Friday, July 31, 2009

A Brand New Chapter

We have exciting news to share about God's favor and faithfulness in our lives! We were not actively looking for this change in our lives but God knew the desires of our hearts!

Just a few weeks ago, we received a phone call that we in no way expected. We were informed of a couple of positions opening and really didn't know exactly what they entailed but they captivated our interest. We were asked if we would be interested in submitting our resumes, etc. We both sensed a definite desire to see if this was a door God was opening for us. This desire has sent the past few weeks of our life in a whirlwind ... a good thing!

Jim did a couple of phone interviews. And from all involved, we felt we should continue to explore the possibilities and see if this was a God-thing. We then scheduled a trip to the Chicago, IL area. Interestingly, the week we were to leave, we had a water problem in our kitchen which flowed into our dining room and living room. In fact, the day we were leaving for Chicago our insurance company sent over a clean up company and I (Cheri) came home to pack the car while half of the kitchen/dining room/living room floor was being pulled up and all the bottom kitchen cabinets being removed and kitchen stuff packed up. Mind you, my (Cheri's) mother was staying with us at this time (visiting from SC) and has dementia. All our plans for her and the weekend had to be changed! It was a crazy afternoon. We got it figured out, got packed in the car and off we went ... much later than planned

What a weekend! We met with people from the church all day on Friday ... ALL DAY! ... the directors of the youth/children's ministry, we had a tour of the facility, we had an interview/meeting with the leadership team (staff), we had a meeting with children's/youth leaders, and we had supper with the senior pastors. It was such an awesome and exhausting day ! We discovered more what they were looking for and felt like God had come down and created this position just for us. Everything we wanted, hoped for, and dreamed for was being laid out before us. I think we wanted to pinch ourselves to see if we woke up!

The position is multi-faceted and we will both be working at the church ... a dream come true! On Saturday, Jim spent the day with the senior pastor. If Jim and I had sat down together and listed what our hearts' desires are we would have had what was offered to us. By the evening on Saturday, we had accepted the position. The plan was then announced to the church that Sunday morning.

Although we leave behind people we hold dear and jobs we have grown in, we know that this is a God-thing ... a door He (and only He) opened ... a position He created for us ... and the position He has been preparing us for. About 9 years ago, as we left youth ministry kicking and screaming, God opened a door for Jim to pursue his Master's and then his Doctorate degrees at Ashland Theological Seminary. If it had been up to us, we would have stayed youth/children's pastor for our entire lives. But God spoke to Jim during his kicking and screaming and told him that if we would submit to what He was doing, we would not just reach 100's or 1000's of young people but He would use us to reach 10,000's and 100,000's. This was bigger than we could ever see happening but we trusted God and submitted to His work to prepare us.

Jim completed his studies and graduated with his doctorate in June 2007. We have been back in Sylvania, Ohio for 4 years doing our best to be faithful with where God placed us and waiting for what God had planned. We really believe this is it!

We accepted the position of Pastor's of Family Ministries at Christian Life Center (CLC) in Tinley Park, IL (suburb of Chicago). The cool thing about this is that it is not a youth or children's pastor position at a church. Right now CLC has 4 locations ... Tinley Park, IL; Shorewood, IL, South Bend, IN and the Philippines. (They are about to open a brand new campus also in the Chicago area.) The vision is to continue to add sites for a total of 12 locations. We will be overseeing the family ministries for all locations ... mentoring and training youth pastors and leaders and children's pastors and leaders and leading all aspects of family ministries. We can see God's word to us about reaching 10,000's and 100,000's of young people being fulfilled as we mentor and train others to reach young people and they, in turn, do the same ... as we pass the passion for young people that God has put in our hearts on to others who will pass it on! We will be working out of the Tinley Park location as that is the "mother" church, for lack of a better word ... and will travel to the other locations. Missions will also be involved in what we do as CLC is heavily involved in missions ... another one of our hearts desires! Additionally, Jim will be able to continue teaching in adjunct roles from time to time in several colleges, universities, and seminaries (of course, modestly!)

We will begin our relocation the middle of August. We are so excited about what God in doing in our lives and yet very humbled at the trust He is putting in us.

I (Cheri) will be leaving my position as Office/Billing Supervisor for Fallen Timbers Family Physicians. It has been a great 4 years and I have grown in many ways and know that this was part of my preparation for our next adventure. Jim will be leaving his position as Administrator of Fountain City Christian School (FCCS), where he has put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears and prayers; and as pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Napoleon. Both places will be held dear in our hearts. Jim will stay a part of Fountain City Christian School as a board member.

Keep us in your prayers. We need to sell our home (after the kitchen is completed ... a whole brand new kitchen and new flooring for the kitchen, dining room and living room) ... find a home and orientate ourselves to the Chicago area and our new church and responsibilities. We also will be leaving Crystal and her family here in Maumee. Crystal will stay on as a high school teacher and missions director for FCCS ... she is a phenomenal teacher! We will be leaving Jamie and his family in Bryan. Jamie is doing an awesome job with worship at New Life in Bryan and we are very proud of him. We have another dream in our heart about all that ... we'll just have to wait and see what God says about it! We know this transition will be hard in some respects but we also know that God is working all things together for the best of everyone involved. We will be blessed to be close to Amber and her family ... actually staying with them for the transition period ... and working along side them as they are a part of the same ministry.

Our emails will stay the same and our cell phones for now. If you are coming to the Chicago area or passing thru we would love to see you and have you visit our new church home ... get a bite to eat and fellowship! Please stay in touch ... and remember God is always faithful and He gives us the desires of our hearts we just have to stay faithful and obedient and patient!

Imagine! Dream! Believe!

I love what our new senior pastor, Pastor Jerry, says ... "It'll be fun!"

And we plan to enjoy the ride!


Jim & Cheri Garrett

Saturday, July 11, 2009

PC Study Bible Data

Living Large

Mark 14:1-11

It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 "But not during the Passover celebration," they agreed, "or the people may riot."

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

4 Some of those at the table were indignant. "Why waste such expensive perfume?" they asked. 5 "It could have been sold for a year's wages and the money given to the poor!" So they scolded her harshly.

6 But Jesus replied, "Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be remembered and discussed."

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

· We all have illusions

· One theologian has suggested that the key movement of the spiritual life is a movement from illusion to reality

· The four primary illusions that all of us deal with are: self, God, Work, and the world

· As we look at this text, we are dealing with the illusion of success.

· What is success spiritually?

o Whether we go to church?

o How often we go to church?

o How many Bible studies we attend?

o A theology we ascribe to?

What Jesus thought of success?

I. Three are three characters in this text.

A. Simon

1. Simon was probably a leper who had been healed.

2. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house.

· Having Jesus in his home would raise Simon’s status among his friends

3. The custom was for the host to give Jesus a kiss upon entering his home

4. Simon also did not wash Jesus’ feet, nor did he offer Jesus a towel and a bowl to wash his feet.

5. He also did not offer Jesus fragrant oil to place upon his feet.

6. Eastern culture tells us that Simon was showing insult to Jesus.

· He had invited Jesus to his table but was not willing to sit down with Him

B. The people watched our second character, Jesus, to see how He would respond to this obvious insult.

C. Our third character, a woman enters from the crowd.

1. Mark does not identify the woman who anointed Jesus, but we know from John 12:3 that she was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

2. Mary seems to have no knowledge of social ethics.

a. She sits in front of Jesus.

b. She starts to wash His feet, again a task that should have been performed by Simon.

3. She is moved emotionally, probably crying uncontrollably.

a. Her tears fall upon His feet.

b. She is probably embarrassed.

4. She seeks a towel but finds none.

5. Finding no towel, she does the unthinkable, she lets down her hair.

a. It was taboo for a woman to let her hair down in public.

b. The law said that a man could divorce his wife for letting down her hair in public.

c. She wasn’t thinking about the consequences.

6. She used a fragrant oil upon the head of Jesus.

a. The “alabaster jar” that contained the perfume was a “vessel with a rather long neck which was broken off when the contents were used”.

b. The “nard” (perfume) was made from the root of a plant found chiefly in India and was very expensive.

c. Mary took the bottle and broke the neck so that she could pour the ointment profusely over Jesus’ head.

II. Living large is about experiencing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ

A. Mary’s act of love shows her realization of forgiveness.

B. Unconditional love leads to radical generosity.

1. The perfume had a value of more than three hundred denarii.

2. A denarius was what a man received for a day’s work.

3. The NIV says this was “more than a year’s [worth of] wage[s].”

C. Mary was willing to give her most expensive thing to Jesus even though others would ridicule her for this.

D. Her action of anointing Jesus with a bottle of expensive perfume was a beautiful expression of her love and devotion to him.

III Living large is a response to God’s love toward you.

A. Brokenness leads to outrageous giving.

· Mary’s brokenness was shown in kissing His feet and the drying of his feet with her hair.

B. Luke 7:44-50

44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 "I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

49 The men at the table said among themselves, "Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?"

50 And Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

C. The statement of Jesus

1. Words and inflections make up about 30% of our conversation, the other 70% is from the body language.

2. Jesus was speaking to Simon but turned toward the woman.

3. Jesus was demonstrating an important principle of success.

a. The body actions of Jesus indicate Jesus was about hanging out with the outcasts and the ordinary, not the rich and famous.

b. It was about aligning yourself with those who are weak, hurt, and broken.

D. Illustration.

· In the 1st Century, many communities were decimated by pandemics.

· These were so bad that people would usually leave.

· But interestingly, the Christians would stay.

· People say that this is why many people became Christians, because of what they had seen portrayed in these.

· The Christians would stay and help the outcasts . . . even at physical costs to themselves


A. God is enough for us

1. He will be our shepherd.

2. God will take care of everyone of our needs

B. The reason we can be extravagantly generous in our giving is because God is been generous to us.

C. What is your alabaster jar?

D. Who are the people you need to touch today?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ephesians 6:1-4- Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,  for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”*
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

A small boy said, "Father’s Day is just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the gift."And I say, "What gift?"

Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to 21, I was astonished at how much the old man learned in 7 years."

Someone wrote these humorous words entitled, "The World According to Dad." These are words that most dads have said at some time or another to their children.
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.
Quiet. I’m watching the ball game.
Don’t forget to check the oil.
Bring back all the change.
How should I know? Ask your mother.
I’m not made out of money!
When I was your age I walked 5 miles to and from school each day and it was uphill both ways.
You ARE going and you WILL have fun!
Who’s paying the bills around here, anyway?
If you break your leg, don’t come running to me.
Don’t put your feet on the furniture. Your mother will kill you.
Get down before you kill yourself. On second thought, go ahead.
Quit playing with your food.
Be quiet! Can’t you see I’m trying to think!
Why? Because I said so!
If you don’t quit that I’m going to call your mother.
You better get that junk picked up before your mother comes in here.
Just wait till you have kids of your own.
I was not asleep. I was just resting my eyes.

We could all add a couple of quotes to this list.Being a parent and a father can be an interesting and trying experience.It is said of parents that they spend the first part of their child’s life urging him to talk and walk, and the rest of his childhood telling him to sit down and keep quiet."

A son once wrote home from college to his dad. He said, "Dear Dad, Please let me hear from you more often, even if it’s only a five or a ten."Fatherhood can be a real trial. And yet, it is also a real blessing.

A Father should be thanked for the efforts he has made at being a father

Thanks for provision

Thanks for instruction

Thanks for illustration

Thanks for material provision

1 Timothy 5:8- “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

A. It is expected of a man that he is to provide for his family.

B. The family extends beyond the household

C. Even unbelievers provide for their families!

Thank God! And thank God for all the fathers who provide as best they can for their families! Thank you, Fathers!

Thanks For Faithful Instruction
Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

A. Fathers instruct their children about many things.

A man by the name of Jim Burton said these words about being a father. "When I was young, baseball was my life. You can imagine the excitement I felt when my oldest son began playing. This game would be one of our main bonding mechanisms. If my son would just listen, I could help him be a great baseball player. Learning to read curve balls, shift his body weight with the swing, steal bases, turn double plays … these things separate the amateurs from the pros."Burton said, "A pattern developed in our relationship. Because of my familiarity with the game, I saw every mistake my son made. In addition, I knew how to correct them."So post game drives home became a critique of how to improve his game. It soon got old for my son. One night he finally said, ’Dad, could you not start by telling me everything I did wrong. Tell me what I did right first.’"

B. Faithful instruction is important, but we have to be careful how we deliver it. All criticism and no praise is not good.

C. Are you a coach or a critic? Ephesians 6:4- “Paul said, "Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful...."

Thanks for Godly illustrationI Corinthians 11:1- “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

One man said of his father, “Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one family between us and the ticket counter. This family made a big impression on me. There were 8 children, all probably under the age of 12. You could tell they didn’t have a lot of money. Their clothes were not expensive, but they were clean.The children were well-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, elephants, and other acts they would see that night. One could sense they had never been to a circus before. It promised to be a highlight of their young lives. The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be. “The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say, ’You’re my knight in shining armor.’ He was smiling and basking in pride, looking at her."The ticket lady asked the father how many tickets he wanted. He proudly said, ’Please, let me buy 8 children’s tickets and two adult tickets so I can take my family to the circus.’
The ticket lady quoted the price.
The man’s wife let go of his hand, her head dropped and the man’s lip began to quiver. The father leaned a little closer and asked, ’How much did you say?’
The ticket lady again quoted the price."The man didn’t have enough money. How was he supposed to turn and tell his 8 kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus? Seeing what was going on, my dad put his hand in his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and dropped it on the ground. (And we were not wealthy in any sense of the word) My father reached down, picked up the bill, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, ’Excuse me, sir, I believe this fell out of your pocket.’"The man knew what was going on. He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking, embarrassing situation. He looked straight into my dad’s eye, took my dad’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with quivering lips and a tear streaming down his cheek, replied, ’Thank you, thank you. This really means a lot to me and my family.’"The man telling the story about his father, said, "My father and I went back to our car and drove home. We didn’t go to the circus that night, but we didn’t go without."What a father that man was! What a godly illustration of Christ! Thank God for all fathers who have been godly illustrations, godly examples to follow!

