Friday, January 30, 2009

Part 2 of Ephesus!



We took a stop by the "Seven Sleepers" ruins where there is a story that 7 Christian martyrs were murdered and buried, but when people came to uncover the graves, the people rose from their graves and were resurrected from the dead! There are no bones in those graves and there is proof!

We finally made it back to our village where we were staying and finished our evening with a stroll through town and a little shopping! Of course in every store we stopped in, it was always a long process. The sellers invite you in for tea, get to know you, and hope you will give them some business as well. The last place we went to was a rug shop where we were greeted by a man in his twenties who worked with his brother.

They talked us into having some tea and a "chat" and tried to talk us into buying a rug. It was too expensive for me! Once they realized we weren't going to buy, they relaxed and started up conversation. The youngest brother played the folk guitar for us and sang a folk song for my trusty webcam. It was VERY entertaining to say the least! He proposed to me a few times before we left, jokingly, of course. It was just good fun!

We ended the day back at the hostel to get rest for another well-deserved, restful day! Tomorrow, we plan on drinking tea, walking, sitting, chatting, meeting new people, drinking more tea, and sitting even more! What a day! I love it here! Did I mention, that I love it? Blessings and stay tuned for more stories...

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ephesus! Time for a Vacation!


I am falling in love with the Middle East! Last night, the power went off as it frequently does here so it was somewhat difficult to pack for our next destination. I was somewhat fearful if I would awaken on time to make it to our plane. However, thanks to the 6 a.m. Call to Prayer the Muslims have here, I awakened just in time to pack my suitcase and discover that the power had been recovered in the house! I had a good 45 minutes to pack and pull my hair back for another adventure!

Julie and I barely made it in time for our plane and got there 5 minutes before our plane was due to take off! When we arrived to Ephesus and the jet plane landed, I had a feeling that this was going to be another exciting trip of new experiences! I was right! This day was a day to rest from the children and to just chill out! We landed not having a reservation for a hotel or anything, but we took a taxi to another city which then led us to another bus that led us to a cute little village near Ephesus that I have fallen in love with!

It was love at first sight for sure! Let me also say the bus ride was absolutely beautiful and the people here love Americans! We got way more stares than usual and many people tried to talk to us in English to get to know us. Everyone I have met has been so friendly! A day that was expected to thunderstorm all day, ended up becoming a day full of sunshine, cool breezes, and warmer weather!

This place was surrounded by mountains and I absolutely could not take my eyes off of them! It turned out that this was an off season and not many tourists were in our part of town. When we arrived from our bus ride, we were greeted by many men trying to sell us bus tickets speaking to us in broken English trying to "get to know us."

I had a backpack, my camera bag, and a suitcase to haul around town until we found the perfect place to rest for the night. We walked across the street from the bus station and found the cozy little hostel where we could sleep that was great! We were greeted by three brothers who spoke English with Australian accents because many Aussies visit this part of town quite often. It was really interesting. They gave us our price which was reasonable for 2 people so we decided to stay!

Besides the freezing cold water in the shower, the place was a hit for us and it was my first experience staying in a hostel. Pretty fun! Afterwards, the manager of the hostel wanted to escort us through the town to show us a great place to get a quick bite to eat. We ended up eating Doners (sandwiches that are rolled up in soft pita bread with meat and cheese depending on how you get it) at a cute little cafe on the corner.

Our new friend ended up eating lunch with us as well and then escorted us to our driver who drove us to Ephesus. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and it is where the Apostle Paul preached and got the boot in the famous Coliseum which we got to see firsthand. These ancient ruins were stunning! It was also incredible being able to walk down marbled streets that had been around for about one thousand years!

In addition to the Coliseum, we saw one of the ancient library ruins as well. We also had a guide to walk us through so he taught us many things regarding the history. The tour ended with us going through the ancient ruins of the very first church in the city called "The Church of Mary." What a fun name! This place was surrounded by majestic mountains as well and I couldn't help but rejoice at the Lord's goodness for all that He had done in this place!

After a long trek through the ruins, we built up quite an appetite and were ready to eat some more food! We discovered a restaurant nearby with a table on the ground and cushions all around. I think we were the only people who weren't smoking in that place, but I just breathed through my mouth and tried not to smell it.

They gave us more pita bread sandwiches that came fresh out of their stone oven. It was yet another amazing meal! I have also yet to be disappointed by anything I've eaten so far! Blessings and stay tuned for part 2 of vacation time in Ephesus...
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Sense of Home...


As I sit here on the porch of Josh and Julie's home, I feel a sense of home away from home. It is a cool day of about 50 degrees and the sun is shining on an unusually sunny day. The neighborhood is quite peaceful and the neighbors are older. It is isn't often you find too many children playing in the streets although a few boys walking two by two pass by every now and then speaking the native language that is quite foreign to me here.

