Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Following HIS Heart

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

Matthew 9:12

Although many may not believe it, following God is not always easy. Since He desires a very intimate, personal relationship with us, He often calls us to do things which are beyond ourselves, beyond our comfort, and beyond our means. That way, we learn to depend on Him and grow deeper in our relationship with Him as we trust Him.

In many ways, coming to McAllen has been challenging for me (Betsy). I know God called us here; I know He opened the doors for us to be here. However, it has been harder than I had anticipated.

When I was a single missionary (and even when I was a newlywed), I had many opportunities to minister. I was a teacher, so all day long I was used to being busy, investing in students' lives. During part of my time as a single missionary, I led a women's Bible study as well as a youth Sunday School class. I was busy, busy, busy . . . working for the Lord.

Now, however, I have children and things have changed drastically! Instead of finding myself busy, busy, busy with other people, I find myself busy, busy, busy with my kids and in supporting my husband in HIS ministry. For a long time I struggled with my identity. Could I still be a missionary AND be a mommy?

The Lord really challenged me last week with my way of thinking. The one ministry (outside my home and besides Bible Club) in which I am involved is a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. I requested to be on leadership and I have the privilege of leading a small group of amazing women. Although I saw this as a ministry, I was still frustrated, feeling I wasn't really making a difference. I was also having a pity party, although I hate to admit it. I wanted to be connected and develop deep Christian friendships. I wanted to have a local support group. But, I realized that it takes time to connect and build those deeper relationships.

One morning, as I was sad about all my life WASN'T, the Lord reminded me of all my blessings! He also reminded me that I could be a blessing to others who have it much worse off than I. He challenged me to look beyond myself and my needs and look for the needs all around me.

Now, you know the Lord. When He challenges us, He provides a way for us to ACT! That same afternoon I got a call from one of my mom's in MOPS. She said she was going to look for a babysitter because something had come up and she was needed at her son's school for a couple of hours. (She is a mother who is has no family nearby --- just like I am. I understand how hard it can be to find a babysitter at the last minute when you have no family to turn to!) The Lord convicted me and said, "See ---- be a blessing to her. Be the friend you so desire." I said, "Why don't you bring them over here? I'll watch them!" She was thrilled I had offered, and before too long I had 2 toddlers and 2 babies in my care. What a joy the afternoon turned out to be!

The Lord gave me another opportunity to act at the end of the week. A local Christian school had "Colonial Days," which is a great family outing and similar to a carnival. I wanted to take Jayden, but Gerson was tired from a long day on the soccer field, so he decided not to go. The Lord reminded me of a Facebook post I had read about another mom from MOPS, whom I didn't well. She had had a hard a week and was feeling lonely and depressed. I promptly called her and invited her and her son to go to the carnival with Jayden and me. She was THRILLED! Again, I had a wonderful time BEING a friend to someone in need.

If you know anything about MOPS, it's an amazing way to reach out to young moms. Some of the mothers are Christians, but some are not. Pray for me as I continue to open my heart to the changes and challenges of ministry with small kids. The Lord will continue to provide opportunities to reach out, if only I will be open to them. Pray for the moms in our group. Some have husbands who work far away and the ladies are like single moms. Some are having financial problems and are under a lot of stress. Some don't understand who Jesus is and how much HE loves them. Those of us who know Christ have the opportunity to share His love with them.

Is it easy? No. It would be much easier to surround myself with people who know Christ, who have the same background and philosophy of life as I have. It would be easier to surround myself with Christians and not reach out to the lonely, the distraught, the hurting. Too often we Christians become our own clique. We are so happy keeping the joy of the Lord to ourselves, not wanting to reach beyond ourselves and our sphere of comfort to share the love of Christ with some who hasn't heard the Good News.

But, that's not what Jesus did, is it? He loved the sick, the lonely, those unloved by society. He didn't stay where it was comfortable and easy. He chose, instead, to follow His Father ---- all the way to the cross and death.

That's my desire, too. Although the type of ministry changes, the needs are all around me. Pray for Gerson and me ---- that God will give us eyes to see and hearts that are open to see as Christ sees. Even when it's not easy, may God help us to continue to follow His heart.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saturday Soccer

Bright and early last Saturday morning we arrived at the newly completed soccer field! Now that it is November, it's actually cool most mornings, so we were all bundled up and ready to see what God had in store for us.

Gerson had found this little machine in the shed that he used to spray paint the lines on the soccer field. He had completed that task on Friday.

It was time to take care of all the other little details for the morning. Gerson put the recycle container out by the field for the kids to put their plastic water bottles in after their water breaks.

Then he got out the soccer balls and air pump.

Next he prepared the sign to put out on the road to remind people, as well as to let them know where the practice would be held.

As you can see, he used florescent colors as well as balloons to draw attention. It worked, too! One man was just driving by and stopped to ask us what we were doing. By this time Gerson was already on the field with the kids, so I talked to the man and explained that Gerson was doing a soccer school each Saturday AM at 8:00. The man was excited because he wife left him and he has 3 children to take care of. They are all going through a rough time, and he is looking for positive things for his children to do. Only one of his boys falls into the age range for the soccer school, but we signed him up right away and his little boy's face just perked right up at having something to do. Pray for this family who is going through a rough time. What a joy it is to be able to offer something positive for the kids to do on Saturday mornings, where they not only get to have fun but also hear the Word of God!

The reason I went along with Gerson was because he needed someone to be in charge of signing up the kids, getting the parents' signatures on permission forms, and answering questions families might have had. I was happy to assist! That way, as kids arrived, they went right out to play soccer with Gerson while I did the paperwork with the parents!

Because both Gerson and I went, our kids went with us! What a joy it was to have Berta's help! She is the secretary at Taylor Christian School, and her son loves soccer! He wanted to play soccer, so Berta brought him on Saturday. She was able to stay and keep me company all morning. She loves babies and was happy to give Edson some TLC that allowed me to have my hands free to sign up kids and talk with parents as they arrived. What an unexpected blessing!

And our dear Jayden is happy as long as he has a soccer ball. We gave him a ball and he went to the soccer field and kicked, kicked, kicked and kicked the ball! He had a hard time understanding at first why Daddy wasn't playing with him, but he adjusted.

Of course, as the morning progressed, he got more creative with HOW he used the soccer equipment!

Thanks for your prayers. Tomorrow morning Gerson will be out on the field again. We had 7 children last week, but only 4 of them signed up with parental permission. Pray for the three whose parents' weren't involved. (Gerson knows where the live and plans to visit them.)

I won't be able to help Gerson tomorrow since I have a TCC rummage in the gym. However, Berta's husband may be able to help on the soccer field tomorrow, which would be a tremendous blessing. Pray for Gerson as he ministers to and plays with the kids, and pray for me as I organize and run the rummage with 2 kids in tow! Thankfully, I do have a teenager from our church who will be helping me with Jayden and Edson!

We are so thankful for each of you and your faithfulness in participating in this ministry. We feel loved, supported, and backed by your prayer. YOU are a part of each life that is touched through our ministry here in McAllen. Thank you!