Family Reunion

There is nothing quite like meeting your sponsor child for the first time. I have had the pleasure of doing so twice, for my child and my parents’ child. The only thing better than meeting her for the first time is the long awaited reunion after a year of being apart. One of our translators caught her as she walked in to let her know I was there. When I walked up to Tengetile, Noomsa was crouched on the ground in front of her and Tengetile was bawling. My husband did what we would do with any other kid—grabbed her, hugged her, stroked her hair, tried to figure out what was wrong. Noomsa explained to us: Tengetile was overwhelmed to the point of happy tears. All because we were here. She didn’t know about the gifts we brought her. She didn’t know that we save every letter she writes and every picture she draws to hang on the wall, or that we pray for her every single day…not a clue. We hadn’t done a single thing. I broke into tears. Hunter, my husband took us by the hand and walked us up to the church. We rummaged through the bag my husband and I packed for a juice box and some sweets, and went through all the things we take for granted every single day—a soft fuzzy blanket, sunglasses, socks, peanut butter—the things that are just LIFE, not special treats or uncommon occurrences, the things we don’t think about thanking God for because they are commonplace every day staples.

Today, we visited the homestead of my sponsor child, Tengetile and her sister Noncedo, the child of another couple on our team. She lives with her gogo (grandmother) and 6 additional children under her care. There’s no warmth between the family members. It is a distant, static relationship—not warm and loving.

It would be easy to give them money—but we can’t. Money is temporary, when we need sustainability. We need men who stand up to defend, and provide for their families like the example set for us by Christ and the Church. We need women who are confident to speak wisdom and truth by following the model of a godly woman as explained in Proverbs 31. We need children that are hugged and told ‘I love you’ so that these children might be the person God created them to be. We need believers back home who refuse to be complacent in a calling from God.

“Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers,“ Malachi 3:10

We are testing the Lord now. We serve a good, powerful, loving God, and we have seen the ways He has provided in our own lives. We have seen the overwhelming need, and we know our kids are in God’s hand, as are your sponsor children. Where our children’s parents fail—leading, guiding, providing, speaking truth and wisdom—God has sent us be His hands and feet, and we need to step up. PLEASE join is in praying for the Njojane community, for provision, for sustainability—for men and women who become loving, caring moms and dads, not just biological mothers and fathers.

a body that quits & a God who doesn’t

I had a nice long post written under this same title, talking about how the enemy has a tendency to attack right before big things happen for the Kingdom: one of our sponsor children, a little boy we’ve met and invested in, has left our care pointe, and we won’t be seeing him again; I broke my tailbone the week before our wedding, and the 16-hour flight and dirt roads will not be kind to that injury; one team member’s father broke his back just a week before our departure; a missionary friend miscarried today; another team member lost a close friend today. A young boy was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator. More than 100 people were injured or killed in Orlando this weekend.

It was a beautiful post, and I spent a lot of time working on it. And while it’s the least of our problems, the post has simply vanished. I saved the draft multiple times, but there is no record of it anywhere on my computer. (the irony is not lost on me.) I’m choosing to look the other way–maybe Jesus is trying to humble me, or maybe what I was trying to say isn’t what needs to be heard. Instead of sharing my words with you, I will share someone else’s.

Today on the radio, the DJ shared a statement from Ann Voskamp:

The world needs prayer warriors who don’t see prayer as the least we can do, but as the most we can do.

I will sit here with a busted tailbone and eat my words and my humble pie as I ask for prayer for H and I, and really for our whole team. There are teenagers leaving home for the first time, and parents leaving small children behind. There is a young woman who recently got engaged. A newlywed couple, and a brand new husband who is getting ready to leave for boot camp. I am in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare up that meds can’t keep under control. And, with just 3 days until we depart for Swaziland, we still have a need to raise $1300. Our God is good, even when our circumstances are not, and we know that God will be glorified regardless of what is required of us. We kneel here and pray confidently and expectantly that God’s will be done by the time we get on a plane Saturday afternoon.

My body might want to quit, but my God never will.

The Day Love (almost) Didn’t Win

It is Saturday. Two thousand years and a day ago, an ordinary man was hung on a cross because of an extraordinary love. A man born to a young girl and her new husband, in a feeding trough far from home. A man who grew up with siblings, and never once made a mistake. One man, a carpenter by trade and sacrifice by calling, voluntarily took on undeserved mockery and shame as he suffered beating, whipping, public torture and humiliation. One of his best friends sold him out for 30 pieces of silver, and still another denied association three times. He went to trial for a crime he did not commit. In the tradition of Passover, a prisoner is set free; the members of his community voted to let Barabbas, a known murderer (Mark 15:7), go free, in place of a man who had done no wrong. He let the guards force a crown of thorns–not just little rosebush thorns, but big, long acacia thorns–on his head, mocking him, the King of kings. He was nailed to a cross, raw and splintering, through his wrists and feet–not by just any nail you might have lying around your garage, but a railroad spike driven through some of the most sensitive nerve centers in the body.He watched Roman guards gamble for his clothing. He hung there, bleeding and mourning for his people, calling out, ‘Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.’ Not only that, but as he hung there, he offered salvation to another man being crucified next to him (Luke 23:40-43). He hung there, suffering and in pain, and yet you and me were at the forefront of his mind. Every step of the way, Old Testament prophecy was being fulfilled, plain as day. Not a single bone was broken; all looked away from him after piercing his side and the pericardium around his heart. With his dying breath, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). At that moment, Christ had taken on the sins of mankind, past, present and future, and God turned his back on his own son. Clouds blocked the sunlight so severely that it was pitch black at midday. We know that the veil, the barrier between the Holy of Holies, God’s physical dwelling place within the Temple was torn completely in half–there was no longer a reason for the separation between God and his creation.

And then there was Saturday. Like any other Saturday, Jewish people woke up and went about their Sabbath day business of rest and worship. And while this next little bit isn’t in the Bible, this is how I imagine it went down:

Pontius Pilate: So that darkness yesterday was weird. Not really sure what happened at the Temple…but everything else is back to normal. Phew. Good call.

Pharisees: Haha that so-called ‘King of the Jews.’ What was that guy thinking? No really. How crazy do you have to be to let yourself be crucified for something so stupid?

Disciples: …is it possible we were wrong? We’ve seen him perform miracles, and I mean yeah some crazy stuff happened after Jesus died…but nothing?

The Enemy: HA take that Jesus! I told you we would win. I’ve got the people on my side. They killed your King.  Those people that you love so much–they love me more. They mocked and beat you! I win. There is the victory. There is the sting. Death is final. It’s permanent. There is nothing you can do now. I win.

For about a day and a half, it looked and felt like love had lost the battle. The disciples were in hiding, the Pharisees were smug and no longer felt threatened. Pilate made sure that Jesus’ tomb was sealed and heavily guarded so that no funny business could take place. In shock, the disciples literally could not even…but still they waited. They knew the prophecy said three days. The man they knew and loved and gave up their lives to follow had promised them three days. Patiently, anxiously, nervously, they waited.