Wherever He leads I'll go

Posts tagged ‘missions’

You’ve come a long way baby…

When I was a kid they used to have advertisements for cigarettes and although the Marlboro Man was clearly my favorite (if you don’t understand why just google his picture), I still remember the famous slogan for “Virginia Slims.” Launched in 1968 (I was 5 years old), it was one of the most famous advertising campaigns in US history.

“You’ve come a long way” (sometimes with “baby” added at the end) was the provocative tagline for a new, thinner cigarette marketed specifically to women. The phrase became a national catch-phrase overnight.

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The advertising focused on the emerging feminist and the rise of  “the New Woman,” a woman who was independent, self-sufficient, and eager to demonstrate her confidence.

I’m not here to promote cigarettes.  I never smoked and don’t plan to start. Nor do I see myself as a “New Woman.”  But the phrase does come to mind as I contemplate the ten weeks, 7,800 miles and 140 hours spent in my car this summer.

From Louisiana to the Choctaw Reservation in MS.  From MS to the Cheyenne River Reservation in SD. From SD to the Colville Reservation in WA. From WA to the Hoopa Reservation in CA. From CA to the Navajo Reservation in NM. These, with all of the places in between, made for a summer that changed me. I dare say it changed my teams as well as the people we ministered to and who ministered to us.

The teams….Pisgah BC from Forest Hill, North Monroe BC, Twin Bridges BC from Alexandria, Old Saline BC and New Life International Outreach from Woodworth. Good people.  Hard workers.  Dedicated followers of Christ. My friends. 

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There was beauty at every turn.

The real beauty though was found in the people.  Strong, smart, able, broken, filled with joy and sadness…America’s “First Nations” people.  A people loved and desired by God. A people tied to these beautiful lands and to one another.

Then there are the children. For me its all about them. We had plenty of sports and outdoor fun.

There was Bible Study…

…along with singing and dancing in some cases!

There were always crafts for the little ones…

…along with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, face painting, manicures in the salvation colors…

…and snacks for everyone. Some even got a full meal each day!

Each camp ended with an awards ceremony…

…as well as a Family Night.

There is always a great deal of work on everyone’s part in putting all of this together. The teams, the churches we are working with on the reservations, those who contribute gifts, prizes, and sports equipment, those who contribute through prayer and donations…everyone has a part to play.  Allowing God to work before, during and after each of these camps is crucial to how each individual will be impacted.

We even had a couple of construction projects this year. Some of the guys from North Monroe BC built a Noah’s Ark themed swing set for the kids at Cheyenne River and a team of Pisgah men and youth built the front steps and deck on the front of the new church building that is in progress on the Choctaw Reservation. The team from Twin Bridges BC saw the chance to minister to the owner of the motel where we were staying by offering to repair the roof on one of the motel buildings. The owner is from India and is not a Christian but this simple act of kindness opened doors for our team members to minister in ways that only God could have arranged.

Some of the people who work the hardest get the least recognition. They are the cooks for each of our teams. Their job never ends. They cook for the team, they cook for the camp…they never stop cooking! They do an awesome job…sometimes too awesome. I was trying to lose weight and they were cooking like we all needed fattening up!

Joining our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship and fellowship as well as taking time to enjoy one another as a team is all part of the experience. From worship services, to playing games, having poolside devotions, checking out the local scenery, passing out flyers and eating out…we always have a great time and return home with new friends and a desire to return. Lives are always changed when doing this work…especially mine.

I’ve taken a multitude of roads in this ministry and I’ve loved every one.  Yes, I have “Come a long way baby,”  but the most exciting part is knowing that there are always new roads ahead.

The next road leads to Wisconsin in September and then on to the organization of the Christmas shoeboxes. I hope you plan on joining me!

It’s all about the math…

2 teams. 2 missions. 32 missionaries. 35 teenagers. 101 children. 5,600 miles. All these are numbers that make an eternal difference in the lives of the missionaries and those they ministered to.

First there’s the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State.  Twin Bridges Baptist Church from Alexandria returned with me this year to help  Fred & Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries clean the park where the summer ministry takes place. We also provided another Back Yard Bible Club for the children as well as prayer walking and another Fry Bread Fellowship.

Then there’s the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  North Monroe Baptist Church from Monroe returned with me this year to assist Sally & Jed Jezek’s ministry at LaPlant Baptist Church with another Basketball Camp. Like last year, we had a Louisiana Night where we served Gumbo to the people of the reservation.  In addition to these ministries, we also added a Ladies’ Bible Study & Crafts as well as church repairs & yard work.

