Egypt… But Not Really

124 Commentsby   |  07.24.11  |  Cairo, Egypt

Well you can’t find out what is going on in Egypt here, but you can find out about SA (South Africa).

http://missionstellenbasch.blogspot.com/

Live from a Bronx McDonalds

333 Commentsby   |  07.23.11  |  The Bronx, New York

I am currently in a Bronx McDonalds with a kids drink so that I’m allowed to stay here.

The temperature here has been in the high 90s and 100s the past couple of days, we have no A/C and the city is like a concrete oven. I heard today that 23 people have died in the city over the past few days from this heat and as horribly sad as that is, I have no trouble believing it.

The A/C in this McDonalds is heavenly, my drink is refreshing, and all this with free wifi makes me feel like a king. Compared to the rest of the world – to many of my brothers and sisters posting from other places all over the world – thats not much if any of an exaggeration.

What an amazing experience this continues to be. Noemi arrived a while back and we’ve been attached at the hip since. I am so blessed to have her as a partner and as another full-time intern with the same schedule as me.

We’ve bumped up the prayer station count to 4 and even 5 times a week. They’ve become the mainstay of our outreach and I couldn’t love it more. We are an unconditional presence in the city that doesn’t yell hell-mongering, but rather offers prayer to those only comfortable to write it down, prayer on the spot to those who are comfortable with that, and the offer of Bible study and organic church to anyone feeling especially called in their searching for God. They are such great constants in my week.

Noemi and I have updated all of our fliers to complete spanish and have some tables that are purely spanish. One such table resulted in our first bible study where the person didn’t cancel last-minute (which is apparently really common in this city). Though the study discussion was lead by Noemi and Carol, I was as encouraged as if I had been there with them to hear how well it went and continue to pray for that relationship to be fruitful.

We have also joined a gym, hoping to increase our presence in the community and live in holistic health. The times there have been great for reflection during long runs on the treadmill and in looking for people who we can recognize as the days go by and potentially begin casual relationship with. We want to be in interaction with the people of the Bronx in as many ways as possible, and going to be around a college age group puts us around peers in an unintimidating setting that we are praying the Lord will use for the furthering of His kingdom in any mysterious way He sees fit.

My conversation clubs at Columbia University have changed in form a bit. Where I had been teaching two classes a week – one based off of worksheets & converational exercises and one based off of Bible study – with a partner from a sister organization here in the city, I am now only going to the Bible study and my partner’s time here has expired. My first solo study is this Thursday and I am very anxious to see how it plays out. The people there have genuinely become my friends and many are from Asiatic cultures without any exposure to Biblical text or the Christian message. It is truly unique and wonderful to watch someone learn about the gospel for the very first time with curiosity and interest in learning more. While some are compelled by what looks like a new truth and others are only reading it as an interesting literary means to expanding their English vocabulary, the time there is always a highlight of my week.

Honestly, most days of my week are highlights of my week.

We are praying every morning and continuing to see the answers to those prayers with much more dynamic timing than that which my often impatient heart wants.

Turning 23 this past Monday especially challenged me to continue to grow in discipline and patience, rather than years alone. I am so glad for the work God is doing in me and through me and my partners here.

Thank you for your continued prayers. They are felt every day.

Medical mission…spiritual healing

46 Commentsby   |  07.23.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

June 18, Cebu Bible College in cooperation with the Consolacion Church of Christ sponsored a medical mission in Consolacion. The event took place in the gymnasium of a local public school.

Medical Mission at Consolacion Central School Gymnasium

There were about 145 patients who were given medical attention which included: medical check-ups, tooth extractions, blood typing and testing. Doctors also gave out free reading glasses to patients who were 40 years of age and older.

