Monday, August 31, 2009

Mr. Bones

I was reading in the great OT book of Ezekiel this morning and found myself very encouraged by what would seemingly be a very simple concept. Although, with God, even the most simple concepts can be eternally complex to mere human understanding. In Ezekiel 37, God is giving Ezekiel yet another vision; this one being about dried out human bones. Starting in verse 4, the Lord asks him, “Can these bones live?” [He] answered, “Lord God, only you know.” [Then God] said to [him], “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord God says to the bones: I will cause breath to enter you so you will come to life. I will put muscles on you and flesh on you and cover you with skin. Then I will breath in you so you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” And don’t you know…it actually happened (vs. 7 & 8). Verse 13 continues with God saying, “My people, you will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and cause you to come up from them. And I will put my Spirit inside you, and you will come to life.” To be honest, I pictured all this taking place in the elephant graveyard from Lion King. Ezekiel was kind of like Zazu going along with Simba and Nala and then all of the sudden everything got dark and things started eerily moving around and morphing together. Simba and Nala, scared to death and not listening to a word of comfort coming from Zazu, would keep trying to hide behind the bones only to have them suddenly move out from in front of them. Finally all the elephants were in full form again and began chasing off all the hyenas, haha….but maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, back to the Bible… though God was superficially referring to the people of Israel here, I think He is also painting a beautiful picture of the salvation we find in Christ. The process of going from spiritual death to spiritual life is a miraculous one, much like imagining completely dry bones becoming a living, breathing, fighting army, and only God himself can make such a thing happen. He alone is the one who has chosen His people to come up out of the grave of spiritual darkness to become truly alive and filled with His Holy Spirit and to begin living the life He intended. The reference to calling His people up out of the grave reminds us that we are never even truly alive until we are alive in Christ, and the very breath of which comes solely from the Holy Spirit. No matter how alive we may think we are with living flesh on our bones and rushing blood through our bodies…it is all a mere deception to the true “aliveness” found only in Christ.
I was then reminded that once we are alive…truly alive, we are not done. It’s not a set out perfect road for the rest of life. I was reminded of something a lovely Beaver once told me about the concept of spiritual breathing ;-) In this concept of now being truly alive comes with it a different air and a new way of breathing. Just as often as I would breathe physically, I should breathe spiritually…inhaling the pure and exhaling the impure. When you inhale the pureness of Christ, you are surrendering control of your life to the Spirit’s power, according to the command found in Ephesians 5:18 and supported by the promise found in I John 5:14-15. Then when you exhale you are getting rid of the sin that is in disagreement with the Spirit you just inhaled, and with confidence knowing that it’s fully forgiven (I John 1:9).
Anyway, I just found that picture of dry bones becoming living flesh very encouraging personally. It is a beautiful thing that Christ did, but I am humbly reminded I must also do my part and breathe spiritually.

And speaking of encouraging things…yesterday we had an 8 year old deliver our church message. When Jessica jokingly asked the younger kids who was going to preach the next day, Elisa eagerly said she would…and she did! She picked out a Bible story about Abraham and courageously read it in front of all her brothers and sisters and then corralled some of her comrades together to sing “Father Abraham” as special music. That whole “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young” verse…its true. As for next week…Luka…he’s 6! :-) What a nice little trend one brave little girl has started!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Makua Invasion

This summer we have been very blessed by several teams that have come for 2 weeks at a time to help out. One team in particular, from Calvary United Methodist in Mt. Airy, MD, held a sort of blanket drive before coming over. Many women from within the church and surrounding community pitched in to hand-make at least 40 blankets for orphans here in the Caprivi. When they were seeking out how to distribute them, Rebecca mentioned Chetto, a village community about 2 hours from here in the center of the Caprivi. There are several reasons this particular village came to mind. For one, the need is very great as several of our kids are from that area. This is actually where Rebecca hopes to facilitate the beginning of a small children’s home in the near future when she returns to the Caprivi part-time. In addition, Disco, the oldest boy here, has become a strong man of God over his time here at COZV and has many deep convictions. This past summer he felt called by God to build a church there among his people to seat 200. Upon a visit just a couple months ago to gather more information about beginning this smaller home, God used Disco to lead his cousin, Steven, and his wife, to Christ and another man rededicated his life to Christ. Then upon being there again just this past weekend I found out that this same cousin is now in the rotation of teachers that are leading the services of this future church that Disco plans to build. Praise God!!! They are currently meeting under a tree, but Disco has full confidence that with this new building more and more will come.