There are many black birds on the roofs of houses chirping quite loudly as if they were begging for their next meal. Every once in awhile, a stray cat runs by on a quest for it's next feast in the trash. They are unusually fat here, which leads me to assume they have plenty of scraps to eat. Across the street, I see a woman on the top floor of her home laying clothes on the clothes line to dry. She keeps the door open for a bit of fresh air because it is a day of great weather.

The older neighbor De De takes a stroll through the neighborhood smoking his cigar and examining other people's yards which is of high importance here. The wind is softly blowing through the air and with the sun on my face, it doesn't feel as cold as it could be. The calm breeze is somewhat comforting to me. In the distance, I hear the sounds of cars and buses transporting people to and fro as they leave from work to head home.

The black, rot iron gates implanted into cement walls show a sense of security. However, one doesn't feel like they need it here. People can go as they please through the gates. I am in the midst of a peaceful people who have a love for their yards, the way their homes look, and a love for people. They are a warm, friendly people who value relationships. This is somewhat foreign to me as of late because of my neighborhood in America.

I have to admit, it is a wonderful feeling being away from all of that for awhile. I prefer the sounds of a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, with a loving, giving people as opposed to ones who are loud and obnoxious. Just being honest for a moment if I may take the liberty. It's refreshing here and I am beginning to imagine what life would be like if I had the chance to live here. It is a somewhat modern city that is full of Muslims who need Jesus but at the same time peaceful.

Granted, the sounds of the call to prayer from the Mosque is a common occurrence here, but I feel the love of God here. I feel the Holy Spirit's desire to woo these people unto Himself. What would my life be like? It is peaceful here, but at the same time very difficult for women as they are not as respected here. It is a man's world here and it would be a huge transition.

I can't help but ask the question, "God would you have me be here for a season some day?" I am not saying that it's anytime soon, but I feel that there may be a chance some day down the road. Many of you who know me, know that within me is an adventurer and a traveler. I want to see the world in seasons, not just moments. I hate going in and out of countries and not truly getting a sense about it all, the people, the food, the language.

How can you just leave after 2 days and feel satisfied? There is so much more to experience! Only the Lord knows where I will be next. I love Josh, Julie, and Ali Amja! I can't imagine a better, more solid team to be a part of than this team that is already connected to LIGHT International in the Middle East.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Day With Ali's Family...




I was able to spend some good time with Ali's family today and it was so amazing! We had a real traditional Middle Eastern breakfast with a lot of bread, tomatoes, cheese, and olives. Their son arrived from college as he has been away for a long time so they were celebrating and wanted me to come with Josh and Julie. It was different this time because their son speaks more English than the others in the family so I actually got to have a few conversations with him.

He is also a really good worship leader so he played the guitar and we all sang together with the other 2 children of Ali's. It was a great way to connect with all of them. Their son is very charismatic and different than most of the guys here.

He is going to school for accounting but has a heart for leading worship too. He finishes in May. It's very rare for people to go to college here so it's a true privilege for his whole family. I really enjoyed meeting him and finally felt more connected with the family as I am understanding more words!

Later on, Ali requested for me to play the guitar and sing for them. I asked him, "In English?" He then said, "Of course, just bring us into the presence of God, it doesn't matter what language." So I played for them a few songs and again I felt the Holy Spirit in that room. After I finished, Ali prophesied over me again and I couldn't help but have tears well up in my eyes.

He just encouraged me to keep worshiping and never stop no matter what I feel. I really needed to hear that more than he knows. He also said, "It's not about how well you play the guitar, just keep doing it." I always feel so encouraged when I am around him.

Like I said, I guess it is the Father heart of God that touches my heart through him every time. I truly feel like this family is quickly becoming my own. When Josh took a family picture of all of them, they even included me in one of their pictures! I feel so loved by them.

Next week, we are going to do the worship time at the Conference here at the church and Josh is going to lead the time. I am going to help him along with Ali's son and so I'm really excited about what God is going to do. I found out later that a lot of people were touched by the Lord when I sang the song the other day at Church. I felt truly encouraged by this! Blessings to you! Please also keep me updated with your lives as well. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spot On...

Better yet, "on the spot." This is something that happened to me today. I was put on the spot to sing and play the guitar at Josh and Julie's church service which was a little intense. Granted, the church is small and not very many people go there, but still, my heart was racing. I was supposed to help Josh with worship today but I didn't feel comfortable singing the words in the language they speak here. Josh and I practiced the songs this week, however, I still didn't feel ready.

