Friday, December 26, 2014

You are the {ONE who gives good gifts}

My dad and I are up late tonight wrapping presents for my mom.  "This has become a tradition", he says, reminding me that each year he has ended up having my sisters help him finish up the wrapping on Christmas Eve while my mom is asleep upstairs.  He gives me a wide smile as he hands me the presents to look at how he addressed my mom (and himself) on the "to-from" tag tied to the wrapped gifts.  He's so proud.  Witty little phrases and nicknames are written on those tags.  They carry subtle reminders of just how much my parents love each other.

I smile as I think back to what God has been teaching me this past week, these past months.  God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift {James 1:17}.  This is God.  This is His character.

But He wasn't always this to me.

To me, God was the One asking me to give up things, not receive them.  To me, God was limited to giving me spiritual gifts - ones that couldn't possibly be wrapped and underneath a Christmas tree.  I wouldn't have said that my view of Him was limiting, but my lifestyle proved otherwise.

I could easily give material things to others for the sake of sharing the Gospel.  In fact, I actually spent most of my breaks traveling to unreached places in order to do just that.  It was natural for me to travel to drug-trafficking centers in Mexico to give Christmas presents to children in orphanages, so that they might know the goodness and love of the Father.  My summers consist of spending time with vulnerable people, meeting their physical needs and often times giving away time and money so that they can experience the love that comes from God alone.

Yet receiving gifts still seemed to make me uneasy.  I hesitated.

The materialism in America threatened me, and I would do anything to avoid it.  I thought that somehow I would become materialistic if I were to receive gifts without this hesitation.  While my intentions may have been pure, these thoughts revealed my misunderstanding of God and His character.

He is the God who gives gifts to His children.  Just like my physical father, He likes to spoil His beloved people.  He loves us.

This isn't leading to a prosperity gospel; God is not going to bless you materially because of anything you do.  This sort of thing has absolutely nothing to do with us.  This is Him.  This is His character.

He is the God who showers us with His love.  Closeness with Him is better than any material thing, yet material blessings may be a way that God is trying to remind you of His love.

So I am asking God to help me remember His character in all things, and I am thanking Him for the physical and spiritual gifts that He gives.

Rejoice in Him and in the best gift He has ever given us - His Son!  Our Messiah has come, and He is coming again.   

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

25 July 2014 {Port de Paix}

The morning started off with a load of laundry, which took about an hour and a half - we're learning over here.  Then Tarna and I helped Carol Ann at the Nutritional Center.  We held all the babies and got their sizes and genders to be able to get clothes for them.  Right now there are three babies staying at the Center; a four-month-old girl, a seven-month-old girl (who is the same size as the little one), and a four-month-old girl who is the same size as a small newborn.  Her skin was chafing and she was absolutely tiny, with eyes sunken into her skull.  We headed to the clinic to get B complex, and as I went to get the keys to the clinic, I fell on a rock and re-injured my ankle.  Just as it had started to stop swelling - oh well!  So, Carol Ann gave me an ankle brace and some strapping tape.  She is worried it is broken, but either way, I am gong to need to walk (a lot) until I go home.  So I am praying Jesus sustains me - and He always does.

So, we got the B complex for the babies and some medicine for a man with stomach ulcers.  We also went to our surplus box and got clothes, blankets, diapers, and hats for all the babies at the Nutritional Center.  The families loved all the gifts and supplies.

Then we helped make banana bread to bring on our adventure tonight, and we are preparing for that right now.  Austin, Jonathan, Stang, Tarna, and I are taking a night hike.  We are walking thirteen miles to Port de Paix, a beach, where we will be spending the night.  We will leave at 7 pm and we hope to arrive before midnight. The roads are rocky, or nonexistent, and the journey will be hard, but we are so excited.  It will be an interesting night for sure!

24 July 2014 {Nan Sentrain}

Today ended up being one of those very productive, yet exhausting days.  After breakfast, Tarna, Carol Ann, and I walked to Austin's land, which is only about a mile away, to pick up the truck to refill the water buckets and any materials needed.  The week has been focused on building Eliodi's house and Austin's fence and foundation.

Then, Austin took Tarna and I back to see all the land the Trueloves own in daylight - it is so beautiful.  Then, we all walked back to the guest house for lunch. Odelson then took all of us back to the construction site to get all the water bottles and buckets in order to fill them up at the Catholic Church's cistern.

Then about 4 pm, we all headed back to Eliodi's to get all the fertile dirt and soil from the foundation and carry it to Austin's land where his home will be built.  It was hard work, but it was good and we are all looking forward to seeing Eliodi's house be complete.  About 7 pm we headed back home for supper and showers.  None of us can wait for tomorrow - we have a very interesting adventure planned for tomorrow night.  Definitely praying for safety and His all to be done above all. Thanking Jesus for this day!
 Part of the Trueloves' land
 Trueloves' land
 Eliodi's land

 Front yard of Austin's future home
 The lovely valley

 Oops! We got the bucket stuck in the cistern