The experiences were multiple and read like an extensive list of the seven dwarves…tired, dirty, hot, cold, grouchy, happy, sleepy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, irritated, sore and exhilarated. But always blessed.

There are other numbers to consider as well….these are the numbers that make all of this possible.

18 monthly contributors to Mission Ventures. 1 church that provided 72 Bibles to hand out at the Colville Reservation. 1 family that provides my cell phone. 1 brother, 1 sister in law & 1 niece that take care of my dog while I am gone.  1 Mother that takes care of my finances while I am away. 1 Daddy that makes sure my A/C is turned on before I get home. 1 Friend who mows my grass out of the goodness of his heart. 1 sweet lady who provides me with literature and wordless books. An abundance of others who provide me with finances and prayers to make all of this possible.

Finally, I am providing all of you with 2 videos….1 of the ministry at the Colville Reservation and 1 of the ministry at the Cheyenne River Reservation.  I hope you are as blessed by knowing you are a part of this ministry as I am by having you be a part of it!

 

Buffalo Gals…

I’ve never been a big fan of women’s meetings/conferences.  There always seems to be tears and hugs, prayer circles and holding hands and lots of  “touchy feely” emotions running high. I quit saying I wasn’t a fan because a good friend at the Baptist Building told me she wished I would quit saying that…of course, she worked in women’s ministry so who can blame her?  Because I didn’t want to offend her (and because I’m a BIG people pleaser-that’s for another post) I did quit saying it but it sure didn’t stop me from feeling it.

So, God being who He is (He likes to mess with me a lot), He sent me to….you guessed it….a women’s conference. But to make it even more interesting He decided to mess with me just a little more and have me work on something else I don’t like…repetition.  See, I not only helped with the women’s conference, I also helped with the women’s prison ministry and the Juvenile Detention Center girls’ ministry and they were all the exact same teachings. Lots of repetition.

It was all as I expected. Lots of tears and hugs…

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Prayer Circles…

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And the same lesson three times. (I only have photos from the first conference because I couldn’t take pictures at the prison or the Juvenile Detention Center)

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God also put me in more uncomfortable territory. I shared a trailer with two very Godly women. Linda Grajewsky, pictured above, has a ministry called Gaits to Heaven and this was her mission.  She does Horse and Bible Camps for kids and Recovery Ministries for women and girls.  I met her four years ago here at Pine Ridge and she has become a good friend.  With her was Pam Hollaway.  I didn’t know Pam before this trip but I’ve made a forever friend there as well.

So, what was the problem? Why was I uncomfortable?  Well, I’m a pretty jovial person and I love Jesus. I love to tell others about Jesus. I enjoy quiet time with Jesus. I want Jesus to be a part of all of my life. But, I don’t hold hands every time I pray with others.  And I don’t break out into song. I don’t wake up all happy, happy, happy either.  And, right or wrong, I don’t have a spiritual attitude all day long. These two do and are all of these things!  I told Pam that if I had to hold hands and pray again that I was going to make a scene! Yes, I know, I wasn’t being very holy. But then again, have you met me? Some of you may remember that when praying over me I won’t allow you to put your hand on my head because it might mess my hair up. And all the hand holding made me want hand sanitizer desperately!

Now that we have confirmed that I am not very “touchy feely” let me go on to say this. I needed this time at Pine Ridge.  I needed to be made to feel uncomfortable. From the run down trailer with the leaks and spiders that frolicked in the tub all night…

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To sharing it with these two horse women who are happy ALL OF THE TIME…

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To lots of hand holding and hugs.

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I needed it all.  I needed to hear those same lessons three times because God spoke to me about different things each time. I needed to spend time with ladies who are able to break out into song (someplace other than the car or the shower) just because they are happy to be alive and children of God.  I needed to knock down a few walls and be willing to hold hands in as many prayer circles as God (or Linda) put together. I needed all of it because God’s not finished with me yet. If He were He would take me on home!

I wasn’t the only one who needed it. For the first time, the ladies of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the ladies of the Cheyenne River Reservation (only 3 hours apart) came together to pray and learn and to begin a healing process that has been a long time coming.

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The young women in the prison needed it to prepare them to depend on Jesus while in prison and when they return home to bad situations.

The girls at the detention center needed it for the same reasons and to help them avoid a future that could consist of more prison time.

There’s a lot of hatred on these reservations…

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and a lot of hopelessness.

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back...

