Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Multiplying Meat

Hello! I have a lot to tell you about the beginning of the new school year. I can't believe that we are already in our 3rd week of school and I still have not posted pictures of my new classroom and my wonderful students (I now have 8! SMCA is growing!). But all of that will have to wait because I have a story for you today that blows my mind!

Yesterday seemed like a typical Monday, with the except of a heavier-than-usual rainfall. After school the girls and I headed over to Casa Hogar Douglas (CHD) because Caroline wanted to cook a feast of steak tacos for the sweet kids at CHD in honor of her birthday. She had bought all the meat and supplies, but before we could cook it all at the children's home, the rain started pouring down. We decided to have some of the guys cook the meat at the covered grill on the property and then bring it over to the home once it was all cooked. It all sounded like a great plan, so we left for CHD to prepare the rest of the meal.

On the way over to CHD I remember crossing the bridge in our neighborhood and being shocked at how high the river was. It already covered the bridge, but we were in the big staff van, so we had no problem crossing. Once we arrived we made two huge buckets of guacamole, grilled 220 tortillas, cut up 4 watermelons and proceeded to wait for our meat to arrive.

Now dinner is normally at 6:00, so by the time that 7:00 rolled round we had a room full of hungry, hyper kids and still no meat. Around this time the call came in that there were literally 4 foot waves rushing over the bridge and there was no way to cross. Our meat was stuck at the B2B property. We had no meat. I remember looking out over the dining hall at the 65 kids waiting for dinner and thinking, "Well Lord, our plan has failed... what do you have in store for us now?"

The girls and I got together and decided there was nothing that we could do but pray. We had tortillas and guacamole, but we didn't want these kids to have another night of beans and rice. So we prayed. We prayed that God would bring a miracle. That he would provide meat for his precious children.

As soon as we finished praying, one of the workers walked into the dining hall with two small trays of chicken kabobs that had been donated earlier that had been randomly dropped off earlier that day! We had meat! Now would it be enough? We began to pray that this seemingly small amount would feed every child so that each one would go to bed that night with a full belly.

The meat had already been cooked, so all we had to do was reheat it in the over and serve it out. As we began to serve, something truly miraculous happened. The meat was not running out! The pans just kept coming and coming and each time I saw someone go to the over there were more trays of meat warming there!! I cannot explain it! There is no logical reason for how every single person in the room was able to have seconds and thirds and there were still two trays left over! But wait... didn't we start with two trays?!

So maybe there were a lot more trays and we just didn't see them carried in, but there is no denying that this is the faithful and provision of the Lord! It is not a random coincidence that someone dropped off meat earlier that day. God knew what our needs would be and he provided for them beyond our expectations! He multiplied our meat! Praise the Lord!!! I can't get over how miraculous He is!

Wow! This was a night that I will remember for as long as I live! I have once again learned that even when my plans fail, God has something better in mind. And last night God's plan left me awed and amazed and strengthened my faith. I pray that hearing this story brings you encouragement. God cares about the details of your life and longs to blow you away with his faithfulness.

The next morning we were able to get back to the property because the water level had gone down again during the night. We are a bit worried that if it continues to rain at the rate that is has been then the bridge will not hold and that would mean we would be stuck on the property for a while. Please pray that the bridge will hold and that Hurricane Carl will end (that is what is causing our floods). And while you are praying, please praise the Lord for his mighty power and provision! :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some Final Thoughts

Where oh where did August go? I'm sorry that I have not written in so long. When I arrived home from Nigeria I was surprised to find how hard it was for me to process through my experience. So much happened over the course of the month and it left my heart forever changed, but when asked about my trip it was difficult to put the expereince into words. After I had been home for about a week, I was asked to write a short article about my trip for the Back2Back magazine. I was honored to be asked, but for days I could do nothing more than stare at a blank page on my computer. What could I say that would do justice to the beautiful people that I met and the hardships that they endure? What could I say to show the terror and pain caused by the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims, yet still protray the hope and joy and that is seen in the faces of the children? Do I share about the sweet orphans girls that I met who live in a village that was attacked in the crisis; who had to fall asleep each night to the screams of their neighbors being burned to death? Even as I type that now a new wave of sorrow hits me for the suffering that such young children all around the world must endure. I do not know suffering. I do not know real pain. The thought of sharing my experience with others makes me feel so unworthy because it is not really my story to tell. I don't really know what it is like to live through what they have lived through. I feel humbled and honored to have met the people that I met and be able to hear parts of their stories. Humbled, honored and completely unworthy.

So without knowing what to write and where to start I did the only logical thing that I could think of. I prayed. As I prayed and scrolled through past entries in my blog, a constant theme presented itself. Over and over again in Nigeria I saw the Lord's faithfulness and provision amdist the pain and cruelty of the world. With that I began to write. A couple of hours later I had 300-500 words that represented the beginning of my journey in processing through my trip to Africa. I'm not sure what is next, but I don't want to ever forget what I have seen.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement throughout the summer. I pray that the things I have shared in my feeble attempts at blogging have blessed you, encouraged you and challenged you. As my final Nigeria blog, I want to leave you with a sneak peak at my article for the magazine and a few pictures of the sweet children that I miss so much!


Try to image this scene with me. You are standing in a small, humble building. There are rocks piled on the tin roof so that it won't blow off in the wind and the rain. The door stands open to let in the sunlight and the warm breeze. The entire room is bursting with the vibrant colors of patterned dresses and head wraps. Songs of jubilee and praise can be heard for miles around! The singing is joined with the beats of drums and everyone begins to clap their own rhythms, which blend together in perfect harmony. With sheer delight people begin dancing to the front of the room. Everyone is out of their seats, dancing, laughing, singing, worshiping God with all they have in them.

It is a church offering and it was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. It is a time of joy, singing, celebration and dancing. It is truly a sight to behold.

As I took in the scene around me, I looked to my right and saw John and Corrie Guckenberger and their kids singing in the native language of Hausa, worshipping the Lord with the people who have become their neighbors and friends. That moment was a very clear picture of what it means to present your life as an offering before the Lord. Just as my Nigerian brothers and sisters joyfully sacrificed the first fruits of their tomato crop on that Sunday, I saw John and Corrie, along with Jason and Emily, daily give their lives as an offering to the Lord to bring His love and hope to the neglected and abandoned children of Jos, Nigeria.

As I reflect back on my time in Nigeria, I am reminded of my first glimpse of the country as the plane descended below the line of gray clouds. I was struck by the beauty that lay before me in the splashes of green vegetation amidst the sea of red dirt and rock. This first glimpse of the country stuck with me and came to represent a constant theme that was evident everywhere I looked.

It is a theme of beauty in the midst of hardship, joy in the midst of poverty, blessing in the midst of pain. It is the goodness and provision of the Lord shining through to bring hope to our broken world. It is this hope that I had the privilege of witnessing at the village church each Sunday. It is this hope that is evident in the lives of the people who offer their lives to fight for the cause of the orphan child. And it is this hope that will ultimately bring healing and restoration the children in Jos, Nigeria.