"I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12

Monday, December 20, 2010

Radiance

After many years of struggling with my desire to truly fall in love with God's word, I finally came to the conclusion that
no matter how much and how hard I pray, "Lord, please let me fall in love with your Word," I will never fall in love with His Word until there is action along with my plea. Until I discipline myself to be in His word daily and show Him my sincerity of that prayer.

So I decided to start the One Year Bible reading plan. I determined in my mind that I truly desired and deeply craved falling in love with God more through His word. I knew that in order for the Lord to answer this prayer, I had to make a habit of spending time in scripture daily. And as much as I never want my time with the Lord to turn into something I simply "cross off my to-do list," I was okay with the idea of starting with it as something to cross off my to-do list in order to make it a daily discipline.

This simple step was the beginning of the Lord finally answering my prayer. He is finally allowing me to see more of Himself through His word, and it has been one of the greatest blessings in my life! I finally look forward to spending time in His word every morning. I'm excited to see how God interacted with His people in the Old Testament, and I love translating that into how He still moves in the lives of His people today.

Right now I am reading in Exodus, and I love the way God and Moses interact with each other! This relationship they share is so beautiful and intimate, and I desire that for myself!

Exodus 34:29-35 says, "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant... And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant."

I LOVE this! The Israelites could see on Moses' face that he had been speaking with the Lord. How incredible! Does this same thing happen to us? Can the people around us see a radiance in our face because of the love relationship we have with our Lord? This is something I long for - to be so intimate with my God that HE brings a radiance to my face. To be distinguished by Him (Exodus 33:16). For the world to know that I belong to the one true God. This is my desire.

I invite every single one of you to join me on this journey. To discipline ourselves to be in God's word daily. What blessings have we been missing out on due to our "busy" schedules?? Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!!!

Copy and paste the link below into your web browser to download the One Year Bible reading plan and get started TODAY! What are you waiting for?

http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/readingplan/oneyearbiblereadingplan.pdf

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tomorrow!

I leave to come home tomorrow...

:) :) :) :) :) :)

That's all I have to say :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What I Can See Now

Wow, it's so crazy, I only have 2 days left! There's a part of me that feels like I have been here for an eternity... And then the other part of me can't believe my two months is almost up!

I spent some time yesterday thinking back on these past two months and how much of a roller coaster it's been. I've hit some extreme highs and some devastating lows. I read back through my prayer journal and was reminded of all the different things I've been through, and how God has been so faithful to pull me through it all. There's no way I could have made it without Him.

I know God has a glorious purpose for why He brought me here to Niger, and I don't think I fully see it yet. But I decided to write down the things I am able to see already...

1. Opened doors for me to minister to people back home. And He opened these doors in ways I never would have expected.

2. I've seen the body of Christ come together for me. Never have I had so many people praying for me and asking how I'm doing. People I don't even know have sent me such encouraging words. (Something I was praying before I came here was that I longed to see the body of Christ function the way God originally intended it to, and I think He has been answering that prayer since being here.)

3. He used me to write 27 Bible studies. A huge task that I never could have accomplished without Him. I can only pray they will be used to minister to those young girls. I pray that He would use them far beyond what I can see.

4. He has blessed me through the beautiful children and their smiles and laughter - even though I had little time with them, I'm so thankful for those moments.

5. He pulled me out of my lowest times. He was faithful in my times of most desperate need.

6. He has taught me to be so thankful for the people in my life that I love so much. I've realized how much I have taken them for granted.

7. I see the importance of offering encouragement and showing appreciation for others.

I'm sure this list will continue to grow, but this is what I can see so far.

I leave to come home in two days, and I'm so incredibly excited about what the Lord has in store for me upon my return!! See you all very, very soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Secret of Being Content

So far I have completed 19 Bible studies! Praise the Lord! It really is only by His strength that I am continuing to muster out topics and studies and Bible verses to complete this task of completing 27. And my goal for today is 20, so I'm almost there :)

Anyway, just thought I would give you all a sneak peek at one of the studies... It spoke to me as the Lord helped me write it, so go ahead, take yourself back to the 3rd or 6th grade, and see how the Lord speaks to you (although I think this lesson is for all ages!)

THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT

Opening Activity: Begin to tell the girls how you have the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

What if I told you that I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world? I mean, these cookies... mmm... the chocolate just melts in your mouth. Oh, and right when you pull them out of the oven they're soooo warm and gooey. I'm telling you. There is nothing like these chocolate chip cookies.

Would you want the recipe for these cookies???

Okay, I can tell you the recipe. But there's one ingredient I can't tell you. Because it's my "secret ingredient." Your cookies probably won't be as good as mine, but I'll tell you the whole recipe except for that one secret ingredient.

That wasn't very nice now was it? To tell you that I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and to tell you how delicious they are, and then to ask you if you wanted the recipe, and then to not give you that one secret ingredient!

It's a good thing Paul didn't do the same thing to us in the Bible when he tells us that he has finally learned the secret to being content!!!

What does it mean to be content? 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us, "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

But what does it mean to truly be content? And how can I truly be content?

Being content means to be in a state of peaceful happiness. To be completely satisfied with your circumstances and not wishing for more.

What are some areas in which you find it difficult to be content?

We learn from the Bible that the things on this earth aren't meant to make us content. Nothing in this world will ever fully satisfy our desires. That's why, especially in the States, you see so many unhappy people. Especially celebrities. You would think that they would be the happiest people in the world! They make so much money; they can buy themselves literally anything they could ever want. But these are the very people we see who are the most unhappy.

Why do you think this is?

Because when we have a lot of stuff, or when we finally get whatever it is we think will make us happy, we realize there is always something "better." We always want more.

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' "

Look at that verse. It says to be content with what you have. Why? Because God is enough. He will never leave you. And he will never forsake you. This is how we know that the things on this earth aren't meant to satisfy us - because this verse just plainly told us that God will never leave us - and we can be content in that simple fact.

Now, being content isn't something that comes naturally. It is something we must learn.

It seems like when there is something you aren't content about, your mind seems to always think about that one thing. It consumes your thoughts every waking moment of the day. You go to sleep thinking about it. You wake up thinking about it. This thing becomes an idol in your mind and it steals your joy.

Just think, what is the opposite of being content?
Discontent - not satisfied with one's circumstances.

And when we aren't satisfied, we aren't happy. When we allow something on earth to steal our joy, it shows that we aren't putting our complete hope in the Lord. Because if we were putting our hope in the Lord, there would be nothing to steal our joy because our God is always consistent. He never changes! He never leaves us, and He never forsakes us!

Psalm 16:11 "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

The things on this earth aren't meant to satisfy us. Whether that be toys, clothes, relationships, good grades, etc. Only God can truly satisfy us 100%.

And you know, there are those times when we think to ourselves, "There is no way I can be content in these circumstances! I failed a test. My dog ran away. My best friend lied to me. How can I possibly be content?"

Now, here comes the good part! Paul tells us the secret ingredient of being content:

Listen to what the apostle Paul tells us in Philippians. He tells us that he learned the secret of being content. The way he says that is almost the same as when someone tells you their recipe has a "secret ingredient." When someone has a secret, you instantly become super curious, don't you? With everything in you, you want to know what that secret is! Well... Paul tells us. This is a secret that he can't keep to himself! He has finally learned the secret to being content!

Philippians 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

What does Paul tell us the secret is to being content?
Realizing that I can do all things through Christ!

This is what we were just talking about. The verse says -
I can do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST...

I can BE CONTENT - How? THROUGH CHRIST!

Doesn't this sound like what we just talked about? That nothing on this earth is truly going to satisfy your desires. Only God can completely satisfy you. In Psalm 16:11 we learned that God will fill us with joy in His presence.

