Sunday, July 31, 2011

God's lessons from the summer

I was going to post this when I got back from Guatemala, but I got busy and forgot so here it is...

God taught me so much this summer, but the one thing that He has been working on my heart is waiting on His perfect timing. God showed me last summer that He wanted me to move to Guatemala to do mission work, but He has me back in the states to finish school until He calls me there. It can be really hard because my heart longs to be there. I think about Guatemala everyday and all the love that the people there have for me, but God says wait because I know what is best for you right now and I know what I have planned for your life.

This summer God allowed me to do mission work in New Mexico for two weeks and mission work in Guatemala for three weeks. I wanted to stay in Guatemala for the whole summer, but that was not God’s plan. He had me going to New Mexico. When I first got to New Mexico, I dreaded being there. God turned that around. He showed me that I was not there for myself, but for Him and His people. Later in the first week of the New Mexico trip, God showed me why He brought me to New Mexico. There was a girl there about my age that was going through the same mess that my birth mom went through. I could tell that this girl was longing for hope. She said that she read the Bible, but they were just words on a page. We gave her another Bible and she said that she was going to read it. I was really encouraged by that, but what gave me the most encouragement was one of the people on the Texas team, Mikki. When we got back to the church that we worked with, she asked me questions about my childhood life. I told her the story of my birth mother and all the things I went through. We both cried our eyes out and then she told me her story. She said that she was very encouraged to hear my heart even though I went through some hard stuff in the past and it showed her that adopting kids going through hard stuff was good. She said that in the past, she would be scared to adopt kids going through stuff I went through. I believe that was another reason God brought me to New Mexico so my past could help her see that kids going through hard things like me needs a loving family and that we are not bad people. He also opened my eyes and showed me that I could help people that are going through the same stuff I went through and experienced.

God did some amazing work in Guatemala. He opened the hearts of the lost and they surrendered their lives to Christ. He allowed me to share my life with some high school kids. There was one school we went to that was close to the church that we worked with. One of the ladies on the team was telling a Bible story and the guys in the back were cutting up and acting like fools, but once I got up there and shared my story they stopped and listened with open ears and an open heart. I could tell that they were taking in every word by the faces they were giving me.

I am so blessed to be able to travel and share the Gospel with the unreached and lost people. I consider my life as an Esther. Like in the Bible, God allowed her to be picked as Queen to help her people even though she hated the idea. As for me, God allowed me to go through those hard times so He could use my life to help His people. What a powerful God we serve and I will be waiting on His perfect timing even when it is hard.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” ~Esther 4:14

~Brittney Cleveland

Saturday, July 23, 2011

As I awoke Friday morning and was preparing for the day, I prayed that God would let us be sensitive to His Spirit as we went out and finished out our last day of ministry here in Guatemala and on the field this summer..I prayed that lives would be changed, hearts of our team and the hearts of those we were going to visit. Well, God is good and to Him be the glory for everything that happened yesterday!

During the morning we broke up into two teams, each going to do four home visits. On our first visit, we were able to pray with and encourage a sister of the church who had just recently lost her sister and was struggling greatly. God, being the awesome and sovereign God that He is, equipped our team with just the right people. One of our team members lost her dad as a child and was able to relate to the struggles of this woman. Our second visit brought us to a Catholic couple who had been in and out of church a lot. The gospel was presented to them and they prayed for the forgiveness of their sins and confessed Jesus as their true Lord! We continued on to our third visit then and met an older lady who was a church member who had not been in a while. We walked in to find her reading her Bible! As we began talking with her, she shared with us that due to her diabetes and bad knees she isn’t able to walk to church anymore. Hannah Brown was in our group, and she shared with the lady about how her diabetes can be a daily struggle for her as well. She prayed for the lady and you could feel the Holy Spirit in that home, uniting us as believers..encouraging one another like scripture calls us to. Then, we gave the lady a food bag and she immediately began to weep tears of joy and thanksgiving. Our whole team was in tears by the time we left. To see how much a simple food bag can bless the life of someone like her was truly a moving experience. Then on we went to our last visit. We visited a lady who was in desperate need of a job and who continuously needs strength to provide for her son, Kevin, who is in the daycare at the church. Again, one of the team members shared very similar struggles and was able to relate to this young woman.

