Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hike I Didn't Go On

I wrote this several weeks ago but didn't finish it until now. Sorry for not posting for a while...

Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. Whether I'm with a bunch of good friends or just walking with God,  I've found incredible peace and divine communion among the mountains, trees, and streams that make up God's lesson book of nature.

Since coming to Timor-leste, hiking is what I've missed most (besides the people I love). There are plenty of mountains, forests, jungles, valleys, beaches, and rocky cliffs for hiking and climbing, but I haven't been able to find a "hiking buddy", and hiking alone isn't an option here. It doesn't help that I live in the capital city.


Today, I could've gone on a hike. Paulo, Miguel, and several other friends from church went up to Dare (da-rhay) after lunch. As I watched them get their camel packs and put their shoes on, Miguel came over to me.

"Katie, why aren't you getting ready? Why aren't you coming?" He pleaded with me, "I want you to come hiking with me! I don't want to go without you. Why can't you come?"

I set down the Bible study I was writing. Why wasn't I going? Every part of me longed to go, but before I knew about the hike I had said I would play violin with some church members who were going to sing at the hospital. 

"Miguel," I sighed, "I can go hiking with you another day, but I may not have another chance to bring the hope of Jesus to Gill."

"Fine," he says as he walks away, "but we're going to have fun and you're going to regret it!"


You see, Gill is the man that my friends and I were going to visit at the hospital. Gill is a 33 year old, Timorese man with congestive heart failure. He is also an animist. Animism is basically a complex tribal religion based on reincarnation and superstition. Not only is Gill an animist, but he hates Adventists. When his sister became a Seventh-Day Adventist and started coming to our church, Gill and his brother beat her until she ran away.

Now Gill is dying. He is in a lot of pain, his heart cannot pump his blood sufficiently, and he is drowning in his own body fluids. Yet, until last Sabbath, Gill would not go to the hospital. His mother had gone to the witch doctor who lives in the mountains to get him medicine, and he wouldn't trust himself to the "malae" (foreigner) doctors until he'd tried spirit medicine first.

For weeks our pastor's wife (she's a doctor) worked with him in his home, trying to bring him comfort physically and spiritually, but things would get heated whenever she offered to pray. The Holy Spirit was working too though, and on a Friday evening he finally allowed her to pray with him. Afterward she asked if she could bring some friends to sing and play violin for him the next afternoon, and he agreed.

After church and potluck a group of church members (including me as the violinist) sang and played for Gill and talked to him about his health. Although we were not able to convince him to go to the hospital, we did pray with him, and later that same evening he called and asked to be brought to the hospital.


Exactly a week later, Gill's future is looking bleak. He waited too long to go to the hospital, and his heart has expanded to fill most of his chest cavity. He can barely breath, and the small hospital here in the third-world city of Dili doesn't have anywhere near the medical technology, or even the sanitation, that it would take to give him what he needs - a heart transplant.

At the hospital, I'm overwhelmed by what I see. First we stop by the maternity ward to congratulate a friend who just gave birth. Six new mothers with their little babies and huge families crowd into each un-airconditioned room. Some patients moan, and others aimlessly wander the halls. We find our friend before we find an information desk or attending nurse.

After seeing the new baby and drawing a crowd with our songs, we move on to find Gill. We find him in a cramped, windowless room, supportive family members sleeping on the tile floor around him. He has a new wound where one of the nurses ripped off a bandage too quickly. There is a desperate look in his eyes. He knows he's going to die. We try to make him more comfortable and encourage him, but I can't share the Bible study that I have written for him because there is no one to translate this time. Still, I know that the Holy Spirit was there. It was Him who brought calm to that sick room and a smile to Gill's face as my friends sang and I played.

Now I'm back home, and my whole being is flooded with a wave of exhaustion. There is no euphoria or feeling of accomplishment this time. I'm not excited or on fire like so many other times after an afternoon of sharing and singing and praying. Listening to Miguel's glowing reports of their hike in the rain (my favorite!), a tiny shadow of doubt asks me if my visit even did any good. Yet there is something else, something at first less noticeable, but much stronger and more lasting. Through my mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion there weaves a fine thread of peace. Peace that cannot be broken. Peace that in giving I received. It passes all understanding...

