Saturday, April 30, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
There is a seating capacity in the States. You can't just keep piling people in the vehicle. There has to be a seat belt for each person.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I originally wrote this post and several others regarding the planning and execution of a Vacation Bible School program about two years ago. Since that time, some new ladies have joined our BMW group and have asked that more information regarding these topics be shared. I will begin by re-posting many of the previous posts and hopefully add to them as questions come in. I pray the lessons we have learned in the building of a children's ministry might be helpful to you in your ministry.
--Originally posted on February 27, 2013
My husband and I have been working in Russia for fourteen years. Just over seven years ago, we moved out to a village to begin a new ministry. After getting settled in a bit as a family, we secured a room in the local House of Culture to meet in for services. We immediately started a Sunday school class which met in the same room, just before the main service. Upon getting to to know a few families, we planned our first VBS program in 2007. Since that time, we have held week-long VBS programs each summer. God has blessed, and these programs have become a favorite summer activity for many of the village children!
|VBS Children and Workers - 2007|
|Very first day of our very first VBS 2007|
Months ahead of time:
1. Determine WHERE you will hold the VBS program - Ideally you should have several rooms inside a building (in case of rain) and a nice yard or open field outside for more active games and activities. IF you have a situation like ours to where you do not have a building available and must meet outside, don't forget to have some sort of tents or shelter in case of light rain.
2. Determine WHEN you will hold the VBS program - Planning the date requires much consideration. If you are in a smaller city or village, check with the school administration to find out their schedule so that you don't schedule a VBS program during the same hours of the school's day camp program times. Here in Russia the children also attend long summer camps. Often there will be a general date when most of the children leave for camp. Being aware of these dates helps you have more children in attendance and prevents them from missing either the beginning or ending of the program.
3. Determine HOW LONG the program will last (which days of the week and hours per day). We usually hold VBS on Monday through Friday from 11 am until 1 pm. If we have a daily craft time, we extend it until 2 pm. Speaking from personal experience, that is plenty of time! You may only be able to do three days a week. Whatever the case, do your best to ensure the best time frame for the most children to be able to attend. Also, remember you want to have a FULL schedule with little to no downtime. It is best to keep the children busy and not give them time to wander around because wandering results in a quick loss of control! Strict time frames help them stay busy, help the time pass quickly for them encouraging them to come back tomorrow, and help you maintain order.
4. Determine WHO (workers) will be involved. This is a big decision! You may not have anyone to help besides yourself (husband and wife); maybe you have several missionary families in the area, or maybe you have a few nationals to help out. Whoever you have as help, make sure the duties are distributed accordingly. A new missionary that has not yet learned the language will not feel comfortable leading the songs! Also, if you are helping another missionary and your job/s have been assigned to you, be sure to see them through to the end. If you volunteer to do something, do it! There is a balance that is necessary when working with other helpers in these type of programs. For one, people (nationals) are watching! They are watching the faces, personalities, expressions, body language, and interaction between the workers. They are watching how well the whole program is thought through and organized. They may not be able to pull something off like a VBS program, but they will sure be there to watch how you pull it off! Trust me, if you hold your VBS program outside, they will come to watch! That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The Lord can use a well-organized plan to help you win the hearts of your neighborhood, village, or city. The Devil can use a poorly organized program against you. Doing things 'decently and in order' (I Cor. 14:40) will be a huge benefit when you go to introduce yourself to those parents and grandparents later. When everyone understands what is expected of them and is committed to helping in whatever capacity needed, the whole program can run like a well-oiled machine!
Next week, we will discuss more of the paperwork involved in planning a VBS program. We will view a sample schedule, talk about themes, teaching materials, and such in order to work out the details of VBS planning.
In the meantime, please feel fee to write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with ANY questions, concerns, ideas for discussion that you would like to know more about so that we can be better prepared to use one of the greatest evangelistic tools in Children's ministries - Vacation Bible School.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
If you love Chicken Cordon Bleu but just don't have the time to make the original dish this recipe is an easier version to give you the taste you want in less time!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
12 slices of thin sliced ham
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese, shredded (replace with Gouda or another available cheese)
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup of buttery crackers, crushed (I think bread crumbs would work great)
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Layer the chicken in the bottom of the baking dish. Next, layer with ham slices and then cover with shredded cheese.
