Monday, July 30, 2007

Tecate - a week late

As most of you know by now, we made it back from Tecate safe and with all of our luggage. It was a great trip and we had a great time serving the Lord. We tried on several nights to get the internet up and running so we could write you from Tecate, but we had no luck. So I thought I would write and let everyone know some of the details.
First, all 40 of us made it to Tecate with all of our luggage and in good spirits. We were assigned our rooms and we relaxed for the rest of the evening. To the best of my memory, I think we arrived in Tecate around 9:30pm their time.
Monday brought the usual day of confusion, waiting on supplies and what our jobs were going to be. Mondays are always the worst days of the trip because of all of the changes in projects. We went there with the intentions of building rooms onto a church and doing work around the seminary that we were staying at. When we got up on Monday, those jobs had changed. So the hassle of waiting on supplies and information began. At about 10:00am we finally started working on the project. Our project was to get the building ready to stucco. Now I know that I spelled that wrong. We had to wrap chicken wire around the building which was actually, 3 classrooms. They thought this would take us the entire week. We almost had it finished in the first day. Monday was also our first day of VBS. We saw about 70 young people come on the first day which was awesome. We had crafts for them, a skit with a Bible lesson, snacks and games for them to play. Words will not do VBS justice, but it was awesome. On Monday we also layed a brick patio between 2 buildings to make a walkway. On our time off we went to the local park to see what we could get into. We had the intentions of inviting children and youth to VBS. When we arrived, we were immediately surrounded my several children. We broke out the toys and began to play with the children. We went to the soccer field there at the park and began playing some of the youth in soccer. It was not pretty, they beat us bad, but we had a great time and made several new friends.
Tuesday brought another day of service and VBS. We finished the chicken wire and we actually began to stucco the building. This requried many different jobs. From the sifting of sand to make the mortar to putting it on the building. By the end of the first day we only lacked about 3 feet of one wall of being finished. Everyone that wanted to had a chance to try their hand at it and it was fun. Messy, but fun. We also built another brick patio between 2 more buildings and moved a trash pile. VBS was a great success again and even more children came that night. A new crew from our church lead VBS with the same activities as the night before. We had a different skit for each day. Eladio was our interpreter for the week which meant he was reading the skits 4 times a day to each of the groups. We also had the chance to visit where we were 8 years ago on our first mission trip to Mexico. It was the first time that any of us had seen the camp since we left. It is now a fully operational church camp and it used through out the year. The pastor of the church where we are staying had just been there with his men for a prayer retreat. Seeing the camp grounds brought back many memories of that trip. In my mind I could see the tents set up under those trees, the kids playing Frisbee, the cook in the cook house and so many more. It was great seeing the camp grounds.
Wednesday brought our day off and we were heading off to the city of Roserita, I know I spelled that wrong too. This is a fun day of shopping. Everyone had the chance to barter with all of the store owners. Some were battering champs and others have a long way to go. Everyone had a great time and a lot of items were bought. On our way to the town, we did get pulled over by the military. When you see 4 white 15 passenger vans going down the road, it does cause some suspicions. When they pulled us over I was the lead van, so they came to my window first. Speaking very little Spanish, the only thing I could say was "No Espaniol". I gave them my drivers license and waited. They quickly let us go. We went to the park again and had a great time. The children and youth were waiting for us and we had established a relationship with them. We only lost the soccer game 2-1 and friendships were taking place on the soccer field.
Thursday began with the finishing of the stucco the beginning of the drywalling and with putting in the electric. Remember that we ran out of work the first day. We had 3 rooms to insulate, wire and drywall in 2 days. This made it exciting. The mission team attacked the rooms, but like usual, the plans changed during our work. So we had to take things down to make the changes and began again. It was starting to get frustrating. By the end of the day, we had almost all of the insulation in and the wiring done. We had the first room almost done with drywall. VBS grew a larger crowd and some of the children we had met at the park came to VBS for the first time. It was great. Lloyd and I went on a trip to try and find the homes we built 4 years ago in the colonias. With a little effort, we were able to find them and made plans of taking the group there. This was our last night at the park to play with the kids. We grew a larger crowd than ever and had a great time with the children. Then the news came that they had changed the plans for the 3 rooms. Which meant that we had to take things down to begin again. Now there was frustration.
Friday started very early. We began at 6:00am because we knew that we had to make changes and to be finished by 5:00pm. About 30 people got up early and started working on the project. Some others got up to prepare breakfast. We stopped at 7:00am for breakfast and then went back to work. VBS grew on the last day. We probably had over 100 children there for the last day. Several were from the park. It was great. At lunch we took off in the vans with our food. We were heading for the colonias. When we got there i could tell that the emotions of those who were on the trip 4 years ago were high. Some were crying and others began to relive the time that we spent there. We stopped at the site of Eric's and Eladio's house first. Here we found out that the couple were expecting their second child and the wife who was pregnant at the time we built the home had little girl. Then we moved up to Lloyd's site. There the family was home and we spent some time talking to the family. The little girl Leslie was not home at the time, but we got to talk to some of the kids that our group played with 4 years ago. One of the girl's even remembered April and said her name when she saw her. Then we were off to my house site. We knew where the road was, but we were having trouble finding the house. Eladio talked to a family and we soon discovered our house. The house that we had built for them had burned down and they rebuilt a new home. We went to the house and talked with the family and kids for a while. It was great seeing the families that we had worked for. After returning from the colonias, we went back to work. We finished the drywall and had everything cleaned up and put away by 4:00pm. This included windows and doors. The night ended with a worship service with the church and dinner.
Saturday began at 4:00am. We had breakfast and loaded our vans for the trip to the airport. We were stopped by the border patrol trying to get back into the USA. There were no problems, they just wanted to make sure we were legal. Then off to the airport. Everyone got checked in and we waited for our flight to Charlotte. At Charlotte, we had a minor problem. We discovered that there was not enough room for everyone on the plan and 4 of us would have to stay behind until the next day. So Tyler, Kenton, Mic and myself stayed behind. It was an amazing adventure being left behind. We befriended a young woman who had been bumped like us. She was staying at the same motel so we had plenty of time to talk. People on our team were home before we got out of the airport. I mean they were at their own house before we even got to the airport. But to make a long story short, she e-mailed me on Sunday and wanted to know more about Christ. So I wrote her back and told her how to accept Christ. There is much more to tell and we will on Sunday Aug.5 during the evening worship.
If any of the youth want to post a blog about the trip, send your story to:
and i will get it on the blog.
Pastor Bill

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Psalms 73

"Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven, but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever." ~Psalms 73:23-26

When I got on the connecting flight from Detroit to Amsterdam, I was visibly shaking. Call it nerves or fears, but I know I had a the heartbeat of a hummingbird at that point. I was worrying about a million different things that could go wrong on this trip. I was also about to put an ocean between me and the security and comfort provided by home. Doubts about why I was on this trip, and what was in store for me still plagued me as I boarded the flight.

During the flight, I pulled out my Bible. I started reading and came across this scripture. It really gave me the comfort and reassurance I needed. If I relied on God's strength, he would take care of me. No matter what would happen, I had God. Nothing could change that. All I had to do was just to seek God, give him my fears, and take that first step. Right before I was saved, I remember having that same feeling of fear and anxiety. Stepping out of the pew seemed like the biggest obstacle at the time for me. I think it was my Mom who saw me crying, bent down, and told me that if I took the first step God would get me down the aisle. And, he did.

The fears I had on the plane weren't the only ones I've had. There have been a great many since I arrived in South Africa. Through prayer and trusting in God, I have been able to overcome each one. Taking that first step, the leap of faith, always feels like the hardest thing. But looking back, if I had let those fears immobilize me and turned back at the airport, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the incredible experience God had in store for me here. If I had tried to rely on my own strength, and not God's, who knows what fears I would've let paralyze me. Actually, I might still be in WV.

Instead, I've been here for a month now. I have one more week at the clinic, and then on August 1st, I go to Pretoria to stay for the remaining week with a family. There I'll be working in local elementary schools with some of the teachers. That's about all I know so far. I fly out on the 9th. It's gone by so fast. I'm writing all this now because, once again, I don't know when I'll have Internet access again.

