Wherever He leads I'll go

Posts tagged ‘travel’

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?

I stand amazed…

I’ve spent the last several weeks…

Working on gathering groups to go to the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington and to the Cheyenne River Reservation in Northern South Dakota.

I’ve signed up with Open Door Missions again to go to New Mexico and with Twin Bridges Baptist Church to go to Oklahoma. I’m also making arrangements to join Bill and Bridget Earl at the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin in August.

I’ve been doing contract work at home for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. I’ve also visited friends in Arkansas and I have a few upcoming speaking engagements.

All of this is par for the course when it comes to missions ministry…we all have details to work out each day no matter what our life’s work is. But then there are the moments that leave you speechless (a major feat for me).

I’ve had a few of those moments lately. For me, the greatest tool in my ministry, after prayer and the Word, is my car. I put a lot of miles on Sophie (yes, I’m one of those dorks that names their vehicle) but I also take better care of her than I do myself! I very rarely get in that car without praying over it and thanking God for it. She’s paid for and even though she has 126,000 miles on her at 6 years old, she has given me very little trouble.

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Zeb Mathews and John Phillips taking care of Sophie in Wisconsin

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the “Check Engine” light had come on. My first thought was the fact that I did not have the funds to have anything fixed at the moment. I was on the way to the Post Office so I just prayed and told God it was all in His hands. I should not have been surprised at what I found when I got to the Post Office….a surprise check for a generous amount from Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora.

The check was definitely the answer to my prayer but even more important was the letter that accompanied the check. Several weeks before, the pastor, Robbie Rollins, had asked me for 10 prayer requests for my ministry for a missions themed Super Bowl party their church was having. I sent the ten requests and didn’t think about it again. The letter explained that the youth and young adults at their church had a Super Bowl prayer event where they each pledged x-amount of money per point that their team scored to give to my ministry. During commercials and at halftime, the television was turned off and their youth minister covered one of my prayer needs, discussed it and revealed the Biblical relevance of it.

It didn’t stop there. The church body that didn’t participate in the Super Bowl event met at their regular time and did the same thing. Their normal sermon time is approximately 35 minutes but this prayer time lasted over an hour. Afterwards, they received an offering for my ministry. There are even some who have dedicated themselves to keeping my prayer requests before their eyes and before the Lord regularly.

Y’all, the check was the answer to a prayer but the idea that these people had spent so much time in prayer for my prayer requests and would continue to do so was overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes right there in the Post Office.

The story doesn’t end there. I brought my car to have it repaired and all that was needed was for some box to be cleaned…please don’t ask me any questions about what box because I am a woman who knows NOTHING about mechanics of any kind. 🙂 The cost was minimal so I was able to do something I didn’t think I would be able to do…repair my driver’s window after 8 months of having to open my door at drive thru’s, etc. (You can read about that in another post entitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”).  The window needed to be fixed for the sake of safety but it was last on my list.  Being able to have it repaired was an unexpected blessing.

Two days later my car wouldn’t start at all. I panicked for about 20 minutes (a major improvement over the Terry Tanner I used to know) and then I reminded myself that God was in control. Thanks to Connie and Phil Thomas, I now have AAA so I had the car towed free of charge. I will admit, I was quite aggravated with myself for having that window repaired because I figured now I would need more money for these repairs. I…was…wrong. (I knew that would happen some day. Ha!)

Price Auto informed me that the wires to the fuel something-or-other were bad and had become disconnected. They felt that may have happened when they cleaned that box thing-a-ma-jig; therefore, they repaired it free of charge. Imagine my relief and my dismay at just how faithful God is!

Friends, I get to see this kind of thing so often now. I’ve been surprised with last minute funds that have gotten me home when I didn’t think I was going to have enought to get home. I’ve received monthly pledges from individuals that were totally unexpected. I recently received a monthly pledge from First Baptist, Rayville as a result of the article the Baptist Message did on me. I don’t know anyone from that church and I have never spoken there so, once again, I was left speechless at God’s provision. Zeb Mathews, a young man I’ve ministered with from Twin Bridges Baptist Church, is giving a concert for his senior project and all proceeds are going to my ministry. I am blessed at EVERY turn!

When I stepped out on faith, I had no idea how things would work out but God did. I have not wanted for anything and He has provided for every surprise. I haven’t been buying many purses lately (a past obsession) but, then again, I already had too many of them. 🙂 I don’t live extravagantly but God knows what we need…and He does provide for His children. I find myself constantly standing amazed in His presence.

