Sunday, December 14, 2008
I shared with you in my last post that we've been hearing about Giving Away Christmas at church. I challenged you to have a giving attitude this Christmas season. Well, our church is doing a thing where they are collecting cookies and then going to have people deliver them to people who are working on Christmas Eve. This is a way to share Christmas with others that aren't able to be with their families on Christmas Eve. So, this week, I'd like to challenge you. If you are making cookies or candies this year for family get-togethers or something else, why not make a little extra and take it to those working on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This could be the local gas station, hospital, nursing home, fire department, police department, or anywhere else that someone is working. Wish them a Merry Christmas and thank them for working/serving for us even at this time of year.
So, what about Mali. After all, Mali is constantly on my mind in one way or another. I'm getting word that the hospital is in need of some much needed lab equipment and...still...more Malian Christian nurses. That is the main prayer on my mind still. See, they could start using the pediatric ward to its full capacity, but don't have enough staff to do so. I'm also praying for the next team(s) our church is sending to Mali. The note in the bulletin at church said they are having meetings next Sunday and the Sunday after next about the next trip. I'm praying that God's perfect team will be organized to go next October/November. I don't forsee it being possible for me to return in 2009, but I know God has the perfect team members to work/minister in Mali. I also pray that He will provide everything that the team needs in order to make it to Mali.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I don't really have anything profound to say this week. I admit that with all that was going on, I allowed myself to fall away from my daily Bible reading/devotions. I'm going to make it a point of getting back on this for this week! I did read a little bit more of a book called "The Shack". My father-in-law loaned me this book to read on my Mali trip, but I didn't have time to read it while we were gone. So, when we got back I decided I would start reading it. I read 3 chapters within two days, which is quite a feat if you know my reading habits. It is a really captivating book. It really makes you think about God! I'm about 5 chapters in now, and it's really making me think. I have a hard time putting it down once I start reading. I think most of all, it has made me think about the things in life that happen, making us ask God, "Why did you allow this to happen". I think it's often hard for us to see that good can come from what we consider to be trials in life. God can turn anything to good.
Well, I have a challenge to share with you. Take it if you'd like or leave it. It's just something to think about during the Christmas season. Between our current sermon series at church, "Giving Away Christmas", and having been in the 8th (or 3rd, depending where you look) poorest country in the world, I'm really thinking I don't really need gifts for Christmas this year. I mean, that doesn't mean there aren't things I'd like to have, but there are so many people in the world that are more in need than I am. So, I was talking to Sarah and said, how about we try to give a few gifts to a family in need. Our small group decided tonight to "adopt" a family or something similar and provide for some of their needs. So, you ask me how is this a challenge...right? Well, I'd like to challenge you to consider buying even a few less gifts for yourself or your family and help out a family in your community that is in need. You may know of a family in need or you may have to contact some of the agencies in the area that know about needy families in the area. Most of all, I'd challenge you to listen to God's voice in this. If you feel or hear God encouraging you to have a giving spirit in this Christmas season, listen to Him. I know from experience that God can use His children in amazing ways through little things like this.
Tonight, Gordon and Cheryl Roedding are my concentration for prayer time. My book of Mali missionaries says that their main ministry is to professionals in Bamako. They are church planters, currently engaged in leading Bible studies for professionals. I pray tonight that they would have opportunities to reach out to professionals who have not heard about Jesus' death as a sacrifice for our sins. I also pray for the professionals they are sharing with in the Bible studies, that they may have opportunities to share with coworkers and family and friends. I pray that these Bible studies, lead by the Roeddings, would bring many more people into a saving knowledge and relationship with Christ.
Well, I got windier than I expected. I pray that God will bless you all in this holiday season as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This week, my devotions in "Men of Integrity" focused on missions where we are. It also discussed serving our community, country, and world for Christ. I found when I got back from Mali that I really wanted to go back. I've started to consider taking French classes, studying Bambara language, and even going back to school to study missions. As I read through this weeks devotions, it reminded me that I need to continue serving the Lord where I am. That might be Lima, Ohio or it might be somewhere else in the United States, or someday, it might be Mali or some other country. But, God has called us all to serve our "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the entire world." I've heard this related to our city, country, and world. So, I think maybe this was my call to slow down a little bit and listen for God to give me His plan for my future. See, when I say "Lord, mold me, as clay, into what you would have me to be", I have to actually slow down and experience the molding process. If you've ever watched someone make a piece of pottery on the pottery wheel, it's a long and skilled process. I believe this is what God wants for all of us. He wants to take the time to slowly mold us into what He wants us to be, teaching us along the way.
So, that's my thoughts for this week. It's been a great week and I've actually been able to spend time in God's word every day this past week. This is the first week since I've been back from Mali that I've slowed down enough to stick to my daily devotions. See, in America, or at least where I work, we don't have morning devotions on the front step of our business. We did every morning in Mali. We also have a lot more distractions we use as excuses for not taking time to spend in God's word.
This is Thanksgiving week, so I wanted to share a little of what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for:
- Sarah and Zac and all my family.
- My job. In today's economy, I'm thankful that God has provided me with a job that allows me to support my family.
- The opportunity to go to Mali last month.
- Jesus' death on the cross, wiping my sins away.
My prayers this week aren't real specific. Honestly, I just want to pray for all of the Missionaries and Christians in Mali. Many are going out and sharing God's love in Koutiala and many surrounding villages. Churches are growing and some new churches are being planted. So, my prayer is that God will continue to work in Mali, and that Malians will be open to what God has to say to them. Also, I continue to pray for more Malian workers at the hospital. I know God has a plan on how He's going to fill the need at the hospital, because He's met my every need and from stories I've heard, He's met every need of the hospital too.
Please feel free to comment or post what you are thankful for today. Wishing you a great Thanksgiving. I pray that God will reveal the things he's given to you this week so that you can give thanks! As our pastor said this morning, everything we have has a label on it that says "Property of God" so I know we all have something to be thankful for!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So, that's what I've been thinking about and praying for this week. I'd encourage you to pray for Christians around the world who don't have the freedom to worship Jesus the way we do in the United States.
Tonight, as I flip through the book of Malian missionaries that our church prepared for us, I find two names that jump off the page to me. So, here's the prayers that I want to lift to our amazing God this week. For Olive Gifford, I pray primarily for rest. Olive has been in Mali for a long time, starting out with the six rural clinics and a key person in the development of the Koutiala hospital. I pray for someone to come in and help to reduce the workload on Olive and to potentially take her place as she contemplates retirement. To go right along with this, I continue to pray for more Malian nursing and medical staff at the hospital. I continue to hear stories of how hard and how much the missionaries and hospital staff are working. I know that God has a plan, so I pray that He would provide the staff that are necessary to move the hospital's work forward. As they prepare to open the pediatric wing (when stuff is moved into the warehouse), and start a new building, they will continue to need more staff.
The other missionary that I want to lift up in prayer this week is Kelly McLallen. Kelly is a teacher in Mali. She's teaching the missionary kids in Koutiala. I pray that Kelly would be able to cover all the topics the missionary kids need to learn. The note in our book says that she is being tutored in Bambara, the most common language in Koutiala. My prayer is that God will give her peace of mind to learn this language quickly so she can communicate well with the Malians around her. Also, I want to lift up the Malian schools in Koutiala. When we were there, they asked for prayer every morning for the schools because of teacher strikes and other problems. I pray that God will iron out the problems that may be keeping the schools from operating effectively and that more children would have the opportunity to attend school there.
