Thursday, May 31, 2012

A good Bible and more guns...

It was just a simple trip to the stationary store...or so we thought.  An older gentleman was there searching around for a book.  Not finding what he wanted he went to a clerk asking "where can I find a good bookstore in this town".  She flashed a smile at him saying "I would like to think that we are a good stationary and bookstore!  But, tell me, what are you looking for?"

"A Bible...a good Bible" he informed her.  Tom and I were both looking at her and were able to interject that there are two other places to find a Bible here in Belmopan, Covenant Bookstore, or the Art Box.  The Art Box has the largest selection.  He thanked us and then turned back to the clerk and let her know that he needed a Bible to use when he teaches the children at a local school.  

Glancing down at a newspaper on the counter he announced loudly "So they only shot the guy 14 times, eh?!"  The clerk acknowledged the tragedy and asked him what he thought the solution to all of the violence might be.  We thought we would hear something spiritual in his answer...since he had identified himself as someone who teaches from the Bible.   

"Guns," he said.  "guns are the solution.  If more people were licensed to carry weapons then people could fight back."  

She questioned him about whether or not the churches needed to be more involved in addressing the issue of violence.  He came back with more talk about how Texas has solved all of its crime problems by arming its citizens with guns.  When she tried to voice her opinion that more guns were not the best solution here to stop this problem he said "so you're one of them do-gooders that don't think people should be allowed to carry guns, eh?  Well, you still have to listen to me...".

After finishing his spiel about how guns are the answer to the violence that has happened recently he left the store in search of a good Bible.

Tom, the clerk, and I all just shook our heads in disbelief.   

At the top of my list of solutions would be to give the police vehicles instead of bicycles.  It is easy to commit a crime if you know the chances are slim of you getting caught.  We have heard stories of people committing a robbery and fleeing the scene on a bicycle.  By the time the police are called and they arrive on their bicycles of course the culprit is long gone. In Belize the latest statistics show a 1 in 10 conviction rate in murder cases.  Perhaps if there were a fully equipped crime lab with trained crime scene investigators then more criminals would be convicted and that might serve as a deterrent for future criminal acts. 

So if you are listening Mr. Bible Teacher...let's start with the simple solution of better equipping the police to fight and solve crimes.  Because arming more people with guns is hardly the best answer for Belize.    

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

thought for today...Why does God bother with us?


Isn't it amazing what God is capable of...the whole of creation... and the immensity of the universe He designed and yet...He cares for us.  He sent His Son to take our punishment.  His sacrificial love overwhelms me.

It makes me want to sing the old hymn 'How Great Thou Art':

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

I am so grateful for His care as He watches over us.  He planned the universe and He planned each one of us. What a magnificent thought...we matter to Him!

Be sure to take time to consider all that God has made AND the enormity of His love for us.

linking up with:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Morality Matters...

CDF is sponsoring a two day seminar on Morality.  We have a team here from the U.S. that uses this curriculum in the schools in East Texas and they have come here to work in some of the schools this week and to train locals to use the materials.  We had a great turn out last night and are looking forward to finishing strong tonight!

The curriculum includes teaching about the physical and emotional changes during adolescence, development of the body, personal hygiene, menstruation, self-esteem and so much more.  It is practical, factual, and Biblical.

One of the passages shared last night by Diana Shaw, founder of CDF, is from The Message Bible and it is great food for thought and discussion regarding sexuality:

1Corinthians 6:9-20

9-11 Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.

 12 Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims.

 13 You know the old saying, "First you eat to live, and then you live to eat"? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that's no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!

 14-15 God honored the Master's body by raising it from the grave. He'll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master's body. You wouldn't take the Master's body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.

 16-20 There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

 The highlighted words are things that stand out for me...what stands out for you?

Keep this seminar in your prayers today...and pray that God would raise up volunteers here in Belize who would be willing to teach this material in schools across this country!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Global Day of Prayer and other gifts...

Yesterday was the Global Day of Prayer and Belize held several services all across the country.  We attended the service held in Belmopan.  The service began just after 5pm and ended just before 9pm.  People from various denominations came together in the spirit of unity to pray for Belize.  The Honorable Simeon Lopez, mayor of Belmopan, welcomed the crowd gathered and then local pastors led us in prayers covering various topics.

There was a time for repentance, praise, thanksgiving and intercession.  We prayed for families, government, education, churches, and so much more.  We sang, we cried, and we bonded as a community over our mutual concerns for the city of Belmopan, the district of Cayo and the nation of Belize.  It was a joy and a privilege for us to participate.  It was Pentecost Sunday and we truly felt the spirit moving among us as we banded together in prayer.  

 As I think on all that God allowed us to experience this past week all I can do is continue counting His precious gifts with gratitude.

786. a Christian mayor who joins in with the community to pray.  

787. joining in with the hundreds gathered in the University of Belize gym.
788.  knowing that we were also united with all of those watching the service throughout Belize on PlusTV.

789.  a worship team made up of people from a variety of denominations.

790.  seeing members from our church represented and being active in this event.

Johnny led one of the prayer sessions

Terry worked hard with set up and take down.  His wife Samantha sang with the worship team.

Gifts from Tom's counseling class:
791.  we finished the third session with 14 students...the first year of training is complete!
792.  knowing that future counselors are being raised up in several different communities here in Belize.
793.  rejoicing with those who have completed 18 weeks of sacrificing their Saturday mornings...many of whom have full time jobs and families.

794.  Tom's faithfulness in preparing lessons

795.  finishing this semester's final exam

796.  Celebrating with a meal when it was all over!

Gifts from the week:
797.  time spent with Meesha and Spencer.
798.  feeling so blessed to have Meesha stay with us before moving onto the YWAM base.
799.  hearing a woman that I have been working with tell me the truth about her relapse.
800.  having another woman from the same village ask for counseling.
801.  beginning to make some progress in Spanish class.
802.  experiencing a Catholic mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe for the first time.
803.  the beauty and sacredness of rituals

804.  new life springing up in our yard

Gifts from the Word:
805.  He is close to us in our sorrow  Psalm 34:18
806.  He saves us when our spirits are crushed  Psalm 34: 18
807.  No matter how many troubles we have...He delivers us  Psalm 34:19
808.  We will not be condemned is we take refuge in Him  Psalm 34:22
809.  He is the strength of my heart  Psalm 73:26

 joining in with the gratitude community:

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 things you can do to combat sex slavery

Watching the movie Nefarious: Merchant of Souls reduced me to a blubbering mess.  

It is not a feel good movie.  Not the kind where you sit with a bowl of popcorn, feet up on the couch, and kick back waiting to be entertained.  It is the kind that confronts you with the facts of modern day slavery.   Sex slavery to be specific.

This movie covers everything from initial recruitment to victim liberation.  I learned that trafficking is based on an exploitation of vulnerability.  I learned that in a place like Cambodia you can buy a beer for $4, a bunch of grapes for $5 and a girl for $3 and charge it all to your credit card.  I learned that even in a place where prostitution is legal there are still girls in brothels that have been sold into that lifestyle by their parents.

As we watched I was reminded that all around the world there are women and children being abused, neglected and exploited.   And they need our prayers.  They need advocates brave enough to intervene.  Education and money alone will not stop evil from advancing in this world.  

There is only one Power great enough to overcome evil...let us turn to Him!  

The goal of the Child Development Foundation, the organization we work with,  is to eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children here in Belize.  Each week we meet for prayer.  We pray over the different awareness programs we have scheduled, we pray for the counseling clients we see, we pray for the victims of abuse and exploitation, we pray for each other to have the strength and endurance to keep on working.  We pray for the funding we need to keep creating awareness throughout the country and the monies needed to build a safe house here in Belize.  This movie was hard for me to watch but it also showed me that CDF is on the right track in fighting this evil.     

And according to the movie there are some things each of us can do to help fight this battle:

Please join us in prayer for the victims,  pray about what you can do to promote awareness about this issue wherever you are, and pray about becoming a partner with us in this effort.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

thought for today...Rest is vital!

Are you weary or burdened?

There are so many burdens that threaten to overwhelm us.  So much pain and hurt is shared within the walls of our office.  The freedom to lay it all down and rest is priceless.  Tom is so much better at self care than I.

