Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let Your Words Be Few

I love the way The Message translation paraphrases Jesus' instruction for prayer. In Matthew 6, Jesus instructs His disciples: 
"With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply."

The prayers of the formerly orphaned and vulnerable children living on the farm are simple, grateful, and sincere. Here is a small sampling of some of their precious conversations with our Creator.

"Thank you God. We love you soooooo much! For the food. For Make Shongwe, Sis Hlengiwe, Babe Make Kopp, Sis Mandi, everyone. The cows to eat. The eggs. Amen." - Mhukelko

"Thank you God. For us. You love us. Amen." - Mukelo

"Thank you Jesus. We love you. We love you soooooo much. The cake. Amen." - KK

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meet Donald

This journal entry is from my (Mandi's) first short term trip to Swaziland.
"There is a new boy, who arrived yesterday. Donald. I'm really hoping he goes into grade one, not my preschool class. He's seven. After only being here a few hours I saw him swinging punches."

As God would have it, Donald did end up in the preschool class. Donald came to us from the home of an abusive and angry uncle. Despite his age, Donald had never received any schooling and was lagging developmentally. The structure of school  was a shock to Donald, and almost every day for the first two weeks he engaged in fights--even with the most peaceful students.

Another journal entry:
"Donald has been a challenge at preschool. He is shockingly aggressive towards everyone and shows little remorse. I have to constantly watch him. At the same time, he is seeking so much physical love."

A final journal entry:
"Donald has transformed so much. He went from being so aggressive and now he just wraps himself around me in hugs. He is learning to receive love. It is sweet watching his love tank fill up."

Recent New Life Homes updates confirm that after five years of living "on the farm" Donald has become a completely different person. He is gentle (most the time) and is thriving as he experiences God's love for him through the Christ-centered environment at New Life Homes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

All Types of Change

Last week, we shared how our time in Davis has become so enriched by working with the high school ministry at our church. For the past two years, we have served with these young people on short term mission trips.
Two years ago we went to Arizona to work alongside the Navajo.

This past year we went to San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico.

Students, whether they have committed their lives to living or Christ or not, are moved by these experiences. It can be said, unequivocally, that they want to see change in this broken world. We recently heard a speaker discuss how many young people wear Toms (an increasing popular and trendy shoe company that gives a pair of shoes away to someone in need with each pair purchased), one indicator they want to help “the least of these.”

The students' desire to be part of change provides for great conversation about purpose, careers, and about our long-term trip to Africa. They think it's pretty cool and exotic, and a few of them have even volunteered to be packed in luggage to go with us (we warned them that it might be a bumpy ride). This past week, one of the guys from my high school small group approached me and said that he thinks what Mandi and I are doing is pretty cool and that he would like to support us. He handed me an envelope of money.

To say I we were grateful would be an understatement. I kept thinking about the story from Mark 12 about the widow who gave all that she had to Jesus. This student's sacrificial giving is such a blessing to us! These young people want to be part of God's kingdom work and it is awesome to partner with them in those efforts.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Young Senior Citizens

When we moved to Davis as a newly married couple we knew we wanted to get involved in high school ministry. After all, as some of you may well know, we met while presenting high school leadership conferences. What we didn't know was how much volunteering as youth leaders at University Covenant Church would enrich our marriage, our Davis experience, and our personal faith journeys.

Oh, there have been euphoric ups and gut-wrenching downs. There have been book clubs, camping trips, chai tea, and more ounces of frozen yogurt than a mere human being could ever comprehend. There have been soccer games, track meets, insect identification sessions, and surprisingly enjoyable 18-hour car rides. The girls have provided plenty of unsolicited family planning advice, and the guys have offered similar advice, but without the "planning" component.

This week, the youth we have mentored for the past three and a half years will graduate from high school. We are so proud of who they have become. Nate, one of the self-proclaimed "bros" that make up the senior guys group,  recently shared how it has taken him four years to realize that being a Christian and being in community with Christians is "cool" and that he realized how life is so much more fulfilling when you walk with God. Pretty profound stuff! We are so grateful for their willingness to open up their lives and allow us to walk with them during this time.

Paul sums up our prayer for the "Summit Seniors" pretty well...
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy.