the book

I feel a little bit inspired to start writing again. 

Oh my stars. 

If you’re thinking, “This chick writes all the time. Hello, you blog. Duh.” Then let me clarify. 

I wrote a book a while back. 

It is the humorous yet inspiring story of a family from Oregon moving to South America as missionaries. Or something like that. 

I spent every waking second writing for about 3 months straight to make it bookish after spending five months writing, journaling, and recording our journey. Then, I finished the rough draft, declared my desire to vomit, and refused to even talk about it for seven months. 

Friend: “Hey, how is your book coming along?”
Me: “Yeah! Hey, I think I should cut my hair!”
Friend: “Um… ok. Are you still working on it?”
Me: “My hair?”
Friend: “No, your book?”
Me (whispering): “I need ice cream.”
Every conversation where anyone brought up “the book” basically ended like that.

I made a special file in my documents on my computer where I could hide it and not even have to look at it. I haven’t opened it in seven months. 

I have nothing to say, really. It’s horrible. No one will even want to read it. I sent it to about five well-meaning friends who wanted to read it and give me some feedback. Not one of them (to my knowledge) ever actually read it. If they did, it was so awful it gave them nightmares and couldn’t talk about it. At least to me. (Ok, pity party over. Whatever. I know people are busy and I am too sensitive). 

Today the weirdest thing happened: I thought about my book. And instead of feeling nauseous, I kinda feel excited about it again. I seriously didn’t even think that was possible. But, a little spark in my heart has been flamed and I actually want to work on it again. Maybe. I’m still too afraid to actually commit to working on it, but I’m thinking about it. That’s got to be a step in some direction. 

Whatever. I need someone to keep me accountable for not going crazy.

seeds on a path

Admere looked at me and smiled. It was a forced smile. She was fighting her emotions, and the smile was a cover. Her eyes focused on the ceiling. The window. Anything but me. After a moment of silently gathering her courage, she looked at me. I smiled encouragement and offered up silent prayers of courage. That’s when she broke. As she tried telling me her story, she could no longer keep back the flood of emotion from the war in her heart. She sobbed. She held her face in her hands and wept. She wept for herself. She wept for her family. She wept for Jesus. 

I arrived in Paramakatoi (PK) Friday afternoon. A remote village hidden deep within the jungles of Guyana, PK is made up of people and families trying just to survive. It’s a hard life and a hard place to live. Dependent on family farms for survival, the residents of PK live without every modern luxury we have learned to take for granted. I hauled our drinking and bathing water along with the girls I stayed with. They thought it was hilarious that my full bucket became increasingly less full with every step. They joked that I was having my bath on the trail and gently chided me for wasting the drinking water. How they navigated those trails with heavy, full buckets without spilling a drop, I’ll never know. 
The last look of the airplane as I’m left in Paramakatoi

The experiencing of living with them for four short days was eye opening. Carrying our water was just part of it. The outhouse door didn’t quite close all the way (and don’t even get me started on the spiders that lived there). There was no running water, let alone indoor plumbing. The only power was a generator from the public secondary school that was on for four hours each evening. Even the generator was a luxury most homes in PK went without. Being on the school campus we were blessed with it. They ate two meals a day. For the simple reason that there wasn’t enough food to eat any more often than twice a day. 

As hard as life seemed in PK, my hosts, Mr and Mrs Gudge, told me about the surrounding villages that many of the secondary students on campus come from. Villages even poorer than PK. Villages without any shops (PK has four small shops that sell staple items for a premium). If a family needs rice, flour, or oil in these villages, they must go a whole days walk, sometimes two days walk, to PK or two other villages in the region that have shops. I asked more than once how the people there live, how they are able to buy anything. Mrs Gudge shrugged her shoulders and couldn’t answer that. She told me that most people go without and rely on what they can grow on their farms. 
Paramakatoi SDA church, left, and some of the village

Admere comes from a village similar to PK. Another poor village a days walk from PK called Kurukabaru. A village more isolated than PK and rooted deep in tradition. Kurukabaru village is known as being home to the only priest in this mostly Catholic region. Admere, along with six other girls from Kuruabaru, attended the region’s public school in PK. 

