Monday, October 31, 2011

Morning Light

Last week I was sitting in my chair one morning reading my Bible when I looked up and saw this out my window. I love the light, the way it is streaming through the clouds. (Of course, the real thing always looks better than the picture.)

It felt like a reminder from our Heavenly Father to keep my heart open so that I can be the break in the clouds, letting His light stream through.

Life can be downright mundane sometimes: going grocery shopping, cooking, studying, laundry, cleaning, etc. And then God gets my attention and reminds me that even in the mundane, He is there.

Am I? Am I just going through the motions or am I paying attention and letting His light shine through me like a break in the clouds?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preaching to the Choir

On October 1st we hosted another Live Gospel Cafe at Komyo Christian Church. We passed out 5000 fliers and prayed. We set up the tables and chairs and we prayed. We made food and we prayed. We listened to the choir practicing and we prayed. We prayed for the people who would come to the concert, that they would be refreshed by the music and challenged by the words and testimonies.

At our previous Cafes we have had an intermission musical guest, too. However, this time we decided just to take a few extra minutes to chat while enjoying snacks. The choir members also sat and chatted with the guests. This was when I understood why God had brought all Christians to be the guests that night. Not all of the choir members are Christians and they had the opportunity to interact with some people who love Jesus and have living testimonies of the songs they were singing.

The lady I talked with asked why I had come to Japan. I love that question! A couple others listened in as I shared how God started to prepare me to come to Japan when I was in junior high school and how He finally brought me here when I was 25 years old.

It was a night of great music-I am sure even people passing by could hear the joyous sounds. It was a night of sharing God's love. It was a night to see God's plans are not my plans!

*The title is compliments of a suggestion from Jeff Chapman.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Communication-sometimes words are necessary

I live in Japan, therefore, I have learned Japanese so that I can communicate with people around me. Communication is fairly necessary for life. I enjoy communicating with people just for fun, too, not only the times when it is necessary for life-like when the guy comes to check the smoke detectors every summer.

When I went to Peru I was reminded of what it was like when I first came to Japan! Yes, I studied Spanish in high school, for three years. That was, um, several years ago. I did remember the word for luggage because that was one of my sister's friend's favorite words and we said it all the time, rarely in context. But, I got to use it in context while in Peru!

Anyway, even though I have studied Spanish in the past, not much of what I learned would come out of my mouth. I could understand bits of things here and there, especially since some words in Spanish sound similar to English words-unlike Japanese where NOTHING sounds like English! (Okay, so they have borrowed some words from English, but escalator and ice cream don't come up in every day conversation all that much!) So, I sort of understood things, sometimes, but whenever I tried to say something in Spanish, Japanese came out of my mouth! Not so helpful!

What was helpful was that Compassion provided translators for us to aid in communication while we were in Peru. Our family group had a lovely translator named Patty.

Another translator who traveled with us was Fernando (on the right).

Our tour guide and main translator was Soledad (Here she is helping fry chicken! She did everything!).

And, the person who made it possible for me to communicate with Magally all day was Niko.

I am so glad that God gives the gift of languages! These people, and all of the others who traveled with us, have been given a gift from God and are using it for His glory.

I have a renewed desire to study Japanese more, now, so that when you come visit me in Japan I will be able to be an effective conduit for communication! Ask me how I am doing! Keep me accountable! And, most importantly, COME VISIT!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Volunteers and Education

One of the most amazing parts of the Compassion Child Development Center Program is that it is basically volunteer-run. The volunteers are incredibly well-trained teachers who love God and love children. At the first center we visited I was watching the teacher of the youngest children and wondering how they got such a quality teacher to work there and how they paid her. When I asked and learned she was a volunteer I was floored. I don't know what they do in their training, but it is working! These volunteers are amazing! I am sure you are wishing you had them to work with you in your church/charity!

I suspect that the reason they are so amazing is because of what they are committed to: helping release children and their families from poverty. Many of the volunteer teachers are parents or grandparents of the children attending the centers. They see the difference Compassion has made in their child's/grandchild's life and want to be part of it.