When we finally realize that nothing on this earth is meant to make us content, that is when we will discover for ourselves the secret to being content, like Paul did. Realizing that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Therefore, I will go to God, and I will trust Him to satisfy me. And I will wait for Him to fill me with joy in His presence. For only there will I be truly satisfied and content!"

APPLICATION: Think of an area in your life where you do not feel content. Choose this week to memorize the short verse, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Recite this verse in your head when you are feeling discontent and choose to allow God to satisfy you - because He is enough!

KEY PRAYER POINTS:
Praise God because He alone can completely satisfy you.
Ask Him to forgive you for the times when you have tried to let things on earth make you content.
Ask the Lord to help you look to Him to satisfy your desires.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Be Counted Worthy

Thank you all so much for the prayers you have sent up for me. I decided last night to go to bed super early (8pm) and get a good nght's rest. I woke up this morning still feeling a little defeated. But today is a new day. I stayed at the guest house rather than going to the school, and am going to work on Bible studies today! But first, I spent time with my sweet Jesus. Telling Him how I feel and asking for His help. I know a good attitude won't just magically appear. I can't ask God to simply give me a good attitude. Having a good attitude is a choice I have to willingly make.

As I was writing my prayer this morning, the "Desert Song" was playing on my iPod. "I will bring praise! I will bring praise! No weapon formed against me shall me remain... God is my victory and He is here!" So I have chosen to rejoice in this day. Here is what I wrote in my journal: (And please know I never write in my journal with the intention of making it public. My journal is a very private prayer journal between me and the Lord. I sometimes just feel led to completely open my heart and share it with the body of Christ - whether that is to ask for encouragement, or to be an encouragement)

Father, my God, my Savior, my Comforter, my Guide. I need you to come lift my head this morning. Today is a new day. A day where I don't have to laminate books. I get to work on the Bible studies and I might even get to go to the orphanage! Today is a new day. Today is a better day. Today is the day that you have made. I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it. I ask that you would use today for your glory. Use today to sanctify me. Help me to make the most of today. I have 12 days left in Africa. 12 more days of being in the desert. 12 days of just me and you. 12 days of less distractions. 12 days to make the most of. I will not sulk in these 12 days. I will choose to trust you.


Last night and this morning I found a lot of verses which speak of being counted worthy of the calling of Christ.

"As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Ephesians 4:1

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:15

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." 2 Corinthians 5:20

And this is what it means to live a life worthy of the calling we have received:

"...we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring... and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are now suffering." 2 Thessalonians 1:4,5

And this is the exact prayer I would ask each of you to send up for the remainder of my time:

"... With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Quite What I Dreamed Of

I'll be completely honest. I am fighting a terrible attitude today. And there's nothing I can do to get out of it. I've honestly never felt so let down. I'm finally "living my dream," and it's been so disappointing. Especially when I look at what these last two remaining weeks hold.

I was so excited about writing Bible studies for the 3rd to 6th grade girls. But now that has been put on the back burner so I can help out at the school. And I was supposed to be helping out in the 3rd and 4th grade room, but I've been summoned to work in the library.... laminating books.... for hours and hours..... and hours.

Let me explain why this is so disappointing. I have dreamed of coming to Africa for four years. Four years! Four years I've had these dreams of coming to Africa and loving on orphans and sharing the love of Christ with them simply by giving them attention and pouring my life into them. But here I sit, in a library, laminating books. Preserving material things that will one day be destroyed. I wouldn't mind laminating a few books in the states. But I'm in Africa. And only for 2 months. Finally living my dream. I was hoping to make the most of this short time. But I'm stuck in a library laminating books. All I can think is that people are dying and being sent to a Christless eternity, and I'm laminating books.

I think fighting off this bad attitude is so hard because I feel like my original intentions for coming to Africa were at least honorable. I wanted to come share the love of Christ with children and bring glory to my great God in this nation. I wanted to play a part in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. I came here with such a willing and excited spirit to be used by the Lord in this place. But I only feel like my hopes and dreams have been crushed. Completely demolished.

I'm away from everyone I love, and I've been trying so hard not to count down the days until my departure from this place. But right now, 1 week and 6 days can't seem to go by fast enough. I hate feeling this way. I really and truly do want to make the most of the rest of my time. But it's a fight. A fight that I am losing right now. My heart is broken in this moment.

Please, please pray for the remainder of my time here
Please pray for my attitude.

I'm sorry about all my complaints. But I desperately need prayer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2 Weeks Left

Hello :)

I officially leave to come home 2 weeks from today!

For the remainder of my time here I will be helping out at the Christian school. It's an American school where the missionary kids go. Not sure what exactly I will be doing. I think mostly helping out in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. And waking up at 6 am... which I'm definitely not used to doing, haha.

I'm still writing Bible studies. 10 down. 17 to go.

I do wish I had more time with the nationals here. I am happy to finally feel needed and be helping out at the school. But it has been my dream to come here and help out an orphanage. So I'm honestly very sad that I am still living a completely American life... IN AFRICA. But, I know God knew exactly what I would be doing here.

I guess the good news is - my heart definitely isn't attached here and, honestly, it will be incredibly easy to leave this place. I am so excited to come home!!!! But having said that, I most definitely want to come back to Africa again. And have a completely different experience. An experience where I am submersed in the culture. Where I can actually live life with these people. That dream hasn't left my heart. I can't wait for it to come true someday. I do love this place. I love Africa. I love the people here. I love the children here. I look forward to coming back someday. Even if for just a short stay.

I ate dinner tonight with the lady I told you about in my last post. I definitely had plans of sharing the gospel with her if she didn't know the Lord already. Which, she already does! I asked her who Jesus is to her. And she told me he is her Friend, her Husband, he brings her comfort, etc. And I asked her, "But do you know Him as your Savior?" "OH yes! Yes! He is my Savior!" Our time together tonight was very pleasant, and I was very excited to find out that she loves our Jesus as well :)

So, for my last 2 weeks, here is what I ask you to pray for:
That I wouldn't wish this time away.
To enjoy and make the most of every single moment.
That I will be able to go visit the orphanage a few more times before I leave.
That I will have energy after school during the week to continue prayer walking.
To make the most of every opportunity.
For the Lord to continue sanctifying and refining me.
Ultimately, for the Lord to glorify His Name!

This is from when I went to the giraffe park recently!


Sweet girls at Vacation Bible School!


Precious little boy at the orphanage :)


Did I mention I think the children are beautiful here?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing Bible Studies :)

I am so thankful that I finally feel purpose here! I love this brilliant light that is again shining in my life! I have spent a few hours today writing Bible studies for 3rd to 6th grade girls. I finally feel as though the Lord is allowing me to do something in an area in which He has gifted me. And it's so neat to see how He has orchestrated it all and how He has prepared me in the past for this task.

As children's intern for the past two summers at church, one task I was assigned to my first summer was writing morning devotions, and my second summer I wrote a couple of large group Bible studies for the 3rd to 6th grade students.

Writing these Bible studies is something I am really enjoying doing. And just because it's for 3rd-6th grade students doesn't automatically make it an easy task! It's definitely stretching me! I have to dig in to my creative side to find a way to capture the kid's attention, and then I dig in to scripture to make a 30 minute study. I love it! And I will definitely be stretched by the time I finish writing 27 of them!! That's 13 and half hours of Bible study material, and each takes about an hour and a half to write, so I definitely have my hands full now! I'm so thankful for this opportunity!

Please pray that the Lord would give me wisdom on which topics He would have me to write. This has been the hardest part so far and I've only written three! So feel free to leave comments and throw out ideas on good Bible study topics for 3rd to 6th grade girls, especially if you have girls this age - what would you want them to learn in Bible study?

