Where Would You Like To Go?

September 28, 2012

Lusika

On Thursdays, I've begun to visit regularly with my friend Lusika.  She works at a nearby craft market and from the first time I met her, she's had a big smile on her face.  Her booth is one of the only ones that has a "floor" to walk around on and Ryleigh loves playing on it.  Lusika is a wife and mom of three.  Her family currently worships in a nearby Catholic church.  Last week, the Lord provided the opportunity for me to share my testimony and the plan of salvation with her ( it was all in Malagasy which means He gets ALL of the credit!!).  It surprised her to hear it all in her language and not in French (the main assumption here is: if you are white you must speak French).  We had a conversation about Jesus being the only way to heaven (John 14:6).  She explained that at her church they believe Jesus, God, & Mary are all equally important.  However, she did note that based on the verse we read, that the Bible didn't say that.  Our conversation went really well (although a little slow b/c of my language abilites!) and I am so thankful for how the Lord has progressed our relationship.  Lusika promised me that if I kept visiting with her that I would learn Malagasy quickly.  I know I'll be taking her up on that and praying that my Malagasy does indeed get better but even more importantly that her relationship with the Creator of languages grows into an intimate daily walk with her Lord.  Ryleigh and I will see Lusika from time to time when we visit the craft market during the week but I will be intentionally stopping by every Thursday.  I'd love for each of you to put a little "L" on the Thursdays in your calendar to remind you to lift up this sweet lady and our relationship.  Thank you!

September 26, 2012

Worthy

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel" Philippians 1:27

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."
Ephesians 4:1


*We do not live a life worthy of the gospel SO God will love us but rather because He already does.


*(not my quote but I honestly have no idea where it came from)

September 24, 2012

Back in Session

The deaf school was on break from mid-July to October.  I am super excited about school starting back soon!  Thanks to mission teams and packages from various prayer churches - we have lots of fun crafts to try out with the class!  I have personally been working on some more indepth Bible stories to share on Fridays when we visit and (although a little nervous) am looking forward to sharing the stories with them.
Please join us in praying for this ministry by:
- the students as they prepare to come back from break
- focus and intentional study time for Nickolee as she prepares stories
- Supernatural understanding of the Bible stories by Hasina (teacher) and the students
- Open eyes to any needs (physical, emotional, spiritual, financial) that the Lord is leading us (or prayer partners) to meet.

September 21, 2012

Family Fun in Ifaty

Before Steve headed out this week, we took a "family fun" day to Ifaty.  It's about 45 minutes away from here and is where we all tend to go when we need a day at the beach!  It's gorgeous and a nice change from our day to day here in Tulear.  It was a beautiful day but also very windy.  This limited our time on the beach because we occasionaly felt like we were being sandblasted but all in all it was a fantastic day!
Daddy with his hands very full - but Ryles was loving it!
 Talking about something - that much you can be sure of!
 Future soccer player...atleast if her dad has anything to say about it!
 Playing in the pool before we left
 All wrapped up and ready to go home!

September 19, 2012

Roxana

    Roxana runs a nearby shop that we found as soon as we moved to Tulear.  She sells a smaller amount of most things we can find in our "grocery store" plus she has fresh fish and shrimp.  We immediately knew we'd get along well with her because she offered to call Steve when fresh fish arrived at her shop!  Over the past few months, I've stopped in occasionally and she always gets on to me for not stopping to see her sooner.  She would explain to me how it's important to stop by just to visit and not only when you needed to buy something.  Embarrassed at the lack of relationship I had built, I decided to make an intentional effort to stop by at least once a week.
     Yesterday, I walked to her shop for the sole purpose of spending some one - on - one time with her.  As I was leaving the house, my stomach was in knots.  Ryleigh was at home with a high fever, her shop is always SUPER hot, and there were about 15 things I needed to be working on at home...but I knew that Roxana's shop was where I was supposed to be headed.  While I was walking, I noticed with a smile on my face at how overcast it was (this doesn't happen in September) and that there was a wonderful breeze blowing.  I thanked the Lord for providing a cool day for me to visit with her.  He not only gave me a "good feeling" weather wise - He continued to calm my mind, heart, (and stomach!), as I arrived at her shop.  She welcomed me with a smile and immediately offered me a seat by her. 
     Roxana was excited to hear that I had come just to talk with her.  The Lord was beyond gracious in allowing my ears to understand what she was saying, as well as giving me words to speak back to her!  I was talking with a vocabulary that I didn't realize I knew!  I discovered that Roxana's husband owns the shop that she runs and they have four children.  She grew up believing in Jesus but is now Muslim.  **In Madagascar, the custom is that when you marry - you must adopt the beliefs of your husband**  I was able to share with her a short version of my testimony as well as the fact that I believed Jesus was the only way to eternal life.  She said she understood what I said but "just because we are friends doesn't mean we believe the same things". 
     I spent a lot of time listening yesterday morning, because often religions may be named but the beliefs behind them are quite different from what you might expect.  She doesn't wear the "traditional" Muslim clothing and she believes the main difference between the two of us is that "You (Nickolee) talk about Jesus everyday, I (Roxana) talk about Him every once in a while.  He is just not important enough to talk about everyday."  She told me that her Qu'ran was just like my Old Testament and that they were interchangeable.  She mentioned some of the names may be different but that they are indeed the same people.  She did say that all religions must believe Jesus is the only way to heaven or they will not go.  The fancy word for this is "syncretism" but it means that lots of beliefs have been combined into one.  Although, she tells others she's Muslim - her beliefs are not that of a strictly Muslim faith.
     Before leaving yesterday morning, she made sure that I promised I would come back just to talk with her again.  I guaranteed her, Lord willing, I would.  Would you take a moment right now and lift up Roxana?  Pray for her salvation and that she would see through all of the lies that cloud her heart & mind.  Pray that my language ability would not be a hindrance to her hearing the Truth. 

September 17, 2012

Flour Painting

I.LOVE.THIS.ACTIVITY.
Seriously - it was so much fun!
I got the idea from my cousin Stacey.  You can check out her blog here.
She has the most adorable twin boys and put pics up on fb showing them "flour painting" - I immediately knew Ryles would love it and couldn't wait to do it!  Here's some pictures from our time "painting"!

I can really play with this???
Glad it's safe to eat!
 I can paint my toes!!
 "Hat momma...HAT!!" :)
Daddy even got in on the fun!
 
Flour Painting:
Flour + water until it's "pudding like" then add food coloring!  I've been warned that red tends to stain so we opted for 3 other colors.  I just chose some kitchen "tools" that Ryleigh would have fun with and let her have at it!
Was it super messy?  Absolutely! 
Was it completely worth it?  What do you think?

 

September 15, 2012

Southbridge Mission Team

The Waller Family (our supervisors) have their home church coming in for a mission trip on Monday.  The team will be leaving out on Wednesday for a solid week in the bush.  Steve (along with many others on our team) will be heading out with them to help with translating and relationship building.  Please keep this team in your prayers as they are serving among the Mahafaly.  Jodie and I would also appreciate your prayers as we're "holding down the fort" for a bit longer than we're used to!  Looking forward to letting you know the things that God will be doing through this team while they are out there!  Stay tuned!

September 13, 2012

It's that time again!!

As my facebook news feed has been covered with updates about cooler weather and fall being "in the air"...we're skipping spring and jumping into summer over here in Mada!
Ryleigh, of course, couldn't be happier because that means it's pool time again!
It's only been a couple of months since we've been in the pool (does that give you any indication how short our fall/winter is??) but Ryleigh was ready to jump in...LITERALLY!!
She's much more interested in blow up toys now that she's a little older...she kept trying to throw the beach ball into the ring...it kept her entertained for quite a while!
Thankful for a pool that's close by to go to and be able to escape this "springtime" heat!

September 11, 2012

Cooking In Madagascar

I'm not sure how frequent these types of posts will be but several people have asked recently what types of things I'm cooking here in Madagascar.  We have an okay selection of your basic necessities (but know that my definition of that has changed in the past year) but we do lack things like oh say - canned crescent rolls (oh how I miss those!!)  I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest but I'm slowly learning that "this" can be substituted for "that" so lately it's mostly a love relationship!  I wasn't what you would consider a "cook" in the States but here it's really not an option...I have to be.  What started out a year ago as very hesitant attempts - has turned into something that's more of a hobby.  Cooking has become something that I truly enjoy doing and I love finding new recipes to try!  I've even been known to read lots of recipes for one thing and combine what I think would be good into just one recipe and so far (much to the disbelief of my husband) it's turned out quite well!
I read blogs that have beautiful pictures of their latest cooking creation...not me - but here are the links to tried and true recipes that we have really enjoyed!  I hope you enjoy them too and I'd love to know a few of your favorites (especially if I have all the ingredients here!!)

Crispy Ranch Chicken - had a package that had cream of chicken in it - SO GLAD!

Strawberry Creme Cobbler - I really don't know how to describe how delicous this dessert is!

Toddler Veggie Muffins - I included zucchini in Ryleigh's b/c we have an abundance and she needs green veggies!!

Parmesan Zucchini - super easy side dish that is a hit with our whole family

Crockpot Chicken Chili - recipe says over rice, but we ate it with tortilla chips and it was YUMMY!

Sweet & Sour Chicken - I'm not the biggest fan of this in the States BUT it's Steve's favorite so we tried it last night and it.was.awesome.

Zucchini Cakes - obviously I'd prefer crab cakes but since that's not an option, these are quite delicious!!

Crockpot French Toast - think more souffle turnout than "toast" but it was much easier than cooking french toast the normal way!

Creme Cheese Biscuits - seriously the best "melt in your mouth" biscuits I've ever had!

September 8, 2012

Greater Grace

As I'm working through Beth Moore's study of James, (which has taken me ENTIRELY too long to complete - such a slacker) there are days that I've purposely chosen to take several days to go through just one lesson because of everything that I feel He is trying to teach me. This week it's been through 5 simple but deeply profound words -

"But He gives greater grace" ~ James 4:5a

If you've kept up with our blog for any length of time - you may have noticed a theme of how God has been teaching me about His grace.  I've been a child of His since the age of 4 but this year...some 23 years later...He's been rocking my world with grace and a deeper understanding of how to daily live in it. 

Life overseas is an adventure.  It's overwhelming and breathtaking and difficult.  There are days that I actively see His hand at work and others when it's hard to see beyond the poverty & darkness.  Days when He amazes me with how He has planned long ago for Ryleigh to grow up here and provide endless open doors for conversations...and days when I question my responsibility as a "good mom" due to poor healthcare, lack of "normal" social interactions, and educational opportunities.  I struggle with comparison to other moms & wives all around the world.  Tears spring forth oh so easily when I think too long about how I'm not a fluent Malagasy speaker. 

"But He gives greater grace."

"Sink yourself in those five words until all your fears of failure, inadequacy, unforgiveness, and insufficiency drown.  Don't come up for air until those fears lay lifeless and cold on the bottom of the sea.  Let Jesus lighten your burden until you float to the top, youth renewed, heart restored.  He is enough.  Let me say that again: He is enough.  When you need more, you will have more.  When your woes are great, His grace is greater.  When our sins are vast, His mercy is deep." - Beth Moore

Humbled, truly humbled, by the amount of His grace He daily gives.  Never too much...never not enough...exactly what I need for the exact moment I am in.  His grace is enough.  His grace is enough for me.

September 3, 2012

Prayer

Prayer...I couldn't count how many times I use the word in emails, facebook updates, tweets, blogs, and conversations.  There are times that I hesitate to even ask people to pray for certain things because I think "I just asked them to pray for something else".  But here's the truth - prayer works.  Why does it work?  Oh friends, it's because of the God we pray to.  He is...amazing.  He answers the prayers of His children and those who are seeking to become His children. 
He saves.
He provides.
He glorfies Himself.
We are told in very plain terms via 1 Thessalonians to "Pray without ceasing".  It really doesn't get much clearer.  There are some of you who have been praying since the very 1st time you met either me or Steve while we were growing up.  Some of you have become prayer warriors over us when we were teenagers.  Others of you have known us since we were married and knew our hearts were following Him to a foreign country - and you prayed.  There's even more of you who have heard about our journey and quite possibly have never met us face to face and yet you still pray.  I wanted to share with you some things that are going on because you HAVE been praying.
 
