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

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.


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.

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!


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!)