Thanks for you prayers!! See you all in 20 days :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

GOOD DAY!!

Ok, so today has ended up being a MUCH better day! When I finally realized I needed a major attitude change, the Lord turned the day into such a blessed, productive day. I am just beside myself!

So this morning, I read the daily "My Utmost for His Highest" devotional, and it really challenged me to seek to be more encouraging and to stop sulking and sympathizing in my current situation. I updated my blog this morning, and before posting it I shared the devotional and what I had written with Stacey. She also thought the devotional was incredible and also felt very convicted by it. We were both challenged to change our attitudes. And my oh my, what a difference today has been!

Stacey and I decided to take action rather than wait for someone to tell us what to do. We have become completely disenchanted with sitting at the guesthouse, sulking in our lack-of-things-to-do. So, we did something that neither of us have ever done before. We went prayer walking!!! And wow! One of the greatest things I've ever done! I honestly though it would be awkward - walking down streets and praying out loud. And since neither of us had ever done it before, we had no idea how exactly it was to be done. But... We just went for it.

We just started walking, picked a street that we had never been down, and we started praying. We prayed silently at first, but that didn't last long - maybe 2 minutes. My thoughts get distracted to easily. So then we began praying out loud. It was so neat! I've never prayed this way before. It was like carrying on a conversation, and it just came so naturally. We prayed as we walked past houses, and we prayed for the people who passed us on their bikes and motorcycles. I kept getting the chills and could sense the Holy Spirit's presence as we walked those streets. It was incredible!

As we were walking and as I was praying aloud at the moment, we began walking toward a group of children playing with a ball. I simply asked that the Lord would give us favor with these kids and that we could simply play with them and love on them. So we walked up to them, greeted these beautiful children with what little Zarma we actually know, and we just started playing with them!

I noticed one little boy was laying down on the ground a few yards away, so I walked over to him and asked him his name. A few other kids came to where we were, and they told me, "A sinda baani," - which means he wasn't feeling well. So I asked them where he was feeling sick, and they pointed to his head. I told them, "Iri go ga aduwa," - "We are going to pray." I touched his head, and Stacey and I began to pray for him (in English - we don't know THAT much Zarma!) And then we all went back and played - even the little boy who wasn't feeling well! It was the most fun I've had since being here. We simply threw and kicked the ball around. The kids were laughing and having so much fun!! I felt like I was on top of the world! THIS is why I'm here. These children are beautiful, and even though I can't speak their language, I CAN play with them. I CAN give them attention. And I CAN show them the love of Christ.

We didn't get to stay long because we had plans at 4:00, but we told the children we would be back tomorrow. Pretty sure we told them tomorrow at six - or at least that's what we tried to tell them in their language. On our way back to the guest house Stacey and I continued to pray. And as we were walking, a lady was passing on the other side of the road. We began to greet her in Zarma, but to our surprise, she spoke English!! So we stopped and talked with her for a couple minutes, and in those few minutes we found out she is from Gana and in Niger until August 27th. We exchanged phone numbers and plan to get dinner in the next couple of days. If that wasn't a divine encounter, I don't know what is. As we walked away, I immediately told Stacey, "We're going to share the gospel with her!" And as we continued to walk, we lifted her up in our prayers. I ask that you would also begin to pray for this woman and pray that the Lord would begin to open her heart to the gospel and that we will have favor to share with her.

Ah, today was a good day! Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for your encouragement! God is good!

Sympathizer to Encourager

I want to start by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of those who have sent me encouragement and to those of you who have been keeping me in your prayers. I wish I could tell you that the darkness has lifted from my spirit, but the fight is still there. I honestly don't know how to explain what exactly I am going through, the thoughts and feelings that consume me day to day, but I can tell you that I am continuing to earnestly cling to the Lord, and I am waiting eagerly for light to come and shine in this place.

I keep getting slaps in the face that wake me up and remind me that I am not always to know what exactly God is doing, but that I am simply to trust Him. I am trying my hardest to put all my trust in Him, and I am seeking to live through this time with grace. So often do I want to give up. So often do I dream of getting on the airplane and coming home. But for the sake of Christ, I know there is no way I could do either of those things. And while I am living in this moment, all I can hope to do is glorify Him by not giving up. By not allowing this darkness to consume me. By keeping my head held high and trusting that God knows exactly what He is doing.

This morning, God brought me another one of these pleasant face slaps. He has a funny way of giving me exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it - it's like He really does know what He is doing. I usually just share a small part of what He's shown me, but today, to be able to fully explain my thoughts, I want to share the whole thing - it's not too long. Just the daily devotional from O. Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" that I have shared so much from already.

"The Sacrament of the Saint

"So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:19

To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God's will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God's will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Saviour. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is - Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23). Be merciful to God's reputation. It is easy to blacken God's character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10.)

Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judge at all of where that is."


One thing I noticed just last night after I got done talking with my roommate Stacey (who is also going through very similar circumstances - so please keep her in your prayers as well), I realized something. And my realization was confirmed through this devotional today. I am so thankful Stacey is here. I am so thankful to have someone by my side who understands exactly what I am going through. We have even acknowledged to each other a sentence such as this, "It's different talking to you than it is talking to people back at home because you really understand what I'm going through. They just don't get it." And this is basically meant in the context of - Well, it's easy for them to say those things because they don't completely understand what I'm going through. But you know, I had the realization that the conversations Stacey and I have are so different because we are IN our circumstances and can't see past an inch in front of our faces. What really struck me from this devotional is the part where it says, "The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates." (Enervate - cause (someone) to feel drained of energy or vitality; weaken). Since Stacey and I are in the same circumstances, it is so easy for us to have sympathy with each other. Our conversations can tend to sound a lot like, "Woe is me." "I don't understand." "I don't get what is going on." Honestly though, it is helpful to know that there is someone going through this with me, but I am realizing now that our sympathy for each other is getting us nowhere. We are only running in circles. We are only causing each other to feel drained and weakened.

I am realizing now, it's time for a major attitude change. I want to change my role of "sympathizer" to "encourager." And this will cause me to dig even deeper than ever before. It's so easy to receive encouragement from all of you back home. And it's so easy to be here and to sympathize with myself and with Stacey. But if I want this darkness to lift, I must seek not only to be encouraged, but to BE an encourager as well. And that's so hard because, in the moment, sympathy feels so good. Sympathy is easy. Not only will I be seeking to encourage Stacey, but I will be seeking to encourage myself. It's much easier to encourage someone when you are outside the situation, but to encourage someone with whom you are in the situation with, you're not just seeking to encourage that other person, but to encourage yourself as well. And I don't even know how to do that. But it's my new mission!

This post is already long, but I have a little more...

The last paragraph of the devotional today really hit me. It couldn't have been more spot on to say to me what I need to hear. "God plants His saints in the most useless places." Uh, yes He does!!! I have never in my life felt so useless as I do now (as I voiced in my last post). But, "Got puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is." I feel like I just got reprimanded when I read that sentence. "Yes Lord," is all I can say to that. "Yes Lord. Forgive me for doubting. Forgive me for thinking you sent me here because I thought I was so useful. Lord you sent me here to glorify your Name. That's what I've been praying. THAT has been my one desire. THAT is what you have reduced me to. And somehow I've overlooked it. I will seek to glorify You in the simplest form - to trust that You know what You are doing. To seek to become an encourager in this darkness in which I am surrounded. To seek what you would have me do in my abundance of free time here. Father, glorify your Name."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fighting Discouragement

Well I woke up this morning, and today I have been fighting intense discouragement. Discouragement about how my time is being used here and what my purpose is (still not any closer to really figuring this one out). I was feeling as though I have wasted so much time, and have been dealing with a lot of frustration about specifically how my time is spent here.

Before I came to Africa, I expected to come here and dive right into ministry. I expected to be living life with the people here and constantly showing them the love of Christ. But as I look back over these past five weeks, the percentage of my time between spending time with the nationals and the other missionaries or at the guest house has been more than disappointing. I only get to spend 2 to 3 hours a day maximum with the nationals, and the rest of my time is spent with the other missionaries, eating meals, or just spending time at the guest house. It's like I'm living an American life in the middle of Africa. And I can't help but have this thought eat away at my mind saying, "Jordan, what are you doing? You're wasting so much time!!! How is God really using you? What impact are you having on these people?" I'm telling you, I really can't put into words how discouraging these thoughts have been. Especially when I've had this desire to come to Africa for 4 years now - this is completely not what I expected.

I've reached the end of myself. My spirit is broken. Today, I have reached the lowest point of discouragement. I feel so trapped. I don't have any freedom really to just go out and do ministry for a few reasons: (1) I can't speak the language. (2) I depend on my supervisors to drive me places. (3) I can't take taxis anymore because of certain circumstances. I feel so helpless.

My prayers have been reduced to the simplest form because I just don't know what to pray anymore. "Father, glorify your name and sanctify me during my time here. Refine me through your fire and do whatever it takes to bring glory to yourself." I feel that through that simple request that surely good will come of these two months.

I also pray that He uses this blog to be a ministry to all of you back home. I don't really have a ministry here, so I feel this blog may be a way the Lord will use me. I feel like I am experiencing a form of suffering during my time here - which I know that to be a disciple of Christ he calls us to a life of suffering - he calls us to take up our cross daily and to follow Him - and the road of the cross is a road full of suffering. So I pray that through my difficulties here that you all will be encouraged in your faith. I pray that you will be challenged to follow Christ more fervently and to take steps that will stretch your faith in Him. If I came here simply to reach people back home, then my time here will be worth it. Or if I came here simply for the Lord to refine me (and not necessarily to reach anyone else) and to reach me, then I will accept that as well.

I did find some encouragement in 2 Corinthians today. A few different verses really spoke to me. So I'll share them with you:

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Corinthians 2:14

From this verse, I simply pray that the Lord would use me to spread a fragrance of the knowledge of Him. Even though I can't speak the language here, I would be delighted if people could sense even the slightest fragrance of our Savior through my being here.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I am encouraged by these verses, and I simply pray that the Lord would renew me and renew my strength day by day, moment by moment, because I can't make it through here without Him. I am also so encouraged by the part that says, "we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." Clearly, I have nothing here to fix my eyes on that can be seen - no personal ministry, no relationships. I can only fix my eyes on my Father and trust that He knows what He is doing.

And here, I am so encouraged by, and so desire this joy that Paul speaks of:

"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, in hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet no killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
...
I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bound." 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 7:4

Oh Lord, let my joy know no bounds!! Even in my troubles! My troubles don't even compare to what Paul went through, yet his joy knew no bounds. I want that joy. A joy that can't be shaken by anything in this world. A joy that says, "I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8).

I ask that you would please pray that God would continue to encourage my heart through His word and through His Spirit. I ask that if you feel led to, please send me encouragement as well. Paul speaks of how God comforted him by sending Titus. He said, "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever." (2 Corinthians 7:6-7). To be a part of the body of Christ is such a blessing because we have the opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged by one another. I come to you now as your sister, and I simply ask as one in need, I seek your encouragement and your prayers.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Psalm 63

I am really missing home this day. Missing the fellowship and encouragement of my closest friends and family. I knew this day would come. I knew before I ever stepped on that airplane to come here that I would experience this loneliness. I looked forward to being lonely because I knew it would make me depend on my Lord. So, even in this sadness, in this loneliness, I rejoice. As difficult as it is, I know my Jesus is drawing me closer to Him.

I can't put into words how much I miss hugging the people I love. Something so simple as a hug is something I have realized I take so much for granted. But in a hug, so many things are said. And without hugs from the ones you love, you realize the importance of the words that are said through them. I texted my mom yesterday and told her that I can't begin to explain how much I look forward to the moment when I step off the airplane and get to hug her and Tony. Those two hugs will mean more to me than words could ever express. So something I ask of each of you this day - don't take for granted being surrounded by the people you love, and cherish something as simple as a hug.

So enough of my hug soapbox... I want to share what this time of loneliness has led me to. It really has led me to complete dependence on my God. I've never had to seek the Lord as my friend. In the past, I have sought Him as my Comforter, my Healer, my Strength, my Joy, and my Peace - and He has proven faithful in becoming those things to me. And now, I am trusting that He will reveal Himself as my Friend. As a friend who sticks closer than a brother as it says in Proverbs 18:24. And in seeking Him as my friend, I have chosen to memorize the first eight verses of Psalm 63.

"Oh God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singling lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me."


I find so much comfort in this Psalm because of the promise it reveals. In verse 1 we declare, "...earnestly I seek you..." And then in verse 5 - "My soul will be satisfied..." Because of this clear promise, I can rest assured that Jesus will be my friend. I am seeking Him earnestly as that. Not only will my soul be satisfied, but satisfied as with the richest of foods. I think about those Sundays when Tony grills the best steaks, and my mom cooks cheesy ranch potatoes and fried okra and rolls - how my stomach is so full, so satisfied that it actually hurts. That is the satisfaction I am promised and eagerly awaiting. To have such a close friend in Jesus that I might actually get annoyed with Him and His closeness. Of course I'm joking. But really, to know Jesus as my closest friend would be so beautiful. And that is what I am praying for.

And here, I come to you again, asking you to join me in this prayer. That Jesus would satisfy my lonely state. That I would experience Him in a new way and that He would wrap me in His arms and let me experience the joy, the comfort, and the encouragement of His hugs.

Thank you so much for your prayers and know that my love pours out to you all even from so far away.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

God's End for Us

God is so good! I love what all He has been revealing to me in His word, through His people, and through other books I have been reading! This morning I woke up and again read the daily devotional in "My Utmost for His Highest." And again, I feel led to share what He's shown me because I believe it can be an encouragement to all of you as well in whatever season of life you are going through.

Today's devotion comes from Mark 6:45-52 - the story of Jesus walking on the water. First, I'll share with you what Oswald Chambers points out about this passage of scripture, and then I want to share with you what really jumped out and spoke to me. And rather than me trying to explain, I'll let you read for yourself what I also read:

"... We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. WE have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not... What we call the process, God calls the end.

What is my dream of God's purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

...

God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious."


I so love this word O. Chambers brings! It's exactly what I have been dealing with for much of my time here in Africa. You know, I had this dream, this vision, of what my time would be like, of what results would be produced from my time here. But God had something completely different in mind! I thought I would come here and be immediately immersed in ministry with children. I thought I would be with these beautiful little kids everyday, all the time! I was so excited to come and share Christ's love with them and give them all my attention and completely pour myself out to them. My dream wasn't a bad one. It wasn't bad at all. But God's dream for my time here so far was different.

I can see now that His goal for me so far really has been the process. And it's so cool to already look back and be able to see that that is exactly what my time here has been. Being forced to look for Jesus walking on the water, calmly through my chaos, and putting my trust in Him, realizing that He really has had a different purpose for my being in Africa.

Thank you Lord for these sweet encouraging words!

Now, for the second thing I noticed - it was a small detail in verses 51 and 52. Speaking of the disciples it says, "They were completely amazed... for... their hearts were hardened." I was blown away by this small detail! I hear of people in the Bible who's hearts are hardened, and I immediately assume "unbelievers." But these are Jesus' disciples - His closest followers! And their hearts were hardened.