CBC students praying with the patient

CBC students interviewed and prayed with the patients which gave them the opportunity to set up follow-up bible studies. As for us interns, it was our job to keep the kids busy while their parents/guardians were being treated. We had print outs for them to color, crafts for making bracelets, stories, songs, and anything else we could think of to keep them preoccupied.

reading the kids a story to keep them preoccupied

Ian got to assist the dentist in holding people’s heads while they got their teeth pulled, so he got to witness tooth extractions first hand (fun! haha! you’ll have to ask him about that).

Ian helping out with tooth extractions

The medical mission was a great success and all the patients were of course very thankful. It’s always a great experience being able to take part in helping people with their physical needs, but it’s always a greater blessing when God opens doors for these people to be spiritually healed.

the whole team

Inspiration

16 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

Another group of kids and ministry that we have been privileged to work with are the kindergarten kids at Lilia’s place. Missionaries from Texas, Doug and Lisa Simpson, who minister to orphans and homeless families (http://liliasplace.blogspot.com/) have just recently started this kindergarten and they have about ten students from the different families that they minister to.

Before classes started we helped them with setting up their classroom and getting everything ready for the kiddos. It was so exciting when we finally got to see the kids and their teachers in action. It was such a blessing to watch them learn and to be able to take part in it.

Lisa teaching the kids

Friday, June 17th was a very eventful day for all of us at Lilia’s place. Our day started at Faith homes (the apartment complex where the kindergarten is and where the street families are housed) where we fed the kids breakfast and got them ready for their fun day. While the kids were finishing up with breakfast, one of the mothers, who apparently was already in labor when we arrived, gave birth in the room next door! It all happened so fast and we were all caught by surprise. Luckily one of the assistant teachers (Irish) is also a nurse, so she knew exactly what to do while we waited for the midwife to arrive.

Nurse Irish..and baby Irish :)

While all of that was taking place, some of us went ahead and took the kids to Lucy’s where the main event was to be held…and from there it was all fun and games galore! Not even the rain stopped us from having a good time. There were two other groups of kids there from the Inayawan dump site and the pier. The event was sponsored by two other interns from Denmark and they did a great job preparing everything for all the kids to enjoy. It was an afternoon full of singing, dancing, laughing and kids just being kids…not to mention even adults reliving their childhood. By the end of the day, I had completely fallen in love with those kids. It’s hard not to because they are such a joy to be around.  When you actually get to see where these kids come from and their living conditions, their smiles become an even bigger inspiration. ..

Michelle and Reahlyn

6 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Accra, Ghana

Well, tonight is the night that I will sit in my room, look at all my pictures from the summer and make sure I have everything packed up. I cant believe it is Friday the 22nd. It really does feel like yesterday that we finally made it to the Ghana airport and saw the big AKWABA (welcome) sign above the door. This summer was a blast and I am so thankful I got to spend it here with these kids again in this beautiful country. This time around I got to see alot more than last year. I was able to visit lake volta and actually feel the water with my hand as we were rowed across. How many hands i’ve held that has grown up in that water made it so weird yet gratifying to be there. In my mind I’ve always had such a negative conotation with the words ‘lake volta’. After being there, though it is a beautiful lake surrounded by lush moutains, the conotation was still there. Every child I saw on the shore line when we made it to the other side, which were many, just made me hope for them, that they weren’t being treated as badly as some of the stories I have heard from the kids here.

Also another highlight from this summer was going back to Nkwatia. Yes I honestly was dreading going up there again but when we got there and the teachers remembered me by name as well as some of the kids really made it worth it. Many of the kids ran up to me and stared for a second and said, ‘Ah! I remember your face, very familiar! Then they brought me into the computer room and pointed to a picture on the wall. A picture of Brittany, Laci, and myself as well as all the teachers. I don’t want to say I made an impact on any one there or here for that matter, but just hearing them remember who I was even though I was there for only 2 weeks last year made it really special. I feel like all in all, this summer was a little bit better than last. The homecoming I recieved when I got here I will never forget. Kids stopping their football game to run and give me a hug will forever be one of my closest memories. True Happiness. You know I let the kids just use whatever I bring, i.e my iphone, camera, video camera, etc. The other night I was looking through all my videos and ended up watching one from the first week. A boy whom I got close with last year, had my video camera and was just filming random things. I didn’t hear it the first time I watched it because the volume is not really loud on my camera, but when I put it on my computer I heard what Edmond was saying while filming. He was giving a ‘tour’ of a certain part of the village when he starts to tell his story. He said I thank the Lord for the Village of Hope, my mother died when I was 2…then towards the end he said I want to thank Shelby’s mother and Shelby’s father for letting her come here. God bless Shelby’s family. So to my family, even though you are not here, you are making an impact on these kids. Hopefully someday soon you will finally be able to meet the kids I talk about all the time!

*Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.*
-Marcus Aurelius
That quote stuck out to me very much yesterday when we went to the Liberian Refugee Camp. It was like a whole other world from the Village of Hope. There are guards at the front that only let you in if they know you or you are with someone they know. You walk in and it’s just like any other small town. Very runned down, houses made from scrap metal, kids running all over the place. We went and looked at the school those guys we met are helping start. In the front of the school there were alot of kids just hanging out doing nothing. Then they started a football game, and they used an empty bottle as the ball. They were still playing hard and having the time of their life from the expressions on their faces. They made something out of nothing…Little things bring them joy, if only more people thought that way. As we were walking through we found out that this place used to be the definition of a refugee camp. Everyone had tents as houses and now it looks like any other town. They made something out of nothing.

Last night I was in Joy Barnett House, suprise suprise, and I was watcing ma Victoria cook jolloff rice. I was talking to Vida about how its getting closer for me to go and I hope I don’t cry like last year. She said I wouldn’t, Lebene said I probably would haha. Anyways she said one is greater than zero. Lebene just looked real confused and told her to stop talking because she isnt making sense, and Vida snapped back with a ‘yes it does you just don’t understand!’ She continued telling me that one is better than zero…and I said im not following you. She said what if you had never came here last year. You would have never met any of us…one is better than zero. You coming one time is better than never coming at all. I’ve always wondered how the kids respond to people only coming once and for just 2 weeks, that kind of answered my question. Everyday I am thankful for these kids and they are a living testimony to what God can do. They have gone through SLAVERY, through beatings, some have seen people not come up after diving down into the water, and yet they are here making an impact on me. Yesterday when we were driving to the refugee camp, someone asked Chelsea about her tattoo on her foot and what it ment. It was some tree, im not sure what kind but it is mentioned in the Bible in, I think, Isaiah. Anyways God had it as a symbol that he is there to help those in need. And she said she got it as a reminder to her to be a symbol of Gods love to the needy, the poor, and the depressed. I thought that was amazing. Tonight we are having her going away party. She knows there is something going on for her but doesnt know any details. It is going to be alot of fun, and really sad because she has been here for 2 years. She said this time saying goodbye is going to be the most difficult.

OH! the president deal…almost forgot to tell yall about it. Well he didnt come…so after the kids and pretty much everyone here at the village got EVERYTHING ready, signs got painted, flags got hung, he couldn’t come and had all these other important people come in his place. LAME. I did get to see some cool tribal dances and what not but yeah. After the program I was hanging out with Raul and funniest thing ever. All the kids had to dress nice so he was wearing dress pants and a white shirt and the big ole dock martin type boots. I was chasing him around and the way he ran made it obvious those shoes were heavy. It was SO funny I wish I had gotten it on film. I finally caught him and he laughted and screamed so loud people turned around. haha I had to make him be quiet but at the same time I couldn’t help but laugh. Oh im going to miss that kid.