The things God has taught me here are innumerable: trust, compassion, patience, strength, courage. .. my relationship with God has grown stronger. Saying that I feel blessed doesn't seem to encompass everything God has done for me here. Having the opportunity to work here and serve these people has been a privilege. All of the staff seem to have ministered me in one way or another while I've been here.

Just last week during morning devotion, Dr. Margie Hardman, the medical director and founder of ACTS, was in tears. She had been given a notice that a mistake had been made, and ACTS now owed the government R1,500,000 ($200,000+) for lab testing. This was a blow to the clinic. At the last monthly meeting, it had been made known they were already over budget. Previously, there had been an agreement that the government would cover all testing costs. With it now gone, she was in a state of despair and exhaustion.

Another thing I learned while I was here is that each member of the staff is constantly fighting. They battle with the politics of the country, with 'traditional' medicine in the community, misinformation among the people, and many make their patients' battle with the disease theirs. Others are actually battling AIDS themselves as well. So, they constantly are being drained emotionally, phyisically, and spiritually. However, to see that they rely on God alone for strength to go on is inspiring.

Dr. Margie, though in tears, was asking for the staff as a whole to pray that ACTS would be provided with the money it needed. She had been disheartened, but then you heard 40+ people begin to fervently pray for this need. Other staff members went over to her to give her support. Not only were they placing their trust in God for this huge need, but they were lifting each other up as well. Seeing how they put full trust in God and supported one another, I understood why this clinic has been so successful.

Though they're still in negotiations with the government and their sponsors, the sponsors have let the administrators know they're willing to cover the costs. When you trust in God, he provides. It was incredible (I'm at a loss for new adjectives to replace amazing, great, awesome, etc.).

So who knows what this last week will show me. Lately, I've been working on an information booklet and shadowing doctors in the children's ward. Last week I literally had kids climbing all over me. One girl in particular was latching on to my leg, my arm. . .my ankle. She was a beautiful and energetic little girl who proved to be a handful in the waiting room. However, some people might be afraid to be near her if they knew what she was being treated for.

In America, people with AIDS are generally shunned. Modern day lepers is what we've made out of them. I didn't realize how deeply seeded this fear was until the first day. I went to take the pulse of a man who was HIV+ and paused. The fear of contracting AIDS flew threw my head. I was actually afraid to touch his arm. It was an absurd thought. Everything I'd been taught told me it was impossible. But, I still had that hesitation. Of course, I recovered and took his vitals, but I was so ashamed that I had a moment's hesitation.

I put myself in his shoes. What would it feel like to feel like people were afraid to be around me or give me a hug or even a handshake? Living with a disease like that is hard enough, but to be isolated from society would be incredibly hard as well. The epidemic of AIDS has been aided not only by misinformation, but by the fear of those who have the disease to let others know. Their fear is a direct result of the way our society treats people who have HIV/AIDS which is caused by our fears. Our fear for our own wellbeing gets in the way of our concern for another's. Remember the dying woman who was 'buried alive?' What about the neighbors who wouldn't step in as a caretaker? Thinking of that brings to mind all of the lessons charging Christians with the responsibility of taking care of the poor, the widows, our brother's keeper . .. etc. Another lesson I learned firsthand.

I'll be going out into the community again shadowing doctors for the next two days. Please be in prayer for the staff and patients of ACTS. Thank you for all of your prayers and comments. They're great, and I love reading them. If you don't hear from me again, I'll see you in two weeks!

