Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Are You Hungry?

It's is Wednesday, our Missions Focus Day. We have had so much happen in just one week. I stand in awe once again. The events on Monday amazed I'll recap for some of my readers and fill in the others. It started off with a morning filled with expectation. Mr. Incredible had a job interview last week for some part time work. It was with the company he worked for for 10 years...he actually managed several he was just asking for 20 hours at regular barista rate. The manager actually called him and told him he was exactly what she was looking for. She had several partners leave and she could really use someone with his hours and experience. It was in the bag...she just had to clear it with her district manager. He was to find out...on Monday!
Then I received a "random" email from our friend Molly. The Lord had put it on her heart to bring my family some things. We couldn't wait to see her. Gifts from God are always amazing. She stopped by, shared about her trip to Mali when she went with our Pastor and a few others. She told my superheros about the items she brought and that she was giving us these things. We couldn't believe it. We have been praying about what the Lord would call us to..what is He trying to teach us...where will He send us. You can see my other post below about our trip to the Rafiki Foundation. The Lord is stirring us.
Among some of the items she brought, she gave the boys a few bracelets that the women make to help support themselves as well as that beautiful tapestry above. She shared her heart and her calling. You can tell by her voice and when you look into her eyes...there is no doubt what God has called her doubt at all. She doesn't know what it looks like yet, but she is confident in the Lord..that He has called her to missions! It was so moving to hear her share her heart and passion with me. But, not only that, she encouraged me...and what I was doing with my children and what the Lord might just be doing in my family. I felt like a prophet stopped by and visited us. Truly!

While she was at my home a package came to our door. I didn't open it yet. Molly and I continued to chat and I told her just how much our trip to Eustis meant to my family. I mentioned that if we became missionaries with Rafiki, we would have to raise our own support and that would be a huge task. She replied with something like..fortunately He is a Big God!

When she leaves, my boys and I open the package only to find that my friend Debbie in North Carolina sent me the Pray Big sign. She said that the Lord had stopped her in front of this sign and spoke to her heart to "send it to the Engels so they can hang it in their home." It came, this very day, after Molly leaves and right before I got the phone call from Mike...

He didn't get the job. The Lord miraculously covered all of our expenses for the month of February! Incredibly amazing. Every prayer was boys are completely aware of God's hand in our lives. He is a big God! We were shocked to hear he didn't get the job, but we are not shaken. How will things get paid in March...I don't know...but I do know He has it covered! There is absolutely no fear! We are full of anticipation and excitement. Pray Big to a Big God and He will continue to do Big Things...for his Glory and for His kingdom!

That is my recap of the week thus far. Now to how we focused on Missions this week.

This morning my children got up and sat at the table fully expecting cereal, waffles, muffins..something...just not this...
Rice? They were shocked. Three cups of rice...about one cup for each of them...for the whole day. I explained that in some countries in Africa or even other impoverished countries many children don't make it to see their 8th birthday do to malnutrition, disease, HIV.... Many only have about 1 cup of rice a day to eat and many have less than that. I encouraged my children to only take about 1/2 a cup, because they may want the other half later, it has to last throughout the day.

At first they thought I was kidding. After I gave them a few more statistics we went and visited this blog below to read some of the stories of the children in Koutiala. Then the tears started. One of my boys had such a hard time staying in the room, looking at the pictures.

We sat and prayed for some of these children. Hearts aching. Then came the question. "Can we have breakfast now?" What...I just gave you some rice. That is all you will get...for the day. More tears. Why are you crying? Here is what I heard. "I'm starving!" "My stomach hurts, its already 10:00am and we haven't had breakfast." Well, just imagine being those children..who only get 1 cup of 24 hours. I think that you may be hungry...but starving..I don't think so. More tears. Why are you crying?

"It's not fair, I am a spoiled child! I get to eat anything and these children don't, and when we see some pictures of these children they seem happy just to have Jesus and a little bit of food. I should be able to not eat today, but I can't, I'm so hungry." I think they are starting to get it.

Now, why are you crying? "I must be spoiled too Mom! Sometimes I don't even eat what you give me and I tell Dad I don't like it. I don't like rice, but I was so hungry I ate it. Even the homeless children eat what they are given at the kitchen on Sundays."

