Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

I used to blog prolifically about my mission trips. I’d post stories, sometimes daily, about what was happening during our outreach. Lots of pictures, along with detailed descriptions of the desperate conditions of those we went to serve.

Of course, I’d tell the stories of what God was doing as well, but it was almost like I needed to set the scene (poverty, disease, injustice) to really show off His work. And maybe justify my journey?

The stories I shared were true–but honestly, I am not sure they were honoring to the people we served. I don’t think they’d be thrilled to read about themselves in the somber hues I painted them. And that really bothers me . . .

I do have one story to tell about our recent trip to Cambodia, however.
The purpose was mostly missionary care–we went to love on our friends who serve in Phnom Penh. But part of caring is witnessing what they do. So we spent quite a bit of time following our friends around to get a feel for their daily lives of ministry.

One day, we got to visit a small village not far from Phnom Penh. Every Sunday, a dozen or so young people from our friends’ church head to this community after worship service. Most go by “moto”–(motorcycle or moped)–to share the love of Jesus with the Buddhist villagers. The Cambodian pastor takes a small group of youth to go with him to evangelize, while others stay behind to play with the local children or pass out food and hygiene items.

Temps were approaching 100 when we got to the village, with the kind of humidity that makes it hard to breathe–let alone move. I decided to tag along with the pastor and followed him and a small group of students as he visited with villagers who were taking a siesta in the heat of the day.
There were no doors to knock on, as most folks were taking refuge in the shaded open areas underneath the houses. Men swung in hammocks, women scolded children playing in the dust, dogs hunkered, panting, in any bit of shade they could find–everyone conserving energy on this sweltering day. We were a welcome diversion.

The pastor shared the gospel in every home, eliciting lively discussion with the Buddhist occupants. It was all in Khmer (language of Cambodia), but the students kindly translated for me, delighted to practice their newly acquired English speaking skills on this eager foreigner. (most of the students came to know Jesus through an Engish class taught by our missionary friends).

As we took our leave of the first home, I asked (through my translator) if I could pray for the family. The pastor–and the women he’d been talking to–thought it was a capital ideal. One woman needed healing, another needed work, a third asked for peace for herself and her family. After a short prayer, I sat next to the woman who wanted peace, swinging my white legs as we sat side by side on the bamboo platform below her house. She’d seen Westerners before but was still fascinated by me–or at least my skin–and picked at a few moles and freckles on my arms as if she was trying to erase them.

As if she knew we were sisters underneath our skin.

Through my translator, I learned we were the same age, although I just celebrated my fifth grandchild while she already had six great-grandchildren. I asked if I could take her picture and she laughed and said yes–but only if I put it on Facebook! We chatted a bit longer as I played peek-a-boo with one of her grandchildren, leaning into her like we were old friends. Finally, we hugged goodbye and our little group set off in the hot sun to the next house.


The young woman who’d been translating for me fell in beside me as we picked our way through the dust and debree.
“Have you been to this village before?” she asked, overcoming her shyness to make eye contact.
“I haven’t,” I told her. “But I’ve been to many villages like this one in other countries. It feels like I’ve been here before.”

Even as the words left my mouth, I realized I wasn’t referring to tangible similarities between this place and villages I’ve visited in India, Africa, Indonesia, Mexico and Alaska (although similarities do exist). It was the connection I felt with the women, the shared humanity, that made the village feel familiar.

I used to be struck by our differences as I traveled to other countries. But now I’m more aware of how we’re all kin, broken and beautiful, full of hopes and dreams and prayers for peace. All in need of a Saviour, hearts beating in unity under our skin.

I hope this story honors my new friend. And maybe she’ll even see her picture on Facebook someday :). I will continue to pray for peace for her and her family . . . the Peace that passes all understanding and longs for every heart to rest in Him.


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I have never been to Sudan–but I have such a compulsion to pray for the country these days.  It is my son-in-law’s homeland . . . and my unborn grandbaby has Sudanese blood coursing through his veins.

Tomorrow begins a vote that will decide the country’s destiny–will the Christian south secede from the Muslim north or will Africa’s largest country stay united?  This article accurately sums up what is at stake in this election.  Two weeks ago, a prayer ministry for Sudan posted this informative bulletin.

Steven is heading to Seattle tomorrow to cast his vote.  I assumed he would vote for the South to secede, but he told me he was voting for unity.  Steven fears that, if the South secedes, the Christians in the North will face increased persecution.

“There will be no help for them,” he told me.

Steven is from South Sudan, but spent six years at a refugee camp in the North (Khartoum) and has personally experienced his share of persecution.  I love that he is not just looking after his own interests–his family still lives in the South–but he has a heart for all of Sudan.  In fact, he and Candyce–and baby Wani–will probably move back to the North someday to be agents of God’s love and peace.

So please pray for the peace of Sudan!  If you feel moved beyond prayer, here’s a link that offers short term trips to one of the most vulnerable areas.

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So, after publishing my last post, I decided a little background info might be helpful for those who don’t know the whole story.

We left Abundant Life about 2 1/2 years ago to serve with a much smaller congregation.  Even though we made great friends there, it was not a good cultural fit for us.  We left that group in June 2009 and have been having and “out of church” experience ever since.

Not that we ever stopped attending services–Greg  actually preached in various congregations on the average of twice a month.  He “filled the pulpit” for 6 weeks at a wonderful church in Walla Walla, Washington–they asked him to come and be their pastor, but God just never gave us peace (and Danielle got slightly hysterical every time we mentioned moving).

So we stayed put, Greg working happily at his non-profit organization.  When he wasn’t preaching, we visited different churches in the area, trying to find a community of believers where we fit and felt connected.  We loved The Well, the church Danielle and Krispin attend in north Portland, but we really felt we needed to attend a fellowship in our own community.

This past June, we decided to go back to Abundant Life. It occurred to Greg and me, almost simultaneously, that our closest friends–the people we did life with–fellowshipped there.    Abundant Life folks came to our parties, invited us over for dinner, made us laugh, prayed with and for us,  loved and supported our daughters and walked with us through hard times.

In fact, we were at dinner with George and Ann–after they’d come to the hospital to pray for Danielle and her unborn baby–when George brought up the idea of Greg coming back on staff as the Parkrose campus pastor.

And it just made sense, in that crazy-cool, God-kind-of-way!  And after several weeks of seeking and prayer, we accepted . . .

One of the questions I asked God during our time of seeking was this:  “Can a highly-organized, mega-church support smaller, organic communities?”  Just watching our different church friends doing life together for the glory of God provided the answer I sought.  Abundant Life isn’t about the building or the programs or the music or even the preaching . . . it’s about the families and friends and small groups who are intentionally trying to follow the Lamb, being His hands and feet–and heart–in their communities.

I’m really excited about the book our small group (led by the Powells) is studying--Radical, by David Platt (subtitled, “Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream). Platt challenges believers to live life according to Christ’s example, rather than conforming to the prevailing culture.  I’m looking forward to walking out what we are learning in the context of community.

And, I’m really, really glad to be home . . .

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The older I get, the more I realize that there really is no division between the sacred and the secular.  God is in everything–even real estate–if we invite Him.

A few months ago, I wrote about the difficulties I encountered in having new glasses made.  As the months blurred by–with no specs in sight–I began to realize that this was not just about my vision–it was about seeing the situation through God’s eyes.  One day it dawned on me that God cared more about my optician’s heart than He did my eyesight!

So, I adjusted my attitude and tried to see the situation–and the people–through God’s eyes.  I wasn’t nearly as frustrated after that . . .

I’m sensing a similar scenario with the sale of our house.  We put it on the market a few weeks ago–and we just met with a couple who presented a full-price offer!

It’s a pretty cool story, actually.  On the eve of June 17, as I was drifting off to sleep, I told the Lord that an offer on our house would make an awesome birthday present.  So why should I have been surprised when Wayne (God’s little helper) called  the next day (my birthday) to inform me that an offer had been made on our house!

We aren’t packing yet, however, because the offer is contingent on the sale of the buyer’s  home . . .

At first, I was a little disappointed with the contingency.  It’s not like houses are selling like hotcakes these days.  But the more I thought and prayed about it, I realized that there’s a lot more transpiring than just the sale of our house.

I’ve actually been praying for the future owners of our home for about six months now. Rather than petitioning God for a quick sale or a big profit, I’ve been asking Him to bring a family who would love and appreciate our home as much as we have!

