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Friday, November 30, 2012

Adjusting

Last night I was asked by a couple friends if I have adjusted since returning home from Bangladesh... I asked them "Is my sleep adjusted?" and they said no. Have I adjusted to all I was exposed to? Have I adjusted to what I saw and came in contact with? Have adjusted to what God taught me and showed me? Have I adjusted to the shock of coming back into American society? The answer is NO! I have hardly any words on what happened to me over there.

Yes, I know how the American life is and what is "expected". I know... I have lived here my entire life and I should expect how I would feel when I came back, but I didn't. I never do! How can you? Is this making any sense? I don't even need to go to another country to be discussed on how we Americans live. I can simply go visit my Bhutanese friends and listen to their problems to get a good slap in the face. I can hear and see families struggling just to make ends meet or simply try to survive by putting food on the table for their families. This is the same thing I feel when I come back from a 3rd world country.

We have so much... we forget about it all because we have too much! I am not saying it is bad to have stuff, but what I am saying is it is hard to come back to this country after seeing that people in this world (the same world I live in, who have the same desires as me) don't have enough! They need some of our stuff. (I know, this is coming from my world view) But, the best thing is they don't really "need" the stuff, because their lives are good. Simple. They have smiles on their faces... even though they have to wash their clothes by hand and line dry it, even though they have no running water in their home, even though the filtered water they will drink is as dirty as the water before it was filtered, even though they have dirt floors, even though they have to wear the same clothes the next day, even though they live in a one bedroom hut full of brothers and sisters, even though they are unsure how they will eat the next night. This all reminds me of the story Jesus Speaks to the Rich Man in Luke 18:18-30...

"A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
 
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

We are rich! No matter how much you make a year... you are rich! Who can be saved? We all can, but we have to give it all to God and say "Yes!" before we even know what He is going to ask us to do. God is BIGGER and has a BIGGER plan for our lives than living for money and earthly possessions. Nothing is in possible with God... He is everything and in everything.

Jesus + Nothing = EVERYTHING!!!

I am not perfect and I struggle daily with worldly desires, but the Lord is molding me, stretching me to the point that it hurts, but to that pain I am thankful. Sometimes I want the struggles of my friends half way around the world... but truthfully I would not want the same struggles as my Bhutanese friends here in America, because that would be too painful! Having to live here and seeing what everyone else has and me not having and wishing I had more... Maybe the Lord will make that happen, but right now I am thankful for the slap in the face and my eyes widened to this American view of the I HAVE TO HAVE BIGGER...

This blog entry may sound crazy to you or maybe it is exactly where you are at, but I would not be where I am if it wasn't for my Savior's blood that was spilt for me, or the grace He gives me everytime I mess up, and the house He is preparing with many rooms. This list could go on and on, but this is what is coming to me right now. Without Him I am nothing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forever Friend in Bangladesh- Mortuza

I am changing my blogging about Bangladesh up a bit, because one of the best things about this trip was being able to build relationships. Below are pictures of my brother in Christ, Mortuza. I first started talking to him through Facebook (a couple of weeks before we left). We had not met yet, but I was very excited to meet him. When we got off the plane in Dhaka and we gathered all our bags (which took forever) he was there waiting for us. This man took a piece of my heart while we were in Bangladesh. He is very special to me. From the very beginning of meeting him we were instantly friends. He would ask me all kinds of questions about America and our lives over here and I was very honest with him about how we live our lives. I hope I didn't turn him off from wanting to visit America one day. LOL! He would say "I have so many questions.". I would tell him "Ask all the questions you want."
We got to meet Mortuza's family at dinner in Dhaka our first night in Bangladesh. To be truthful it was not long enough to really get to know his wife and kids. I hope next year we will be able to spend more time with them. I would like to hear her version of being married to Mortuza, because I heard a little of his version of being married. Not bad... just a man's version.
 Here we are in Chittagong and the day before we went shopping. Gil and Brian bought themselves a lungi, so here is Gil getting assistance on how to put this lungi on. Mortuza jumped right in and showed Gil how to tie it.

 Here we are in Cox Bazar and we were on our way to the beach to check out the sunset and have a coconut. So, Mortuza and I shared a Tricycle Rickshaw (this is my name for it). Aren't we cute? I felt so bad for the little Rickshaw peddler, who had to pull us around. LoL! But, he did a great job! I paid him double for pulling us around. LOL! I think Mortuza thought I was crazy, but oh well. :o) Mortuza is truly a good friend. He took Brian, Andrea, and I to the market one night to buy some henna for the next day for the girls at the sewing center and we were on a mission! The next night I wanted to go shopping (because I had to buy gifts) and no one else wanted to go, so Mortuza took me shopping. Truthfully I think he likes to shop and plus he is so patient, so he is the one to go with on a night on the town. LOL!