God has blessed us in so many ways. We are not starving, we can have fruit loops and waffles. There are children who don't even know what "more" means.

We are a very spoiled people here in America.  My children wept at the table and repented for their spoiled hearts. Me too, I'm just as spoiled as they are. Let's not take for granted the many wonderful blessings we have, the freedoms that we enjoy and yes, even the food we have to eat. Let's pray for the Light of His Life to shine through us to others, and pray for Lord to penetrate lost people groups!

I did give my children more food for brunch. They were hungry, but they ate in a very appreciative manner. This will stay with them for a long time. This whole experiment spring boarded into discussions on fasting and the purposes God has for that. With our hearts naked before the Lord and humbled as well, we continued our time of prayer. We Prayed Big...knowing full well that there is power in Prayer! God is the Giver of good and perfect gifts. The best part was the prayer of one of my 10 year olds..."I know you are calling me to be a me not to have any fear and help me to be selfless..and just go!"
Yes...Lord...You are doing a great and mighty work in my family!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Left My Heart In Eustis!

A few months back my husband and I were strolling along the streets of Mt. Dora, remember that post about Florida's Little Mountain, and we stopped into a little shop called Rafiki. Figuring it was African art, we stopped in because, number one...we absolutely love African art and dream of having a library full of books and African decor, and two...we know so many people who live there and serve there...well, we had to stop in. When we walked in, the man behind the counter told us about their facility in Eustis and what it was all about. He mentioned that their headquarters was a replica of the villages that are built in the 10 countries of Africa that house orphans. He handed me this card below and I told him that I was going to bring my children I did just that today (probably yesterday by the time this gets posted)! It's Wednesday and we are committed to focusing our hearts, minds and prayers to Missions on Wednesdays!
I don't exactly know what I expected. Perhaps, just a store that sold the crafts handmade by the widows in their widow program. I didn't expect the incredible sense of love that I received when I walked through those doors you see in the next picture.
Mr. Ken Long was the gentleman that greeted us. Here I am, 11:00am, with my 3 superheros, walking in unannounced. From the word, "Hello", I could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place. "Rafiki" means friend in Swahili and it intentionally depicts the purpose of the Foundation -- "to befriend orphans and widows in their distress" from James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Mr. Long spoke to us about the purpose of the Rafiki Foundation (please click on the name and go directly to their is beautifully done and full of wonderful information.)
When we arrived we watched a video explaining how since 1985, Rafiki has answered God's call to be that "friend" to the needy in Africa in various ways, including missionary work in 10 Africa countries. In 2001, they received its first orphan, and has made orphan care and Christian education its top priority. These children, all orphaned because of famine, war, and illness (mainly HIV/AIDS) are being rescued from starvation, disease, despair, and hopelessness. They are given a healthy future filled with laughter, promise, security, learning and love!
The Rafiki Village gives job opportunities for many national women who are each trained to become the permanent mother of 10 children. You could tell these children were full of joy. One of the comments made by one of my superheros...."Mom, they are singing in English...and they seem so happy!" When we are rescued and shown the love of Jesus...yes...we are full of joy and it shows!
When we walked into the Rafiki Exchange, Mr. Long and I were talking about the curriculum that is used to educate the children who live in their villages. It is an academic curriculum integrated with a biblical worldview, made specifically for these African children. I don't think this is a part of their regular tour..not sure..but he brought us back into the printing room..and we saw all the boxes of curriculum ready to be shipped to different countries. It reminded me of what some of us homeschoolers call..."box day". Oh how my children love to get their hands on their new school "stuff". I thought about those boys and girls and teachers who will handle those very pieces of paper..and I was moved to pray over those boxes. So right boys and I laid hands on those boxes and prayed. (I know..bold..but Mr. Long seem appreciative...and I felt the prompting of the prayed and he prayed with us!)  Prayed for the Holy Spirit to go before these boxes and prepare the hearts of every boy, girl and teacher to receive the love of Christ. We prayed blessing over each one who will be touched by the very specific curriculum prepared, I'm sure, with much thought and love! Oh, we felt like we had just been a part of something amazing. There is such power in prayer! We talked about that moment in the copy room the whole day.
Here is Mr. Ken Long showing us one of the many beautiful pieces of handcrafts made by the widows and impoverished women in Africa! 100% of the proceeds go back to these people. May the Lord richly bless each and every one. I just went around the room, praying over items that I know represented women, who sat beside one another, enjoying each other's fellowship and receiving the benefit of hearing a Rafiki Bible Study. Everything is so moderately priced. Yes...we did get a special ornament. If you know us, Christmas ornaments are very special as each one represents some "time" or some "one" and each one has a special story behind it. When we take out our special ornament...we will remember this day...always!
Now I wish I had asked what "asante" meant. Brendan gave his opinion....goodbye, exit? I know some of you who read this live in South Africa...perhaps you could leave a comment. ;)
What was so unique about this trip..was that when we walked around the grounds of this facility in Eustis, (which by the way was anonymously donated...all 57 know that it was God's will for sure!) the complex replicates the design of a Rafiki Training Village in Africa. As I talked with my boys, they could visualize students walking in and out of the homes, the dining hall, the schools. Such a powerful statement for them. Mr. Long did an amazing job of painting a wonderful picture in our minds and hearts.

Picture this building with several doors like this..each one to a different classroom. I get weepy just thinking about the boys and girls. (happy worries!)

Here we are in front of the map. The 10 flags mark the places where Rafiki have established their training villages - each one providing living, educational, and life skill facilities through the four programs offered by the foundation: Childcare, Education, Training and Widows....
..Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. To gain a little perspective of the size of Africa..just look at this picture below. Don't quote me, but I think that we were told that in America alone there are approximately 500,000 orphans (half a million)...but in Africa...
something like 29 million orphans..."Flow river flow, flood the nations with Grace & Mercy...send forth Your Word, Lord and let there be LIGHT!"
 My children, really didn't want to leave this place. I told you...we felt the love here.
We noticed their hymnal had many of the songs we sing too. Shane mentioned how cool it was to see the digital photo frame of pictures of the children, and know that these kids were probably singing these songs.

When we got out to the car, Brendan asked if there was more we could do. He wants to go back, to volunteer there, or go to Africa. This really touched my children. We felt like we made new "rafikis" (friends) today! It really isn't new, we've heard missionaries speak. We have friends who are missionaries...even in Africa. We pray for our missionaries and the people whom they are being "Jesus in skin" to.  He says to me..."Mom, could you become a teacher in one of their schools? You are a teacher?" I told him that long before they were born, their Dad and I felt like perhaps the Lord was calling us to teach English in China. We didn't know, we still don't really know. We have a heart for lost people...we pray our children are grasping that part of our heart and that the Holy Spirit is taking hold of their precious hearts. Today was proof that indeed...He is moving the hearts of my superheros. Mike and I are working hard to be intentional in the training of our children. In the end...our legacy to to do this...
...take up their cross and follow Christ! To remember that we are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10
To catch up on how we are focusing on Missions...feel free to see these posts: Pray Until It Melts, Love-Praying for Light and Little Man With a Big Heart.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy February?

This past Saturday, February 18, 2012 we celebrated Thanksgiving! Several people asked..."Why?" Our response was, "We have so much to be thankful for...why not?" So having a small turkey in our freezer and being blessed beyond words served as good enough reason to celebrate. Here are some of our 1000 Gifts. #290-299...
We started our morning with the white board ready for us to fill up as the day went on. Such precious words penned by precious people..who know full well that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. When you see the very hand of God work miracles day in and day out..providing food for our table, money to pay our bills and provision in many ways...there is NO doubt in your mind...who is taking care of us.
My man and our quiver!
Even though our Pop has been in a different home since August, he lived with us for 8 years and he will always be apart of our family unit - I love that my children feel that way about him! If he didn't get so confused when he is away from his norm, we would have loved to have him eat with us.
Even though it is February one cannot think of Thanksgiving without thanking the Lord for that special relationship between the Pilgrims and the Indians...this put a smile on this homeschooler's face!
My son Kyle, ever the creative artist...had to write his list inside the leg of a turkey and yes, he is the one who drew the turkey...with the fork and spoon in the first picture!
Ahhh...this superhero was so excited to "fancy it up". That would be my table. I'm not a fancy kind of girl. I don't own china, or center pieces, a table cloth or glassware (I don't own a set of glasses..sad right?!)...but I'm resourceful, and my best friend Lorrie had all the goods I needed to "fancy it up".
Love that man of mine! Mr. Incredible! The one above and the two below were his contribution to our 1000 Gifts (gratitude).
Admitted our children can drive us insane...yet we are thankful for that type of insanity!
 As we sat down we bowed our heads and prayed. We camped out on Adoration and Thanksgiving! Thanking Him for his many blessings.
 I was able to make dessert...lightened up a little. Sugar free pudding with light whipped cream. It looks delicious right?
 It was scrumptious...and less than 2 points per slice. Very few calories in this!
 So...I'm thankful for our family time, our special Thanksgiving and hearts that are being grown up in faith...yes just like George Mueller.
 Oh and my favorite picture of all...
framed in a priceless frame of little fingers. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pray Until It Melts

Yes, the ice cube, but our hearts as well. We are devoting a few days a week to concentrate our prayer and devotion time on Missions. I've mentioned our Mission Possible 2012 in my last post. Today we spent 15+  minutes (must have been chilly in my house) praying for local missions, including our neighbors (whom we "loved" on bringing them treats), our homeless friends that join us when we help feed the hungry (we've established amazing relationships with people we deeply love by doing this) and our family. "Lord help us be a light, wherever we go!"
The goal was to pray as long as it took for that ice cube to melt. After we went around the table the first time I saw my children starting to peek to see if it had melted. So we continued in prayer. Such a great opportunity to stretch ourselves. I taught them how to pray in agreement. As one boy prayed we all agreed, just by quietly talking to the could hear heartfelt whispers like..."Yes Lord, we praise you Jesus, hallelujah..." I explained to them that lots of time when I pray, I praise Him and soon He gives me more to lift up. I watched and listened as my children felt the confidence to go on and as they heard the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts. I was undone by some of the prayers! WOW!
The ice cube did finally melt. We were amazed as we lifted our heads to see that it was gone and we wondered if in fact we prayed even though it had melted. The Holy Spirit was most definitely present. We didn't want to move on. So as we talked about what it was like to praise Him with our words, one of my boys mentioned that it was awesome to do that...they thought praise only meant worship. It does mean that as well...we worship by our words, actions and in song.. So we decided we weren't done. It was time to turn on some music!
We sang our hearts out!! We were jumping and clapping and woohooing the Lord!! It was awesome!
We were laying it all down for the joy of the Lord. Then I taught them the song "Shine Jesus Shine!" Perfectly fitting for our focus. I told the boys that Mr. Incredible and I used to serve in Chi Alpha at Montclair State University in campus ministry! We would sing this all the time..we wanted to be a light on a dark campus! We still want that...our campus has just changed.

Yes Lord set our hearts on fire!!  Flood the nations with grace and mercy and send forth your Word, Lord and let there be light!
It was a sight to behold in my bedroom! My boys..singing, and worshiping God! Praising Him...and praying for the Light!!!
Apparently Shane got my camera too. Not the best picture, but it is only fair that they stole a moment when I wasn't looking. I love those boys!!
At Shane's request we ended our time of prayer and praise with Come Thou Fount. The song sung by Fernando Ortega that he has gone to sleep to every single night since he was born (and still does!).
Today was a such a glorious day. We didn't want to move on to the rest of our school day. However, we did, but there was this air about the was full of humming and words like..."Praise God!" and ideas like...lets write a note to the other neighbor that didn't answer their door yesterday. Let's keep watch out the window to see if she smiles. Love your neighbors as your self! "I can't wait to pray again tonight..with Dad!" We'll pray until our hearts melt! We'll pray until the light penetrates the World enough to change the hearts of men, women and children! Be intentional with your children. Teach them to pray, to be a light, to worship and to praise. Teach them to use words, songs and actions. Be a light in their that long after you are gone...He continues to shine in and through your lineage!