Let us run the race

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Heavenly Hugs

Ephesians 5:1 “Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children;”

   We have the blessings of many hugs in our ministry. Jesus wanted the children to come to Him, we do too. How they must have loved being with Him when He was alive on earth, hugging Him and talking to Him. Can you imagine being a child and sitting on Jesus' lap? The word heavenly comes to mind. Since we are God's dear children, we should try to be like Him. Here in Rumi Rancho we have a priority, children. Jesus is our example; he loved children and made time for them. We try our best to do the same.

    Often we are asked what we miss the most from home; that answer has been the same from the beginning of our missionary life. Can you guess what it is? What we miss most, family and friends, people.  Hotdogs and clean water come next, smile.

   Yesterday was our granddaughter Payton's birthday. She was eight. There was a little sadness in the air here, we missed being there to give her a hug and be a part of the celebration. But, thankfully there is a heavenly hug available to us today. It goes through the heavens, and comes out on a phone or a computer. How blessed we are by the technology we have available to us now. Before the internet we got mail once a month, and rarely made a phone call, either because we didn't have phone service or when we did, it was super expensive. Today we can reach out and touch those we love for no cost or low cost. A blessing from God of course; all good things come from God. Grandparenting from a distance is easier than ever, and fun too.

   Have you felt God's arms around you, not physically, but spiritually and emotionally, maybe through an email, a card, or a prayer?  That's a heavenly hug. Did you talk to your family or friends who are far away, and feel the love through the phone? That's a heavenly hug. Those blessings give us joy till the next time we feel that physical hug. Until then, we can be content with heavenly hugs.

   Philippians 4:11 says, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." When we are in God's will, there is no better place to be. Even if we miss a birthday party, we are content to be right where God wants us to be. He provides for every need, even heavenly hugs! 

     Give someone a heavenly hug today;
     you'll be blessed and so will they!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rumi Rancho Rocks

Psalm 62:6 “He only is my rock and my salvation; 
he is my defense; I shall not be moved.”

   When construction began at Rumi Rancho in August of 1999, many rocks had to be removed before anything else could be done. The land was filled with rocks--very small ones to very large ones. Some of the rocks were huge like the one in the picture that Chuck and Juan are pretending to move.

    One day a local young man was helping to dig along side the construction workers. It was his first day on our property, located at the foot of the mountain; a different landscape from the alfalfa and corn fields further down the mountain. 

   After a week of working on the property the young man asked the other men, "Do they grow these rocks here on this property?" It certainly seemed that way, because each day more rocks appeared. One man answered, "Now you know why they call it Rumi Rancho."

   So why do we call it Rumi Rancho? "Rumi", pronounced "roomy", is the Quechua word for "rock", and Quechua is the language spoken in this area where we live and work. Our ministry is built on Jesus, our Rock, our Foundation; it seemed fitting to name this place "Rumi Rancho", or "Rock Ranch", in English. And that's how Rumi Rancho got its name.

   A few weeks ago this gigantic rock fell into the irrigation ditch behind our house. We had to hire a bulldozer to pull it out of the ditch, it couldn't be moved.

    Hopefully, not even a bulldozer can move us from the Rock of our salvation. What bulldozers come into your life and threaten to move you from The Rock? Let's not be moved, not even with a bulldozer!

Friday, January 20, 2012

God's Guidance

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou
 shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye."

   Juan and Amelia were born in a mountain village high in the Andes Mountains. They worked on the mountain slopes daily, planting potatoes, and tending to their families' llamas and sheep. It was the custom to marry young in their village. Juan was 17 and Amelia 15 when they married. A preacher came through their village on horseback when they were young teens; they accepted the Lord, along with both of their families. Juan's father began to travel to other villages, taking the gospel to people who lived even further up the mountain. Juan traveled with him on many trips.

   There was little chance of change on the mountain, and life was hard. Amelia spent her time tending to their sheep, sometimes in pouring down rain all day, her clothes soaked and with little to protect her from the elements. She developed arthritis at a young age. Led of God, Juan moved his young family down the mountain, into the Cochabamba Valley.

   In 1999, we began construction on our house and ministry base. When the time came to pour the foundation for the house, the construction foreman informed us that he needed a night watchman to guard his equipment. We had no idea who we could hire. Later that day, a young man came to ask for a job, that young man (boy actually) was Juan. He started to work that night, just when we needed him. 

    A few weeks later, we learned that Juan had a wife, a six month old baby boy, and another on the way. The three of them moved into the little house on the property and have been here ever since. They are a blessing to the ministry, and have become our family.