Ali knew all of this yet He felt from the Holy Spirit that I was supposed to sing anyway. In the middle of worship while Josh was singing, Ali asked me through the translation of Julie if I would sing a song in English. When Julie asked me, I have to be honest, my heart felt like it sunk to the bottom of my stomach! I was so nervous in front of all of them, but I said yes. Right before Ali was to give his teaching, it was my turn to sing. I decided to play and sing one of the few songs I've ever written called "Adam." The rest is history!

The Lord also reminded me while I was up there of a few words in the language that they speak here so I used a few of those words as well. I felt the presence of the Lord really strongly and a few people were crying. Josh translated this song in the language here and I am in the midst of practicing it. As soon as our conference begins next week, I hope to know it with much more proficiency. I am still pretty nervous about singing it completely in this language, but I really want to help the people go to the deeper places in God in their language. This certainly is a big challenge for me.

After the church service we ate a big lunch together with everyone and it was very good. I am starting to understand more sentences as opposed to a few words here and there. I am also having a better understanding when someone asks me a question which means there is progress! I'm still anticipating many more great things here and God is showing me so much! I love Him and I love it here! Blessings!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Memorable Moments Are Worth Taking Note...


I know I drive many of my friends and family crazy with all of my video recording, blog writing, and picture taking, but ya know...if it's a moment in life, why not take note? I don't want life to pass me by and forget all the amazing things God has done. Each moment is worth recording because it's a moment you can learn something new if you are willing to be teachable.

I am definitely taking lots of notes here and was about to head to bed when I couldn't help myself and had to write. I hesitated thinking, "I write too much. Does anyone even read this stuff? They will think I'm one of those over passionate writers." Then I thought more about it and figured, "Who cares?" I am not writing mostly for you. Though, you are reading these words if you've made it this far and I thank you for taking an interest. However, I am actually writing for myself to be able to, in the future, reread these noted moments in time and see what a Mighty God we serve.

Each moment is a gift from the Lord and each time we take a breath or feel our own heart beat, we should be thankful. We should be thankful for life because God is the great Life Giver. However, if you can be touched through the recorded moments in my life then you can join with me in being thankful to Him as well. I have said this before, but I have nothing to hide. The things I want to keep private, I do, trust me, I do, but my life is an open book! Why not?

I often wonder about those people who are too private. You know the ones I am talking about. I wonder if it's because they have been wounded that they don't want to disclose more information about themselves. Are they afraid of what people might think if people really knew who they were? Why should we be afraid? Each of us is an integral part of touching the world with God's love. Our lives are worship to Him and for Him, so let's shine! Blessings and stay tuned!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Video Update!

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I wanted to give you a more personal video update about my time here. Perhaps you will have a better understanding of my purpose in coming to this country and what I hope to achieve while I am here by God's grace. Love you guys and stay tuned...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Moment To Truly Reflect...


Aaahhh...I have found a moment of time alone and the house all to myself! I am loving my time here, but haven't had too much time alone. As an introvert at heart, I need more time than most people by myself. I love people, but I definitely need time to be rejuvenated, to write, to think, and to just be. Where do I begin? Wow, there is so much to reflect on these past few days.

Time here has flown by and there are so many new things to discover. My brain is like a sponge just soaking every moment in every chance I get. I keep pinching myself in unbelief that I have the amazing opportunity to be here. I am falling in love with this place and am so hungry. At home, I don't find much time to just sit still and learn new things. I feel like I am always, "Go, go, go!" I just want time to sit and learn! This is why I am so thankful to be here.

My heart is opening as if it were once a "garden locked up..." as the Word says in Song of Solomon. Just today, I had an idea of writing a children's book similar to the "Dora the Explorer" books. Yet my book would have more of an emphasis on languages all around the world, specifically more difficult ones. The characters would also travel to amazing countries and would be from many places.

It appears that I am being awakened again to my love for children. This doesn't mean I will be in the children's ministry any time soon with my church, but I am starting to see that a love for teaching children is still in my heart. You see, I have felt like it has been dormant for quite awhile.


However, God is showing me that it was never asleep, but always there because He placed it in my heart. He has given me a gift to work with children and I have always known this, but tried to run from it many times. I don't know what this means for me in the future, but I do know that children, and fatherless children, in particular, are going to be an integral part of my life.

I am also learning how to raise them in the way they should go in a foreign country. As an American in a foreign land, there are many challenges one must overcome and face. I came here to learn about this culture, to see what God is doing here, but also to help with this precious little girl and boy.

I am starting to see that God is in the deepest part of me in the day to day chores, changing the diapers, teaching letters, teaching Bible stories, teaching how to praise Jesus. I can practice the presence of God in these day to day situations and He will meet with me. He is truly my Great Reward through everything!


I am realizing how much I have missed it, being with children day to day. There is so much joy to be found in my heart when I'm around them. Wow, I just don't know what else to write, except that my heart is full. It feels full of the joy of the Lord! My cup overfloweth...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Am I Awake?


There is a song by Michael Drake Margolnick called "Am I Awake?" and it's been running through my head today. May I stay awake during this hour that is very near to the end. Time is nothing to God. He can come back any second, but am I ready? Am I awake?

It's not often you get to be in the most incredible meetings with the most incredible people. When I say incredible, I am not talking about your average "Joe Christian." Today, I met two refugees who escaped a well-known Middle Eastern country about one year ago. They love Jesus and have been trying to get to America to go to seminary for one year now. They have also suffered greatly.

They are a young husband and wife who, by God's grace, were able to escape this particular country in the Middle East after planting a few underground churches there. This particular country has one of the fastest growing Christian churches right now as there are known to be about 4 million Christians underground. However, if you were once a Muslim and either convert to Christianity or convert someone else from the Muslim faith you can be arrested and suffer very severe punishments or even death.

The stories the husband told me today through the translation of Josh were amazing! I could not believe I was in that room. I felt like I was in a board meeting with the UN or top officials of the government! In the Spirit, these people were some of the top officials. They have endured many hardships to even make it to this country. They are trying to make it to the US of A and I pray they will one day get there. Hopefully sooner than later.

They cooked us a traditional meal from their country that was delicious. I love Middle Eastern food by the way! It's sooo good! There is a lot of rice which I love! Anyway, as they shared their testimony, I just felt like I take my freedoms for granted so much in my own country.

These people have been persecuted tremendously and yet they have so much joy! They have seen the love of the Father in the midst of their circumstances. What do I truly know about suffering for Jesus? I am learning a lot and my heart is being touched so deeply here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Deeper Look...



I spent most of the day with Julie and the kids and it was great! Moses is learning to talk and it's fun watching him learn words and his ABC's! Lucy and I ventured outside without Julie and went to the park in the neighborhood. One would mostly think this task is an easy one unless you don't know the language here! I also have to mention, Lucy is a pretty popular child here because of her blond hair and blue eyes. Everyone loves her.

We managed to make it to the park without a problem, however, when we decided to go back home, I number 1, couldn't remember how to get back and number 2, ran into some people on the way who tried to speak to us. All I could say was, "Lucy, tell them this..." and "Lucy tell them that..." and "Lucy, what did they say?"

It was horrible. Turns out they were like 16 years old in high school trying to hit on me and get my phone number! One of them I do know said, "You are a very beautiful girl." They asked if I was staying in the neighborhood. I understood that much. It was pretty hysterical.

In the evening I went with Josh to the Church for their prayer meeting. It was so good. Josh led worship and there were only about 10 people, but it was so powerful. There was a German woman who translated for me in English. She knows about 3 or 4 languages and she was a huge help.

I was able to give this college girl who was there a prophetic word and I really felt the Holy Spirit strong in that room. I also felt a huge anointing for healing. It was sooo awesome! I love this place. When I get home, I really want to be serious about learning this language. I also want to try to connect with a Middle Eastern community in Ft. Lauderdale. I definitely want to come back here again. Blessings and stay tuned!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Day In The Village...


Today was amazing! I absolutely love to travel, of course, and we were able to take a 3 hour car ride to another village. We went to see Josh's good friends who are newly married and like family to him. It was one of the most Muslim cities in this country and it was very intriguing to me. I learned a lot today.

Riding in the car with Josh was like riding on a personal tour bus with a professional tour guide to teach you about the culture. Granted, his teaching abilities are better than his driving abilities which were a little scary on the already scary roads here, but anyway!

Everywhere we go, I pretty much have my notebook handy and I take notes to write down new words, or new things about this culture. I am sure I drive him crazy sometimes, but I'm hungry! What can I say? I am a nerd at heart! I'm thankful that Josh taught me many things about this city.

I wish I could write about it publicly, but I have to resort to hints. However, I have my own personal journal and I took many notes today about this city to help me remember. Julie said she always feels the most oppressed in this place because it is one of most dark places. It may be dark spiritually, but I only felt the love of God really strongly! Lately, whether I am among the Christians or the Muslims, all I feel is God's love.

I must explain that at the beginning of every first meeting I have with someone who is from here, it is always awkward. A few days ago, I thought, "Maybe the people don't like me or maybe they are just shy." I have come to realize that they are not very open at first and very shy. However, as they get to know you, they warm up. They not only open up with conversation, but they are very giving!

This type of situation happened today. Once we arrived, I was on the outside of course, not knowing but a few words here and there, which I might add is getting a little better!!! I was pretty excited to understand a few things they were talking about without translation! We went into their home which was very cold except for only one room that they can afford to keep warm. The house was very simple and unique.

At the beginning, it was only Josh, Julie, me, Moses (their child), and the husband and wife that welcomed us to their home. Later on, though, it seemed as if the whole village came over to see the "visitors." (I also actually took pictures today for the first time! I have to ask Josh which ones I can post so I will try to post them at a later time.) They fed us lunch as we sat on the floor on the tablecloth as is their usual custom.

They cooked us a type of pita bread with red meat on top that you roll up after spraying lemon juice over it. On the side was a type of salad they have here often which you place inside the pita bread like a sandwich. On the side was also soup, which might I add, that everyone drinks out of! Out of the 6 of us, there were only 2 bowls of soup. We each had our own silverware, but shared from the same plates and bowls. Interesting right? For drinks they offered us cola, orange soda, or this type of yogurt milk which pretty much tasted like sour milk. However, I tried it with a smile! I loved all of the food and it was sooo good!

The wife of the household was 22 years old and so sweet! She was so beautiful and had so many pretty head scarves! At first she was very quiet, but towards the end of the night she was pinching my cheeks, locking arms with me as we walked through the village, bought me souvenirs at the museum we visited, and gave me one of her hand made head scarves! I felt so loved as we left. Her husband also had such a gentle and soft heart unlike most of the men here.

During lunch, Josh was able to explain about Jesus being the only sacrifice for us to them. They had mentioned about animal sacrificing during one of their holidays as it is a form of repentance. Then, they give the meat to the poor as a form of penance perhaps? Anyway, they asked Josh if we as Christians did the same thing, and Josh said, "No. In the old days they used to sacrifice animals to repent, but then Jesus came and He was the perfect sacrifice for us so we don't have to do that anymore." It was such an awesome opportunity for him to talk about Jesus!

As we left, Josh prayed over the house that the peace of God would stay in their home and it would be blessed. I could see that there was such a deep relationship Josh and Julie have formed with these people and I could see that they truly loved each other. I know they felt the love of God as much as I felt the love of God in that place. There were so many precious moments today!

Time for bed after a looooong day! Blessings and stay tuned!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Indescribable...


This is how I feel at the moment. Today, my heart was yet again touched in many "indescribable" ways. God is speaking to me in my heart about so many things. I am learning so much about this culture, but I must first tell you about something that I see day to day.

I am learning what it feels like to be an overseas missionary wife and mother full-time. I am in awe of both Josh and Julie. Yet, as a woman, I have been watching Julie and she is absolutely amazing! She is pregnant, a mother of two children (3 and under), a pastor's wife, and a minister to the women here at the Church. The Lord has blessed her with so much wisdom for such a young age.

I am watching how she lives in this place of overseas missions. I know this is what I am called to be in due time when the Lord releases me, but I am discovering some of the challenges a woman can face here in this place. She is also so fortunate to have Josh as her husband.

He is one of the most honorable men I know and like such a big brother to me. He helps with the children, cleans the house, helps cook, and works full-time at the Church teaching, counseling, and translating the language. What grace the Lord has given him and such a gift of service that he has! Josh is an example of what men should aim to be like and I am sure of it!

I am also learning a lot about having a healthy family. I wake up every morning to the sound of children either screaming, playing, laughing, or crying depending on their moods. Lucy and Musa awakened me early this morning overlooking my bed and laughing as they were ready to play! Of course I had not had a wink of sleep because I was still jet lagged, however, I had to get up anyway for today was Saturday and that meant waffle time for breakfast! I was so tired but who could resist these blond haired, blue eyed baby dolls?

I have known this family for a very long time and I feel like I am falling in love with them all over again! They are very dear to my heart and it's been awesome being able to help them with their beautiful children challenges and all!!!! This was one of my main goals here to be a help to Josh and Julie with the children and with cleaning their house. I am loving every minute of it even when I get tired!

Julie and I also went to a women's Bible study today at Devri's house. Every time I am around Devri, I am reminded of my Aunt Linda who was my mentor growing up. She is so gentle, calm, wise, and motherly. I have met a lot of women since I left Alabama but there have been very few I have met like my Aunt Linda. This woman Devri is at the top of my list. She is such a good teacher and reminded me of how much I miss being around older women who are my mother's age. Today, there were many older women and they were all so loving!

I know I didn't understand the language, but I really felt the love of God again so strong in her home. In the midst of being surrounded by these women from all walks of life, I felt the unity with the same Spirit, the Spirit of God! I again felt that feeling of safety and security. I couldn't help but begin to cry as Devri was teaching her lesson. Julie translated for me bits and pieces as she could and my heart began to melt with the love of the Father.

I am definitely finding healing. I can't wait to see what God does next. Tomorrow we travel to another village and I will be able to see another side of this country. I am expectant of great things! Love you all and blessings!


Friday, January 16, 2009

As The Journey Continues...

Well, one thing I am learning for sure is that everyday I can learn something new! Every moment here is a chance to hear a story I have never heard, to eat something I have never eaten, or to meet a people I have never met. It's amazing and it's what makes me love to travel the Earth. I love meeting God's people and seeing what He is doing all over the world! This is why I do what I do.

God is a God of the nations. One day, every tribe, every tongue, and every nation WILL confess that Jesus is Lord. Yesterday, I met Ali Amja's (Uncle Ali's) family. Pastor Ali has now asked me to call him Uncle Ali as he says I am like a child of his own. We spent the whole day at his house with his family. Although, there were many awkward moments because of the language barrier, I enjoyed it greatly.

I ate a traditional Middle Eastern meal from this country. We sat on the floor on a table cloth as to not get the floor dirty. Some of the food was definitely a "treat." I almost gagged at one point, but it was great and I continued to eat with a smile! It was pickled something, can't remember the name. I also couldn't understand half of what they were saying to each other except for the few times Julie and Josh translated for me, but I felt the love of God in that home. I felt so loved and accepted though I was an outsider.

I fell in love with this particular family so quickly and all because the love of God was there and He was real in that place. I also quickly grew very fond of Ali's daughter who is nineteen years old. She was so funny and at the beginning very shy, but eventually began to interact with me more even though she didn't speak any English.

I did, however, discover though that she understood more English than she spoke. I don't think she felt very confident to speak it at first. At one point, Julie left to pick up Josh at the church and I was so scared! Outside of little three year old Lucy, I didn't have a translator! Lucy, though, helped me a lot! I've been in these situations many times before, so it didn't take me long for my heart to stop beating outside of my chest! I know how this works.

If you want to learn any language, the best way is to be thrown straight into the culture. I will say that one way we were able to relate was over tea! I learned many words that related to this drink, like sugar, hot, etc. This also helped me a lot. Once Julie left, the daughter of Ali felt sorry for me so she began to translate. I was shocked! She knew more English than she was letting on! She made me feel much more comfortable though and I think we could become pretty good friends before I leave here. I hope so because she seems really cool.

Towards the end of the night, they had a small home group meeting. I also met some of the other people who go to their church. After the Bible study, I was able to hear the testimony of Ali's encounter with Jesus as a Muslim and his conversion experience! It was sooo amazing! He has a video on his testimony that I have heard many good things about, but I wanted to hear from his own mouth what happened. Josh was able to translate which was such a blessing.

During the middle of his story, Ali began to cry at the thought of how thankful he was to Jesus for saving him. I also began to cry with him at how much I take for granted the things I have in America with my freedoms. He is truly persecuted here for all that he is doing pretty intensely, but he never talks about those bad stories or the death threats he receives daily.

He only shares what the Lord is doing that is good in this place and in his life! He is so positive and encouraging. He is such an amazing man to be around because he truly has the heart of the Father God. Though we were from opposite sides of the world, I felt so safe next to him and in his home with his family. My heart is beginning to fall in love with this place though it has been such a short time. There is something different about this place than the other places I have visited.

We will be taking a trip on Sunday to see a few of Josh's friends in another village, which I am excited about. Also, Julie and I will be taking a separate trip to one of the most historical sights in the world in a few weeks which I am also very excited about! God is so good and I am learning so much about His love.

I am also discovering that on this journey here, God is beginning to heal my heart of some deep wounds that have been there for a long time. Yesterday, Uncle Ali prophesied over me many things though I don't know if he knew he was doing that or not. The words he spoke penetrated my heart more than I can explain right now. I am finding healing within my soul and for that I am so grateful to Jesus.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Come Again? I Didn't Understand.

Well, I gotta admit, that's how I feel sometimes here so far. Wow, I just wish I could have supernatural understanding of what they are saying! It's so interesting to watch Josh and Julie speak to these people with such ease. Julie took about two years to be able to do it and I am wishing that the understanding could be downloaded to me in two days? Yeah right!

Well, God is a God of impossibilities! I am still asking Him if He would give me this great gift. In the mean time, I am studying and Josh and Julie have been helping me a lot. I just can't believe Josh is teaching about Spiritual things in their language and everything. It is quite amazing to watch, but he is a great teacher with me of this language. He is also one of the most patient people I know!

I realize though that I am a student here. I am a student from words to food to the way you greet someone hello. Yesterday, Julie and I went to a breakfast for the women's ministry at the house of Devri, another amazing woman. It was a small group of four. Three of whom were American and one who was Middle Eastern. They went from the Middle Eastern language to English back to the other language and back to English. It was crazy!

Julie didn't want me to feel bored so she translated a little for me. I told her though that she didn't have to feel obligated to translate the whole time. Whew, boy did I ask for it after I told her that. She stopped a little and then it began, the whirlwind in my head that is! Granted, I know how this works when learning a new language, but wow! It was sometimes overwhelming to my head, but it is a good thing.

I wanted so desperately to talk to their friend who was there. We used hand gestures to speak to each other, but that's about all we could do to communicate. At one point, I picked up a bowl and tried to ask her what it meant in her language. She helped me and said what it was.

The people here are so warm and very friendly. I could also see that their friend wanted so badly to speak to me too. Yet again, another motivation for me to learn this language. I want to be able to communicate! Anyway, it's just the beginning! Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Official! I Am A Foreigner!

This morning, I was awakened at 6:00 with a full moon staring at me and the Muslim prayers being resounded through the streets. It was sunrise and the first of the five prayer times that the Muslims have here every day. I couldn't help but feel chills down my spine.

I am a foreigner. It's an interesting feeling to know you don't belong. I've been to a few countries and it's different here. Perhaps because women are not treated very well. In fact, they are very disrespected here. I am also pretty sure that if I don't move at a rapid pace or push my way through, I will get run over! Most people don't really understand waiting for long periods of time in a line. They tend to push you out of the way if you don't move!

I've experienced similar things in China where it's crazy to even get through the grocery store. There, they push grocery carts like they drive their cars, absolutely crazy! I had to often close my eyes for sanity sake so I wouldn't fear for my life every time I set foot into a car!

This isn't China, but I am starting to understand about this culture that they get to their destination very fast if they want to. Planes, buses, and trains don't believe in waiting for you to get there. They have no shame in leaving you. This was another reason I was relieved to barely make it to my gate in the last connecting flight I had.

They gave me gate number 102 on my plane ticket. For some reason, however, I had a feeling that it might change and told myself to stay awake as jet lagged as I was. Well, to my "surprise" they changed the gate to 110 one hour later. Of course, a man came over and yelled in this foreign language but I could not understand.

When everyone left, I had a feeling, maybe I should check the screen to see the gate. Sure enough, it had changed! By the grace of God I barely made it. As soon as I found the gate, they started boarding! Whew! God is good! Being alone on this journey here was an adventure for sure!

As soon as I finally got to my destination and got off the plane, a man spoke to me in a foreign language that, again, I didn't understand and went downstairs to find myself outside and a bus being in front of me. Fortunately, I have been to many countries where you have to take a bus to baggage claim so I figured it out.

Once I made it to baggage claim, one of my biggest fears came to pass. I waited and waited for my luggage to come and it never showed up! Of course, I was the only American and had no idea what to do or who to talk to! Fortunately, I met a guy who lost his luggage too and he knew English. He was nice enough to show me what to do and translated for me. Thank the Lord for him!

It turned out that they left my luggage in the last connecting city and never transferred it so we had to come back to the airport later that night. It worked out! When I saw Julie and Lucy at the gate, I was relieved! I finally made it and could be with someone who understood me!

So it goes when you are in another country though! You never know what is going to happen and you have to be flexible. I am pretty proud of myself that I didn't cry once!

For some reason, I am so different as a foreigner. I don't expect for people to cater to my needs. Ya know, I need to have that same mentality in America! After all, I am a foreigner in this world! It's not about me!
Anyway, there you have it, my first day here in the Middle East, in a glimpse!

P.S.
I was able to meet with Pastor Ali today and Josh translated for us. It was so awesome! I am loving being here and being a student of this culture hands on! I am now motivated more than ever to learn the language and any free time I get, I want to learn more words! Blessings to all of you! Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's Time To Head Out and I Need Your Prayers! January Update 2009!

Happy New Year 2009! I realize that this is a little late in the game, but I figured better late than never! I wanted to give you a quick update about what has been going on and what will be happening at the beginning of this new year of 2009!

I really enjoyed my holiday being able to spend it with family in Birmingham, Alabama for one week. It was a great time of refreshment and catching up on what is going on in their lives. I also ate way too much!

I was very sick before I left for Alabama and the doctors were testing me for Hepatitis as the doctor thought my liver was enlarged. I was very concerned about this but decided I needed to see my family anyway and it wasn't going to ruin this Christmas!

As soon as I got there, my sister gave me some advice on natural ways to be healed of things regarding the liver. Between my mother's homemade cooking and my sister's medicinal counsel, I felt much better within 3 days of my arrival into Alabama. This made my time much more enjoyable to be able to relax with my loved ones.

Fortunately, before I left Alabama, I did find out that I do not have Hepatitis and just a few days ago, I also found out that my liver is fine and absolutely normal! There are a few other concerns I have and some unknowns. However, I am trusting that the Lord is going to heal me 100 percent with whatever is wrong in my body in the name of Jesus!

