The peeps!

The peeps!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rewards in God's Economy

I have been somewhat in a fog since returning from Nicaragua. I feel an odd mixture of comfort in being back at home but a longing for where I left. Baby girl feels it too. She keeps saying,"If they called me back to go tomorrow I would be packed and ready to go." Me too.
There are so many things that I want to share and I don't know where to begin. Beware, there will be many blog posts forthcoming! I guess the best place to start is the beginning.
There is a family in Diriamba who have been ministering to the people there for many many years. They are the Baltodano family. The parents are Papa Arturo (who went to be with the Lord three years ago), Mama Newbia and their eleven children, and countless grandchildren. Papa Arturo was a pastor and helped start over 50 churches during his tenure here on earth. Mama Newbia always dreamed of starting a Christian school where the children could get an education and learn God's word all at the same time. Students from the poorest villages in Diriamba are able to go to school there because of sponsorships given by others. I got to visit the school and it blessed me so. More on that later.
The Nicaraguan Christian Outreach mission is where we stayed for the week. It is a two acre compound inside a guarded gated wall. Daniela Baltodano lives in the compound in a house with her husband and three children and her sister Claudia stays with her while Claudia's house is being built. These two are the backbone of NCO. They set up all our work to do while we are there and they minister to the families in these villages with such love and care I was moved every day. And did I mention how fun they are? Kept us in stitches the whole time. This is Daniela and Claudia and Daniela's three children, Stephen, Cloudita, and Kevin.
They served as our translators for the week also. There are two very poor villages that we worked in- La Palmera and Kilombo. When the lunch is prepared at Mama Newbia's school for the students, they prepare enough to go and feed the smaller children in these two villages for 5 days out of the week. When the bus pulls up at those villages all these little kids come running out with their bowls to line up and get a scoop.

Over and over God commands us through His word to help the needy and the poor. I just finished a bible study on James and am now in Nehemiah and helping the poor was a major theme we focused on in each. Not an accident or coincidence as God was preparing me for what He was going to show me.

James 2:5
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

On the first day we were there I watched as others fed the children. It broke my heart but warmed it all at the same time. Then, the next day it was my turn. I almost had to throw the ladle down and run off but I kept remembering my sweet man telling me " don't  lose it over there! Remember your purpose and keep yourself composed." He knows me too well. And himself too well. If he had gone with us there would have been a bunch of Nicaraguan children smuggled back to the States! :)
As I looked up each time to give them their bowl, the most precious and beautiful faces would look back at me with enormous smiles and say,"Gracias!" It was more than I could bear. And only a few of them had very sad eyes and didn't look like they had ever smiled. They are the ones I wanted to bring home. Such a simple thing yet such gratitude. These people, these children are some of the most loving and thankful people I have met in my life.

Proverbs 19:17
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
I thought about the scripture above over and over when I got home. Before my trip I probably would have thought that my reward was something different. I know now my reward was seeing the love of God in those darling faces that looked at me and said, "Gracias!" My reward was in the millions of hugs I received every day. My reward was being shown more love and receiving thanks from people who have nothing. At least by the world's standards they have nothing. In my eyes and forever in my heart I will remember what they had - a lesson to teach me on the beauty of God's blessings. Those children did much more for me than I ever did for them.

How great is our God!!!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Faces of Nicaragua

Well, I made it home. My prayer was that by the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit I would finish different from when I started. And I did. It is going to take me a few days to process all that God allowed me to see this past week. But do know this - God showed up, showed out and all Glory was His. I will share more later. But for now as I sit in my living room trying to figure out how to reconcile my surroundings with the surroundings I just left, these are the images I miss. Enjoy. They are beautiful - inside and out.

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful two Daddy's that the Lord gave me, to my precious father-in-love, to my son, and to the sweetest, most generous man I know - my husband. I love each of you very much.
Michelle or as I am now known - Me-chell! :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

About to Go

Well, tomorrow is the big day.......Off to Nicaragua!!!!! Baby girl and I have everything we need and today is just getting last minute things done around the house and getting it all in our carry-on bags!!! My emotions are somewhat all over the place. I am anxious, not in a bad way, but a feeling of anticipation is upon me. I have been praying for a long time about this trip and as the time nears I feel a stirring. Like I know the Lord is up to something big. Like, all those prayers where I ask Him to change me and rid me of myself are going to be answered. And I am a little scared. I hope that resonates with someone out there. Please tell me that I am not the only one who gets nervous that I might just get what I am asking for!! But it is a good scared and I can't wait to see what happens. I have been praying hard for my baby girl too. I hope she is changed forever with compassion and amazement at what God accomplishes through those who empty themselves before Him.  What an opportunity for her. Youth - it truly is wasted on the young. :)

Your prayers are appreciated and I will be journaling while gone and sharing everything when I return. Talk to you soon-