Honestly, this brought so much peace to me. I think I've always thought that since I do believe and follow Jesus that surely my heart wasn't a hard one. Surely I should fully be able to experience all God has for me. But these assumptions have only left me confused when those times come that I just don't quite "get it." When I know something should rock my world to the core and it doesn't. Or even when I am completely amazed about what the Lord has done, and I shouldn't be completely amazed - He is God - I should expect this amazingness from Him because that's who He is and what He does! This is just a simple reminder to me that I should daily be on my knees asking God to break my heart of stone. I want more of Him in my life. I want to fall deeper in love with Him. I want to know Him as my closest companion - as my everything. And this can only happen when my heart of stone is completely broken and left in His hands to be put back together again His way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Discipleship and the Cross

Ok, so in my last post I mentioned the book "The Cost of Discipleship." This morning I was finishing up a chapter called "Discipleship and the Cross." And oh how the whole chapter spoke volumes to me!! And how it encouraged my heart so much about my time here in Africa, simply reminding me about what I am really here for. These first three weeks have been full of wondering about my purpose here and fighting off discouragement. I know the Lord directed me to this book for a reason, and specifically for this season in my life. The chapter closed with a quote from Martin Luther, and the clarity and peace it brought me was so beautiful! So beautiful in fact, that I want to share it with you and I pray it blesses you and brings clarity and peace to your life as the Lord has done in my life:

"Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend - it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey's end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore, it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire - that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. If you do that, there is the acceptable time and there your master is come."


Blessings to you all :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm Back!

Hello friends! I am now back in Niamey and have access to the internet again!

First and foremost, I want to thank you for all your prayers through these past 10 days. They have been deeply felt, and our God has been good and faithful in answering them!

My time spent in Ouallam consisted of a wide variety of activities ranging from organizing pictures, traveling around to different villages to visit with people, praying for the sick, sharing Bible stories with adults and children, coloring pictures with children, going to the market,...even milking a goat! Yes friends, I milked a goat, haha!

Overall, it was a good ten days. I had my share of ups and downs, however. Satan tried to attack a few different ways and times. His evil schemes consisted of trying to throw division and disagreement in our midst in order to keep us from completing tasks, he tried to discourage me, tried to make me think that my time here so far has been wasted and all for nothing. But this only caused me to dig deeper into my Lord. God brought reconciliation to the disagreement Stacey and I encountered with our supervisor. He encouraged me various times through His word, and through two other books ("The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers - I highly recommend both!) He revealed so many truths in His word and always confirmed them through repetition in these books, all resulting in the perfect encouragement I needed to carry me through. Can I simply say - Our God is so good and faithful! I love seeing Him pull through in every single trial!

The absolute highlight of my time in Ouallam was, by far, the children. The beautiful, precious children. At the sight of a white person walking or driving by, their little faces light up so brightly! They wave in awe. They yell, "FOFO!" or "MADAME! MADAME!" simply to get your attention. And when they finally get your attention, it's like they are on top of the world. They laugh and giggle with one another. And when some of them finally learned my name, it was so precious to hear their tiny voices yell, "JAMILAH!!!" (my new Zarma name) from down the road. Blessed my heart so deeply. They are absolutely beautiful.

Since being back in Niamey, I am now under new supervisors. They are an incredibly sweet couple and I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with them now. Yesterday they informed me of what my options are for ministry for the remainder of my time here. They have asked that I be praying through these options, and we will discuss on Monday what I for sure will be doing. I ask that you too would be praying with me for guidance and direction as to which option the Lord has prepared for me. The options are:

Volunteering/evangelizing at orphanages with one of the girls here
Teaching ESL (English as a second language) to a lady
Prayer walking/evangelism with women & children in one of the neighborhoods
Participating in a taxi ministry
Assisting at one of the churches here

I don't know complete details of these tasks, which is why those options sound very broad and general. But I am so extremely excited to finally begin some sort of ministry here for the remainder of my time!!

To conclude this rather long update, I want to leave you with, and ask you to join me in the two prayers I have claimed for my time here in Africa. One of which I have been praying since just before I arrived, and the second of which the Lord revealed to me last night. I'll simply share with you what I wrote in my journal last night:

Oh dear Jesus, I earnestly pray and desperately plead these two things -

1. Lord, sanctify me!
2. Father, glorify your name!

That's ALL I want from my time here in Africa. I desire it from my inmost being.

Lord Jesus, intercede on my behalf for these things. You know my heart. Fight for me. And give me strength to endure whatever trials may come my way in order to accomplish these requests.

YOUR WILL BE DONE!


To quickly explain where that simple prayer of sanctification came from and what it means, here is an excerpt from "My Utmost for His Highest," the July 22nd (my birthday!) devotion:

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to "me," determinedly to strip myself of all my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately I am, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with everything but God.

When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is HIMSELF in me.


To go along with that, and I promise I will end with this, I am claiming 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Will Be Gone for 10 Days!

Hey everyone!! Just want to let you know I am going to Ouallam for 10 days and will be without internet for my time there. I don't really have anything interesting to update about since it has been the weekend. I finished my language class on Friday and I can say a lot of things about God and Jesus and share a pretty simple testimony. I have SO much more to learn though. This week in Ouallam I will get the chance to practice a lot of my Zarma because we will be working with the villagers, and everyone there speaks the language.

Last night, I finally got to have a little contact with some African children for the first time! Went to a plateau with some of the other American missionaries here to grill hot dogs, and the children just sat and watched us. We ended up playing frisbee with them for a little bit and it was so fun! I was SO excited to finally be able to interact with the kids here. Hopefully this next week in Ouallam will allow more time to love on the little kiddos. Here is a picture of some of the kids from last night...




So for now, I just ask that you would please continue to pray that God would grant me wisdom and understanding of the language to be able to learn and pick up the language quickly. And also that my actions would speak even louder than words where words won't suffice.

Sorry such a short update. When I get back on July 22nd (my birthday) I'll try to update soon after!!!

Ay ga ba aran!! (Love you all!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Please Join Me in This

Please join me in this prayer I wrote in my journal today!

Father, thank you so much that you have brought me to this place. I am so thankful to be here in Africa. I know that by being here I am directly in your will. Lord, I started learning how to speak about you in Zarma today!! And I am so excited about that! Lord, please help me pick up the language quickly. Especially when it comes to sharing about you. I ask for divine intervention in those moments. Take over my mouth and my tongue and lead me to say what you would have me say. Glorify your name! Use me Lord. I am here to be used by you and I want my life to be used completely to bring you glory. Help me to die to myself every single day.
Lord, I ask that you would refresh me for tomorrow. Refresh my body and refresh my mind. Help me to absorb all that I am taught by Ibro. I want to know and understand this language. I desire so strongly to effectively communicate Christ's love to these people. And not only just in words, but in my actions as well. Let my actions speak louder than words where my words won't suffice. Father, use every part of my being for your glory.
I ask that you would please guide me in the upcoming days while I am in Ouallam. Show me what direction to take. Where do you want to use me during my time here? Father, please show me. I am patiently waiting and seeking your will.


I WILL PRAISE YOU, O LORD MY GOD, WITH ALL MY HEART; I WILL GLORIFY YOUR NAME FOREVER. FOR GREAT IS YOUR LOVE TOWARD ME; YOU HAVE DELIVERED ME FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE GRAVE.
Psalm 86:12-13

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quick Update for July 7th

Fofo! Ay go ga cow Zarma, nda ay salan kayna kayna. Ay koy habu taxi ra nda ay salan Zarma nda French. Ay di [fabric], wa, hari, nda buuru. Wodin banda, ay ka fu zamma ay gonda fulanzam muradu.

"Hello! I am studying Zarma, and I speak a little. I went to the market in a taxi and I spoke Zarma and French. I bought fabric, milk, water, and bread. After that, I came home because I needed to rest."

