Monday, May 21, 2012

Pray for Jore’s Return

P1030208As I sit at my desk, the fresh nighttime air blows through the curtains filling my nostrils and promising that rain is coming. I hear crickets and frogs chirping outside, Julia's snuffly breathing as she drifts off to sleep nearby, Nate busy packing my dishes in the kitchen, the night watchman's heavy boots on the driveway, disco-music playing the same rhythms over and over in the distance, the echo of dogs barking through the neighborhood. It seems a bit unreal that in just a few days we will be hearing, smelling, and seeing a very different world. We will leave our Jinja home on Monday afternoon and head to Entebbe where we will spend the night. Early the next morning we'll head to the airport and begin our long journey to our other home. By Wednesday night (early Thursday morning Uganda time) we will be going to bed in Rogers, Minnesota. There is so much to do between now and then.

We have all of the necessary paperwork for Julia in hand. They were issued in record time. Thank you so much for your prayers for that. However, we do not currently have the boys' passports in our possession. They are sitting on a desk at the Immigration Office in Kampala, not to be handed over until their student passes are updated. The passes were supposed to be completed weeks ago. We are hopeful (and praying hard) that they will be ready by the time we pass through Kampala on Monday so that we can pick them up. Trusting in Him who knows all the details and is in control. We ask you to trust and pray with us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring is in the Air

What a lovely time of year! The trees have that lovely new green, there are buds and flowers everywhere and there is a sweetness in the air you would love to bottle! Even after a less rigorous winter than normal, spring is marvelous; a time of hope and joy.
Here in Brazil that hope is in the air too, even though our days are cooling down instead of heating up. Autumn is when the refreshing rains come after a long hot summer and everything sprouts anew. Our children in the Miriam Home are bursting with energy and expectations too. Today we have ten children in the home and all of them have dreams. God is making many of those dreams come true!
Cleberson, the baby of our family, is content in this safe little world, but we believe God is opening an even better door for him. During the National Youth Congress held in Campo Mourao the end of February, a couple from an AFLC church Curitiba came to visit the Home and met Cleber.  A bound formed almost immediately and the couple are now working with the juvenile authorities here to receive a temporary guardianship, the first step in adoption! 

Jonni e CarolineOn the other end of the spectrum is Caroline. She has been with us less than a month, and it is wonderful to see the changes that have come about in this young ladies life. Caroline is 15 years old, when she arrived she kept to herself, avoided being where the other children where—she reminded me of a wounded animal, trying to protect herself. Caroline’s mother wanted a boy. From the time she was a baby, that is how Caroline was raised—dressed as a boy, educated as a boy (she only learned to use the toilet sitting down here in the Miriam Home). When Caroline went to school she picked on and laughed at by the other children and when she was at home she mistreated by her mother. When she arrived here she expected to be the outsider and it took some days for her to understand that she wasn’t going to be called names, hit, excluded and ridiculed. To begin with she didn’t know how to deal with that, and she still covers her mouth to hide a smile when she is complimented. Today one of the house moms brought her a pair of earrings; she couldn’t believe they were really hers. Yesterday she asked me to take her picture - this frightened child is starting to bloom!

Diane, close upDiane has been with us quite a while, and it is likely that she will be going home this week. Before she leaves she has a lot of preparations she needs to make, but the biggest the plans are for her baptism! She has found new life in Jesus Christ and wants to be baptized before she goes home to her father and step-mother, but even before that she has asked for me, Odete and Altair (her god-parents) to go an explain baptism to her parents. She wants them to understand the commitment she has made to the Lord, because she wants to see them at peace with the Lord too! 
Yes, Spring is a wonderful time of year!

To read more of Jonni’s newsletter, go here!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Bouquet of Grace

The following Missions Devotional for May was written by Craig Wentzel:

One of the most encouraging moments I remember was at Galilee Family Camp a few years ago. It happened that our wedding anniversary fell during that week and on our anniversary, during the evening service, Lyle Mattson, the assistant dean, called Barb & I forward. He then presented us with an arrangement of flowers that our daughter, Abby, had sent to the camp. It was very encouraging to have that occasion remembered in the midst of a busy week!

Flowers cheer us up! People often give flowers at sad or difficult times like death or illness or farewells in order to make the hurting person feel better.

I came across an interesting story in 2 Chronicles 28, that I hadn’t noticed before that I think we could describe as God giving a SPIRITUAL “bouquet” to His people…a “bouquet” of GRACE instead of flowers!

I noticed 3 things about God giving this spiritual “bouquet”:

1) First, God’s people were going through a very difficult time!

It was a time of God’s judgment for their king’s, and THEIR, sins. King Ahaz didn’t follow the spiritual heritage of his father, King David, but rather copied the wicked ways of the northern kings who had rejected the true God for idols (v.1-2a). He had made gods of his own to worship (v.2b) and burned incense (offered prayers) (v.3a), and sacrificed his sons (v.3b), to false gods and every other god that came along (v.4). Together, he and his people had forsaken the God of their fathers (v.6b). They were very unfaithful to the Lord (v.19).

It was also a time of great loss. Because of God’s judgment, they had lost many people as captives and casualties of war (v.5); important leaders (v.7) [the country’s next leader, the ruler of the King’s house, & the 2nd in command to the king); their families (v.8a); and a great deal of their wealth (v.8b).

It was a time of hopelessness in that their families had been taken away as captives to face an endless slavery.

Are YOU facing some difficult situation today?

2) Secondly, God sent a “bouquet” of grace to them!

These “flowers” of grace were delivered to their situation, at their lowest point, as their wives and children were brought into their enemies’ capital city (v.8). God’s “delivery boy” was Oded, His spokesman (v.9a). The individual “flowers” of grace were: God’s Word to their situation (v.9-11); salvation from permanent slavery (v.12-14); satisfaction of their physical needs of food, drink and clothing (v.15a); the anointing of oil (v.15b); and guidance and restoration to their homes and families (v.15c).

God also sends a “bouquet” of grace OUR way if we watch for it! He sends His Word (written or spoken) to OUR affliction as He says in Ps. 119:92:

“If your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.”

Jesus is a “Flower” of salvation to us in being our escape from permanent slavery in hell forever! John 10:9 promises:

“ ‘I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’”

The Lord will meet our physical needs. Phil. 4:17 promises us:

“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

He will give us spiritual refreshment through the Holy Spirit. Jn. 14:27 says:

“’Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; bit as the world gives do I give to you…”

He will guide us to satisfaction and fulfillment. Ps. 36:8 says:

“They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.”

Have YOU gotten any “flowers” of grace from the Lord lately?

3) Thirdly, we have a choice of how to respond to God’s “flowers” of grace!

King Ahaz rejected God’s “flowers” of grace in his trouble. He chose another deliverer, the kings of Assyria, to run to (v.16-21). He got farther and farther from God after that (v.22-25)! He ended up destroying the utensils of God’s house and closing it’s doors! He closed himself off from the Lord! Trouble can either drive us TO God or AWAY from God. Ahaz did not accept God’s “bouquet” of grace. What will YOU do with God’s kindnesses towards YOU today?...


Family photo_April 2012It seems as though preparation is the theme of our lives right now. I (Andy) suppose that with any kind of preparation there are mixed feelings. One the one hand, preparation often brings with it a certain level of stress because there is so much work to do. Yet, on the other side, preparation leads to a certain goal which at least in our case is exciting. We are thankful that the Lord of the Universe is with us each day granting us grace and strength in the midst of our preparation. So what are we preparing for? Glad you asked!

Moving: We have been blessed this past year being able to live in another missionary family’s apartment (they were on furlough). This has greatly eased our transition. But the time has come to move to our own apartment. This has not been without difficulty as some owners will not rent to families with kids, and others not wanting to help us with our legal needs that our new visas will require. Yet God has provided. We will be moving this week to a place just around the corner from where we live now. Please pray that this move would be a joy for us, and not a burden. We are looking forward to making a place our own.

Visa: We are also preparing to begin the long process of obtaining new visas that will enable us to live here. Ukraine changed their laws this past year making it far more complicated. We will be traveling to Poland at the end of this month to receive a temporary D-visa. Upon returning to Odessa, we will need to get officially registered. This is a difficult and bureaucratic process, yet we are thankful that we know other missionaries who have gone through the process (and survived), and can glean from them.

Camps: We are looking forward to hosting two weeks of EEMN’s language camps in the beginning of July. Planning is being done on both sides of the ocean for this work. We look forward to welcoming the EEMN team as they seek to share the gospel to many children. There are certainly many other camps that the Youth Center is preparing for this summer. Please pray for the camp leaders and students.

International Bible School: Last but not least, plans are continually being made for the opening of the International Bible School. Many exciting things have been happening over the course of the past month. We are more confident now than we were a month ago that this school will begin in the fall. There have been many presentations in Ukraine and Russia to congregations, Bishops, and other key leaders. Doors are opening and it seems as though people sense the need for this project. We are still praying that the Lord would continue to call and confirm those whom He desires to attend. We have great news in this regard. From the Odessa congregation alone, we have a few students who are very serious about beginning this fall. Pastor Gross knows of perhaps 3-5 from Russia who also have expressed interest. This is very exciting and we continue to trust in the Lord for his provision.

For more about setting our eyes on the eternal goal, read the entire newsletter here.