getting yourself out of the "44 sounds" that English speakers use in their language. Each day has class time as a large group. This time is used to talk about specific techniques or methods. It is a time to see how different methods can be done before we practice them ourselves.

Then, it is time for phonetic drills. We are split up into five drill groups and rotate between the various drill helpers. I never knew that it was possible to hear and to make so many sounds! And, there is still one more week to go! My ears are learning to listen to language sounds that I never heard before. I'm sure I have heard some of them in my travels, I just didn't know what they were. And, I definitely didn't know how to say them!

We also have times to work on language projects, being the ones responsible for our language learning. So, it is student driven during this time. We get to put into practice the methods we experienced in a large group, but this time in a small group. Those of us who are attending PILAT prepare the learning projects and present them to our language helper. Believe it or not, I am in the Hindi group & can speak some, but can understand a lot more!

After supper, there is time to relax, do homework, hang out with friends, walk, etc. I've been walking into the town of Palmer Lake. Many of us walk in the evenings. We have seen a bear and a deer or two on our walks.

And, of course, you have to stop at the Rock House for ice cream at least once!

By the time we walk back to MTI, the sun is setting and it is time to check email, Facebook and work on the paper that is due Monday! Then, it is time for bed and if you can't sleep, you can always count the phonetic sounds we have learned instead of sheep!