God Bless,


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


*I want to start out this post by thanking the ones who have been praying and are continuing to support me while I'm here. Seeing those comments, hearing encouragement from family and friends, and just knowing I have people praying for me makes such a difference. And I can see that difference throughout my days here. Everything has really went smoothly for me. I have more than what I had hoped for in terms of food, water, and shelter. God has also surrounded me with a wonderful team who've already taught me so much. Everyday I just feel so blessed. Nothing can be accomplished without prayer. So any success or experience I have, I give the credit to God and the people who kept me in their prayers. Thank you.*

Sambona (hello in Swazi). It's one of the eleven national languages in South Africa and the main language spoken in the area. Don't plan on me coming back being able to speak it fluently though. I can't click my tongue in the middle of words. I can repeat a word 10 times and still not get it right. For some reason I like to throw in random Spanish pronounciations as well; this generally just makes it worse. I'll be happy to be able master saying "No" in Swazi. Spelled Cha, it's tricky. There's a click at the beginning, and the word itself sounds like a Boston accent on the word car. It's tricky. However, my coworkers appreciate my attempts at the language since most of them speak at least some English.

Today was a great day. I spent it redesigning and updating an information booklet for the clinic. What's your reaction from that last sentence? "She spent the day at a computer? Sitting? She had to go to Africa to do that? What does that have to do with AIDS? Aren't there people dying? Orphans or poor that need clothed. . .hungry that need fed? Wasn't there a better way she could serve God?" If you didn't think it, I did. Those were my exact thoughts my first week when one of the coordinators threw the idea out for possible volunteer assignments. I came to Africa to serve God, to make a difference, . . .I was expecting some hard labor, to get my hands dirty, get into the communities. . .I wanted to learn from the doctors, the missionaries . . .

See the pattern? I came. I expected. I wanted. If I came to serve God, then I should've been asking questions and not making statements. Keep in mind, it took me all of 5 minutes to identify this destructive thought process and mentally shake myself. But what if I hadn't? Since that day, I've washed dishes, scrubbed floors, as well as helped dress wounds, interact with patients, and learned a great deal. I could have been so blinded to where I thought I should be and what I should be doing that I would have forgotten why and for whom I was here. Some of the questions I should've started out asking could have been: Where does God want me? What needs are at the clinic? What abilities do I have that could meet those needs? What does serving God really mean and include?

I had to learn that serving God is more than just doing a good act and seeing its results. When I can see the immediate results of work, serving God is no problem for me. I feel like I accomplished something. I did my good deed for the day. But, God didn't start me off with things that I was comfortable doing. I wanted a stronger relationship in him, so I had to grow and learn by relying on him. It was a test for me because sometimes if I can't see the results of work afterwards, I feel like I must not have been serving God or that I failed. But serving also means being obedient to him. We don't know what impact we can have with the smallest acts. Trusting in his will for me was what I had to do. I can look back now and see the results and know that I was serving God in what I was doing. For example, while Kate and I were helping a few administrators move their offices, books, and then catalogue each one, we helped ease some of their stress and made them available to focus on other matters of the clinic. By the way, there are 557 heavy medical books now in order, catalogued, and entered into the computer. The days we worked in the kitchen also helped the kitchen staff a lot we later found out. They were one short and were thankful for not having to wash dishes for a few days.

We started out by telling them we were willing to go anywhere and do anything needed here. Once again, it was trust. If God got me here, then I can trust him to place me where I'm needed. And he has. It just took me giving it up to him.

In comparison to other things I've learned while I've been here, that was a relatively easy one.

I had worked in a nursing home to become a nursing assistant in high school. You see everything or at least that's what I thought foolishly.

When I went out with the home-based care doctor last Thursday and Friday, I believe I saw some of the rest. I saw a woman who was nothing but bones. Her skin was just hanging on her. When the doctor showed her back to me to let me have a look at the particular infection she had, I never saw it. All I could focus on was being able to see her spine and ribs in detail. I couldn't believe it. Someone could not be that starved and still be alive. But, I could deal with seeing that after I got over the initial shock. However, I knew then what true hunger looked like.

We saw a few other patients that day. Each of them were HIV positive. I saw things we only think are in textbooks. I learned about the treatments, what possible infections to be aware of, etc. After each consultation, we also prayed with the patient and ministered to them as much as possible.

It was when I got back that it hit me. I felt so heavy, burdened, and just exhausted. I also kept thinking about the last patient we saw. She looked much like the first, but her condition was worsening. She was loosing her hearing, dehydrated, and not on any anti-retroviral treatment yet. She couldn't get out of bed. Minutes after we gave her water, she threw it up in the corner of the one room shack made of garbage bags, tin, and sticks. Her family had abandoned her, and the neighbor, who was our contact, wasn't willing to step into the position of caregiver. We found her bed was soaked through as she had been laying in her own urine for days unable to get up. I realize this doesn't paint a pretty picture, but this was the reality.

It was hot, cramped, and the stench was terrible. The woman was laying in her own urine, vomitting in the corner, and starving to death. She had no one to take care of her, and was unable to recieve drug treatment for AIDS because of how dire her circumstances were. There's not enough funding for all of the treatments for each person who needs them, so people are categorized. Those who show adherence to previous treatments get the drugs. Others who probably won't be able to, don't get them. (it's much more complicated, but that is a very brief version) So the doctor was changing her bedding to try and make her comfortable at this stage, and looked up at me and asked, "What would Jesus do?"

Driving away, the doctor told me some history of how they decide who gets treatment and who doesn't. The woman didn't have anyone there for her to give her the medication each day. It couldn't be the clinic's responsibility because there are thousands in the same situation and not enough man power. I left knowing she was most likely going to die. It was what the doctor called 'buried alive.'

I've spent the weekend praying over this. The reality of the life here is something that is so difficult to face. I looked to God to help me deal with this. I have to. In him, I find hope for the situation here. He is the only hope for the people here. In him, they have the chance for comfort, healing, and peace. Amidst all of this, I have to remember there is hope. For instance, it is a miracle and breakthrough in medicine that two people who have been confirmed as HIV positive can now have a child that is negative.

But I think we also need to ask ourselves, as Christians, knowing the needs of the world and even our own communities. .. what would Jesus do? Not only that, but are we truly willing to do what he would?

Please continue in your prayers for the clinic, community, and staff. Pray that I trust in God's will for me here.


"I want the people here to be able to dare to dream. . .to dream God's dreams for their life."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Contrasts and Conversations

Mpumalanga is the province in South Africa that I'm currently residing in. Translated it means 'Land of the Rising Sun,' or at least that's what I was told. I wish I could post pictures of how beautiful it is here. No, it's not the Lion King, but I promise it's better than the desolate desert village some probably fear I'm in. Even though it's winter here, the land is still green and fairly warm. I'm surrounded by mountains, so I'm a little closer to home in that sense. The features of the land can change every 5 miles . ..I mean kilometers. . .from rocky mountains with little vegetation to lush lowvelds with orchards of orange trees or forests of eucalyptus trees. The panoramic views you see while driving just a few minutes down the road are incredible.
But, all of that natural beauty serves a direct contrast to the poverty as well. The settlements almost seem to blend naturally into the hillside dotted by little houses made of cement blocks or trash bags and sticks. Often families share a house with just one/two small rooms. If you've ever been on the Mexico mission trip, it's pretty much the same situation only with a different people and place. There are several mission organizations in the area besides the ACTS clinic: Hands at Work, Footprints, Africa School of Missions, Africa Outreach, . . ..but it's sad to say that all of them still can't meet all of the need in the area.
I've been striving to strengthen my relationship with God. It hit me when I was at Cowen counseling for the week, a girl asked me to pray with her because she wanted a closer relationship with God. So, I took her aside, talked with her, and was reading through some scripture in Psalms with her. But when I went over 63:1, it was a revelation that everyone has at some point. . .or at many points. My relationship with God. . .what was the status of it? Was I seeking him wholeheartedly, putting him first? Here I was praying with someone else when I needed to evaluate my own relationship with God. Coupled with teaching a lesson about hot/cold the next day, and it was like God was just laying it out plainly for me again.
So, since then, I've been working on my relationship with God. I've been rediscovering things that I could recite, but never actually learned. For example, God has definitely been teaching me to trust him through this trip. If asked if I trusted God, I could give you the textbook response assuring you all of my trust is in him. However, for me, it's a huge struggle. It's something I really have to work at because I like to plan, I want to know what's going on, please tell me when, where, why . ..etc. Here, God has pretty much taken all of that away. From day to day, I have to be patient and just trust God.
That's a message that's been repeated so many times already during this trip by the other missionaries I'm with.