There are so many things I’d likeTo tell you face to face;I either lack the words or failTo find the time and place.But in this special letter, Dad,You’ll find, at least in part,The feelings that the passing yearsHave left within my heart.The memories of childhood daysAnd all that you have done,To make our home a happy placeAnd growing up such fun!I still recall the walks we took,The games we often played;Those confidential chats we hadWhile resting in the shade.This letter comes to thank you, and,For needed words of praise;The counsel and the guidance, too,That shaped my grownup days.No words of mine can tell you, Dad,The things I really feel;But you must know my love for youIs lasting, warm and real.You made my world a better place,And through the coming years;I’ll keep these memories of youAs cherished souvenirs. ...
* Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday to be ready to leave for the airport at 6:30 a.m. We had to be there at 7:00 a.m. Julio's brother, Raphael, picked us up in the school van and Leila and Laura went along to be sure we got through everything at the airport. I can't believe how crazy the traffic was at 6:30 a.m. but we made it to the airport safely (which we were always thankful for with all the crazy driving) just a few minutes after 7:00 a.m. We figured we would get checked in and through security and have plenty of time to look around at the shops in the airport Boy were we wrong! We first had to stand in line to get a slip of tax exemption because we paid our exit tax in with our ticket prices. We then stood in a very long and very slow line to check in. In this line we went through our 1st security clearance as we were questioned by security officers about all sorts of things: the reason for our trip, where we stayed, our professions, how we obtained our ticket (this one almost tripped Dad up as his ticket was the one we got with airline miles), who packed our luggage, etc. We got through this clearance but then Dad got pulled to have his luggage searched ... and of course his underwear was right in top! Finally we arrive at the check in counter and get checked in without any problems. We then proceeded to the next security clearance where we and our carry-on items are checked. We said our goodbyes to Laura and Leila before getting in line We were really glad to have them with us to guide us through the maze. We both got frisked at the clearance and then passed through. At this point we still thought we had enough time to look around so we stopped in one of the shops.
Dad came with the determination to purchase me an emerald since Columbia mines emeralds and is known for some of the finest in the world. We never got a chance to shop for any during the week so we took a look at the airport. We were astonished at how expensive they were. The first necklace I looked at was over $1000.00 US. I have to admit the depth of the color and clarity of the emeralds were exceptional. We lowered our expectations of what we would be able to purchase and I found a beautiful emerald pendant. I purchased a chain for it once back home.
We went on to locate our gate and I was still thinking I could look around after finding it but, again, I was wrong. First of all, to our surprise we had to go through another security clearance to get to the gate area. We got settled at the gate and I went to purchase a snack as we had not had breakfast. I got back to find that we had to take everything out of the gate area as they set up another security clearance we had to go through. We went through this clearance to be told they were bringing my checked luggage to the gate for searching. I'm still not sure what the deal was but they had an officer come to check mine. The other bags were being checked by a clerk and the dogs came to sniff mine. They told Jim he had to stay to be there for the search and the plane was then currently loading so Jim sent me on to the plane. I was very nervous as I waited and waited and waited for him to come on the plane. Finally I saw him. He said the officer moved things around and sniffed my bag. I'm not sure what they were looking for but they didn't find it.
Finally we took off for Newark, New Jersey. This was a long, hot, and uncomfortable flight that seemed like it would never end. When we finally arrived in Newark, they had all flights in a holding pattern while they changed the runway schedule due to weather. It was an awesome feeling to get off that plane. I was glad to be back in the States. Going through customs and baggage check went quickly and smoothly which we were glad of because we were late getting in and had to change terminals and were pushing it to get to our next flight in time. Then we found out our next flight had been delayed an hour due to weather. We had a smoothie, made some phone calls and waited.
The departure time kept changing but finally we boarded ... to wait for de-icing of our plane. It was great to finally get off the ground and headed for Detroit. We arrived in Detroit, dug our car out of the snow & ice, grabbed supper, and headed for home ... HOME SWEET HOME!!!! We arrived home around midnight to excited dogs and a warm, comfortable home. We were definitely exhausted from our 18-19 hour day but very blessed and very fulfilled!
I am so thankful that God opened this door of ministry for us. We were so blessed in so many ways! I can't wait to see the next door that God opens!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So it is the evening of our last day in Columbia ... sad to be leaving ... ready to be home and missing everyone at home! Our host family, Julio, Leila and Laura were there along with another of Julio's daughtesr and her husband ... and Max, the puppy. Dianna, her mom and brother came by to visit and say goodbye. I wanted so much to give Dianna something for all she did for us but didn't have anything else left but a few chocolates. (We took all kinds of chocolates with us to share with the people. Our friend, Rick, told us they loved chocolate, especially Reese's. We shared most of what we had with our host family and everyone at the retreat but still had a few left.) Jim and I were talking about wanting to give something to Dianna and he reminded me that I had 2 new books by Tommy Tenney about Esther and about worship. I felt like I was supposed to give those to her so I wrote a note to her and got out the rest of the chocolate.
We all sat around sharing what God was speaking in our hearts and through us to each other. I haven't sat with a group of people where the Holy Spirit spoke and ministered in such a powerful way in a long time. Prophetic words, encouragement and appreciation just flowed between us. I will treasure this time for a very long time. When we were at the retreat they gave each person a small gift that Julio said had a prophetic meaning for each individual. I received a treasure box with a scripture reminding me that as I follow and obey God He will bless me and prosper me. I was reminded that I am a treasure and that God lives on the inside of me and has planted many treasures in me. Jim received a jeep full of food, supplies, coffee, etc. I'm not sure what his scripture said ... can't remember at the moment ... but I do know he needs a new car. His Toyota is over 300,000 miles now and I believe this token showed God's provision in our lives. I really believe this trip is a turning point in our lives: we are headed toward financial freedom and I believe this is the beginning of God opening more doors in our lives to walk in His purpose for us. I will find Jim's scripture and share it with you in another post. During our sharing, God ministered to the group about their needs being met for a building so they can carry on their purpose of seeing change in their country. Jim shared the miracle of provision of a building for FCCS. It was hard to see this time come to an end but the hour was late and we had a very early start on Monday morning. I gave Dianna the 2 books and shared the rest of the candy with the group. Dianna was very touched by the gift but especially by the note regarding God preparing and using her for her "such a time as this". She shared with us that God has been speaking and confirming this in her over and over. I'm so glad we obeyed God in giving her the book and that the words I wrote were from His heart.
We all sat around sharing what God was speaking in our hearts and through us to each other. I haven't sat with a group of people where the Holy Spirit spoke and ministered in such a powerful way in a long time. Prophetic words, encouragement and appreciation just flowed between us. I will treasure this time for a very long time. When we were at the retreat they gave each person a small gift that Julio said had a prophetic meaning for each individual. I received a treasure box with a scripture reminding me that as I follow and obey God He will bless me and prosper me. I was reminded that I am a treasure and that God lives on the inside of me and has planted many treasures in me. Jim received a jeep full of food, supplies, coffee, etc. I'm not sure what his scripture said ... can't remember at the moment ... but I do know he needs a new car. His Toyota is over 300,000 miles now and I believe this token showed God's provision in our lives. I really believe this trip is a turning point in our lives: we are headed toward financial freedom and I believe this is the beginning of God opening more doors in our lives to walk in His purpose for us. I will find Jim's scripture and share it with you in another post. During our sharing, God ministered to the group about their needs being met for a building so they can carry on their purpose of seeing change in their country. Jim shared the miracle of provision of a building for FCCS. It was hard to see this time come to an end but the hour was late and we had a very early start on Monday morning. I gave Dianna the 2 books and shared the rest of the candy with the group. Dianna was very touched by the gift but especially by the note regarding God preparing and using her for her "such a time as this". She shared with us that God has been speaking and confirming this in her over and over. I'm so glad we obeyed God in giving her the book and that the words I wrote were from His heart.
After our goodbyes, we said goodnight to our host family and went to get a few hours of sleep before our early morning on Tuesday. I'll try and finish up our trip in my next post!

