Raising up a chosen generation!

on Friday, January 29, 2010

Last night was such an awesome night. We went to a little church in Rosario. I think it's about 45 minutes to an hour east of where we are living. Hard to tell sometimes what direction we are travelling. The church is a young church plant of about 15 members, but other groups joined them to come and hear of all that God is doing. Our new friend, an American guys named John Vaughan was speaking. He shared his testimony of how he once knew God and walked away for a season and then met God again on the floor of his home. He told everyone how God didn't care how long he'd walked away or what he had done while he was gone. God welcomed him back with open arms and started to move in his life. He shared with the church the fact that God doesn't care who you are or what you have done. He wants to use everyone.

One of the groups that joined the church last night was a group of children that live in a ministry run home. The children are not orphans, most of them have parents who have arranged for the ministry to care for them because they come from extreme poverty at the dump and many from dangerous situations like physical or sexual abuse. This is similar to the Villa de Esperanza who ministers in the dump in Managua, but the ministries are to 2 different dumps. There were about 10 children that came and they were soooo present. It was so natural for them to enter in, to worship and to listen to the teaching.  It was the perfect time to activate the children of Nicaragua.

When John was finished teaching, we started a time of releasing prophetic words. Graeme invited the children to the back of the church and gave them a mini lesson on hearing the voice of God. These children are already taught about the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit by the Christian ministry that cares for them so this was not a huge stretch for them to believe that God would talk to them. I think that the stretch was more for the adults present in the service. Those attending, besides the local members, included staff and volunteers from a large, influential church in Managua and other Christian ministries. Graeme brought the children to the front of the congregation and demonstrated what it looks like to give a word. They were hesitant to step forward, but one little girl stepped out and took the mic. She called out a young woman in the church whom she didn't know and gave a word similar to what Graeme spoke over someone. At first glance it appeared that she might be copying. She said to the woman that she saw a mango seed over her head and that it was green. It didn't seem to mean anything to the woman. Graeme followed the little girl be stating that a seed over someone's head might speak of an idea that is going to grow and mature. The young woman's eyes lit up and she told me after that she had been thinking of an idea and just the day before she prayed and asked God for confirmation that it was the right thing to do. He told her that she must believe like a child to truly know His will in this. So this child bringing a word about a mango seed was exactly the confirmation that God told her would come. A couple more children shared pictures and gave words. It was really good.

After the time of prophecy, we were entering into a time to pray for healing. We wanted to activate the church to pray and not be the prayer team. So we invited anyone with pain in their body to come to the front and then we invited the kids to come up and lay hands on them. Through an interpreter the children were instructed on how to interview the person to find out the problem, to find out how much pain there was on a scale of 1-10 and then to pray brief and powerful prayers by inviting Holy Spirit to move and commanding the pain to go. Some people felt the pain leave immediately and others felt the pain decrease. For those who still felt pain we encouraged the children to pray again and they still saw more improvement. There were at least 5 people who said they were healed at the end of our prayer time. The children were so excited so see God move through them and the adults were surprised and maybe even skeptical, but some believed and were totally challenged. One woman told me that this was an unforgettable moment and it would stay with her the rest of her life. One of the staff from the influential church is a children's pastor and we are praying that God will give him opportunity and courage to bring this message to the children of his church.

There is no little Holy Spirit. It is so exciting to see children learn at a young age to listen to the voice of God and obey because they can move heaven and earth. When they see God move through their hands and their hearts, no one can ever take that encounter from them. No matter where life will take them there will always be that moment where God used them and it will be a moment to draw them deeper into the kingdom for the rest of their lives. To know God loves them and no matter how big, how small, how experienced or inexperienced ... God can use you anytime, anyplace, all He needs is a willing heart and an open ear ... oh ... and courage. Lord, give us more courage! Make us like children ... willing to step out in faith and take risks to see your power displayed through our hands. We don't need to worry about the outcome. God said to Graeme when he was really worried that God wouldn't show up when he prayed ... "Good thing it's not up to you!" We are not responsible for the outcome of our prayers. When we get that, the fear to pray for people is removed. The only thing we are responsible for is to bring someone into an encounter with God's love. They don't need an encounter with our words of persuasion or our knowledge of the scripture. They just need to feel love. We welcome the Holy Spirit and whether we feel him or not, He will always come when we call. And He will pour out His love and that person will leave changed. Just the fact that we risk looking like a fool to show God's love to someone is an act of love. So go, be a peculiar people, look like a bunch of Jesus loving weirdos and see the power of God displayed through your hands and as you display the love of God to the unseen kings. LOL - I think I get weirder everyday and more and more comfortable with the idea at every moment.

This picture is really hard to see, but I wanted to share the moment. We went for pizza after the church service. Ben spent a lot of time at the front of the shop, watching the guys making pizzas and he noticed the owner. She was limping and Ben deduced that one leg must be shorter than the other. He asked if one of the pastors would come with him to translate so he could pray for her. The pastors were cautious so Ben and Graeme honoured their wishes and didn't take a lot of her time, but they prayed none the less and we are hoping that she felt the love and the power.



on Sunday, January 24, 2010

It has been such a full week. Graeme was supposed to speak last sunday morning, but due to some unexpected changes had to step aside. This was the second time his preaching chances were nixed, but he still had no trouble filling the week up with ministry opportunities.