"So we tell the them, 'Man does not live on bread alone,' . . ..I don't know where the food will come from, but we have to trust God."

"Right now, we don't have the funds, but we have to trust in God. When Moses and the children of Israel wandered in the desert, God always provided just enough food for them to use for the day except on Sabbath. He'll provide for us, but we just have to trust him."

"The community was angry and there were people threatening to stone us, but we simply had to trust in God that he would protect us, and he brought us safely out of there."

I've heard countless testimonies from people who fled their countries and homes, people in poverty, and people who suffer from the disease that we see as a death sentence. Each one of them says that they trusted in God. Everyday I feel like I'm a student to the people who live and work here. Each one of them has something to share it seems. However, the conversation I learned the most from was with Benjamin when I was washing dishes one night after dinner during my first week here. Here's a quote from it: "God is the one I answer to. He is my judge.. .Things of this world won't last. Your soul is what counts and knowing God .. . And my soul is not HIV positive." Everytime I think of that conversation, it's another reminder to why I want to be here. Sadly another one is, "So many people here are dying. . .they go to their graves in the same numbers as blades of grass that fall when you cut the lawn." I'll have to tell you about the rest of the conversations when I get back.
Right now, I'm so happy to be here. I'm great. Thank you for all of your prayers and messages, they're very much appreciated. Please keep praying for me as well as the clinic and staff. I really feel like I'm serving God. . ..which doesn't always go along with my preconcieved notions.
But, that is another lesson I've learned, and another post. . ..

Love you all and God Bless,


Thursday, July 5, 2007

1 Week Left

The title is no lie. I absolutely have one week left here at the ranch before my mom, dad and brother come and pick me up. I cannot believe how fast these 7 1/2 weeks have gone and how much God has truly transformed my way of thinking, responding and living. It's insane to think that we as Christians believe that we can go anywhere with the expectation of serving others and remain unchanged! Last summer was definitely an eye-opener; however, this summer has truly been transformational. Hopefully I will get a chance to write on this one more time before next Thursday, but for now I will fill you in as best I can.

Jarren has been at the river for the last 6 days---thus he is probably on cloud 9 in the sense that guiding is what he's wanted to praise God for that opportunity to minister! I have been working on what we like to call "Wrangler Breakfast" for the past few days. This is where fathers and their daughters (Current program: Father/Daughter) have the opportunity to horseback ride up on top of this mountain to watch the end of a sunrise and eat breakfast. However, this breakfast is no ordinary breakfast. I, along with two wranglers, fix omelets, biscuits and bacon for them over the fire. The long hours of watching The Food Network has definitely come in handy. In all seriousness it's a great opportunity to minister and serve the guests in a different way even if it requires my alarm to be set at 5:00 am every morning. When I am not doing Wrangler Breakfast, I am working the High Ropes course here at the ranch, specifically the 757. It's cool because I have had the opportunity to pray with several dads before their ascension of this 50 foot pole in which they are required to jump and grab a trapeze in mid-air.

Temperature today: 105 F

Please be in prayer for this coming week in that we will have approximately 400 high school students from around the world (specificallly Israel) come to Second Wind Session II. It will be chaos to say the least, but as God has shown me time and time again, our chaos is opportunity for God to show His power and complete control and authority. He literally brings us to a place of desperation and dependency for strength. I praise Him for that! He is faithful!

Cannot wait to come home and hear about all that God has done and is doing at GBC. I will be praying for VBS and Airborne as it is underway this coming week. Mexico is in a couple I am assuming. I am going on that trip and I don't even know the dates for it...very excited about that as well...