 This man loves the Lord! He has been working for his Savior for a long time. Here he is at Cox Bazar sharing the story on Creation and he was gettin' down with sharing the Truth of creation. I am proud to call him brother and thankful for his willingness to get out of his boat to share the Truth in a country that is not always so easy to share the truth with.

So here it is... the 3 brothers, who stole my heart and Mortuza is the oldest. There really are no words to describe my love for these men. I truly see them as brothers... on the right is Joe (the middle brother) and on the left is Salauddin (the baby brother). I will talk more about the other brothers a little later, but the one thing that stood out to me is the respect the sibling have for the oldest... it is almost like they treat the oldest, Mortuza like a father. Salauddin and I were talking one night and he was talking about how when we (Americans) talk we might hit or touch the other person we are talking to and he said he would never do that to Mortuza, his oldest brother as a respect thing. I was very surprised by that and I caught myself several times during our visit in Bangladesh doing that very thing. It is amazing the things we do in our culture that we don't think twice about... for instance touching... a woman touching a man is WRONG and that was one of the hardest things for me. All I wanted to do was HUG! I couldn't hug or touch any of these men that made such a huge impact in my life... all I wanted to do was HUG! I cried because I could not hug (more on this later).
 
Back to my brother, Mortuza... the Lord has big things for him and I see it and I know it. I pray he will continue to seek the Lord with all that is in him. I pray he will not grow stagnate and that he will continue to spread our Father's Good News throughout the world of the lost and I pray for much fruit for our Father's Kingdom. I am thankful to the Lord for a man like Mortuza and I am thankful for His love for our Father. I pray the flame will never be burnt out, but that it would be kindled and burning hot. I love you, my brother.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rejoicing in Thanksgiving

I have really been thinking about thanksgiving lately 1. because Thanksgiving is right around the corner and 2. because the trip to Bangladesh really makes you think about what you are truly thankful for. I am on Facebook and a lot of people are posting things they are thankful for... such as chocolate chips, cell phone, a comfy bed, and the list can go on and on. Don't get me wrong I am not criticizing and I too am thankful for those small things, but truly deep down what are we thankful for?

I personally don't think I am thankful enough for what the Lord has given to me. I take everything for granted... my kids, my husband, money, our house, my time, friends and family. We all do this... but every single moment of every single day we should be thanking the Lord for every little thing he has placed in our lives. Sending me to Bangladesh has opened my eyes and my heart... I can't stop thinking of His unfailing love and how He never gives up on me, but in a blink of an eye I give up on Him. He has shown glimpses of His glory to me and for that I am thankful. I am thankful for the moments that He speaks to me so clearly and even thankful for the times I don't think it is so clear, but my holy God choosing to speak to me makes me so thankful for my Father, who is jealous for me and never gives up the pursuit for me.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my Father's unfailing never ending love... a never ending pursuit for my heart. The desires He has put in my heart that line up with His desires... the awareness of how.. yes He loves me, but He loves others (such as unbelievers) so much too. The awakening of the Holy Spirit that resides in me and that I get to abide in. For this I am thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chittagong, Bangladesh Day 1 Part 2

The were in Dhaka for one night and then we were off to Chittagong. It was a short flight and next thing we knew we were being greeted by our dear brother, Jacob. (more on him and his family later)
 

Jacob took us to the Guest house where we stayed for the next 3 nights, we dropped our stuff off into our rooms and went to have tea, while we were drinking our tea Jacob tells us there are 100 students, Campus Crusade for Christ staff, and Muslim men from the islands ready and waiting for us. We were like "Okay, what should we do?". Jacob said some like "I don't know, but they are all waiting so lets go!" We didn't know it at the time, but the Holy Spirit had a plan. We got to the church and there they all were... waiting for us.

This is the wall that goes around the church and school that is inside the compound. God is good and sovereign!!! Praise the Lord for these words and all who drives by can read these words!

I didn't know it yet, but this sweet lady on the right hand side of the photo will forever make an imprint on my heart. This is sister Lusi and oh how I love her! I am thankful for her example of how to love your family as God has intended a woman to love, for her big heart and hospitality has she made us all feel so welcomed as if this is our home, and most of all she showed me how to love my husband as I watch her love Jacob and how she took care of his needs no matter how little it was. I will talk more about her later, but I had to tell you how much I truly love my sister.
 Oh... this man in the middle of Traci and Gil... This is Zia, he is a true hero of bringing God glory even to death. I will share more on him later. But, this man bares the image of Jesus more than anyone we have ever met. (quote from Andrea)

Here is Brian meeting one of the Muslim men, who came from one of the islands. We were told these Muslim men had heard the Good News and some were possibly ready to be baptized... but this was not the case they were pretty hard core Muslims. But they were and heard to Good News. :)

Here we are going upstairs ready to break it down and share some of Jesus' goodness.