But I think this is going to be my last post in Ghana! I hope for who ever has been reading this you have enjoyed it. Today’s was pretty long but I just had so much to say :] haha. Anyways I am really excited to be home and see everyone. see you all in 2 days!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another; for he who loves his fellow man has fullfilled the law… and whatever other comandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ”Love your neighbor as yourself” Love does no harm to it’s neighbor. Therefore love is the fullfillment of the law.
-Romans 13:9-10

Cultural Comparison, Part 3

9 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Accra, Ghana

My last installation of cultural comparison between Ghana and the United States will be over the healthcare systems. However, after interviewing Corrinne, the Village of Hope’s nurse, it was apparent that the healthcare systems have very little in common. Thus, for this last project, I will give a brief overview of the Ghanaian system, discuss some issues within the system, and propose a solution for improvement.

Ghanaian healthcare is a national public system. Citizens are not required to have health insurance, but it is strongly encouraged. Overall the system is not incredibly efficient: the system for healthcare is backed up, and sometimes it takes over a year to receive an insurance card, at which point the card becomes ineffective. Many villagers are reluctant to pay for an unreliable insurance card, especially when other basic needs, like food, are not being met. Thus, most Ghanaians receive medical care through a local clinic which they pay for out of pocket or they consult the village doctor. Hospitals are located in major cities, especially in the greater Accra region, though access to medical assistance is fairly limited and unreliable for the majority of the agrarian sectors of Ghana.

The Village of Hope’s nurse is a woman named Corrinne, who formerly lived in Michigan. A year ago the Lord told her to go to Ghana, so she sold all she had and moved to work in the Village of Hope’s clinic. The transition for her has been difficult, but she loves every minute of it. Having listened to her stories and inside information, it is clear that the first major issue for Ghanaian healthcare is its lack of resources. When she arrived, basic medical supplies were lacking, which is not uncommon for clinics across the country. On her first visit to the clinic, the nurses were using old IV tubing as a tourniquet because of lack of supplies. With such a lack of basic resources, it is incredibly difficult to meet even the most basic of medical needs. Secondly, the distribution of the resources that are actually available is very poor. Insurance cards are received unreliably and in an untimely fashion. Patients often cannot even afford transportation to go to the clinic, and so medication is simply not available for them because they cannot physically get there. Also, the availability of clinics is not evenly distributed, being concentrated in larger cities and lacking in small villages and agrarian societies.

Though the first two main issues are concerned with resources, the last main issue with the healthcare system is a lack of education on health issues. Concerning medical personnel, many nurses and doctors lack proper training and management skills to efficiently run a clinic. Concerning the general population, there is still a persistent belief in superstitions and herbal medicines. Many witch doctors tell the local people that they will die if they go receive medical help from a clinic. Moreover, certain diseases and health issues, like STD’s and tuberculosis, are considered taboo, and so the afflicted persons will refuse to receive medical help. Overall, the attitude towards health is not focused on prevention, but rather on reactive solutions. Because of this, clinics are forced to play a game of “catch up” by having to focus on simple issues that could have been prevented with proper knowledge.

Considering the overarching challenges for the Ghanaian healthcare system, the solution that would lead to the greatest amount of national medical improvement would be to focus on increasing the caliber of education available to the country. By focusing on and improving the quality of the educational system, many preventive health issues would be eliminated, and superstitions would not hold back persons who truly needed medical assistance. Additionally, a better educational system would produce medical personnel equipped to properly handle health clinics. Thus, higher educational standards would lead to higher health standards. However, it is also still important to consider where the country is at in its history. With Ghana as a country being little more than half a century old and having an even newer constitution, Ghana is considerably better off than many of its neighboring countries. One of the issues in comparing Ghana and the United States is that America has a considerable advantage simply because it has had more time to shape and perfect its society and government. Keeping in mind the timeline for Ghana as a country, I have high hopes for its future. Though its healthcare and education systems are not as polished as those in a country like the United States, I believe they are on their way to considerable improvement. The government is pressing for education among the people, and health campaigns and advertisements to the population are abundant. If Ghana continues to grow and mature with its new constitution, it is my hope that, step by step, as a country, the people will see improved standards with education, leading to an improved healthcare system.