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Today makes a week that I've been here already. My luggage arrived yesterday, and I was thrilled. I'm sure Bill reads this, so I'd like to thank him for teaching me to pack a week's worth of clothes into my carry-on. It proved to be quite useful. But like I said, I was thrilled, and it carried on to today as well when I realized I had this huge bottle of shampoo and didn't have to ration it from a 2 oz. bottle anymore.
In our accommodations, volunteers and staff from around the world are housed as they work in the clinic. It's remarkable. Yesterday, there was a group of ten people from England, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands working with the Internet networking system. Now, there are five local women staying there who are taking classes on home-based care. My roommate, Kate, is a nurse from Switzerland who also came with OM. Also, Benjamin, a counselor at the clinic, stays there.
I spent the day at the children's ward in the clinic shadowing one of the doctors. It's only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, and they provide care for around 86 patients I believe. If I haven't mentioned it before, each patient that the clinic sees has already been confirmed as HIV positive. Tuberculosis is quite common in South Africa as an opportunistic disease in association with AIDS, so we also see many cases of it as well. So, almost each kid I saw today had AIDS along with TB. Some came in with their mothers while others with grandmothers or aunts.
As you can see, most of this post has been informative. This is because I'm still trying to gage my own reaction to everything I've seen these past few days. The Mexico mission trip helped to prepare me for the poverty that I would see. However, the extent of AIDS epidemic. ..there's just really no words to describe it. I'm just sitting here and watching the cursor blink because I don't know what to write to relate this.
The thing that gets to me is that here, this disease and its steep costs are everyday life.
I don't want to go down the path of describing death tolls, political problems within the country, insufficient funding and staff. . ..etc. because as Americans, we see that on commercials or on billboards. We're callused to hearing about far off places and problems and wars. So, while I do have countless things I've already seen and could say, you most likely wouldn't be able to remember what you've read because you've seen it dozens of times before. We hear about it or see it on the news. For the greater part of us, that's our everyday life.
Alive with hope.
That is the motto of ACTS and what I want to relate to you. Hope is such a powerful thing, and we only have hope through God. People here at the clinic work everyday to help bring hope to their patients. Inch by inch people battle with this disease. Some are winning, and others are losing. What stands out is when people get a grasp on hope and push their fear aside. For example, Benjamin was diagnosed with AIDS in 2004. He was unable to walk and his kidneys were failing along with his eyesight. We sat and watched TV yesterday, and he told us about wanting to help others see that there is hope of a life after the disease. He's got an incredible story, and I know I'm not doing it justice. But, those are the success stories and the ones you see working through the disease. In many ways, the basic lesson is applicable to our lives. Despite the incredible distance and surroundings, all some need is hope.
I'm so thankful that I am able to be a witness to it and help out here where I can.
Please continue to pray for the clinic and country as well. There may be a strike among the workers of the electric companies soon, so I might not be able to post for a week or two depending on how long it lasts. Thank you again for your prayers. God Bless.


Friday, June 29, 2007

after dinner

If you are starting to read this and didn't read my first post, read it and then return to this one. Dinner was phenomenal! But onto better things...Trac II Bikes posed as a huge challenge in that not only was the length of the trip an obstacle that had to be overcome, but a 9-mile, gravel uphill was also on the agenda. The first day we set out to do 63 miles. At the end of that day my butt was pretty sore but no sweat. I think I consumed approximately 4000 calories which included 4 Snickers Bars and 7 bananas (among other things). The following morning we woke up, ate breakfast and then headed out beginning with the 9-mile uphill that everyone referred to as "Misery Hill". However, God brought to my mind the scripture "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." Ha---but what was funny about this was by mile #4 I was beginning to sarcastically question in my head: "maybe I don't have clean hands and a pure heart cause I am definitely struggling with this hill" This was really tough in that it took a total of 5 1/2 hours for our entire team to complete the 9-mile stretch. I was to the point where I was praying for God to give me a "gradual graded hill" rather than the steep one that I was currently pedaling. Through it all God showed himself strong. More than anything he taught and reemphasized that my calling is to "come and die to myself" and depend on him for absolute certainty and strength. I'm constantly amazed by His grace and perhaps one thing He has continually taught me out here is that He wants me to be absolutely convinced of his love for me just as Paul said he was convinced that "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor death, nor anything in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus."

Fortunately, there were only 5 "crash and burn" incidents throughout the entire trip, one of which occurred because a bear ran out in front of this tiny 15-year old girl. The Pacific coast was incredible and the Redwood Forest was gigantic.