Waiting for the bars to open or for the drunk to wear off before they head back…

But there’s also a lot of wisdom…

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a great deal of love…

Restoration Church on Sunday...a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

Restoration Church on Sunday…a Native church with a white pastor recognizing that all men are the same!

people with servant’s hearts…

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LaDonna, a Lakota Native, preparing the meal for our ladies.

and an abundance of natural beauty.

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There are lots of lessons to be learned here…for myself and for you as well.  Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?  Do you recognize that God has things for you if you will step out of that comfort zone?  Do you avoid certain people or circumstances because they are not who or what you are comfortable with and if so, are you willing to let God break you? Are you willing to be “Broken bread and poured out wine” for Jesus?

These are things God is doing in my heart and life. God is in control of my life and I, for one, am happy He put me here at this moment in time to share it with these two.

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Just call us the “Buffalo Gals!”

I could tell you…

Oh the things I could tell you about the latest adventure God sent me on. I could tell you about the beauty of the land in all of it’s tropical glory…white sand beaches, deep blue waters, bananas and coconuts hanging from trees and rich vegetation with vibrant colors.

Or I could tell you about the people. Children who don’t care if you speak their language because laughter is the same in any language.  Loving children who just want you to play with them. School children interested in the Anglo people making balloon animals and sharing the Gospel with a cube and a bracelet.  Children amazed at a church baptism because they had never seen a swimming pool before…not even the blow up pool we used. Old women making tortillas from scratch, offering your whole group a tortilla filled with eggs and peppers. Young women playing with their babies. Men helping in the installation of a new wood stove. All of them offering a beautiful smile and a simple but generous hospitality.

I could tell you about a way of life that you and I usually only see in movies and magazines. Houses made of sticks with grass roofs…a few of which also had satellite dishes for entertainment.  An entire family sleeping in hammocks in one room.  Ceilings black from the soot of fires made in the center of the room for cooking.  Pens made of stones piled high to keep in a hog.  Untreated water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.  Laundry rooms consisting of a shallow tub and a water hose. Electrical wires run randomly to support a light bulb or even a fan or a television. Chickens running loose in every yard.  And corn everywhere….the main staple in their diet.

Perhaps I could tell you about the ministry there.  About Pastor Doug Millar who ministers to the Mayan people as well as to the Mexican and Anglo people in Playa Del Carmen and Paamul. About the three services he does in two different places on Sunday mornings and the one service he has on Wednesday nights as well as a worship service for the Mayan people on Fridays. Services that are held in open air churches with concrete floors and grass roofs as well as one in a hotel in the city. I could tell you about the 8 Mayan men and boys who were baptized as a result of this ongoing ministry in the Mayan villages. And the women, who all wear white dresses with brilliant, colorful embroidery, who were too embarrassed to be baptized in a blow up swimming pool so they came the day after we left to be baptized in the Gulf of Mexico.

I would surely tell you about how Doug’s ministry is providing wood burning stoves with exhausts that extend outside in as many Mayan homes as possible. And how these stoves make it possible to breathe a little more freely in a home once permeated with a strong smoky odor.

I could tell you about the humidity of 100% and the heat index of 120 degrees on a 90 degree day. The floors of an air conditioned hotel room sticky from the humidity outside.  Lizards…big and ugly.  Winds that never stop blowing.  Me sweating and drinking water, sweating and drinking water, etc. The group fearing I might die on them.  Mayan children turning fans on the big lady with the red face.

I could also tell you about a group that grew quite close as a result of this mission.  Six unlikely people thrown together by God’s hand to discover and re-discover a ministry unlike any other.  Six vastly different people with varying personalities who were able to laugh and even bicker with one another.

Finally, I could tell you about the trip home.  A two hour ride on a Mexican bus after an hour’s wait in the heat. A line at the Mexican airport in Cancun that wrapped around and around and around.  A rush to make a plane that was delayed three times, cancelled once and then finally arrived.  A connecting flight in Houston that was long gone and the possibility of spending 12 hours in the Houston airport until “someone” found a hotel with a shuttle. “Someone” who would have given $1000.00 for a shower and a bed but all she had to pay was $70.00.  “Someone” who was deliriously tired.

I could tell you all of this but I believe you would get more out of it if I showed you….Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Won’t you join me?

A lot has happened since my last entry.  I’ve spoken in a few churches…

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

Randy Carruth and I both spoke at Cedar Grove BC in Lecompte

I’ve decorated for Christmas and I’m sure I’ve gotten a few cavities from all the saccharin Christmas movies I watched!

