Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seeing the light

Hi. Remember me? I'm the one who used to drop in from time to time to share my thoughts on this bloggy space. And if this is my "home" on the world-wide-web, I do realize it appears I have permanently relocated. Or at least temporarily run away to a warm place in a faraway land. Neither of which are true.

But I will say that life has been a bit more complicated (either in reality or by me making it so) lately, which has caused a lack of being able to sort thoughts and piece them together coherently for others to read. I hope to unpack some of the things that have kept me silent, but for now, I am seeing the light at the end of this proverbial tunnel, and will return to the regularly scheduled "Thankful Thursday" programming.

This episode is called: What I'm Thankful For. So original, I know.

-For an old ping-pong table turned dining room table around which fond memories are made and laughter is shared.
- For the steep learning curve I am on every time I visit my mom's side of the family. (Did you know squirrels made nests and that ham hocks are actually ankles??)
-For coffee with a coworker.
-For the endless selection of Christmas programming on the television.
-For 4 minutes of snow.
- Christmas movie + great friends + 4 minutes of snow + my favorite 17 month old + no internet for 24 hours = bliss.
-For the ability to read. My friend Jean reminded me of that this week.
-For the things we take for granted: warm showers, heat, no rats in our cars. You know, that kind of stuff. Thanks, Jo. (P.S-My friend Joanna is a missionary in Arua, where I will be. Someone may have to remind me to be thankful when this is my reality next year at this time.)
-For a group of friends on a Tuesday night, gathering to discuss the Truth of scripture.
-For the Indianapolis Colts, and their amazingness.
-For the fact that even after knowing Jesus for 15 years, I'm still discovering and learning things about His character. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33)

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Missionary Spotlight: Reece's Rainbow

This is Andrea Roberts, and her son Reece. I do not know them personally. Nor can I relate to their situation. But, as many of you know, my heart beats for orphans. So, when I heard about the ministry Andrea started offering hope for orphans with Down syndrome, something resonated within me.

There is a family in our church who was blessed with a baby boy in January. Simeon Lakes is a happy boy, full of chatter, and a FULL head of hair. He was also born with an extra chromosome. To be honest, I did not know a lot about children with Down syndrome. Even as a teacher, I never had the privilege of interacting regularly with any children with Down syndrome.
Watching Tara's passion to educate and inform others about Down syndrome, as well as her desire to see the number of pregnancy terminations due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome decrease has been so amazing to watch. Yesterday, during the service, she shared about an organization that has become such a passion to her. And after showing the video describing what the organization does, I'm almost certain there was not a dry eye in the whole church.

Reece's Rainbow is a 501(c)3 organization that seeks to promote the international adoption of children with Down syndrome. You see, in many places around the world, those who are born "different" are often viewed as outcasts with no ability to learn or be functional members of society. Often times, babies with Down syndrome are left in orphanages, and then transferred to mental institutions, where many do not live to see their 10th birthday.

Andrea Roberts started the organization to help change this. There are various ways that hope is being brought to children around the world:

1. Providing funding for adoptions- International adoptions are costly, averaging about $20,000 per child. And, as Tara said yesterday, there is no discount if the child you fall in love with has a disability. For this reason, at the Reece's Rainbow website, an account has been set up specifically for each child awaiting adoption. The money you give toward that child is saved in an account for the family to use when they are ready to adopt that child. What a gift for that family to have to make the process a bit easier financially! Their goal is to raise at least $1,000 for each of the 200 children awaiting adoption. Click the link for more info.

2. Prayer Warriors- They have a program where you can become a prayer warrior for a child awaiting adoption. Much like a child sponsorship through other organizations, only you give of your time in prayer. The Lakes have a little boy they are praying for, and are praying for a family with "a mommy, a daddy, a brother, a sister, a dog, a cat, and the guinea pig is optional." I love it.

3. Adoptions- In only three and a half years, Reece's Rainbow has been the hands and feet of Jesus to bring hope and life to 225 children with Down syndrome. And if you love a good, honest, happy ending, check out their "Homecomings" link. And this video. You might want some Kleenex handy, though.

And it all started with one family who was blessed by a precious boy named Reece. What gets you excited? What makes your heart skip a beat? Don't let anyone tell you it won't make a difference. Tell that to the 225 children who now have a loving family and a place to call home.

If you would like to read more about the Lakes family, feel free to check out their blog. And, be sure to read this entry. What a reminder to take it "one day at a time."

Thanks, Tara, for sharing your passion and your sweet Simeon with us.







Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Destination: Uganda T-Shirts

Looking for inexpensive Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers? Want the money to go to a good cause? I may have just the thing for you!

A dear friend of mine from Asbury has created t-shirts for me to sell, with all of the profits going to help me get to Africa.

The shirt is screen-printed with Isaiah 61:1-3 in Swahili (the language of many East Africans). The words of the verse come together to form the shape of Africa, with a star denoting Uganda's location. The verse, in English, reads:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” -Isaiah 61:1-3

It's like a job description detailing what Jesus came to do. And as I prepare to go to Uganda in June, I am aware that these are the very things we are sent to do today, regardless of where we are, in Jesus’ name. In Uganda, there are orphans, widows, college students, children and grandparents that need to know there is hope in Jesus. The same is true where you are. Wherever you are, Isaiah 61 is a call to hope. It's a call to action. It's a call for the young and old alike.