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God's Perfect Timing

Baby girl and I were invited by some family friends of ours several months ago to go on a mission trip with them that they have been doing for several years now. We will be leaving this Saturday to go to Diriamba, Nicaragua for a week to serve and minister to the Nicaraguan people. Now, I must be honest and tell you that when we were first invited and I heard the word "Nicaragua" my mind went back to the time I was a teenager in the 80's and all you knew of Nicaragua was the scary vision of gun toting guerrillas on the news. When I shared that with baby girl she thought I meant "gorilla" and said, "what is scary about that Momma? That will be cool to see real gorillas!" I have failed her where history is concerned. I did some researching and am not as anxious now as I was - my own mother is a different story. :)
I kept thinking how great it was going to be for baby girl to see how blessed she is and how so many other people live in the world. Most teenagers don't get an opportunity like this and what teenager doesn't need to see that it is not all about them? We are working with the Nicaraguan Christian Outreach Ministry that began in the early 1990's and has expanded to include two acres of land on which there is a mission home that sleeps up to 28 people, an additional missionary house and a medical clinic. We will be serving alongside the Baltodano family who live there and minister to the people in Diriamba. Our goal during the week is threefold: 1) To disciple and minister to children through Bible school 2) to build a house for one of the families in Diriamba and 3) to conduct adult men and women discipleship groups.
So we have been preparing by getting all our shots - Somehow the international allure is lessened when you hear the words typhoid and malaria! We have been preparing for the items we need to take supply wise and so forth......
Then my new bible study began last week. My, what a providential God we have. I have known for a while Nehemiah was going to be our next study, but any sermons or teachings on Nehemiah that I had ever heard were on leadership so in my mind that is what I was preparing to hear. The introductory video let me know immediately that this was going to be different. As Kelly Minter discussed how the Lord had laid Nehemiah on her heart and revealed to her that not only was Nehemiah a leader, but also he was a man of compassion, I began to feel as though the timing of this study for me was not coincidental.  I read the opening scriptures of this wonderful book and heard how Nehemiah was living in luxury in Persia as cup bearer to the king and he heard how his people were living in "great trouble and disgrace", Nehemiah was moved to weeping, fasting, mourning and praying for his people in a place he had NEVER EVEN BEEN TO!!!! His heart was compassionate and devoted to a place he wasn't born in and he loved his people, because they were God's chosen people.
I don't live in a palace in a royal kingdom, but by comparison to most places in the world, I live richly. My attitude about my trip began to change. Still anxious and excited, but something is different now. As though something life-changing is about to happen. I am beginning to ask God, as the song goes, Break my heart for what breaks Yours Lord. How differently the face of Christianity would look if we all prayed that. I don't always. Mostly just bless me and mine Lord. I know I am not going to rebuild a wall around a city, but see the following from Kelly Minter:
                          "Disgraces, tragedies, and abuses take place all around us - things that should not be.
                           God's church is to work at setting things right as we seek His kingdom here on
                           earth. As New Testament believers we recognize that our task is not to rebuild
                           the physical city of God's dwelling place but to bring restoration to people's
                          hearts through Jesus Christ who takes away our sin and shame."

I don't know what the week ahead in Nicaragua has in store, or the weeks following when I come home. But I do sense that the Lord is up to something in me and that has me excited. Rid me of myself Lord so that your Holy Spirit can move and work through me.
Please pray for Baby Girl and me and the 26 others who will be traveling this coming Saturday. Pray for the people we are going to serve that they will see the love of Christ and be changed forever because of it. Help them to see the Hope of Glory which is Christ in us.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer has Begun!!!!

Well, summer finally made it! Whoo Hoo! It is already so very hot here in Louisiana. And we need some rain in the worst way. I know many other parts of the country do too.
We have had a nice slow start to our summer and it has been wonderful. Baby girl and I leave this coming Saturday headed to Nicaragua on a mission trip. Post on that later. For now here is what our summer has looked like so far:

Baby girl ended her sophomore year with straight A's so her daddy rewarded her with yummies from Buttercup's cupcakes. She snatched one before I could snap a picture!

Lots of quiet mornings on the back porch with my coffee snapping pics of my plants. I am weird I know, but I need documentation of how beautiful they are before I am so weary of watering that they shrivel up and my yard looks like the Sahara. This is a shrimp plant. I thought it was cool and tropical looking.

I am quite infatuated with my hibuscus this year because the plant blooms all different colors.

My man and I just celebrated another wedding anniversary and we got some new patio furniture. I just love it. We live out there more than inside during the summer.

Here is my favorite part of summer thus far.... Grandpeeps jumping in GiGi's pool! Over and Over. Bliss for me to have them here and having such a great time. 

We are also eating a lot of grilled fish! Our son caught a bunch of redfish and he and sweet man grilled 'em up yesterday. Delicious!

Is he not darling? Love that sweet boy.

He and Great Maw had fun playing in the pool together.

 So as you can see, life is pretty rough at our house right now. Hope I can muster up the strength to keep up this pace.

Hope everyone has a blessed day at church today and a good start to your week. I am so thankful for these times of rest during such busy lives that we lead. Thank you Lord for all your blessings.