In a medium bowl, blend the crushed crackers, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cracker mixture over the cheese to create the next layer.
Pour melted butter over the top of the casserole and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until juices run clear and cracker crumbs are browned a bit.
Create the sauce by making a rue. Melt the butter in a saucepan slowly. Whisk in the flour and cook for just a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, then slowly pour in the chicken broth and milk. Make sure to continue whisking for about 5 minutes or so as the sauce thickens.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the Dijon, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to taste.
Top each serving of the casserole with the warm creamy sauce. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Their stories challenge me, encourage me, and teach me. My hope is that these "silhouettes" or glimpses of their lives will do the same for you.
So grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy, and let me tell you about her story.
Margaret served her Lord in the Central African Republic for over 40 years - 1 year as a single missionary nurse, 22 years as a missionary wife, and 19 years as a missionary widow. She returned to the States in 1964 and passed away in June of 1983. From her first experience on the field where she had to make herself a home out of an old goat house until her final years where she had a working hospital, a nursing program that produced the highest quality medical staff, thousands of converts, and many churches started, she kept a faithful heart that consistently showed others God’s love. She is truly a woman of whom it can be said, “She hath done what she could”!
Study: Little Acts of Love
I'd love to hear about your story, too. Feel free to leave a comment, or friend me on Facebook, or visit me in Thailand. I have a great guest room. :)
* Photo by me on the beach walk.
* Photo by me at the park on the day my Grandma passed away.
* Stock photo - www.surfbirds.com
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Have you ever embarked on a new adventure in life that overhwhelmed you?
Many would agree that, that the adventure that overwhelmed them was going to the mission field. You arrive in a strange land, where virtually EVERYTHING is completely opposite than anything you have ever known. Literally if you took every aspect of your life (manners, customs, clothing, gender roles, religion, politics, child training, social skills, family practices, speech,etc.) and did the exact opposite you would have a slight idea of the shock you encounter when you move abroad.
It's in times like these, when life is more frustrating, overwhelming and confusing than you can imagine, that you fall on your knees and beg God for grace in the tiniest of things. Some of the prayers I have prayed during our beginning years on the field would look something like this.
"Lord, help me not be angry with the woman using my clothes line in my backyard"
"Lord, help me not to be angry with the people who push and shove me through the grocery aisles."
"Lord, help me to remember that the frustration I feel when my electricity goes out right as I go to put my dinner in the oven or blow dry my hair is sent from the devil to steal my peace. Help me to have victory over anger and frustration."
"Lord, please help us to have peace and victory in our spirits as we are surrounded by idol worshippers."
As you read these, you may think,"What trifle things to pray over." But indeed they are not. It is when we bring ever frustration to the Fathers feet and beseech him for grace that we can deal with any situation with grace, poise and joy. It gives you the patience you lack in the flesh, understanding that only patience can provide, strength that only God can give and peace that the Father is in control and all will work out for good.
Fast a Forward five years- We have lived on the field about 6 years at this point and we are generally accustomed to the foreign ways and culture that surround us. Are there times it baffles and confuses us? Absolutely. But we understand so much more and our patience has been strengthened greatly. So we have arrived, right.......? We don't really need the same dose of grace we once did, when we were lowly missionary newbys, right?
We have learned patience. We give a light chuckle over the irrate new missionaries who storm around constantly livid at the culture; the insane traffic, the post office that has you running in circles with no hope of finding a package anywhere, constantly running out of anything and everything you need at the store. Yawn......been there, done that, prayed through and now I'm comfortable. I have finally found regularity in this foreign world and my stress meter isn't constantly bugging out. I'll gladly encourage others as they seek to figure this out but I'm awfully glad that isn't ME in that situation.