So anyway, back to the blankets. With the whole team (8), plus my mom and sister, plus Disco, Annia, and Kado as translators, we all piled into the Quantum and went for a long Sunday afternoon drive. When we arrived we met with the Induna (chief), who conveniently happens to be Annia’s uncle, and he was thrilled with the presented gifts. He agreed that the orphans should be the ones to get the blankets first. Although everyone had already gathered at the visiting mob of Makuas (white people) with gifts, he quickly brought peace and order and called each of the orphans up one by one to choose one. Then the remaining blankets were handed out to each family and himself also of course. Pictured above is Disco (with the hat) standing between his cousin Steven and his wife as they gathered some basic information for prayer cards.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Too Many

Yesterday was a day for too many goodbyes for sure…9 to be exact. The most deeply felt personally was my family. Though I greatly enjoyed the extended time we got to spend together here, it could never be too long. I think my mom and Joanna spent 90 percent of their time in their newly-created sewing room. Not only did they expertly tackle an unending mountain of mending, but also found time to teach at least 20 of the kids a combination of how to make clothes, knit, and crochet (I now know the difference is the number of needles used, but now forget which is which, ha). Although mostly girls, more than a few boys took great interest in learning and are becoming quite good at it. Pictured above is the compilation of garments made by the kids here in the last month. Overall there were 10 dresses, 5 skirts, 5 girls’ tops, 2 boys’ top/pant set, 1 dress suit, 5 hoodies, and many hats (to the best of my calculations). I knew my mom was tired one day when she referred to me as “mom,” but she kept at it until the job was done, enjoying every minute of it. With all the patterns remaining behind and the sewing room now in functional order, they hope that some will be able to continue sewing on their own.
Wherever Sam was these past 2 months, there was also always laughter and fun being had. One of the older girls told me several times that if she had a brother like Sam, she “could just never be bored.” During the school day Sam mixed his time between keeping the little ones occupied and doing odd jobs around the compound. These odd jobs included everything from folding closets full of clothes, organizing crafts, and sorting shoes, to changing light bulbs, holding ladders, digging a fish pond, and grading tests to even chopping firewood deep in the bush. But most importantly, he loved these kids with his whole heart and spent quality time with every one of them, just being their friend, which is exactly what they need.
Jamie was a returning volunteer who stayed for the summer. There are several girls who have become expert singers thanks to her many voice lessons and all the oldest kids now have a beginning education in music theory. Jamie was always willing to help wherever it was needed and did so with a smile on her face.
A mixture of sad-goodbye and hello-to-new-beginnings is that one of our young girls was finally reunited with her mother and left yesterday to go and live with her permanently. As I helped her prepare her things to leave, I was nearly in tears as I listened to the other girls sharing in her excitement to be reunited with her mother even though they themselves were very sad to see their sister leave. One in particular was telling her how she hoped she would get to go to church and a Christian school and that she would grow up to be a missionary.
Although it was hard for all the kids to say goodbye to their sister, it was even harder for them to say goodbye to their Mama Rebecca and Papa Gary; for some the only “parents” they’ve ever known. Earlier this year the Mink family felt God’s calling to move on from full-time mission work to now do part-time mission work from the states. Rebecca still plans to raise support and return a few times a year to help facilitate the starting of several new, smaller children’s homes throughout the Caprivi (one of which I will be blogging about soon), but must do so only part time so as to receive more proper care for her physical health. They have been serving the Lord on the mission field for 17 -years now, 7 of which here in Namibia establishing and running COZV, and I pray they will be richly blessed for it.
So overall 9 people left yesterday, which leads me to a huge prayer request. This is and will continue to be a huge transition both for the kids and those working here. Please be praying for the kids as they are missing their surrogate parents very much. We currently have Dave, a short-term guy who also came to help out during the flood, here taking care of finances and overall management until another couple can arrive in September for the next 6 months. We know that God has a couple (or 2) in mind to continue with the ministry here, so please be praying that God will be laying it on their hearts quickly to be able to serve here full-time in the Minks’ stead. Please also be praying for Dave, Jessica, myself, and the rest of the staff that God would guide us in how to make this transition as smooth as possible for the kids as well as some extra energy to do so :-)