Sunday night Graeme was invited to go out to a city called Masaya. They had invited a whole team of Bethel people to come over the weekend, but the team had been stretched too thin and the leader had to say no to some things. The church in Masaya was so disappointed and phoned our host, Pastor Ricardo, to ask him if there was anything he could do. He spoke with Graeme who was happy to oblige. It meant that Graeme would skip our last team meeting, but it was worth it. God showed up in power and people were healed. It was an awesome time. The day before, I was praying and asking God for some direction about how to minister while we are here and he gave me 1 Corinthians 2:4. In this verse, Paul is speaking to the Corinthians and said to them that when he first arrived, he did not come with words of persuasion, but with Spirit and with power. I shared this with Graeme, but I sensed that he was kind of set on preaching the sermon that was on his heart. He said he would keep it in mind though and consider how to do that. When he got up to the pulpit at Masaya and opened his Bible, he realized that he had forgotten all the notes that he wrote for his sermon and was not prepared to wing it. He was reminded immediately of the verse that I shared with him and him and God had a moment. He started to look to the Holy Spirit for the next move and it was all good. I wrote a little more about this night a couple posts ago if you'd like to read more.

Monday was a great day meeting and spending time with Pastor Arsenio. Wednesday night we went out to his church in Diriamba. Graeme got to preach again and he did such an awesome job of showing the church that everything they long for is birthed from an encounter of love with the Father. I could feel where it was going and was pretty confident that Graeme was going to do to me what he always threatens to do when it looks like he'll have an opportunity to preach. At the end of his sermon, he called me up to the stage and then whispered to me that I could say no if I wanted to. Hehe ... yeah right. I'm standing on stage in front of 550 people and I am going to say "No, I don't want to help you!" Fortunately, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart before Graeme asked me. It was time to give the church a love encounter. The band was already on stage and playing quietly so Graeme asked me to sing prophetically. I only sang for a few minutes, but it went well. The pastor said that the atmosphere in the place changed when I sang and he asked me if I would teach his worship team to flow with the Holy Spirit like that. I was so nervous, hadn't done anything like that for a while, but it felt right. I hope I get more chances to do that. It's really where my heart is.

Pastor Arsenio from Diriamba has asked Graeme and I to move out to his town. It is about 45 minutes away. He offered to provide us with a house that a church member owns and it would be free of charge. The offer was very tempting, but we really feel that God has established us here at Pastor Ricardo's place. The other house would be much more secluded, harder to get transport from. There are fewer social opportunities for the kids there and we would be less central to some of the other ministry options that are potentially coming up. We were torn in making the decision not to move. Pastor Arsenio is so desperate, so hungry for more. It is a privilege to have such influence and we hope to find a way to get out to Diriamba several days a week throughout the month of February and March to help him train his leaders in Bethel culture and just be available to mentor him or give to him what we know and understand about kingdom culture and kingdom government. Please pray for wisdom for us in this. We really need to know what God wants to help us develop our priorities and a healthy schedule.

On Friday night, Caleb and Bailey were excited to go to youth group with Judith. Judith is part of the Hernandez family with whom we live. She attends an American Christian school here in Nica and youth group there on Friday nights. The kids were so excited to meet other Christian kids that speak English. There was an awesome worship band, fun games and American snacks. Bailey and Caleb are looking forward to going again in a couple of weeks.

While they were at youth, Graeme, Ben and I went with Pastor Arsenio to meet some of his friends here in Managua. They were an American couple who have lived in Nica for 7 years. They had a beautiful home, fed us an amazing steak dinner (no beans and plenty of veggies - yum) and some yummy baking which is a rarity here. The best part was the fact that they have 2 boys and a girl and they are all fluent in English and Spanish. The oldest boy is 10 and him and Ben totally hit it off. We barely saw them all night as they ran around in the dark playing tag and goofing off in the house. We had awesome conversations about the power of God moving, heard testimonies of his power and provision. We had another couple from Bethel with us who stayed in Nica when the rest of the Bethel team left. We all took the opportunity to pray and prophecy over the couple who's home we were visiting and God did some awesome stuff. It was a great night. We were barely out of the driveway when Ben asked me if we could come back tomorrow. The cool thing is that this family brings their kids to the American Christian school only a block and half away from our place. I'm confident we'll get together again and Ben may even get to play soccer with his new friend Spencer when they start in February. I think Ben and Graeme will both be pushing for another visit. Graeme found another external processor and they really hit it off. They could have gone on all night.

Today was fun. Graeme got to preach twice. I went to the first service and he did really well considering he had at least a one hour sermon and he was left with a little over 30 minutes. The kids and I went home after the first service. They get a little bored at church because there are no English classes for them. Graeme was a little disappointed with second service, feeling like at didn't work out as well as first service, but I know however it went that it was truth and God could use it. When we came home, I was right into helping out with a big bbq that the Hernandez family was having. I baked a cake, made a potato salad and provided some hot dogs and buns. They have 2 families visiting from the states with whom they have a lot of history, so it was a good time to celebrate with a bbq. The Hernandez family doesn't have a gas grill or anything so they bbq "flintstone style" they call it. It is just a stack of cinder blocks with a sheet of metal to hold the coals and then they put a heavy duty pan on the top to cook stuff on. Just like a typical North American bbq there was way too much food and all of us are full and thankful for a chance to nap, relax and take a siesta. The kids are having fun playing around the yard with some other kids that are around, climbing the tree, kicking a ball, throwing a frisbee, playing basketball and playing with the dog. It's a great day and a great life. I'm so thankful for it.

It's been a good week ...  full ... impactful  ... and leaves me feeling like we are doing what we're here for. I love that. It's like God had it all planned out or something ?!?! I know he did. Check out some of our pics of the last week by clicking the "latest pics" link on the right hand side of the blog.



on Friday, January 22, 2010

This has been my number for months. I know that I already wrote about my 222 kick and that still shows up on occasion as does 1111, but 555 has been my number for about 9 months. I started seeing 1111 then 222 then 333 and triple 4's. Around that time I was reading a book by Bill Johnson where he spoke of a time when God kept waking him up at 5:55 and He asked the Lord what he was trying to say. Holy Spirit told Bill Johnson that the season for the cancelation of dept was upon him. At that time I had noticed the frequency of my number encounters increasing in value and consistency and I said to the Lord, "I am ready for the triple 5's, Lord." And sure enough I started to see them. I know I know, if you are looking hard enough for something to happen there's a good chance that you will coincidentally happen upon it often enough for it to seem odd, but I can't tell you how many time I happen across this number! Constant emails and posts time stamped at 5:55 and checking the clock 5 times in a day where the minutes turned to 55, license plates, tv ads, newspaper adds, how much time is left on my laptop battery and then our last flight to Managua left Atlanta at 5:55pm and the flight was scheduled to take 3 hours and 55 minutes. The day we arrived in Managua there was a mild earthquake felt in Redding at 5:55pm. 

As I've said before, a coincidence is when God does a miracle and remains anonymous. I'm excited about this because I believe 555 is for all of us. It's not just for me. The season for the cancelation of debt is upon us. What does this mean? It means no more looking back. It means no more paying for what was and looking behind at all the debt we have accrued. It is the season for new beginnings. 2009 was a year of transition. God told me in the spring that He was tearing down things he'd built and uprooting what he's planted. That there were castles made of sand, things that he had started that couldn't be built any higher or grow any taller because of where we had taken them. God had bigger plans and the only way to take us where he wanted us from where we were, was take us back down to our foundations, back to the basics, to a place of new beginnings. It's 2010 and God is doing a new thing. I believe that this is the year of establishment. God is starting things all over the place and they are going to succeed and they are going to grow quickly. Frankly, I feel like we are in for a wild ride!! We can't let the things of the past hold us back. We can't let the enemy remind us of what was, what we owe or how we failed. Because his blood is sufficient, covers all and pays in full. 

Practically, how does this look? I can't say I really know! But I guess I would have to take a look at my life, my hopes and my dreams and consider what are my greatest fears? What are the things that hold me back every time? What is the one thing that makes me feel like my hands are tied? His hands were nailed ... for my freedom ... his feet bound and nailed so that I would never be held captive by my past. We are free to run! free to hope! free to dream without the fear that nothing will come of it? For some of us, just dreaming is moving ahead so I pray tonight that anyone who read this will feel the inspiration to dream bigger, to run faster, to stretch your tent pegs and prepare for increase because the Father has great things in store for this year.

In 9 months of seeing 555, I never read this verse until tonight. I happened across this:

Isaiah 55:5
Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you.

This is my 555 - this is me running and trying not to let the past hold me back. We came to Nicaragua with natural debt and little by little God is helping us pay it down. His provision has been nothing short of miraculous as have the encounters with his presence and the people of Nicaragua. We have come to a nation we did not know and because of the Holy Spirit and his drawing we have been given great opportunity to influence. We are really doing it ... We're running  and when I run I feel his pleasure. This is what I was born for, for such a time as this. Thanks God for choosing me and using me.


on Monday, January 18, 2010

Finding Gold

Today was a great day. We were meant to start homeschooling, but the kids barely got through one subject before we had another plan. There is a pastor, Arsenio, that we met at the conference. He is so passionate, so hungry, so desperate for more of God and he is filled with generosity to match. He really has the abundance of the kingdom as part of his lifestyle. He wanted to take us out for lunch because his heart is filled with the hope of gleaning as much as he can from us and our experience with Bethel. He showed up at the house with a 4 door sedan. He forgot that we had 3 kids and he really wanted us all to come, so, since seat belt laws are few and far between? ... Ben was on Graeme's lap in the front seat while Bailey sat on Caleb's lap and Bathsheba and I squeezed in next to them. Have you ever heard that joke about how many elephants you can fit into a VW bug? ... lol ... I've lived it :) It doesn't matter how fancy the car is, the practicality of their culture remains the same ... Everyone is always welcome and there is always space for more.

We thought we were going to go to a Burger King or equivalent of a KFC, but we ended up at this really nice place called RostiPollo. Something like Swiss Chalet only more ... how do you say ... mexican? latin? spanish? It was really nice, tasty. I had this drink called cocoa (koh-koh-ah). It is made with milk and ground cocoa beans, tastes like something between chocolate milk and chai ... it was so good. The kids loved it too. We also tried this juice made of carrot juice and mandarin. Very carroty. Not my favourite, but I've never been very fond of carrot juice. It was such a great time as we ate good food and the pastor drilled us with questions and hopes and how do I's, how do we's? It is such an amazing feeling to have someone pulling like that on all that is inside of you. You know, like when someone asks you about how to be a good mom or how to make a particular dish that you've made or how to improve their communication with their spouse? One of those questions that you know you can answer well and in a way you realize you've been waiting for someone to ask. The kids got a little bored when they couldn't get a word in edge wise. Bailey and Ben kept trying. I'm realizing more and more Bailey's need to influence as she would try to interject in our conversations in whatever way she could, either to add to what Daddy said about he would approach discipline or remind us of a time or story where she recalled our conversation being relevant. Caleb was content to sit and eat and hug me once in a while or lay on my shoulder when lunch was over and they just waited for us to finish talking.

