Out of Africa

Hi Friends!

For the past 2 weeks I led a team of women from our home church in Kelowna, BC to Living Waters, Mwanza, Tanzania. The journey of 4 planes over 40 hours was certainly a time for our team of 8 to bond. A quick stop at Kilimanjaro, Emily and I pushing 8 suitcases outside of Naritobi airport, unexpected tourist Visas and Ebola screening added to the experience.

IMG_9262

We were volunteering with Living Waters, a charity Phil and I have been involved with for many years. I was excited to return to Mwanza and join in with all that God is doing through the ministry.

In terms of staying in touch with YOU my prayer-ers and cheerleaders, my plan was to blog throughout the trip – this didn’t happen.

So! Having been at home for a few of days and beginning to find a time zone that is beginning to resemble my own, I will share a daily musing from my African experience for the next few days.

Join me as I process? Starting now… 2pm PST. 10pm GMT. 1am East Africa.

10592710_10152449888890954_7674006722041107241_n

 

Welcome10698493_10152425051250954_5449666438303774745_n

 

Sunrise in Mwanza

IMG_9303and the sun sets….

Graduation. Celebration. 

DSC04014Emily and her new friends

One of the first events we were involved at Living Waters was the graduation of 26 students from the Living Waters Elementary School. DSC04040

Some moving onto Secondary education. Some not. We look forward to the day when the Living Waters Secondary School exists!

I was asked to share a few thoughts at the graduation.

I love this verse printed on the Living Waters School uniform from Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’

Truth. Yes. But sometimes I struggle with putting verses ‘out there’ without being a part of the application.

God uses us imperfect ones to fulfill His word and as much as I love Jeremiah 29:11 – I believe this verse needs action. Ours.

Before Living Waters Education Centre was in existence – before the building was built and teachers were employed and classrooms were full – local children would gather at Carolyn’s home.

The children who did not go to school. Those who were not receiving an education.

Living Waters staff would pull out a blackboard, lean it up against the wall and teach this handful of locals.

Back to the graduation – the first thing that came to mind as I shared with these young people and their family is the power of vision.

Carolyn pursued her God given dream and vision of a school despite setbacks and opposition. Despite it appearing to be beyond what could naturally be achieved.

In front of me sat 26 children who believed they have a hope and a future, experiencing first hand James 2:17 which speaks of faith being useless without actions.

Following the graduation, we sat with these teens in their royal blue graduation outfits drinking bottles of Fanta and asked them ‘What do you want to be’?

DSC04049They replied ‘Nurses, doctors, teachers’

We asked ‘Where? Here in Mwanza’?

Presuming they would want to escape to a ‘better life’ with their qualifications.

‘We want help the poor and the orphans – not in Mwanza’ one said ‘But with the poorest….like Somalia, where it’s desperate’.

Living Waters has not only offered an academic education but also the gift of discipleship and teaching children to recognize their God given calling too.

‘Works demonstrate what is alive on the inside. Outwardly manifesting an inward faith’

God sees the hearts of these young ones and I’m sure He is pleased.

Let us learn from them.

More tomorrow!

Love. Michelle x

Advertisements

An African Adventure 2.

The story of Phil, Emily and Jessica in Africa continued. (See yesterday’s post for the first installment)

    Sunday we rose with the sun and traveled through the waking city, soon we were out onto a flat valley. Driving through cultivated patches of green corn and trees I did not know the names of. We drove by many mud huts, over flowing streams and open glades. Reaching the ferry we parked and walked on as crowds of people pushed to get to shaded spots. We were heading to an island nestled offshore, an hour and a half up the coast.

IMG_6172

Once on the other side we followed a dust-filled track and listened to worship as it greeted us.

I preached on the Cross – the power of Christ to set us free from sin, grief, sorrow and pain.

The tin roofed sanctuary became filled with the presence of God, as if the windowless structure had welcomed Him from every direction.

IMG_6179

The front filled with many tears, the pains we feel in the UK and Canada are also in Africa – the cross released its power.

     The last days of our trip were remarkable. Thirty very special friends gave their lives to Christ. Emily and Jessica spent more time helping at the school, packed classes, returning later with pleasure in their hearts.

An exciting conversation took place with a senior medical doctor, who, at the young age of 75 has given 40 years of his life to Mwanza. Healing, caring and driving the city strategy to build 17 clinics.

We became consumed and animated about a boat – a mobile medical clinic for the many hamlets that feed off Victoria.

The forgotten tribes, with no doctors, no gospel.

Old men dream dreams, young men see visions.

IMG_6212

The doctor was dreaming for his region. He would talk to the local medical authority and do some research; did we just birth a vision?

It was 2001 and we had a handful of tiny lives in the preschool, now 2013, 400 in the school, 15 buildings and 22 staff.

God can do amazing things with a humble heart – a gospel heart.

IMG_5892

Africa always does this, intoxicates you with faith, I’m drinking deeply for Kelowna and the church.

     Finally, we traveled again in search of Promised Land, farmland to feed the orphans and the wider community. Some areas were grass green and smooth, short as a meadow that had just been mown. Other parts were uncultivated, dried up scrub. We were shown many drier patches that needed water to bring fruitfulness, not impossible with Victoria. So the search continues; meeting the right person at the right time, God’s time. The road was only a track, red hard clay but it lead to a small sandy, thatched village with no school and many children running around.

In these areas only a small amount are Christians. So we returned from the bush country with a number of offers of land from locals, over inflated prices that need to be talked about over the weeks and months.

Last night I sat and prayed watching the sunset over Lake Victoria, my thoughts and prayers turned to the church and the God given task ahead.

IMG_5835

I conducted my final session with all the staff team – leadership, calling and good attitudes. They asked so many questions, thoughtful and helpful. Organizations are the same the world over; they need vision, clarity, God’s Spirit and people that believe that they can change the world.

We have really appreciated your prayers, support and emails over the past few weeks.

We are excited to see where the visions, prayers and thoughts of the last 10 days takes Living Waters.

IMG_5825

And now…another mission to throw our lives into. Kelowna.

IMG_5888

Have a great  week,

Love , Michelle  xoxo  

 

 

 

 

 

An African Adventure.

As you know we have been in the UK for the last few weeks. The final 10 days of our trip saw Phil, Emily and Jessica embark on an African adventure.

IMG_0675

Our long-standing relationship with Living Waters in Mwanza, Tanzania drew us back again to minister and work with our good friend Carolyn Philpott.

Phil sent prayer updates while they were away so I thought it’d be good to summarize them and add some of their pictures.

Today has been a busy day. I started the day praying high on a hill, gazing across Lake Victoria, as fishermen returned from a night on their tiny boats. Small lights across the water that look like a city afloat. Mud huts litter the hill and the smell of charcoal cooked breakfasts linger in the air.

 The faithful old Land Rover took us through dusty roads as we drove along the lakeshore. Lines of women carrying water, balanced beautifully, children holding hands walking to school, the dust lingering long.

IMG_5908

IMG_5882

We proceeded deeper into the bush in search of a small hidden mud hamlet and a green valley that we hope will become a garden to feed the school children and orphans.

Food and education are two beautiful gifts we can offer.

     We stood on a rock hill and looked across this green land. The visit ended with chatting to the local chief. Jessica and Emily were surrounded by lots of children, who clearly had no school. They introduced them to digital photos and the wonder of the mini iPad.

IMG_5969

There was no church in the area, we prayed and dreamed of bearing other fruit for eternity.

Driving back I noticed spots I had preached at over ten years ago, small country schools, shady trees and the odd church building with no windows.

We arrived back at the village to a packed hall of 100 youth and adults. I was expected to preach for an hour and a half. I completed my task with passion then answered biblical questions for another hour. Emily and Jess will never complain about my sermons at Willow again!

  Friday was a day of the spoken word, We enjoyed a school assembly. Emily and Jessica answering questions about Canada, school and snow.

