Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time...the greatest gift we can give...

As I write this blog Jerrell has just taken Jayk to go fishing for the first time...Jayk has been so excited for days...seriously excited...full of anticipation and wonder of what it will be like to catch fish, have his own poll and have boy time...

As the drove away early this morning I was just overwhelmed with the thought that the greatest gift that we can give our kids is our time...time is the most precious of all commodities...and we seem to have such little of it in this day in age...Jayk didn't want a new toy (even though he loves new toys) he wanted an experience...even though if you were to ask his five year old self he might say toy :) but deep within his soul he wants time...time with Jerrell to learn to be a man...time with me to eat apples and watch a fun cartoon before bed...time...

I would say most of us feel that way about anyone we love, we just want their time...time to hear us, understand us and just love us...because when we give our time or receive time from someone else it changes us, molds us and shapes us...in giving our time we receive something that could never be captured into words...Something I am reminded of as I type is that Jesus always gives us time with him, any moment of any day he gives himself to us, may we receive it amongst what we think "matters" today...the most precious gift Jesus could give us was himself and he did that on a cross, all of himself for all of humanity....

Time...you have 24 hours a day...who are you giving your time to? who needs your time?...it is the most precious gift you can give someone...

Thank you Jerrell for giving the greatest gift to Judah last night with a baseball game and then this morning with Jayk fishing...you continually amaze me...love you dearly...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Brazil Day 4


Days like this in ministry and life make it all worth it. I could not have been more pleased with the men on this trip including our pastor. The church we are here serving has their services at night so yesterday we planned a BBQ for men of the church and the community. Bubba Crosby shared his story and he killed it! It was incredibly awesome to hear how God took Bubba on this incredible journey through a career in major league baseball and how God used it so powerfully in the lives of these men and young boys. Following his story we ate plates full of Brazilian BBQ and had great conversations with these men even with some coming to know Christ or hearing about Him for the first time. One of the best times of the morning BBQ was the baseball demonstration that Bubba lead all these men and boys through. To see these men learning a sport for the very first time was quite enjoyable but greater was the love that we all demonstrated one to another.

After a short nap and shower we jumped back in the bus and headed to the church. A few of us did some pre worship service seminars on Marriage, Administrators in Education & the student ministry. Then we took a short break, snacked on some food, Skyped in our wives to let them see our faces and the church. As the worship service as soon to begin to people were pouring in...probably 250++ were crammed in the worship center and it was rocking! A few people started their relationship with Christ, many were encouraged in their walks with the Lord and we as the team were blessed. After multiple pictures and a long dinner we all crawled in bed sometime after midnight. Our hearts were full and our bodies exhausted but we believe that God has been glorified and the hearts of the Brazilians encouraged.

This day will be a great marker in many of our lives.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brazil Day 3 (Saturday)

Brazil Day 3.

This day we have been anticipating for a long time. Months ago when we spoke with Patti LaCarter in Brazil about bringing a team down we discussed the potential of @greggmatte leading a pastors seminar. Well today this is all coming to fruition. The hours and hours of work by Patti and her team is coming to light today. The organization, prayer, invites, recruiting, communication, etc.. that was poured into this time together today is amazing. I am sitting in a packed church (250 seats) with Brazilian pastors. This place is full of life, energy, expectation.

Today Pastor Gregg crushed it. His message was duly translated into Portuguese & sign language. This is the results of the hard work and dedication to Patti LaCarter and 16 years of ministry here in Brazil. The relationships she has sustained and the prayers that she has prayed are evident. I can't get over what we experienced today. It was powerful and encouraging.

************

To end the day we sat around a Brazilian Steakhouse and had the sweetest time of encouraging Patti & Georgia...it was powerful.

You can tell we I am a bit tired in recording the details...but just want you to know that today (Sunday) will be a full day...pray for us...




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brazil Day 2 (Friday)

Brazil Day 2:

We were all up early this morning considering many of us had been up 36 hours or so straight (minus a few cat naps on the plane). Breakfast at 7:00 am. Devotional at 7:25 a.m. and a departure sometime after 8 to go work in the slums with one of CBO (Comunidade Batista Oceanica) newest church members. She has recently be apart of the church...she has three kids and we are praying for her husband to start following Jesus. We thought we were going into do a few small projects but it turned into a little bit more...I'll save the details.

One of the best intros of creating community and seeing fellowship grow is generated the fastest when the group is tested with what we call "liminality." Pushing a group to the limit in which it appears what is put before them cannot be accomplished or achieved within themselves. As we loved on this family and worked on their home our hearts united as one. We laughed, worked, and saw our own hearts change for this half day project.

We then took some showers to remove the paint, mortar, and dirt before we headed out to see more of the city. We spent 30 minutes at one of the highest points in the city across the bay from Rio...we overlooked the bay, the buildings, the beaches, the boats, and the beauty of God's creation. All of us truly could had sat up there for awhile reflecting, praying and taking in God's fame & beauty.

We then made our way to downtown Niteroi to visit a Catholic church and some black magic stores. Black magic/spiritism is strong in this country. It's totally dark and demonic. There truly is a strong spiritual attack waging all around us. Walking the streets packed with street vendors, street food, one of stores and packed streets truly does allow you to see the diversity and lostness of a city.

Two of our prayers have been: 1. Instead of touched emotions we will have changed values. 2. Our goal is to move missions from an event to a lifestyle. Join us as we serve others and grow in Christ today.

Jerrell

Friday, April 27, 2012

Brazil Day 1

Upon landing in Brazil, we skated through immigration and customs without a hitch. We actually got through customs so fast we had extra time to wait upon our hosts arriving to the airport. We then traveled an 1:30 through Rio traffic heading into Niteroi seeing the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful country. Let me touch on few insights from today...

Food: We definitely will not starve in this country...our first restaurant for lunch (which for some was breakfast since our "snack" on the airport was almost non existent.) and our dinner restaurant are large buffets in which you weight your plate at the end of the line. One fun piece is the ability to pile on meat at the end of the line. These opportunities serve as key times of face to face fellowship and interaction with one another as well as our local Brazilian friends. With piles of food and a bit tired you can only imagine how much we need a 2 hour break after lunch to rest and shower.

Church: Wow! What Jesus has done here with Patti LaCarter & Georgia Costa is amazing...I am still blown away by the work of the Lord through them...The pictures and stories we have are so inspiring and we have only been here 1/2 day. More on this to come...

Ministry: Last night the men killed it! Truly...Travis Herzog & Russell Johnson did an amazing job working with the preteens/children. Even seeing a child commit their life and loyalty to King Jesus. Anthony Brown & Tom Tyrell were the perfect two to share with the Celebrate Recovery men and women...their personal stories weaved perfectly into loving on these amazing people here in Brazil. Then I got to be with the teenagers/college students at a nearby home. Wow! What a great job James Mayes did in telling his story. You could have heard a pin drop. The hope of the church in Brazil has a lot of potential with who we met with last night.

As we wrapped up the day...which felt like 3 days...we sat on the hotel porch above the swimming pool and reflected moments/stories/pictures of how Jesus was revealing himself already.

All are healthy but exhausted. Let's see what tomorrow holds..

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almost...