Arsenio wanted to know if we needed to go anywhere. He wanted to help us in any way he could. So I asked if he could take me somewhere to buy Gatorade. Both the boys have had the runs and I wanted to keep their electrolytes up. He suggested a place called Price Smart. He said it was just like Costco. And it totally was! It was like walking into a Costco at home only the prices looked way higher because they are priced in cordoba (20 cords to 1 USD). Caleb was all freaked out by it. He said "they've got the same signs as Costco and it even smells like Costco. It was such a treat to go there. We were happy to find some of our "american favourites" like hot dogs, kraft dinner, cheese strings, chewy granola bars and chocolate chips for making cookies. If I was shopping for myself I would have probably picked up more, but pastor Arsenio wanted to buy our groceries and we were so humbled by his generosity. After our shop they wanted to stop at a coffee shop to pick our brains a little longer and there they bought us all a drink. They had an english menu and some familiar drinks. Graeme had a hot pumpkin pie latte and I had a frosty one. They were yummy and Graeme's came with a cute little monkey face in the foam.

We squeezed back into the car and Arsenio and Bathsheba took us home. We got home around 4 and the kids had a hard time settling back into home schooling. It's 8pm, we took a break for dinner and so far Caleb has still not finished his first subject. Ben called for me to come and help him with his math just as I spilled my glass of juice. I told him to hold on and then forgot about him for about 15 minutes. When I finally got to him, I found him sprawled on his top bunk and fast asleep. The bathroom visits today really took a lot of him. Please keep all of us and our health in your prayers. My host, Laida, told me today that it is pretty normal for most americans to get sick like this about a week after they get to Nicaragua. Fever, puking, diarrhea, the whole shabang apparently are normal, relieved to hear it, but truly wish it wasn't the case. I'm especially thankful that I am not battling it myself so that I have the strength to be there for the kids and for Graeme who seems tonight to be counting it all joy to encounter such bathroom trials.

Bailey and Caleb are faithfully and with good attitude continuing with their work tonight, giving me time to blog and Graeme time to work. Bailey has been motivated tonight because she's figured out how to climb the tree in the backyard and found the coolest place to sit and read. It's too dark to read, but she wants to climb it with a flashlight anyway.

We are excited about meeting with Arsenio again on Wednesday. He wants to show us around his church and his city. He is hoping to convince us to move into a house he has available in his city. He would make sure we have internet and give it to us free of rent. He's been trying really hard to talk us into coming and we are confident that the Lord wants us to be there in Dariamba for at least a portion of our time here. We are praying about the timing, but we know God has something for us to do here in Pastor Ricardo's home and in his church too so we want to be Spirit lead. We don't just want to just do a good thing, we want to do a God thing. Our time is limited and precious. Unless God wants us to stay longer.

Graeme did not get to preach at church yesterday morning as we had first hoped. He was bumped for another Canadian guy who was in town for only a few days. They knew Graeme would be in town for a while so he gracefully bowed out and gave this other guy an opportunity to speak. The night before, while I was praying and seeking the Lord for our time here, he put 1 Corinthians 2:4 on my heart. It is a passage where Paul speaks of the fact that when he first came to the Corinthians, he did not come with words of persuasion, but the Holy Spirit and demonstrations of power. I shared this with Graeme and he was considering how it might fit into his message either in the morning service or at the revival street meetings in the evening. With no opportunity in the morning he knew even more that he had to open the door at the evening service for the Spirit to move in power. He opened his Bible to speak and realized at that moment before the congregation that his notes were not in his Bible. He was totally freaked out and remembered the scripture I had shared with him. He knew that it was no coincidence that he forgot his notes. So he just took the time to call on and wait for the Holy Spirit, he started to activate people who were in attendance that had just been at the conference we did and the pastors sons who had accompanied him to the meeting. The Spirit came in power and many people were healed. A woman with one side of her face completely swollen was completely healed. Another woman with pain so bad in her knees that it was difficult to stand, stood up, walked a few steps and lit up as she realized her pain was gone. The pastor's son, who was also praying for her, lit up as much as she did when he realized that this was for real and his prayers made a difference. As healings took place, more people felt the confidence to go out and start praying for the people in the street who were curiously looking into the meeting tent. Our friend Rosario was there and gave powerful testimonies and encouragement in spanish. Graeme said it was an amazing time. I was sad that I missed it, but also thankful for a good night for the kids and I.

The kids and I had spent the afternoon and evening at the Villa de Esperanza. Graeme was there at the beginning to help celebrate two of the Villa girl's birthdays. I was so thankful to arrive at the right time so that Ben got a chance to swing at the pinata and all the kids got to have some cake and watch the birthday girls "kiss" the cake(a Nicaraguan tradition). It was a lot of fun, totally light hearted. They were kind of tired of meetings and church after the week we had and were miserable at church in the morning. The music, dancing and laughter of the party was just what they needed.

After the party, Graeme left for the street meeting and we stayed (partly to be close to el bano) at the Villa to meet one last time with the Bethel team before they left for California. It was an awesome time of testimony and prayer and Bailey really had opportunity to connect with some of the older girls at the Villa. In case you haven't read elsewhere yet. The Villa is a ministry that rescues young girls from their life of poverty and violence and desperation at the local dump. They give them a hope and a future by introducing them to a life in Christ and giving them a home. They host Christians teams and visitors to increase revenue to the ministry. We had been there several times, but this was the first night that Bailey really connected with the girls. They asked us when we were leaving if we would be back to visit even though the Bethel team was leaving. We assured them we would and they were said they were happy because they liked playing with Bailey. That made her feel really good. God is so faithful. He knows exactly what we need and at just the right time. It was a tough day and Bailey needed to know that there was someone in this place besides her family that cared she was here in Nica. She told us yesterday that when she grows up that she would like to come back to Nica on her own and volunteer at the Villa for a while. I totally believe she will do it too and she'll be amazing and totally rock some little girls and make them feel the love. That's what she was born for.

Well, once again. We've got a long one. Cuz God is just that awesome and I can't stop talking about it. I love my Daddy and He loves me. This is our first day without the team and I can see that God has given us total favour and influence. I am confident of this one thing for our time in Nica ........ It's gonna be sooooooo good!


Conference Week

on Friday, January 15, 2010

Monday evening was the start of the madness. It was a crazy week of early mornings and late nights. There were 3 sessions a day at the conference and every session started with about an hour of worship. The people here are so full of expression and life and so is their worship. Jumping, dancing, shouting, conga lines and dance circles, belly bumping, people tossing ... yes, belly bumping and people tossing! It was like ... I don't even know what to compare it too. Total joy and craziness, fun and laughter, passion! Amazing. They sang many songs that we knew, only in spanish and they love some of the old Jewish songs that I hadn't heard in years which were really fun to dance to. By the third day and an average of 3 hours of energetic worship every day my body and my spirit were tired and my heart tried to offer the sacrifice of praise but at times I was so tired and thankful that my kids "needed" my attention ... not really, but Jesus knew my heart ;)

The teaching was awesome and getting to know the team was great, but my greatest joy was getting to know the pastors. Thanks to everyone who prayed for supernatural spanish for us. I could not believe this week and how often the words or the understanding was there when it needed to be. Graeme has such a great ear and understands a lot so between us we catch a fair bit and with the little bit of english that the pastors had we were truly able to build relationship in just a week. There were several Guatemalan pastors, 3 in particular that won my heart ... ooooh ... to put into written words is so hard. My heart is so full for these men. I think Graeme and I both fell in love with them. They have such gentle spirits, so tenderhearted and full of love. I feel so privileged to have met them. But honestly there are so many like them here. The people are so amazing.

I have so much more to say about the words that were given, the paintings that Bailey, Graeme, Ben and I did in prophetic art, the connections that we made and how amazing it was to see so many pastors get their first taste of the supernatural lifestyle and leave asking "How do we get more?" ... "How do we teach our children to prophecy like yours?" ... "Could we have a school of ministry in Central America?" ... they are so hungry, desperate for more. They asked for counsel on how to empower a prophet in their church and wanted to understand how children could do so much in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am so moved now as I consider this. I have never seen such hunger, such passion in the pursuit of more. There are many pastors who have invited us to come to their churches and speak while we are here and 1 who will serve us in any way possible because he wants relationship with us. He wants to catch what we have.

Once again I am overwhelmed. I am so thankful that the Lord chose us, but feelings of inadequacy flood my heart and my mind. It doesn't leave me sad though! Even as I write through tears I am filled with a joyful confidence and hope for what God will do through me and through Graeme and our kids while we are here. Their hunger does all the work. It pulls on heaven and then heaven will show up on anyone willing to be His hands of feet. It was one Nicaraguan girl who went to Bethel and asked them to bring their culture to Nica in the form of a mini school ... only a one week conference! But I believe this moment is pivotal and is a foundation for a great work that is beginning in Central America. One girl, Ixil, with passion and hunger brought pastors from 5 nations to hear that God is good and he is moving in power today! And they left with a deeper hunger and passion that will change their churches, their cities, their countries and an entire continent for eternity! This is more than hope that I feel in this moment for this continent. It is surety. A hundred and fifty powerful men are going home to their churches of hundreds to thousands and telling them that God is good and his Holy Spirit is moving in power. This is a total paradigm shift for much of the body of Christ, but especially here. Managua has been called, in prophecy, the epicentre of a new move of God and I believe this was a historic moment. I am so thankful for Ixil and her vision and that God wanted us to be a part of it.

I am also thankful for naps. We got home at about 3 this afternoon and all of us went to bed for a nap. The kids argued a bit, but as soon as their heads hit the pillow, they were gone. It has been a stretch for all of us and the kids did great.

On that note, my nap wasn't very worthwhile if I stay up the whole night. So I should close this one for now. It's already 12:35am local time and "Peluche" the family puppy, starts barking at 6am sometimes :P

Love and Blessings :)

Our first days exploring Nica

My life is so full of things to say and share. Part of me wishes that I had time and opportunity to blog everyday, but with a week like we have had that was absolutely impossible. Man, where to start? So much has happened in such a short time.

I last blogged on Saturday, we spent some time at home recovering from travel and went to church on Sunday morning. It was a great service, worship was cool, but entirely in spanish. The sermon was good and they had translation through earphones which was cool. We arrived at the service a little late. Seats were few even though they just moved as a church to a larger building. They have at least 1,200 people attending. 600 at each service and it is really not a very big room. There was an usher that found us some seats and we soon found out created the atmosphere for a divine appointment. I was sat beside the principle of the american school which is only a block and a half away from where we are living. She shared with me about some of the different programs that the kids can take part in along with other missionary families in Managua. They also have spanish classes for adults and she was recommending a student from her school as a spanish tutor for the kids. I was so excited to hear of all the options. Ben may get to join the soccer team and there is youth group every second Friday for Bailey and Caleb. I was so thankful for this meeting.