Monday, February 02, 2009

There were a couple of things we really wanted to try as we awoke on our last day in Columbia. We wanted to try their empanadas and tamales. Our host family provided us with one of those for breakfast, tamales. They were delicious and totally different from the tamales we have had (which are also delicious.) These were a mixture of ground rice, vegetables, a boiled egg, and chicken which was wrapped in banana leaves. They pulled the banana leaves up around the mixture and tied it closed. This was then boiled. It was served tied up in the banana leaves. To eat it you just untied the leaves and ate. The taste of the ground rice mixture was very similar to the tamale. They served it with some sort of cornbread and cooked bananas with a sweet cream inside of them. It was all very delicious and way too much food for breakfast! They told us that in another part of Columbia they made something that sounded similar to our tamales but is called something different.
Jim preached in the church our host family attends and that the school is located in. The church runs about 10,000 to 12,000 people. They have 4 services on Sundays to get everyone in and each service is packed. The pastor there was awesome: he very much had the heart of a pastor for his people. We enjoyed the time we spent with him. The praise and worship was awesome and Dad did an awesome job sharing God's Word with the people. They were very receptive and responsive to the preaching. Dad preached a great sermon on not wasting your sorrows (that no matter what is happening Jesus is Lord and Jesus is Victor ... He is our Lord and He gives us victory in every situation. 21 people came forward to accept Jesus and the people of the church fully received the Word. The pastor left a wide open door for us to return any time to minister.
After church I found a fan. An older lady came up to me and through an interpreter told me she watches me every day on television and loves me. She stated that she is losing the channel I'm on soon and will no longer be able to watch and is very sad. I didn't know how to tell her I wasn't whoever she thought I was. I was really in shock and a little confused ... so I just nodded my head and smiled and gave her a hug. I can't believe I am a star and didn't even know it!
After church 2 daughters of our host family (our host, Julio, had became ill at the retreat and was home in bed), a son-in-law and his father took us out to lunch. They took us to a nice, little Colombian restaurant call Soups by Mama and Desserts by Grandma (of course it was in Spanish). It was a really neat place with wonderful food. We got to try the empanada and fresh fried pork rinds ... which were delicious. The fresh juices were awesome and Dad had one that was the best we had the whole trip ... not sure what it was though. After lunch they took us shopping to a normal souvenir type shop and another open air market and then to a more up end mall. We purchased a few things including some Colombian coffee (at Juan Valdez') to bring home with us.
Exhausted, we headed back to our "home away from home" to get out things ready for our trip back home. Later that evening we were expecting Dianna and her family to come for a visit ... which turned out to be a very special time and a great ending to a great week! I will tell you about that in my next post.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Before leaving on Saturday I went up on the roof of the dormitory and got a wonderful view of the surrounding valley and the mountains. Columbia is a beautiful country with the Andes Mountains and all the tropical greenery and flowers. There were flowers blooming everywhere and some very fragrant.
A couple of the people wanted to be sure we got to go down to the river. I'm so glad they insisted and even held up the bus for us. It was pretty much a straight shot down and very slippery. One of the guys walked backwards in front of me holding my hands to be sure I didn't fall ... and he almost fell. It was so gorgeous around the river. Orchids of all kinds were in the trees and vines everywhere. It felt very much like a jungle. It was a pretty large river and a "rushing" river. There were all kinds of plants and fruits. One thing I didn't know was that a large flower blooms on the end of each bunch of bananas ... it was kind of purple or burgundy. We also saw coffee plants and I confiscated a coffee bean. It was well worth the trip down and back up the incline!
We loaded our things and we were on our way back to Bogotá! We wanted so much to stop in the small village just outside of the retreat center and were excited when Dianna talked them into stopping. It was a very small village and the two of us "white folks" definitely drew some attention ... and of course Jim was taking pictures which drew even more attention. There was a beautiful Catholic church and what I would call a village square with a couple of very unique statues. We went in a couple of shops. In one little coffee/pastry shop we went we were treated very special. The owner seemed very excited that we stopped in. We sat down and had some snacks ... not sure what .... some type of meringue and pastries and a wonderful cup of coffee. And when we came out of the shop we found everyone looking for us and worried about where we were! Back on the bus others shared some of their treats with us too. One fruit they shared (actually on the way to the retreat) was very interesting. It was full of this rather "slimy" stuff full of seeds and you sucked it out and ate the seeds and all ... it was very sweet and very good.
The trip back we got to see some the area that we weren't able to see coming due to darkness. The trip back was pretty uneventful other than when our bus driver decided to pass a couple of 18 wheelers while we were coming up on a curve and you couldn't see what was coming. Passing makes me nervous anyway but this was crazy. And of course around the curve a truck comes barreling down on us and stopped right on top of us ... actually seemed like his hood went under us ... and I had a perfect view as I was sitting on the front seat! This truck driver was livid. He jumped out of his truck and took a picture of the bus license plate with his cell phone, said something (I'm sure some choice words I wouldn't repeat!) and then he did something stupid ... he went speeding into our lane with oncoming traffic to go around the bus. But we made it safely back to Bogotá and our home for the week. Our host family had supper waiting on us ... we ate and crashed for the night.
The next day was Sunday and our final day in Bogotá! I will share that in the next posting

