A joyful man…

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God has blessed me with a number of godly men to speak into my life ever since I was a child. Pastors, Bible Teachers, Disciples of Christ, Men of God who’s lives reflected all they spoke of.
Today as I stepped into my husband’s discipleship class in a village in East Africa, my heart overflowed. To begin with, my husband is one of those men. His love for the Lord has exploded into every aspect of his life. And this man radiates Jesus.  
Today he was talking about rejoicing in the Lord. How our lives should be so filled with the joy of the Lord that all those who come in contact with us, see Jesus.  
He went on to describe a man I’ve known my entire life. His joy bubbles. Everyone of my lifelong friends will attest to the fact that his love is as sincere and infectious as it gets.  
My dad has considered this man his best friend for many years. He has always been there for my family. My first recollection is of the time my brother was run over and dragged by a school bus in a near fatal accident. I remember Pastor Don ministering to my entire family. He simply has always been that spiritual leader, always quick to be there. Weddings, funerals, hospitals…. there he is.
Last year I was home and my dad was in the hospital. I walked in to see him and there sat my childhood pastor. This tall towering man jumps to his feet (albeit a bit slower these days) and gives me a love filled, tight and hearty hug. I’ve always always loved those hugs. He always asks about my kids, who all know, love and respect him as much as me. There are a couple things he has said, that my kids will repeat and credit him to this day.
Well, this morning, as my husband was trying to define rejoicing, being joy filled to his 12 men he has disciples now for 3 years, he looked at me and with tears welling up, choking up a bit, he says, I told them the best example I know is Don Ralston.  How I use to look at him and wonder, “how can anyone be so happy?”  
Pastor Don, thank you!! Thank you for decades… for a lifetime… of living the joy of the Lord. Thank you for always singing a song of joy. Thank you for demonstrating the inexpressible and exceeding joy of Jesus. Thank you for being a steadfast example of one who loves, who trusts and who obeys the Most High God. Thank you for having an impact on my entire family, my grandmothers, my parents, my siblings, my husband, my children and 12 Kenyan pastors in East Africa. I love you so much!  

Passing the Baton

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  • This has been a day of retrospect… a day where God has my attention.

Randy has gone to Nairobi to pick up a new friend. So I usually try to use these times to sit quiet before the Lord. I’m reading some biographies of some men and women who represented the exchanged  and abundant life I daily desire. The team outside are all working so hard to accomplish all Randy left for them to do. So I decided to make them ‘popcorns’. Yes, plural. I decided to listen to some teaching while I popped 8 pots of corn for my 20+ hardworking friends.

I love these people. They have become like my kids. I love being a mom. I always have. And 35 years ago as I was anticipating my first baby at the young age of 20, I was filled with eager joy. I wasn’t walking with the Lord at the time. I had been raised in Truth. I knew Truth. And I believed Truth. But I was not walking in it. Even still, I knew even before my child was born, it wasn’t about me anymore, this child, any future children, they needed Truth.

And in my quest to see them get that, The Lord got me. Over time I became a lover of His Word and a believer in prayer. God used many people to disciple me as I was determined to teach my kids. And teaching them the Truth drove everything I did. I can say that honestly. I may not have had the purist motives some of the time, but I was very cognizant of the potential message in my actions, my words, my responses, my life.  Oh… I made so many blunders, and outbursts, and mess ups and mistakes… but I can absolutely say that my primary focus, my deepest desire, was that my kids knew Jesus, knew the power of His resurrection, that they knew His faithfulness and His love and that they grew up to walk and abide in Him. That was all I cared about, far over education, careers, even relationships, I wanted them to KNOW Jesus.

Again, you don’t need to ask them, I’ll admit… I made so many mistakes and dropped the baton regularly. But I do believe that God saw my desire and poured out grace beyond measure. Grace that covered my mistakes. Grace that covered my outbursts and my messes. And, day by day, month by month, year by year… I grew, they grew and together, ONLY through the grace of Jesus, we are all living for and diligently serving our Savior. We are all eagerly awaiting His return and we are all consciously spreading the gospel and making disciples.

Yes, I know what a privilege and amazing blessing this is. I do not take it for granted. And my husband and I praise our God daily for having revealed Himself to them. It is this faithfulness of God, having seen it proven through my kids and so many other ways that gave me the courage to trust and obey God when He called us to Africa. Out of the blue, never a dream, at a season where it made NO sense, He called us to Kenya and again, He has blown me away.

Well, today, as I was listening to some teaching, I found myself before the Lord. I was being clearly taught something that I think God has been trying to show me for some time. But somehow, this message, this pastor, this time… God’s anointing, God’s desire for me to ‘get it’ spoke deep down in the innermost center of my heart. This pastor spoke boldly of God’s Truth, of His call for holiness and righteousness, he taught of the utmost importance of the furtherance of the gospel and how my motives to serve MUST BE for His glory. I want to want to!!! Oh God may my conduct be worthy of the Gospel and may I stand fast.

  • What moved me to share this today… was after years of praying that God would speak and reveal Himself to my children THROUGH me, desiring to pass them a baton of faith… today… He spoke and revealed Himself to me…. THROUGH my son. The Baton of Faith has most assuredly been passed and I simply praise the Name of my Jesus!!!!
    Hey, if you want to hear some sound and spurring teaching… check out Pastor Ryan Saul at CalvaryWT.com. He lives and he teaches…. TRUTH!

His perfect time

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I am American.”Time is money”

Raised by the clock-punctuality is key!
I am in Kenya

“African time” – slower than island time

And likely my biggest cultural struggle. It brings out the worst in me for sure!
Today, I left a few minutes late. Ugh

Stopped to pick up the mandazi, they were not ready.

Went to pick up Levi – he was late.

Had a bit of trouble with the car, delaying us several minutes.

Went to pick up Dennis – he was late.

Feeling that flesh rising up… “Oh Lord please help me!”

As we sat on the side of the road awaiting Dennis, a woman came to the car – she wanted “something to eat”. So I reached around to the back seat and came out with some warm mandazi for her. “No! Ninataka pesa”. I want money. I responded with a forced and fake smile, “pole, hakuna pesa”. ( I’m sorry, I have no money.)

Watching from across the street, a young man began laughing. As the woman walked away, he came over. He wanted a job in my compound.

We were still waiting on Dennis, so we started a conversation. He asked what I do, where I lived. I asked, “do you know Jesus?” “No one knows Jesus”, he responded.

I have NEVER before gotten this response and my heart sank. “He is history”, he said.

I ALWAYS hear the answer yes, I know Jesus! Even if they don’t.

I told him that Jesus wants him to know HIM. He died so you can know Him!

“You cannot know someone you can’t talk to”. “Oh, but you CAN talk to Him, I talked with Him just this morning!!” With that he nervously stepped back, somewhat chuckling, “you must have a devil, saying you spoke to Jesus”. “Oh NO!” I proclaimed, “He is real, He is! And He desires a relationship with you!!!”

I invited him to church. He told me it is too far. Both Dennis and Levi spoke to him in Kiswahili a bit. I sat and prayed as they did. I then handed him a Kiswhaili tract.

He would not allow me to pray with him. But as we drove away, the guys and I prayed for Jonathan, asking that it might please The Lord to reveal Himself! Oh please, use this meeting which I KNOW you ordained, use the seeds of TRUTH that were spoken, use that tract and Your Holy Spirit, make Yourself known… That Jonathan might know that You are God and that You love him!!

Lord, help me, please, to rest in You and to trust Your clock. Your clock that keeps perfect time!

A Trophy named Grace!

I went to visit Grace this morning. I passed Otara, her husband, along the way. He was headed to the guys’ Saturday discipleship group.

Grace is unable to attend our ladies Thursday study so we want to spend time together somehow. Her little English and my kidogo Kiswahili makes that a challenge.

She is reading in Luke so we picked up from there. Her children gathered as we read first from English then from Kiswahili.

I love the evidence of God’s transforming Grace in this home… proclaimed in the smiles and laughter and an understanding that can come just from God Himself.

We talked about knowing Jesus, how He told the story of how those invited to a great supper were too busy to attend, how we must be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus and THEN…. the kids… talking with their cousin who was there… began touching their head and then their heart and THEY were telling him the difference between knowing Jesus and knowing ABOUT Jesus!!!! I could hear ‘kujua Yesu’ and “kweli, kujua Yesu, Kweli! I know what that means!

Oh how I wish you were there!! Oh how I wish all you who love us, pray for us, support us… Oh I wish you could see the fruit of our labor…. Yours AND mine!!

To God be the glory and honor here in Kebabe. May His Name be high and lifted up!!

Please keep praying that this village would be adding to the church through the Holy Spirit. Pray that the people would believe in Him who was sent. Pray that as God transform them, that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, that He would give to them a spirit of understanding, knowledge and wisdom. Pray they would be moved to share the gospel boldly!!

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Taking THE message to the bush…

We went to Narok Friday night and met up with our friend, Solomon. A tall strong Maasai man who loves Jesus. We had a time of prayer in the hotel room as I tried to finish the download and dvd burn. Coming in to town we had already been having technical difficulties as we traveled with my laptop open and my attempts to burn a disc.

Ok, finally, I have it! So we got in the car and proceeded down the road, off the tarmac, down miles of dusty, bumpy, dry roads. I saw maybe 2 houses along the way and an occasional flock of sheep or goats or cows being grazed in the remaining withering grass.

We reached the church in the dark. A couple motor bikes turned on their lights to show us where to park. Once we got the generator hooked up and some lights on, we began to set up for the movie. I have a king size sheet I tacked up on the tree beams inside the church. While sorting out and setting up the electronics and maneuvering through additional technical challenges… The movie was showing!!!!

Easy… 350 people, men and women, young and old, packed into the little church. Some sat in chairs, some on benches, and the parameter of the building – standing 1 to 3 people deep! At one point, I looked up and there were children sitting up above on the rafters. No one moved for two hours as they watched intently as the Gospel of Luke came to life in front of their eyes.

Saturday night we went even deeper on the other side of the tarmac road. This terrain was much more rough and rugged. Randy just pictured himself in an off-road commercial for a monster truck. Honestly, this car is put through some serious driving and off road situations and we are so thankful to God for it!

After first stopping at Pastor John’s home, and having a small bite to eat, we continued on to the church. This little church was real small, so we set up outside. Oh man was this amazing! The stars were covering the dark sky and were absolutely breathtaking. Maybe 100 people sat on their shukas, on stumps or chairs… or stood and watch the movie. The night air was cold and as I looked around, I saw these profiles of old Maasai men with their ear lobes hanging several inches, bundled up in their red plaid fabric and most with a young child sitting on their lap. It was beautiful!

Both nights, I could see the expressions on their faces. There were giggles and laughter at some points, but the real moving response was as they saw Jesus healing, interacting, loving… and then…as He was arrested, beaten and crucified, the entire movie in their mother tongue.

Both nights I spent most of the two hours just praying and I know, just as HE says, that His Word will NOT return void without first accomplishing HIS purpose.

As they saw the arrest of Jesus, the mood changed drastically. I can only pray that God will continue to give understanding of just how significant the price of our sin is, and, how deep the love & grace of our Lord runs.

Sunday we woke up, packed up our room and headed to “the center”. This is where our Saturday class is each week. We arrived a few minutes after 10:00am, sadly beginning to pick up some African habits. We found our seats. Randy sat up front and I took mine with the women on their side. The worship was sweet. The Maasia have a deep heart of worship. I love watching the mix of traditional and modern dressed men, women and children.

I had a chance to greet them and I shared how homesick I have been feeling lately. How much I miss my parents, my children, my grandbabies and my church family. And then I shared how God had whispered to me during worship… and reminded me that I was indeed with family and I smiled at the power of Spirit of God! Truly I sensed the spirit of God binding our hearts as one.

Randy got up to teach. I have to tell you, I was captivated. I found myself literally leaning in as he read and taught on the greatness of God. He sent one man outside to get a handful of sand which was blowing around and looked like smoke. Then Randy asked him to count the grains. The message was powerful and the response was moving as God poured out a little deeper understanding of just how much HE loves us!!! A truth that is too much for my heart to grasp!

The weekend was exhausting, and it was refreshing. It was challenging and it was filling. Once again we marvel that He has allowed us to be a part of HIS work! Indeed, the weekend was amazing as we saw GOD’s hand move before our eyes as we took HIS message into the bush of the Maasai land in Kenya.

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BECAUSE HE LIVES…

First – I must thank everyone for your prayers!!! What a weekend of celebration!

After our Narok class on Saturday we drove to Kisumu. About a four hour drive. We took Kennedy from Narok to his home in Kisumu. Do you remember him? He was the young man I had the privilege of praying with last month as he asked for and received salvation!

It worked out great that he was heading to Kisumu and needed a ride, we were heading to Kisumu and needed a guide! So the blessings began!

We were pushing to get to the guesthouse before dark. We didn’t quite make it. But, we had a lovely room with AIR CONDITIONING and a hot shower! I felt a bit indulgent. We got up Easter morning and went to pick up our friends Dave & Amy. We lived with them when we were in Language School last year and they are serving in Turkana in the north central of Kenya. Together we all were blessed and refreshed as we worshipped and fellowshipped with the wonderful people from Calvary Chapel Lakeside.

I am not sure, unless you have been in a strange land, if anyone can comprehend how MUCH this blessed us. Please, don’t misunderstand, I love listening to the beautiful praising voices of Africa, but when the familiar songs, with familiar language and voices began to sing out praise and worship to the KING who died for me… I was moved to unstoppable tears as I considered the work of the cross.

I miss my church family more than words can say and my Lord, Who died for me, He loves me so much that He knew how blessed we would be to worship Him there, in that place, with those people on that very special day!

After service, the blessing continued as we joined “family” for fellowship and lunch. The two missionary families from Kisumu, the Pottinger and the Harris families… , were armed with 6 excited children. As the kids ran around with Easter activities, squealed and laughed and shared the Easter story, my heart was conflicted with emotion. I was thrilled with these little sweet children, their parents teaching them wonderful Truth… and yet, I dreadfully missed my babies. What a sweet time of fellowship that was needed more than I knew.

We took Dave and Amy back to Kisii with us and they stayed until just this morning. They were a huge help with our village celebration!

Monday we woke early and began all the preparations. As the morning went on, more and more were coming in to help set up. We had the kitchen set up and the mamas all started cooking. Randy was working on the Nyama Chomo ya Mbusi na Ngombe – the goat and the beef to be grilled. The men set up the tent and the screen for the movie. They brought chairs and even a couch. People would come in the gate with arm and head loads.

The children were busy playing with the football and the soccer ball, having a great time.

Dinner was fantastic and we probably fed well over 100 people. As dark was approaching, Randy and Dave worked on the system to show the movie. It was a challenge, with discs we had burned not able to be played on the DVD player, plugs missing or not working, sound interrupted… the challenges just continued. Finally, Dave & Amy brought out the new disc they had burned and we sat down as the story of Jesus began to play out. The movie was in their mother tongue – Ekegusii.

Amy and Dave had popped pop corn for hours and we had bags made up that we distributed and little lollipops. When the movie began they were captivated. Oh I wish you could have seen it. They watched as Jesus was born, as He grew, as He was baptized and then just as He was setting out on the fishing boat — the film froze. YIKES – after realizing the download we had burned only went that far we were scrambling. I was so disappointed and feeling so defeated. Even though all day long the Lord had shown Himself. The people, the food and even the rain He had held off. Now – the movie won’t show. I honestly felt attacked. We had a Joseph movie we ended up showing, in English, and Amy could tell my disappointment. She said, “they’ve had a taste and will tell all their friends and then next time perhaps there will be more that will need to see it.”

Yes, Lord, You knew this situation before it occurred and I must continue to trust You!

While many could not understand, only a couple people left while the others watched intently for the next THREE HOURS!!! (Joseph was a very long movie)

At the end of the day – I believe they were blessed and had seen more of the love of Christ. I believe that God’s Word does not return void and I know that even in the short portion of the STORY – they heard ‘WHY’ Jesus died.

So – again – I thank you for your prayers, for your support, for your contributions and for being a part of this team. I pray, indeed, that God will credit your account with the fruit that WILL come forth! He is risen, He is risen indeed… and… because HE LIVES…

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check out our Village Celebration album on facebook for more pictures!!

Weariness creeps in…

~ Be still and know that I am God!
~ He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it!
~ Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart!

Three verses The Lord is working in my heart. It’s easy to be restless, to be weary, to loose heart and forget Who is doing the work. Forget the certainty of that.

We received a call from a Maasai friend that is in one of Randy’s classes. ” I am coming to greet you.” He arrived right after church and while he and his friend sat in the hut, talking with Randy, I prepared lunch.

Sitting around the table I knew I had missed something and I was told how “our Maasai” has been leading a church as a Mormon pastor. {Ahhhh, okay….?} He went on to say that through his studies that Randy is leading through the Word of God, he realizes that this is false teaching, false doctrine! “How do I get out of it?”

After my heart beat slowed down closer to normal I hear Randy tell him how he “needs to repent before God. Humble yourself and repent.” I look across the table and this tall, Maasai warrior has eyes filling up. “God will take care of the rest. He will give you the words and He will use this for His glory!”

We sat around, encouraging and sharing scriptures and then fervently praying together. First I prayed, then the friend, then the “Maasai” prayed with such passion…. In Kiswahili. I looked at my husband and saw an emotion I have come to admire and respect and praise God for.

Randy closed in prayer and our friend is off to confess to his congregation and begin teaching ONLY Truth. Please pray for him!

The encouragement continued as after they left, I grab my Bible and rushed off… hopping a thorn bush, slipping by the cow, cutting through a tea field and then a corn field to arrive at Leah’s. We are studying the Bible together with a few of the women in the village.

As we open The Word and they began taking turns reading the scriptures, in English, in Gusii, in Swahili…. I sat and watch the discussion.

Sometimes I could make out what was being said, sometimes they would turn to me and repeat it in English… But what I knew…. God was revealing, The Spirit was teaching and Jesus was giving understanding!! I did not know the all the words spoken but I knew the body language, I knew the expressions and I completely recognizes the AHHHH moments!!!

We’ve been weary. But God in His graciousness, took us away to refresh as we retreated with many others at the CC East Africa Missionary conference. Through the teaching and encouragement He reminded us to stay the course, to NOT loose heart and grow weary… But to press on!

Then we returned to the village and our God reveals He is indeed at work in Kisii and I am blessed and honored to be a part!