Saturday, March 26, 2011

He Knows Their Names

Today, David and I joined the Wrights and Lynn on our first visit to the men’s invalid home. The assignment – teach English to a group of 10 men. As we went, I wondered about how effective this time would be with these men, all who have had no schooling or education for years, even decades. Many of them, because of extreme neglect and even harsh treatment were emotionally more like children.

When we arrived at the invalid home, a lot more than 10 men were waiting for the Wright’s class to begin. Of course, we anticipated that. Julie gathered the men around the desks and began class with an overflow crowd and more coming. The class lesson today was “My name is_________”- how to learn to say that in English. As they worked through their projects, and we joined them, getting to know at least their names, I sensed God telling me a number of things.

Julie shares with the men about their first assignment. Emma, their daughter is translating for her mom. It was great to see and hear her.

I was checking up on my Russian spelling as Sergae was writing "my name is..." in Russian.
First, as we sat with the men and helped them to learn to say “my name is_____” and write it, too, I realized that isn’t about the English, of course I knew that, but was reminded again.  It is about relationship. These men live in a place that most are afraid to visit. Their lives are hard, difficult and hopeless. As the LAMb team continues to go in – assisting in renovation projects, setting up art projects, sewing projects and now English, these men are experiencing relationship with people who have come to love them and see them how God sees them.  Those who most discard, God has placed in front of us.

                                                          Lynn and David assist Sergae

As Julie, Emma, Bekah, John, Lynn, David and I worked on trying to know their names, I felt God quietly whisper, “I already do. Tell them that.” Next week, we will .

                                                                      Bekah helps Anwar.
As we heard the cheering when each one told us their name, and saw the faces of these men, I quietly thanked God for the heart-opening experience today.

              Anwar proudly share his name on the "cookie"  cell phone.

                                        The English Club at the Invalid's Home

After the Invalid Home – An Orphanage

Later today, the Wrights invited us to join them at one of the small local orphanages.

This small orphanage is one where we have visited many, many times. It is about a ten minute walk from our apartment.

The plan for today was finger painting. I couldn’t stay long due to another mid-afternoon meeting, but I was there long enough to see the children and learn some of their names. I told the director that I had forgotten the feeling of love I had for these children in the busyness of my work back home. It was good to feel it again.

Finger-Painting - A First for All of Them

  If you have never finger painted- you would probably listen intensely as well!
 Sasha has been in the orphange with his two sisters since February. He was all ears listening to Julie.

It didn't take long to get the idea....


                        This director is deeply commited to the well-being of the 14 children who live here.

As we were talking, we learned from the director that this orphanage has been without water for three months. Her cries for help went unheeded. What a joy it was to know that due to gifts we have received from friends and brought with us, we could quickly respond. “What do you need to get water back into this orphanage?” we asked. “$100.00," she said. Just think, just for the lack of $100.00 these children and caregivers have been without running water, forced to gather it from nearby houses. On Monday, she will be able to get the plumbing fixed and water running again.

It is good to be here…We were reminded again today that God brings into our lives those He desires us to stop in front that through us He can touch, encourage and heal no matter the age or circumstance. He already knows their names.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stopping for the One In Front of You

David and I have only been here three days, but with John, Julie and family and Lynn and Ruby here two weeks, many connections and much ministry is happening. I am always totally amazed with the sensitivity and skill of our LAMb team as God leads them to certain ones.

This is from John's blog posted today:
I do my best not to get "religious" here on the blog, but every now and then I think I need to share my belief in more then just deeds, but make it clear with words... Words are often difficult to find for us here.. But what comes to mind on days like today. are these words....
" Pure religion that is pleasing to God our father is this ... To visit the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourself unspoiled by the world" Sometimes that is a tall order, but I believe that it has to be at the core of what we are doing here.
Today we went to visit a Widow in her distress... She invited us into the burned out shell of her home.

 Here is her story...
She has been working at the Invalid home for over 40 years. It is a very poor paying job, about $80 a month, but she continues to do it because they are so short staffed, and can not find a new generation of workers willing to work for so little , and she is concerned about the men. A couple months ago, her husband died, leaving her a widow. At the 40 day mark after a death it is customary to have a funeral. For her it was a more significant day then she ever could have imagined.

She pulled together what money she had, got dressed up and went off to the gathering place for the service.. leaving her home, she had no idea that fire would destroy everything that she had left.. The cause was a cheep faulty DVD player.. After spending what resources she had on the funeral, she returned home to an apartment engulfed in flames.

We walked around in her home today .. you could still smell the smoke despite the repairs that have been started.. The neighbours have rounded up a small loan for her that has helped to get most of the cleanup started, and some plastering and primer painting done. Someone has lent her a front door until she can get one. They have done what they can to help her, and in fact we were surprised that so much has been done, but the simple fact is that she is at the end...

I have found myself wondering how many times our heart can be broken here, and if we will ever become desensitised to what we see.. I have watched the effect situations have had on teams like the Snarrs that were just here.. and thought that maybe I am becoming a little hard.. then today I stand in the center of despair, and realize that once again my heart is broken...

There are situations that have been caused by our own foolishness, there are situations that are a result of cruelty from others, and then there are situations like this that have no fault... I can remember one time, actually it was in the invalid home the first time I was their that I came away questioning God.. I asked my friend Ron "Where is God in this?" his response was simple

" The fact that you are there to ask such a question is proof that He is there"
That actually made sense to me.. because I know that God works through people , and that is why he desires that we visit the widow in her distress, so that He will be seen in the situation... but what kind of obligation does that leave me, and in turn, what kind of obligation does that leave those of you who have had a part of sending us...
A friend of ours wrote a song that speaks about " We are His hands extended " so realizing this, this is what these hands need to do ...

We began today by bringing her new clothes and shoes..

1. We need to help her to replace her passport, documents and confirm ownership of the apartment $200

2. Get the Gas hocked back up so she can cook $100

3. Paint the walls again and put down new floors $300

4. Replace all the windows and doors $400

5. New electrical outlets and fixtures $200

6. Replace bed and other furniture $500

That comes in at about $1700 a lot of money to put her life back together .. Then I get this thought .. That is a lot of money, and there are so many other needs here.. should we be helping her?

I think of something that was told to me a few weeks ago by one of our sponsors... "We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others " and I realize the we have all been blessed sooooo much, and this is a lady that lives her life to be a blessing to others..

so yes I will make the calls today and aim to start the work on Monday, Please join me on this we stop for the one in front of us..

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Reflection Before Coming

Our last Sunday night at our home in Lebanon,(February 27) we had the privilege of hosting  54 friends of like mind and heart regarding missions.  It was an incredile evening of sharing. As I looked around the room, I realized most of the folks there were close to our age and were now moving into a different stage in life - the 2nd half.  What a dynamic as they shared how God was calling them out to serve Him in places around our community, our nation, and around the world.

A dear friend of ours, Robin Wientge, wrote a note to us the next day that so speaks to what we had hoped the evening to mean. 

John and I just wanted to say thanks for inviting us to your gathering last night. It really is a "boost" to be reminded that it is God who plans the grand design of our lives and we just need to be paying attention. Takes the pressure off! I was looking around the room last night at all the different ages and life circumstances represented and asked myself what we all have in common. I think that it is that we live a life of "response". Missions is not about packing up and going so much as seeing a need and responding - whatever that might mean. Does a child in Central Asia need a surgery? We send the funds because we can. Does a young man in Honduras need an education to get out of poverty?We set up a scholarship for him because we can. Do my friends need funds to meet specific needs for specific families? We sell candles. Does the family across the street from me need food? We drop off groceries.

What am I responding from? The pouring out from God into my own life. Response FROM thankfulness TO a need........this is mission work, I think! A life of response.

We couldn't let Robin's powerful words slip away without sharing them!  Blessings, John and Robin