Here we all are about to start our day. I was nervous not knowing what any of this was going to look like. We truly had to trust on the Holy Spirit... nothing was done on our own will, but fully trusting His will.
Here is Brian being led by the Spirit and teaching from Philippians on unity. It was so good and we were all blessed!
Here is everyone listening.
 
After lunch (and eating with our hands) I shared the Bible story of the demon possessed man in Mark 5 and then Andrea shared her testimony of what Jesus had done in her life. Amazing story of God's love, redemption, healing, and hope. It was such an awesome day of God revealing Himself in a way we never expected. I am thankful for the way He wanted things to go rather than us leading through our flesh. I am in love with the these people and my heart is still with them.
 
After Andrea shared her story our sweet brother and sisters came up to great her with smiles, hugs, laughter, and love. To Him be the glory and honor forever and ever.
 
This is all for tonight and I will continue with more of my Father's great story tomorrow...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bangladesh Part 1

I haven't blogged in while because I think I was busy with all the new things going on in our lives and preparing to leave for Bangladesh. Our team left for Bangladesh October 27 and we returned home November 7. It was such an amazing trip and the Lord revealed Himself in a way I had never imagined. So, I am going to start from the beginning...

We left Houston around 6:30 p.m. on October 27 and arrived in Dubai 16 hours later. It wasn't such a bad flight because the plane wasn't full and we all had some room to stretch out. We arrived in Dubai and we had about a 7 hour layover and then we were on our way to Dhaka, Bangladesh. We landed around 9 a.m. on October 29 and headed to our hotel and rested up a bit. On our way to the hotel we were overly surprised how un-crowded it was and the streets were so clean. Then we remembered it was the holiday of Eid... I would compare it to how serious we take Christmas. Everyone was gone on holiday, no one was working... it is a 4 day holiday and everything closes down. So, it was kind of nice not to get stuck in traffic, but to drive some what normal. LOL! Once we got all our stuff upstairs we had the privilege to meet and eat lunch with a man named JayTesh. This man was in prisoned for taking Bibles to another country. He shared his story on how the Lord called him to the Muslim people even though everyone thought he was crazy, but he knew what he heard from the Lord almighty and he was not going to follow what others thought he should do, but he focused on God and his calling. JayTesh has started a ministry called Way of Life. Way of Life is to reach Muslim's to hear the Good News. He has planted churches, encourages believers, has conferences to build up and repair marriages, encourages the couples individually as they break off into men and women groups to encourage eachother, and has kid programs so the kids can be together as a body as well. JayTesh has big things going on, because he has faithfully followed our Father.

JayTesh shared his story of his imprisonment. He was traveling to a country to take Bible translated in this countries language. As he was going through security with his bag the airport security wanted to check his bag. JayTesh said okay no problem. Security checked his bag and found the Bibles and they asked him about them and why he had brought them. JayTesh told them and he came to find out it was illegal to bring the Bibles to this country and on top of that illegal to have the Bibles translated into their language. What JayTesh told us was this countries government wants to keep the language to itself... they do not want this language taken out of the borders of this country. I hope this makes sense... it is hard remembering all of these details, but anyways... JayTesh was unaware that all of this was illegal, but he was not worried. He was questioned and questioned and questioned about these Bibles and JayTesh calmly answered them with no worries or no fight. He said he was not worried. I am sure he is questioned quite often about what he is doing. LOL! Back to the story... it was a really long day of questioning, but then realty set in... the police came and arrested him. He was handcuffed for a very long time... he had to sleep on the floor in the handcuffs behind his back. He said he was so sore and it was so uncomfortable. About a day later he was put in a cell with about 30 to 40 people, and they all knew who JayTesh was from watching him get arrested on TV. He was popular! JayTesh was in jail for a total of 22 days and shared the Good News with all of them and 6 to 8 people came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Simply AMAZING! He was put in one of the worst situations and he used it for the glory of God's kingdom... He used every second to tell them all about Jesus. He knew no matter what happened it was the Lord's will. Who am I? Do I share the Good News every moment I am given? I take so much for granted and I don't have a clue how much I have been given and completely take advantage. It makes me sick to think about it, but it is reality and nothing better then it being thrown in my face.

My sister, Andrea shared with JayTesh what the Lord had prepared her to share from 2 Peter. I can't remember exactly what she read, but it was exactly written for JayTesh to hear in that very moment. Andrea did not give in and think about how crazy we might think she is, but she shared it because she trusted what the Lord had told her and prepared her to do. JayTesh was so overwhelmed by what she shared he was weeping with tears. We were all crying, because it was nothing more than the Holy Spirit swooping in and loving on JayTesh, who we had quickly come to love.

 
No words can describe or coming close to telling you how grateful I am to meeting this precious man. But, I am thankful for him and his testimony to God's will and grateful to have met him and to hear his story. It really puts things into perspective and for this experience I am forever changed.