As we sink into this boat of comfort, we slowly lessen our requests for grace when frustrations come. They are so much less often and our patience has grown so much it isn't quite as necessary to beg God for grace for every little issue. We begin to master the talent of, perseverance. And not just any perseverance, perseverance with a smile and a praise on our lips. We power through the daily issues ( lack of water, vehicle breakdowns, sickness, lack of electricity, language blunders) without a sweat.
Then however God begins to load your wagon a little heavier. First you are given one heavy situation you didn't anticipate. It's hard, everyone can see that. Anyone would struggle. Anyone would find it hard to have a joyful spirit and a peaceful disposition in this situation. You begin to weaken, but you still lean on that trusty old perseverance muscle you have been strengthening so diligently over the last many years. You know you need Gods help. Anyone can see you do, but you can't seem to find your way back to living from grace to grace.
You power through, it wasn't pretty, but by golly you made it. Whew! Life will be normal now....right?......right?! Hardly any time passes at all and you realize you can't find normal. One MASSIVE situation after another keeps piling on top of you. You look for answers. You doubt. But still you persevere. God gives you nuggets of truth that keep you plowing on. We post on Facebook all the wonderful blessings the Lord has given but in reality we are grasping at any little snippet of light to keep the darkness of frustration at bay. We are more frustrated than we can remember being in years. But if we keep going it will get better....?.....IT HAS TO GET BETTER. I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase, "Next year will be better" in the last year.
The new year comes and passes and yet one after another, life altering changes rock your world. Your finding your perseverance muscle is so weak it's begging for attention. It's begging for a break. Quitting never enters your mind, but your daily walk has become reminiscent of one who carries many injuries. But the motto still rings out, "Just keep pushing, just keep praising, IT WILL GET BETTER." But....in a small whisper you think, "I'm not sure how much more I can handle."
A time of refreshment and relaxation has arrived. I sadly limp in and drop in the seat. We are blessed to spend this time with men of a God and fellow missionary friends. From the moment it begins, a refreshment for our very souls begins to happen. The speaker preaches a message on Isaiah that echoed in my heart all evening. I went back and read the passages again.
"Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the Lord have removed men far away and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land." Isaiah 6:11-12
These questions filled my mind-
How long will I serve with gladness?
How long will I glorify God in my weakness?
How long will I exalt Christ in my crisis?
How long will I follow Christs calling on our lives?
Do I have an expiration date on my love, service or surrender?
These were very serious questions for me. You see because I had constantly forgotten the grace God had at my disposal and was living on my own perseverance through every struggle and trial. I had gotten weak. So weak I wondered how much more I could handle. I thought surely God would take away the never ending crisis' and give me peace again because he must know, I can't handle all of this. When indeed He had abundant grace at my fingertips everyday through every struggle that could have allowed me to walk with grace and joy through any and all situations BUT I had instead leaned on my trusty muscle perseverance.
This thinking is very dangerous. Because when you start to believe that you are at the end of your rope and Gods not getting you through anymore, you will take drastic measures to find a way out. Praise the Lord, I was not at that place but it's possible for anyone if they don't find a way back to trusting in God's grace.
That is when all those simple, insignificant prayers from our newby days came flooding back to my mind. I started to realize, when did I stop asking for God's grace to face every problem? When did I start to think I could handle this on my own? I'm not sure the when or the where but I knew I had to go back that place where as an overhwhelmed new missionary, I cried out for grace for every frustration, no matter the size. I didn't have shoulders or perseverance muscles big enough to carry the burdens I had in life AND God didn't intend for me to. He intended to show me his miraculous hand of grace in my life everyday. He intended to show the lost a supernatural God, that can empower me to deal with situations unimaginable for normal fleshly man. He intended me to live by grace.
I have since heard a quote that has further encouraged me to endeavor to daily live by grace.
"If your complaining and whining about all the problems in your life you aren't embracing the grace God has given you. Because God gives us all the grace we need for every situation."
Ladies I encourage you no matter how long or short you have been a Christian, missionary or servant, live every day embracing Gods grace. He never leaves you with less than you need. He never gives you more than you can handle, through His grace. And we are never strong enough to persevere in our own strength.