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!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The continuing story of our trip to Columbia, South America......
We left the house around 4:30 p.m. and as we walked out the door we found out we would be walking to the church........which wasn't very far but here you have 2 white people (already a head turner as we walk down the streets) and now we are pulling our luggage behind us. We arrived at the church to see a large tour bus awaiting us for our trip to the "farm" for the "retirement." We loaded up and did the typical thing: we waited for everyone else who was late to arrive. Finally, we left for our trip DOWN the mountain. Now just imagine the narrow, very curvy roads going down the mountains here in the States (if you have ever been on those roads) where you can see where you came from over on the other mountain and where you are headed down the next mountain ... no guardrails, huge drop-offs, and a long line of 18-wheelers in front of and behind us. Of course, because we were their special guests we were privileged to sit on the front seat of the bus and we could see EVERYTHING! I'm sure we made all sorts of faces and sounds as we watched where we were going ... and as we prayed a lot! It was a very long trip. Our bus driver really went slow (which I was thankful for as I watched other buses passing the long lines of 18-wheelers and our bus going extremely too fast.) Jim made the statement that it was no wonder you hear of buses going over the sides of the mountain ... a very comforting thought as I looked over the edge of the mountain!
We arrived late at the "farm" where the "retirement" was taking place. We had no idea what we would be walking into. We found out that the "farm" was actually a retreat center and the "retirement" was actually a retreat! It was a beautiful location! Very tropical ... and right beside a large, rushing river. The church purchased the land and has built a open sanctuary, a full commercial kitchen, an open dining room, and dormitories. They have a family that lives there full time to take care of everything as well as a professional chef to cook. We were very pleasantly surprised as they showed us our accommodations ... a private room with a bedroom and full bath. What a blessing to have our own bath! It was small but new and served the purpose great! We settled our room and went to meet the others in the dining room for supper.
It felt like all we did was eat while at the retreat ... much different than the first couple of days. Every meal was huge and delicious. Every meal, including breakfast, had soup, a full meal, fresh juice, coffee, and fruit or dessert. I fell in love with the coffee. When you asked for coffee you get wonderful Columbia coffee and it is sweetened with sugar cane and loaded with fresh cream. I'm not a coffee drinker but I think I could get addicted if I lived in Columbia! We had all kinds of fresh fruit: papaya, plantains, bananas, pineapple, apples, tangerines, avocados (are they a fruit????) and other fruits I've never seen or heard of before ... but they were delicious. On the property were trees and bushes with every kind of fruit! Also, we had canaries and love birds everywhere. It was so neat to watch them playing and hear their singing!
We met our interpreter, Dianna. She is about the age of our son, Jamie. She is native to Columbia but spent 8 years in the States. She is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and spent some time here teaching after she earned her degree. She was an awesome blessing to us; not only was she a great interpreter, she also was very sensitive to the Spirit of God and moved right with us as we ministered. She plans to be back in the States in August to work on her Master's. She plans to come visit so hopefully all of you will be able to meet her. We really developed a heart bond with her over the few days we spent together.
Next post, I will tell you all about the retreat and the awesome way God moved!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We had an awesome trip to Columbia, South America! God's presence was very awesome as we taught His Word and ministered to the people.
We arrived at the home we stayed in late on Tuesday evening. It was a long day of traveling and we were exhausted! We had a little snack and juice and visited with our host family before passing out in bed. Julio and his wife, Leila, both work for the Christian school that brought us to Columbia. They actually started the school many years ago. They had one daughter currently at home.....Laura. We took the family gifts of peanut butter, chocolate and sculptor/stonework by Carruth.....the artist in Waterville.
On Wednesday morning we slept in a little, had breakfast.........eggs, bread and peanut butter toast........with fresh juice. The juices all week were wonderful.......made fresh and we had so many different kind........papaya, orange, pineapple, mango, tangerine..........and some that I don't even know the fruit but they were great! After breakfast we did some touring of the church and school........meeting the teachers and staff of the school and the pastors and staff of the church. The church runs between 10,000 and 12,000 people each Sunday and they have outgrown the building...........they have 4 services on Sunday to get everyone in. They are currently looking for land so they can enlarge. Also, the school will need a new building in 2 years because theirs will no longer pass safety inspections to be used as a is several stories tall and within 2 years all schools have to be only one floor. They are trusting God for a miracle!

After leaving the school we went to visit a salt was very interesting. The interesting thing to me was that now that although it is a working mine, they have made it into a cathedral.........they even have masses in it. So we are down in this mountain/cathedral and it has the 14 stations of the cross like we saw in Jerusalem...............places set up representing the different things that happened as Jesus carried His cross.
After visiting the salt mine we went for lunch/early supper..........we were starving because we had only eaten the small breakfast that morning and it was around 4:00 p.m. We went to a small local restaurant in the village we were in. It felt like we were sitting in a movie like Romancing the Stone wondering when the drug dealers were going to burst in and we would have to turn the table over and jump behind it on the floor for protection! And the owner looked the part of the drug dealer! But the food was wonderful! Dad had fish...........a whole fish split open with still the head.....and eyes but he enjoyed it. (OK, he really DID NOT eat the eyes.) We let our host order for us because the menu was in Spanish. Mine ended of being a huge steak with potatoes, some type of bread made of corn and fried plantains. After dinner we headed back to Bogotá.....the city we were staying in. We were really surprised by how large of a city Bogotá is and the traffic was crazy...........and there were small motorcycles everywhere, swerving in and out of traffic..........I don't think they obeyed any laws, as a matter of fact, I'm not so sure there were much of any traffic laws because those in cars didn't do much better! By the way Bogotá is (high above sea level) like being in Denver, Colorado so we were sucking for air a lot of the time!
On Thursday morning they added a cooked hotdog to our breakfast menu and we left to go up the mountain................mind you that Bogotá is built on the top of a mountain plateau already and we are going much was like being in Breckenridge, Colorado. We were really sucking for air! On the top of this mountain they had built a Catholic Cathedral where they have regular masses. They also have a restaurant. We took a train straight up the mountain and a cable car straight down the mountain......a little scary! It was a beautiful cathedral which also had the seven stations of the cross leading up to it. It was a beautiful view of the city and the other mountains and countryside. The flowers were beautiful! We even saw a hummingbird..........a very big one!
After leaving the mountain we went for lunch in downtown Bogotá and met our hosts other daughter. We ate lunch a a very "muslim" restaurant..........the food was very good but it felt a little strange with all the writing that was on the wall regarding the muslim religion.
After lunch we did some shopping in an open market type place. They had all of the normal tourist things..............and they also had some beautiful poncho's, scarves and sweaters that were made in Columbia.
We returned home for a short rest and we prepared to leave for the retreat. We were told we would be speaking at at "retirement" at the "farm". I will tell you all about that later.
What an awesome trip and what an awesome God! We are thankful for His anointing, His favor and His protection of us and of each of you! We are very honored that He allowed us this privilege!