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The retreat started at 7:00 a.m. each morning and went all day long. We began the day with devotions by the school pastor and then had breakfast. Dad and I did all of the sessions each day. Dad had the pleasure of starting off the retreat. He did a great job teaching on many different subjects. A few things really stuck out to me. He taught on the need for unity among the staff. This was something really close to his heart as he experienced the effects that a lack of unity has on a school through the issues that Fountain City Christian School encountered last year. This was a very anointed and powerful teaching and I watched as God ministered to His people regarding the need for unity and the resulting power that comes with unity.
One thing I became grateful for right away was the way the school pastor was able to take the word God spoke through us and direct it to specific needs in the hearts of the staff without preaching the sermon again or without preaching a different sermon. He was very sensitive to what God was speaking and to what God wanted to do. We brought him up to close out each session. I appreciated him very much and he was a great asset to the ministry God sent us to do.
Another message that really stuck out to me was when Dad took some time and ministered to the group on how much they need each other. Dad split them in groups according to what they each did and then he pointed out what each group did, the importance of what they did, and what would happen if they weren't there doing their job. It was a very powerful time and they each realized how important the other persons are and that it takes everyone doing their part, using their particular individual gifts to accomplish what God wants to do in their schools, in their students, and in their country. It was a powerful time as Dad released them to appreciate one another.
Dad's last message came from Esther and the message of God putting a person in a place, in a position ... for such a time as this. It was an awesome way to end the retreat as God sent out the message that He has placed each person where they are for a specific purpose and for a specific time. The challenge went forth for each person to step up and have courage and do what God placed them there to do.
I ministered two sessions. The first day I ministered to the women on the Characteristics of a Wise Woman (while Dad ministered to the men on Men of Excellence). It was an awesome time of teaching and it was great to see the women receiving from God. The second day I ministered on inner healing and freedom in Jesus. I really believe this word went forth in power and began a work in the hearts of the people from which they will continue to see fruit over the next year. It was awesome to watch as the people received the word and allowed God to begin a healing in their hearts and begin to set them free. It was a great honor and privilege to be used by God to speak into the hearts of His people.
The worship was powerful all day, each day. I always love the hunger and the freedom in worship when we travel to other countries. The first night I couldn't understand a word that was said in the worship but I completely understood the heart of worship. I cried as I thought about the fact that I had no idea where I was or how to get home ... I didn't really know anyone but Dad ... I couldn't communicate with very many ... but I felt so at home and felt the awesome presence of God! It was a blessing!
We finished up the retreat on Saturday afternoon and they had prepared a wonderful snack ... a glass full of mixed fruits and juices ... very refreshing! We prepared to leave for Bogotá but got a little tour of the property before leaving. I will tell you about that in my next post!