Almost...we are almost on the ground here in Rio. The ladies are doing their walk through the cabin area picking up trash, old newspapers, and any left over food or beverage items. The plane is beginning to bounce because of turbulence as we lower towards the ground. It is almost game time. It's almost time for me to shut down this computer. It's almost time for the entire plane to start talking since all devices must be properly stowed. Almost...

Almost is such an powerful word. It carries the idea of "close." You remember as a child when you were trying to tag someone or "get 'em" and you would respond with "close." Then they would follow up with "close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades." Then you also might hand "and nuclear war." (By the way today April, 26, 1986 Chernobyl exploded in Ukraine...so slide up a prayer today for people in the Ukraine still living in the after math of that tragedy).

Close...Almost...when those words are used in response to danger or miscue it's one thing but when it comes to our faith journey, our walk with Jesus, or love towards others may we not live a life of "almost."

No...let's live fully, all out, completely abandoned for Jesus. So as eleven men with six days of work ahead of us let's see what happens here in Brazil. I am praying that we leave here fully exhausted but fully engaged and used by Jesus for His kingdom.

Not our name Jesus, not our renown...we have nothing. You Lord are all we have. So please Jesus move among us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Brazil

Tomorrow I get on a plane to fly 10.5 hours to Brazil. It's a direct flight (a privilege of flying from Houston). We will be connecting with one of our workers who has been there 16 years serving, leading, discipling, and pressing into the darkness. She has worked hours upon hours in developing, praying and loving the Brazilians to follow Jesus. I will be on the field with 10 other men on being Pastor Gregg. Men is the sweet spot these days. Ladies much love to you but if we move men we move families faster, deeper and longer. We will be speaking in a variety of venues, working in the slums one day, a men's bbq, church services, and much more. I am sure we will also squeeze in a Brazilian Steakhouse.

If you wouldn't mind join us in prayer for this 6 day journey. Go here and sign up.

Let's see what Jesus might do on this journey. Excited.

Jerrell

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet Jim..

I must tell this story. On Sunday I was standing in the door way of the Connection Center (where people come for prayer, ask questions, join the church, talk about following Jesus, baptism, pretty much any issue...). Jim walked in fumbling his Bible in his hands with a deep concern on his face. Jim mustered up the words "I need to pray with someone." I gently lead him to the back of the connection center. We sat down and we began to talk. Here is how the conversation followed:

Me: What's going on?
Jim: My wife is an alcoholic, she wants to separate from me. This is awful.
Me: Jim I am so sorry. Let's keep talking.
Jim: She committed to rehab. At the same time I knew she was getting out I cleaning up my act as well. Leaving friends, etc..
Me: Ok.
Jim: She got out and the first thing she told me was that she wanted to leave me and now she is back drinking.
Me: I'm sorry. How long have you all been married?
Jim: Twenty years.
Me: How long has their been a drinking issue with your wife.
Jim: Well we always thought she was just a heavy drinker. It's crazy I should have realized that there was a drinking problem. Probably 8-9 years now.
Me: What happened 8-9 years ago to fire up the need to over consume.
Jim: Our infant died...a month old and passed away. It wasn't good.
Me: Wow! I am sorry. Jim how long you had that Bible?
Jim: That's my dad's bible. He was a baptist preacher.
Me: Really (I picked up the Bible and began to thumb through it...It was full of sermons, outlines, notes, references, dates, etc.). Tell me about your dad.
Jim: My dad died when I was 16.
Me: Really, I am sorry.
Jim: Yeah I was a hell raiser. The typically baptist preachers kid. Running wild.
Me: How did he die?
Jim: A car accident. Wasn't his fault. Our relationship wasn't right. I believe it would have gotten right but he passed away.
Me: Jim, how old are you?
Jim: 52.
Me: So 36 years ago your father passed away. I bet when you were born that your father committed you to Jesus and prayed over you asking God to do something amazing in your life. Jim I believe right now those prayers your father and mother prayed are coming to fruition. You are here, broken over your own sin and lack of following Jesus with your life. I want you to know that your story isn't over. How long you been coming to First Baptist?
Jim: This is my 3rd week. Three weeks ago she got out and told me what she wanted. I cleaned up my act left my drinking and smoking friends. I want something different.
Me: I am proud that you came not only once, but three times and now you came in here for us to meet and me to pray for you.
Jim: I am working through the 12 steps. Step 3 is giving it up...and I have been fighting giving it up but I am here laying it down before Jesus. I have also been going to Al-Anon and a Christian therapist. But I know Jesus is going to get me through.
Me: Jim I know you want your marriage to survive but Jesus is after your heart first. Even if your wife came back you wouldn't be in the place to lead her and love her.
Jim: Your right. I am going to follow Jesus. Be the person I know Jesus told me to be years ago and pray for her.
Me: Jim I want you to pray then I am going to pray over you.
Jim: I don't think I can make it through but I will try.
Me: If you don't I will pick right up and finish it out.

We transitioned to prayer and he crushed it. He prayed a strong, heartfelt inspiring prayer of repentance and confession. I then prayed over him and blessed him.

It was a beautiful day of God's redemption work in many...that was just one story to inspire your week.

Pray for my new friend Jim please. Pray for others trapped in sin. If you are trapped you can get out. Jesus will meet you.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Day 8: Let's Make Some Noise

Day 8: Let's Make Some Noise

Who are you kidding!! If you don't have a party planned you have missed it! Straight up no qualms about it. If you only did a few Easter eggs and a candy basket you missed it. This should be the one day of the year (that far exceeds Christmas for sure) that you throw a party. Today in our house (after 3 morning services and in between a night service) we will have a party. Lamb, Beef, All kinds of fun sides, a sick arrangement of desserts, fun drinks (I am staying in line with my local congregations staff position--no worries), blessings upon each other, celebrating one another and the greatest story ever! We will have family and friends piled in our condo with jubilee in the air. This is the day that we are to "make some noise" no doubt about it...Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! Our King Jesus is on the throne, always has been, always will be. The invitation is not about us accepting him merely in our hearts...it is about a total abandonment to follow him...with extreme loyalty. He is not your butler, nor your maid. He is not your wall art He is our center piece. He isn't to be managed or mastered he is be followed and adored. Let's explain and exclaim his love, power and glory today. We worship and follow Him today. Don't play today. Make the songs you sing come alive even if they people leading you don't. Make a feast happen if you are poor. He will bless your cup of soup or single cracker. Let's "make some noise." His name, His renown.

We have a motto in our house for our boys to follow: Let's follow the Lord "All the way, right away, With the right heart." Today let's go all the way, right away, with the right heart. Don't be late today to church, be first, be ready, celebrate your face off! Let' the nations be glad! We join the choir of all peoples on heaven and earth.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Day 4: Awkward Silence

Day 3: Awkward  Silence

These day always gets me! The day when everything appears to be going smoothly and then life comes to a stop and your whole life starts flashing before your eyes. It happened for me in 6th grade. My buddies and I were involved in an incredibly intense spitball fight. One friend had loaded an entire sheet of paper in his mouth for a good while and at the exact moment when the teacher turns his back I got pelted on the left cheek...then another friend thought it necessary to place one upon the chalkboard (those are now extinct) right next to the teacher.  As soon as we got busted my mom knocked on the door. That is the moment in which I stood about 3 inches tall and knew I would surely die upon the wrath of my dad. Every dream I had was gone...I knew life was going to end in a few hours. 