To God be the glory!! All through this summer God has shown us how great He truly is. In America, we have doctors and running water and access to food, so we don’t really need God for a lot of things..we may not necessarily mean to, but we do not depend on Him! So, it was incredible to see the faith of some of the people we came into contact with this summer. These families have to depend on God for everything, every day! What an inspiration and motivation it was to see the faith and hospitality of the people in Guatemala. Even if all they had were dirt floors, they would offer any seating that they had and make us sit.

This last day’s experiences were just a glimpse of how God moved this summer. My prayer as I travel home is that God continues to speak to me by His Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church. I pray that as I obey the guidance of His Spirit, I continue to learn to truly trust in Him through experiences like these this summer.

Romans 12:9-21
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


Thursday, July 21, 2011

God's work this summer :)

This is my last blog post and the summer is coming to an end. God has taught me so much this summer. One thing He has taught me was to wait on His timing. I am a very impatient person. I am ready for Him to tell me to move to Guatemala, but I know He has a plan for me while I am in Alabama. I don’t have much to write about so I will post pictures to show all the work God did this summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God's work in the next generation..

Tomorrow God is going to move in a mighty way. He has an incredible plan, and is going to work powerfully in the lives of those He allows us to touch and speak to in Lantana. I am amazed at the work He has been doing here, and am preparing myself to be absolutely awed by the power of His name tomorrow. He has placed mighty men and women of faith here to whom He has revealed what He is doing, and what He is about to do in Guatemala. They are praying and acting out of obedience and belief. Jesus is being made known among the nations! We have been blessed to have the opportunity to pray over the next generation of followers of Jesus Christ, to lay our hands on them and be used to pour His love and power upon them. When we pray, God hears us! My prayer for this summer was that God would perform the miracle of rescuing sinners and redeeming them… I have seen Him do this. When we praise, God hears us! Worshiping alongside believers from all over has been a wonderful experience… To truly worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). When we seek, God hears us! God has caused me through the Holy Spirit to seek Him and His wisdom. And He has heard me. He has revealed Himself, His purposes, and His ways. I have heard His voice and have come to know Him even more. God has shown me this summer what He can do with faith like a grain of mustard seed – He can move mountains. The enemy has attacked, and will yet attack in a multitude of ways, but God will have the victory because Dios siempre gana! God always wins. Please pray with me for that victory tomorrow and days to come in Guatemala. Pray for Pastor Morales and his family, for the Brown family, for their church family, those who God has planted here. They need His strength! Apart from Him we can do nothing. We should go out relying completely on our Lord. One plants, another waters, but it is God who gives the growth. Please pray for healthy and plentiful seed! Please pray for pure and clean water! Please pray for God to give that growth! I would encourage you, don’t just sit back and watch as others plant and water… God has commanded you to do the same. Join Him in His work. Listen to His voice and obey. Pour yourselves our and give it all to Him who is worthy! Think in terms of eternity.
"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" –David Livingstone
“…For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Today we did home visits once again in the community of Lantana. We broke into three groups, each visiting two different homes before lunch. My team was welcomed in the first house by a lady and her two (very shy) children. As we shared with her, it was evident that she understood what we were sharing with her. However, she also shared that she attended a Catholic church. The more we talked with this lady, the more clear it became that she had head knowledge, but there was a disconnect between her head and her heart. We gave her a food bag, and she was very grateful. We prayed over her then, but I ask that you continue praying for her. I pray that she comes to realize that it’s not about a religion! We often here the phrase, “It’s not about a religion, it’s about a relationship” and that is so true! However, so many people fall under that false teaching.

The second house we visited belonged to a mother of three precious girls. The family was all believers in desperate need of encouragement. As we began to ask questions about their life and how we could pray for them, their need for encouragement became more and more pressing. They had recently moved to the community and the daughter was struggling very much with the move. She was 15 years old, and dHaleigh was able to share with her about their move to Guatemala and how she understands the girl’s struggles. She prayed for her, and you could feel God encouraging presence there. The mom also shared with us that they weren’t really going to church anywhere since they were new to the community. What an opportunity! As we presented the food bag to this family, the mother and the older daughter immediately began to cry. The mom shared with us that they have been struggling very much economically, and just this morning she cried out to God…telling Him that they were in need of food and His provision..and then we showed up only a few hours later!! How great is our God! We prayed over the family and after a few more minutes of talking we went our way. Then, during the afternoon two teams went out to do more visits and a team of us stayed back at the church to hang out and love on some of the neighborhood children. A few minutes into it, the family showed up! It was such an encouragement to see them already eager to get involved with the church.

Being in these homes really brought things back into a much needed perspective. Many of the families we visited today live on only a few dollars a day. Many do not even have any type of flooring. Their homes are a few pieces of tin nailed together and many have dirt floors. The houses are typically just one big room, with a few beds along the walls. And we complain about our orders at a fast food places being wrong….the line in Starbucks is too long…and continue and continue to spend our money in foolish ways, not truly recognizing the significance of what $20 could do for the families here.

My prayer as we wrap up our time here in Guatemala is that hearts would be changed. Not only hearts repenting of sin here in Guatemala, but hearts of the heart, as we head back to the states would become aware and changed. I pray the images we saw today will never fade away. I pray we always remember the bigger picture of why we’re here…to give everything we have in service to God! He gave us the things we have for a reason, and we are using our resources oh so selfishly! We must learn to give, give, give, give, and give some more..not of just money, but give our love and time to the people who need it.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Monday, July 18, 2011

God uses my past

So this afternoon, we went to a high school close to the church that we work at. It was really cool because these kids were close to my age. We told them a Bible story and then I got to share my testimony. I have shared it before, but this time it felt different. When one of the ladies was telling the Bible story, the boys in the back of the room was playing and acting up, but once I got up there and started telling them how Christ changed my life, they sat up and listened. It was really cool to share my life with them and they listened. It would have been totally different back in the States. The kids in the States would have played and acted up the whole time. I really love how God allowed me to use my past to share with those that are going through the same things I went through. I know God never wanted me to go through all that mess, but He is using it to bring him glory so I believe God wants to me share my story with you. I grew up in a non-Christian home. Both of my parents were druggies and were always drunk. My father was never around. My mother was abusive and hated me. She always slept with many men and they were abusive also. My grandmother was a Christian and would take us to church when my mother let her. My mother didn’t believe in Jesus and always told me that what my grandmother believed was not true. When I was 11, I went into foster care. My foster parents showed me the love of Christ and how He loved me. At first, I was confused because I never really saw what love was really like. I went to a Christian class and a year later I surrendered my life to Christ. I was then adopted at age 14. Now Christ is calling me to mission work. He is calling me to Guatemala to share my story with those that went through the same things I went through. So God has changed me in ways no one has ever seen and I praise Him every day for it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Psalm 108:3-4

“I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Psalm 108:3-4
This morning the team and I got to live that Scripture out! God again gave us the amazing opportunity to worship alongside our brothers and sisters in Guatemala. We gave thanks to Him among the peoples and praised Him loudly among the nations… It is always a unique experience to worship at New Jerusalen. As Lindsey has already blogged, it truly is like a glimpse of heaven! For me, it also raised the awareness of other believers all across the globe who are worshiping and seeking after Jesus Christ just as we are. It is such a beautiful thing when we all come together and are connected by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us because of what Jesus has done for us. Guatemalans are especially good at being incredibly warm and hospitable. It is definitely something I want to take back with me!
This afternoon was different than any of our other days with the church there because for lunch we got to serve them. Or at least we tried to. Haha, we had trouble getting them to just sit down and let us take care of it! This is the place to learn to be a true servant. Their hearts are so generous and loving! It can be overwhelming.
I am excited about this week. God has already shown Himself powerful, completely sovereign, and that He is at work here in many ways. It is a huge blessing to be able to join Him in His work and be used as instruments, knowing that we are totally incapable of doing anything of our own strength, but that it all comes from Christ in us. We can rely on Him, because He is faithful! I have come to know Him on a much deeper level as I have seen and experienced Him in so many ways. What a gracious and patient King we belong to! May we strive to live as the body of Christ, daily pouring ourselves out for Him so that He can fill us back up. Remember to pray for the nations!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When we pray, when we praise, when we seek...God hears us!

This morning as we were talking with the team as they prepared to leave, I really got to thinking about everything God has been teaching me so far this summer. When we debrief with a team before they go home, I answer the questions knowing that I’m not quite going home yet. However, this morning I realized that the summer is almost over. Just one more week left before we travel back the Turners and then back to Tennessee for me.

God has really been opening my eyes recently to the true power of His word and prayer. They seem like such simple things, but so often we do not give them enough value.

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” And then Paul continues and says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving (4:2).”

When we debrief, JT often asks, “What is one thing you’ve learned on this trip that you can do and take home with you?” For me, one answer would be to pray more intently and intensely. How powerful would it be if we as a body gathered more often to pray!
Another thing that I’ve learned is how much more you can learn when in a true sense of biblical community!! Being surrounded by other believers during the entire course of the summer has had such a huge impact on me and what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown! The time has enabled me to share with others what God is revealing to me each day, which has helped them to challenge me to live out what I’m learning. How great it would be to have that at home! This time together has also shown me how powerful prayer can be when done together with the body more often. I have learned so much from other believers by being around them on a daily basis, living and sharing together. Even just this morning as the team was preparing to leave, I had a really great conversation with one of the lady’s who has shared some of the same struggles as I have. And how great it was to see how God has worked through her life and to learn from some of the simple things she shared with me just about life in general!

My prayer as we wrap up this summer and spend one more week in Guatemala is that God would place people in my life at home that I can have that daily communication with. People to continually pray with, share with, and people who will challenge me. My prayer for this week is that as we go into homes to encourage and share, God would continually show us people at home who need those same visits, that same encouragement, and that same prayer. I pray that our hearts would be sensitive to His spirits’ leading this week. I pray through everything that happens His name will be glorified...and that we will come to know Him by experience as we obey Him and share His name in this nation.


Friday, July 15, 2011

God's Blessings

As I sit in Guatemala, God reminds me of how blessed Americans are. Kathy Brown told me about a home that she visited today. It was of a little girl named Alma, who is 13 years old. She was so excited to hear that our team was coming to her house. We did go to her school, but since she can’t walk, then she can’t go to school. She has to stay at home and take care of her little siblings while her mother is at work. This story just brought me to tears to think that this little girl is longing to go to school, but she can’t. Looking at how the people live here also brings me to tears. God has blessed us so much, but yet we Americans are so unthankful. God has given us a nice house to live in and three meals a day sometimes more. He has given us good health, but yet we still want more. It hurts me to hear how a person in America spends their money when there are people in other places that are dying of lack of food. The pastor also told us today that he and his church were praying for us and our country. Wouldn’t it be cool if people from America say the same thing? This is what has been on my heart for a while and I felt that God wanted me to share this with all of you who are reading this blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

To listen & obey...

This summer God has grown me so much! He is teaching me to listen to Him… To really listen to Him! And He has taught me to say “yes, Lord!” In New Mexico, He enabled me to obey His voice, and I was blessed to be used by Him to share the Gospel with the people there. Yesterday was a different and completely new scenario for me though. He impressed upon me that one of the team members needed to share their testimony with the class in Lantana, but it was suggested that I share mine, so I agreed. In agreeing, I disobeyed God. He had already told me the other person needed to share. But I, in my haste, failed to heed His voice. As I shared my testimony, it felt wrong, and I have never struggled so hard with my words. I learned in New Mexico to jump up and share, but God taught me yesterday that there are times when I am not suppose to share. I am suppose to insist on the person God has planned to use to share what He, in His sovereignty, has given them to share. Because of His power, He can still use the things I shared with the classroom yesterday, but because of my disobedience, they did not hear all that they needed to. They might have heard part of it, but not the entirety. I am so thankful to have learned from my failure. And I praise God that He is mighty to save, regardless of our failures. This experience has opened my eyes to a lot. And this summer has been an incredible opportunity to grow in Jesus Christ and His word. I am blown away by Him… I have been seized by the power of a great affection! I am striving to listen, and to be still and know He is God. There are times we all need to stop doing, and start being. We need to stop the clamorous, selfish prayers and listen to His voice. We keep on asking Him things, but never stop to hear His response, because we are too busy repeating the question, or asking the next. The conversation must become two-sided instead of one! God is speaking.. May we listen and obey.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
-Morgan Eberts

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our day begins by doing VBS in Lantana. We share a Bible story with them, testimonies, and do a craft. We play soccer and other games outside with the children at the local school. What an experience! The children are so well mannered and so attentive and ready to hear what we have to share. What an opportunity God has given us to be able to work with the school there! After a good morning of VBS at the school, we go to a local house to eat our lunch. Then the rain begins. Rain, rain, and more rain. We had planned on doing several home visits this afternoon and giving out food bags, and our chances of being able to do that seemed like they were getting more and more slim. Everything between the rain troubles..made it seem as if nothing was going to come of our afternoon.

As always though, God has different plans…part of our team goes back to the house to work on the van, and the rest of the team toughed out the rain to go on three home visits. As the afternoon progresses, we begin to learn a LOT.

I think our team realized how the church in America fails so often at truly living out the word of God. When we share the gospel, so often WE speak, not letting the Holy Spirit guide us. So often, we give our own opinions and don’t even share scripture with those we are in contact with. So often we pressure people into repeating a prayer when it is not a prayer that saves! It is through the power of God’s word, yet we rely on our own words and methods when trying to share the truth of Christ……then, sometimes we wonder why there isn’t more of a response…..but we must realize, did we do the talking or did God’s spirit move through us? God’s word is enough!!!!! As a church body, we must work on this issue together, praying that God would teach us how to share with obedience as in scripture. Tonight as we talked, God really opened our eyes and really helped us to realize our failures and mistakes. Now we must be obedient to study in scripture how we are to share with sound scriptural truth. My prayer is that God continues to work on our hearts, and as the week continues we will be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit..following it and not our own ways.

As I was reading God’s Word today, I came across Romans 8:38. It says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse really hit home. Nothing can separate us from God’s hands. Once we are His, then we can never leave His hands. This verse can be very comforting when we are going through some hard stuff. We can always remember that we will always be in His hands and that He will always be there for us when we need Him. What a wonderful God we have that will always love us even when we sin against Him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We are three days in as a team and are already beginning to feel like family! The biblical community is already taking place, and it is wonderful, as always! Today was the team’s first day doing VBS at New Jerusalen. The day starts out with prayer as we wait for the arrival of the kids, and before we know it they are pouring in the doors, smiling and looking at the “gringos” with curiosity and excitement. One of the most amazing parts of the day is at the beginning, after we have sung the silly songs with crazy and tiring motions, they have the kids sit down and close their eyes. They then play a certain song, and as it plays all the members of the team move among the kids to lay hands on them and embrace them as we pray and cry out to God on their behalf. During that time today, I really felt the Holy Spirit moving. I know He brought each and every child there for a very specific reason, and He is already at work in their lives. I know that from those little boys, He will raise up bold leaders who will proclaim His truth and His Gospel. He will raise up godly men He is going to work through to bring the people of Guatemala to Himself. And from the little girls, He will raise up strong women of faith who will raise their children in the admonition of the Lord and share the Gospel in love. Though there is a language barrier, you can tell the kids know what is taking place and they, too, feel the Spirit moving. In that moment, He is the one touching them and embracing them! It is a joy and a blessing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
The beautiful thing about today is that we had planned to go to a village called Lantana, but through a series of events were unable to. As someone in the group said, while we had to go to plan B, it was still God’s plan A! He never goes to plan B because He is in complete control! Just listening to the stories as we debriefed tonight reaffirmed that God’s will was accomplished in His way and His timing. There was so much packed into today that I do not have the time and space to describe it all to you, and it is only the first day! I know and expect to see great things from Jesus and the power of His name this week. Please join us in prayer for the work God is doing in this place. To Him be the glory!
-Morgan Eberts

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Glimpse of Heaven.

1 Tesalonicenses 5:17 “Orad sin cesar”

As we drove to the church this morning with Greg and Hannah Brown, I was excited to be back at the church again...for several reasons. When we walk into the church, the local church family greats us with hugs and kisses and they have the most sincere smiles. As worship begins, God’s spirit fills the place, and how AWESOME it is! Even though the songs are in a different language, I enjoy it oh so much. Without knowing the words, it gets my mind focused in a way that is impossible in the states. Without knowing the words, I am not distracted by the insecurity of my voice or the people around me. I am focused on the God who created the world. The God who is in control of all of us. The God who put us here together to accomplish His work this week. The God who gives us so much when we deserve nothing. This morning’s worship was so powerful for the fact that we were singing together (trying our best anyways)….in a completely different language, and the experience is truly like a glimpse of heaven. All of us praising together...I can’t wait for the day when there is no language barrier and we are all together in Heaven on our faces praising our sovereign God!

As the summer continues, I am realizing more and more the true power of prayer. God has really opened my eyes the past few days to how much of a lack there is of that..prayer. True and sincere prayer. What would happen if we as a body prayed together on a regular basis? What if we gathered together in true biblical community, not just on the field, but at home, and prayed together? Paul tells us to pray without ceasing! Rejoice always!

Tomorrow we begin our work out in the communities. Please be in prayer that the Holy Spirit would move and that our hearts would be sensitive to its’ guidance. As we have mentioned, not our plans..but God’s! In chapter 2 of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is speaking about his ministry to the people there. In verse 8 he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” We must give everything! As Greg and JT have been sharing with the team, we have to leave it all here. If we pour out everything we have, God will then fill us up again. However, we have to pour it ALL out before HE can refresh us again!

-Lindsey Clayton

Saturday, July 9, 2011

God's plan not mine

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I have really taken this verse to heart after God called me to the mission field. I was seventeen years old when He called me to mission work, but I did not want to listen. I thought I had my own plans for my life, but God said no you are going to do what I want you to do. So at age nineteen, I listened to what God was saying. He wanted me to do mission work in a different country. I thought it was Africa, but He was really calling me to Guatemala. When God called me to Guatemala, it was if He spoke it to me. It was as clear as daylight. I am not sure of what He wants me to do in Guatemala, but I know He will show me in His perfect timing. Until then, I will learn Spanish, pray for His plans for me in Guatemala and do the mission work He is calling me now to do.
~ Brittney

Friday, July 8, 2011

It all depends on perspective...

As I sit here in Guatemala sifting through the many thoughts in my brain that I want to type up for this blog, Proverbs 27:1 is what God has laid on my heart. It says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” He has been hammering this into my mind and my heart and teaching it to me through things that have taken place this summer. God has impressed upon me that I really am not guaranteed tomorrow! Therefore, I need to be living every moment pouring myself out, serving Him for His glory. I need to be making most of the time by making Him known, like Paul who “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. I need to jump at every opportunity He gives me to share the Gospel with those around me. Evangelism is the one thing you can’t do in heaven! He has given me many opportunities, and I have told Him “no” or “not now” far too many times. It is time to say “yes, Lord!” It is time to put aside the pride that prevents us from speaking when we most need to, the pride that causes us to do things for our own glory and not for the glory of Him who made and redeemed us. Instead, let us embrace perspective which puts everything in its rightful place, the perspective which shows us that this life is not to be wasted, but used to serve our Lord and share Jesus who is mighty to save, the perspective which enables us to use our time wisely. May it clear our minds of the things of this world and focus us on eternal things – on kingdom work! We need to lose our pride and win perspective.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Summer Thus Far...

The summer thus far…

As we pack and prepare to leave for another two weeks in Guatemala, my mind reminisces about the summer thus far. The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. My heart has rejoiced over seeing God move in numerous ways, my patience has been tested, my heart has grown close to team members and children in both New Mexico and Guatemala. Most of all, I’ve grown more and more thankful for everything Christ has given me that I do not deserve. Hearing about the poverty in Guatemala was one thing for me, but then seeing it with my own eyes has put a whole new perspective on things. Hearing about the wild fires here in America was one thing, but then hearing from two ladies in Red Hill (a community we did VBS at in New Mexico) about the smoke was another story. They said just the week before we got there they could not even go outside because the smoke was so heavy they couldn’t breathe! This summer has made me so much more thankful for the small things. Even the time I spend with the Turners in between trips has been a learning experience that I am SO thankful for. Being an elementary education major and a girl who can’t wait to have children of her own someday, it’s been so awesome to see parents with Christ focused minds like theirs as they raise five children. They do such an incredible job! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a family with such sincere love for Christ and each other.

We’ve kept pretty busy, often times only getting a few hours of sleep. We’ve shared many laughs (often deriving from the lack of sleep), and shared quite a few tears. We’ve seen God do only things He can do…we are doing some work, but His name is getting all the glory! I am so thankful that He has allowed me to be a part of the work He is doing this summer, because with or with us He is going to work. How awesome that He has given us the opportunity to join Him!!

As I pack my clothes and bags for Guatemala, I know that He is not done yet. I pray for hearts of the team members joining us the next two weeks. I pray that together, we work with our minds focused on the eternal picture. I pray that our hearts will be sensitive to listen to what God is doing in Guatemala. I pray that His spirit will guide us in all that we do, and that we remember our purpose for being there. I pray that hearts in Guatemala will be open to us and most importantly to the love and forgiveness of Christ. I pray that we remember that whether we are in Guatemala, the airport, or at home, that we are ALWAYS witnesses, reflecting Christ…..

“For those who live according to the flesh set their mind on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their mind on things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” –Romans 8:5-6

-Lindsey Clayton

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We have our own plans...

As we drive through the desert during the two weeks we are in New Mexico, it’s not hard to see God’s beauty. Breath-taking rock formations, vibrant sunsets, and the smiles on the faces of the children all reflect God’s splendor. Even with the dust storms and harsh wind, God is there and He is at major work in the Navajo nation; He overcomes (and continually overcame) the small hindrances we faced while in New Mexico. On the night of arrival, we ate at a local restaurant named Earl’s. When our food was brought, Morgan prayed for us, and we ate. We conversed for a while, talking about the work to be done over the next two weeks, expectations, etc. Then, towards the end of our meal, our waitress brought us the check and asked if we were believers. We said yes, and she shared with us that she had been a believer for a little over a year now and that God had really pulled her out of some rough situations. She said that she saw us praying and that it really encouraged her to see other believers praying. What a great start to the trip! We are ALWAYS witnesses for Christ. Even when you’re just going to have some dinner and your mind may not be in “mission trip mode”…God is still at work around you! It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a VBS or not, if you’re on a mission trip or not, people are always watching…and God is always working somewhere. So, we must always be good examples of Jesus, because if she saw us, then others in the restaurant probably did too! As our two weeks continued, God taught me a lot about His provision and power over all situations. We may just be going for a drive to explore the city or going out to eat, but God has His purposes…so we must be sensitive to listen to His spirit and always be ready to share and to show the love of Christ.
-Lindsey Clayton (a.k.a. Rocky Top)

God has taught me so much while I was in New Mexico, but the one big thing that he taught me was how He can use my past to help others that are going through the same situations I went through or experienced. It all happened at a laundry mat. Every day a group of nine people would go to a laundry mat to share the gospel. We would walk in carrying a Bible and a little snack bag of laundry detergent. We just walked up to people in there and would start talking to them. On our last day at a laundry mat, there was a couple that walked up, but didn’t walk inside the building. I felt God telling me to walk over and talk to them, but we were about to leave. A lady on the trip, name Mikki, walked over there with me and we started talking to her. She told us about her son and her son’s father. The guy that she was with that day was not her son’s father. When this guy was standing next to her, she tried to act all cool and tested my faith to see if I really believed what I was speaking. It was hard, but God gave me the words to say. When her boyfriend walked off, she started speaking more about her life. She said that she was in and out of jail and did all kinds of drugs. She also said that she read the Bible while she was in jail. She asked her what she thought, but they were just words to her. This hit me hard because she was about my age, but it was as if I was standing in front of my birth mother and listening to her story. God used my past life to show her that God was love and that she needed Him. I could tell that she was hungry for Christ. This is a day that I will never forget. This young girl will always be on my heart and in my prayers.
-Brittney Cleveland (a.K.a Karate Kid)

It was a Tuesday morning in New Mexico, and the second time we had gone out as a group to a laundry mat. We all had our plans, our own ideas of how the visit should go, and were beginning to develop a set pattern of how the conversations should go so that we could share the Gospel with the people there. At least I did! But things were not to be so. At the first laundry mat we entered that day, the people were all closed doors. As hard as we tried, they simply were not open to conversation. My hopes and expectations for the day had been high considering how well the day before had gone, but things were not panning out that morning. That is, they weren’t until a little girl named Shelby walked in carrying a tray of jewelry to sell. She came up to me and a couple other ladies with our group, and we admired the various earrings, necklaces, and bracelets she had to offer, but did not have money to buy them. Instead we offered her something – a Bible with a tract tucked into the pages.. We told her we were with First Indian Baptist Church, and in response Shelby quickly said, “We don’t have enough money to go to church. We live in a hotel, and my dad is working so that we can buy a house. That’s why I’m selling jewelry – to help my family raise money.” We explained to her that the church didn’t want her money! That they wanted to share Jesus with her and what He has done! After talking to her a little more, she walked off to try to sell jewelry to the other people in the laundry mat, and we wandered outside to leave for the next stop. As we were climbing into the van, one of the ladies suggested we give Shelby a bag of toys that we had brought to hand out and gave one to me to chase her down with. By the time I made it over to her, she had already gotten into the car with her mom, so I bent over to hand it through the window. I could tell that Shelby was telling her mom what we had said. She smiled so big when I handed her the toys, and her mom began asking questions about the church. She told me she had been looking for a church, but hadn’t found one yet. I made sure she had all the information she needed about the church, and I told her that God had us meet that day for a reason and encouraged her to come to the church that Sunday so that they could just share and pour into her about what Jesus has done. You could tell God was working in the life of that mother. And I realized that they were the reason we were at that laundry mat that Tuesday morning. God’s sovereignty was displayed. His purpose was revealed. Though I felt rejected by the other people in the laundry mat, it was evident that God was not yet working in their lives. God was working in that woman’s life! He sent a group of 9 people to ensure she heard from Him! God showed me how He truly is working all around us, and it is often not in the way we expect!
-Morgan Eberts (a.k.a Una Sabia)

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9