We plant the seeds, God makes them grow

9 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Cebu, Philippines, Uncategorized

During our time here in Cebu we’ve had a lot of opportunity to work with various groups of kids. One of the groups that we have invested quite a bit of time in is the high school group at our local congregation in Consolacion. Most of these kids have been with us for at least 3 years now and considering the sweet and loving kids that they are, it’s hard not to get attached to such a great group of kids.

Saturdays are typically when we get together with the kids and we usually start off by teaching them a few songs, followed by a short lesson (I say short because these kids have a very short attention span. Let’s keep in mind that high school kids here are typically 12-16 years old), then it’s game time!! Like any other group of kids, they always enjoy the games the most, although you’d be surprised at how much these kids love to sing and learn new songs.  :) Oh, and let’s not forget about the snacks…believe it or not, snacks work as a really good incentive for these kids. I can’t tell you how many times my mom got the kids to behave by threatening to not give them their share if they didn’t pay attention. Works like a charm! ;)

Occasionally we would take the group out on “special outings” as a reward for their perfect attendance for that month. So far we’ve taken them to the mall to see Kung Fu Panda 2, topped off with ice cream from Jollibee (local fast food chain). We also took them to the park for some fun games and hotdogs. We taught them how to “assemble” their own hotdog buns, which was a first for most if not all of them (pretty hard to fathom for the typical american wouldn’t you say?). But let me just say, they sure enjoyed it! Next week we’re looking forward to having them over here at the house for more food, fun, and fellowship! :)

with the Consolacion High School group at the park for their monthly outing

All of these kids have not been brought up in Christian homes. They come from very poor families and some of them don’t exactly have the best role models that they can look up to. Giving them something to look forward to once a week and being a positive influence to them lessens their chances of them getting involved with the wrong crowd and the wrong things. But most importantly, it means a lot to them just to know that someone cares about them. These kids just want to be loved, and what better way to share the love of God with them than to just be there to spend time with them. The kids of today will be the church of tomorrow…we plant the seeds, and we nurture them, but it is God who will make them grow.

Supplying Shoes and Sugarcane

7 Commentsby   |  07.21.11  |  Kenya

As you can imagine, I’ve deduced that living in Africa highly varies from living in America. Last Wednesday, one of the boys here, Mark, was bit by a snake. Other than shaken up, he’s fine, but I’ve noticed that I watch where I walk a lot more these days. In addition to snakes, Bonnie and I have also been subjected to sharing our room with two mice, whom we’ve dubbed Scampy and Junior (Junior is literally junior…he’s not much bigger than a jelly bean!) We’ve noticed as of late that they are becoming much more daring, moving from the closet and the corners to under our beds and in the walkways. Another African experience I’ve had the opportunity of undergoing last week was milking a cow! Two of the older children at Sam’s Place, Violet and Kilion, came with us and taught us the basics. I was a natural and was only briefly startled when the cow decided to urinate while I was milking. Afterward, we even got to try the milk we had extracted! Although I’ve had triumphs (obviously milking the cow), we’ve also had trials, as we’re currently experiencing a lack of water. In Kenya, with July comes a void of rain, thus the depletion of our water supplies. Every day we must trek down to the nearest river and bring bucket by bucket back to Sam’s Place to use for cooking, bathing, and the sort.

Thursday was a bit out of the ordinary. Savannah, Bonnie, and I decided that before we left Sam’s Place, we wanted to give the children something that would be useful now, as well as in the future. After weeks and weeks of contemplation, we agreed that shoes would be the perfect departing gift, for many of their current shoes have holes in the heels and some are literally holding on by a thread. So last Thursday we grabbed a mutatu to Kisii for market day and set out in the search for shoes. After hours upon hours of sifting through shoes for appropriate sizes, we finally had 30 closed-toe shoes in our possession. However, as we stood there in the scorching, African sun, we decided that, although closed-toe shoes will be great for school and sports, sandals are a necessity for everyday wear. So we set out again, this time with sandals on our mind, and by the end of the day, we had 60 shoes ready to bring back and distribute to our kids. And I’ve NEVER seen more excitement in my whole life! They lined up by height as we brought each child in, letting them try on their shoes to make sure they fit, and then sent them on their way while they thanked us over and over again. By the end of that day, I was exhausted, yet exhilarated.