Each shirt is $10, or two for $18. The proceeds from the sale of this shirt will go directly toward paying for my plane ticket to Uganda. As I hold the hand of an orphan, as I look into the face of a grandmother raising her grandchildren because a sickness has taken their parents, and as the peace of Jesus becomes real to an individual who has only known war, I will know it is people like you who got me there. As my passport is stamped in June, it is your support that helped make it possible. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support. It means the world.

There are Toddler, Youth, and Adult sizes available.

Toddler shirts: Gray w/ black writing

Available Sizes: 2T-4T


My buddy Will, modeling the toddler shirt.

Youth shirts: light army green w/ black writing (see photo below) Sizes Available: S-XL

My friend Jill is wearing the light green color that is available in Youth AND Adult Sizes.

Adult Shirts: 3 colors (Light green w/ black (above), dark green w/ black, or light gray w/ maroon Sizes Available: S-XXL

Dark Green w/ Black

Light gray w/ Maroon

To place an order, click here.

**If you would like to place an order and have it before Christmas, I should receive your order by November 30. The money is to be sent after that date. (See link for details on payment.)**

And, for good measure, here's another picture of my cute friend Will. Love this boy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I must warn you. My posts from now on could be filled with Christmas festive amazingness. So, if you are one of those "It's not Christmas until after Thanksgiving" people, maybe you can just pretend I'm talking about Thanksgiving. Or your birthday. Because both days are amazing.

So, without further delay, I'm thankful:

-that 107.9 The Track (a local Indy radio station), as of 4:00 this afternoon, has gone 24/7 Christmas music. And if you know me well, you know how that makes my heart SO happy.

-for spur of the moment outings with good friends. And free dessert that tastes amazing.

- for the gift of laughter with my friends at work.

-that I get to look forward to "date night" with my oldest brother on Saturday. Dinner and an NBA game downtown!

-that my friends Billy and Joanna (missionaries to Uganda) will be in the states soon. I've never met their daughters, and haven't seen them in over 5 years. It's been W-A-Y too long.

-that in the midst of a somewhat difficult season of waiting, I know that I am truly loved. By people near and far, and it means the world. I am surrounded by some amazing people.

What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Enjoying Life's Detours

My 2,220.5 mile trip concluded with a stop to see some of my all time favorite people in the world in South Carolina. (I wrote about the Brockinton's in June after my 5 year college reunion, if you recall.) This is the first time I have had the opportunity to visit them on "their turf" since they moved away from Wilmore, Kentucky. And what a tremendous blessing it was! We watched a soccer game (a first for me), ate completely local (no restaurant chains), made homemade pizza, worshipped at church together, walked along gorgeous South Carolina streets exploding with color. We were able to "just be," and it was exactly what I needed. As I said before, they are some of my favorite people on the planet. I love them so.

An interesting thing happened on the morning I was to leave. I woke up to get ready to leave the driveway at 8:00. Sometime in the night, however, there was a MASSIVE rock slide along I-40, which was the route I needed to take to get home. See how massive it was??

For the record, this is not my picture. I got it from a news website. I
accidentally left my fake press pass at home. HA

So, out came the Atlas, Garmin, and Department of Transportation websites to attempt to navigate a detour that would get me home a)safely and b)without tacking on 100 hours of extra drive time. As I began my journey with my new directions in hand, I realized I had a few options. I could choose to be frustrated and angry with the detour, or I could choose to enjoy it. Before leaving the neighborhood, my decision was made. I was going to enjoy the detour. Even if it took me longer to get home than I had anticipated, I was going to do whatever it took to enjoy the detour.

And, you know? I have a feeling that I would have missed out on some pretty amazing things if I hadn't made that choice. You see, because I was open to experiencing the "new" and "different" along my route, I feel I was able to allow Jesus to speak a deeper truth to what that detour would represent.

As I drove, I was very aware that I had set a goal to have 25% of my monthly funds pledged by November 1. And as of that moment, I knew I was nowhere close to it. My trip was amazing, to be sure, but it simply did not produce the "results" I had been hoping and praying for. And it was on my literal detour that I began to see that maybe, just maybe, Jesus is in the business of using detours to bring us closer to Himself. Perhaps Jesus would take me the long way to show me more of Himself. And as I have battled discouragement with where I am at this point in my support raising journey, I've come to understand that perhaps the very thing Satan desires to use to prove God isn't good is the very thing God will use to prove that He is.

So, as I drove, I was able to enjoy the detour. Because I chose to see the beauty in it. To see the beauty in the slow construction traffic giving me a chance to observe the amazingness that is Fall. To see the joy of a family enjoying a picnic under a tree in the Smoky Mountains. To see Neyland Stadium (GO BIG ORANGE!!!) in person for the first time.