I had my 3rd Zarma lesson today, and SO much is crammed into each session... it's crazy! But I have been learning a ton! Remembering it all is difficult, but I'll keep practicing!

Taking the taxi today was quite an experience since it was my first time without someone who already knows the language well. I went with Stacey, so we're in the same boat on the language barrier. But we survived! AND we avoided getting ripped off. It should only cost about 200 CFA each (0.40 cents) to take the taxi from the market back to our guest house, but the taxi driver tried to get us to pay 500 CFA each ($1.00). So I told him no and we found another who would take us for 200. We were extremely excited that we understood that he was trying to rip us off because clearly our Zarma isn't very good, so he figured he could rip us off..... oh, but we knew!!

When we made it back to the guest house (after being out for about 3 hours), Stacey and I just kept giving each other high fives over and over because we felt SO accomplished that we actually took a taxi and spoke to people on our own!!! I really can't put into words how exciting it was! It may sound silly, but we have been so dependent on other people, that it was just nice to finally accomplish something on our own.

All I can continue to say is thank you thank you thank you for your prayers!!! Please continue to pray that the language will come more easily as we continue to practice!!

Much love to you all!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Niger So Far and First Zarma Lesson

Fofo! Ay ma Jordan. Ay ya Americ boro no, amma ay go Niamey, Niger soho. Ay ya Mission Baptiste volunter no.

"Hello! My name is Jordan. I am an American, but I am in Niamey, Niger now. I am a Mission Baptiste volunteer."

That is just a tiny tiny piece of what I learned in my language lesson today! My brain is completely exhausted and I still have 4 more days to go!! I really enjoyed the lesson today, but please pray that I will continue to enjoy the lessons and that God would divinely grant me understanding and wisdom to be able to retain all I am taught.

I am so thankful that Stacey is also here as a volunteer learning with me. I would be so completely overwhelmed if I had to do this on my own. So it has been such a blessing to be able to go through orientation with her and to now be learning Zarma together.

One thing I desperately ask of each of you is to just please pray that we will have the energy, patience, and wisdom to endure these language classes and retain what we are taught!!

As for everything else that has been going on... I'll just start from when I landed in Niamey.

My supervisors, Don and Teresa Bolls, picked me up at the airport (Stacey was already with them), and we went straight to get some food to eat. I don't know what the place was, but we sat outside and ate bruchettes, which were like beef shishkabobs, and french fries. I was quite surprised at how yummy the food was, but even more surprised to hear N'sync (or maybe it was Backstreet Boys) playing on the radio with a few other American pop songs.

The next day, Teresa and Don took Stacey and I out to the markets as part of our orientation. And that was quite an experience!! We went to a few different grocery stores and a souvenir shop. Teresa took us behind the souvenir shop where the people are actually making the items that are sold in the shop. You can bargain with the prices outside, but not in the shop. It was really neat, and I'll try to take pictures of it at some point so you can know what I am talking about.

And so I don't bore you with a ridiculously long post I'll try to wrap it up. There is an American Rec Center very close to the guest house where I live, and that place is such a retreat. Almost like being back in America. They have a pool, softball field, tennis court, and an air conditioned building with a TV and some very American food - pizza, hamburgers, etc. According to "American standards," however, you all probably wouldn't think this place is very nice. Compared to what we have in the states, I guess we would probably consider this place "dumpy." But here, to Stacey and I, it's heavenly.

So the plan for the next couple of weeks...

This week Stacey and I are in Niamey just doing our language study and have the afternoons "off" ...aka study study study so we don't disappoint Ibro (our instructor) in the morning. Monday (the 12th) we leave to go to the bush in Oallum for 10 days to work with Teresa and do whatever she asks of us basically. I honestly don't know what all we will be doing. But I'll fill you in after we back from there (we won't have internet for those 10 days). And then, we get back to Niamey on the 22nd (my birthday!) and then have a team meeting on the 23rd to discuss what our assignments will be for the remainder of our time here. So at this point, I don't know what my purpose is yet, but I know the Lord will reveal it to me!!

Specific prayer requests for now:

That the Lord will guide and direct me as to where he wants to use me for my time here.
And that Stacey and I will have the energy, patience, and wisdom to endure our language classes and retain what we are taught.

Thank you for your prayers!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Greetings from Africa!

Fofo!

This is just a quick update to let you all know that I will try to update my blog this week with specific details of how things have been going so far!!

For now, I just want to ask for prayer for this next week. Stacey (another volunteer here) and I are starting our intense language study tomorrow with our instructor Ibro! We'll be working with him Monday through Friday 8:00 am - noon. Please pray that we will be able to pick up the language quickly and that we will be able to retain as much as possible!!

Thank you so so much for all your prayers so far! I promise I will give you a much better update this week.

Ay gaba nin! (I love you!)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts During First Flight Out

So you all can be with me on this journey, here is what I "journaled" in my ipod as I was flying through the air during my first flight from Dallas to D.C.

"I'm up in the air. Finally. On my way to Africa. Sitting next to a nice Indian man, can't remember his name, but he's very nice. I am now listening to my iPod and the first song I chose to play is called "Every Nation." I call it my victory song. The only line it repeats the whole song is, "Every tribe and every tongue, every language, everyone will worship!" What a beautiful hope I can cling to as I sit on this plane with myself and with my Lord.
I've been waiting for this exact moment for a year now since I first began emailing people and working out the details. As I would drive around town I would always look out my window up at the clouds and try my hardest to see the top of them knowing that soon I would be up above them. And now, I'm finally here. Looking out my window. there is nothing more beautiful than the tops of these clouds. How can anyone look out an airplane window and not believe in our big God?


And a few minutes later, all I could do was pray. This was my prayer:

Father, I need you. I need you deeply. I am so weak and I know I have not been preparing myself spiritually for this trip. Lord, I don't even know what to pray right now. I need your Spirit to intercede for me. I need you to prepare me.
Lord, you are my guide. You are my strength. You are my comforter. You are my joy. And Lord, you are those things to me because you are direction. You are strong. You are comfort. And you are joy.
Father, I've been waiting for this moment because I knew it would make me be completely dependent on you. And now, it's finally here. I am so completely dependent on you. There is absolutely nothing I can do on my own these next 2 months. I thank you and I praise you that you are sufficient in my weakness. I thank you that I never have to fear. I thank you for your provision. And more than anything, I thank you that you have allowed me to be your child. Because apart from you I am nothing. I can do nothing. I thank you that I can boast in you alone. I praise you because you are going to receive all the glory for every detail of this trip. Because Jordan Buettemeyer can't do this on her own. Jordan couldn't have even put a foot on this plane if it were by her own strength. And Jordan never would have, in her wildest dreams, dreamed she would go to Africa. Especially "by herself."
But I'm not by myself. I am with You. You are with me. You are in me. And you have made me brave. I rejoice in you and you alone. I love you.
Father, glorify your name!!!!


Thanks for joining me in prayer on this journey!!

As for now, I'm very hungry so I'm going to venture through the airport to find some expensive yum yums :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another Old Journal Entry

Ok, so I just did a little more digging and found another journal entry in a different journal. It was either on January 4th or 5th of 2007. Why I wrote in two different journals about the same thing on the same day? I don't know. But I want to share, and I pray this is an encouragement to all who read this.

"January 4, 2007 - God's undeniable call on my life for missions.

BE QUIET NOW, AND WAIT.

Isaiah 26:8-9 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

I have said "YES, LORD" to God's calling on my life to do missions. I have no idea where, when, or how I am going, and this scares me to death. But I know I am going with Jesus Christ. So now, I wait. I wait for God to reveal to me where, when, and how. I feel so unqualified for this. But I know God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

BE MY ALL CONSUMING FIRE.