Another simple pleasure that we often take for granted in America is watching television (in addition to running water and shoes). Although I have to say I don’t miss it one bit, the children go absolutely crazy when we bring it out for them to watch old movies. The funny thing is that with being deaf they don’t understand half of it, but they still love it all the same.

Savannah, Bonnie, and I have become accustomed to delicious meals by Naomi and wanted to return the favor by making her family an American meal. The problem is that the ingredients available here are quite different than ones offered in America, so after ruling out basically all Mexican (which ironically I find very America) and many other typical meals, we decided that breakfast food was our best bet. So this past Saturday, after helping the children wash their clothes, we traveled to Rongo to pick up our supplies (even finding vanilla extract which we were sure we would have to do without) and then hastily hurried back to start our cooking extravaganza. It proved to be a little more difficult than initially planned, due to the lack of nonstick pans, but we worked through it and came out with a nice meal of breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, and pancakes (an original recipe from Bonnie’s grandmother). Everyone seemed to love it and asked for all the recipes!

On Sunday, Simeone took us to his childhood congregation for church. He introduced us, like every Sunday, but aware of my special trilling talent, asked me to trill for the ENTIRE congregation…which I did most obligingly to their shock and amazement. On our way home, we stopped and bought the children sugar cane. When we pulled it out of the trunk, they all started jumping up and down, smiling broadly, signing “thank you” over and over. They are so precious! Savannah and I have been eager to try it the entire summer and so joined in with the children. Bonnie, however, had a traumatic experience with sugar cane at a young age and thus refused to even look at it. It wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting, or as grainy, and reminded me a lot of watermelon. On the topic of food, I have become very fond of two vegetables; roasted corn, which they sell on every street corner, and cabbage, Naomi’s specialty. When I first arrived in Africa, I undoubtedly craved certain foods not available in Kenya, such as ice cream and enchiladas, however, I have now come to crave African food, i.e. roasted corn, cabbage, groundnuts, and peas.

In the same way last week was completely ordinary, this week has been the opposite, a week full of testing in preparation for exam day (today). We only diverged from this testing schedule yesterday (Wednesday), when we accompanied Simeone and Naomi to a funeral. Normally an entire day’s event, we only stayed for 4 hours, having to get back to Sam’s Place. For those 4 hours, men and women, friends and relatives, stood and spoke, prayed, and sang for the deceased man. It was very unlike any funeral I’ve ever attended, with speakers telling jokes and attenders offering money. The family was so honored to have wazungus present that they asked us to speak and sing for the audience.

Even when I spend all my time with children, teaching, eating, and resting, nothing compares to the feeling of actually playing with them. I feel 8 years old again, pretending to be cats and running around frantically tickling and attempting to escape ticklees. Other than the children themselves, it’s these time I’ll miss the most when we leave next week. I have never known time to fly by so fast, with hours turning into days and days into weeks. It feels as if I only arrived last week and yet, my final week’s approaching. The children have recently developed the habit of continuously asking how much longer until we have to leave and when we will be back. It breaks my heart not being able to tell them next month, but I know that this summer has been just as much an encouragement to them as it has been for me.

last week

11 Commentsby   |  07.20.11  |  Accra, Ghana

its crazy to think that we have less than one week left in africa, but that is indeed the case. im ready to be home but there will be some sadness too.
the kids are going to take it pretty hard, cuz lets face it- im pretty cool. seriously though, saying goodbye to the kids is going to be tough but im ready for american life again. cleanliness, fast food, and people that speak good english, not so early mornings, late nights, cars, satellite television, and bacon, hot showers, cold drinks and reliable internet being among them. these are the things i am looking forward to.

the next couple days offer some excitement though. the president of ghana comes tomorrow so thats pretty cool. also we might get the chance to visit a liberian refugee camp before we leave. im pretty pumped about that.
its difficult to process this trip while i am still on it so i will not attempt to do so at this time.

Bethel Weeks 5, 6, and 7 – In the Hands of God

11 Commentsby   |  07.20.11  |  Beijing, China

The kids are taking exams right now, so I have quite a bit of time to simply think.  The last couple of days I’ve just wanted to sit and weep.  I’m looking at the faces of all these children.  I’m going through all these pictures.  I’m processing all these memories.  I’m preparing to go home.  And I’m struck by how messed up the world is.  I love these kids so much.  They are all so beautiful and so full of joy and so valuable… so special.  They are smart and funny and each has their own precious personality.    They are children of God.  They are God’s little boys and girls, and they have become my babies too.  They have stolen my heart.  And my heart breaks because I can’t save them.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to them.  Some will be adopted and will find great homes and be loved.  But what about the rest of them?  What about Michael who is one of the smartest, most talented children I’ve met, but only has two more years before he can no longer be adopted?  What about Guo Guo and Hannah and Sam and Christina?  What will happen to them?  What opportunities will they have?  Yes, they are in a great place here.  They have people who care for them.  They are learning and growing.  Bethel is not a perfect place – it is run by humans – but it is better than so many here in China or around the world.  What happens when Bethel can no longer care for these kids?  What happens when they grow up?  And what of the thousands of orphans around the rest of China?  What will happen to them?  How broken and messed up is our world that these precious little ones who deserve everything have so few opportunities?  Everything in me wants to sweep all of them up and take them home with me and love them, but that’s impossible.  There’s only so much I can do, and that makes me feel so helpless.  I feel so small.  I wonder what difference my coming and my going really makes.  I want to be able to rescue them, and I can’t.  And so I pray, and I try to place these precious children in God’s hands, remembering that He loves them more perfectly and deeply than I ever could.  I trust that, even though this world seems a mess, though so much feels broken and hopeless and unfair, that does not mean that God is not still sovereign and in control.  I will live to be available for however He might use me, and I will pray that He will cause others to rise up as His instruments to bring these children a hope and a future.  I can’t save them all, but my God is sovereign over all.  And so, as my time here nears its end, I learn a different facet of faith.  I came here in the faith that God would use me and take care of me, that He would give me strength and keep me safe and help me to serve well and to find contentment and joy and peace in Him.  I came exercising faith that He is my Supreme Provider, and I would stand in awe and live for Him.  I will leave exercising faith that He is the Supreme Provider for all, and I will stand in awe and live for Him and trust Him to provide for all those I so deeply love.  Yes, I am coming face to face with the Supremacy of God and my need to place everything in His hands.

I have no doubts that I was supposed to be here.  I believe that God used me to accomplish something.  I believe that God accomplished things in my heart I can’t even put words to yet.  I believe He has sealed in my heart (as if He hadn’t done so before) a passion to serve Him, to live for Him, to give everything over,  to one day adopt and to do my part to make a difference in this situation, even if for only one child.  And I know that these children will be okay.  I know that God is good and capable of all things.  I know He has brought and will continue to bring the right people to make a difference here.  I think of the new Beijing Project and the fact that the kids will be moving on and attending the Blind School in Beijing.  I rejoice in the continuing work of Bethel, imperfect as it is.  I rejoice for the chance to have been even a small part of this mission.  More than anything, I rejoice in the glory and majesty of God, our Savior.  It is so easy to get discouraged over the fact that all of this is just one drop in the bucket.  It is easy to feel defeated, to feel like the enemy has won, but these are lies!  They are lies from the pit of Hell.  Jesus conquered the grave.  He conquered sin, and He conquered death.  Our God reigns victorious.  We are not defeated.  The brokenness will not be forever.  And so we continue to move forward in faith, allowing ourselves to be used of God, because He can make a difference and bring cleansing and healing to this broken and messed up world one drop at a time.