Based on our interactions with the couple who made the offer,  I think He’s answered our prayers.   The potential buyers actually used the word “love” several times in referring to our humble abode–I think they even liked my crazy paint job and tub ‘o grub!

While waiting for their house to sell to proceed with the transaction might not seem optimal to some, I’ve come to the unshakeable conclusion that God’s timing is perfect.  And Greg and I aren’t in a hurry–we don’t have to move out of the area at any set time.  We plan on just renting a smaller place in the Portland area after our house sells.

Of course, it needs to have space for a garden and enough  room for my grandbabies . . .

It  even  occurred to me yesterday that perhaps the perfect place  for us won’t be available for a while. . . . like until after our potential buyers’  house sells!

So, no worries, mate!  With God as our realtor, how can we lose?

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May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love an pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.

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Candyce is going to have surgery in Kampala on Saturday.  After repeated–and excrutiating–bouts of abdominal pain, she reluctantly visited a local hospital and had an ultrasound done last week.  And discovered she was the proud parent of a 1/2″ gallstone!

This news required a decision to be made.  Should she leave Steven, fly back to Oregon and pay $10,000 for gallbladder surgery?  (They don’t have insurance).  Or should she risk having the procedure done right there in Kampala?  Candyce has been in and out of enough third world countries to know that could be a sketchy choice.  But she was told about a doctor from the UK who flies to Kampala once a month and only does laproscopic gallbladder removals.   He only operates at the most modern (westernized) hospital in town.

And he just happens to fly in this week!

So after lots of prayer and advice-gathering, she’s opted to have surgery this weekend.   The operation will happen Saturday morning (which will be Friday night, west coast time, if you’d like to pray too).  She’ll stay overnight and then go home on Sunday if all goes well.  My doctor friend, Bruce, said his biggest concern is Candyce picking up an infection during her recovery at the hospital .  .  .

Even though I haven’t traveled much internationally, I do have some experience with sketch hospitals.  In 1992, we took our three young daughters and did a DTS with YWAM out of Chico, California.  A DTS, which stands for Discipleship Training School, typically involves three months of training at the YWAM base and then two months of outreach.  Our outreach was in Mexico.

For two months we traveled from village to village, doing YWAMy things (dance, drama, helping local pastors, etc.).  About midway through our outreach, we went to a small village on the outskirts of a town called Compastella.  Our time there just happened to coincide with the feast of Saint Agatha,  a holy day that the locals celebrated with fireworks and a marching band.  And the festivities started at 3 in the morning . . .

Always a light sleeper, I was roused from slumber by the ruckus.  After an hour of torment, I realized they intended to party until dawn.  Desperate, I crafted ear plugs from a bit of toilet paper.  When that didn’t help, I remembered using prenatal vitamins as impromtu earplugs at a ladies retreat (my roomie was a snorer).  

I didn’t have any prenatal vitamins with me in that village, but I rummaged through my stuff and found a bottle of Mexican aspirins.  I stuck two of the small, button-shaped tablets  in my ears and was delighted at how they muffled the hellish parade.  I slept soundly until morning.

The first aspirin popped out easily, but the second–in my left ear–had somehow worked itself so far down that I couldn’t get it out.  Somewhat panicked, I had the bright idea of rinsing my ear canal with hydrogen peroxide and letting that dissolve the aspirin and flush it out. 

 It dissolved the aspirin, all right.  But the sludge slid even farther down and adhered to my ear drum.  This might seem like a big deal, but consider that the main ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid.   I was shocked by how much pain that little tablet caused.

I was also mortified because I had to tell Greg–and our teammates–what I’d done.  Once my team stopped laughing, it was decided that I needed to go to the hospital in Compostella, about an hour drive from the village. Trying to look brave, I waved goodbye to my girls and headed to the hospital in a battered pickup truck (the driver, our translator, Greg and myself were all packed in the dusty front seat).

I won’t even tell you about the reaction we got at the hospital after our translator explained our situation.  I’m pretty sure I was the first person they’d ever seen with an aspirin stuck in her ear canal.  A nice nurse, trying hard not to stare at me, ushered me quickly out of the waiting room (and unabashed stares) into an exam room.

Or at least she tried.