What a lovely reflection of God's love! Thank you, God, for these lovely people who are committed to You and Your work through Compassion, the Child Development Centers, and the local churches.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The BIG Day!

September 15, 2011 will go down as one of the best days of my life. It was the day I saw Magally emerging from a crowd of children walking straight into my arms. No introductions necessary. No waiting for a translator to translate our greetings. Just pure joy and love.

Magally and I started out on this journey six years ago. My previously sponsored child left the program for some reason and Magally's sponsor left the program for some reason. And, because God is sovereign, Magally and I got matched up. Wow, did God know what He was doing!I am pretty sure Magally writes more letters than anyone else's sponsor child. I cannot keep up with her. She loves to tell me about what she is learning in school or at the child development center or about her family, especially her grandpa. (I found out from her mom that her grandpa favors and spoils her:) I had to start writing notes to myself on the letters she wrote so I could remember what questions I had answered or what questions I had asked. Since many of our letters crossed in the mail, we often got information from each other twice.
When we greeted I gave her a little photo album. She opened it and immediately pointed out not just me, but also my parents, sister and brother-in-law. She remembers my birthday. When our translator asked how she recognized me, she pulled her Bible out of her bag and showed us the back. There was my picture glued to the back cover with hearts and stickers and my name. One of the many times during the day that tears sprang to my eyes!The morning was spent at the Lima Zoo. When I look at my friends' pictures from the day I realize there is a lot of the zoo we did not see. We got a little sidetracked in the jungle section. Magally lives in the jungle. (She and her mother took an 8 hour bus ride to spend the day in Lima with us! Then, they took the night bus home so that she could go to school in the morning!) She had a great time telling us all about the plants and animals in that area of the zoo. She told me about how bananas grow, pointed out a coffee plant, and told us about her favorite foods.
Her goal for the morning, though, was to see the giraffe. Our translator, who was also the photographer and keeper of the map, did an excellent job of moving us through the zoo so as to end at the giraffe/zebra area. There is an animal whose name sounds like Magally, which we all got a kick out of, especially when another group came up to the sign and read it. We thought they were saying Magally! I wish we'd taken a picture there!
After a few hours at the zoo, we all loaded our buses and headed to a restaurant. It was amazingly difficult to part, even for a few minutes to go to the restaurant! We were all laughing and crying and telling stories on the bus. Magally and I spent the morning walking close together, followed by her mother and our translator. It is amazing to feel that much love for someone you've only just met, although you've known them for many years. This is another thing I didn't know before I started out on this journey. I didn't know I loved Magally this much.And, then we got off the bus at the restaurant, and joy again! We sat at the table, the four of us, surrounded by all of the other sponsors, translators and children, yet completely unaware of them. We had a good laugh about me liking my food plain and not touching. On the bus to the restaurant Magally had found the picture of me eating sushi. She was a bit taken aback by what sushi is. She had written me recently about going to a waterfall so I had a picture of me at Sioux Falls in the album. I joked that it is so small that when I stand up I am taller than it. That got a good laugh, too.To give our translator a little break-and the pressure on us of talking all the time- I pulled the origami paper out of my bag. We made the easiest thing, the cup, very quickly. We moved on to the morning glory which we practiced twice, and then made the balloon, very exciting to actually blow it up! While we were doing origami our leader told us that if we had presents to give, now was the time to do it. So, I excused myself and ran to the bus.Magally was so grateful for each thing that was in the bag that I got for her. She was excited to use the bag for school-the next day! I was glad that I'd gotten a few things for her to share with her sister. She told me that her sister's sponsor is old and will probably never get to visit. (I don't know how old 'old' is...!) With each new thing she pulled out of the bag, I got a hug, even the toothbrush. (I picked the right color, purple!)
Then the dreaded time came, time for good byes. I didn't know that my heart would feel like this. I am so proud of the young woman Magally has become. I am so blessed to have been a part of her life for the past 6 years. I am praying hard that she is selected for the LDP program! If so, then I get to continue to sponsor her!Oh, Heavenly Father, thank you for prompting me to take part in this adventure of sponsorship and the sponsor tour. I am so blessed I think my heart is going to burst. What a mighty God we serve!