God is teaching me:
*He is so infinitely wise and in complete control!
*The freedom that is in Him.
*That I absolutely and undoubtedly need Him...His love is better than life!
*I'm learning what true intercession is and what it means to intercede for others.

More of what God is doing here at the ranch:
* A girl on my Trac II team who was struggling with depression and cutting herself experienced the freedom that is in Christ this week---I can't tell you how transformational the love of God is!
*We are expecting 27 Israeli students to take part in the second session of Second Wind in two weeks.
*God is restoring the hearts of children to their parents and parents to their children as is stated in Malachi.

I'm having a ball and I appreciate your prayers and mail...thanks


We welcome ya'll to the JH Ranch!

Hello GBC family! I'm pretty excited Eric Campbell set this thing up so that you can be informed about what all God is doing around the globe, particularly this summer. Jarren and I are doing well as I am sure he will contribute to this blog in the future; however, I probably see him more at home than I do out here. It's kind of bittersweet to know that my time here at the Ranch is almost expired, but the Lord has definitely taught be a lot out here this summer.

For the most part I have been working on Programs Staff at the Scott River Lodge (this is just a "hyped-up"job title that basically means I do most of the maintenance work around the lodge). This is a new addition to the JH Ranch this summer in that the Husband/Wife Programs spend their entire week off the ranch and at the Scott River Lodge. It's an amazing place and it's incredible to see God restoring and strengthening marraiges out here. In fact we as a staff have been lifting up a fellow staff member's parents who had been separated for 2 years and were currently going through a divorce. A few days ago this staff guy informed us that his older brother randomly called him the other day to inform him that his dad had come back home and that he felt the Holy Spirit literally healing their marraige! Praise God! It's times like these that God just graciously shows us how soveriegn He is!

As most of you know already (because of mom) God opened the opportunity for me to lead Trac II Bikes this past session of Second Wind, which concluded yesterday. During this program, myself and three other coaches (2 females and another male) led 39 high school students on a 109 mile bike ride to the Pacific Coast...and this is where I am goin to leave you hanging...the dinner bell just rang...I will conclude at a later time. Know that God is doing amazing things out here, in Africa, in Montana and of course at Gassaway Baptist Church and I cannot wait to hear all that is going on back home!
God Bless,


So, I made it to South Africa although I can't say the same about all of my luggage. Despite that, I'm having an amazing time. It's been exciting from Day 1. It was snowing in Johannesburg for the first time in 26 years. My first day in South Africa I spent with high school age students who were training for the Olympics in a variety of sports. We traveled to a local AIDS Clinic where we helped serve lunch and talked with many of them as well. I spoke mainly with a father whose daughter was recieving treatment. He shared a wonderful testimony about trusting in God for everything. He himself as cancer among a few other health problems and lost his eldest daughter to AIDS already, but he still had such a strong faith in God which has helped carry him through.

I arrived last night at the clinic I was arranged to work at, so today was my first day. ACTS stands for AIDS Caring, Training, and Support. I'll be able to describe it more in detail the longer I've been here, however, they have a website,, where you can read about most of the things they deal with. We started off the day with the staff meeting. There a brief message was shared about putting your trust in the Lord. Afterwards, several hymns were sung in Zulu. They were beautiful, but I didn't understand a word. My day was mostly spent taking vital signs of the incoming patients and getting to know the facilities.

Well, I would like to ask for prayer for the first clinic I was at, Oasis, a developing ministry in Pretoria. It has only been there for a couple years and is looking to expand its building, staff, and services. South Africa as a nation could use prayer for the turmoil that it has been going through. For the past 28 days, there was a strike at all the hospitals. With little health care available, people have been suffering and have had no places to turn to. Thankfully, it will end on Monday. Please just pray for my safety and for me to be a witness through service since I can't communicate with most of the people I'm working with.

I would really like to thank all of those who have been and are continuing to pray for me. It's very comforting to know that I have support at home through this. Well, my time is limited on the computer so I have to go. I love you all and God Bless.