Consume - to destroy (as by fire); to waste or burn away.

I desperately need God to come in and destroy my life. So much of me doesn't want to answer this calling on my life because I have so many fears. I am so scared. I don't know why you have called me.

I will serve you. I will give you everything. I will trust you, trust in you alone.

God, I am fighting a spiritual battle right now. I know I need to trust you, but Satan is trying to take hold of me. God, burn away my fears. Destroy my desires. Waste my life on you. Come and consume me."


It's strange to say it, but these journal entries I wrote three and a half years ago have become such a blessing to me. To see the definite questions and fears and my obvious desire to not go, and to see how the Lord has changed all of that... Wow. My God is incredible and indescribable.

If He can transform an unwilling, scared-to-death, little girl like me into someone fearless, with a passionate desire for the nations... I am certain He can transform anyone.

He can transform you.

And I don't say that to boast of myself. I say that because it points completely to my God. He has made me fearless. He has given me a passionate desire for the nations.

In my previous post about Stephen, God revealed to me how Stephen's tag lines pointed directly to Him. And it became my prayer that I would have a tag line that points directly to Him. On my own, I am "Jordan, timid, weak and unwilling..." But now, with my great God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside me, I fully believe I am now, "Jordan, fearless, strong, and willing to follow wherever God leads..." That is a tag line that boasts of the awesomeness of God. Oh I pray that Jordan disappears in light of His power and of His greatness.

I feel 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 is a perfect place to end...

Paul, speaking of the thorn in his flesh, said,
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Looking Back

This evening, I can't get Africa off my mind. I can't get missions off my mind. I can't get the nations off my mind!

I started reading "The Missionary Call," and what I have read so far simply has defined the term "missionary call." We use the term so freely in churches and conferences, but the term never really gets defined. Here's the definition Mr. M. David Sills offers us:

"The missionary call includes an awareness of the needs of a lost world, the commands of Christ, a concern for the lost, a radical commitment to God, your church's affirmation, blessing and commissioning, a passionate desire, the Spirit's gifting, and an indescribable yearning that motivates beyond all understanding."


This got me to thinking. I began thinking back to when I first sensed God's calling on my life to missions. And then I remembered that I wrote something in my journal about it. So, I did a little digging, found my old journal from my freshman year of college, flipped through the pages, and stumbled upon this entry from January 5, 2007...

"As of January 4, 2007, God has made one thing very clear to me. I have an undeniable calling on my life to do missions. He has worked on my heart this past week and he physically took over my body and made me stand up as a symbolic way of answering His call at Passion '07. PRAISE GOD! It was nothing in or of me that made me stand up. It was purely the Holy Spirit. And at this moment, I have no idea where, when, or how I am going. But I do know that I have said "yes Lord" and that where, when and how I go won't matter because I know I will be with Jesus Christ."


I literally remember this exact moment. I remember exactly where I was sitting in the Georgia World Congress Center. I was near the front of my section of the bleachers. Louie Giglio was speaking and said something along the lines of, "If you are sensing God's call to missions, stand up," in many more or less words. All I know is, I stood up. Instantly, these thoughts were racing through my head...

"Oh crap, what did I just do?"

"Why am I standing?"

"Woops, I think I stood for the wrong thing."

"Oh no, I think I need to sit down."

"I'm so confused. I really need to sit down."

But... I kept standing. Then Louie asked the people around us to touch anyone nearby who was standing and begin to pray over them. I remember someone grabbing my ankle. I don't remember who, I just remember the touch. I tell you all these details to let you know how vivid and how real this moment was.

I am so thankful for that day. I am so thankful the Lord literally took over my weak legs and caused me to stand. I am so thankful for the 1.5.07 journal entry. I am so thankful for the questions that filled my mind. And I am so thankful for how the Lord has been at work in my life these past 3 years since then and has perfectly orchestrated every single step leading up to this very moment, and leading up to what is about to take place in the next 5 days.

Those questions that once filled my mind - the where, when and how - have now clearly been answered.

I am so thankful to be able to say:

I am going where? To Niamey, Niger in West Africa.
When? In 5 days, for 2 months.
How? My great God has provided and my trip is fully funded.

And I am so privileged to be going with my one and only, Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Stephen

Just wanted to share with everyone what the Lord taught me today. I found it to be very challenging and encouraging. Hope you find it to be the same!

STEPHEN

Acts 6:5 – “Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…”
Acts 6:8 – “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power…”
Acts 7:55 – “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit”

What awesome tag lines Stephen has after his name. A man full of faith. A man full of the Holy Spirit. A man full of God’s grace and power. What would my tag line be? If someone were writing about me, would they say, “Jordan, a woman full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”?

Oh Lord, to have you as my label. I don’t want to just be “Jordan, a good Christian girl” or “Jordan, a really sweet girl.” I want to have a tag line that points directly to you.


But how do I get there?...

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

Let’s simplify this verse…

May the God of peace… equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him…”

May God equip you and may he work in us.

Father, I need you to equip me. I need you to work in me. Lord, equip me with everything good to do your will. I can’t do it on my own. I need you to work in my heart. I need you to crush this heart of stone. I need you to replace my fleshly desires with desires that match yours. I want to love what you love and hate what you hate. Lord, work in me what is pleasing to you. I want you to look down from your throne and say, “See her? See Jordan? She is my servant and she is full of faith and the Holy Spirit. She is full of my grace and power. And I love using her to bring me more glory.”
Father, I can’t do it on my own. Give me your eyes Lord. Come and change the way I see this world. Show me what is really important. I need you to invade my life supernaturally. Come and invade my whole body, from my fingers to my toes, my eyes, my brain, and my heart. Take it all Lord. I am a weak, sinful person. I want to desire you with all that I have. I want to find my joy in you. I know you are the best for me. I know that by being in your presence I will be ultimately satisfied and fulfilled. But my flesh can’t fully grasp or pursue after that.

Oh Lord, this is my prayer:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

When Stephen was about to be stoned, he looked up to heaven and said, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” When he said this, the people covered their ears.

The people of this world don’t understand the things of God. They take offense at the things of God. Christ even said in John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

As followers of Christ, we should be so set apart from this world that the world hates us. If the world loves us as its own, I think we should be questioning the way we live. As followers of Christ, we are called to a life of suffering for his name.

Stephen was a true, no-doubt-about-it, follower of Christ:

Stephen was full of faith.
Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit.
Stephen was full of God’s grace and power.
Stephen was clearly set apart from this world.
The world hated Stephen.
Stephen suffered for the name of Christ.

I bet God looked down from His throne and said, “See him? See Stephen? He is my servant and he is full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He is full of my grace and power. And I love using him to bring me more glory.”

Now, let us all “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Let us strive to live lives that separate us from this world and bring glory to our awesome God.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To See Christ More Fully

So I recently realized that as of yesterday, I have exactly 7 weeks until my plane departs and I'm on my way to Niger! At first, this was a bit of a discouraging discovery because I thought I was down to 5 or 6 weeks, but no, 7 weeks it is. 7 weeks of waiting... waiting... and more waiting.

But the more I think about these 7 weeks, the more I realize that God has a reason, a divine purpose for this time of waiting. And I want to know what it is. I don't want these 7 weeks to be wasted. You see, these past couple of weeks I have really been struggling and fighting against myself more than I ever have before. I'm realizing more and more that I am my own worst enemy. This flesh I live in puts up a really strong fight. It will do anything to keep me from delighting in and seeking after the Lord. The thing is... That's all I want:

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4


As I have been reading through a couple of John Piper's books - Let the Nations Be Glad and When I Don't Desire God - How to Fight for Joy - I am learning that God is ultimately glorified through the lives of those who are most satisfied in Him. It's this really cool cycle where God commands us to delight in Him. But we, as fallen, sinful beings, can't do that on our own. Only God can grant us delight in Him. So we get on our knees. We pray. We seek. One thing. Joy in Him. And when we receive that joy, He gets the glory for it. He gets the glory because He is the Giver of that joy (we can't take credit for it) and because it speaks volumes to the world when we treasure Christ above all things, even in the midst of suffering.