   God guided Amelia and Juan down the mountain to our property, just as He was guiding us to begin construction. His plan was to bring us together for the ministry of Rumi Rancho. They are faithful servants, and a blessing to us and God's work here.

   God's guidance, and the timing of His guidance is always perfect! Our Father always has His eye on His children, and guides us in the way we should go.

    Do you need God's guidance today? Ask Him for guidance; His eye is on you, and He will guide you in the way you should go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas Tree Police

Philippians 5:6 “Be anxious for nothing,
 but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving,
 let your requests be made known unto God.”

   A new year, January 2, 2012 and already the stress was accumulating. Do you know the feeling? The holidays are over, you are back to the normal routine, and the tree has to come down. That beautiful tree that took your breath away when you saw the glow of its lights for the first time in December is now only a source of stress; one more task that needs done in your busy life.

   I was already overwhelmed, and it was only the second day of the new year. Our Christmas trips and programs for the kids were over, and gift giving in our villages were a mere memory of the blessings we received by giving.  My undies were already in a bundle thinking of the tasks before me, when I was interrupted by a phone call. I would say it was from my sister-in-law, but when I hung up I knew it was a call from God.

   Now before you think there was actually a mysterious voice on the other end of the phone, hold on, it was the voice of my sister-in-law, Sharon. God used her to get my attention. She always blesses me and puts things into perspective when I am floundering, and her words are always backed by scripture. Everyone should have a  person like her in their life. She is someone who always points you to God.

   Telling her my woes she sweetly said, "Relax, there are no Christmas Tree Police." That was it, all I needed. I was reminded to be anxious for nothing, not even the Christmas Tree. So what if the tree is up for another day, week or even another month; will it make a difference in eternity? Probably not, but it would make a difference in my daily walk with the One who guides my steps. When I look at it now, it reminds me to pray and thank Him for giving me the peace that passes understanding, even through a Christmas Tree. 

   I  planned to take the tree down today, but another task for God came up and has delayed it again. It's okay, I have enjoyed that tree more the last few weeks when it should have been back in its box, than I did through the busy days of the holiday season.

   We sometimes miss the beauty of the things around us because of our busyness. BUT GOD says, "Be anxious for nothing."  But how do we get there? We get there through prayer and thanksgiving. I am thankful to God for the people He puts in my life, to nudge me and point me to Him, through a Christmas Tree and other ways.

   And I am thankful for all three of my sisters-in-law who are also my sisters in Christ. They love me unconditionally, and remind me of Jesus; they are special blessings in my life. 

   I am especially thankful there are no Christmas Tree Police, because by now I would certainly be in the Christmas Tree Jail.
   Most of all, I am thankful for a living God who answers prayer, and gives peace that passeth understanding in all of life's circumstances. You never know when a Christmas Tree crisis might arise, but don't be anxious, just pray and give thanks and remember...
There Are No Christmas Tree Police!

Monday, January 9, 2012

God's Ways

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
 neither are your ways my ways,” saith the Lord.

   The rest of the story...and one you won't want to pass by. Yesterday I told you only part of the perilous trip down the mountain. Today I want to tell you the ways of the Lord on that mountain.

   Let's continue the story from leaving the village to God's perfect ways that led to praise and thanksgiving. Remember the whole group left the village on foot in pouring rain, and slippery paths; it was too dangerous to get a truck or bus up the mountain.

    The group walked three hours and decided it would be best to send a group of teens with one adult ahead, hoping they would find a bus along the way, they never did. It took 7 hours by foot for them to reach the main highway and three buses to get them to the church. Thankfully they made the journey with no injuries or accidents.

      Meanwhile, the remaining group prayed about their next step. It was decided the men would return up the mountain to recover the equipment and pray for a bus to get them up and back. I covered that story in yesterday's blog, now let me tell you about the group who waited midway for the men to return from the mountain.

      In this group was the pastor's wife, the ladies, and teen girls. After the men left the rains poured. A vehicle passed by and they flagged it down. The driver agreed to take them as far as he was going. Reaching that point they exited the vehicle and were standing in torrential rains with no covering to protect them. One of the ladies had a baby who hadn't had milk for two days. They knew they needed to seek shelter and food, at least milk for the baby. Looking around they saw a house down the road and ran towards it; soaked and out of breath they knocked on the door.

     Psalm 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

    A man answered and invited them in out of the rain, a blessing more than they were expecting. Their thoughts were to hover under a roof till the men returned, thinking it would be soon; it wasn't till the next day. God's thoughts were higher than theirs.

    They were fed and warmed by a fire. And yes, milk for the baby, lots of milk from their cow. Then the man and his wife began to tell of their life and leading of the Lord, yes, believers with a vision. I am sure if these ladies had socks on they were knocked off as they continued to listen intently to what the man said next.

     Led of the Lord, this man and wife built a big room to serve as a church, there is no church yet, YET. He isn't a pastor, just obeyed and did what he thought God wanted him to do. You might say, God's thoughts, not his thoughts. He was thrilled to hear what our group is doing on the mountain. Then came his request.

     "I am not asking your church to come here and bring food and gifts. What I am asking is for you to come and teach us from the Bible. We have a place, we just need someone to teach us more of God's Word, so we can go into the mountains and take the Good News. There are 40 families who live nearby and some come now, but many more will come to hear what you will teach."

     A building already in place, a man who will then reach out to the villages higher in the mountain and the road to this location is passible even in the rainy season. Chuck would have no problem with his back on this road to reach this far up the mountain, and neither would our young guys from the church on their motorcycles.

     So they wait...an open home of a believer, a room to hold meetings, and people waiting to hear and be taught God's Word, high on this mountain.

     If the group had returned as scheduled we wouldn't have met this man. God's ways are higher than our ways.

       Philippians 1:12 "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,"

     We want you to know, brethren, we are ready to follow the way God has opened to reach this mountain for Him.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year ~ New Opportunities

Psalms 91:14 “ Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; 
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” 

     The road was washed out, rocks in the river had to be removed, and the bus had problems. But the Lord rescued our group from disaster. For two days our group was somewhere on the mountain without a cell phone signal to let us know where and how they were. By Sunday morning we had waited 18 hours for news but nothing came. Two church leaders decided to go  up the mountain to find them. One group spent the night half way down the mountain in the home of a believer, just like Bible days when the Christians opened their homes to those spreading the Gospel. They were able to get a signal to notify us but the last group (five men including Juan) found a bus that would take them back up to the mountain village to get our equipment, that is when communication with them was lost.

     They were lost, but finally found. Everyone was ok, but the guys had to dig out rocks from under the bus where it was the stuck in the river. When the bus was fixed and the road opened, they continued on, but the rains were causing mudslides on the way down the mountain. Thank the Lord for His protection for these faithful young Bolivian men. 

     This is a typical house in the mountain village. Last year we delivered a baby in a house like this. The mother and baby would have died of complications if God hadn't had us there with a doctor and nurse from our church to assist the delivery.

     The mother is smiling, the baby isn't too happy but very healthy. We know this happy lady has received two blessings this past year, a healthy baby and the Good News. The village is open to a church being planted and God is preparing a way to send help to them through our church here to get the church grounded. Bolivians reaching their own people, and we are blessed to be a part.

     Our vets, (Jonathon, pastor's son, and Pablo, pastor's son-in-law), stomped around in the mud vaccinating animals. A typical scene, animals living close to the houses. When the group was stranded for an extra day the people of the village offered to kill a sheep to feed the group.

     One of the highlights is seeing the kids' smiles, and the contrast of before and after. They get a shampoo with lice medicine, manicures, pedicures, bows and berets for the girls. Then new sandals, and clothes we have collected from church members and from going door to door in the nicer parts of the city. See what you think about the contrast, before and after.

     The message we take is the Best Gift because it is forever. The first evening of meetings the people didn't want to stop singing, They stayed out in the cold weather with the lighting from our generator well into the night, and learned and sung children's songs with the motions. When we handed out New Testaments you could see the kids and people reading and talking about what they heard and read. God did a work in hearts and lives. We know the Word will never return void. Our work is not in vain.

     Is it worth it to leave our comfort zone, or help financially, or be a prayer warrior, to reach people in areas where no one wants to go to take the message of Jesus? The testimonies of all who went to minister or had a part in one way or another, would say yes. And the people who heard the message are eternally grateful. Many started the new year with a new life, an eternal life.

      A new sweater, hot chocolate and bread, it doesn't take a lot to meet the needs of children who have next to nothing. This year again the bread was gobbled up by all, and the hunger for the Bread of Life was evident by the participation in the meetings. 

        The new year brings the challenge of establishing a church for this village. We already have the people in place to help and the village asking for us to come and teach them. This is an open door for the furtherance of the Gospel. 

Philippians 1:12 "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,"

    If you wonder what God is doing when you go through hard things, trust that He is working things that happen for the furtherance of the gospel and He has a plan for you. The people on this mountain helped our group. God used these precious mountain people to meet their needs when no one else could. He always has a plan, the best plan. My next blog will tell an amazing story of how God stopped our group in a place half way down the mountain where He has a plan for us.  It's a new year, with new opportunities, for the furtherance of the gospel.