Gill passed away at 10:00 pm on November 29, 2012. I don't know for sure if I will see him in heaven,  but at least I know that for one afternoon I helped give him a little of heaven's peace while he was here on earth. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Some dear friends of mine sent me a lovely set of books last week. They're from the 17:18 series. It's a series of books that are meant to help people fulfill the command in Deuteronomy 17:18 about writing out your own copy of the law of God. I was given the books needed to write out and comment on the whole book of Psalms, and they've been such a blessing. The thoughts below came from studying Psalm 1. Oh, and just in case you wonder, this isn't written from my perspective...

Rough. Hard. Empty. Worthless…

I used to be full of potential, full of life. Inside my heart was a new beginning, a promise of growth. It grew inside me until I was practically pregnant with promise and possibilities. My papery mask was golden and ready to split. Everything was perfect and ready for harvest.

Then the hard times came.

It was a hot, dusty day when sharp blades came and cut my stalk. I fell and was piled with many others just like me. We were roughly carried away from familiar soil to a place we’d never seen or heard about. Lost and confused, we were beaten and tossed, broken down and battered. It seemed that my heart would be torn out of me, my papery mask that had been so smooth and golden was splitting.


“You can’t do this to me! You can’t take that away from me! My mask is who I am!”

I struggled to be heard, but the sweaty farmer who bent over me wouldn’t stop the shaking. I gritted my teeth and held on tight. I wouldn’t give up! I couldn’t surrender!

Then his warm hand picked me up and he rubbed me around in His palm. This was the end.  I couldn’t hold on anymore. It was either my husk or the seed. I couldn’t keep both, and I couldn’t bear to be separated from my mask, my covering, the only part of me that had ever seen the light of day, the part of me that I thought made me who I was.

And in that choice, I lost the seed. I lost the life that was in my heart. I lost my heart and became a shell, a simple lifeless husk.

The wind carried away my body, and in the hands of the One who planted me lay the life that He had given and that I had given up.

I gave it up for a husk.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
-Psalm 1:4

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Pick-Me-Up From God

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning: the homesick side. It's happened several times since I left North America, but today, I didn't even want to get out of bed. I tried to talk to some family and friends before breakfast, but the internet was slow, and then when I finally did get a hold of them, it was time for me to go.

As Miguel and I started school with prayer, I asked the Lord to take away my bad attitude and help me deal with my homesickness (Yeah, I know, prayer again. It's about all I've posted about lately, but it really is amazing!). After prayer I felt much better, but I still just wanted to go home. Then God worked one of His little miracles.

Before we had even finished Bible class we heard a knock. Mana Lina (the lady who helps us with cooking and cleaning) called me downstairs, and there at the door was the delivery man from DHL. A package! For me!

Inside the package were pictures, little notes from my family, a pair of incredible books for studying Psalms, Adventist Review and AFM magazines, some GF snacks, and other little things that I had been wishing for. It was the most lovely surprise, and it came right on time.

My Father in heaven is so caring! With Him by my side, I couldn't be happier or more content. I love Him so much, because He has first shown His love to me (1 John 4:19).

Now, replacing my bad mood and homesickness, there is a song. It goes something like this:

I will lift my eyes
To the hills and their Creator
Who made all heaven and earth
For He watches me
Never sleeps, no, never slumbers,
He's ever over me.

As I come and I go,
I am safe for I know,
That His care is sufficient for me.

Winter warmth and light,
And a shady place in summer,
He's ever over me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Poem

I wrote this while studying the adult Sabbath school quarterly this week and wanted to share it.

I'll take a stand so I can lay
My all at Jesus' feet today.
Giving up and surrendering to Him
Is the only way to stand up to sin.

Submit yourselves therefore to God,
Follow meekly His staff and rod,
Resist the Devil and he will flee
While surrendered we'll gain the victory.

