Last week I mentioned that it would be a week of planning. It certainly was....and resulted in a very long to do list. Am thankful to the Lord for His help as I began working through that list and continue to trust Him for more help this incoming week as I work on through the many tasks at hand.
We also thank the Lord for being with us over the weekend. Yesterday we remembered our Kenyan wedding celebration one year later but also it was two years since my dad went to be with the Lord. It was certainly a day of mixed emotions and we thank God for bringing us through it.
This incoming week I would ask you to pray very much for William. There will be a change in his day to day routine. Although it will mean less contact with good friends, the Lord has very clearly guided and directed and we thank Him for that. He will also return to his Bible College course this week. This will be his third and final year. The past two years have been a real blessing to William and he has studied some very practical and useful subjects which have given us much to discuss and also which have helped him in his spiritual life and which will be of benefit in his ministry within Feed my Lambs and in the Lord's work in general. The course has included written assignments and he has gained good marks in these and really known the Lord's help. He will, God willing, graduate with a Diploma at the end of this academic year.
Pray that William will know the Lord's help as he begins the classes again after the Summer break. Pray that he will be blessed by the teaching. Pray that he will know great help in the assignments. Pray that he will know travelling mercies as he attends classes each week. Pray that the Lord will use this new knowledge for His glory in the days to come and pray for him as he begins a new chapter in his life as far as day to day work is concerned.
Thank you for your continued interest in us personally and for the work of God in which we are involved.
Last week's blog was quite long....today it's a bit shorter. Thank you once again for your prayers for us over another week. We knew the Lord's help in all we did and were blessed at various meetings. It is encouraging to meet with people who love the Lord and have a genuine interest in what we do.
July and August are topsy turvy months for us as far as FML office work is concerned. This is due to holidays and other commitments. The work continues but takes on a slightly different angle throughout those months. This year, it has continued into September unexpectedly and so it is really only this week that our "normal" routine is swinging into action.
So it will, God willing, be a week of planning. A week of sorting through all of the various tasks, prioritising them and starting to work through them one by one.
We thank the Lord for His speaking voice over the past couple months. We thank God that we have heard His voice through the topsy turvy days and we are beginning this new season freshly challenged with new ideas, visions, a burden for the lost and a desire to serve our God and be in the centre of His will for our lives.
This morning at 6am, William and I sat; slightly sleepy; at the breakfast table thinking of the day ahead and all it may hold for us. I read a few verses from a daily reading book. We were reminded that all things work together for good. That verse has been so true in our lives and it was definitely a timely reminder for us. We were also reminded of how God meant things for our good, even when others thought evil against us. As we read these verses, we are thankful that God's plan for our lives is perfect. Even when we have found ourselves in difficult situations, God has been in control and has worked all out for our good.
This is our prayer for the work of Feed my Lambs as well. That God will continue to lead, guide and direct in the way He wants us to go and will open more and more opportunities here, in Africa and across the world to work for Him.
Over the past week we had the joy of attending farewell services for a good friend of ours who has just headed off to Bible College. It was great to hear how the Lord has been leading him and we are excited to see what the future holds for him. It is encouraging to know of others who have just stepped out to various Colleges for training either for their first year or subsequent years of training. And of course William himself will begin his third year in a few weeks.
As these various people are taking these first steps, I, on the other hand am thinking back 20 years! Believe it or not, for those who knew me then, it will be 20 years at the end of this month since I left full time employment in office work and entered Bible College. It has gone in a flash. As our friends look forward to what the future holds, I remember those thoughts so well. The nerves; excitement; the feelings of missing home even though I got back every weekend; the challenge and blessings of stepping out in a life of faith and dependence on God for every penny. The lessons learnt when I put petrol in my wee Ford Fiesta; with beeping reverse light; and paid by cheque trusting God to provide money to be lodged into the account before the cheque would clear!
I have had many experiences since then. Two years at Bible College where I learnt much and asked many silly questions. Helping on Children's Camps where I pointed children to the Lord for the first time. Chugging round housing estates in that same wee Fiesta with speakers on the roof; with a couple of others; advertising a Holiday Bible School, only to discover the volume was turned down. The open airs at the coast and the joy of sharing the Gospel with those we met.
Then I spent 16 weeks in West Africa. What an experience that was. It was a time for seeking God's will for the future and it was probably when that little seed of a love for Africa was planted in my heart. I will never forget standing in a remote village late at night and praying for rain along with other missionaries. The people had trusted the witchdoctors and nothing had happened. I remember the praise when the clouds burst on the way home that night and we had to stop the car as it rained so hard. I remember sitting in a pick up as a passenger with the body of a young man in the back. He had died of AIDS on the same day that Princess Diana died...but he had trusted the Lord a few weeks previously. I remember returning to that same country a few years later and sitting in a cell with prisoners, who didn't eat if their families didn't bring food and then visiting a man who spent his days chained to a tree trunk because he was too violent to be let loose....probably demon possessed. I remember the joy when a crushed packet of crisps arrived in the post, when I got to phone dad once every 3 weeks and looking at the calendar counting the days until I got home and only realising when I left just how much that time with a special missionary actually meant to me and just how much she taught me....and looked after me when I had Malaria and thought I would almost certainly die!
After that I worked for a few years with our fellowship of Churches. I enjoyed the children's meetings, the ladies Bible Studies, the tent campaigns and the many other aspects of that time. It was a happy time.
But then things changed. Various circumstances meant I was back home and out of full time ministry. My heart broke and I had itchy feet. I started to look after my nephew who was only a few months old at the time and I loved him so much but it was supposed to be only for a few weeks and I didn't know what God was going to open up for me. I remember the discouragement when someone said I should get a proper job if I wasn't going back into the work....and then, God spoke very clearly to me through Exodus 2 v 9 "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages." I knew then that I was as called to look after that child, and later his brother, as much as I was called to Bible College or Christian ministry. For that time in their lives, my ministry was to them and I count that a privilege. Am just sorry it has gone so fast and now aged 16 he doesn't need a childminder anymore. His younger brother is catching up fast. But I have had a special time with them and looking back I can see it was all part of God's plan that I was home with my dad when he had his heart attack and when he needed me. That time of unsettling, that time when others lost confidence in me, was part of God's plan.
Of course, God was still leading and preparing me for the future. My youngest nephew is 11....but Feed my Lambs is now 9 years old. Feed my Lambs is the reason I never took on any other children in more recent years. Because God had another plan. I remember those early days in 2005 when I knew God was speaking to me and I didn't quite know what He was saying. I remember those times of praying and reading when one nephew was school and the other was sleeping. I remember the day it all came together and I knew God was leading me to Kenya. I thought it was just for 2 weeks! I remember the day in Birmingham when at dad's graduation, the Lord spoke to me through verses and a song and I began to realise that maybe Kenya was going to be a bigger part of my life than just 2 weeks.
I remember the night in 2007 I shared in a prayer meeting in what is now my Church. I remember sharing about bringing a practical team out to Kenya. I remember the young man who shook my hand at the door and said he may be interested. He came out on that team in July 2008 and the Lord spoke to him about the work of FML. He prayed about it over the next few months. I remember that night that he shared in a phone call that he believed the Lord was calling him into the work. I remember the churning in my stomach because this was the first time someone from home had wanted to become so involved....but also I remember the churning because I knew I was then forced to pray about a possibility I had dismissed....the fact that I quite liked this young man but had totally laughed it off because I knew whoever I would marry needed to be called to Kenya also. Now I was hearing that he was! God makes no mistakes. He called William into the ministry and then it was a few months later that he brought us together as a couple and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kenya and Uganda have been wonderful experiences. We have so many good friends out there. The blessings of sharing the Gospel with children. The morning I cried with nerves as I set off to train teachers for the first time. The humility and welcome received by people who live in small homes with no running water and still have a smile on their faces. The worries when dad wasn't well when we were in Uganda. The desperation when William and I had to start walking up stairs to the 10th floor to get his insulin because the lift in the hotel wasn't working because there was no electric! The laughs...afterwards....when the locals instantly increased the charge for the local convenience because they knew how desperate this white face was! lol. The exhaustion when we were stuck bumper to bumper for hours in a car with no air conditioning, when I was sick and then seeing our wing mirror stolen as we sat there helpless! The quiet prayers as Dad, William and I headed to Kenya for 3 weeks with only £50 between us and only we knew....the thankfulness when we ate, paid around £800 for car hire and the same for accommodation, carried out ministry, paid office rent, ate, bought souvenirs and didn't go short. God provided. We arrived in Amsterdam en route home. All bank accounts were empty. We had £20 in Ulster Bank money. They normally refused to change it....but this day, they did change it. God knew that Dad needed food along with his insulin. God provided again. The joy of knowing that you're in the centre of God's will being there.....yet still praying that He would give you peace and grace on those terrible roads!
Well, this is a long post. Memories and experiences coming back to me because of the 20 year anniversary and the joy of seeing our friends taking the same step that I did all those years ago. 20 years ago I had my ideas and plans. Not everything worked out as I thought it would. I have experienced so many wonderful things that I never imagined would happen me and met some great people along the way and made many friends. But then I would also say the discouragements and opposition have been greater than I ever expected. I never thought the work of God would bring me into contact with someone who would physically hurt me and leave me feeling frightened in my own home for quite a while. But then God had the perfect person in William to help me through all of that. I never thought Dad and I would go through such financial difficulties as a result that we would almost loose our home. I never thought we would loose friends at our lowest point. I never thought 8 years after our first stay in a Guest House in Kenya, that I would be back there, in my wedding dress, celebrating our wedding...but without dad who had been with me on that very first trip.
But what I do know, is that through all of these experiences, the good and the not so good, God was with me and is still with me. God had a plan, God knew what was best...and well, when things went really wrong, it was because I took my eyes off Him.
God is still speaking. God is still leading FML. God is still guiding William and I as a couple and piece by piece the jigsaw for our lives is shaping up for the future. His way is perfect. I do more FML work....but I still fulfil the calling of looking after one nephew for just a couple of hours each day. William still works in secular work and will do so as the Lord leads and until He redirects in one day, in one week, in one year or in ten years.
Looking back over 20 years, I am thankful for the storms as well as the good times. They are tough when you're going through them but they make us the people we are today. We love the Lord and want to serve Him and we are looking forward to the next 20 years of serving our Saviour!
Thank you for praying for William and I as we shared at a prayer meeting in Londonderry on Thursday evening past. We had a good time and appreciated the interest shown in the work.
Please remember Joyce in your prayers as she has lost a nephew. He was 23 years old and his wife is expecting a baby. Please pray for the family at this difficult time.
This morning I have been communicating with Eunice in our Nairobi office. She is busy marking and communicating with Pastors and Children's workers from various centres who are using our lessons. We have been discussing holding a training day in order to prepare more children's workers to mark the lessons. This would be especially beneficial for those centres which are a long distance from our offices. This would be something we would plan to hold when we return to Africa. Pray for guidance concerning this.
This week I will be working on some more project profiles for our website. So many local people in Kenya and Uganda are working hard in their communities and we are delighted to try and help them by publishing their profiles on our site. Please have a look and encourage them if you can.
We now have a dedicated Child Protection worker in FML covering Kenya and Uganda. Pray for him. We will introduce him to you in due course.
If you are on facebook, have a look at our page. We are posting praise and/or prayer points on a daily basis.
We are making many decisions at the moment and really appreciate your prayers. Again, please pray for God's provision to enable us to book flights to return. We would appreciate this very much.
Thank you for your prayers throughout another month. As we enter September many things are on our mind. It is a time for beginning and planning for the Winter season. It is a time when meetings begin again after the Summer months. We are trusting God for His help as we begin to prepare. William knew the Lord's help and blessing as he took an evening service on Sunday past. He was able to share a little update regarding the work, but mainly this was a normal Sunday evening service and the Lord helped as he led and preached. This week we will both share regarding the work of Feed my Lambs in a prayer meeting. Pray that this will be a blessing to all who attend.
September is also an emotional month. It will be 2 years this month since I lost my dad. It is one of those months when I remember when his illness was diagnosed, when he went into hospital, all the hard conversations with medical staff and many other challenges we faced in those days. The pain of loosing him and the uncertainty of what the future held without him in my life and in the work. Even the fear that I would loose the house he and my mum had worked hard to keep for many years. Over the past 2 years I thank God for His many blessings as He has comforted in the hard days and yet has blessed me beyond measure throughout by not only allowing me to keep our home, but giving me a wonderful husband to share it with. Surely God is good.
As I think of Dad's anniversary later this month, it is perhaps bothering me a little more than last year. Yes, last year was the first year, but we were just married and we were preparing to go to Kenya. The excitement of that, coupled with the emotion of going without dad, somehow distracted from the fact that we were facing his first anniversary. As the day arrived, we remembered dad along with our friends in Kenya. That was also the day we celebrated our wedding with them....so again that distracted a little. We won't have those distractions this year.
In all of these emotions about dad, we also then remember that it is almost one year since we were in Africa. We want to return soon. We need to return soon. We appreciate the interest shown by many who ask when we will return. But it is becoming a tiring question because we don't have an answer. We do not have the funds to book our flights. We hate to have to share this. We don't find it easy to talk about money in the work because we know God supplies in His time. There are also other reasons why it just hasn't been the right time. From the human point of view we are keen to return, but deep down we know that God will provide when the time is right. It is hard though to be continually asked when we are going back and to see the look of disappointment when we say we have nothing booked. The look that sometimes thinks we are dragging our heels or not wanting to return. The look that doesn't understand or know the many things we have to take into consideration before we book, even if we did have the funds. There are other things to pray through also. We do want to return. We will return. We are still called. We are just waiting for God to provide and show us His time is now. Please do not be discouraged. Please remember there are many other things we can share about the work. There are lots of things you can ask us. Encourage us by asking about particular ministries or people. Encourage us by simply praying. Encourage us by remembering that the work is going on day by day. Remember that local people are working hard every day. Remember that both William and myself, on a daily basis, do FML work and make FML decisions. Keep praying and do not be discouraged. He makes all things beautiful in HIS time.
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regular updates and thoughts from Northern Ireland and Africa...