Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tsachi sisters!

"Our bodies may have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the body of Christ,"  (I Corinthians 12:12)
Another delightful visit to the Tsachi church in Cóngoma (where I spent numerous years growing up) has warmed our hearts.  The last few times we've gone, when I've worn the native skirt, none of my Tsachi sisters have...and when I haven't worn it, some of them have!  But this time, three of us matched! 

 I remember as a child watching the women of the tribe work their looms, making the colorful striped skirts for the females of the family, and short, navy blue ones for the males. (They were basically rectangular, no seams, buttons or zippers - just wrap-arounds.)  Nowadays, they don't need that back-breaking work.  They can just buy some already-woven fabric, make the skirt and put a zipper in!  One thing that always fascinated me was how they managed to keep the skirts on!  The men used a type of sash, but the women just tucked the one edge of the "tunán" into the other.  I never saw a woman's skirt come loose, in spite of all their activities.  (Mom never managed that; she used a big safety pin to keep hers from falling down!)
The couple in the background (whose little girl Lulí I played peek-a-boo with) are much younger and don't wear native dress.  (Few youngsters do!)  The husband (Ismael) has decided he would like to look into becoming a pastor!  Although there are leaders in the churches in various Tsachi areas, none of them are actually pastors, so this would be awesome!  They are going to look into the most practical and efficient way to get him the training he wants. 

The three of us in the picture match in another way...a much more important one.  It's something that we share with the others who, together with us, sang to our Lord (in Spanish and Tsáfiki), listened to a teaching (from the Word, via my husband) and prayed together.  We all believe in Christ!  This Bible verse says it really well:

                                                      "In this new life 
           one's nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; 
                                                such things mean nothing. 
                                  Whether a person has Christ is what matters, 
                                                 and He is available to all."
                                                                                                    (Colossians 3:11  LB)

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Artist Strikes Again!!

Lately we have been treated to the amazing brush-strokes of the master Artist as He adorns the sky...both in the evening and in the morning.  Our house is situated in such a way that we can see the
Sunrise in Quito
splendor of sunsets directly out our living room window. (Photos farther down.)

  Even though we can't see the core of the sunrise, I recently saw this "corner" of a lovely sunrise, and took a picture quickly before the light grew and colors faded away. (Only seen because I usually get up between 5:30 and 6:00!)  I am always entranced by the beauty!

"Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars."  (Psalm 148:3)
When God adds the last touches, does the sun whisper, "How lovely! Thank You!" ?

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised."  (Psalm 113:3)                                                                                                                                                     "The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets."  (Psalm 50:1)                 

 "So that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting, people may know that there is none beside Me.  I am the LORD, and there is no other."  (Isaiah 45:6)

There will be a time in the future when the sun won't be dressed in either twilight or dawn finery.

"The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord."  (Acts 2:20)

And then...we won't need it anymore!   God's presence so outshines the sun that it will cease to be necessary, when Christ reigns in the New Jerusalem.

"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."  (Revelation 21:23)

"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD wll be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory...the LORD will be your everlasting light and your days of sorrow will end."  (Isaiah 19-20)

                         Thank You, Father, for light and beauty here and now...
                             and the promise of even greater Light and Beauty 
                                             when your Son returns!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Tsachi peace...prayer...and peek-a-boo!

We had been waiting so long for this!  Due to ill health, family visits and home repairs, we had missed making the trip to visit our brothers and sisters in the Cóngoma church.
I was struck by the atmosphere of lightness and peace that I felt. (Especially after what had happened that morning - see below.) I think part of it had to do with the young couple on the left in the picture.  Apparently, they had recently become reconciled, and the husband seemed to radiate contentment.  We sang in Spanish, and a little later I led them in some songs in their own tongue, Tsáfiki.

When it came time for the offering, Primitivo (church leader - far right in the picture) was asked to pray.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of the evening for me!  Since I can understand some Tsáfiki, I could follow a lot of what he was saying.  In  sweet and sincere, tender  and touching  faith, he started out "Father God, your Son Jesus..." and went on to recognize God's ownership of everything, and how all that we have comes from Him; what we give now is such a small, small return.  (After the meeting, I told him that it was a blessing to hear his prayer in Tsáfiki.  He told me that when asked to pray, for whatever occasion, and whoever is present {Tsachi or not}, he always prays in Tsáfiki.)
During the meeting, the little girl you see in the photo above (18 months) was hardly still for an instant.  I was sitting right behind her and her parents (the couple "on the left"!).
Trying to engage her to calm her down some, I started a bit of peek-a-boo with her! (Among other things.) Her attention span was pretty good, for her age, but she'd come and go. (Later, Germán told me that, from the pulpit, he saw that others were watching us.  I thought I was being rather subtle!  At least it didn't distract too much from the message, as we both noticed that there was very good attention being paid!)

After the service, we spent the informal "social hour" talking, eating Cassava Cake (yuca...with coconut - really good!!) that I had made, and taking pictures.  (As usual!)  As we said good-bye, we were given a whole head of plantains!  We use them green, but once they ripen, they are delicious prepared in an air fryer!

This lovely time did much to lift my spirits after what had happened that morning.  Alone at the house we stay in, I went outside to take some pictures...and heard the heavy front door slowly swing and clang shut, pushed by the wind that blew through the screened windows!  My heart sank. There was no way to open it without a key.  Virtually everyone on the campus had gone to church, so I was alone.  I looked around for a possible hidden spare key.  No luck.  So I walked and walked and rested in the hammock...all I had was my Kindle, but not my glasses, so I couldn't read!  Finally, three hours later, people began arriving back, and one of them kindly brought a spare key and let me in.  I was able to rest a lot less than usual before heading to the Tsachi service, so I wasn't sure how I'd cope.  But, as you have read above, we had a truly lovely time together!
I often think of John's vision of the great crowd he saw gathered in the last days.

                     "They were from every nation, tribe, people and language. 
                      They were standing in front of the Throne and the Lamb..."   
                                                          (Revelation 7:9)

                          My Tsachi brothers and sisters will be part of that crowd. 
                                                      So will I.  Will you?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dan's simple plan to become a millionaire.

Of course, he was only a boy - maybe 12 or 13 - but my son Dan (tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure) thought
it was the best way to become a millionaire.  What could be easier...for him? (One can dream, right?)

All Dan would have to do to reach this goal was...wait until his father made his millions...and then inherit them!

Well, even then he knew that it wasn't a sure-fire or fool-proof plan, and it's a good thing he didn't rely on it!  His father, though a good provider, is still far from becoming a millionaire!  His earthly father, that is.

But what about our Heavenly Father?  We don't have to wait for Him to amass a fortune, do we? After all,
"The earth is the LORD's and everything in it..."   (Psalm 24:1)
And He is not a stingy Father!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:19)

"God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work."  (II Corinthians 9:8)

Best of all:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy He has given us a new birth into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you."  (I Peter 1:3,4)

                       When we become God's children, we become his heirs.
                                    We can become spiritual "millionaires"
                                         because of Who our Father is!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

I'm SO glad that God NEVER says THAT!!

I was 15, and our family was in Mexico for three months (on our way to a furlough in the States).  At a small missionary complex,  I had my first venture into "entrepreneur-ship"!

I made a batch of glazed yeast donuts, then went door-to-door offering samples and taking orders! 12 pesos for a dozen.  I had to make donuts twice a week to fill all the orders. (They were really good!)
Every week I walked the dusty road into town and bought the flour, sugar, potatoes, yeast, etc., needed to produce my wares.  I kept an account so I could figure out my net profit.  In my memories, the days sort of blur into each other, as they were so similar.  But one part of each "donut-day" stands out even now, almost 50 years later!

I could look out the windows every donut-day afternoon, around 4:00 or so, and see other missionary kids arriving to stand outside our house....and wait.  Each one clutched something in his/her hand.  They never knew exactly when it would happen, but each one wanted to be among the first to get there.

What were they waiting for?

I had found that at the end of the donut-making process, there were always some that were a trifle deformed.  A little squished here or there.  I never included them in my regular orders, so they were always left over.  And THAT's what the kids were waiting for!

As the kids saw our door open, they would come up to buy the "irregulars" at half-price - only 50 centavos each.   The reason they tried to get there early was that, as the "irregulars" were limited,  (I never knew how many donuts were going to decide not to cooperate!), it was a matter of "first come, first served".  No one wanted to arrive too late to get one!

Isn't it comforting to know that God never says "first come, first served"?  We never have to wait anxiously, hoping to have gotten there in time to be included!  When Jesus said He was preparing rooms for us in Heaven, He never said they were limited, and if you didn't establish your relationship with Him early on, and someone else beat you to it, you'd be left out!  Check these verses out:

"Whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life."  (Jesus, John 5:24)

"All those the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I will never drive away."  (Jesus, John 6:37)

                       "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, 
                      that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."                                                             (John 3:16)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

"Butternut Babies"...surprising sequel!

If you saw the last post, you've seen this little butternut squash plant before.  Of course, it looked a lot different! (See photo below and compare.)

I had despaired of this little guy, and had been considering pulling it and throwing it out!
What a difference!  Although most of the surrounding plants are so voluminous I can't see the ground for all the leaves, this one still stands out for surprising me with its unexpected growth.

And just as it served as an "object lesson" in its former unproductive state, it again serves as a lovely reminder of something we all need a lot more of:  patience!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."  (Galatians 6:9)   Whenever we feel like giving up on ever seeing "anything good" coming from a certain person or project, let's remember this verse.  God's timing is so much different from ours!  Patience! Some people and things take longer to grow...but are not, because of that, of less value!

We will come up against people and situations that mirror the second (earlier) butternut picture all through our lives.  As believers, I think we should be more hesitant to give up on them!  After all, our interaction with others, as representatives of our Lord God, can be critical, and used by Him to promote growth, even for those that seem the most hopeless.

I like this rendering of James 5:7,8 (MSG) where we are challenged to have "productive patience"!

                        "Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master's arrival.  
                                          You see farmers do this all the time, 
                                     waiting for their valuable crops to mature, 
                               patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.  
                                                     Be patient like that.  
                                                    Stay steady and strong.  
                                    The Master could arrive at any time."


Father, please give us "productive patience", and help us trust You as we wait!
                                                      Thank You!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Butternut Babies! (A gardening "object lesson")

Day after day, week after week...coddling, watering, seemed like it was taking forever to see any sign of impending squash-hood!   Then, a few days ago, I found this!  My first "butternut baby"!

(This kind of squash isn't well-known here at all, and when our supermarket suddenly had some for sale, the cashiers would say, "You're the only one who buys them.  What do you do with them?")  It had been years since I'd seen them for sale, and not knowing when they might appear again, I decided to plant some, and see if I could get them to grow here in the thinner, colder mountain air.  
 Most of the plants sport large, wide leaves, and have vines snaking out from their centers.  Cute little tendrils grace the vines.  As I add fertilizer and water, I see them expand and develop...and now start the process of actually producing fruit.

I said most of the plants.  All except this one. It's been around as long as the others.  It hasn't died...but it hasn't grown.  What an object lesson!
Looking at this poor little non-starter (or "non-continuer") I thought, "Just like some believers.  They're not 'dead'...but they don't grow!"

The Bible uses numerous references to plants as allegories and illustrations.  For example: 

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants  nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes everything grow."  (I Corinthians 3:6-7) 

 We can - we should! - share the Good News and encourage others (plant and water)...but it is the Holy Spirit who actually brings a new spiritual "sprout", a new believer, into the Kingdom.  (My plants need me to water and feed them, but baby butternuts are birthed from the God-created core of the plants themselves.)

Here's another great verse:

"For as the soil brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown to sprout up, so the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations."  (Isaiah 62:11)

And one of the most splendid promises from God's heart to ours, where He says He will...

                                 "provide for those who grieve in Zion - 
                        to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
                                  the oil of joy instead of mourning, 
                           and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
                  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, 
                                             that He may be glorified."    (Isaiah 61:3)

       Father, your love is amazing!  As your oaks...let us display your splendor!