Political Post

Okay... so this might get me into trouble, but I'm really fired up right now! I received a forwarded email today about this picture
and the following words:

"The name of the book Obama is reading is called The Post-American World, written by a fellow muslim. Post-America - The world After America ???

Please forward this picture to everyone you know, conservative or liberal to expose Obama's radical ideas and intent for this country!

photo verified by snopes"

I can't use powerful enough words to describe what a bunch of crud this email is! The Post-American World (or this source)- a book summary for anyone that truly wants to be informed. Why do we, as right-wing conservative Christians, give ourselves such a horrific testimony? The email writer saw the book cover and assumed the author meant he wanted America to fall! This person (or persons) simply saw a cover and then created a bunch of hokey sensationalism about Obama, whom they have decided is America's worst enemy or the anti-Christ or something. This propogandist is the kind of person that creates Red-Scares and concentration camps for innocent Americans. (Oh, I'm really steamed! I'm just working myself up more and more... better stop now. I won't start on the whole "fellow-muslim" part!)

I am a Christ-follower and I REFUSE to slander President Obama's name based upon a fear-filled agenda. Please - don't allow yourself to get worked up based upon lies and sensationalism. Search out the truth. Be wise and wary, but not fearful.


kingdom minded

God has been building into me in big ways over the last few years, and one of the neat "construction projects" has been this whole idea of being kingdom minded - that as Christ-followers and as churches if we land on something that works for us...but could also benefit others - to give it away. to not sell it, market it, or whatever...but give it away.

this weekend our ministry will be blessed by a community of believers committed to being kingdom minded. i recently visited paradise valley community church's website looking at something with the rest of the lcc staff and a video caught my attention that is right in line with this weekend's theme. i gave the church a call, asked if we could have the video files (i mentioned we'd be willing to help cover the cost of producing it)...and within a few hours she had it uploaded to our server ready for us to use! no cost...no expectation...no strings attached. the administrative assistant just said "if we can bless other churches...by all means take it!".

that's kingdom minded, and it's a mindset that will change the world.


social justice just a fad?

for a while now i've been observing the church's growing attention to social justice issues around the world. in the youth ministry realm it is getting more and more popular, and even in our church it seems to be getting more and more of our dollars and energy. and for a while now i've been wondering if it's just a fad that the church has jumped onto...a concept that looks trendy and in order to "be cool" you keep up. i know that there's a number of passages in the Bible that clearly call the church to feed the hungry, free the slaves, and clothe the naked, but i guess my question has been is it really as prominent on the heart of God as we make it? does it really deserve the amount of attention that we give it...or have we been slowly misguided from what matters more?

at the leadership summit a few weeks ago, i had an epiphany. probably a no-brainer for most...but it helped me work this all out in my head. hybels was talking about the fact that the church has lost respect in this world. and we all know that to be true: money scandals, sexual abuse (an inferiorating post for a differendy day), fake and plastic christianity, extreme commitment to tradition without commitment to Christ, rituals without meaning, etc. he went on "when we do something about the injustices around the world...it's the one time the church gains respect again". maybe it's not a trend at all...maybe it's the very heart of God expressed through his people in this world...and that people naturally take notice because it's so radically different from our natural wiring. maybe the church doesn't do enough. maybe it's about simply doing our part, simply because we love God and we love people...



coming alongside

one of the things i love about children's relief international is their passionate drive to make sure everything done in the project is led by mozambicans in the mozambican way. as americans we simply come alongside and join God in what He's already doing here. i saw a great picture of this the other day. dan was leading some guitar lessons to some of the teens in the church in dondo. for a couple of them they had never played guitar before, but after about 30 minutes teaching a few simple chords...they were off! they picked up the guitars and played "akuna" - one of the worship songs they sing here all by themselves. dan later in the song picked up his guitar and joined in with them...but THEY were doing the song. for the people here they are already singing a song and putting music to their lives... we as americans are just coming along to watch them, to learn from them, to join them, and to grow with them.

random and overloaded

there is so much in my heart and mind right now...this experience has been life changing and i can honestly say it is going to be game changing for each of our students who come back with us next summer. i am so excited for the impact it will have on them personally and how their life will never be the same. things here in mozambique are so different that i'm trying to stop comparing it with the united states. it's a different world. but when we can experience it we can begin to put the two very different worlds into a "third culture" which as best i can tell is a very beautiful picture of what heaven will be like. it's going to be a life changing trip and worth every single penny of investment. guaranteed.

i got to preach at the savane church plant this morning - a church plant of dondo baptist church. it is about a 30 minute drive on a bumpy dirt road...some would say it's in the "bush" although it's right close to the railroad tracks. beautiful beautiful people. oh my goodness. here's some of how they do church that i really admire:

1. passionate singing. hands raised, dancing, totally in love with jesus. when one song ends...someone from the audience just starts singing a new one and everyone joins. no instruments but an out of tune guitar faintly playing and a few hand drums. i couldn't understand any word except "jesu" but it was beautiful.

2. grateful hearts. we as americans would struggle to be grateful worshipping in a mud hut with holes in the walls and openings in the roof. but they couldn't stop giving thanks. the depth of spirituality in that place was incredible.

3. no spectators. and i do mean NO spectators - EVERYONE participated in the worship. before the preaching each group in the church (children, youth, adults, young adults, etc.) got up in front of the rest and presented 3-4 songs as their "offering of worship" to God. one group did a drama to emphasize a bible verse. but everyone participated and was a part of the worship.

4. hunger for truth. i cannot put into words the deep hunger for God's Word that is here in these churches. for many they cannot read, and so the message they heard today will be their spiritual food for the entire week. and they ate it up. they will be memorizing the scripture and quoting it all week. they are so hungry for God's Word, and it's something i don't think i could ever forget.



Today was one of the hardest and one of the best of the trip so far. This morning I visited with some ladies that make the porridge for Ray of Light preschool. I honestly enjoyed learning more about them, but I really struggled. I struggle with "visiting" and chatting, not exactly my forte. God challenges me continually about this facet of my personality. I hate being shy and quiet and reserved. It sucks. But, at the same time - He allowed this trait, this weakness, to be a part of my makeup. Accepting my shyness has always been a struggle, but this week I smashed into a wall... I sat there talking with V, J, and V desperately trying to think of questions or how to make my responses longer. Small talk is hard enough, but throw in a different language and culture, makes it practically impossible for me! I felt as if my translator was so frustrated with me that I kept letting the conversation die. It was so awkward and I just kept getting more and more discouraged and frustrated. Which in turns makes me more quiet and at a loss for words. Finally, V decided we could go to the preschool across the way. As I walked into the schoolyard the children mobbed me - which is both exhilarating and a little disconcerting as they fight to touch and hold onto me. The teachers just watch me not looking exactly friendly (remember this is through the lens of my self-induced pity party). the rest of the story is more of the same, so I'll skip the gory details. When i finally saw Val's face peek over the classroom wall I almost started crying in relief.

Onto one of the best times from this trip... this afternoon Sue and I taught some baking to a bunch of teens and a few adults that tagged along. We made banana bread. For me - the baking part didn't make any difference. But, I knew my role and my audience was an age-group I feel very comfortable around. And I knew a lot about the subject matter... and I got to teach. So, anyways - we made a bunch of banana bread muffins. I won't go into all the details, but it was an adventure. I had a blast and we only burned about half of the muffins.

This evening... well, that is a post for another day. Or maybe you will just have to come to Mozambique and experience it for yourself.



I went to the creche (or daycare) and the Hospital today. For the most part, I enjoyed the creche. The children called me Ta-Tia (probably spelled incorrectly...) and they loved to touch my skin and hair. One baby - maybe a year old - screamed every time he saw me. One of the ladies finally told me to go to the other room. lol.

the hospital was an entirely different story. The hospital here is for Aids patients that are very sick and probably near the end of their time here on earth. We went to serve soup, as the only food they receive is what their families bring. There were 2 ladies with us, called Activistas. They shared who we were and the organization we were with. They then shared the hope of Jesus with them. Then, she said, "and now the ladies will share some words" i suppose we didn't HAVE to speak or pray, but it would be encouraging for the patients. Thankfully, Sue spoke a few words (and Simone translated) and I would pray. then we would serve the soup. i could go on and on describing the hospital (and frankly, all the pain and poverty in this place) but right now, I don't have words or the emotional reserves to spend on sharing.

For lunch we went to the nationals who dreamed and started this whole project. hot Climate culture! we got to hear how they met and much about the project and how to prepare our kids for next year...

this afternoon, Cor and I were going to drive into Beira with Todd, Christa, and the kids... we didn't really make it that far as the car broke down. then started again long enough for us to get to a gas station where we played with various and sundry car parts and some bottles of water. the car made it to the driveway of Lusalite (the neighborhood where we're staying) and then sputtered around, cooled off a little and finally made it somewhere not in the middle of the road. (Christa and I walked to the park with the kids.)

now we're "chillaxin' ". soon we'll head down to Todd & Christa's to decompress and talk about what's rolling around in our heads so far.



one of the things we got to do today was a LOT of walking. walking through villages. walking by people's homes. walking by empty soccer fields. walking by lonely children. walking through school classrooms. walking through the market. walking by people in pain. walking through trash. lots and lots of walking...

but the most profound realization is not that this is some tourist's walk through a museum. this is walking through real life. it's intense and raw and real and is going to take a lot of processing because our world is so different in so many ways.


Today we went on a tour of the project. At this point, I am an observer... we walked and talked and said, "Buon Dia" a bajillion times. We were walking on a little dirt path woven around houses and gardens, ducking beneath branches and bushes that tugged at my hair and skirt, and I tried to mentally savor the moment - to stop time and capture the memory forever. The sun beat down and the language gently flowed around me. This experience is something very few will ever have - and yet, it feels normal to me, in my world. We have seen great poverty and this afternoon will start a transition for our team from simply being observers to jumping in and loving on the people around us.


in dondo

about 30 minutes ago we arrived here in dondo and are now settling in. flights went well and the setup was wonderful. we stayed in joburg last night with some very wonderful people and slept really well. everyone is healthy and feeling well...we are rested and ready to take it all in!


in atlanta

we have landed in atlanta and are now awaiting the big flight to joburg in just a few hours. the rest of the group is pretty much asleep...ok maybe just the oldest member...but the other 2 are pretty close.
we are so thankful for this opportunity...i've already filled a half a page of notes in my journal for how to make the experience the best for the teens next year.
now i find myself just hoping that...
1. there are no crying babies near us on the plane...or
2. that they cry with their mouth open long enough for me to throw a benadryl pill down their throat



Friday Night...

Cor is out mowing grass right now. Mariska is busy sniffing everything. I'm doing laundry... theoretically... (or blogging, but anyways!) Here are a few volunteer crew pictures from our day at the Summit...
Now Mariska is running around like a crazy-thing and Cory has decided to stop mowing grass because he couldn't see where he was mowing anymore. Our yard is always... interesting... a few weeks ago we had a big check mark mowed into our back yard for a few days.

Here's some pics of our building progress. They brought the steel in yesterday and it ALL went up today. It was CRAZY how fast the skeleton emerged!

Sweet! I'm off to take some malaria meds...

lots to process

this past week has been an absolute roller coaster as we get ready to leave for mozambique tomorrow. it's always busy before a trip like this, but i really tried to pack in some meetings that i knew if we didn't do now we wouldn't until september. it's been emotionally exhausting and draining...but good and needed. hurting families, lonely people...tough stuff. but yesterday started the 2 day leadership summit at lakeshore. great stuff and truly energizing and refreshing. it's given me so much to process and try to unpack, and the one session especially was so profound that i know it's going to be occupying my thoughts for the months to come. i'm really excited to sit and soak up all that God has on this final day...and try not to think about some of the details that still need to be done by tomorrow. i feel so thankful for a church that values solid leadership training for its leaders and for the incredible infusion the summit gives us every year!


We're leaving Soon!!!

We're leaving soon!
We're leaving soon!

We leave in LESS than a week for Mozambique. We had our official packing party last night! Everything, plus a few extras got squeezed in! (Chief Command"er" - Those weighing devices are AWESOME! Just don't jerk or it adds a few extra pounds.) We had to pack some stuff we'll need this week so we can weigh them as accurately as possible. So, Cory has been making a list of every item he removes from a bag and what needs to be replaced. I love my uber-organized husband. Before the packing party yesterday, I made him review everything I planned to pack to make usre I was thinking logically... he rolled his eyes a few times, but we made it through! :)

I always get a little nervous when we travel. Not that I'll die - but if everything is in order if I do die. Does everyone have the right paperwork? Is my toilet clean enough? Are my old journals from high school hidden so only my sister will find them? You know - the important stuff. :) This week is going to be really crazy... work, leadership summit, mariska, cleaning, last minute errands (library, bank, groceries, mariska stuff,...) Thankfully, the busyness will make the week fly by and we'll be on our way before we know it!

At one of our team meetings, we discussed what made us the most apprehensive about being in mozambique... I think my fears/worries/whatever-you-want-to-call-them have been like a revolving door. They just keep changing. At first it was the food and using a "bathroom" like Patti described to me... then, it became spiritual warfare... then seeing orphans and my selfish heart breaking... now... well, its kinda all there - swirling around in the back of my head. Not quite real yet - just vague little naggings where I've been practicing trust and letting them go. Its been pretty cool for me. We'll see how it goes when I'm "happily" eating a UFO (unidentified food object) OR staring into the eyes of a mother dying from aids, knowing she has children who need her...

Overall though - as I think about the trip - it doesn't feel extraordinary. We're going to see our friends - the Bushes and Val and others we've heard about, but have yet to meet. I'm so excited to visit with our friends and to play with the kids. At the same time, I KNOW we'll be experiencing some amazing stuff. (Hello! We're going to A*F*R*I*C*A!) That God will be changing me and tugging my heart more deeply in love with Him. I've been praying that God will break me - that my intimacy with him will reach depths I haven't known before. I don't know how it will happen, most likely, how I least expect it... And I'm so excited!