Although being at a government-run public school, the Gudges (he is the boys warden/dean and she is the girl’s matron/dean) are missionaries at heart. Soon after they accepted this position over six years ago a family in the village began joining them for the small family church they held on the floor of their small apartment each week. Then some students asked to join. Soon they outgrew their small apartment and asked permission to use a classroom. More students joined them, and the Gudges saw the students were hungry for God. They were granted permission to hold weekly Bible lessons, and then daily worships with the students. Two years after this began the pastor that visits the village once a year baptized 15 new members. Two families and a gentleman from the village and several students. The following year 27 students were baptized. And then 34. 
Backed against the wall, there are so many students at Friday night worship I can’t fit them all in one photo!
The Gudges and the students are awaiting the visit from the pastor this year and are anticipating many baptisms. One of the students considering baptism is Admere. She has accepted Jesus into her dear heart, but fears the ramifications of choosing baptism. She has seen many of her classmates struggle with the same choice: choose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into baptism, or choose to listen to their families. Almost all of the students at one point were warned by their fathers and mothers that should they choose to be baptized the family would cut off support and the student would be on their own. The family would abandon and essentially disown the baptized student. For these 14, 15, and 16-year olds, it’s not an easy decision. 

Admere cried out through her sobs that she wants to follow Jesus but her father has warned her that if she gets baptized her family will no longer support her. How would she support herself as she finishes school? She would have no way of buying school uniforms, books, or school supplies. 

Admere is only one of the many students who are accepting Christ into their hearts. The Gudges have spent six years sowing seeds among the fields, and as these seeds begin to grow into new creations, the birds, rocks, and thorns threaten to steal and choke the budding new growth. I beg for my friends and family to pray for the Gudge family as they continue to share the everlasting Gospel in PK. I covet prayers for these students, both those who are facing very hard decisions and those who have made the difficult decision to follow Jesus. Pray for the students who are asking for work in PK so they can stay near the Gudges and grow in their faith more before returning home to families and villages who will not accept them back with open arms. Pray for the students who have returned home to hard situations but who, despite all odds, are working to now plant their own seeds in the hearts of those who opposed them. Pray for a world that you will never meet on this earth, but that you might meet in Heaven someday. Pray, my friends, please pray. 
One of the many students who will be returning to her village soon to spread the gospel.
Matthew 13: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

this strange place

I’ve been MIA on the blog for a while. We’ve been busy. You know, the same old excuse.

Today I’d like to share more about this unique place we call home.

The Guyanese people are an interesting mix. The three dominate people groups are descendants of African slaves and East-Indian slaves, and the Amerindians. Then you also have people here from many other countries. And a mix of everything in between. I’ve heard the Guyanese call Guyana more than once an international country.

With such a large mixture of people there is a large mixture of religion and beliefs. The largest religious groups are Christians, Hindu, and Muslims. I think I’ve seen almost every known religion represented here.

Georgetown is a very diverse place.

I talk to a lot of people. Taxi drivers, shop keepers, church members, and people I meet in the market. We’ve gotten to know people at the airport, the hospital, the conference office, and our neighbors. We are a part of a weekly outreach in Sophia Village (a part of Georgetown) and sometimes help with Sabbath School.

Almost everywhere I go, people are curious about the “white girl” as I’m often referred to. People want to know what I’m doing here. And once they learn we live here, their next question is always, “How do you find Guyana?”

“I love it here.”

I really have come to love this strange place.

Just like everywhere else in the world, there are kind people and rude people. There are trustworthy people and untrustworthy people. There are rich and there are poor. There are people who want to harm and people who want to help.

This is a harsh place. It’s rare to see a costlander (the term for those living in Georgetown, who are very different from the Amerindians of the interior) crying or vulnerable. People here learn to be tough early in life. They have to be strong to survive here. People have learned that they need to take care of themselves because no one else is looking out for them. They can’t rely on their own government for income during the hard seasons of life. This is a poor country. Stealing isn’t the worst thing a person can do - survival is everyone’s mission. Everyone is trying to get ahead and catch a break.

On the other hand, it seems someone will always stop to let a waiting car go ahead. If someone in the back of the line only has an item or two, they will be ushered to the front of the line. More than once I’ve seen vendors give people extra potatoes, bananas, or bora.

Often times the coastlanders’ tempers are as hot as the noonday sun (thanks to clouds it’s only 82ยบ at the moment). The Guyanese can be loud. Really loud. They’re often aggressive in their pursuit for their own justice, and they don’t hide it.

On the other hand, I’ve seen more grace here in the last year than I can count. I tell you these people have real, living grace. And true humility. In the midst of this crazy rat-race of Georgetown, there are these gems living amongst us that quietly remind us that love always wins. Love is louder than any protest. Love is living and abundant.

Guyana is just like anywhere else, really. You’ll always find exactly what you’re looking for.

a young mother

She was laid back in the recliner with her eyes closed, thinking about how to answer my question. A troubled look crossed her face and her eyes opened. 

"I don't really know how to answer that," was her simple reply.

When I left early that morning, I counted on the one thing we had in common - motherhood - to keep the conversation going. But when I asked her describe her seven-year old son to me, Shareefa struggled to remember him. 

My heart broke for her as she tried to recall what her son enjoyed doing. Finally, a smile broke through her troubled expression, "Spelling. He likes spelling. He's a good reader." 

As I asked her more questions about the children, she came alive speaking of them. " He's really shy at first," she said of her oldest son, the 7-year old, "But when he knows you, he's really free." 

Her five-year old daughter is turning six in one week. She is smart and shy, "She likes to be busy, she's really helpful. And she really talks a lot." 

Shareefa smiled when she got to the baby of the family. Her four-year old daughter is "always happy. She likes church and likes to sing. She's quiet."

It's been nearly a year since this 23-year old mother of three left her children in their village home, Esquibo, to come to Georgetown. Shareefa had been having headaches for over a year, slowly becoming more and more severe, as well as dizzy spells. 

Test after test came back normal until Lupus showed up in a test. Further tests revealed that the Lupus had caused her kidneys to stop functioning. She was told she would need dialysis. Fearful of the procedure and the costs involved, Shareefa's husband took her home, where she would surely not live long. 

Praise the Lord, Shareefa was encouraged to return to town once more and applied for a government subsidy. The Ministry of Heath granted her a certain number of treatments, roughly three months worth. After that she would have to reapply every three months, collect letters from her health care providers, and wait for approval again. 

While Shareefa stays in town with her husband caring for her, her three children remain in Esquibo. The pain in her heart showed on her face, they don't have enough money to buy food for themselves right now, there's simply no way they can afford to bring the children to town and buy all new school uniforms and books.

I spent the morning at the Dialysis Center with Shareefa where she laid in the recliner for 4 hours receiving treatment. I was also able to speak with the head nurse about Shareefa's condition. It was a grim conversation, most of which was about finding her a donor before it's too late. 

Shareefa and her husband were working as Bible workers when she got sick. Laying in her reclining chair she looked tired and worn out. But as she spoke about sharing Jesus with others, her face lit up. "At home, you have everything. As a missionary, there's nothing. You have to pray and let God provide." 

She spoke of the peace and joy in her family during their time as missionaries. Her desire to get well, apart from her family, is fueled by her desire to do God's work as a missionary. She wants to get well and continue to spread the love of God all over Guyana. 

Friends, I will have information up by next week on how you can help Shareefa with a donation. I pray you will check back and prayerfully decide to help this lovely young mother.

UPDATE: You can donate to help Shareefa here using PAYPAL. Please type in "Guyana- Shereefa Medical Fund"in the memo area to designate your donation to help get Shareefa the care she needs. If you are in the US you will receive a tax-deductable receipt.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for prayerfully considering this cause!!! I'll be making Shareefa her own blog this coming week that we will be updating with her progress. Thank you!!!!

Thank you. 

art: wikistix

jungle preschool in Georgetown

art: painting up a storm

art: construction paper mosaics

postcard tuesday

Hello and welcome to Postcard Tuesday!

If you've never participated before, you're in luck, it's easy! If you have - you know the drill!