And in the end, at 9:40 PM, as I pulled into my driveway, I was so glad I made the choice to enjoy the detour. A nine hour trip turned into thirteen hours, but I saw more, learned more, appreciated more, prayed more, and listened more than I would have otherwise. And I am so grateful.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Update With a Side of Pictures

As I said before I learned a great deal on my recent trip south. One thing I continue to learn is that people are very important to me. Friends who have welcomed me into their homes and lives throughout the years. Friends to do life with. Friends who challenge me. Friends who ask hard questions. Friends who allow ME to ask hard questions.

I realize, at the end of the day, regardless of what the economy is doing, how my favorite sports team is doing, or what my bank account says, it's the people in my life that matter. And, I am SO thankful Jesus has given me the opportunity to do life with some pretty amazing people. Here are a few more of them...or, in most cases, their children. :)


You know how you meet people and you later can't remember a time not knowing them? And then you're surprised to actually find out have not, in fact, known each other as long as you once assumed? The instant friend-types. That is the Neeley's. And, more recently, the Hughes'.

Jill and Jonathan Neeley (Jill is in the white shirt, and Jonathan is little Nathan's arm-rest in the back) and I became friends my last year in Panama City. Jill helped me through the difficult transition to teaching Kindergarten, and saw me at melt-down state quite often at the beginning of our friendship. Their boys (Will and Nathan) were dedicated at church while I was visiting. How special to be there as they committed to raising these boys to know and love Jesus. Jill's brother Brad (navy suit coat) is from Southern Georgia, and knows some of my friends from Asbury. Weird, I know. Jill's mom Sue is just flat-out amazing. LOVE her. Heart of gold. Precious. Period. I love this family.













Another family that is very near and dear to me is the Childress family. Similar situation: I only taught with Betsy for one year (at the beginning of my time in PC) but we became fast friends. And, on this trip, we decided we are indeed twins. Separated at birth. (But she's the older twin. Just sayin'.) I just love them. They opened their home to me for my entire visit, a place where I could relax, reflect, laugh, learn, and "just be." (For the record, I do not have a picture of Betsy and Richard. Only of their cute children Drew and Katie.)

Katie and I spent an evening watching the Rockette Christmas show together. Girl after my own heart. And I'm pretty sure Drew crawled for the first time while I was there. And he looks amazing in his Jack-'o-Lantern shirt. Just sayin'.

I love these people. A lot. Much more than they may know.

And tomorrow, I hope to wrap up this update with what I learned while on a detour. More fun to come!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I'm thankful for:

-long talks with friends I haven't seen in a long time.
-"date day" with one of my brothers. And the prospect of "date day" with the other one soon.
-a reliable car.
-Christmas music at work (though I could do without that Sheryl Crowe CD...)
-The smell of fire emerging from barely used fireplaces.
-Football season.
-a 17 month old that happens to be growing up way too quickly.
-the drop in temperature, reminding us that change is coming. And that it's good.
-coffee.
-the steadfast, immovable love of God in Christ Jesus. Oh, may I never get over it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

2,220.5 - Things learned along the way

I admit. Silence has become the norm on this blog over the last few weeks. If you have stuck around through this period of drought, I thank you. The lack of posts is not due to a lack of things to say, but rather, a lack of taking time to update. And when a trip is as full as the trip I have just been on, it becomes increasingly difficult to know where to begin.

As you see from the picture above, this trip added 2,220.5 miles to my car in a matter of 16 days. 5 states (6 , if you count Georgia twice), 6 different homes, and 0 new tires later, I look back and see that I learned much along the way. And I hope, over the next few days, to unpack some of what I discovered along the way. At the risk of my obsessive compulsive brain exploding, I’m going to approach the next few updates in a different way: In no particular order. I can’t even believe I just typed that. Join me on the journey from here…to there…and everywhere in between.

...College friends are amazing. I love remembering hilarious old times, and making new memories in the process. Thanks, Yvonne!
...It would not hurt my feelings if Jesus called me to work with college students one day. I spent some time with some pretty amazing students at Asbury, and was so blessed by their desire to follow Jesus and make Him famous.
...The beach in October is still my favorite. No tourists (unless you count me), too early for Snowbirds (aka: slow drivers from the North), and it's not unbearably hot.


...Three year olds are stinkin' cute. Even when they won't take their medicine. (Me and Will aka: Simba at left)
...I do not like Walmart. Period.
...My former students have grown up too fast.
...Planning on 40 people showing up to an event, and 40 people ACTUALLY showing up are very different. There were two events in Panama City, and let's just say I was 50% of the people at one, and 25% at the other. I have leftover cider if anyone wants any. :)

...Apparently, I am the baby whisperer. (See picture at right.)
...There are people who over analyze things just as much as I do. And when the two of you are together trying to analyze the same decision, it's VERY validating for everyone involved. (Love ya, Betsy!)
...There are some seasons in our lives that we simply may never understand. Sometimes, we must learn to move on, despite the massive question marks.

...Laughing with old friends is so good for my soul.
...Drinking out of Auburn and Alabama glasses is much more fun while singing "Rocky Top."
...Teaching the children of Auburn and Alabama fans to say, "GO BIG ORANGE!" is amazing. And fun. And it drives their parents crazy. And I love it.
More to come later...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear November:

Dear November,

I have been thinking. I'm not really ready for you to show up just yet, so if you could delay your arrival just a few days, that would be awesome. Don't get me wrong. I love the cool weather you bring, and the chance for snow, and amazing food and warm drinks to enjoy, but I am just not ready to welcome you into my life again. It's not you...it's me.