Currently, since moving to Tulear, Steve has been traveling out with Grant, Nathan, & Doug.  Thery are all 4 working among the Mahafaly people.  Steve has been learning and listening - knowing there would be a day when he would be going out to new places on his own.  The time has flown by and in October Grant (our supervisor) will be going on stateside assignment with his family.  Steve and I have been praying over where the Lord would have him work.  The "old" work in the 4 villages with believers is hardly "old"  it's actually quite new and the believers there need a firm foundation & discipleship.  Steve has felt burdened with how to teach them what church looks like and the importance of evangelisim in their area.  At the same time, we are aware of the numerous villages that are in the bush who have never heard.
 
What we have been praying through (and all of you who lift us up) is what direction to go.  Should it be one or the other?  Can he balance both?  His latest trip out produced some answers to all of the time spent before the Father asking for wisdom...
 
This is an exerpt from Nathan's blog...
Steve and I stayed in Kilimary reviewing and retelling many stories with them. But the night before that we had a conversation with a guy who began expressing his interest in taking the stories to another village. “We should go the villages in the forest,” he said. “They haven’t heard the stories yet. If they had the stories then they would know the right way to go.” We told him the next time we come out we can set a time when we can all go to the forest and share the stories. So . . . Steve felt like God was leading him to encourage evangelism. Check.
 
The next day we went to Tanantsoa. Many things ended up taking place there but the first thing we notice when we arrived is that everyone was already gathered (which never happens in Tantansoa) and meeting with someone else. It ended up being a kind of forest conservation training for the village. But it wasn’t just Tanantsoa there. Four other villages were represented there also. Four villages from the East. Oh yeah, the fokontany (president) asked us to come preach the gospel there too. So . . . Steve felt like God wanted him to head East. Check.

 
There are many times that we have no idea how prayers are answered.  Only the Lord knows the things that your interceding on our behalf protects us from or opens our eyes to - but there are also times He lets us see answers as if they were written on the wall.  So, thank you.  Thank you for being such a vital part of our daily life from thousands of miles away.  We love you.
 
 

September 1, 2012

Beautiful Words

A blog update from Joburg...I wasn't really sure what this was going to look like.  I love blogging but it's hard being away from Steve & Ryleigh.  I've woken up in the middle of the night because I'm sure I've heard Ryleigh on her moniter...only to realize she's no where near where I am.  I can cry at a moment's notice (no jokes for those who know that's usually the case anyway!).  I'm beyond grateful for the wonderful friends I have here in Joburg - they have taken such great care of me and are trying to keep me busy so I don't have time to miss Mada and get me well.  But, to be honest, it's just hard.  I want to be well.  I want to be at home.  I want to be with my family. 
I'm reading through Romans.  It's just like the Lord to perfectly plan chapter 8 for me today.  I started off the morning with the reminder that "the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace".  He then told me, "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  And then in all of His amazing grace & mercy, He spoke - oh so sweetly to my soul -"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness...because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God...God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God...if God is for us, who can be against us??"
As I'm sitting by myself in His ever present presence, He reminds me no matter where I am, I'm never away from Him.  There is nothing in this whole world or beyond it that can seperate me from the love of my Father.  When I feel alone and long to hold the people He has put in my life, He is teaching me about just holding onto Him.  I am ever grateful for Steve & Ryleigh (isn't she such a cutie?!?! and i think he's pretty handsome himself!)  They are not mine though.  They are His.  They are an outpouring of His love in my life.  "Will tribulation, or distress...separate us from the love of Christ?  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us."
He is enough.  He is enough.  He is enough.
Oh what beautiful words from an even more beautiful Savior.
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