IMG_6017

I preached for four hours throughout the day in four meetings. Scorching heat powered through the tin roof, I drove through the heat with the truth of God’s. I have to confess that the smallest faded into a blissful sleep.

Many responded to the teaching. The teaching went deeper as we followed the trail of thought. We welcomed a whisper of wind, a refreshing gift from Lake Victoria. The questions became sharper from the teachers. My final hour dealt with marriage, contraception and the attitude of the Tanzanian man towards their wives. A biblical view of same sex marriage, the western church, the second coming, judgmental churches and back sliders. I really felt we trekked into cultural attitudes and offered clear biblical reflection.

  On Saturday morning, Emily and Jessica lead a morning of crafts, with children from the orphanage. Colorful beads, ribbons and cotton were in abundance as all the children proudly wore their new treasures around the village.

IMG_6158

I will post the second half of their trip tomorrow.

The Africa, England and the Canada time zones have created confusion in our minds and bodies this week.

The Canada time zone is getting closer everyday…

For now…Goodnight.

Love, Michelle xo

IMG_5932

It’s a YES from me!

Hi friends, 

I read this quote recently, ‘put your YES on the table and let God put it on the map.’

I immediately thought of two significant YES moments.

The obvious being YES to Canada seven and a half years ago;  then there was this moment.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I’m 22 years old, sitting under the African sun, the air is smoky as fires crackle outside homes along the roadside. I’m writing, not only saying yes to God, but to a place. To a mission and a lifelong love of a ministry. I remember wanting to go Africa the day I said yes to Jesus, anywhere in Africa! I’d tried to get there through various charities but it didn’t happen immediately. A ‘yes’ doesn’t mean we click our fingers and it happens. A few years later I went with a good friend to Living Waters to Mwanza, Tanzania. I remember more than one person saying to me ‘how do you think those poor Africans feel, you white people coming and going.’

Fair question?

Back to my journalling. I’m 22. I’m saying yes and ‘Lord, can my yes stay here, not necessarily live here, but commit to this group of people?’

And now 23 journals later, I am still staying yes, to the same place and people. My yes joined the unwavering yes of the ‘good friend’ I traveled with – oh and we’ve been married 19 years, he’s a veryyyyy good friend.

When my 14 year old Bella sent me a photo of her first African sunset over Lake Victoria a few weeks ago…

IMG_9741

…my heart beat faster, as it does when Emily’s eyes light up when she talks about Mwanza. Then came more pictures, and videos of laughter,  of movie nights and colouring and games with the children (we like to call it family night) and then the pics of helping in school, teaching ABC’s and 123’s.

Phil was able to spend quality time with Living Water’s staff, teachers and friends, looking into familiar faces and smiles, of newly weds or of new parents or into the eyes of those heavy with grief. 

To find a charity, a tribe, a ministry, a community you can invest in outside of your own comfortable world, whether one mile or ten thousand away – this is Jesus living, the way of the kingdom. For us it’s a blessing to board four flights and travel across the world to be with family. We love our Living Waters family – Carolyn, Agricola, Happiness, Lillian, Goodluck, Baby Agnes, Joyce, Doris, Fred and many, many more! 

You might remember a trip I took three years ago – I wrote about it, here and here  (this one was my favourite)  A friend on our team, Cathleen who lives in Kelowna, said YES too – to something she had no experience of, yet felt a call and passion to run with.

The dream to build a secondary school!

Three years later Phil and Bella were able to see Living Waters Secondary school close to completion. An inspiring, innovative project built from shipping containers! WOW! Follow the journey of the school here.

What are you saying YES to today that will live longer than you?

Have a great weekend,

Love, Michelle xo

P.S.  Thank you Carolyn for saying YES in the beginning!

 

The Blues?

DSC_0423

We’re told it’s the most depressing day of the year otherwise known as Blue Monday…

The darkest day. Gloomy grey.

Malaise motivation. Happy hibernation.

Christmas is over. The goals are waning.

You’re tired. Your credit card bills are in.

Days are short. Nights are long.

Melatonin confused.

For many this is winter blues, let us use the word blues rather than the word depression. “True clinical depression (as opposed to a post-Christmas slump) is a far more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external,” wrote Dean Burnett, Psychiatry Lecturer in an editorial for the Guardian.

Here is the British mental-health facility’s tongue-in-cheek formula: (W+D-d)xTQ÷MNa W = weather conditions. D = debt. d = ability to pay off debt. T = time passed since Christmas. Q = time passed since breaking New Year’s resolution. M = motivation levels Na = need to take action.

Action! 

For us it’s living simply, keeping out the Christmas board games, finding colour in your day, embracing the season – skating, skiing, sledding, being creative,  giving to others and of course – exercise…

With all that said, here’s a few funnies (you’ve read before I know) to brighten up your day!

Church bulletin mistakes…

*Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.

*Thursday night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

*Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

*For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

*The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

*This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

*Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

*Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing “Put me in my little bed accompanied by the pastor.”

*Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be “Little Mothers” will meet with the Pastor in his study.

*This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

*The service will close with “Little Drops of Water.” One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

*Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.

*The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

*At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

*Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

*The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

*Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.

*The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”

*The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7p.m. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

*Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

*Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.

*Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who are preparing for the girth of their first child.

*The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

*The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

*Our next song is “Angels We Have Heard Get High.”

*Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

*The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

*The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

*During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

*Due to the Rector’s illness, Wednesday’s healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

*The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

*22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

*Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

*Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

*Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.

*Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

*Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack’s sermons.

*Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

*Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

*The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.

*Youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 pm in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

*Miss Charlene Mason sang “I Will Not Pass This Way Again,” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

*The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

*This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Happy Monday friends.

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ 

   ‘….Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!’ 

Love Michelle xo

 

Isolation to Restoration.

IMG_9643

Hi friends.

I have been busy these last few weeks – busy resting. Argh.

I returned from Africa and soon enough became quite sick. This resulted in me being admitted into hospital and quarantined for three days. Because I had been to the country of Tanzania in (East) Africa (the continent)

During quarantine I was tested for EVERYTHING and in full isolation, which meant masks/gown/gloves for anyone visiting. The kids embraced the moment. Seriously.

IMG_9656

‘Sorry for treating you like a leper’ the Doctors would say – which opened up a whole other conversation.

I learned that Jesus loves to hang out in quarantine. In fact, He loves nothing more than to step into our quarantine – whether externally forced or self-induced.

During this time I read, I slept, I listened, I heard whispers that can only be heard in silence, I listened to worship and I journalled – a lot.

I received love and care from family and friends home and away – what a gift. Every person needs a community, every person is created for family, look out for them – they’re everywhere.

I was discharged from hospital with a ‘virus’ diagnosis and perhaps being a little burnt out and was encouraged to rest with plenty of self-care.

This is what I have been doing for the past few weeks…

Where exhausted is a little too familiar, where aches and dizziness can overshadow.

FullSizeRenderAnyone know that feeling?

So, besides a little health update and to thank you for your prayers I’d like to encourage you with some musings from this unfamiliar place. So if you have a few minutes grab a cuppa and read on!

I love how the Lord speaks.

I woke at 4.30am last week, with the words ‘He restores my soul’ dancing my mind.

Ah yes from one of my favorite psalms. He restores my soul.

‘Thank you Lord…can I go back to sleep now?’

I woke later to a text from Phil from his Stourbidge, Swanwick, Saskatchewan tour – he wrote this from Psalm 138:3

‘In the day when I cried out, You answered me,

And made me bold with strength in my soul.’

There’s a theme!

I looked up this verse in other versions, some write to be infused with strength.

The Passion translation says this: “At the very moment I called out to you. Your presence came and you answered Me! You strengthened me deep within my soul, And breathed fresh courage into me!

The Hebrew word for soul means a breathing creature – living – alive. Our soul could be described as our mind and emotions – our person – our self. Our heart, character, personality through which we encounter life. It’s the depth of our being. The seat of our will. It’s the breath of life. It’s our natural life that which makes us exist and animates us! You get the idea.

His Spirit is ours to ensure restoration happens. God doesn’t control our soul, it is under free will – we choose whether our soul prospers or dies. It’s about inviting the Spirit into our soul to repair and restore.

The Hebrew word of restoration is rich in meaning: to bring back; to bring home again; to build again; to recover; to refresh; to relieve; to rescue.

There are times when God invites us to walk through obscurity, questions, darkness and confusion to find the truth of who we are. It is here we find the condition of our soul. Remembering what we think and feel affects our physical bodies. I don’t underestimate how emotional upset results in physical upset. The reverse is also true.

We all know life wounds our souls. There are times when the Spirit works through others or situations to bring change. He invites us into a process of restoration. This is why we love offering Encounter God to our congregation. Restoring what was lost from the original design.

What is your soul saying today? What area needs restoration?

He restores my soul. Your soul.

Mr. Buechner captures it well…

“Every once in a while I recognize that I am walking in green pastures that call out to me to lie down in them, and beside still waters where my feet lead me. Sometimes in the way the breeze stirs the palms or the way a bird circles over my head, I recognize that even in the valley of the shadow of my own tangled thoughts there is something holy and unutterable seeking to restore my soul.”

Pray this over your own life…

Lord. Thank you for restoration.

Thank you for the life you breathe into my being.

Thank you that you refresh the fatigue I feel.

Teach me to recognize the green pastures, and to lie down in them.

Help me to allow myself to rest.

To allow myself to slow down. To be.

I invite the breath of God into every area of me that needs restoration.

Into every emotion, every thought, every cell and fibre of my being.

To recover what is lost and stolen.

You are my healer.

You came to give life in abundance.

You are the creator of my life.

Restore me – to be all you created me to be.

Amen.

 

 

Love, Michelle xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘There is Love in our home now’

 

IMG_2637

It’s Saturday, 10am and 65 ladies slowly arrive.

They are dressed in their brightest and boldest, dresses and scarves flow, some even bridesmaid-esque.

The guests arrive by foot, ferry and dula dula.

There’s a feeling of celebration is in the air.

It’s time for our women’s seminar!

New notepads and expectancy are in hand … not forgetting the introduction of the ‘door prize’.

The first sessions explored what it means to live in intimacy with God and the life we are promised in doing so.

The team shared during the afternoon session – we had spoken of intimacy, so naturally spoke of the fruit produced and how that might look in our own lives.

Testimonies flowed. As did tears. Women are women.

One of my favorite parts of the day was the lunch we provided for these lovelies.

Served by the men. Yes the men.

10726304_10152817855731180_1031945174_n

10726549_10152817856381180_211166905_n

 

One lady commented how the food was like that served at a wedding.

A wonderful prophetic sign.

“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4

God had clearly ordained this time for these women – to be spoiled and cared for – for feasting and fun.

We declared the goodness of God and the banner of love waved high.

10728676_10152817856366180_1710361945_n

As the day went on, we heard stories and we became friends I was reminded of my other favourite feast – of Psalm 23.

‘You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies, You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace’

God promises a feast set in the midst of a battlefield. Undaunted by evil or troubles. A feast prepared for these women in the midst of their enemies.

Their enemies?

Many the same as mine and yours. Many not.

Marriage problems, making ends meet, concerns for future, health issues.

There was much darkness to overcome, vivid nightmares to battle and the influence of witch doctors to flee.

These women saw a reprieve from their battles, as we declared the goodness of God enabling them to see the banner of love waving more once.

In addition to great food –  we feasted on the provision of promise, the sustenance of comfort – rest – peace – friendship – hugs – hope for another day…

702491_10152817855386180_1231571569_n

Psalm 23 speaks of the word ‘table’, you spread out a table – meaning to grow long, reach, spread and stretch forth. My prayer for these women as we sat together was that the provision and sustenance would go far beyond what we could see.

On our final morning a Living Waters watchman came to tell us that his wife had been at the seminar and had met Jesus.

His words were enough ‘there is love in our home now’…

Yes!

I just read this prayer today… for my sisters in Africa and for you wherever you are.