Sincerely,
Jamie F.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week, I have been on the road…a lot. I have had quite a bit of time by myself to reflect on life, to pray, and to laugh at random things that have happened recently. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends. Since Saturday at 4:00, I have logged 1,006 miles on my car. Between here and there, I have found so much to be thankful for.

-People who pray for me.
- A mom who understands.
-The chance to experience the amazing fall colors while driving south through Kentucky and Tennessee.
- Friends who are better at math than I am (thanks, Yvonne.)
- College students.
-New friends.
-Football season.
-My GPS…without which I would not have gotten through Atlanta in the rain.
-Friends who let me stay at their house while passing through.
- A place to lay my head and relax while in Florida…even if I’m surrounded by Auburn Tigers items.
-Air conditioning. It's still in the 80's in Florida.
-Sleep. When I travel, I tend to get very little of it, but I’m thankful for what I do get.
-Opportunities to share with people about what God is doing in Uganda.
- Reading a book with a 2 year old…who will be 5 before I know it.
- Being able to say goodbye to dear friends in person I thought I would not be able to see.
- Those same friends who took me in for 6 months after my life turned upside down.
- Our invitation to take our needs (and the needs of others) to the feet of Jesus. And how He doubtless intends to intervene.


What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for:

1. Baby girls. They seem to be EVERYWHERE in my life these days. 3 friends from college had baby girls in the last 2 weeks. A dear friend is due at the end of this month. Pink, bows, and more pink!

2. My dear co-workers (and friends). I always have such a great time at work. We laugh. We move stuff around. We put out Christmas stuff. It's the little things.

3. Cars. Just imagine! It wasn't that long ago that the car was a "new fangled" thing.

4. Plans that come together. Even if it is the last minute.

5. Lint rollers.

6. A new Christmas album with my FAVORITE Christmas song on it...sung correctly, and with all the right music-y stuff going on.

7. Sleep.

The end.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hope For the Next Generation


August 21, 2008 was a day that, perhaps, holds little or no significance to most of us. But for 8 American runners at the Beijing Olympics, it is a day they will not soon forget. It was on this day that the highly favored men’s and women’s 4x100 meter relay teams laced up their shoes for what should have been a seamless race that would send both teams into the finals.

From the outset, both races appeared to be going as rehearsed. Each runner ran his or her 100 meters flawlessly. The baton exchanges appeared perfect. Until the final exchange. In a confounding sequence of events, both the men’s and women’s teams were disqualified as the last runner prepared to take the baton. In both races, the baton fell to the ground, and a collective gasp was heard around the world.

A relay race is won or lost in the “exchange zone.” Quick feet and trained legs help, for sure. But if the baton is dropped or is passed incorrectly, the result is disqualification. I am coming to realize this is true of our lives as well. How we do life in the exchange zone is crucial as we live out what God has called us to do. There is much at stake.

Judges 2:10 is a great example of how the baton was passed successfully to one runner (Joshua), but was dropped somewhere in the next exchange. “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Scripture does not tell us exactly what happened. But somewhere along the way, as Joshua passed the baton, it was dropped. May this not be true of us! We have all been given a baton. And it is our responsibility to pass it. Not Hollywood. Not the music industry. Not our government leaders. The baton is in the hand of the church of Jesus Christ, and it is our responsibility alone to make sure it gets from our hands to the hands of those coming behind us.

A few weekends ago, my friend Esther Fleece, who works at Focus on the Family, was in Washington D.C at the Values Voter Summit, and was given the opportunity to talk about this very issue. Her official job title? Focus’ assistant to the president for millennial relations. Translation? Someone who is very passionate about the condition of young people, mostly in their early teens to late twenties. She is someone who understands the importance of passing the baton to the next generation. She is aware of the issues facing our generation, and knows the statistics. She is familiar with what is true. But she stands on something far greater than what is true. She stands on the Truth. The Truth that says our God is good and loving. The truth that says our God is compassionate and gracious. That He is still in the business of redeeming what’s broken.

Esther sat down with her boss Jim Daly, the President of Focus on the Family, and had a candid conversation about why it is important to reach the next generation. She raised a battle cry for those ahead of us to be willing to sit down and answer the tough questions. To be mentors. To walk alongside us and believe in us. Our generation has seen its share of “role models” crash and burn before our eyes. Sports stars, politicians, musicians, and even church leaders. We are desperate to be taught. And as Esther says, “The good news is, we are teachable.” She shared staggering statistics about how the Millennials will form the voting majority in 2020, with the numbers reaching 103 million strong. 103 million people who have grown up with tremendous brokenness, with the cards stacked against them. 103 million who have been dubbed the “hopeless generation” by some. How many of those 103 million have accepted truth as relative and have their moral compass determined by their peers or pop culture? What better time than now to believe in our generation? To believe greater things ARE yet to come. To believe the tide can be turned. Perhaps we aim so low because no one has given us anything higher to aim for.
Truly, I cannot do the conversation justice. See it for yourself here:



After hearing this conversation between two people who are zealous for the hearts of young people, I was convicted. I realized that so often, I find myself accepting the actions and brokenness of my generation (and the one coming behind) as the status quo, without spending time on my knees to see the status quo change. Sometimes, I’m guilty of losing sight of the exchange zone because I am too worried that other people are running their race faster or are more skilled than I am. Or, worse yet, I’m too focused on my own race, forgetting that in a relay, how we run as a team is far more important than how I run my individual race. And, sadly, in some cases, I've dropped the baton altogether.