After Birmingham, Alabama, it was time to head to Kansas City, Missouri for the One Thing Conference 2008 and some catching up times with cherished friends. International House of Prayer (http://www.ihop.org/) also known as IHOP was hosting it at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

The director of IHOP named Mike Bickle urged many 20 somethings to come to the One Thing Conference, as this was a critical year to teach about some controversial End-times issues, and to receive a thorough teaching on the book of Revelation.

The conference was very beneficial to me as we are living in a critical hour. I was truly gripped in my heart with so many things regarding the last days we are in. I am finally beginning to understand the book of Revelation after 4 years of studying it with IHOP's teaching series.

I am now committed to devoting my life to the study of the book of Revelation for the next 20 years. I am eagerly awaiting Jesus' return and I am more awake than ever! I am ready to prepare my heart and others for His 2nd coming!

Lastly, I am now preparing for my journey to the Middle East where I will be staying for the next month. I leave on Monday, January 12th and return Friday, February 13th.

I have reached my goal of raising $2500.00 thanks to many of you! I am truly thankful for all of your prayers and financial support during these hard economic trials we are facing! You are truly faithful and absolutely amazing!

Now, I ask that you would pray for me as I take off to a new destination! I will stay with Josh and Julie Wentz, missionaries of LIGHT International. I will be helping them with any needs they have and especially with their children at home as well.

I am very excited about this opportunity and thanks be to God for using you to be able to send me! Below are some things you can pray for me about. Love you all and have an amazing 2009! May the Lord bless you tremendously this year and always! Thank you for your prayers!

Prayer Requests:

  • My first leg of the trip to the Middle East on the plane by myself. That it will go smoothly and the Lord will protect me as well as guide me regarding the language barrier.
  • For strength in my body as I am still recovering from sickness these past few weeks.
  • The language: that I will be able to understand it quickly and that maybe God could even give me supernatural understanding!
  • That I would be an encouragement to Josh and Julie with all that they need.
  • That I will be able to bring the love and peace of Jesus to anyone I come into contact with who is hurting.
  • For signs and wonders! Why not? I want to see people get healed in their bodies so they can see that Jesus heals!
  • That people's hearts will be touched when I help with the music ministry. That they would feel the love of Jesus even amidst the language barriers!
  • Protection over my spirit, body, and mind the whole duration of the trip.

P.S.
I am going to try to update my blog as much as I can while I am there so stay tuned! I also may be able to post videos thanks to Mary Tupling for the webcam!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh To Be A Friend of God!

These past 3 days have been some of the most terrible, most amazing days I have ever had. I have been forced to be still before God in the midst of solitude, not having anyone to talk about what is going on in my heart but Jesus!

I have been very sick the past few days and in the midst of trying natural ways of healing, I was depending on Jesus for true healing: heart, mind, body, and soul that is.

However, I discovered that Jesus didn't have this time of quiet just for me to pray for healing, but He wanted to encounter me in a new and fresh way at the beginning of the year 2009! It happened!

I am assuming He used this suffering for me to be still within my soul to truly find rest at His feet which I so often run from. Don't get me wrong, as a worship leader, I understand the value of being in His presence having time alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.

I also understand a life that is in constant communion with Him throughout the day. Yet, these few days have not just been an hour here and two hours there of solitude. These have been prolonged hours of what some would call boredom if they don't understand. That is long hours of studying the Bible, long hours of praying, and long hours of being still!

I have realized that my heart is more alive than ever! My heart is sensitive to the Holy Spirit so much so that I find myself crying at different times over such things as the End-times, the book of Revelation, the Asian people, topics such as being a prophetic voice and a John the Baptist in the wilderness. I can't help but weep over such things as intimacy with God and being His friend.

Oh my friends, I long to know what is on the heart of the Lover of my Soul! This lifestyle that God is beckoning me to is a life of separation from the world and even participating in things that seem good to believers but only dull my heart not out of religion but because I want more of God!

This life seeks to find pleasure in Him alone! This lifestyle that God is calling me to is to forsake what the world calls entertainment to lay hold of the most beautiful thing I could ever lay my eyes upon!

I was made for God! I was made to gaze upon His beauty! I was made to have a Revelation 4 encounter with the Lamb of God and the Savior of the Earth! This is where all the saints and angels in Heaven, day and night are proclaiming: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty Who Was and Who Is and Who Is to come!"

I was made to be fascinated by Him alone! What is it that they see? All these things we call entertainment I find only dull my spirit! We were made for more than this life has to give us!

I want my heart to feel alive in God always. I want to feel hungry for Him, not bored and disconnected! He is so far beyond anything I could ever imagine.

I feel that I am only at the beginning of knowing who Jesus truly is. I am only scratching the surface and I long to discover more of Him! He is worth all of my affections and a whole-hearted life with my undivided devotion!