Well, these are my thoughts for tonight. I pray that all of you will be blessed by God this week through your daily tasks.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
So, what's on my mind tonight? Well, there's been a couple things on my mind lately. Leading up to the trip, God had placed The Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible on my heart. (I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's holy word. It's a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It's words will I hide in my heart, that I may not sin against God.) At the time, I didn't think too much about it, but the scripture (Psalm 119:105) it's based on came up in devotions at the hospital. This verse has also come up in my personal devotions. So, God is saying something to me, right? Well, my mind wanders back to 4-H camp many years ago. Whenever we were out at night, we made sure to have flashlights so that we could see the path and make it to our cabin, the campfire, the bathroom, or the outposting site. So, if I take that and apply the scripture to my life in general, God's saying that I need prepare myself for whatever may happen in life. God's word is a bright ray of light/hope if we use it or go to it when we're feeling down or when we feel lost in the dark. Ephesians 6:14-18 talks about the Spiritual Armor we are given from God. In particular, I think the Sword of the Spirit relates to what I'm talking about. A note I have here is that "Spiritual warfare with Satan is won or lost with our usage of God's word." So, God's word is a lamp to light our path through life and it is also a weapon that allows us to defeat Satan's attack on our life. This sounds like a great reason to spend more time in the Bible, learning what God has to say to us!
The other thing that's been on my mind this week is a Master's Degree. I've said over and over that I see no reason to go on for a Master's Degree because my current job would never really require it. Well, since we got back, I've been thinking it might be worth seeing if I could move on for a Master's Degree in some sort of Bible studies. I haven't thought too much about it, but it's in the back of my mind. Don't know where this might go in the years to come, but it's what's on my mind.
Well, that's enough rambling for one night. Tonight, my prayer is for a few of the missionaries in Mali. First, I'd like to offer up prayers for the Nesselroade's. Dan and Marcy are very busy every day. Dan's delivering babies and performing all kinds of medical procedures at the hospital. He's pretty much on call 24/7. I can only think that God keeps him going. All of the work at the hospital has to be extremely taxing on him physically, emotionally, and mentally. So, my prayer for Dan is that God will continue to strengthen him every day for the work he has to do. Also, I pray that God will provide him rest when he needs it so that he will not become weary. I also pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to Dan throughout every day...that Dan will feel closer to God with every day he is there. For Marcy and the children, I pray for their schooling. It's my understanding that Marcy is learning the Bambara language and homeschooling their children. Learning a new language can be quite a challenge, so I pray that God will give her clarity of mind to learn the language thoroughly so that she can communicate effectively with the people who speak it. Also, I pray that God will give her the knowledge she needs to teach the children the things they need to know to progress through their homeschooling.
My prayers tonight also go out for Jessica Schaeffer. Jessica got back to Mali from a time in Switzerland just as we were getting ready to leave for home, so I didn't really get to know her much. Jessica is a missionary nurse at the hospital. Jessica is extremely busy, just like all the hospital staff, and needs rest and strength to make it through every HOT day there in Mali. I pray tonight that Jessica will settle back into the fast paced work of the hospital. I also pray that God will give Jessica opportunities to share Christ's love with patients, patients' families, and any hospital staff who don't have a personal relationship with Christ.
So, that's my thoughts for tonight/this week. Please feel free to comment! I always enjoy reading people's comments and sometimes they even help me think a little deeper about what I've posted. Have a very blessed week everyone!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I was thinking a little today that one week ago, we were attending Germaine's church in Mali. It was such a blessing to be there with Germaine, Barry, Terry, and all the other Malians and missionaries. God is so good and He is working in that church and in the people of Mali. To hear stories of them spreading God's love and starting new churches is just amazing. We see God working here at home, but it is so much more real when you see such a poor and spiritually needy country experiencing God. Our church will be sending another team to Mali next year, and I'm so excited for the people God will call for that trip and for the Malians and missionaries who will be blessed through them being there.
So, what's on my heart tonight? Tonight, I'm thinking about Terry Newman and the amount of work she's doing at the hospital. It seems like she's on the go all the time helping at the hospital. My prayer tonight is that God will provide more Malian workers to lighten this load on Terry...and all the other nurses and medical staff at the hospital. I also pray for God to strengthen her husband, Barry in the work he does as well. Barry is such an inspiration and I'm sure he is a real encourager to Terry in the busy times and the times of rest. For the both of them, I pray that God will strengthen them and provide them opportunities to share His love with those they come in contact with. I ask that you all will remember them in your prayers as well.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thank you for all your prayers out there while we were away! I'll try to post stories as they come to mind so that you can see/imagine what we were doing there.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
As I prepare to leave Koutiala, I think about all the missionaries here and will keep them in my prayers even as I get back home. The missionaries are doing such a great work here and are so busy all the time. It's just an amazing thing to see the missionaries in their element. So often we see them when they are home in the states, but it adds a whole new level when you've seen them doing their work in the country where they are serving.
I want to thank all of you for your prayer support throughout this trip, both for us and the missionaries. I also want to thank you for your continued prayers as we begin our travels home. There has been an answer to your prayers... Anco came home last night and we were able to go over and talk with him a bit. He is feeling a lot better, but still has some recovery ahead of him. They say it is just some kind of viral infection. But, he's up walking around and has been able to eat some in the last day or so. He was feeling well enough to show us pictures of his solar projects last night and talk with Ken about networking the different buildings around.
Blessings to all in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Can't wait to see many of you this weekend and next week.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I got to go in and see the two sets of triplets this morning. I saw lots of other babies and mothers too, but the triplets were the cutest!
Well, that's all I really have to share today I think. I hope you are all having a blessed week. We're all worn out and wanting to lay down and then pack our bags. Can't wait to see you all soon!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tonight, Germaine invited us all to her house for supper. It was a super amazing...fantabulous evening of fellowship! Barry told us it was a very rare thing for someone to take us into their home the way Germaine did. Let me try to explain. Here, houses are generally in complexes. So, imagine an outdoor courtyard with rooms off of it. Then put a wall around all of that, and that is a complex. Germaine and her husband rent two rooms and other people rent the others. They all are kinda one big family though. So anyway, Germaine took us into her rooms and showed us everything there, and then showed us her "kitchen". They say there's a lot of meaning behind someone taking you into their rooms like that because generally, the courtyard is where all activity happens and the rooms are generally a private area for the owners.
Once we had seen the whole complex, we were served a lot of food! It was all served in communal bowls (everyone eats out of the same bowl with their hands). It all started with a salad of fried potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, onions with a vinegrette dressing. Then came the main course which consisted of 4 dishes: One was sweet potatoes with mutten, one was peanut gravy and rice, one was tau and ocre sauce, and one was beans and onions. Everything was really good, although the tau and sauce wasn't my favorite food! Germaine was radiating love and joy the entire time we were there. It was so awesome to spend time with her at her home after she spent time with us in the USA earlier this year. The only power they have at her house is a 12Volt battery that is charged during the day by a solar panel. Wow, what a blessing to spend the evening with Germaine and her family!
I'm posting pictures soon. Many are from tonight's visit with Germaine.
Please continue to pray for Anco. He is at least able to keep a little food down now, but is still not feeling well. Please also pray for more nationals (Malian people) to be educated in the medical field and to come to work at the hospital! They need more nationals to work here to take some of the work load. Many workers are putting in 60+ hours per week. That doesn't even include Doctor Dan who is basically on call 24/7/265.
There's a friend of Dr. Dan's here taking professional pictures of the hospital and other sights around town. If you'd like to see some of his pictures, visit: http://www.andrewbryantphotography.net/
My pictures are at: http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/
Monday, October 27, 2008
I don't have a lot of time to write tonight as we have a busy schedule.
Last night, we had dessert with the Hanscome's. They had an amazing pound cake and strawberry sauce with hommade whipped cream. Yummy Yummy! And they even had more of the grapefruit soda that everyone has loved here.
We worked...maybe the hardest day of the time here...getting joists hung and metal roofing up. We're kind of in a rhythm now and seem to be moving along well. Tonight, we're going to another missionaries house for dessert and then probably an early night to bed.
Hope you all got off to a great start of a new week! I'll try to write more on our lunch break tomorrow.
Oh, and please continue to pray for Anco. They said today that his condition hasn't gotten better or worse. They think it is some kind of virus that just needs to take its course.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Today, we attended Germaine's (C&MA) church here in Koutiala. It was an amazing time of worship right along side of the Malian people. I have several videos of the music. The sound quality isn't the best, but I'm hoping maybe I can edit it a little when we get home. The movie files are too large for me to post on the internet from our slow connection here, but I will try to get them online as soon as we get home. Germaine seemed so happy to have us here and we enjoyed the full circle of her being in our church earlier this year and now we're here.
After church, Barry and Terry had us over for an amazing lunch/brunch. The food was really great and the fellowship with them was even better. We had another time of sharing what has surprised us or touched us most here. I am still struck by the love I have for the Malian people. Many shared different things. Terry shared with us the great need for more people to come forward wanting to be nurses and workers at the hospital. They need more Malians to feel God's leading to work at the hospital to relieve some of the work load that is on the current staff there. We also discussed needs at the church we attended. They are in need of more benches and a better sound system (currently just a mic plugged into a bullhorn). They also need more space for Sunday school for the kids. This church has several people who go out to the small villages and spread God's word. They have seen the church continue to grow because of this. This is very encouraging to hear about more Malians finding out about Christ.
Barry took us around and showed us his garden/fruit trees. He is growing bananas, guava, oranges, papayas, mangos, grapes, and cinnamon apples (think that's what he called them...they don't look anything like apples).
As I leave you this afternoon, I would ask that you pray for Anco, who is the technical guy around here. He does a lot of work with solar power, networking/computers, and many other things. He is very ill right now with an unknown illness. I believe they are treating him for Malaria, but they are unsure of what he has. Just pray that God will place a miraculous healing upon him in this time.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Tonight, several of the missionaries took us on a picnic to "The Pig Farm". Apparently, a man tried to start a pig farm and had built several pens (walls) out of rock. They don't really know if it was EVER used to house pigs. Anyway, there's a waterfall (not a lot of water, but some) there. We ate right beside the water fall. We had some time to explore a little and many climbed to the bottom of the falls. The funny story for this adventure would be...I had been out exploring by myself and came back to ask about a nearby village. Craig Hanscome jokingly said that 4 people from a previous team had been captured and held by the villagers. Anyway...I started exploring again and all of the sudden, I turned around and a young boy from Mali was almost right behind me. For a second, I thought...was he serious? Well, the boy kept on walking down into the valley below us. It was beautiful out there in the middle of nowhere. It was interesting to hear some of the villagers singing in the valley and see the cattle on the far cliffs. It's so amazing to sit back after a week of hard work and just admire the beauty that God has created. Every fall, we like to go hiking somewhere just to enjoy the outdoors and see the beauty that God has created for us. This was again beyond my imagination. God is sooooo awesome!
Pictures of this outing added at: http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/
Thank you so much for all your prayers! I'm feeling much better today! I'm still a little tired, but all the stomach sickness seems to be gone. Today, we only worked a half day because they are taking us on a picnic tonight. We're doing very well on the building...although Ken said from the top of the water tower, it looks like there's a long way to go.
Beth and Jane went to the market this morning with one of the missionaries to get some food supplies we needed. I'm so thankful for them taking care of the Kitchen and food for all of us!
Daniel rode/drove Bob's scooter back from the hospital to the guest house today. He only said that going through the market is a whole different experience on a scooter, compared to the van.
Tomorrow, we will go to Germaine's church. That will be a very unique experience I am sure.
Oh, Ken had to perform the Heimlich procedure on me at lunch today when I choked on a carrot. Thank God for the team members that are here!
Well, nothing much to report, so I hope you all have a great weekend!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Today, I woke up not feeling well. It feels similar to the flu. I started my Cipro antibiotic at lunch and slept all afternoon. I felt bad to not go to the work site, but think I needed the rest. We had pizza at Bob the builder's house tonight. I'm not thinking that's a true malian feast.
Sorry I'm not writing much tonight, but I need to lay down so hopefully I can go to the worksite in the morning and a picnic in the afternoon/evening.
Thanks for your continued prayers over our team. I think that the jet lag has caught up to some of us, so we really need the rest tonight!
Oh, Beth just gave me more new pictures. There's some of the triplets and one new baby. Enjoy! http://s99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/
Thursday, October 23, 2008
We went to the market today. It is quite the sensory experience. It's kind of an overload of smells, sights, and all that go along with it. I'll tell you that I see some of the young kids from Mali and just want to bring them home with me. They are so full of joy. It's almost as if you can see love in their eyes. God has definitely opened my eyes to see the people here and how they adapt to living in such a poor area. It's amazing when you think about all that we have in the USA and still, we often want more. Here, many only have enough food to last them from day to day and often they raise their own food, whether it be livestock, grains, or other produce. I'm still a bit in awe when I see the living conditions here. And yet in such a poor place, God has placed His hospital and church in the middle of it all as a beacon of love and light to all that will here it.
Tonight, we had dinner at Tim and Beth Wright's house. We had a traditional Malian food...americaned up. It was called Peanut Gravy and rice. The american part was ground beef...they would usually have chicken or chunks of meat. It was a peanuty sauce with squash, eggplant, cabbage, and ground beef. It tasted amazing!
So, anyway, the main purpose of my post tonight is just to say that I uploaded some new pics to my photobucket. There are several of Beth and Jane at the hospital. I borrowed/took them from Beth's camera and from Barry and Terry. I hope you can enjoy them and that it's not too hard to find the new ones. I haven't actually tried looking through them, so I hope you are able to go to the end and look at the newest ones instead of looking at all of them over and over.
Good night all...and thank you for all of your prayers. And...if Sharon Riley is reading...thank you so much for the Spiritual Armor bookmark you sent with me. I've prayed/put on the armor every morning and am thankful for the protection it provides over us.
This morning, Obarry (spelling) and I finished up the joists in one bay of the warehouse, so it is now ready for the rest of the guys to start laying roofing on it. Once they finish that bay, they will probably be off to another task for a time while we try to finish joists in the next bay.
Jane had been able to help with the delivery (babies that is) process a couple times now. She seems to be really enjoying it! She helped with surgery a little this morning. Jane and Beth were just telling me that the Jesus video is playing over and over all day long in the waiting area of the hospital where the women wait to see a doctor. This is a great tool to reach those who are there. They also have a Malian pastor who stands in the waiting area and shares the gospel and hands out tracts to the women who are waiting. This is hard to believe because you'd most likely never get away with that in the emergency room waiting room at home.
I'm thoroughly enjoying working with Obarry (spelling) and the painter (don't know his name). The painter lost a hand at a young age because of a gun accident. He has a prosthetic arm and does very well with his good arm. He does a lot of metal cutting and just about anything else he's asked to do.
I haven't had a chance to upload new pictures, but Beth and Jane had some of the babies, so I'll try to get those online later today or sometime tomorrow. I want to try to record a short video of the driving here so you can see what it is like. It's very hard to describe in a way you could actually imagine.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Jamie posted some questions in a comment, so I'll try to remember them and answer them. Termite hills...Haven't seen any real big ones close. We did see some on the trip from Bamako to Koutiala. We haven't actually seen the large mosque up close. I took the picture from the rafters of the warehouse. It's right in town and I assume it's off one of the side streets from where we travel each day. We haven't heard the calls to prayer while we're sleeping because we are sleeping so soundly. We did hear it when we were waiting for someone to tow us in Bamako when we had the accident. We haven't seen any snakes that I'm aware of. We see a lot of animals around though.
Tonight, we are going to go to a Wednesday night Bible study here and Bill and Beth are going to share the story/testimony and what brought them to Mali. They did say we will have a meal at Germaine's (spelling?) sometime while we're here, so that will be very interesting and fun!
OH! John drove us to the hospital this morning and back to the guesthouse...We didn't hit anything and were going a little faster than the bicyclists! ha ha. So, that's our morning.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I posted some new pictures from today at my photo site: http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l300/matt101279/Mali/ . Hopefully it's not to hard to get to the newer pictures!
Thanks to everyone for your comments! I'm trying to pass along notes that are geared toward a specific team member so they can get messages from home!
Have a great evening everyone!
We also started working on the roof on the warehouse. This was actually kinda fun, for me anyway, because I've never done this before. I love new experiences! Three of the guys were on the roof installing the metal sheeting, Bill and I were out getting tresses welded on. I'm mostly just running for what everyone needs. Someone has to do that, you know! I'll tell you what...Beth and Jane made ham sandwiches with avacado on them and wow, that was good. They're keeping us very well fed! They even made brownies for us for lunch.
Well, battery's dying, so I better log off for now. I pray that God will bless all those who are reading this.
Monday, October 20, 2008
So, I'll start with last night. Bob picked us up from the airport. Immediately, we realized we were in for a treat...driving in Mali. The driving is pretty fast and erratic. Anyway, we were driving to the guest house when a taxi swerved into our lane, apparently trying to miss a pothole. Our front driver's side hit bumper hit the taxi's rear passenger side bumper and smashed the rear window of the taxi. Of course, I don't think the mattress in his rear window was helping him watch for traffic behind him...
So, we got a few hours of sleep early this morning before heading out for the 5.5 hour drive to Koutiala. Yes, Bob was able to fix the van. One of the radiators had a hole in it, so he just bypassed the smaller radiator until he can get a new one from Japan.
Our trip to Koutiala was very interesting. People, bicycles, motobikes, donkey-drawn carts, etc...were in the streets throughout the journey. Traffic lanes are kinda non-existant as you just pass or get out of the way most of the time. We only hit one thing...a chicken. And the locals picked it up almost immediately...probably for supper. When we got to the "compound" in Koutiala, we were welcomed at the side of the drive by Terry, Barry, Craig, Marilyn, Daniel, Amy, and so many many more great people doing God's work here in Koutiala. I can't remember all their names yet. They had prepared an amazing spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad for all of us.
So, we're preparing for bed right now, but I'm going to try to get out another update tomorrow...and maybe I won't be quite as tired. We have to leave here at 7:10am for devotions at the hospital before starting work on the warehouse.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
To start with, I'd like to share a prayer request for a friend of mine who I work with and go to church with. Shane Fisher's young son was hit by an SUV on his walk to school this morning. He has a lot of broken bones, collapsed lung, and his liver was bleeding. They put him in an induced coma at St. Vincents this morning and were able to stop the bleeding of his kidney with some medical procedure. I guess that is a majorly good thing, but they are saying that is the main thing they are concerned about over the next 24 hours. So, I would ask that you would keep Shane and his son, Ryan in your prayers as the medical staff try their best to make him better. In the end, I know that God is the ultimate healer and can heal Ryan's body.
So, on to my trip. We picked up stuff last night at church that the missionaries requested and were to pack in our bags for them. I got everything in my bags tonight and would you believe it...We're allowed to have a carry-on bag 22 pounds, and two checked bags 50 pounds a piece. When I weighed my bags, they come to 22 pounds, 50 pounds, and 50 pounds. WOW. Anyway, guess I better not add much more to my bags. Other than that, I think I'm ready. I have tomorrow off of work to make final preparations and to rest. Then we leave Wapak at 8am Saturday.
Until later, I hope you all have a restful and blessed weekend!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A small group at our church put a ton of work and prayer into preparing a prayer map for our Mali trip. I just wanted to share the link with everyone out there so that you can read the prayer map and use it to guide your prayers for our team and for every aspect of our trip.
Thank you to all who have been and to those who will be praying for us!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Originally uploaded by matt101279
I was baptized today as a public proclamation of my faith in Christ and all that he is doing in my life. This was a very exciting time for me because of all the things God has done in my life over the last couple years and especially in the preparations for this trip to Mali.
Ever since we started going to Shawnee Alliance Church, Pastor Doug has been ministering to us in one way or another, so it was very fitting to ask him to perform my baptism. Jesus told us to go out baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It was also fitting to do this today since today is also my birthday, so I was celebrating my physical birth and my spiritual re-birth.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Jesus Heals a Woman on the Sabbath
10Jesus5 was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11A woman was there who had a spirit that had disabled her for eighteen years. She was hunched over and completely unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are free from your illness." 13Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
14But the synagogue leader, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, told the crowd, "There are six days when work is to be done. So come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." 15The Lord replied to him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey and lead it out of the stall to give it some water? 16Shouldn't this woman, a descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?" 17Even as he was saying this, all of his opponents were blushing with shame. But the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing.
So, thinking about what we learned in Prayer Mapping a couple weeks ago, I'm going to pray this over myself and my team as I know others on the team are experiencing some sickness:
Abba Father, I praise you for the opportunity to travel to Mali and share your love with the people there. I come before you today feeling sick and exhausted. With the authority you have given to me through your son Jesus, I bind the spirit of sickness that is attacking my and some team member's physical body right now and send it to the feet of Jesus. I loose the spirit of healing power of Jesus Christ that Luke speaks of to work in our lives, freeing our bodies from the sickness we're feeling, that we may remain physically and spiritually strong for the trip to Mali. You said in James 5:15 that "such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick". Because of the faith our team shares in you, I pray that you will heal us from this sickness. Thank you in advance for the healing you are going to do in our bodies! Amen
This isn't anything to profound, but it's kind of right to the point. I know God will heal my body and protect me as I head to Africa.
Of course, right now, the main thing on my mind is getting healthy. I came down with a sore throat yesterday, and now it's in my sinuses. I really can't afford to be sick right now with all the packing and paper work I need to get done before I leave. All I feel like doing right now is crawling in bed and sleeping for a couple days. I know God will get me through this illness...just like every other illness I've ever had. I just pray that it'll be sooner than later so I can get ready for the trip.
Anyway, there's my thoughts for today. Hope you are all having a great day and enjoying my ramblings.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Here's a couple verses from the Bible about baptism.
Matthew 3: 11-12 I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I'm a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned.
Acts 2: 38 Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Friday, September 5, 2008
"The Lord told me you could use this! I'm praying that you'll have a safe trip"
Family and friends have truly blessed me by providing all of the funds for this trip. And it was a total surprise to receive funding this late in the game. It's great to see God working in people's lives and also to see them listen to His call to them. Every expense for this trip has become available when I needed it. Little things like extra medications and clothing have been covered. God is good...All the time. And my faith has truly been strengthened as I have trusted God to provide every need for this trip! I can't wait to see how God will work through me and our team in Mali.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I'm still not worrying much about all this because God has had it all in control since I felt the draw to go on this trip. The monies have flowed in for every expense I've had. Big thanks to all my friends and family that felt God's call to give toward my expenses and listened. I'm very excited about the trip and can't wait to go and see what God has in store for me and my team in Mali.
Growing up, I looked for acceptance from everyone around me. I needed others to tell me I did well at tasks or that they approved of my actions. I was looking for happiness through the way other people felt about me and my actions.
One day, during a day of games and fun with younger children, I realized that I needed something more than the acceptance and approval of those around me. I needed acceptance from only one person, Jesus. After all, Jesus died for me. I bowed my head in bed that evening, asking him to walk with me and change my life. I asked him to forgive me for looking for things that he could give me in all the wrong places.
In the many years following that day, I came to learn about my purpose in life. I have found that I like helping out wherever I can. I don’t need anyone to tell me good job anymore. I feel a deep sense of approval from God every day that I walk with him. That sense is more than enough to make my life feel full.