Perhaps what went wrong in Joshua’s day was that people stopped talking about what God had done. About what He was capable of. Perhaps the next generation thought it would be too hard to trust God to be huge on their behalf, so they dropped the baton. Maybe they got so immersed in what they were doing that they forgot a generation was coming behind them. We cannot know with absolute certainty what happened. But I am absolutely certain of this: I do not want to see this happen in our generation. I want to live with intention, believing better things for my generation, and the one to come. To carry my baton, remembering the legacy of those who handed it to me, and to live in such a way that the exchange zone is a place of triumph and victory instead of failure and loss. If I know anything about Esther, I know this is her heart’s desire as well. And I have to believe we are not the only ones. For this reason, I have hope for our generation, and the one that will come after us. It is my prayer that when our generation has finished the race, that a generation would come behind who knows the Lord AND what He has done for His people. May we pass our batons well.

***To read more from Esther, in her own words, go to this blog. And, if the video link above is too tiny, click here to see it a bit larger.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Some weeks are better than others. Some weeks, I find that looking for things to be thankful for is like looking for Waldo on the last page of the Where's Waldo books. You know, the page where EVERYONE is wearing striped shirts, blue pants, and is walking with a cane? In other words, it's hard to see past the petty-everyday stuff to see things I should be thankful for. And in the wake of tragic events around the world, I begin to snap out of my slump and come back to reality, and find that I have oh-so-much to be thankful for.

This week, I'm thankful:

-for the opportunity to share about God's heart for the nations. What a humbling thing.
-for friends to watch football games with.
-for a boss who is so gracious and understanding.
-for new donors (champions, as WGM would like us to call them) who began supporting me in September.
- for e-mail.
- for phone calls from old friends.
- for a 15 month old who has started calling me 'Aunt Mamie.'
- for an amazing lightning storm on the way home from babysitting tonight.
- for the smell of fall both in the air outside and from a candle burning inside.
- for 80's music.
- for the Word of God, and how it is living and active. How I find new truth each time I open it.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Praying for Honduras and Bolivia

As a missionary with World Gospel Mission, I have the privilege of working with a tremendous network of people who are advancing the cause of Christ around the world. Not only are they American missionaries, but many nationals are trained to do the work of the ministry as well. Though we may not meet face to face, they are part of the team just the same.

Throughout the week, I receive prayer updates from various fields via e-mails from headquarters. This week, I received two sad updates. Would you join me in praying for Honduras and Bolivia?


HONDURAS:

WGM has an "arm" of ministry known as
Men With Vision. The Honduran field recently elected their first MWV national President, Marcos Canales. Sadly, while Marcos was coming out of some meetings at his local church, a passing motorcycle rider shot and killed him as he and his family walked toward their car. The motorcycle rider apparently wanted his computer and cell phone.

Please pray:

-for his family He has two small children ages 6 and 2. Pray also
-for his church family
-for clarity as decisions are made about filling his position.

BOLIVIA:

A retreat for national pastors was held last week. Sadly, one of the pastors was hit on the road by a log truck and died yesterday. The pastor’s name was Siprian Vargas. The information I received from headquarters mentions his wife and one daughter. I am unaware of any further relatives.

Please be in prayer for:
-the family. His wife, Marcelina and their daughter. Marcelina does not read, so pray that their daughter will be able to help communicate with well between all parties involved in the proceedings that need to take place. Pray for peace.
-Pastor Siprian's church
-the national church in Honduras. This is the second pastor associated with the churches WGM works with to be buried in a matter of two months.

In both of these tragic situations, will you also join me in praying for the missionaries that serve in Honduras and Bolivia. Pray for them as they minister to the families and churches involved in these situations. Pray for guidance and direction as they speak truth and life into a situation that is dark and difficult. If you want to pray for them by name, check out this page for Honduras, and this page for Bolivia. Thanks for praying. I know God is still in the business of working ALL things together for good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

If I had an iPhone...

I could have a lot of fun with this topic, but I will stick to the purpose of what made me think of it.

If I had an iPhone, I would have taken a picture and immediately posted it to Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, asking the question, to no one in particular: "does this drive anyone else crazy?" But, I don't have an iPhone, so hopefully my words will paint a picture in its absence.

My mom and I went for coffee this morning, and decided to venture across the parking lot (in the rain) to peruse the aisles of a certain store, that shall remain nameless. The door said, "NO FOOD, DRINK, OR ARMED WEAPONS" or something to that effect. The only important one at the moment is "NO DRINK" allowed.

So, since we had our coffee (the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, I might add) we decided to try someplace else where we were welcomed, with our drinks, with open arms. And upon finishing said drinks, we returned to the store with strict rules and regulations regarding what was (and was not) allowed to cross the proverbial boundary between enjoying your coffee in the rain outside and enjoying some cheap things no one really needs to buy inside.

I was not finished with my drink, and was not about to throw it away. So, I decided to tell myself to be SUPER careful, and allowed myself to break the rules. Just this once.

And, to my utter dismay, as I was perusing the aisles of cheap items that no one really needs to buy, holding my Pumpkin Spice Latte ever-so-carefully so as to not spill it, a lady walked past me with a DOG in the shopping cart. A dog. Really? So, (store that shall remain nameless), you're telling me I can't have my coffee, that is harmless to those around me, but she can bring something in that one: poops, two: pees, and three: is a potential allergen to shop with? That makes total sense to me.

And, I must admit, that after that, I had a calm, cool, and collected speech prepared to give to anyone telling me I had to leave because of my coffee. And it would end with, "I'm not angry. I'm just sayin' is all." The end.

Ummm...about that

I just checked to make sure the Thursday blog posted, and realize I have not written anything since LAST Thursday. And I wanted to clarify something:

My life is kind of boring...you know, routine. Same ol' stuff. But in the midst, I have been thinking a lot about a lot of things. Which will be written for your reading pleasure quite soon. I just know it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Whoa. I almost forgot today was Thursday! It's simple things that I'm thankful for today...and some simply profound things as well.

I'm thankful...
1. that we put out our boxed Christmas cards at work today. (I may have a problem. And I hear admitting it is the first step to recovery.)
2. that tomorrow, I will have my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. And I may (or may not) listen to Christmas music on the way there.
3. for friends who are passionate about life, truth, grace, and seeing those things come alive in this generation.
4. for a mom who goes to play BINGO with my 29 year old brother on a Thursday night and lets me laugh at her.
5. that one of my dearest Christmas traditions will not be thwarted this year by repairs being done downtown.

6. that the rains have begun coming in Arua!! You have surely heard me ask for prayer in this area whether here or through my newsletter. THANK YOU for praying!!

7. for new friendships that come in unexpected seasons, in unexpected ways. Thank you Jesus!

8. for the constant, faithful, persistent love of God.

9. that Blogger tests my patience really well. Sometimes, like now, I want to throw the computer out the window because the format is all over the place.

10. for 4 year old birthday parties and friends who are really like family.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday...and East Coast Wrap (up)

So, I realized it's taken me almost 3 weeks to fill you all in (and I know you care about every event and detail, yes you do) on a trip that lasted a week and a half. And that's borderline ridiculousness. So, I'm going to combine my "Thankful Thursday" with the wrap up of my east coast trip. Bear with me...there are a lot of pictures. And even a video. I hope you enjoy.

I am thankful for:

1. Friends to get lost in the woods with...and Garmin.

One day, we took a break from camp and went to the Ferg's house to swim. On the way back to camp, the road was closed and we had to "find our own way." We turned down a paved road, and Scott got Garmin out of the glove compartment to help guide the way. All was well until we noticed Garmin was leading us down the paved road that then turned to mud, which then turned to sand. And, yes, the roads had names. And thus began our Non-African African Adventure. I call it that because it felt like we were driving in Africa. Only without the cows and bicycles everywhere. Check out the video...you'll be able to see a bit of what I mean. But, of course, the camera was not on during the BEST examples. (Always happens that way. ALWAYS)


This is Scott and Meg...before the adventure REALLY began.

video

(One thing you have to know is that the Rambo's blog is called 'On the Road With the Rambo's')




(It had rained HARD the night before, and at one point, the water was all the way across the road. After this picture was taken, we discussed trying to figure out how deep it was. And as Meg and I were discussing this, Scott made the executive decision to GUN IT across. Ummm...let's just say the splash of the water came up over the driver side window)





We returned safe and sound. And look at the excitement on our faces. Let's do that again! And we will. In Africa. I'm sure of it. :)

2. Friends who change tires and help me laugh about a sad situation.

If you recall, in April, I encountered a punctured tire in Troy, Alabama. AAA saved the day that time. Well, needless to say, I now know that as I travel, I should pray specifically for my tires. And that it is my job to let anyone who will listen know that New Jersey has very sharp sewer drains.

After camp, I was following the Hallahan's to their house for a few days of R & R before heading home. Enter extremely sharp sewer drain. It wasn't even a fair contest. My poor tire crumbled under the pressure. (Punctured under the pressure is more appropriate.) The good news: I now have 2 new(ish) tires on my car. Nevermind that they were both obliterated and met their untimely demise.





Who needs AAA when Josh Hallahan can save the day? Thanks, Josh!



And instead of being sad over a flat tire and donut, we decided to have donuts with my donut. I love friends who can help turn a sad situation into a positive one.

3. Amazing people who graciously offer to pay for said tire...teaching me about giving and receiving in a way I couldn't have otherwise learned. Thanks Mark and Brenda. It truly meant the world.

4. For two boys who make waiting for said tire an adventure.



5. Lazy nights with Team Uganda.
Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Team Uganda? This photo is so telling. We had just finished dinner, and were enjoying a relaxing evening together. We are so comfortable with each other. And at various times during this night, each of us came to the realization that this will be a reality in Africa. (and we pointed out some of the differences...we may not be watching the Phillies, and the power may be questionable, but we'll be together). As I have said, they are truly becoming family to me. And I'm forever grateful.





6. New friends...and Philly cheese steaks
After church on my last Sunday, we got a group together to go to Philly for the day. We had such a good time. Here is a picture of my "new friends" and I just outside Jim's, home of the best Philly cheese steak. Since I've tried all of them. (Not true).


(Interesting fact: The kid in the red shirt, upon hearing I am from Indianapolis exclaimed, "OH! You're from Maryland!" Ummmm...No, actually. It was so funny.)

7. Having "nephews" to watch grow

Missionary kids call other missionaries "aunt" and "uncle." So, to the missionary kids, I am Aunt Jamie. Here are two of the MK's that I love so dearly. (You've seen pictures of the Ferg girls and Seth-Man).

Timbo and I playing with the tool bench. Check out that smile. It will melt your heart.


Caleb, standing in the window to get a better view of the kids at camp.

And this concludes the longest blog post ever. If you've made it this far, you're either a glutton for punishment, one of these children's parents, really bored, my mom, or a really good friend. Thank you, and good night.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Missionary Spotlight: Team Uganda

Those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning (all 2 of you) will remember me introducing you to "Team Uganda" back in January. We had some hilarious times in the snow (check out the video of Josh Hallahan and I making snow angels), talking in the kitchen, and beginning our training together.

I realize I have yet to really introduce you to any of them besides the Hallahan's. So, today will be a short and sweet mini-introduction. There will be formal introductions in later Monday blogs. But I'd like you to meet Team Uganda.

Scott, Meg, and baby Tim















When we live in Uganda, Scott, Meg, and baby Tim will be in Arua with me. Their focus will be on pastoral training and women's ministry. (Scott will be training pastors and Meg will be doing the women's ministry, just to make that clear.) And baby Tim, well, he'll just be being cute and making friends with African and missionary children. They currently live with Scott's parents in New Jersey. Will you pray for them as they travel and raise their prayer and financial support? And I can't wait to tell you about our first "Non-African-African-Adventure." But you will have to wait. It's a good one.

THE HALLAHAN'S
Josh, Kelly, Caleb, and Seth



You've met them before, but I thought you should see these pictures from our time at camp. If I learned one thing from being in New Jersey, it was that they sure do love the Phillies. And if you say anything about the OTHER team that is found in Pittsburgh, it could be grounds for removal from all friend lists in some people's minds. The picture to the left is Josh and Seth watching the Phillies game on TV. Yes, they start them young. Seth-man was saying, (or trying to say) "GO PHILLIES!!" when I took this. And another thing I learned was that Caleb (pictured with me to the right) does not go far without his backpack of cars. On the way to the chapel one evening, I noticed we were "matchy-matchy" with our backpacks and had to get our picture taken. Will you continue to pray for the Hallahan boys? They are traveling and need great grace being away from normal schedules and routine.

THE FERG'S
John, Nancy, Carlie, and Jamie

This family is so precious to me. I adored spending time with each one of them, getting to know them more. John is one of those people who could read the phone book and you'd laugh. So funny. Nancy is a fantastic listener and is quite witty. She loves Jesus and it is so evident that she desires to follow His leading. Their girls are so spunky and full of life. Carlie was so gracious to french braid my hair 43 times a day (slight exaggeration) because I couldn't stand to have it in my face. She has a great heart and I know God will use her in big ways in Uganda. Jamie is so full of life! Oh to have 1/3 of the energy she has. She loves people, and I can see how God will use that to further His kingdom in Uganda. Will you pray for them as they continue to travel and raise their support? The girls have start school this week, and it will be their last school year in the states for 2 years. Pray that His peace and presence would be very real to them.

NOT ABLE TO ATTEND CAMP: PAM WILSON

Pam Wilson was at training in January but was unable to make it to New Jersey for camp. We missed you, Pam!! Pray that Jesus would open doors for Pam to share the heart God has given her for the people of Uganda.

We will all be back together in November for a missions conference in New Jersey. I'm sure there will be far more updates and pictures, maybe even some video, for your enjoyment. I praise God for His provision of amazing teammates who have truly become like family in this journey. What a FAITHFUL God we serve.

Up next: Lost in the Woods-GPS to the Rescue!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Links I love

In the past few days, I have had a few links come to my attention that I would love to share with you.

1. What's it like to live in Africa? My friend Emily, who is in Tanzania right now, has a very humorous way of bringing words to life. She recently blogged about what living in Africa is like, and oh, how she has it absolutely correct. Please read this blog, and know that one year from now, this will be my life. :)

2. Youremyhealer.com This site is a site featuring Kari Jobe, a worship leader out of Gateway Church in Texas. The song Healer, sung by Hillsong as well as Kari is the basis of the video testimony on the site. Below the video, people post prayer requests as well as testimonies of God healing them. As I watched the video, my faith in the God "who heals ALL our diseases" (Psalm 103:3) grew. What a reminder that He is still in the business of healing and restoring!

3. Toby Mac - City on Our Knees This song, recommended by a great friend of mine, is a must listen. What a prayer for unity! It's my new fave. :)

4. Ever wonder what I was like as a child? I'm convinced this child was me. Only I would have been asking questions. I love this, even though her voice is kind of high pitched. If you don't at least smile, I question if you are human.

That's all for now. I'm hoping to be back on the regular blog train next week. Monday's "Missionary Spotlight" will be a bit different, but will highlight more of my trip out East visiting with some of my missionary friends. Have a fantastic Sunday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looking Back

I have to admit, I woke up this morning much the same as I woke up on this day 8 years ago. It was like any other day. There is not a calendar hanging within eye shot anywhere in my house, and my travel calendar that I essentially live by these days was safely tucked away for another day. I had let the date escape me. Until I turned on the news. It was then, that I remembered.

9/11/01: I remember.
I remember skipping my 9:25 class because I had a test later in the day, and hadn't read all of the book I was supposed to read. I remember walking out of my dorm room to begin laundry across the hall. And I remember watching in horror as the second plane hit. I remember the words "This is no accident" coming from the mouth of the news reporter. And I remember wishing someone was there to watch with me. Everyone else was in class.

I remember the flow of people coming back to the dorm, having no idea what would greet them. This was in the time when Facebook Twitter, texting, and all of the instant information giving avenues we have today were not around. If I remember correctly, few people had cell phones then...at least not many of MY friends did. I remember standing in the lounge of our dorm with people I didn't know, watching the horrible scenes flash across the screen again and again. I remember a special prayer service at 11:00 where we prayed for the victims, prayed for the families, prayed for peace. In the midst of so many questions and in the midst of fear, we came together as one. Standing room only. And we prayed. Dr. Rader gave word that there were still some relatives or friends of students that had not been reached. And I remember it hitting home. These were people my classmates knew.

Later in the week, we held a prayer service around the flag pole. I remember a plane going overhead, and I flinched. Even in Wilmore, Kentucky, the sound of a plane rattled me. I remember calling my mom eventually, and I remember being sad that I didn't do it sooner. I remember watching members of congress singing "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol building. And I cried. For the first time throughout the whole ordeal, I began to see hope again. I saw a light at the end of a dark and death-infested tunnel.

On this September 11th, eight years after that fateful day, I find myself in disbelief. Disbelief that it has been that long. But also in disbelief that it happened at all. Whether we like it or not, whether we knew people on the planes or in the buildings or not, that day marked us. There are images from that day that will remain with us for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, in the midst of the atrocious there are images of action. In the midst of the barbaric, there are images of bravery. And in the midst of horror, there are images of hope. Hope that the story can end differently. Hope that there is still good in people. Hope that there is One who sees, who knows, and who has not abandoned us. Hope that turns darkness to light. Hope that brings life from death. Hope that there is One who brings good. Yes, even in the most death-infested situation. I hope...and I remember.

****My friend Esther brought this website to my attention today. What an amazing challenge to continue to pray for those whose lives were truly turned upside-down that day.****

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Delanco Camp, NJ


August 16-22 were landmark dates for me. They are the dates that mark my first true "church camp" experience. I (along with the other members of Team Uganda) spent the week at Delanco Camp in Tabernacle, New Jersey. Aside from it being 432 degrees almost every day and the flesh-eating mosquitoes, it was an amazing experience.

The theme of the week was "Mission 1:8," taken from Acts 1:8 that says, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The focus was how each of us are called to be missionaries exactly where we are. There were around 60 campers, all going into 5th, 6th, or 7th grade. I was given the opportunity to teach a class, and talked about how before we can go into our world to tell people about Jesus, we need to begin to believe that He is who He says He is, and that we are who He says we are. Simply put: Who is God? and Who am I?

During my second class "Who Am I?," I had the students write on a mirror some of the things that are said to or about them that are not in line with what God says.

Then, after talking about who God says we are and looking through scripture, they erased what they wrote before, and wrote something that was true...all while looking at themselves in the mirror.

Throughout the day, there was a lot of free time to spend outside playing games with the kids, catch up with Team Uganda, and, oh yes, SWEAT. Did I mention it was 432 degrees when we were there? And if it wasn't, it sure felt like it.

The Beach

Me, Jamie Ferg, and Carlie Ferg
These girls are so fun! And what a blessing to be able to serve Jesus in Uganda with them? Pray for them as they finish this school year, their last in the states before heading to Uganda.

The Ferg Family - I love them. That is all.

The Bridge over Lake Agape
Team Uganda
I cannot tell you how blessed I was to be with them for a whole week and a half.

Each night, Kelly Hallahan (the evangelist of the week) challenged the students to Acts 1:8 living. What an amazing thing it was to see and hear how 5th-7th graders heard and responded to God's call to be Jesus with skin on wherever they are. Will you help me pray for the students at this camp (and all summer camps) who are heading back to school? May they continue to have a passion and zeal to show their peers the life they have in Christ.

Still to come: Members of Team Uganda narrowly escape New Jersey Woodlands. Brought to you by Garmin. Also, New Jersey Sewer vs. Mitsubishi Galant. Sewer-1, Galant-0.