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I’ve sent and received many Christmas cards. I’ve prayed for all those I received cards from and accepted the blessings that came with the cards I received. I’ve visited with friends and family and participated in three Dirty Santa’s and we’ve all opened a shameful number of gifts…

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…and I’ve participated in the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty defense. I’ve been told that I should be their P.R. person…I’m game if they are! 🙂

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I’ve had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season. However, the best part of my season had nothing to do with me but with all of you…and with two young adults from Twin Bridges Baptist Church…and with the children and leaders of two Indian Reservations and one Indian community in Mississippi.  The best part of this season was the Christmas Shoebox ministry that many of you made possible.

I sent out a request for help in providing our Native American children with Christmas gifts and the response was wonderful!  Ten churches and six individual families participated in this ministry providing a total of 395 shoeboxes!  180 of the boxes went to the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin while 161 went to the Colville reservation in Washington State and 54 boxes went to Corinth Baptist Church, a Choctaw church in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

One little boy in Mississippi is happy to receive his Christmas backpack from Pisgah Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

It was a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground when Vicki James of Morning Star Ministries delivered these gifts to the children of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

This ministry began last year at the request of two young men, John Phillips and Zeb Mathews, both of Twin Bridges Baptist Church.  Their simple request provided approximately 100 boxes last year and turned into something we never imagined this year!

This year John and I were joined by Heather Dix, also of Twin Bridges, when we headed to the Lac du Flambeau reservation to deliver gifts and participate with the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church in ministering to the Ojibwe people there.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

John Phillips and Heather Dix getting boxes ready.

The church members provided a luncheon of Creamy Beef Fricassee, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and homemade Bread Pudding.  The room was full.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

The community at Lac du Flambeau joined us for lunch.

Then we handed out gifts to a group of very excited children. We enjoyed watching the kids open their gifts…but we had even more fun watching them enjoy their gifts!

 

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

This little girl had a box full of goodies but her very favorite gift was this small silk plant. You just never know what will appeal to them the most!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of jump ropes and the kids loved them!

There were lots of bubbles on hand

There were lots of bubbles on hand

Then it was time to brave the cold, head out into the snow and deliver the remaining gifts. The wind chill that day was 25 below but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. You could hear some of the kids squealing inside when they realized they were getting gifts. 🙂

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

John and Heather braving the cold to deliver more gifts.

Pastor Bill Earl, his wife, Bridget and their kids, Taylor, Zayne and Tallen are so wonderful about making us feel at home and allowing us to turn their home upside down.

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The Earl family are wonderful about opening their home to us and helping us make a huge mess while we are there!

The land here is as beautiful as the people and we three Louisiana natives were in awe of that beauty.  There really are no words…the pictures say more than I ever could…

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The Lake of Flaming Torches...not so flaming right now...frozen solid!

The Lake of Flaming Torches…not so flaming right now…frozen solid!

We worked hard but we did take some time to enjoy all of this beauty.  Heather and I even had the distinct pleasure of (and excuse me for this) having our snot freeze right in our noses!  Everyone should get to experience that at least once. 🙂

Look how deep the snow was!

Look how deep the snow was!

The trip was a fast one and one we will never forget.  Yes, the beauty of the land is something we’ll never forget…and the cold is something we’ll never forget…as well as the long drive and the great conversations we had in the car and the friendships we formed. But more than anything we will never forget how great it felt to watch a child open a gift and know that someone in Louisiana took the time to minister to them through a simple box and a few toys.

 

So, what is next on my agenda?  I’m doing some contract work for the Louisiana Baptist Convention for the next month.

Then I’m going to be contacting reservations and groups I worked with last year and making arrangements with them for this coming summer.

I’m also going to be meeting with new groups and new reservations and Native communities to discuss adding to the summer ministry. That means I have a lot of planning to do. I hope to have it all done by the end of February because in March I’ll be going with “I Am Able Ministries” to Mexico to minister to the Mayan children there.  When I return I will be collecting ministry supplies and preparing for the summer.  It all seems a long way off but it will be here before I know it!

I traveled a total of 15,161 miles during 2013 and I hope to cover even more territory in 2014! Won’t you join me?

Not even Phil Robertson…

Today I traveled the Oregon Trail.

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Unlike Lewis and Clark, I had a GPS to lead the way. And unlike the settlers who traveled in wagons, on foot and on horses, I was in a 2007 Saturn Ion.

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It got me to thinking…how on earth did they do it??? I mean, there are rivers…long, deep, wide ones…

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…and mountains.  Big, tall, rocky ones….

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…and miles of undulating, massive ones littered with black, volcanic boulders.