Like a two year old fighting sleep I struggle with rest.

Slowly, I am learning.  Investing time in the Word and in prayer lightens the load.  Recently I realized I was neglecting the vital to focus on the important.  I was doing more than I was being.  I was ignoring the invitation to rest.

May you rest in Him.  And with Him.  And on Him.
Rest is vital!

Do you choose the important over what is vital?

linking up with:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 years ago today...

Spencer came into our lives and made our family complete. 
 He bought joy to our family on May 22,1990  

He shared his sense of humor and love of life with us along the way...

He is always willing to go new places and try new things...stretching himself and others along the way...

He is an encourager, a great friend, and wise beyond his years...
 and it is a blessing to have him as a son.

Happy Birthday, Spencer!  

Monday, May 21, 2012

the gifts of a Sabbath rest and other blessings...

How often do you have a weekend that really feels like a Sabbath rest?  

There are times when our weekends fly by so fast it is hard to tell that we even had a break from the normal routine.  This weekend has been calm and relaxing and we truly needed that.  The ultimate treat for us is having a three day weekend.  With today being a holiday we get one more day to enjoy having Meesha and Spencer to chat with and hang out with.  Since she arrived on Friday we have driven out to see the Mennonite Community in Springfield, hiked at Guanacaste National Park and toured Jaguar Creek.  Today we will enjoy a little time down on the coast.  The sound of the waves truly sets my heart at ease and renews my spirit...and I always count that as a gift!

762.  building a friendship with Meesha in real life.
763.  chats that start after a 6pm dinner and end at a quarter til midnight.

764.  seeing a glimpse of how big our God is when looking at a Guanacaste tree!

765.  the colors from God's paintbrush continue to amaze 

766.  watching kids at play in the river

 767.  experiencing new dishes...

768.  a priceless cross from India for my collection

769.  literally having an elephant in the room!

770.  Indian spices

771.  an early start to the rainy season.
772.  Pastor Dan's message on prayer.
773.  friends who survived a car accident with no injuries on a rainy drive home down a Belizean highway
774.  starting a notebook to conjugate Spanish verbs.
775.  collecting memories in our home here in Belize.
776.  walking over to a seat at church with a little girl hugging onto my waist.
777.  treasuring memories made and lessons learned and storing them in my heart.
778.  the Embassy picnic.
779.  celebrating my birthday quietly with Tom
780.  feeling God's celebration and delight over me.

Gifts found in the Word: 
781.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Romans 8:38-39
782.  Those who look to Him are never covered with shame.  Psalm 34:5
783.  He provides security for those who revere Him.  Psalm 34:7
784.  His eyes are on us.  Psalm 34:15
785.  His ears are attentive to us.  Psalm  34:15

 joining in with the gratitude community:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Picnic at the American Embassy

Tom and I were asked to represent the Child Development Foundation at a picnic hosted by the American Embassy.  Sadly, we were not allowed to take in any electronic devices, cellphones, or cameras for security reasons.  So I have no photos of my own to show from the event.

I scanned the invitation for you to see:
The seal on the back of the envelope
The invitation
The program
The amount of security surrounding the Embassy was amazing.  
At each check point we had to stop and show the invitation to the officers before moving on to the next.  And that was just to park the car!  We don't live very far from the Embassy and if it had not been raining we could have just walked over.  But it was coming down pretty steadily so we chose to drive over. 
After parking the car we went to the front of the Embassy building to the final check in point.  Seated there at that table were four people with lists in front of them verifying each person to see if you were actually to be let into the event.  Then we went through metal detectors and my purse had to be xrayed.  I forgot that my cellphone was in the bottom of my purse.  It had to be turned off and left in the security office.  
As we stepped outside we were greeted by men with umbrellas.  They gave Tom and I each an umbrella and escorted us over to the huge white tents where the event was being held.  There was a lot of food, music and plenty of drinks to choose from.  For our snacks I had nachos and Tom choose pizza.  And later for dinner the choices were hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers, brisket, or chicken.  Along with soft drinks and water there were also waiters with bottles of red or white wine who kept coming around to refill glasses.  After dinner there were cookies, ice cream, and a huge display of cupcakes that formed an American flag.
We saw a few people that we knew.  Some business owners from town, people from church that work at the Embassy, and a couple of the women who attend the same Bible study that I go to.  There was also a local pastor and his wife in attendance...she told me they were invited because they own the bed and breakfast in town.  It was an interesting mix of people from the business community, representatives from other Embassies, various organizations and NGO's.  
Prime Minister Dean Barrow was among the dignitaries at the event along with Belmopan's Mayor Simeon Lopez.  During the Ambassador's address he let us know why they were holding the American Independence Day celebration in May.  It was planned as an outdoor picnic during the dry season to avoid the rain.  Well, the rainy season came earlier than expected but the event went on as scheduled!  We were told by friends of ours that in the past Independence Day was celebrated with a formal dinner.  They chose a less formal event this year to accommodate more people.   
It was exciting to be a part of it all and to see the wide variety of people who turned out.  Official photographers wove in and out of the crowd grabbing paparazzi shots along with posed photos.  One photographer had an ID that said White House Staff.  We were informed that photos may go up on the internet but they didn't say when.  I had my picture taken with the Ambassador as I as thanking him for the invitation.  Once the photos are posted I will share what I can here!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

thought for today...a birthday verse

Have you ever been given a verse for your birthday?  

One of the precious gifts that I received yesterday was Zephaniah 3:17.  What a treasure!  Just like the priceless young woman who gave it to me.  She wrote that she was praying these words over my life.  And I am blown away by her thoughtfulness.  Her message went on to say:

"Praying you feel his celebration and delight over your life more and more."

This present arrived the night before my birthday.  A gift from a country eleven and a half hours ahead of the time here in Belize.  I fell asleep contemplating this verse and awoke to the melodic sounds of much needed rain.  God's singing was refreshing the dry earth and bringing with it a cooler temperature.  Such a joy after the long hot days of the dry season that we have endured over the past few months.  

I don't think that I am the only one who needs to feel celebrated and delighted over by Him.  I think many of us need that.  Just as she blessed me...I want to bless you.  Isn't God's word powerful enough to bless and feed us all?  It reaches out to where we are, touching our hearts, and filling our souls.  His word is the spiritual DNA that transforms us to the core.  If we give it room inside of us to do its will rejuvenate us and make us fit for Him. 

May you feel His celebration and delight over you more and more. 
May He quiet your mind with His love 
so that you can hear even the faintest notes of His glorious singing over you!

linking up with:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy 49th Birthday to me!

As it is after midnight and I just ate strawberry flavored frozen yogurt topped with bananas and chocolate syrup.

I have a Spanish class today and a date with Tom. 
 And perhaps a bit more frozen yogurt...who knows?!! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

the gift of surprise and other blessings

I have never been fond of surprises.  But, Tom keeps trying to change that...and he just might succeed!  He entered a contest with BelmopanCityOnline and won a Mother's Day gift for me.  Here is his winning entry:

"Alida has been a great wife of 30 years, mother of two grown sons & now helps people who have been abused or rescued from sex trafficking. She has been giving to others all her life & deserves a month of receiving!"
The prize is a month of free housecleaning...I am glad he entered and excited about the redeeming the prize!

Gifts from the week:
741.  Tom's surprise Mother's Day gift.
742.  Spencer taking me out for ice cream.
743.  Nathan's Facebook messages.
744.  doing well on the mid term in Tom's counseling class.
745.  two new counselors working with us at CDF.

746.  taking pictures of the guys for no reason.

747.  Harley's faithfulness to Tom.

Gifts from Sunday:
748.  a baby dedication on Mother's Day  

749.   a Bible in Chinese

750.   children playing in the field

752.  vibrant colors from God's paintbrush.

753.  a cross hung high

754.  a loving church family
755.  potluck dinners with plenty of food for all.
756.  lots of real food choices at the potluck so this gluten free girl didn't feel deprived.

Gifts found during my time in the Word:
757.  His Spirit helps us in our weakness Romans 8:26
758.  He intercedes for us  Romans 8:26
759.  He works for the good of those who love Him Romans 8:28
760.  He gave up His son for us Romans 8:32
761.  We are more than conquerors through Him  Romans 8:37

 joining in with the gratitude community: