Piling It On

There have been moments in the last 6-12 months where I have wondered, “Really, God? Was that petty annoyance really necessary? Because it feels like insignificant frustrations are getting piled on.” And, of course, the answer is that God is sovereignly, lovingly working Christlikeness and worship in my broken heart…though it hurts and burns.

But, as I have thought quite a bit about the phrase “piling it on” – because the power still goes off at unscheduled times and just when I am ready to put the bread in the oven or wash a load of muddy boy clothes, or the hot water doesn’t work…again, or the water tank starts leaking out of the blue, or the boys are exceptionally needy and naughty when we’re about to host 13 people for dinner, or… – I was reminded of a different kind of piling it on this morning from Romans 5.

5:1 – we have justification through faith

5:1 – we have PEACE with God through Jesus

5:2 – we also have obtained access by faith into grace

5:2 – and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God

5:3-4 – not only that (!), but we rejoice in our sufferings…because we know that God is working good things (endurance, character, hope) through the suffering

5:5 – God’s love has been poured into our hearts

5:5 – we have the Holy Spirit

I hope and pray that, in all the “piling on” of God’s carefully designed “petty annoyances,” I will remember the much greater piling on of the incredible and totally undeserving riches of God’s glory.

Bethlehem Baptist Team (Part 2). The Retreat.

(Left to right) Jack, Lydia, Laurie, Monica, Liz, Steve, Tyler, Sheryl, Kate, and Kate

(Left to right) Jack, Lydia, Laurie, Monica, Liz, Steve, Tyler, Sheryl, Kate, and Kate

Insignificant. Small. Don’t know very much. Unworthy. Limited experience.

Great. Mighty. Strong. Big. Exceeding.

The first set of words/phrases is how I heard members of the Bethlehem Baptist team refer to themselves in comparison to the ACTION Zambia missionaries and national workers.

The second set of words is how I would describe the actions of the Bethlehem Baptist team as they humbly, energetically, graciously served the AZ team on our AZ Staff Retreat. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” Matt. 20:26, ESV. They achieved greatness in God’s eyes through a thousand small acts of self-sacrifice under a few big categories.

1. Through the word of Christ and worship. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” Col. 3:16, ESV. Jack Delk (who I – Kristin – have known since I first started going to Bethlehem in 1999) primarily led the teaching time, with Steve Stein bringing up the rear with a slam-bang finish. A few highlights of this time for me, personally, were…

  • worshiping with our team (led by Tyler Stitt, who did a great job!),
  • sharing with each other what the main burden is that we each carry these days,
  • being reminded of what the gospel is,
  • assessing the motivation behind why we do what we do,
  • looking at the incredible bigness and power and sovereignty of our God in the universe and then applying his specific and good love to each of us.
Liz, beginning each session with an ice breaker

Liz, beginning each session with an ice breaker

2. Through trusted childcare. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” Matt. 18:5, ESV. “Train up a child in the way he should go” Prov. 22:6, ESV. Liz Stein and crew provided times for the missionary kids to learn about God’s care for them through his promises to them. I know that Liz put plenty of time and thought into addressing the felt needs of each child there, and God honored that! When I told Charlie that the retreat was over and it was time to go home, he cried and said, “No, I just want to stay here forever!” One of our teammate’s children said, “It’s like Miss Liz knows what missionary kids are like!”

And not only was there structured teaching/activity time for the kids so that the parents could participate in adult teaching without distraction, there was free babysitting during the down time! Charlie especially adored Auntie Sheryl and Uncle Tyler, who walked with him and played with him and listened attentively to his endless observations. Sam loved the independence of being able to wander wherever his little legs would take him with the comfort of knowing someone was right there in case he needed help.

3. Through gifts. The entire retreat was paid for by the Bethlehem team. This included delicious meals and snacks, comfortable accommodations, fireside chats, lots of fun activities – swimming (brrr!), billiards, safaris, cheese tasting tours, boating, and fishing – and then giving each of us a stack of fresh reading material to build up our souls.

4. Through questions and prayers. It was apparent that the Bethlehem team sought out not just practical ways to bless and serve the AZ team, but they took advantage of moments to talk, listen, understand our lives, and then pray. They were moments of total giving – not seeking to be heard or having a platform to talk, just asking and listening and affirming and caring. They were sweet and life-giving.

Thank you, BBC (Steve, Liz, Jack, Tyler, Laurie, Sheryl, Monica, Lydia, Kate, and Kate!!!!), for giving, serving, teaching, and investing in us!! You loved us well.

The BBC and AZ Teams

The BBC and AZ Teams

Bethlehem Baptist Team and Hospice Seminar

Well, after all the planning, preparation, and then, by God’s grace, the execution of those plans, the Bethlehem Team trip is all wrapped up, and they safely left on Tuesday night and arrived home very early on Thursday morning in Minneapolis. Because of the August 11th elections for President, Parliament, and a referendum, plus other offices, we were a bit worried with BBC coming and how everything was going to come together. We were also concerned just with safety, since the lead up to this election has seen a lot more violence in Lusaka and around Zambia between the two parties than in times past.

We did run into some (actually, kind of a lot of) political cadres in George Compound on August 1st, as we did three home visits with the team and Pastor Wozifera Ngoma and his wife Easter. There was a political rally going on close to the houses we were visiting. But God gave us safety, and we were able to visit three homes and pray with and encourage those folks, plus the nurses on the team also did some trouble shooting. But it was helpful for the team to see compound life and where people are coming from and the conditions they face and the challenges compound life brings for caregivers as they seek to care for loved ones, friends, and others with very little.

Hospice Training 

Then, over August 2-5, the BBC Team conducted a basic Hospice Seminar, similar to 2014, for former CROSS Project (CP) participants. Over 110 former CP participants from churches we taught in 2015-2016 went through six different stations on hospice care –

  • Hand Washing and Sanitation
  • Wound Care
  • Nutrition and Dehydration
  • Bed Bath
  • Turning, Transferring, and Positioning Patients
  • End of Life Care

As with the 2014 seminar, we heard encouraging stories about how the stations were very helpful to the caregivers. We even had one nurse’s aid remark this time how the things they were being taught were so helpful and practical and were things that she never learned in nurse’s aid training.

Below are some pictures from the Hospice Seminar and BBC in action (sorry, Liz – we can’t find the pics of your station!). We are so thankful, as AZ and the CROSS Project, to have BBC come and help us!! Please pray that God would help people remember what they have learned from this seminar and that God would be glorified as these former students seek to help people physically, share the gospel, and share this important information with others in the compounds of Lusaka!

 

Prayer for Bethlehem Team and Zambia’s Presidential Elections

We would really appreciate your prayers for a busy upcoming two weeks!

zam-team-2016

Hospice Seminar and AZ Team Retreat: A short-term team from Bethlehem Baptist Church (our home and primary sending church) arrives today. All this upcoming week, they will be putting on a hospice seminar for past and present CROSS Project churches, similar to what they did during the 2014 trip. We are expecting a really big turnout, with almost 200 people passing through the seminar over the course of the four days. Then, on Saturday, August 6th, we all head to a local lodge for our AZ Team Retreat, both missionaries and national workers. BBC will be watching the kids and putting on a program for them and also be facilitating the teaching for the team retreat. We really look forward to this time together! You can follow the team’s blog here.

Pr Elections

Zambia Presidential Elections: Then, BBC leaves on Tuesday, August 9th, and the rest of us will lie low for Zambia’s Presidential Elections, which take place on August 11th. This election season in Zambia has been marked by more violence than previous elections, and we would ask for prayer for Zambia during this election time. Also, the new constitution says the presidential winner needs to have 51% of the vote, so we are praying for a clear winner and for peace and stability to prevail.

Thanks so much for praying!

Summer 2016 Newsletter

pacific

Hi everyone, here is our latest newsletter for Summer 2016! In this newsletter, we cover:

  • Thank you for praying and giving!
  • CROSS Project general update
  • CROSS Project Marriage Seminar update
  • CROSS Project Hospice Seminar with Bethlehem Baptist Church coming up in August
  • Thankful for Community Schools
  • Family Update
  • Latest Prayer Requests
  • Some Charlie Quotes

You can access it here or here, if you need to view it in a lower resolution.

Obsessed

My life has tended to be characterized by various obsessions to greater or lesser degrees. Playing guitar, knitting, photography, making yeast-free sourdough bread, perfecting homemade tortillas. And I have a whole folder in my computer of things that I could be obsessed about. Making soap. Quilting. Antiquing furniture. You get the idea.

But my current obsession is composting. I feel so trendy and organic when I ask people – “Do you compost?”

IMG_2491

Our poor gardener has had to bear up with my thoughts and passions regarding how to implement what I read last on how to achieve and maintain a healthy compost. Over the last few months, I’ve seen that this mound of mulch has been growing into something more. And this morning, composting was confirmed as an obsession when I found myself separating everything I looked at into 3 categories: carbon, nitrogen, and garbage. (Zambia doesn’t recycle [GASP!], hence no 4th category).

Marriage and Marshfield, WI

IMG_2680Christian marriage is always a hot topic in America with numerous opportunities for couples to attend a host of marriage seminars, weekends, or conferences that deal with marriage, sex, family, kids, etc. Zambia is no different, in that marriage and sex are hot topics, but there aren’t nearly as many opportunities for couples to attend a seminar or conference about marriage, sex, or the family.

Last week, ACTION Zambia was blessed to have a short-term team from Faith Fellowship in Marshfield, WI come and put on a one-day Marriage and Family Life seminar for present and former CROSS Project churches. On May 27 and 28, we had almost 400 people (couples and kids) come to Camp Ciyanjano. The topics that the team covered were Biblical Marriage, Marriage and Purity, Discipling Your Children, Leaving a Legacy, and Medical Care for Your Family. Because the extended family, and culture as a whole, plays such a big part here in Zambia, to live out a Biblical Christian marriage can be really challenging for couples, especially younger ones.

As a CROSS Project Team, we felt that the Marshfield team did a great job of explaining Biblical marriage and appropriately and biblically addressing difficult cultural challenges in marriage and family here in Zambia. The team also got a lot of complements from the participants that they were encouraged by the teaching and time.