Join me in praying?

Lord, look…

Marriage & kids & relationships & people are ridiculously hard…. and they can make our hearts grow hard & our legs go soft & bottom line: we have no idea how to keep going on.

And You hearten us, Your Word breathing fresh hope into our bones:

“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up….

Become wise; point your life in the right direction…

You’re so steady & determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you…” 


That’s all Lord.

Make the bruised, brave.

Make the wounded, wise. 


Make the daunted, determined.

In the name of the only One who loved us to death & back to the real & forever life… In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

More soon,

Love, Michelle

 

 

The Least of These.

DSC04942

 

Hi friends,

I am currently writing a few musings from my recent trip to Africa. Here’s the third.

When I first visited the Maskini 18 years ago it was in the city of Mwanza. This community would sleep by the water at night under makeshift then beg by day. As Mwanza developed over the years, their presence became a hindrance, until one day government intervened – they went to the city and forced the whole community into government vehicles and relocated them into a rural area miles from the city. Emotions of many were intense as this people group were uprooted without choice.

Shortly after, the river rose flooding the area where the Maskini once lived, they too would have been drowned if they hadn’t been moved.

Mysteries.

We travelled to the Maskini – the poorest, this community of generations where the eldest had suffered from leprosy, having lost limbs, fingers and toes, worn fabric wrapped around bodies.

1460107_10152773382226180_1638575348071069150_n

We arrived laden with donations of clothes we had collected from home and our Hope Centre at Willow Park. We also took huge bags of bulk food to distribute.

DSC04937

But first, we gathered the community in their hall.

Without sound systems and speakers, mics and perfect acoustics we experienced the most beautiful worship, I am sure heaven joined in with the harmonies from a place of poverty and brokenness.

Beautiful.

Agricola asked me to share a thought. I looked at the few notes I had written and realized much of my Western creativity needed to go. What remained was raw truth.

I realized when all of my poetic quotes were removed our common language was the truth of scripture.

These people didn’t need clever words but encouragement that they were loved. Encouragement that we all belong to the same family, that God himself had adopted us, from the ends of the earth – the rich and poor. Encouragement that being adopted meant we could know an unconditional love often beyond our comprehension, yet somehow, their worship appeared to comprehend this love…

We had the privilege of praying for our new family, these outcast lives absent from touch were offered hands and hugs.

1385464_10152773382016180_3667860514990319307_n

We enjoyed giving clothes to the children, replacing rags with our own kids clothes. Replacing babies bare skin with love.

DSC04934

DSC04941

Nouwen writes. ‘This is our great challenge and consolation.  Jesus comes to us in the poor, the sick, the dying, the prisoners, the lonely, the disabled, and the rejected.  There we meet him, and there the door to God’s house is opened for us’

We were created to touch. Yet so often, leprosy, whether actual or the leprosy of today, in all of its forms, prevents us reaching out and physically touching another person.

Let us change that, let’s keep the door to God’s house wide open.

DSC04930

More tomorrow!

Love, Michelle x

‘When did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? 38 When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison? I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me’ Matthew 25

 

Walking in Thanksgiving

DSC05069 - Version 2

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Here we are on the second day of my ‘Africa musings’. Read the first day here.

Gen 12:1 says Go to the place I will show you.

So I heard and I did. Gathered. Fundraised. Put on my best flip flops and travelled (flip flops not recommended 😉

During our fundraising activities a well-meaning lady told us that short term missions trips were a waste of time indicating that they did more harm than good.

What I love about visiting Living Waters is that we were not arriving there to take over and wave our magic wand of the West but rather to join in with the ministry and bless all that is already taking place – supporting teachers, and staff and simply being with the children.

Ensuring them all of a group of people in a faraway place, actually, a 14, 130km away place – who regularly pray for them, love them and think of them often.

‘Go where your best prayers take you’ says Buechner.

‘Put willing feet on your red letter verses and go’ says Me.

10711076_10152449982490954_7364837984647119140_nMarnie’s feet!

Isaiah 52:7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that God reigns!’