This same energy of laughter and pleasure must have been present at the Last Supper. Jesus knew how to party and celebrate. Then the atmosphere turns while Jesus starts in a dialogue that one among them was going to sell him out...STOP RIGHT HERE...everyone at that table must have had that awkward silence...their lives flashing all around them...you can see the puzzles looks on faces, the jocking of position, the heavy breathing, sweaty palms, watery eyes, cotton mouth, and creative word articulation of why it would "never be me."

Think what happened for a moment when Judas leaned toward and dipped his hand in the bowl just at the same time Jesus did...talk about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar. 

False loyalty was revealed. You see my friend loyalty is about complete follow ship...not seasonal recognition or occasional interest in Jesus. It's about loyalty...

Think of those moments when we temporarily abandon Jesus. Are you broken hearted or has this become a pattern in your life. You know you can honor him some but not all the time. And you know enough that he will surely forgive you. 

If you have become indifferent about forgiveness take a breather today. Take a good look. My mom busted me. Jesus outed Judas. The Holy Spirit is aware of where you are prone to wonder. 

Let not the of silence of abandonment create in you a lazy repentance. Let's let those moment of awkward silence not become normal noise but times of great loyalty renewal. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Day 3: Antonym of Noise

Day 3: Antonym of Noise

Jerrell just shut up! I am totally into self talk. Jerrell just chill! I am in to wife talk as well. Babe you can't say that here or ever.
For those of you who know me I have a very high willingness to open my mouth and speak regardless of the situation or setting most of the time. I did say "most of the time." My body language, seat movement, hand ringing, cracking of knuckles, heavy breathing, foot tapping, note taking, eye contact or lack of is extremely easy to read. If I am tracking with what you are saying or presenting I am all in...if for some reason I can't stand what you are saying or am quite unsure of your position, stance or statement I will either not move (I don't want to dare give you a reason to believe I am with you.) or my brow will become narrow, my chin will duck, and I will begin to wipe my eyes or chin. Yes I do know my quirks. When pressure is on for me or it's game time you can usually find my yawning or doing something completely unrelated to the sermon I am about to preach or meeting I am about to attend. Let's think of Jesus for a moment standing trail. These men were condemning him to death. The scriptures says, "Then Pilate questioned Him again, Are you not answering anything? Look how many things they are accusing You of!" But Jesus still did not answer anything so Pilate was amazed."

Jesus was hearing these men "talk noise." For those of you familiar with sports analogies "talking noise" happens quite often. The term is generally related to members on one team taunting, challenging or harassing the other team to invoke a response from them. You would want to "get in their head" or cause them to loose concentration.

So Jesus in the face of these men "talking noise" he remains focused, resilient and silent. Today let's make it our prayer to shut our mouths and let God have his way. The accusations by these men stood no chance of causing Jesus to react or recount his path to the cross. He cried out in prayer and left the results to God. So today cry out to Jesus, make your position know (even if you are mad or don't understand) but once you do cry out to him get up and walk in the results of God. Cry out in private remain calm in public. Remain steadfast to the noise around you to live at peace and have a quite heart towards the anxiety of the world. Let your light of peace shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. So in the face of "noise" remain silent today.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Day 2: The Problem of Noise

Day 2: The Problem of Noise


Clatter, Blare, Uproar, Tumult, Clamor, Hubbub, Racket...

These synonyms of noise capture the ruckus of the streets of Jerusalem, the valley, the place of the skull, the cross, the vail being torn, the stone being rolled away, the 500 witnesses that Jesus appeared to after the resurrection, the ascension...but I can't get out of my mind the smaller sounds...the smaller sounds that linger in my mind, my heart, my soul, my body...I am caught up with the scuttlebutt that transpired multiple times through the Holy Week with these men trying to find Jesus guilty. Before I lose you let me define scuttlebutt. (Scuttlebutt is a water cask kept on a ship's deck. Meaning "rumor, gossip" first recorded around 1901, originally nautical slang, traditionally said to be from sailors' custom of gathering around the scuttlebutt.)

However as I think of the meddling, rumors, lies, and scuttlebutt that these men were using to scandalously go after Jesus I am immediately flooded about how I let the same small noises consume my own heart. Go with me hear for a second. Think about the how the smallest of lies, stories, rumors, or even conspiracies derail you. Yes Jesus was in complete control of the Holy Week no doubt at all but Satan was having his sweet jolly time that week. The week that looked so miserable for Jesus was looking so tremendous for Satan. Think about the glory, boasting, power, and praise Satan must of thought he was gaining this last week...Judas joined his team to sell Jesus out, Peter acting like a fool in the moment and denying Jesus, the trails of lies, the beatings, and the final breath. Satan must of thought he had won...

Now think about our own lives...the lies, stories, rumors, doubts that we allow the enemy to plant in the beautiful soil of our lives. God is doing so much and birthing new life yet we allow the enemy to plant a thistle or thorn bush. We listen to his rumors, lies and distractions. Then as we listen we begin to believe and act out in response to his crazy voice...the small voice of confusion...

The problem with noise in our day may not be the large sounds and big crashes but the small sounds, rumors, and lies from the voice of the enemy...rather than the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And the greatest problem of noise is the lingering effect...we often fall in love with the noise...the lies...and we allow the identity of the lie to define us, consume us, and drive us. So today think with me about the small noises around the Holy Week..the foot steps of Judas leading to sell out Jesus, the sliding of sword across the ear of one of the evil men wit Judas, the snoring of the disciples in the garden while Jesus sweats blood. Small sounds make a big difference...let the small noise of Satan's voice flee and the powerful noise of Jesus reign strong.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Day 1: The Power of Noise

Power of Noise:

Startled! Concerned! Mad! Scared! Laughing! These words are just a few reactions you may have expressed upon a sudden burst of noise around you. Screeching tires, doors slammed, a startled baby crying, an abandoned animal. When you hear these sounds emotions run a muck in our lives. Very very few people handle noise well. The power of a song in a store or restaurant or the a bad stereo system at a stoplight can pull your attention away. The sound of a "tweet" "text" or "message" often releases a rush of dopamine to inspire your reactionary emotions to give a response or "reply all."

Many people I know are on sensory overload and have extremely low awareness to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives. If you aren't a follower of Jesus Christ you have zero comprehension of what I am referring to in regards to experiencing the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, and speaking to you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you understand exactly what I am communicating. Our theology is sharper than it's ever been. Our definitions, goals, strategies, and organization structure are tight. However it seems the power of the Holy Spirit and his movement in and through our lives is getting less and less attention. One reason we are still living in the shallow waters of hearing and responding to the Holy Spirit in our lives is the simple realization is that the Spirit doesn't put Band-Aids on anything--he goes to the core of your problems to provide change and help.

So as we journey this week towards the Last Supper, Crucifixion, that dreaded Saturday, and the most amazing Resurrection Sunday let's take a look at the noise...the noise of the streets, the last supper, the trail, the scourging, the nails, the men fighting over Jesus clothes, the drops of blood, the thorns, the spear, the mourning, the startled soldiers, the loud mouth yet stunned Peter....shall we look at the noise in our lives. The noise we use to "Band-Aid" the real issues of our life and see Jesus do something greater in our lives.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Noise...

Noise...

That's the journey I want you to join me on for the next 8 days. Sound, volume, disruption, confusion, distraction, silence, anxiety. Let's ponder this Holy Week as we journey towards the cross. Jesus enters today for the week that changed everything.

Come back tomorrow and let's journey.

Jerrell

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guatemal Day 4 (Amazing)

Guatemala Day 4

At the end of today all 25 of us (grown men) were bawling our eyes out as we revealed the remodeled home to the boys.  As we started today we had an insurmountable list of things to accomplish to see this dorm completed.  The list seemed long and so many things were dependent upon the job before it getting done.  

As we wrapped up the cleaning we began to watch the boys becoming filled with anticipation to see their new home.  Our finish deadline was 5:00 pm.  We wanted to take showers before we presented the house back to the family.  The orphanage here puts the children in family settings with House parents.  It's a great set up to allow children in transition to keep their identity.  

Words will not be able to describe the experience we had in the home being presented to the family.  The boys all walked in with nice jeans and shirts while wearing their brand new shoes that we as a class bought them months ago.  They came in caring jars with candles in them to an amazing Spanish song.  As the song ended they walked to each of us grown men and presented us with the candle and each a card.  Then the house parents began to speak words of blessings over us.  Then out of the blue they had Mika Self & myself set down in chairs.  The house father and another house worker (both men) kneeled down before us and had a basin and some water.  At this point the tears were already brimming at the fore front of our eye balls.  Now they began to steadily roll down our faces as these grown men washed our feet and anointed them with oil in representation of how we had served them and they blessed our entire group.  As the washing was taking place we were all undone.  Then the parents prayed over us (all of us) which the Holy Spirit fell upon that home, our team and the boys.  I  (Jerrell) returned the prayer.  Little did I know that moment I opened my mouth to pray I lost all ability to control my quivering lips and full heart so proceeded to announce blessing, favor, peace, honor and hope over our friends through a cracked voice and desperate cry.  All of us men were at the ends of themselves...no eye left dry for sure!  

We then proceeded to have the Project Manager of the property (who grew up at the Orphanage) pray over us and bless us.  Then the best we could we had the boys go to their beds and we grabbed the anointing oil.  We prayed over rooms, beds, boys, bathrooms, and much more.  It was a truly a sweet sign of God's anointing on our lives.  

The boys grabbed the new sheets that were provided through Melissa Venghaus' mother's Bible study class.  These boys grabbed these sheets and began to rip them open (we couldn't put them on the beds for the new mattresses didn't arrive on time).  You would have thought we had given them a new toy...but nope...just sheets...and they were thrilled.

We stepped outside and took a group picture (which will probably need some red eye reduction help).  We all walked to the vans in which we headed to dinner in with the Holy Spirit hangover from how powerfully he demonstrated himself in that dorm.

Your prayers have been appreciated and helped.  If I could have bottled up every story, thought, change of heart, and new direction that was spoken of you all would not have believed me.  It was simply an amazing trip with many more stories to come.  I believe what transpired on this trip in 5 days may have taken 5 years to accomplish in a weekly Bible study.  Jesus thank you for watching over us and protecting us.

May God grant you a returned favor.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Guatemala Day 3

Guatemala Day 3

It's 10:50 pm and a few men are still sitting around and telling stories.  This day has been extremely amazing at so many levels.  To see these men work this hard has been encouraging and empowering at so many levels.  I was looking at before and after pics this evening and was blown away of what we have been apart of on this trip. To see custom bunk beds, book cases, shoes racks, benches, full painting schemes, concrete work, bathroom overhauls, new ceiling tiles, light fixtures, window coverings, and much more has been great. However the greatest picture is to see the house parents and 16 boys smiling and excited for a renewed home.  

We are pretty tired to say the least but renewed with greater passion for being used as the church should be used--as the missionary. The leadership has been extremely gracious to us on this journey.  You can find a few pics on Facebook page that I have been tagged in. 

Words cannot explain the fullness of growth, laughter,  & renewal we all are walking in.  Wives, please know we cannot wait to see you (not all of you just our own wife).  We will have plenty of stories, plenty of God moments and plenty of new focus we want to lead in.  This possibly was the best 1000 you could have invested in your life, marriage and future.  The enemy wants to steal all Jesus has done but we are resisting him at every level so please keep pressing in at home as well.

The men who attendee the two prisons were blessed beyond measure and inspired us with some strong stories. 

Now it's midnight and I'm the last one up with a full day tomorrow. Pray we can get it all done by 5 pm. It has to be. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Guatemala Day 2

Guatemala Day 2 It's amazing what a day can do.  Yesterday (Day 1) we arrived to the orphanage and worked hard from 2:30 to 10:30. This morning Jason Baker lead a strong devotional from Psalm 130 and asks us the question "What does waiting on the Lord look like?"  It was a great lead into a full day of work here at the Orphanage.  We then split the team into two groups (carpentry shop & painting crew).  It was a full day of painting and sanding.  The stories seemed endless coming from the carpentry shop as well as the "loading crew."   After a brief stop for lunch and the purchasing of some new sanders we wrapped up around 6 pm exhausted.  But as we walked away from the two areas we worked today the house is 95 percent ready to put in appliances, beds, tables, book cases, etc.  The beds will finished getting stained on Friday.   As the men cruised in for dinner I realized it was a corn crispy tortilla and some tomato sauce with parmesan cheese.  I perched myself a few steps away to watch the reactions of our men.  It was a good dose of food crisis/over consumption.   It was good to sit down and have dinner with these men knowing there wasn't "enough" for the American lifestyle but it was plenty when you pray, have a heart for the least, last and the lost and trust God to fill your stomach.  Granted we had sandwich meat and some other snacks (nachos and cheese after devotions).  But as a teaching moment after dinner during devotions I reminded the men that it was good for us eat that dinner tonight.  It is good for our self eating styles, lack of appreciation for our food and we understand what most of the world eats every day and how much we waste every day.  The worship & devotional time tonight was amazing.  The Lord truly  moved.  The  stories the men our sharing, the conviction the Lord is bringing and the hearts of teachability is truly beautiful.  The way in which Jesus is speaking is life changing for all of us.  On top of the community, fellowship and love that is being established all the more among the men. As you read this it is Friday morning.  Pray we finish up some projects today and for the youth service tonight.  We also have a group of 4 men headed to two prisons today!   Wives to men on the trip:  Please keep preparing your hearts.  God is speaking.  These men love you all and are truly seeking greater ways to love Jesus and lead  your family well.   Much love...now off to painting... Jerrell

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guatemala Day One...

Wow! That was the word that kept crossing my mind when I was standing in the airport at the gate waiting to board. 25 men from the Life Bible Study that I teach are loading on a plane for a mission trip to Guatemala to do a complete make over on a boys home at an orphanage outside Guatemala City. This is the why we have "church."

The flight was smooth and rather quick much like our bus ride from the airport to the orphanage. All of the wives represented by these men would be proud to know that the first thing we did upon arriving at the orphanage was taking a group picture. I thought you would be proud.

We sat down at the table for lunch and a brief orientation. The lunch was noodles with shredded chicken (the kids only get chicken once a week on Sunday), homemade tortillas, pineapple, and some mixed vegetables. A friend of my from college has spent the last 12 years of her life ministry at some capacity here at the orphanage, the latest stint for over 3 years. We toured the orphanage that sits on the side of the mountain and then quickly proceeded to the dorm in which we were going to remodel. There our 16 boys and house parents that live in this dorm. They have moved completely out and are living in tents this week while we do an "extreme makeover" on the dorm.

We started with a good demo job--just what every man needs every once in a while. We took out all of the ceiling tiles, old beds, shelves, book cases, doors, toilets, sinks, and much more. Dust was flying, dirt was scattering, a few small insects were scattering...it was on. We think took some bleach water and wiped down every wall to prepare for painting. As this was happening we had men repairing ceiling grid, hauling away all of the old debris to the junk pile and cutting new tiles for the new ceiling grid. This lead us up to dinner time in which we had a tomato sauce, rice, and fried eggs with ham sandwiches. I, Jerrell, opted for the PB&J.

Then we went entered into a time of devotions. Every missionary journey that gives men time away to worship, get in the word, reflect, pray with one another, and refocus their hearts and minds usually sets the table for something amazing to happen in their lives. Ryan Langford, he is apart of our class but rarely gets to attend because of his Sunday worship leading duties, lead us in a few songs of worship and I proceeded to open the Word of God. I spent some time in Matthew 7:24, Jesus gives these words at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock." Most people know the words of Christ and his commadments but "acting" upon them is this constant struggle. So I put before the men this question, "What does it look like personally for you to walk with God?" I won't surrender everything we talked about for now...Then we ended this time in groups of 3..men praying (always a great sight).

Then we regrouped and headed back to the dorm to primer the walls and continued replacing the ceiling tiles. Most went to bed between 10:30 & 11:30 pm.

Wives you don't need to worry your men have hot water to shower with...now them taking a shower might be another discussion for another time. All our well except one team member. Adam Hamza has a pretty intense sinus attack/drainage going on. We are believing today he will be much stronger. He rested all yesterday upon arrival so we are believing he is good to go.

Today our goals are completing the ceiling grid, painting the entire dorm, hanging kitchen cabinets and building 8 bunk beds (sanding, cutting, building, etc)...

The men of our class/church are amazing...I believe that Jesus is doing something special, unique, empowering, and life changing. This could be one of the best things that has happened to us.

Wives a special word...Please don't find yourself so busy that you find yourself unprepared to recieve your man back home. I believe there will be some amazing conversations that will come from this journey. We all prayed for you last night thanking God for you sacrifice.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Technology

I put a tweet out a few days ago "Shut off the technology pipelines pouring into your house & let your kids read a book. You read one as well."

As Christian parents we must continually fight for the heart of our children, spouse, marriage, and church. We want better things to happen in so many arenas we find ourselves serving yet we can't figure out why they aren't moving towards the better. One of the areas you must fight is the consumption of technology absorbing the heart of your family.

Let not the technology that is being poured into your home be the parent or better yet be the glue that holds your marriage together. I am confused at the couples I know who sit for hours watching movies and television shows but never spend lengthy time discussing their faith, their children, the Bible, their dreams...or better yet praying together...serving together...writing notes of encouragement to each others as well as friends, family, coworkers, etc...

I am not the anti guy...I am very much pro technology and media but remind your computer, smart phone, tv, children, spouse and your own heart who drives who...and what has priority in your home. Your kids will multiply in the generations to come what you model for them.

For those of you who know my boys...they are all boys...they are full of life, adventure, noise, running, loudness, and laughter. But to see how they can at the same time...all on their own grab a pile of books and go sit in their bed without prompting or "as punishment" and read is absolutely amazing. To see my 3 year old even this afternoon go into his bed all by himself and read was amazing. And my boys do this not just for 5 minutes but for 30-45 all by themselves. It's a beautiful thing.

Here is an article I would recommend for you to read here.

Jerrell

Value...Offerings...

This week I have been thinking alot about value...That my value must be found in the divine new nature that God gives us when we surrender our lives to Jesus...it is so tempting to find value in my marriage, my kids, family, friendships, status, etc...but God has given us a new nature...seated in the heavenlies...united with him...new nature...and it is for me to walk in that truth daily and continually...As I walk in that the Lord showed me that everything else is an offering...loving my man, my kids, my friends, the world...all is an offering...I am full stepping into the situations he places me in...instead of walking into them with an expectation needing the person to fulfill me...

Another way I have been looking at is that my value in God is the cake and every other compliment, acknowledgment, encouragement or love I receive is icing on the cake but not the cake itself...

So this week has been about catching myself desiring value in other places and asking God to make them an offering...he has done it on several occasions this week and I am feeling free...free to love, free to offer myself and free to follow the Holy Spirit instead of trying to meet my own needs...He is so much better and I long for more of Him and less of me...

Lord may your grace lead us as we find our value in you, and then we are open to freely offer ourselves to you and to others...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

God-serving or Self-serving....

Well this is Kay writing...Jerrell has been doing awesome sharing all that God has done and is doing in the Altic household...but I wanted to share something that I have personally been walking through this side of SE Asia and just in life....

Something the Lord has been talking to me about is "my Agenda"...not like a time agenda or list of things that need to get done on a certain day...but "my Agenda" within my relationships from Jerrell to the kids, to friends, to just random interactions the Lord might bring along the way...and it has been so convicting...because as long as I have my Agenda...my wants...my needs...that I am trying to get met in ways illegitimate ways, it is going to hinder me following God's agenda for the day and for my role as a wife, mom, friend and follower of Christ...

So I felt the Lord put before the question "God-seving or Self-serving?"...to help me check my reason for doing what I am doing...and it has been freeing and convicting at the same time...I desire so much not to self-serve through life...it is so easy to do because the self can be so strong inside me at times...but when I step back and walk in a God-serving mindset I don't struggle to need more from others than what is appropriate to need...For God is the provider and I want to walk with Him and be amazed at the ways He provides...Self-serving can leave a heavy burden on others when you walk away...but God-serving always leaves the fresh fragrance of Freedom...

So I ask you the question I am constantly asking myself right now...Do you find yourself living a more self-serving or God-serving life?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Something to chew on...baptism outside of America

I started following Jesus at 15 years of age in a small church in Southwest Missouri. There wasn't anything flashy what so ever about my home church. Those men and women worked long blue collar jobs and sacrificed every week to teach Sunday school, open the church, set up chairs, move rooms, and much more to see Jesus become King in so many lives. The longer I am away from those people the more appreciative I am of those who loved me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. Deacons who served not only in title but in practice.

I learned to pray by setting in on adult prayer meetings throughout high school and college. This I feel has been lost in so many churches. You want to see faith... then watch a farmer get on his knees and beg God for rain and it starts pouring before someone else can pray. You want to see faith modeled start watching groups of men and women pray and lives are changed right before your eyes.

So from the time of 15 to now I have witnessed a large amount of baptisms (the public declaration of being a Christ follower). Being here for 11 years I have also had the great opportunity to baptize men and women from all kinds of backgrounds, journeys, and stories.

What I witnessed in Asia was over the top in regards to baptism. To see these women who stepped into the baptism waters with full hearts yet anxious, steadfast courage yet tentative..the questions that were asked of them caused me to ponder hard and think through how I view baptism.

First Question: Have you trusted upon the Lord Jesus Christ has your Lord and Savior? This seems to be an obvious question and a great place to start. This is where baptism starts...a public loyalty to Jesus.

Second Question: Are you willing to endure persecution, isolation, abandonment, and loss of family for the Gospel? What!!! Yes that question gets asked. Not just one time either. Every time. Every person. That this following of Jesus will lead to persecution. Not that it "might" but that it will. See here! And these ladies with courage and counted the cost and responded with full hearts a hearty "yes!" Are you kidding me?! What if your baptism was proceeded with these questions? What would your answer be? The same? Would answer a yes to this question cause you to think harder how you would now live? How you would now love? care? give?

Then to see this ladies go under the water and come out of the water with huge smiles on their faces left me speechless. Truly. I walked away thanking God, renewing my own heart, and asking God to give me the greater courage to walk in His Spirit.

Church in America I say again we must sit at the feet of the global church. When you go on your next international journey ask those you are visiting to speak into your life. Let them speak about how they live life, do ministry, serve others, and sacrifice. Truly let's learn. With all of the church planting movements around the globe... they have left the gimmicks, pomp, and glitter on the sidelines and invested in people, prayed, and are seeing the Spirit move. Let's learn & then implement.

A couple of pics:





Jerrell

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jayk's First Basketball Game

I think the entire sports scene today for the youth of America is jacked up! The cut throat stress, expectations, and pressure placed on children is beyond acceptable. We have been witnessing a generation of parents who think their kid is "the best" and surely if they have "more practice", "more instruction", and "more opportunity" that they would be the next professional gem to be snatched up in 9th grade and sign a Division I scholarship to play at the collegiate level even before they have played one in minute of high school competition. The amount of cash spent for personal coaches, trainers, instructions, select teams, and the like is stupid. We are seeing those in the church spend 3x's the money on sports, travel, gear, and games and haven't even come close to spending that type of cash for their kids to experience an international mission trip or feed the homeless or actively engage in the 100's of opportunities around them for their children to be awakened to the greater issues of faith.

So today (January 7, 2012) our family stepped our feet into the arena of youth basketball with Jayk. He is on a fun team with 9 other boys. This definitely is not the cut throat league but an opportunity for the boys to learn the game and burn some energy. (Men need to do both--put their minds to action and their bodies to work). We had missed the first two practices while being in SE Asia but went to the 3rd just two days before his first game ever. Needless to say we had shot, rebounded, and talked about basketball a few times but this was now go time.

So on this morning I had the perfect morning planned out in my head but very little went as planned. I had a time in my mind we needed to leave but that didn't happen. When we were leaving Jayk busted his head on the door (nothing major). Judah was wanting to whine and the adult emotions in the home were running a bit higher than normal. I grew up in a family that if you weren't early to anything then you might has well not even go while Kay grew up in a family that was fashionably late. So I had this moment that I had to surrender my plans to God's greater plans.

I was so excited for my son to go play a short basketball game that I could hardly contain myself. For the first time as a father I felt like my dad had to feel so many hundred times over with my brothers and I (I have two older brothers) before all the games we played in. Some of my best memories was going to a basketball or baseball game with my dad. It was tremendous. He coached every game every sport until Jr. high for all three of us. What a sacrifice my dad made for us. Amazing. I got worked up a few short times and I wasn't even coaching today. Well I coached a bit from the sidelines.

Jayk loved it. Played hard and had tons of fun. Shot the ball a few times and loves playing defense. Many dads say they are proud of their children because of what they do or how they perform on a court or a field of competition but I am proud of my son because of who he is. He is my son. So father's and mother's as kids basketball is in full swing remember to tell your children you are proud of them and love them for who they are not for what they do. That what they do is exciting and fun to experience together but let not their value, worth or position be driven by a performance.

The goal of sports has to be reconfigured. Many parents have their kids in church just like they have them in sports and many times sports gets trumped by church. But I submit a new line of thinking to you. Don't raise your kid in church but raise your kid in Christ (which will include church). There is a difference. What you value most they will value. What you own they will own. If you value faith they will. If you value sports, stats, and games more than Christ your kids will.

Who is with me? Let's reconfigure how we own and model Christianity. Sure play sports but you own your kids time not the sport. Because when the sport ends will their faith last? The fatality of college students faith is extremely high because of the things their parents made priority over Christ. Let not this be.

Here are a few pics for your enjoyment.






Thursday, January 12, 2012

Testimony "God loved me so much"

This past Sunday was our first time to be back in our Life Bible Study class (Sunday School) since our return from being out of the country. We were so full of story upon story so we did our best to articulate some of the stories but not all. Kay stood up and told the story of Jayk and Judah getting sick. One of the things that Kay loathes probably the most is sickness. She has a huge heart for people who are sick and battling illness but she hates it when it is present. She would be the first to tell you it arises all kinds of emotions in her. And in her telling the story to our class on Sunday she stated this phrase "...and because God loves me so much he let me both of my kids get sick." Out of that story alone on Sunday we have received a few testimonies back of situations this week in our friends lives that in the midst of struggle and frustrations this week they remember "because God loves me so much..." and their response and attitude began to see the bigger picture of God's glory in their lives. Here is an email (names edited for blessing sake)

Hi Kay,
I wanted to share something with you. I don't know if you have had a chance to go through the items we all wrote down on Sunday, but one of the things we wrote was prayer about our home. We were considering buying another less updated and therefore less expensive house in our neighborhood. Everything about it seemed "right." Lower our mortgage debt, lower our monthly payments AND put some money in the bank. We were both praying about it, but even though it seemed so practical, the answer just didn't seem clear. And we would both start to feel sad every time we thought about moving.

Sunday night we pretty much decided to do it. My husband was going to call the real estate agent the next day. And then God sent a flood. Yes, our house flooded Monday morning in the storm. This has happened twice before, and usually every time we get water, so does our next door neighbor. But she didn't get any. We were the only ones on our street as far as we know. Of course a flooded house can't be put on the market. God loves us SO MUCH that He sent a flood, a totally clear sign, to tell us "not now." I don't know why, but I know He clearly told us no.

There are so many other intricacies to the story that were so clearly God, but I'll just share this one. A friend was over Sunday night watching Tebow Time with my husband and left his glasses. So he had to come back to get them Monday morning and was able to help us move some furniture. He also called a friend of his who is a contractor who came over today and helped us rip up all the carpet free of charge.

Kay, without hearing yours and Jerrell's stories from SE Asia on Sunday, I really think I would have been thinking "Why God? Why now?" But instead I'm saying "Thank you, God for loving us so much!"

Isn't that absolutely amazing! So awesome to live life with people who get it and desire to walk in the ways of the Lord. Be inspired and let not your heart be troubled.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SE Asia (Part 6)

Before we left on December 9th our youngest (Judah) had turned three a few weeks before. Kay had learned from our first born that potty training Altic boys needed to wait till 3. We had a few conversation about the need to potty train him before we left or not with no clear direction. Kay then one morning after her devotional time spoke to me and said "we are not suppose to potty train him before we go." I quickly and confidently agreed (men when your wife speaks after her morning devotional you should listen.) I quickly did the math on how many diapers to pack and then added about twenty more. Because the Lord loves us so much not only did Jayk get sick on the trip Judah did so as well. He was lovingly stretching our hearts of faith and surrender. However Judah's sickness came on the day before departure. Not the exact time you want to deal with a sick child that just turned 3. This type of sickness resulted in multiple diaper changes people! He said his tummy didn't hurt and he also kept eating. We thought well maybe he picked up a parasite. So he continued to eat and drink and his diapers continued to be filled on an hourly basis almost. He did sleep fine however. So we made a call to home and had a doctors appointment ready when we landed. So after our first of three flights he went a few more times. Kay and I were praying and asking for healing. He went again right before loading for our flight to America (he loaded up on Burger King as well as mommy and daddy). As God would have it...he didn't go again at all! When he got home he had some Lupe Tortilla (the meal of choice) and his tummy never bothered him again. So we cancelled the appointment. This was the exact reason God told Kay to not potty train him. My wife has an unbelievable ear of hearing the Holy Spirit speak. This was another example of asking and believing Him for all wisdom and favor. Let's don't just live our lives in accordance with what others are doing. Let's live in accordance with the Holy Spirit. His power and his provision. God is in the speaking business. Cry out to him and he will speak. Trust us. We do and He moves. Don't grow weary...keep seeking and He will keep speaking. Jerrell

PS. Pray for us this weekend because will potty train Judah this weekend. Now it is time for diapers to cease in our house.

When we headed home


Judah seemed fine


Boys are hungry


Burger King!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SE Asia (Part 5)

Now where do I begin. It's been a month since we departed. After the miracle of flying, orphans, Buddhist temple and sick child what else is there to discuss? So many things--house gatherings, worker meetings, baptisms, and a few other side stories. However before I tear into those stories and pictures I want to take a moment and talk about our host family. I submit to all my American friends, especially those involved ministry, that the time came awhile ago to start listening to the Global church voice. Let me explain. For decades there has been this mindset that American/western thinking controlled all arenas of life especially Biblical insight and the "how to's of ministry" but those days are long over. What is happening in the Global church must be heard, thought through, and responded too by the American church. We no longer (as if we ever did) have the market on spiritual movements, church planting movements, courage, and the like. It's time for us to sit at the feet of the nations and learn, listen, and live differently. So for Kay and I to sit with an American family that took their entire family (7 in all) to the other side and transplant themselves into the culture was eye opening. Their home is no longer America. It's the place of their residency now. Their children are immersed in the local public school in the morning and home school in the afternoon. These kids are sharp. Incredibly sharp. Not just educationally sharp they are culturally savvy and incredible social. To see a family that has soaked themselves in the local life of their community was beautiful. Our kids and their kids were amazing together. It was quite the zoo at times.

The adult conversations were always lengthy and stout in nature. To sit with this couple and hear their stories, their struggles, their victories, their hopes and dreams, and their walk with the father was tremendous. Kay and I could not be more proud of their journey, sacrifice, courage, and passion. I am not sure there was one quite moment in the house the entire time (except when I needed a nap--almost daily). I wish I could list the books spoken up and the topics hashed through but this post would be too long if I did. I wish you could have heard the hard questions we discussed and the vision required of all men and women who want to walk with the father.

So today. Think about your friends who live and work on the other side. Those that not only work their with oil and gas companies but those who work for the highest calling of telling the story of King Jesus. Pray for them. Write them an email. Write them a hand written note and mail it (when they receive it--it will be just the perfect time.) Send them a FB post or for crying out loud give them a call on the phone. If you aren't praying for a worker on the other side with your kids start now. Get their picture. Get a map. Any time something happens in the news in their country tell your kids and use it as a reminder to pray for them. Honor your friends on the other side some way some how. Remember parents what you own and model your kids will own and model. So if it's faith then it shall be faith. If it's consumerism, greed, and self pleasure then that's what your kids will model (sooner or later). So don't grow weary in doing good my friends but stay focused stay in the fight stay strong stay humble!

Love our friends on the other side. May all of our friends be honored today who are taking the story of King Jesus forward.

Sorry no pictures of our friends.

JA

Monday, January 09, 2012

SE Asia (Part 4)

One of the afternoons we took off for a Buddhist temple. In America you might see a Buddhist temple that is somewhat small or hidden away; however not in the city we were in. This temple was absolutely huge in every way (acreage, idols 3-4-5 stories tall, etc..). Before we stepped foot inside we stopped outside and prayed that nothing formed against us would stand. I spoke with Jayk and Judah ahead of time that all we were going to experience was not true and demonic. That Jesus was the truth and nothing else would stand against Him and what He has done.

It was so sad to see these people giving money and then bowing rapidly begging for this concrete goddess idol to hear their prayers let alone do something about their need. I wish you all could have seen my boys face to see these men and women bowing to statues all over the property. We walked into one area and their was a huge idol of Buddha. To hear Jayk tell the story now he says "he has a huge belly" and "he isn't God...only Jesus is God." This entire day was quite educational and eye opening for our boys let alone us as adults even though we had seen it before.

All of a sudden while we were walking through the temple courts Jayk broke into song:

Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I'm so glad You're in my life
I'm so glad You came to save us
You came from heaven to earth
to show the way
from the earth to the cross
my debt to pay
from the cross to the grave
from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high

Then he went right in to Father Abraham. It truly was powerful to see these songs rise up in his little heart right in the midst of darkness.

Then there was a turn of events the next day. We believe it was in direct response to an attack on our family. Jayk's throat started hurting and then he got a high fever. We looked in his throat and saw some spots and redness (our host is a community health major) so we believed it to be strep throat. So we walked down to the pharmacy (no doctor needed) and bought him a round of Amoxicillin. It cost us a whopping fifty cents. We started the doses and in 24 hours by prayer and Amoxicillin he was good as new.

As Kay would testify this was truly a "surrendered" moment. When you have no where to turn you must trust the Father's provision. It was a moment we will look back on as well and realize He is in control of all things even when the enemy wants to attack he is still on the throne and in control.

On the way home we swung by an outdoor food and meat market (think farmer's market but no ice, deep freezers, or cooling option for items that should require some refrigeration). We also saw some cages of animals that would soon be dinner for people in a few hours (rabbits, ducks, chickens, & pigeons).

"Judah & I outside the temple


Incense in the temple


Buddha


Idols


Idols


Idols


Outdoor Meat Market


Outdoor Meat Market


Outdoor Meat Market


Outdoor Meat Market


Lady skinning a rabbit

Sunday, January 08, 2012

SE Asia (Part 3)

As I sit here & think about what this journey has done for our family the words "faith" and "surrender" ring louder and louder in our hearts. So upon our return we have been faced with a greater passion to live by faith. A faith that requires a public response of loyalty. It's about cutting strings to the crutches of life that require no faith and pressing into the power of the Holy Spirit to hear His voice and walk in His power. What are those areas that you have ceased walking in faith? What are those areas that require little trusting of the father's intervention? If you don't have areas that require faith then your faith is futile and things must change. Once you have lived at a level of faith in a situation or area you can't keep living at that level you must continue to live by faith at a greater level.

So back to to how this has changed our family. The amount of unity, purpose, teamwork, and love that has risen up is unfathomable. As a tight family already we couldn't even imagine what we are experiencing now.

One of the greatest days of my life with Jayk happened on the journey. We walked a few miles with our host family and one of their children through the city, the college campus, and to an orphanage. We were simply going to pass by the orphanage to drop off some cookies and see a friend but what we experienced was unbelievable. Upon our arrival to the orphanage we found the workers inside moving the orphan babies from one building into a newly constructed building. So we walked up a couple of flights of stairs into a room full of cribs one after the other. This orphanage has a large amount of children born with disabilities that had been abandoned. I was squatting down outside the room next to Jayk as we looked into the room of these little babies lined up row after row. I will never forget the look on Jayk's face when I was explaining to him what an "orphan" was and that we needed to pray for these babies to have a mom and dad. It was in that moment that he looked at me and said "they don't have a mom and dad?" I told him that Jesus was watching over them with special favor and as soon as I got those words out of my mouth he prayed for all of them real fast and then he said "this is what we do...we follow Jesus." It was powerful beyond words. So as we stood in the hallway while lots of conversation was happening that we didn't understand we also noticed that the children leg's were tied to the crib so they wouldn't stand up or roll over. Yes as you are reading this it should turn your stomach and cause something to rise up with in but the workers are so under staffed there isn't the time for them to see these kids develop at the rate any other child would. Judah during this time was holding tight to Kay and mesmerized by what he was seeing.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Our host began to interpret for us that they were going to allow us to carry the children from the old building to the new building. This never happens people! But it did today because the Father wanted to allow us to be apart of loving on these kids and allow our sons eyes to be made wide open. So we started carrying this kids down a few flights of stairs up the street and around the corner. When we got to the new room we placed the kids on a long mat sitting in the new room until the beds were moved. Then we started carrying the beds with kids in them (not our plan but theirs) to the new building as well. On one of the trips up the stairs there were two police officers with a day old baby and some paper work. We got to witness first hand a baby be dropped off by the authorities then in just a few minutes we got to carry the new (no more than a day old little baby) to the new building. Our hearts broke! Jayk and Judah were amazing. Jayk was running back to the old building as fast as possible so we could get another child while Judah held tightly on to Kay's leg but loved taking care of those kids.

It truly was an remarkable day. To see the doors open up wide and the favor poured out on us. It was a truly a powerful moment for our entire family.

Walking through City (took a rural short cut)


A garden on the way


Jayks first picture of a homemade broom in a foreign land


Man Fishing (Don't drink this water)


The orphanage


The babies


The moment Jayk's eyes were opened to orphans


Carrying to new building


Jayk helping me out


How marvelous!! I am so thankful for this opportunity. More stories coming!

JA

Saturday, January 07, 2012

SE Asia (Part 2)

I just got back from #Passion2012 in Atlanta, GA with 45000 people in attendance. A truly amazing week of serving (doorholding) for the next generation. On the first night we were in the dome (standing room only for volunteers) and I slid behind a huge concrete pillar and scribbled down this note:

"Standing in the dome here at Passion singing "our God is greater" this song makes all the more sense even now after just arriving back in country from SE Asia. God you truly are greater, stronger, & higher than any other. Yes you are awesome in power. I have seen it and walked in it. I want it even more. Use me, use my wife, use my boys. Anything you want Jesus, anywhere! Lord please fill your servant with your power! Your power is greater. I'm walking in your ways. Let your glory Fall! Anointing come! Whatever it maybe you are awesome in power! Greater and higher! Oh and you are healer! I have seen it and watched it! You can do anything. You are healer! Jan. 2, 2012"

The following stories will be testimonies of our God being greater!

God's power: Flight story.

As we checked in our family we had 6 bags and 4 carry on bags. Two of the bags were for us the other 4 were full of goodies for our friends. Yes we packed our families needs for 10 days in 2 bags. That is one benefit of having an extensive travel history under your belt and the desire to live simply. Flying to San Fran, CA was simple and smooth. The boys say next to each other and watched a movie while Kay and I prayed and prepared for the 13 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. After landing in SF and making our way to the international terminal we were hungry for some American food before we left the country. Who would have thought that the food choices in the San Fran international terminal were few in number and weak in choices. So we settled in for some good old Burger King (we got a basket of chicken tenders and fries). As we sat on the floor waiting for departure Kay realized at that moment we had left the children's ibuprofen, Mucinex D (Judah can fight some tough allergies), Olbas Oil (a very powerful oil that trumps Vicks 100x over), and our anointing oil (a constant companion of ours in all situations) all of this was left on the counter at our house. Luckily we had the liquid melatonin on hand to relax all parties as needed. This was the first of many times we had to simply "surrender" & allow the Father to be glorified. His provision on the long flight then the 3rd flight of the trip (it was only an 1:30 long) was overwhelming. Not once on the entire flight or the entire trip did our boys whine, cry, or have a meltdown.

At one point during the long flight I made a pallet on the airplane floor (thanks to airline blankets & this amazing blanket Nena (my mom) got the boys for Christmas. Jayk without hesitation crawled into the floor and racked out for 5 hours. He was so tired Judah rolled off the seats right on top of him and he didn't even move.

As we landed after 3 flights, 30 hours of travel, an hour taxi van ride, a .5 mile walk with luggage and exhausted family we made it to our place of lodging & racked out.

To summarize the beautiful travel to SE Asia we must say God's power was evident. I think too many times we "lean" or "trust" so many safe guards in our American culture that we trust the gifts of the Creator more than we trust the Creator. When you have to surrender it causes your faith to supersede your understanding of what you considered to be faith. This is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in and you see God's amazing hand.

Picture right before check in


Picture after 30 hours on 3 planes before our 1 hour drive to lodging


Judah asleep


Jayk asleep on the floor (this pic was on the way home)


Thanks for journeying
JA

Friday, January 06, 2012

SE Asia (Part 1)

I'm not sure where to begin. A life on mission takes continual turns and often looks for a moment of courage. So taking our boys to SE Asia seemed fitting to the life of God in us. To sum of the decision--we could not be more pleased. The grace the Father showed us is beyond explainable. His power, provision, and protection were evident from beyond our departure and past our return.

Our family departed on December 9, 2011 on what had been a dream of ours from when Kay & I were dating (we celebrate our 10 year anniversary this coming June). We have some friends that work in SE Asia that graciously accepted our desire to come visit them and the work for 10 days. I'm not sure it was the greatest decision they made (just kidding) but it was one of the absolute best decisions we have made to date. Jayk (5) and Judah (3) were absolute men of courage the entire trip. With 30 hours of travel each way one should think that would be enough to reconsider such a decision; however if one thing is for sure the Altic's are going to usually take the adventurous route.

We got to experience so many things. Each with have a specific story that highlights God's power, provision, & protection.

Flights
Lodging
Food/Tea
Our host family
Boys in a different culture
Taxi/Buses
Long talks
Baptisms
Orphanage
Sickness
Letters/Devotionals
English clubs/ corners
The Culture (Saving Face & Honor/Shame)
Buddhist temple

So before I can talk about all of the things we sense we have learned from the journey I must start with a few stories to give you some context.

JA