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Over and over again I kept asking the question, how did they do it? How hard it must have been to travel over that kind of terrain for that many miles in a wagon!

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It brought to mind that song Bonnie Tyler sang in the 80’s…”Holding Out for a Hero.”  Remember the line, “Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?” Well, we know there is only one God and He reigns supreme so there’s no question there. But really, where have all the good men (and women) gone?

I thought of myself and my circumstances at the beginning of my trip…a little story I like to call “the puke fest of twenty thirteen.” Yes, I drove 11 hours, most of it in Kansas, nauseated and throwing up.  Yes, it was extremely unpleasant to only have enough time to pull over and grab a bag to hurl into only to find that the bag is leaking. I then tried to empty the bag out the window.  Remember how I said I was in Kansas?  Kansas is mostly prairie…no trees…lots of wind.  Therefore, the contents of the bag attempted to re-enter the car.  You can imagine my delight.  And just when I thought there would be an upside to this story, since throwing up usually stops the nausea, I found that all I was going to be allowed was about 2 minutes of relief before the waves of nausea hit again.

I spent 2 days getting over all that and I felt very sorry for myself.  But now, I think about women traveling for months and months in a wagon.  Some of them pregnant…giving birth on the way and suddenly my nausea isn’t quite so bad.  I checked into a motel to recover…not a fancy one but it had a bed, an air conditioner and running water.  That’s a whole lot more than those women had.

The “check engine” light came on in my car and I whined because I couldn’t believe something else was going wrong. Ha! All I had to do was find a mechanic and get it fixed. Then I’m on my way down the road at 75 miles per hour. If something happened to their wagons or their horses, it took ALOT longer to fix.  Sometimes they were stuck for days, even months.

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I know you all didn’t ask for a history lesson. But, like Bonnie Tyler, I’m asking, “Where have all the good men gone?”  We’ve all gone soft.  We’ve got cars and hotels and fast food and hair dryers and hospitals and air conditioning and anything we need right at our fingertips!  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back to a time when we didn’t have those things… especially air conditioning.  Not only do I not want to, I don’t know that I could.

I honestly don’t think I know anyone in the world who could successfully handle that kind of adversity and hardship today….not even Phil Robertson.  He’s old school and can handle a simple life but he ain’t that old school!

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Yet, as I type this I remember…the same God who traveled with those early settlers travels with me.  The same God who healed them heals me. The same God who protected them protects me.  The same God who guided them, guides me. So, I guess we’re really not that different after all.

I’ll keep that in mind as I join my team in Washington and we minister to a people group who know great hardship but do NOT know our God.  Please pray that they know Him before we leave.

And the journey continues…

Here I sit…another night in a motel.  I’ve been to Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and now New Mexico.  My last mission for the summer is complete and it’s a little bittersweet.  I’m anxious to get home and see all “my people” but I’ll miss the days on the road and the scenery.  More importantly, I’ll miss the children I am leaving behind.  Some I will see again…others I won’t.  My biggest concern is that I see them ALL again in heaven! That is my prayer. Look at these faces…

How can I help but miss them!?

So, what now?  I’m picking my Mama up in Denver on Wednesday and she and I are going to explore Colorado.  But while I am waiting I decided to see a little of New Mexico.  I lit out today for a trip to Angel Peak Recreation Area.  It is the Badlands of New Mexico.  Take a look…

 It’s the same concept as “Badlands National Park” in South Dakota but the colors aren’t quite as vivid. There’s a starkness about this place that makes it beautiful and eerie all at the same time.  I was all alone except for this little guy.

We had an agreement…he would be really still while I zoomed in on him to take his picture and when we were finished he wouldn’t come near me.  He stuck to his end of the deal!

While I was there the clouds began to roll in and I even got a little rain.

And don’t ask me how but I manage to find a grave everywhere I go!

The world was quiet here and I felt small in a place that was so vast.

 It’s as if God just let His imagination run wild in this place…

…creating beauty in the wild and dark…

 …and then throwing in a pop of color just to mix it all up!

I probably won’t do anymore site seeing here in New Mexico.  I’ll take the day off tomorrow to rest, balance my checkbook and get my things together.  Then I’ll head for Denver and another adventure…this time with my Mama!  I’ll be glad to see her.

In the meantime, please keep us in your prayers as we travel and head home and even more importantly, please pray for all those we came in contact with this summer…that they will all find Christ and lead others to Him as well.  I can only imagine what heaven will be like when we all get to see one another again!

Blessings to all of you and I’ll keep you posted on what comes next!

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