Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lauren Daigle - Trust In You (Lyric Video)

This is such a fantastic song, I can hardly sing it without crying! I have copied it down and am learning how to play it on the guitar but here are the lyrics in case you couldn't see them properly in the video I've copied to this post.

TRUST IN YOU       By Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet. Every moment of my wandering,

Never changes what you see.

I've tried to win this war, I confess. My hands are weary, I need your rest.

Mighty Warrior, King of the fight, no matter what I face you're by my side.

When you don't move the mountains, I'm needing you to move.

When you don't part the waters, I wish I could walk through.

When you don't give the answers as I cry out to you.

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings. There's not a day ahead you have not seen.

So in all things be my life and breath. I want what you want Lord and nothing less.

You are my strength and comfort, you are my steady hand.

You are my firm foundation, the Rock on which I stand.

Your ways are always higher, your plans are always good.

There's not a place where I'll go you've not already stood.

Friday, June 26, 2015

I love it when it clicks!

Our Family Devotions this year
I love to see things click for my kids! This devotional is just one of the zillion ways God went before us this year and prepared the way for what we'd experience as a family. We chose this devotional to do with the kids before bed because we loved the adult version. Later we found out that each of the 365 devotionals focus on comfort and perseverance. It seems like every night the words (and God's Word) are spoken just for us.

A few nights ago we were reading part of the story of Job and suddenly we witnessed a light bulb moment for our oldest. He excitedly exclaimed, "Mom! God is doing for us exactly what He did for Job! After his time of testing and suffering God blessed Job and gave him even more than he had in the beginning." Sure enough, we each started sharing different ways we've seen God provide over and above for us. Their examples were things like:
1. In Melut we just had a small bucket of legos; now we have a whole trunk! (Given and shared from others).
2. The boys had bikes in Melut but they were getting old, falling apart and the boys were growing out of them. They each have a new bike here in Kenya that we've bought from friends.
3. Our apartment is starting to feel crowded because we are accumulating household things from other missionary families - tools, dishes, linens, and school books. I have been so amazed how even people I barely know are bending over backwards to help us gather everything we need for this next school year.

There are many other examples in our home of how God is blessing us beyond what we could have thought possible. Though it's been more than a month now since we were evacuated and lost everything in our South Sudan home, friends and even people we've never met before, continue to share their own things with us. This has been such an encouragement to our faith but even more exciting for me, great moments of learning, growing, and faith-building for our boys. I'm so thankful they're at an age that they are seeing God work and I pray these lessons will stick with them and they will look back and remember them for the rest of their lives!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Refreshed & Renewed

Last week we went to the Kenyan coast to meet up with Eli's younger brother and his family. After a full and chaotic 6 weeks in Melut, followed by a very sad evacuation and Eli's survey trip back into Melut, we needed some time away. We didn't even take our computer and we shut our phones off. It was just what we needed to spend time with family and relax and play on the beach.

The group

We returned to Nairobi on Sunday evening, refreshed and ready for this next month ahead. Due to needs in our admin/leadership for the SIM South Sudan team, we will continue helping out in the office here in Nairobi through July. During this time we are investigating our options for future ministry, praying, seeking advice, and slowly accumulating/replacing our household things that we lost from our home in Melut.

Sights from Melut

Behind our teammates' house
 Many of you have asked what Eli found when he returned to Melut earlier this month. Basically the first thing Eli realized was that stuff was everywhere. Several groups of looters came through our campus and it appeared that they took trunks, boxes, drawers, shelves and just turned them upside down, took what they wanted, and left the rest spread everywhere.

Our kitchen

Our bedroom
 Most of the papers were left behind. Here in our bedroom most of the papers were school papers of the boys' and Sunday school teaching materials. Such a sad waste! But Eli was able to salvage what he could, repack it, and lock it up in the school building. Hopefully it won't be looted again.

The Kids' Room
 In addition to their toys, clothes and school books, we had several other families' belongings stored in the boy's room. This was all ransacked and left like this.

The college library
 Thankfully the desks were all left in the classroom and the majority of the books were left on their shelves in the library. Again, Eli picked up and re-packed what he could.

Student housing - the roof was burned off

A bullet that went right through our front door!
Yes, these pictures are sad and even infuriating to see! But I look at this picture of the bullet hole in our door and I praise the Lord with all of my heart that He rescued our family from here before the rebels came.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A healing balm for our hearts - a visit with Melut friends!

My friend Atong with baby Elizabeth
 This beautiful friend of mine, Rachel (Atong) has been my closest friend from Melut since 2012. We have been through so many hard things together - grieving the loss of her baby born in 2013, followed by the loss of her mother only months later. We have shared our hearts like I never imagined I could with a friend from such a different culture as my own. Atong is a woman with a very strong faith and a beautiful heart. When the fighting returned to South Sudan at the end of 2013, after a very very difficult year for her family, Atong moved to Nairobi, Kenya with her 7 younger siblings. She put all her brothers and sisters into school and pressed on in a very new country.

Now almost two years later the Lord has blessed her with a beautiful daughter she named Elizabeth after Atong's mother. Her Dinka name is Achol, which means "replacement" because Atong lost 2 babies before little Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a miracle baby herself. She was born with spina bifida and had to have two major surgeries at a very young age. She is now a thriving, healthy 4-month old baby girl! God is amazing!

Baby Elizabeth

We all think Elizabeth looks like her aunt, Rejoice

Another of Atong's sisters, Akuot

We shared a beautiful day together, eating and drinking Sudanese coffee and catching up on the last year and a half since we've seen each other. I had a bunch of pictures and videos on my camera from our last weeks in Melut so I shared those with them. It was neat to see them recognize friends in the pictures and I think it was very meaningful for all of us to look through those memories together.

With my sweet Sudanese sisters, Apach on the far left and Atong

With little Elizabeth
I had some fun picking out little gifts for baby Elizabeth since this was my first time to meet her. Here she is sporting her new sweater that I bought for her.

Apach with their live doll

Auntie Claire snuggles Elizabeth

Eli figured Elizabeth needed some "Baba" time since her daddy lives far away in America.
I am so so thankful that the Lord gives us these special gifts of reconnecting with our beloved friends from South Sudan. It is these beautiful friendships that keeps us in this war torn country. Our hearts will forever be in South Sudan and will belong to these amazing people!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Eli is back!

     Eli arrived back in Nairobi safe and sound yesterday afternoon. The boys and I were waiting to hug and welcome him "home". We are so so happy and relieved to have him home. (My mouth is full of mouth sores which only happens when I'm under a lot of stress.) But now we can all relax, knowing he is safe and well.
    We did have a very difficult time as a team last night after the kids were in bed. Claire came to our apartment and Eli shared all the news and showed 188 photos he'd taken from all over the campus. They are heart breaking photos and yet healing in a way too. I will share more in the coming days and weeks. We need time to debrief together and will be going to professionals today for that. Next week we are getting away as a family for the whole week. It was not easy to be separated this past 10 days.
    Thank you so much for praying for Eli during his journey and for the kids and I while we held the fort down here in Kenya. We will continue to appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Seeing Melut with his own eyes

Saturday, June 6, was Eli's birthday. But the way he spent his 34th birthday turns my stomach. He finally found a ride from Paloich (where he flew into the previous Thursday) to Melut. The scene that welcomed him when he arrived is hard for me to picture but probably something Eli won't forget anytime soon. Our campus had been looted and Eli said it looked like the looters had pulled everything outside, dumped it upside down, took what they wanted, and left the rest strewn across the campus. After investigating the entire campus. Eli and the Principal of Gideon Theological College decided that they would return on Monday and pack up what was left and store it in the school library. There is always a sliver of hope that GTC will open again someday and we might as well salvage what we can.
   The encouraging thing for Eli and Principal Kur is that the buildings are all in tact. They are just empty. It will take a lot of resources and PEACE in order to get the college back up and running and we are praying about what is next for the school.
   Today Eli will fly from Paloich, where he's been staying with friends of a friend, to Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. And tomorrow he will fly the rest of the way to us here in Nairobi, Kenya. The boys and I will be waiting anxiously at the airport to hug that man again! It has been a difficult week, being separated, while he experiences such difficult sights and experiences. Please pray for Eli as he returns, that he will be able to process  and deal with the grief and sorrow of what has happened to our town, our beloved friends, and our ministry - Gideon Theological College. It is a lot of loss!
     I was so amazed at God's loving timing this weekend. While Eli was in South Sudan, my best friend from high school, Emily Greene, flew from her home in Uganda, to spend 3 nights. She was with me when I got the phone call from Eli with all the bad news from Melut. She has been a comfort, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to process with, and loving ear to listen. I truly don't know how I would have gotten through this weekend without her!
    God is good - that truth never changes! Even in these difficult circumstances we are amazed at God's power and how He works. We fix our eyes on Him and don't lose hope.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Remember Every Road

I have been reading Deuteronomy 8 this morning. There is so much about the Israelites that reminds me of myself. Reading this chapter in The Message paraphrase gave fresh meaning. Allow me to share the tidbits I pulled out:
    "Remember every road that God led you on, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that He would know what you're made of (prove your character). He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry, then He fed you with manna - so that you would learn you can't depend on yourself. He wants to provide for you."
    I've always pondered all the tests God gave His people as they wandered. He wanted to see if they'd believe He would take care of them. All through the Old Testament, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joshua, they were all pushed to have faith and step out into the great abyss trusting that God had led them that far and He would not leave them now. He would be faithful. He would fight the battle. He would provide. He would be victorious.
    In Deut. 8, Moses challenged the people to REMEMBER. Remember every road, even the roads in the wilderness. God made them go hungry so that He could be the one to feed them. I have been thinking about this. Losing our home, belongings, dreams and hopes for our ministry and losing track of our friends, has definitely focused our eyes on the Lord more than ever. We choose not to look anywhere else, but to Him. In the void, we wait, we expect, and we hope. And so far God has provided in such miraculous and unbelievable ways that all we can do is recognize it is from HIM. I wonder if God gives generously, over and above what we expect, so that the glory cannot go to anyone but Him.
    Verse 6 continues: so... "it's paramount you keep obeying - walk down the roads He shows you and reverently respect Him." In light of all this. In all the tests and struggles and in His provision, it is of utmost importance that we keep obeying and honor God above everything else. Keep moving forward.
    A few verses later comes a promise, a comfort: "God is about to bring you into a good land." From here God will take us somewhere good. But in the goodness and satisfaction of it all, make sure you don't forget God. Make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God - the God who has brought you through so much.
    This has caused me to reflect on our 40 days in Melut. I hope we hadn't become carried away with all the ministry opportunities and taken anything for granted. I know we recognized it as all coming from the Lord. We knew He had brought us to Melut for that time. We knew He was granting us strength and power to serve Him.
     The warning Moses closes with in this chapter is that if we forget God, it will lead to our doom and destruction. This leads me to pray:
     "Lord, help us keep obeying, following you where you lead. Help us to see you in every provision and step. Help us not to forget where all good things come from. You are King. You are the one and only God. We humbly surrender and bow."

Monday, June 01, 2015

It's All God's Anyway!

Friends and college students praying and dedicating our house in Melut to God
 In 2013 when we finished building our home on the Nile River on Gideon Theological College campus, the college community gathered together, ate a few goats and dedicated our house and 2 other homes to the Lord. We knew they were not ours - they were God's. And they still are. This is something I had to remind myself at the end of 2013 when war broke out all over Southern Sudan. And it's something I'm reminding myself of yet again. I can't understand why, even though I know everything in this world is temporary - why do I hold so tightly to some things in this world?

Hosting friends on our porch
 Since this house was built in 2013, I believe God has indeed used it for His purposes. In 2014 while we were on home assignment in the States, our teammates lived in it and continued to use its walls for ministering to others. At least 12 different nationalities (probably many more!) have sat in our plastic chairs and enjoyed a cold drink.

  So today, while I grieve a little more, (because I really loved that house), I am thankful for that special house on the Nile River and the months our family made memories within its walls. And I pray that somehow, despite the terrible injustice that came to Melut just 2 weeks ago, God will continue to use that house for His plans.