What happens:
1. I ask a question
2. You answer the question (leave your answer in a comment)
3. Three randomly selected persons get postcards from Guyana

See, what'd I tell you  - easy!

Question of the week:
List your 3 favorite no-cost family activities.


leading children to Jesus

I wrote this for another blog I've been writing for, and wanted to share it here also. :)

I grew up not knowing who Jesus was.
In my home, “Jesus Christ” was a term for when you were upset or angry. It was a step down from swearing, but gave the same message.
In my home, there was frequent mention of God. Not in a reverent, prayerful, calling out to Jesus kind of way. “Oh my God,” was something we said about everything. I never even thought about what it meant until I met God for the first time.
I was still a child at 18. Immature, lost, and fully in the world in every way an 18-year old could be. I looked to fill the hole in my heart with alcohol, sex, and worldly experiences. It was then, when the world would have said I was the most lost, that I was found.
Jesus picked me up gently out of the mess I called my life and set me down on the Rock.
Today, I am a Christian missionary serving in South America with my husband and two children. I strive daily to give my son and daughter opportunities to know Jesus. Having no idea what that really looks like in childhood, I can assure you we’re a work in progress. And that’s OK.
If you, like me, didn’t grow up in a Christian family and lack an example, or if you just need some ideas on how you can help your child cultivate their own relationship with Jesus, here are seven ideas for you. Every family is different. Whether you’re able to use one idea or all seven, remember to do what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things.

7 Ways to Lead Your Child to Jesus:

Be their example. Model behavior you want to see in them. Easy enough, right? Try your hardest, get what resources you need, and pray, pray, pray. Chose your battles wisely. It’s not always important to be right, it’s important to be like Jesus. Involve the whole family by having morning – and if possible, evening – worship. It’s OK to keep it simple, especially if you have young children.
Need ideas for family worship?
My Bible First
Kids of Integrity
Encourage personal devotion time everyday. Make sure they have their own age appropriate Bible. Until they can read on their own, try to read to them from their Bible once or twice a day. Teach them to have Jesus time. Make it special by sitting in a special chair, make a Jesus time spot, or try to incorporate something meaningful to them. Once they can read, let them. And talk to them about what they read as often as you’re able to. If they are old enough, encourage them to journal about what they read, what it means to them, and what they think Jesus might be saying to them through His Word. Try to have Jesus time routinely and consistently as best you can.
Need ideas on what kids can do on their own?
Beginner’s Bible
Sabbath Kids
Be on the lookout for object lessons. Look for ways to make Jesus real and relevant to them. Pray for Jesus to show you object lessons. Read Christ’s Object Lessons for ideas of where to look for Jesus around you. Let these lessons come up in conversation naturally. Let your child make the connections to Jesus through your gentle leading.
Need more ideas?
Print out this list of things to on Sabbath
Get Christ’s Object Lessons here or get it free on your Android or iPhone
Reach out. Teach your child that Jesus is at work all around them. Take them on mission trips. Feed the homeless. Serve at the soup kitchen. Let them see the hard things in life and let them ask questions. Let them see the results of sin, and the triumphs of Jesus.
Need more ideas?
Google opportunities in your area
Get real. Be real and honest with your child in all areas of life. Of course this will look different for different ages, but let your child see that you struggle too. That you need forgiveness too. Share your testimony with them. Ask them for pray for you in certain areas. Don’t hide your problems – don’t burden your child by just telling them all your problems and not offering more – teach them that our struggles are our offerings to Jesus.
Keep track of Jesus. Write down prayer requests and leave room to write down the answers as they are given. Make this part of your family worship. Teach them both to rely on God for their needs, and to be reminded when He does. This is a great way to help your child through a tough situation, “Remember that time when we prayed about ___ and Jesus answered by ___?”
Need more ideas?
See how to make a prayer journal here
Pray, pray, pray. Don’t stop praying. Jesus is with you, Mama. Stay connected to Him. If you do your part, He’ll do His. Keep in mind that you can’t make the decision for your children to live for Jesus or not. They will have to do that one on their own. And even if they chose another path, keep hope, Mama. Pray all the more. It’s not over till it’s over.

What are things your family does to help your children cultivate a relationship with Jesus?