And as for that letter from Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora…well, it now hangs on the wall in my office here at home to remind me of just how awesome God is and how awesome His people are! Thank you all so much!

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The letter from Harmony hangs in my office to remind me of God’s faithfulness!

All because two boys…

Happy New Year everyone! I just returned from the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin where I encountered PLENTY of snow!

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We were all freezing but we still loved it!

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The lakes were already frozen so there was even some “walking on water”.

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Let me introduce these two to you. They are John Phillips and Zeb Mathews. John is a 17 year old Junior at Pineville High School and Zeb is an 18 year old senior, also at Pineville High School. They are members of Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and they were part of the group that joined me at the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana this past summer. These are two outstanding young men. While at Ft. Belknap both of these boys asked me to do a mission project with them during the Christmas holidays.

That is what started a very successful ministry to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation.

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Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria, New Hope Baptist Church in Monroe and Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora all contributed gifts in shoeboxes.

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The Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church advertised an after Christmas luncheon and Christmas party for the people of the reservation. The pastor of the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church, Bill Earl (a Louisiana man!) and his wife, Bridget went above and beyond by preparing Chicken Sauce Pequante, Boudin and Chicken and Dumplings for the entire community.

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We all helped with the dumplings!

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Then, Sunday after church we headed to the community center and prayed that people would come. We were not dissapointed…the room was full!

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The church got to visit with people they don’t normally get to visit with and the kids enjoyed playing while waiting for the presents.

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The kids had a ball opening their gifts!

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There were plenty of gifts left over so the boys and I loaded up my car and headed out to make deliveries.

I drove while the boys made their way through the snow to knock on doors and deliver gifts to any children in the home.

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The few remaining gifts went to the local shelter.

The boys were cold, their feet were wet and everyone was tired but it was all worth it. So much happened here that may go unnoticed unless I mention it…you see, we so often think of a mission trip and we wonder “how many people got saved?” But, as Pastor Bill Earl said, before you find any evidence of salvation you have to plow the ground and till the soil and plant and water and fertilize…especially amongst the Native American communities.

What happened here is that the church went outside it’s walls. They didn’t ask the people to come to them, they went to the people. They didn’t approach the people with messages and sermons and man made revivals…they offered food and friendship and gifts. They didn’t hit anyone over the head with a Bible…they included a Bible in the shoeboxes as a gift.

God is at work on this reservation. He was before this ministry and He still is. This particular mission was just one of many doors God is opening for fellowship amongst His Native American people and the Body of Christ. It just so happens that this door opened all because two boys expressed a desire to serve.

Interstates, Toll Roads, Pig Trails and Conestoga Wagons…yeah, it’s long but not too wordy!

Unless you have been in a coma you are aware of a certain angry young woman named Sandy.  She and I almost met personally since I was in Connecticut and Rhode Island when she decided to visit.  However, I’m no fool.  I’m from Louisiana.  I KNOW when it’s time to leave!  So…I packed my bags, loaded my car and headed home three days early.

Sandy, no matter how scary she was, was only a small part of this trip.  There were people I met along the way; places I discovered; kindnesses shown; experiences had and beauty each step of the way. I told you all in my last blog entry that I had found places to stay along the way and while I was in Connecticut.  These places were an important part of this journey.

My first stop was in Benton, TN at Camp Agape.  This place is surrounded by beauty…mountains, a lake, trees.  Erick Swallows is the camp director and I appreciate him so much!  He put two cots in a spare room in the welcome center just for me.  I had everything I needed and was pleased that I had made a new friend and contact as well.

 I was up before daylight the next morning.  I watched the sun come up over the lake and then got back on the road.  This time I was headed to Virginia where I would stay for two nights.

I arrived at Camp Shenandoah Springs in Madison, VA right before sunset.  To get to this facility you take a small dirt/gravel road that seems like no more than an old trail.  Then you get to the gate and realize that you have arrived.

The owners and directors of this Christian campground are a wonderful couple named Doug and Anne Farmer.  I enjoyed their company and their facility.  They offered me an apartment above the office.

It was perfect! A bunch of stairs but perfect none the less. 🙂

The next morning I set out to see some of the sights.  Anne had told me about an Apple Harvest Festival right down the road so off I went.

Virginia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been..especially the Shenandoah Valley.  Of course I took a drive to see as much as I could.

I happened upon a road that caught my attention.  It was a smooth drive on nice black top…at first.  As soon as the black top ended I saw a sign that proclaimed that the county did not maintain this portion of the road.  It didn’t look too bad so I kept going.  As I drove further and further up the mountain the road got rougher and rougher.  I was having so much fun taking pictures and I ran into someone who told me my car could handle what was ahead. He lied. This so-called “road” couldn’t have been much more than a pig trail.  It was beautiful…

…but the ride became…challenging.  The road got rougher and steeper.  Then it started to have mud holes…some that covered the entire road.   The further I went, the worse it got. Conestoga wagons drove faster than I did on that road. I rarely reached 5 mph.  Why did I continue you ask?  Because I’m obviously not the brightest bulb in the box.

I can’t tell you how many deals I made with God on that road.  My one consolation was that I wasn’t going to have to go back the same way I came in.  The guy I ran into told me it kept going until it got back to black top in the Shenandoah National Park.  He lied…again.  I reached the end only to find that the road into the park was barred.  So…I turned around and went back the way I came. Later, that same year, I was back on black top and thanking God that my car still ran.

The next morning I headed out once again on the final leg of my journey…and by the middle of the day I would have gladly driven on that pig trail again.  You see, I’m used to driving in the midwest, the southwest and out west where the roads are traffic free and the spaces are wide open.  I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!  Take a look at the comparison.

Awful…and expensive.  I took the toll roads because they were supposedly quicker.  I found out later that the route I took using these toll roads only saved me 15 minutes and they cost me nearly $50!  To add insult to injury my GPS said to take the next exit to the left and when I did I ended up in the Bronx.  I was not impressed and the deal making with God started anew.

I arrived in Connecticut at dusk.  The house I was staying in is owned by a church in Connecticut and is located on the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association property in Willimantic, CT.  It was a blessing!

It was way more than I needed but so nice to have.  3 bedrooms, a screen porch where I had breakfast in the mornings, a washer and dryer, fully stocked kitchen…it had it all.

I spent the next several days meeting with different people about the possibility of reaching out to the Native Americans there.  To read about that you can go to the page marked “New England” on this blog.  I also had the opportunity to give a presentation to a group at the campground where I was staying.

Besides the meetings and contacts I was making I also went to Rhode Island to visit with old family friends, Ronny and Sug Grant, and that was such a pleasure.   I did a little exploring while in Connecticut as well.  You know how much I love cemeteries and you can’t drive 10 feet without coming across another one while in New England.  And they are ALL old!

I got a chance to drive to Mystic, CT.  Mystic is a town that revolves around its seaport and was featured in the movie, “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts.  And yes, I had a slice and it was pretty good. 🙂

The colors were fading but the ground was covered with leaves…

The architecture in New England is beautiful and very…well..very New England.

I got the chance to go to Kent Falls State Park, a little piece of land in CT with a beautiful waterfall…

I also got a chance to go into historic Litchfield, CT.  It was a beautiful day.  The wind was blowing and the sun was shining.  Here is an old church  in Litchfield…a Congregational Church….very popular in New England.

Decorations were as plentiful as leaves.  They ranged from beautiful…

…to bizarre!

Everyone I met was especially kind and welcoming, which kind of squashes the theory that New Englander’s are unfriendly!  And…while I was the one with the accent to them, I could have listened to them all day.  One gentleman sounded like every Mark Whalberg movie I had ever seen.

New England is quaint, historic (for America), beautiful, crowded and small. No matter where I was, it didn’t take long to get anywhere else…even other states! But even with that fact, I did alot of driving and I must admit, I’m a bit tired of it and I’m glad to be home.  I’ve put almost 20,000 miles on my car just since April! But there is one thing I know for sure.  God’s Holy Spirit is in New England.  I experienced Him in His people and I am a better person for having gone there.

The next few months are going to be dedicated to speaking in churches, raising funds for next Spring, Summer and Fall and working on schedules, programs and groups for the different areas I am going to be serving in.  I am also headed back to the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin the week after Christmas. We’ll be bringing shoebox ministry gifts to the children there at an “After Christmas Party” at the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church.

I appreciate all of your prayers and contributions.  God is so faithful through each one of you and I couldn’t do any of this without you!  I hope I’ll get the chance to visit with you while I am home for the winter.  God bless you all!

I Can Only Imagine…

Tomorrow I head out again.  As I was getting ready to go I realized I had not updated everyone on my last trip.

After I finished with my work at the Pine Ridge & Cheyenne River Indian Reservations in South Dakota I headed on to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.  I had a wonderful visit with my friends there.  You may remember that I was there this past April/May and we worked on getting a children’s church started for the children on the rez.  At that time they did not have a pastor but I am proud to report that they do now…and he’s a Louisiana man!  His name is Bill Earl and he and his wife Bridget and their children are from Elizabeth, LA.  I can’t tell you how good it was to have a few more southern accents on the rez!  Bill and Bridget are a perfect fit for the Bible Baptist Church there at Lac du Flambeau.  The people there love them and we already see God doing wonderful things through them.

I am looking forward to returning to Lac du Flambeau in December to help distribute Christmas shoeboxes to the children there.  By the way, if you would like to help out with that ministry just give me a call.

Now most of you know me by now so you know that I took each chance I got to enjoy the scenery.  And boy was there some scenery to enjoy.  I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to Fall colors and the leaves were at their peak while I was there.  Heaven!!!

Every where I went there was gold…

And orange…

And all colors in between….

I think my favorite may be the trees that were just beginning to turn…they were a combination of lime green and yellow and their reflections were stunning.

Everywhere I drove was beautiful.  There was absolutely no escaping the beauty…

The beauty was there even when you looked up…

I took a walk down a trail one day and prayed.  I told God I couldn’t imagine heaven being any better than this.  But what’s so incredible is that it is better than this.  Mercy Me phrased it most accurately in their song; “I Can Only Imagine.”  I can only imagine how incredible heaven must be.  How beautiful. How breathtaking.  What I see on earth now is just a “foretaste of glory divine.”

I digress. 🙂  Instead of heading straight to Connecticut after leaving Wisconsin I came home instead.  I needed to raise some more funds and get some things in order before heading to Connecticut.  I decided that I was going to have to work a little harder at finding inexpensive places to stay while on these trips.  So…I got online and found three Christian Campgrounds in Tennessee, Virginia and Connecticut.  I contacted them about lodging and as a result my total cost for lodging on this trip is $30.00!  I’ll be staying at Camp Agape in Benton, TN my first night on the road.  They are a Southern Baptist Campground.  I’ll be staying the next two nights at Shenandoah Springs Campground near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  They are an inter-denominational campground but the pastor and his wife are Southern Baptist.  Then, in Connecticut, I will spend 9 nights at the Willimantic Christian Campground; owned by an inter-denominational Christian group.  God is good!

Now let me share with you a way that God provides when we least expect it.  I needed about $1,000.00 to pay my bills and make this trip.  I started out with $150.00 but I kept making my plans like I already had the money I needed.  I am leaving tomorrow and by yesterday I had received $990.00.  Again, God is good!  I also had a donation strictly intended for me to get AAA Auto Insurance in case I have problems while on the road.

I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it is to see these kind of things happen.  I’ll admit, I get a bit nervous at times but God always provides what I need, when I need it through people like you.  Thanks to you all!

I’ll head out in the morning and I’ll keep you all posted as often as I can while on the road.  In the meantime, please be in prayer for the contacts I make to work with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut.

 

Confused in Kansas…

I spent 8 more hours on the road today.  It was basically uneventful but there were two instances that caused me to pause and wonder and one instance that just sent me running!

The first instance was the one that sent me running.  It was a routine (or so I thought) stop at a gas station.  I had swiped my card, pressed “yes” for a receipt and then I saw them…yellow jackets!  They were flying around the trash can by the pump.  What in the world were yellow jackets doing at a gas station trash can???  Many of you know about my recent experience with my Uncle’s 37 stings and my one little one (that hurt BAD) and I did NOT want another one!  So…I pressed cancel and drove to another pump.

The first instance that made me say “hmmmm” was when I requested that my GPS lead me to the nearest Wal-Mart on my route.  When I arrived this is what I found…

Definitely NOT Wal-Mart!

Then, after I found the REAL Wal-Mart, I got back on the interstate where I happened to see this…

Now, I don’t know about you but to me that bares a striking resemblance to one of those nuclear blast mushroom clouds.  I didn’t stop but I put the window down and took this while I was driving….just in case it was the real deal.

I’m in a hotel in Nebraska tonight.  There’s been no news about a nuclear blast so I suppose all is well. 🙂  I am arriving at Pine Ridge tomorrow and I’ll probably hit the ground running so this may be it for a few days.  I’ll post the ministry details as soon as I have a chance.

God bless you all and thank you for your prayers!

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