Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good and Dangerous

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3

I do not claim to be an expert on any of these cultures at all. Just wanted to share a few glimpses from our vacation experiences…

*The Middle East*

Taking a break from playing with her dolls, the three-year-old girl is struck by a thought. “Jews do not love the Qur’an.” “That’s right, dear,” her grandmother replies, “So where does that mean they go?” Curly head tilted up, the girl replies, “To hell.”

This interlude occurred as Heather and I were visiting with a Palestinian refugee family. It was interesting getting to see how a traditional Muslim family entertains guests, with hospitality being such a vital part of the culture. I, personally, love that aspect of Middle Eastern living! We arrived mid-afternoon and were ushered into a separate room where we could talk with the ladies of the home. We were soon made to eat MORE than a full meal regardless of the fact that we had just had a delicious lunch AND had supper plans. :P The family made us feel very welcome.


Not only is it culturally expected that you look super cute every time you walk out of your door, but most people in Spain are offended if you ask them about their spiritual beliefs without having a very good relationship with them first. While politics and intimate romantic details can be first time conversation pieces, you couldn’t possibly be so impudent ask someone if they know God!

*North Africa*

This is a beautiful land. I got to talk with a man from North Africa and as he told me stories, I exclaimed, “God is so good!” The believer looked at me and explained that there is a phrase he uses in Arabic about God in these situations. There is no direct translation, but the closest it comes out to is “God is so dangerous.”

I love C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a girl asks about Aslan (the God figure in the series) – as to whether He is safe. “Safe?” Comes the reply. “Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

My friends, our God is unfathomably great. And we have the utmost joy and privilege to serve a God who is not “safe,” but dangerous and good. “[God] who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9). This is the One we serve.

Updated Prayer Requests

1. Next week a man will be coming to help us by recording a story in Malagasy. Pray that this would be done with accuracy so it can be clearly communicated to many!

2. It is raining…a lot. :-) We praise the Lord for the rain because the people and crops definitely need it, but would like you to pray with us for the safety of the people in their flimsy huts as storms (tropical cyclone Bingiza was the latest) hit.

3. In April and May we are having people come minister with us. Please pray that God would be glorified through all the preparations for these times.

4. For the Newtons as they travel back in a couple weeks after completing their stateside assignment. Thank you all for praying for Jeremy’s leg. The doctors say it is healing quickly and we give God all the glory for that!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Once Upon a Time

A Valentine’s Tale

Once upon a time a girl had a dream. She dreamed about her future husband. He was wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt. She couldn’t make out his face in her dream, but knew he was out there – somewhere. So she waited in hopeful expectation until that time came…

Fast forward a decade. This girl is now a young woman, living with her sister while going to college. She is scared of the idea of a relationship and has never been on a date. Turning around in a store one day, she spies a man working there. Blue jeans, blue plaid shirt, and a kind, handsome face. He looks over and smiles. That’s him – my future husband, she thinks. She smiles, makes her purchase, and leaves.

This store is not far from her sister’s house and a couple days later (after the two sisters have been giggling every time they spot him going to and fro), the man approaches her and asks her if she would like to come over for tea. She says no, still scared, but is convinced when her sister says that she will come as well. After tea come more days filled with tea, talking, watching movies – always the three of them. After two weeks the sister refuses to join anymore. The man comes to the girl and tells her he’d like to speak with her parents. After two weeks? Eyes wide open, the girl says, “That’s not enough time – we don’t even really know each other!” “It’s enough time for me,” the man states, grinning, and the preparations for marriage begin…

Fast forward three decades. This woman and her husband retire comfortably. They ask God where He wants them to serve Him. God tells them to go to a little town in the rain forest and open up a hotel. The woman is a prayer warrior and shares with everyone she meets. The man hikes out to the villages and leads worship in their hotel every Sunday morning. This sweet couple prepared rooms upstairs for two foreign girls. Girls named Cara and Heather. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What a Riot

“Your flight is canceled.” The airline representative in her crisp suit informs us, expressionless. “They’re all canceled. The Cairo airport is closed.”

Our day didn’t begin like this. Just this morning Heather and I were flying home from a wonderful, relaxing vacation. We have a 12 hour layover in Egypt, so decided to sight see, of course! :P We hired a taxi to take us to the pyramids, Sphinx, and Memphis. We rode camels. :0) As it came time to go to Memphis, our taxi driver said it’s too far away, would we mind going to the zoo instead? Always up for a random adventure, Heather and I said yes.

After cotton candy at the zoo, our taxi driver went into a mosque during afternoon prayer time. A couple minutes later, he came back out and asked if he could take us to the airport now. No problem, we said. Heading back, we saw policemen with guns and shields lining up in the city square. Minutes later, as afternoon prayers ended, the protesters came out and flooded the streets. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons were used in the attempt to control the “Friday of Wrath” as it has hence become known. And yes, by the grace and protection of God by the taxi cab driver He sent to be with us, we missed the mayhem by minutes.

Although we were in the front part of the airport by early afternoon, we could not get our boarding pass until 8pm (by Cairo rules you can’t sign in until three hours before your flight). You can’t get through security and immigration to the “real” part of the airport unless you have your boarding pass. Heather and I passed the time napping, eating Egyptian nuts (a present from our taxi cab driver), talking and reading. 8pm brings us back to the start of our story…

The airline representative went on, explaining that the pilots were not able to get to the airport due to the rioting in the streets, and other countries canceled their flights TO Cairo. With the combo of no airplanes coming in and no pilots, everything had shut down. And here we are in no-man’s land - not in the “real” airport and not able to leave. This is when we decide we should probably get some help. :P

Using our American charm, we have an officer take us to the police station in the airport so we could use their phone. Politely refusing multiple offers of cigarettes, Heather and I explain that we would like to call a friend in South Africa who can counsel us on what to do. “It is not possible,” we were informed by the very sad guard (he really wanted to be of assistance to us damsels ;). “They have cut all international phone calls and internet. The only thing you can do is call a local number.” I smile and ask if he has the number for the US embassy. Yes, I felt very cool dialing that number. lol.

Exchanging pleasantries and vital info with the embassy representative, he expressed regret because he could not call out, either, but did say he would let anyone who called know that we were safely in the airport. He went on, “I don’t know if you can hear the gunshots and everything going on out here, but GET OUT of Egypt if you can. On any flight, however you can, GET OUT!”

This was a very nice idea, but with all flights canceled, it didn’t look like we were leaving by air, and with gunshots outside it didn’t look like we were leaving by foot. We attempted to have an officer let us through immigration to another (safer) part of the airport, but he said he would have to keep our passports if he let us through. God intervened and his general came striding over, handed us back our passports, and waved us through a back entrance without a stamp or anything of the kind. Again, amazing protection of our Father’s!

Upon entering the back part of the airport, we check with our airlines who say come back at 10am the next day and they could see then if the situation had calmed down. Heather and I had a relaxing supper and had just settled in for the night when this Italian professional boxer dude we were talking to earlier burst into the restaurant where we were and said if we ran we could catch a flight going to Johannesburg – our original flight!!!

We ran.

We made it.

It left three hours late, but we made it out of Cairo on one of the LAST flights! Praise the Lord! Some people are still stuck there!

Because we left late, we missed our connecting flight home to Madagascar. The airline said we could try standby on the next flight…24 hours later. Rather than sleeping in the Johannesburg airport, we decided to call our wonderful friend, Bob, who lives there. He and his family invited us over for a meal and got us a place to stay so we had a great night’s sleep. The next day God ever-so-awesomely made it to where we didn’t have to pay for another ticket, penalty fees, or anything for missing our flight AND we made our standby flight. Oh praise Him.

Here we are today in the rain forest after stocking up for the next couple months in the city up north. We are home and God is good. What a God of power we serve! :D