I was reading today in Piper's When I Don't Desire God and the name of the chapter is "The Fight for Joy is a Fight to See." I only made it through the first couple of pages before I had to quit and gather my thoughts. What I read was so simple (yet complex - it's John Piper...), and exactly what I needed. Basically the concept he presents is that in order to delight in God, it all starts with seeing the glory of God in the beauty of Christ. He says it like this:

"Nothing in the universe is more central than the radiance of the glory of God revealed in Christ for the enjoyment of his people. Therefore, the importance of seeing it for what it really is can hardly be exaggerated. For seeing it is foundational to enjoying it. And that joy is foundational for showing the worth of Christ in the world. It is foundational for the life of love and sacrifice and suffering that it sustains.


And here is the part that sums up my goal for the next 7 weeks:

Therefore beneath the quest for satisfaction in Christ - which sustains the life of sacrifice for Christ - is always the quest to see the glory of Christ. All strategies in the fight for joy are directly or indirectly strategies to see Christ more fully.


To see Christ more fully.

So this is where I now find myself. I have 7 weeks before I leave for Africa. 7 weeks to prepare. 7 weeks to ask you to join me in prayer that God would help me overcome this battle I fight against myself. I am struggling, and I need help.

To see Christ more fully. This is my prayer. It's all I want. I want to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. I want to run with perseverance the race marked out for me. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before him endured far more than I will ever have to endure. Please join me in this prayer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fo fo!

Fo fo! (Hello!)

Wow, all I can say is God has been so good these past few days and has just been blowing me away over and over again!! Since this past Thursday night I have met several international students from Niger: CJ, Nathan, Dan, Hadiza and Omar, just to name a few, all of which speak French and Zarma, the two languages I need to learn. I met most of them playing volleyball, and volleyball is now our common ground for hanging out a few nights a week!

It has been so neat to see the ways God is constantly preparing the way and confirming His will to me through all of this! I've been thinking my trip to Niger was set to begin June 30th, but it has already begun and He's brought the mission field here to me!!!

So today I met for the first time with my new buddy CJ to get a head start on learning some Zarma. Up til now I have been trying to teach myself from a pronunciation guide that Phil, my field supervisor, sent me over email. Let's just say... Praise God I met these students!! My pronunciation has been simply awful. I discovered this on Thursday when I first met CJ and decided I would try my "Zarma-speaking-skills" on him and he had no idea what I was saying!... So back to today... My first lesson...

I met up with CJ in Starbucks on my campus, and we sat and talked for about 2 hours. He taught me some basic greetings, corrected my wrong, self-taught pronunciation, and told me a lot about the culture. Niger is primarily Muslim, and CJ got to tell me a lot about Islam and I also was able to share a lot with him about Christianity. It was a really great first meeting!!

Needless to say, I still have a very long ways to go in learning Zarma, but these few first steps have sparked such a crazy excitement in my heart about going! And being able to put real faces and names to the people I am going to be living life with for two months is starting to change everything!

I am so thankful and so incredibly blessed by how the Lord is leading and preparing me and where He is taking me!

A few key prayer points for now:
-That the Lord would continue to satisfy me in His word so that I may fully reflect His glory
-For this excitement in my heart to continue to grow!
-That He would continue to provide opportunities for me to meet with my new friends
-For doors to begin to open for the Lord's will to be done in their lives!

Kala hanfo! (See you another day!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Fight to Delight

So I got my passport in the mail! YAY!! One step closer to getting to Niger!

Today I feel so much better about going! I think the Lord is working on changing my perspective and reminding me that missions is solely about bringing Him glory. I think the most impacting truth I've discovered from Piper's book so far is where he said,

"The great sin of the world is not that the human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory but that we have failed to DELIGHT in God so as to REFLECT his glory..."

That truth has given me so much peace and comfort. And now, I realize that the foundation of what He has called all of His children to is simply to delight in Him. For when we are truly delighting in Him, our lives can't help but to reflect His glory and He WILL be glorified!!

So here I stand today, facing my newest battle - the fight to delight. Fighting for joy in Christ is a daily battle in this fallen world with so many distractions and counterfeits being thrown our way. It is the desire of my heart to simply delight in His presence to be able to fully reflect His glory.

"...in your presence there is fullness of joy..." Psalm 16:11

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh yeah.... Progress and Fun News :)

So in the midst of sharing my worries and concerns... I forgot to tell you the fun stuff!

As of March 19th my plane ticket has officially been purchased!! Which means no turning back now... Wouldn't do that anyway!

Still waiting on my passport to come in, which for some reason I am very excited about getting!

So, I also found out the "dress code" for my stay in Niamey.... Ankle. Length. Skirts. And. Dresses. I was not super excited to discover this dress code to say the least. BUT, I'm making the most of it!! Saturday I went to Old Navy and bought 4 new ankle-length skirts and dresses which I must say are fairly cute. Just have to wear a white short sleeve shirt under them to keep with the modesty. Anyway, making this purchase definitely got me more excited about going this summer!! Here's a picture of one of my new dresses:



T-shirt sales are going fairly well - still have plenty to sell so let me know if you want one!!

About to apply for my travel Visa and I guess I should be getting my Yellow fever vaccination soon. Ouch. Shots.

I think that's all :)

From Concept to Reality

Hello all!

I want to start keeping everyone informed as progress towards going to Africa is quickly advancing! My main purpose behind keeping this blog is to allow you to partner with me in prayer on this incredible journey I have set before me! And I plan to be completely vulnerable in my thoughts and attitudes regarding the trip so that you can join me in prayer and may know specifically what you can pray for as the departure date quickly approaches.

So here's a short summary to catch you up to date:

I first felt God's call on my life to go to Africa as a senior in high school, and now, 4 years later, I am finally answering that call! Plans started last summer as I sent a very generic "help me" email to the International Mission Board where they got me in touch with the right people. It was a slow process at first, but once a few steps started being made, things have really taken off!

"Going to Africa" always seemed like a cool concept... And now, as this concept becomes more and more of a reality, the pure, sheer excitement I once had is now beginning to intertwine with nervousness when I think of the details this trip entails such as:

stepping onto that airplane alone
entering into a completely different culture alone
dealing with hardships alone
... being alone

So today, here's where you can begin joining me in prayer. As the date of my departure approaches (June 30), I am beginning to deal more and more with feelings of loneliness and fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I keep trying to put things back into perspective. I know this life is not about me, and I know God has never called his followers to live a life of comfort. And I have even just started reading John Piper's "Let the Nations Be Glad," which, since Sunday, has really helped to re-spark that genuine 100% excitement!

I'll wrap up this post by sharing a few points from the book that have helped in bringing me back to this excitement:

MISSIONS BEGINS AND ENDS IN WORSHIP -worship is the FUEL of missions and it is the GOAL of missions.
Goal: The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. "The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (Psalm 97:1).
Fuel: Missionaries will never call out, "Let the nations be glad!" who cannot say from the heart "I rejoice in the Lord... I will be glad and exult in you, I will sing praise to your name, O Most High" (Psalm 104:34; 9:2).

ZEAL for the glory of God motivates world missions.

Please pray that the Lord would push away and crush my feelings and fear of loneliness as He replaces it with ZEAL and excitement for ultimately spreading His glory!!