At church we met up with some of the team from Bethel so we joined them after the service to have lunch where they were staying. They were staying at this place called Villa de Esperanza (city of hope). It is a beautiful base built by Christians from the states in partnership with some Nicaraguan Christians. Their ministry is to the people that lives at the dump in Managua. There is a whole community that survives solely on what they can salvage from the dump, food, clothing, stuff to sell. I really don't know very much about the lifestyle, only that is is very dark and hopeless. There are many unwanted and abused children and obviously great poverty as is the case all over Nicaragua. There is a church and school right at the dump to try to minister to and educate the community. Villa de Esperanza and their partnering organizations (Forward Edge for one) take applications from families at the dump to give their daughters a better life. Many of the girls who are chosen are in abusive situations and their mothers want to find a safe place for them. The girls are given a home that they share with 7 other girls and a house mother and house helper. They have many chores and get fed well and a good education including an education in the Spirit, to know who they are in Christ, princesses. The Nicaraguan couple that manages the base is so great. Full of love and encouragement for the girls. The base is also used to house visitors, this brings in revenue. This is mainly why the Bethel team was staying there, but took advantage of an awesome opportunity to bless the girls and pray for them. A young american girl named Natalie is living in the same house as us and she is volunteering at Villa de Esperanza for several months. I'm hoping that during our time here in Nica we will have more opportunity to partner with this ministry.

While researching Nicaragua before we came. I happened upon a blog that an american woman was writing about her time in Nica. Her writing was helpful in knowing what to expect. I read her blog a couple of times before we travelled. While at Villa de Esperanza on Sunday, we were given a tour by an american woman, Susie, who seemed very familiar. I couldn't place her, but felt I had seen her before. Upon further investigation I found that it was her blog I had been reading on the internet. I couldn't believe it! What a small world. What a "God is working behind the scenes to complete his purposes through seeming coincidence" world! Haha I have always liked the saying "A coincidence is when God does a miracle and remains anonymous." Sure, meeting Susie doesn't seem so much like a "miracle" but God ordered certainly.

Sunday afternoon was such a blessing. The team at the Villa took those of us from Bethel who had arrived already as well as many pastors from Guatemala who were also staying at the Villa for the conference for a little tour of Granada. It is a town ... city? ... I don't know for sure ... about an hour away. It was a tight squeeze into a little bus. They are so efficient here in ride sharing ... lol. They will put people anywhere there is space to fit them and the only seat belt laws are for those in the front seats.
...... Side note, we got a ride from 3 Guatemalan pastors to the conference the last couple days and the first day, the eldest one (so sweet, such a tender heart, not a lick of english, but he still tried to talk to me all the time and then just laugh after when I couldn't understand :) He opened the hatch back on the jeep cherokee style vehicle and climbed into the trunk to make space for us and our kids in the seats in the front. We were so humbled, so much so that we couldn't let him. It took a while to convince him to let the kids sit in the hatch/trunk. Wow, so much honour ... so so humbling. 25 years our senior and climbing into the trunk to make us comfortable. Teach me this honour, Jesus....
... back to our tour of Granada ... We drove for about an hour, totally fixated on the views of the country side and taken back by the poverty and culture at times. You can drive by a shack and half way down the block there are middle class houses and then more shacks ... then an enormous and elaborate mall. It's crazy. We got to Granada and they took us to a place set on Lake Nicaragua. It is a dirty lake that no one will swim in, inhabited by sharks. We all got into tour boats and set off to explore the hundreds of little islands on the lake. There are beautiful homes built on the islands, some are uninhabited and others have monkeys that like to jump into the tour boats to sample whatever the guide brought them for a snack. They cautioned us not to grab them or touch them, just to let the monkeys come to us. One of the girls had a comical moment when one of the monkeys decided to pat her on the head for a while. One of the Guatemalan pastors had a not so comical moment when he thought it would be funny to grab one of their tales. The monkey took a moment to turn around and when she did and saw who had touched her she flipped out. Running back to him, she scratched at him until the guide stepped in between the monkey and the pastor. The monkey was not angry at anyone but him and she was screaming and trying to grab at him around the guides body. We were in another boat watching this so our guide pulled up close enough for the pastor to jump into our boat and get away from the enraged female. It was very dramatic, very exciting, very enlightening. I don't think I will ever pull a monkey's tale. She calmed down after a couple minutes and jumped back onto her island and the pastor returned to his boat. We loved it. One of those funny memories you will never forget. Sounds like a funny children's book in the making.

We got lots of fun pictures of the islands and the beautiful buildings. The kids wanted to ride in the skinny horse drawn carriages, but we only stopped in the city square for a short time. We explored the city square and the beautiful cathedral and them sampled some local ice cream. We tried theses frozen dolce de leche bars which are basically an ice cream flavoured with caramelized sweetened condensed milk. Yummy and only 5 cordoba or .25 cents each. The kids enjoyed a second one at the Managua market on Monday as well as a little girl standing nearby when we bought them from the vender. She walked up as I was paying and said "para me?" .. for me? So I bought her one too. We walked away and noticed from a distance that she had a sister and she was not going to share. Our friends were sad for the sister and gave her a 5 cord coin to buy one, but her sister would not let her spend the money ... the vender had left at this point and we couldn't recover the situation, but we are learning how to deal with it.

I will end this entry here because I have so much more to say and I am afraid if I go on too long, that some of you will be intimidated by the time it could take to read it. If you have time, just go ahead to my next entry :)

To be continued.....


on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We're Here!

on Saturday, January 9, 2010

This has the potential to be a really long blog because there is so much going on in my heart right now. Such a mix of emotion, excitement, insecurity. I have never realized being beyond my comfort zone more than this moment. It was about 30 minutes before the plane landed that I truly saw it ... Wow, I may be "trapped" here for 3 months. Like, what if we hate it? What if it is a terrible time and we want to leave, but we can't afford to change our tickets? I had thought many times of the possibility of changing our tickets if Holy Spirit lead us to stay longer, but never the possibility of leaving early. It was at that moment that I understood. We obeyed the call and we are in a completely vulnerable position and our lives are truly left in the hands of God. Wow, to be in such a place makes me realize how safe I have played the game my whole life! Sure, I have stepped out in a moment with the risk of being rejected or given money generously with faith that the father will provide, but last night I stood before an immigration officer and she asked me for $25 for our visitor's visa. I didn't have enough cash on me so she had to break protocol and walk me to a money machine on the other side of the airport to draw money off my credit card. I was so nervous. We set up our credit card with a pin number just before we left Canada, but I hadn't tried it yet ... What if it didn't work? ... What if I couldn't get the money? ... Who would we call? ... Would we have to ask our host family to spot us money the moment we meet them? Then when I got to the machine ... Guess what? ... Yep, it was all in spanish so the first time I tried I pressed some wrong buttons and it would not give me money! Ahhh, okay, let's try this again. I saw something at the bottom of the screen that looked like "credito" ... uh huh! That must be it. I tried it and it worked! Yay, God and thanks Jamie for going through drawing money in Redding with the spanish screen. Just done in fun, but it totally prepped me for this moment.

We went through and found all 11 of our bags within minutes. We even got to check our larger carry on bags for free because the plane was full and they wanted less luggage in the cabin. Thank you Jesus! Then we were walking out into the rest of the airport, wondering how hard it would be to find the 2 other people who were also arriving. We looked into a sea of Nicaraguan faces ... none white, but that was not really a surprise. Our contacts weren't supposed to arrive for 30 minutes. We expected to wait, but that was very intimidating because the waiting area was not that big and there were many people asking .. Taxi? Suddenly this Nicaraguan looking guy walked up to Graeme, pointed at him and said "The Morris family?" We were surprised that someone was looking for us. His name ... Nathan Hernandez, youngest son to our host family. He was told to look for a family with 3 kids, husband and wife and I guess we caught his eye ... lol. That happens a lot with Graeme :)

Suddenly I felt a lot more peace. He told us that our friends from Redding were delayed and that he had a bus outside waiting for us and all our luggage. It was awesome. The driver, Nathan and Graeme started loading our bags in and just as they had about 2 bags left a couple of guys came along to "help". I wasn't sure who they were or what they were doing, but after they helped the one guy walked up to me and said a couple words in spanish that I did not understand ... something like "tibs". Nathan seemed to walk right by them and invited me on to the bus. As we drove away I realized that they were asking for a tip! lol

It was quite a drive from the airport to Pastor Ricardo's home. They live outside of the city. The streets weren't too crazy. The bus driver used his horn a lot to tell other drivers heading into an intersection that he was not planning to stop for them and they seemed to politely oblige. If they attempted to pull out anyway, he turned his brights on too and they got the picture and stayed out of his way. Drivers weaved in and out of lanes without signalling, but not at extremely high speeds.

We pulled into a very bumpy driveway, surrounded by high walls, chain link fences and palm trees. Ricardo and Laida met us at the front door when we arrived. They are a lovely couple, all smiles, short compared to us, but who's not here? They were relatively quiet, but that could just be the language barrier. They spoke to us briefly about things we needed to know, but used their children to translate for them. Their kid's english is excellente! Their daughter, Judith, barely has an accent when she speaks it. We put all our suitcases in the 2 bedrooms that were set up for us. We also have 2 bathrooms! another Yay God :) They did some work on the second one to make sure we had it when we got here. Judith told me that they replaced the toilet and we had to wait a day to use it. We had some tea without milk. Graeme had some of the Yorkshire tea that Diane gave him before we left Redding. The kids watched "Bones" in the kitchen. The Hernandez kids were watching it in English with spanish subtitles. When the show was done we all went to bed. It was 12:30 local time. We left Redding at 2am and had slept on and off in the plane so none of us were really tired, or maybe we were, but our brains were going a mile a minute. Eventually we all faded only to be woken many times through the night by the curtains waving in the wind, the crickets that sort of chirped but not steadily or the different birds that started to sound as soon as the sun started to come up. I laid in bed still until about 9:30 local time (still only 7:30 in BC or CA), but Graeme wanted me to get up because Laida and Judith were making us breakfast.

I had to get right on all the vitamins (probiotics, papaya enzymes and pepto pills) to try to safe guard our tummies while we're here and then make sure that the kids use the purified water to brush their teeth. Breakfast was nice. Banana pancakes and orange juice. Bailey tried some green apple yogurt. None of us were very hungry. I think our bodies are just out of sync from all the travelling. So breakfast was short which made Ben happy because he was eager to go outside and meet the new puppy and discover the property. We went for a little walk down the long driveway. There are lots of dogs, big ones, small ones, but they are behind tall fences. Lots of pretty flowers, coconut trees and lime trees. I think we'll stay close to "home" for now. Caleb laid down after breakfast for a long nap and Ben and Bailey keep asking about the beach, but we are about 45 minutes from the beach and have no car so we hope we can work that out in the near future.

So far, the one thing that is intimidating me the most is the language barrier. Laida will say something to me through her daughter and I reply, but there is always this sense (I think I can see it in her too) that there is more to say. Please pray for divine intervention in learning spanish.

Will write again soon.

Here are a couple of links to more photos I have posted on facebook:



Didn't realize how thirsty

on Monday, January 4, 2010

2222 - the numbers that kept showing up on my clock, signs on the road, the license plate in front of me, the price on the item that I happened to look at. About a week ago I was getting inundated with 2s so I took some time to research the meaning of 2s and through some study I found a scripture in Revelation that says "I have put before you a door that no one can shut." I felt that the Lord was telling me that we were right in obeying the call to prepare for Nicaragua and that no man would hinder what the Holy Spirit was calling us to do. It gave me peace and helped me to encouraged Graeme each time he started to worry about our date with Homeland Security at the US border.

This is definitely a testimony of God's favour because this was such a smooth time at the border. They did call us inside to answer some questions, but they only asked 2 and kept us for about 15 minutes and then they handed us our passports, thanked us and sent us on our way. For hours, Graeme, Jamie and I pondered the many questions that the border guards never bothered to ask us. We couldn't believe their lack of concern after all we had been through at the border in years passed. We are so thankful for a testimony that will set the standard for our faith in future border crossing moments.

We arrived in Redding after 1am and we all got up early to get to church in the morning. The kids were so excited to get to see their friends and we felt so privileged to wade once again in refreshing waters. It was an awesome worship service and we were excited to hear Heidi Baker speak. Her passion to release tenacious love was completely inspiring and a pointed reminder of what our purpose is in Nicaragua and in Christ. We were even more blessed to return to the evening service and hear her again. I love her heart. Lining up for a fire tunnel at the end of the night was the icing on the cake. The presence of the Holy Spirit fell so strongly on me, true to His word to come whenever we call, He showed up in such a powerful way that I could not stay on my feet. I kept standing up and the weight of His presence kept pulling me down, the sweetest weight I could ever feel. It was beautiful. I was so thankful for this encounter. Ohhhhh, how I have missed the presence like this. It's not that I couldn't have had it at home in Kelowna, just that I had forgotten how good it was. I forgot to contend for it. I forgot to set everything aside and wait because the reward of His presence would be so overwhelming that nothing else that I gave my time to would have felt missed.

How can I make myself remember? How do I remember to not forget? What will be the string on my finger? It's like intimacy with my husband. How often does it feel like I don't have time ... I'm too tired ... I've got too much on my mind and then some days I just manage to go there with my heart and my mind and I am so glad that I did. Our relationship feels refreshed, our connection feels strong. It felt worthwhile no matter how hard it was to get there. That's what the presence is like. When you get in that place when you can feel that intimate connection with the Holy Spirit you just feel like ... "wow. I forgot how good it was to meet with you. wow ... Lord, I missed you." And I know he was always there, just like Graeme is always there next to me, but it's amazing how close you can be positionally and even how well you can know someone yet be completely disconnected. Oh, Lord. Don't let me forget again.

I've got to be being filled. I can't settle for last weeks anointing just like Graeme can't settle for last weeks kiss. It's not just about me needing connection, it's about giving the Father His glory due and His glory is displayed in us moving in tune with the spirit. The Lord goes before us to prepare a place, but even more my heart cries out, Lord be there with me. Let your presence be my bread, I don't want to let a single day rest without it.

May your encounters be many and your hunger deep.

Happy New Year!

on Friday, January 1, 2010

Jan.1, 2010

Here it is! The moment I have been waiting for, not consciously mind you, but I can feel it in my spirit that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Yes, yesterday was too, but there is something about today that feels different. I thought it was quite significant that Graeme and I were finally finished cleaning the house on the farm just minutes before midnight. It felt right that we drive away from a darkened house just moment before the New Year. 2009 was a season of transition and whatever it is that God has in store for me and my extended family, the world for that matter, it starts today.

My heart is filled with anticipation and expectation. These were not so much the emotions that filled my heart last night as I left a blanket on the floor for the cat to sleep on until his new "masters" would move in and learn to become his family or as I took one last picture of an empty house and paused to remember the probably thousands of faces that have been entertained by Francis/Morris hospitality in that house. I had to ask Graeme and Jamie to work at the wall with all the kids names and heights marked on it for the last 10 or so years. So much history, lots of great memories. It gives me a keen understanding of the Israelites wanting to return to Egypt, wanting to give up and turn back because the unknown just seems too scary. It's really easy to forget the rough times when you are faced with fear of what the future might hold. Human nature is really funny, how we can choose to fear the worst for the future at the same time as remembering the best of the past. I think we are best poised when we anticipate a hopeful and future while having gleened everything we need from our past experiences - learning lessons from the rough times and remebering the good.

We will be driving across the border tomorrow, hopefully in the morning. Please pray for favour at the border and for safety on the roads. Still lots more to do today, sorting through suitcases that are too heavy and dropping a few more boxes off at Graeme's cousin's house for storage. Happy Happy New Year to all of you. May your hearts be filled with hope and expectation for a year of building, increase and establishment.

Blessings :)