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.

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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.

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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

Heavenly Perspective

What time is it? Summertime. School’s out – scream and shout! (in excitement of course…)

Sorry, I know, so 2006 – yet feels appropriate somehow.

Yes, the Collins kids have finished school for 11 whole weeks of summer funshine.

Josiah graduated from Kindergarten this week and was proud to receive the ‘Creative Builder’ award. A very appropriate award for this five year old as he makes, creates and builds continually. I did have to explain to him that he hadn’t actually graduated from school for good – but into Grade one.

He was beginning to talk about career options.

Bella won the ‘Super Friendly Kid’ award. She is a gift.

What a great thing to celebrate our kids in the midst of teaching them what not to do. 11 weeks of holidays have a way of highlighting these areas.

So along these wonderful teaching experiences…

Don’t forget to celebrate your kids too!

I wrote last week on ‘Home’ and linked this with the Lords prayer in particular

‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’

This post created more questions than comfort as I began to contemplate yet again – what does this mean, to live out ‘on earth as it is in heaven’?

So I read, studied and questioned – I also wrote to some fellow God chasers to ask them the question.

Here is a medley of responses (thanks for your input!)

Heaven is a place of uncertainty, I can only know love is there, earth a place of uncertainty and I see love everywhere.

It’s all about the daily choices, the “What would Jesus do” choices – to choose to bless, to choose kindness, to choose to show the love of God, to offer help, to offer hospitality, to offer hope.

Seeing Jesus in the faces of the poor.

It is daily looking for opportunities to display righteousness (virtue), peace and joy. (Rom 14:17) It’s not glamorous really; an open home for neighbors, a meal for the broken hearted or disenfranchised, a chat with the lonely and perhaps babysitting for a Momma who needs a break. Trying to live each day on purpose, looking for circumstances that I can insert a little ‘heaven’ into the lives of those around me.

Faith is capable of creating a spiritual reality in heaven through our prayers and belief. Mk 11:24 something invisible to us but real, visible, in heaven. We then need to pull this invisible spiritual reality down onto earth in God’s timing to become visible to us and physically real. Faith is the key. Whatever exists in heaven is available to us on earth. However we need to also pull it down. It is a very active process.

It simply means peace.  Peace at all costs.  

There is no distance in the spirit of God…it has brought about a shift in my spirit somehow….I think more and more of eternities shores!!…it helps me to look at things from a heavenly perspective….

Heaven is a restored place therefore the will of heaven would be to promote restoration here on earth between people and people, people and God, people and creation, people and peace – a conduit of restoration.

‘The beauty of the earth’[Rutter] is what speaks at this time. this is what draws me into His presence –literally nature all around. The air I breathe, the beauty I see, the breath of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the song of a bird, the the joy in a child, the matter that flows all around me , waiting to be noticed Job 37:14.  

Hugh Halter in ‘Sacrilege’ says this ‘The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of has both an earthly and heavenly meaning. The whole purpose of living a kingdom life here is to bring moments, glimpses, and impressions of heaven to earth. Jesus continually references qualities we find in heaven, like comfort, mercy, seeing God himself. Christ followers are to ask for, hope for, and involve themselves in activities that bring a little heavenly peace to a peaceless earth. Peace being the absence of fear, concern, worry, with an inner life disposition of meaning, trust, faith and an intimate connectedness to the Creator of the universe’

So if I’m hearing this right. We are to draw on an invisible heaven – bringing into existence through faith, by becoming the conduit – a conductor of heaven.

And that’s where this question finds me – actively allowing these two worlds to collide.

Try it for yourself and show earth where you have been.

Any thoughts? How do you bring heaven to earth?

We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.” Andrew Murray