Just walking down the hospital corridor was a cultural experience.  We literally had to step over, or manuever around, dogs that were napping in the hallways.  Smelly bedpans were stacked in random intervals, waiting to be emptied.  At we followed the nurse, I tried to stay calm, but gasped out loud when she opened the door to my exam room and motioned for me (and my entourage–Greg and the interpreter) to go on in.

There was a naked Mexican man laying on the exam table! 

I’m not sure if he was waiting for a doctor–or just trying to catch a few winks–but the nurse was not happy with him.  She morphed into Nurse Crachett, barking orders at the trembling man as he tried to pull his pants up.   After he’d scurried off, the nurse indicated she wanted me have a seat on the exam table–not even bothering to wipe off the sweaty spot where the man’s butt had previously been!

She bustled off to get the doctor and I tried not to burst into tears as I took in the blood-spattered walls and filthy floor.  I almost bolted, but the pain in my ear restrained me.  When the doctor arrived, I was relieved to learn she spoke a little English.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all . . .

With the help of my interpreter, I explained my situation once again.  The doctor had me lay on my right side and took a look in my left ear.  Shaking her head, she explained that the dissolved aspirin was soundly stuck to my ear drum. 

“This might hurt a little,” she explained as she poked very sharp objects deep into my already sore ear and began scraping.

It hurt like crazy–and I admit, I cried.  Greg held my hand, the interpreter made clucking noises, and the doctor dug for about 20 minutes.  She then rinsed the ear canal and had another look with the otoscope.

“I got most of it,” she said.  “But I couldn’t help scratching the ear drum in the process.  I want you to come back here in a week so I can make sure it doesn’t get infected.”

We agreed, and then she asked if I wanted anything for the pain.

“Yes!” I enthusiastically responded.  The doctor went to fetch the nurse, who walked in several minutes later with a large syringe filled with dark fluid.  I asked what it was, since I am allergic to a certain painkiller.  My interpreter spoke with the nurse for a few minutes, trying to figure out the English name for the drug–but to no avail.

The ended up giving me a shot of valium, which didn’t take away the pain but made me not care that I was hurting.   Seeing that I didn’t keel over after the injection, the nurse handed Greg two more syringes to give me when the first shot wore off.

“This could be kind of fun,” he smirked as we made our back to the reception area to pay our bill.

The grand total of my treatment–including the 3 vials of valium–came to $18 US!  I don’t even think the doctor charged me when she rechecked me ear the following week.  It wasn’t infected, she told me, but there was scarring.  In fact, to this day, I sometimes have trouble hearing Greg when we are on a road trip.

Which is why I’m praying for Candyce . . .

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January 13, 2010
The Morning After – Earthquake Haiti 2010

The sun is about to come up. The aftershocks continue. Some more noticeable than others. There is no way to even begin to share the things we’ve heard and seen since 5pm yesterday. To do so would take hours that we don’t have to give right now. Some of them feel wrong to tell. Like only God should know these personal horrible tragedies.

The few things we can confirm – yes the four story Caribbean Market building is completely demolished. Yes it was open. Yes the National Palace collapsed. Yes Gov’t buildings nearby the Palace collapsed. Yes St Josephs Boys home is completely collapsed. Yes countless countless – countless other houses, churches, hospitals, schools, and businesses have collapsed. There are buildings that suffered almost no damage. Right next door will be a pile of rubble.

Thousands of people are currently trapped. To guess at a number would be like guessing at raindrops in the ocean. Precious lives hang in the balance. When pulled from the rubble there is no place to take them for care Haiti has an almost non existent medical care system for her people.

I cannot imagine what the next few weeks and months will be like. I am afraid for everyone. Never in my life have I seen people stronger than Haitian people. But I am afraid for them. For us.

When the quake hit it took many seconds to even process what was happening. The house was rocking back and forth in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. It felt fake. It felt like a movie. Things were crashing all over the house. It felt like the world was ending. I do not know why my house stands and my children all lie sleeping in their beds right now. It defies logic and my babies were spared while thousands of others were not.

There are friends and co-workers that are missing. People whom no-one can account for. People we work with and love. There are more than I can name, but in particular we wait on one single friend who lived near the Hotel Montana – which has reportedly collapsed.

The horror has only just begun and I beg you to get on your knees – I truly mean ON YOUR KNEES and pray for the people of this country. The news might forget in a few days – but people will still be trapped alive and suffering. Pray. Pray. Pray. After that – PLEASE PRAY.


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