This became a relevant verse as we climbed to many mountaintops to share good news stories. Personal mountains, fear filled mountains and blatant ‘I cannot do this’ mountains.

What did that look like? Where did those beautiful feet take our team?

They danced with African congregations (the first time I had danced the conga around church) these feet skipped over ropes and walked African streets sharing good news.

They dodged scorpions, dragged themselves through airport corridors, and kicked own self at times.

They stood in front of hundreds of people – as the team shared painful stories, of loss and redemption, testimonies of God’s goodness and grace.

They stood strong – supported by team members cheers.

They they chased bubbles and dogs and wore Converse with Sunday best…10624821_10152449901015954_5131216671648908056_n

They climbed from under a mosquito net during the night and paced a room in prayer as fever peaked and darkness raged.

These feet worked hard…

Each step we took was one of intention, digging our cracked heels into dusty soil.

As grateful passion was ignited to a burning flame because of our feet on the ground.

And now we are home, the all important question ‘How was it’?

A poignant question to ask this Thanksgiving weekend and I am reminded again to convert gratitude from Thanksgiving to Thanks-living.

I love Anne Voskamp’s thoughts on this ‘What if the question around holiday tables wasn’t –What are you so grateful for? But rather how are you changing the world because you are so grateful? What if gratitude always meant a question mark — asking how will you let your gratitude to Christ mark the world for Christ?… Thanksgiving is a verb – a way to walk, to respond, to give, to do, to change the world.

Buechner also says ‘Generally speaking, if you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you.’

Let us find a way to walk this out.

More tomorrow!

Love, Michelle

 

Fly.

Day 22.

DSC_0609

It’s Five Minute Friday and today’s prompt is FLY.

Joining other bloggers in five minutes of free writing – no editing, no perfecting. Simply ~~flowing~~

Should I write about my love for Fly boots?

Or my love for flying to the UK, and flying back to Kelowna again.

Or when Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) rescued me from the African bush after our car accident, and the locals had to clear a runway in the village and the local witchdoctor surrounded us drum, drum, drumming.

Fly. Hmmm. You’ve only got 5 minutes Michelle. Stop waffling!

….I wrote a post during the Spring, ‘Look at Birds.

I encouraged you to be careless in the cares of God.

I showed pictures of the robin nesting outside of my bedroom window, of bright blue eggs and bald baby birds.

I remember during that time we held a buzzing baptism service at church, where youth and young adults gave glorious testimonies of their salvation, new life, healing.

The overflowing church erupted in praise time and time again, the love of God lifting the roof.

Back to my yard.

During the nesting time I let my dog Sunny out in the yard as usual. The robin would swoop and dive-bomb the dog. The dog would chase the bird.

The fight was intense.

But, what the Momma Bird didn’t… couldn’t do was protect her fledglings from the only response our dog knew.

I had watched and marvelled at those eggs and hatching and first days.

And then… Gone.

Back to church.

We have a responsibility to care and nurture our babes far beyond the glorious testimonies of their new birth.

We are called to disciple and lead our people into a deep faith walk, to encourage them to ask the hard questions and navigate ways through the fog of doubt.

We are called to offer wisdom on the scriptures that speak of the reality of darkness and to shine a light on the enemy of our souls who wants to kill, steal and destroy.

We are called to invest time and energy into those who learn from and follow our example. Those who are looking at our life and asking: how would you handle this…that’s how I will do it. How do you live your life, how do you react to this situation, how do you handle your kids? Those questions can only be answered when we are willing to be a gracious, godly attempt of the answer.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.’ Donald Miller.

I have seen this lived out strong among our youth and young adults. Sharing lives in genuine care, homes, hands and lives open.

‘It is beautiful to discover our wings and learn how to fly; flight is a beautiful process. But then to rest on the wings of God as He flies: this is divine.’ C Joybell C

Five minutes are up (or thereabouts)

What does discipleship look like to you?

Who are you protecting and nurturing to enable them to fly?

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xoxo

What do you mean you wanted to hear about MAF rescuing me?!

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Five Minute Friday