Let us run the race

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Earthquake Epicenter

"He shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble;" 
Job 9:6

Our day started out yesterday with great news that the paperwork for our land had arrived from La Paz. Anxious to proceed to the next step to finish the process, we decided to ignore the threats of blockades and go to town.

All went well with the paperwork, and we were able to drop it at our lawyers office and continue on to do our errands. We encountered our first blockade in the center of the city, but we managed to get around it and drive to another part of the city to get out of the main area of blockades, or so we thought.

We soon ran into blockades all over the city and decided to head home without doing our errands. What should have been a 45 minute trip took an hour and a half. Thankfully, we made it home and weren't delayed in blockades for hours on end. We thought that was the stressful part of our day. But later in the day we experienced a shocking jolt.

We were both upstairs working on several projects when with no warning, we heard and felt what we thought was a loud explosion and our house began to shake and sway. It felt and sounded as if a large aircraft had crashed into the mountain behind our house.

I saw the house swaying and screamed, "Let's go," as I picked up our 18 year old Shih Zsu, Kelsey, and ran down the steps, Chuck right behind me. We were stunned by the noise; we had never heard such a bang. Even though we had experienced earthquakes before, this didn't seem like an earthquake because of the noise. When we got outside it became evident it was an earthquake because the ground was still moving.

The epicenter was right where we live, in Cochabamba, and although it was just a 4.3 magnitude, it rocked our city. People panicked all over the city, some damage was evident, but nothing devastating. Bleachers collapsed in a school, and children had minor injuries. A factory burned to the ground, and some buildings had broken windows. Certainly, it was a blessing that it was not higher on the Richter Scale, especially since we were at the epicenter.

The earth shook out of its place, and the foundation pillars of our house trembled, but we are still standing––so is our house. We are thankful all is well. We felt the power of an earthquake, but we know who controls that power. Just as Job realized the power of God, so did we yesterday. We're thankful to be in the Hands that control all things. And, we are thankful to have a house today and be safe in those Hands.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bolivian Cemeteries ~ Customs and Comforts

1 Thessalonians 4:16b
"and the dead in Christ shall rise first;"

We had an invitation this week to a family gathering to remember the death and life of a family member who died a month ago. Arriving late, we sat in the back. Everyone was wearing black and sad. The lady was a friend of ours also; we bought land from her. Everyone in the crowd was from our village or close by, all friends and neighbors. We sat on wooden benches, and huddled together as the winds whipped around us; our winter is near. The sound of children playing in a distance was soothing to all.

After the ceremony, we were served a hot soup that warmed our bones, and then a delicious chicken dinner cooked in a mud oven. The aroma of the wood burning and the chicken cooking filled the air. We talked, laughed, ate, and enjoyed being together. There was sadness, but joy also, because of the hope we have in Christ that we will be reunited one day.

The picture of the Bolivian cemetery above is dark and dreary, but our hope is bright like the picture below when we have Christ living in us. Whether we are dead or alive when Christ returns, we will all rise to be with Him forever.

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Faithful Friends

"A friend loveth at all times,"
Proverbs 17:17
When I was a little girl, I was blessed to have a friendship like the one in this picture.

Now I am grown, and I still have that friendship, and many more like it. Friendships are gifts from God. If you've gone through tough times and your friends are still with you when the problems pass, you are blessed. They are faithful friends. If they cry with you, they will surely rejoice with you.

One of the greatest blessings in our ministry is having friends who pray for us and support us and God's work. They are faithful friends, and love us at all times. They give us a glimpse of our best Friend.

May God touch your life
In a very special way
As you have touched my life
In all you do and say
For I’m eternally grateful
For a special friend like you
A friend that is heaven sent
So faithful and so true.

© By M.S.Lowndes

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Burdened Burro

Can you see the burro?

Did you know, if a burro is overloaded he will sit down and refuse to move? It's true, we see it happen on the road in front of our house. The burros in our village still carry a load of corn or alfalfa from the fields to their homes. They return home alone––they know the way.

This poor guy must have been on the brink of sitting down. Maybe the limit was just one more cornstalk. How do the owners know the limit of their burros? It must be that they live and work with these animals day in and day out for many years. Burros can live 30 years or more; they will work hard for many years. But, if they are abused their life-span will be shorter.

What can we learn from the burro? Do we know when to sit down if the burden is too much, the way the burro does? Like the burro, we have a Master who knows us, He walks with us day in and day out. If we are over-burdened, who's fault is it? The Bible says God will not give us more than we can handle.

Maybe we have put the burden on ourselves, and it is time to review our priorities. Maybe we can delegate––let go. We are about to start a young couples' workshop here in Rumi Rancho. God has worked it out perfectly, but we had to seek help––we couldn't do it all. Six of us will do the necessary things to make it come together. Chuck will lead the study, Juan and Amelia will help with the setting up, and Pablo and Nathaly will lead the singing. I will show up with the snack, and of course, add some laughs when things start to get dull. By delegating, we can do more ministry and be more effective. We can reach and teach more children and adults, because God has provided a way, so we won't be over-burdened.

If we think we can't do one more thing, maybe we can't. Time to sit down, God is not going to over-burden us. But, we can over-burden ourselves.

The burro's master knows his animal's limit––our Master knows our limit. 

Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

"Truly I tell you, 
if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, 
you can say to this mountain,
'Move from here to there,' 
and it will move. 
Nothing will be impossible for you"
(Matthew 17:20 niv).

On our last furlough, I developed a saying that I couldn't break. Every time I spoke in a church or meeting the saying just came out without thinking. It wasn't bad, but it could have been taken two ways––one not so good. I was so overjoyed with the things God was doing in the ministry that I wanted people to know God still does miracles. And, although they may have thought I was exaggerating the stories, they were, in fact, the truth. I told everybody,"This is no lie." As you can imagine, it sounded as though I lie, but the story I was telling them was not a lie. It got some laughs, so I guess God used the saying to His glory for the miracles He was doing.

 Look what Jesus said––"Truly I tell you,". He told people he spoke the truth, if they believed the mountain would move, it would move.

There are many obstacles in life, but God can do the impossible to overcome them. When our grandson Ben was born, his spine wasn't completely closed. Two days later it closed on its own, an answer to prayer. However, he never talked until he was three, but even then, only a few words. He was taken to specialists and had speech therapy for several years; but still my daughter had to work with him every day to overcome the speech problems that still lingered after the therapy. He was making progress. We prayed and believed God could remove the obstacle.

When he entered elementary school he still had a slight problem, but it soon became evident he was a gifted child and was selected for the gifted program. Today he is 14, an honor student and a top athlete. Nobody would ever know he had a problem with his speech when he was a small child. He overcame his obstacle.

One of my obstacles is a distance of 5500 miles between us and our grandchildren. It isn't easy to build relationships long distance, but it is possible. Yes, there are obstacles to overcome, but there are also ways to overcome them. Thank the Lord we have Internet, we can make phone calls, write letters and of course, give gifts from time to time––all possibilities that bridge the gap.

Whatever our obstacles, God can remove them. We just need to believe we can move mountains, and they will move. I have experienced God moving mountains––and that is no lie! Truly!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Peggy and Peggycita

She still calls me "Abuelita" (Grandma)

   We were in the states when she was born on June 30, 1992. We received word her name was Peggy. Her older brother, Carlitos (little Chuck), was born two years before. It was an honor for us to have them named after us, and a blessing to have been involved in their lives all these years.

   Sunday was the 21st anniversary of our Quechua church. It has been a blessing also to have a part in the church from 1990, from building the church and Sunday School rooms to establishing the believers to carry on the ministry––from then until now.

   Sunday, April 1, 2012, began with a message and then a DVD of 21 years of ministry. The service was led by Willie, a young leader in the church. He grew up under our youth program in the church, and dedicated his life to serve the Lord at a young age. He and his wife now lead the youth group and the music ministry in the church. 

Willie leading the music Sunday night and Carlitos at the keyboard

   Juan and Chuck spent many hours looking through pictures and old video clips to make sure everyone was included in the presentation. The congregation was moved by the ministry that God had raised up in these years. Sunday night we had 200 people come out for the special service on the community soccer court next to the church. Many rededicated their lives to the Lord, and 15 people accepted the Lord.

Over 200 people attended the Sunday night celebration.

  We have had a part in this ministry for 22 years. We have seen God raise up the church––His church, and Rumi Rancho. Peggycita and Carlitos now minister in music; Carlitos plays the keyboard, and Peggy is in charge of the technical part of the singing. The church is reaching out to other areas in the valley where we live. God is faithful-–He does the impossible. We are blessed to be a part of God's work here in Bolivia. His message of salvation is being taken to those who live close by, and those who live in the mountains. We are showing them the cross. Happy Easter––He is Risen!

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." First Corinthians 15:58

Peggycita at the projector and Carlitos at the keyboard