"May Christ be lifted up!" we'll cry
Til the eye of every passerby-
's been drawn to the snake upon the rod,
The sinless, spotless lamb of God.

Who for my sake sin became,
That I may live by Jesus name.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Little Things

"God answered my prayer!"
Miguel's shout tore my attention away from the book I was reading. The other people at the pool glanced up from their recliners and waitresses paused with Cokes and mango juices balanced expertly in the air, but Miguel didn't notice. 
"Katie! Katie," he screamed at the top of his lungs while he flailed through the water toward me, "He answered my, I mean, our prayer!"
"Which prayer, Miguel?"
"Remember! See, here's your hair tie that I lost."
"Oh, yes, I remember now. The last time we were here you lost my hair tie, and we prayed that we would find it, but even though we looked for it until we left, we didn't find it."
"How many days has it been since we were here last?"
"It's been three days, Miguel."
"Wow! That's amazing! It would have been amazing if God had helped us find your hair tie right after I lost it, but now to find it three days later...oh, my! That's amazing!"
"God is so good! He even cares about little things like hair ties. Why don't we pray to thank Him? Would you like to pray, or should I pray?"
"You can pray."
And I did pray. Not only to thank our Father for revealing my hair tie, but also to thank Him for revealing a bit of Himself to a little ten year old boy and his teacher. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Power of Prayer

Talking with my Dad has always been special to me. I can remember many specific discussions that we’ve had over the years while driving, hiking, or studying the Bible. Our personalities are so similar and we think so much alike that we often communicate with few or no words at all. Sometimes the most meaningful things are said without words. If unsure or afraid, I gain a world of courage by simply tucking my arm into his. A smile or nod could send me to the moon and back, and the pain in his rebuking eyes cuts deep. He’s the only person in the world who has successfully and consistently cured me of hiccups with a simple hug.

And yet, the beauty of our relationship fades in comparison with the love and care that my heavenly Father has shown to me. With open arms He has adopted me, and with divine love He cares for me.

When I have no words to express what I’m experiencing, I pour my heart to my Father in humble surrender. As struggles spill out before Him, He tenderly takes up my burdens and carries them on His own back. Patiently He points out my mistakes and offers me a new heart and a new start. He’s always listening and never too busy to help. No matter where I go, He’s always right by my side and He’s constantly caring for me. Just today, He showed His love to me in a beautiful way.

Ruth left for Austria and Portugal today (she has to visit some family and do a continuing education course). It was hard for us to see her go, and I know it was extremely hard for her to leave too; especially because of Miguel. The way he clung to her and sobbed into her chest broke my heart, and I’m not his mom. I could see agony written across her face as the driver took her to the airport. Paulo stayed calm and encouraging, saying that the time would go fast and soon Ruth would be back, but by the time Ruth had left and it was time for Paulo to go back to work, Miguel was still crying. How in the world was I supposed to get a little boy who’s crying for his mom to finish the school day? I almost gave up right there. Thankfully the Lord was with me.

Miguel had calmed down a little by the time we got up to the school room, but once he had flopped down on the reading pillow for a story that I had to read to him, the dam broke loose again. I know it was the Lord who spoke through me: “Miguel, would you like to pray with me?” He eagerly accepted, and as I began to pray, the change that took place before my eyes was beautiful. The little heaving chest breathed deep and even. The heart-wrenching sobs were quieted, and the quivering lip and wrinkled brow relaxed. I could literally see the peace settle on his face as God’s peace filled his heart. Now I was crying.

That was the end of the battle (for today). From then on, although Miguel often expressed how much he missed his mother throughout the afternoon and evening, it wasn’t with the same hopelessness and grief.  Jesus was carrying his burden, and the peace of Jesus reigned in his heart. Miguel now looked forward to emailing his mom and boasted about how he would talk her ear off once he got her on the phone.

The power of one prayer in easing the life of a little child amazed me today. God’s love for us is so great, and His desire to give us what is good so strong. All we need to do is ask.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More Aquatic Life

Here are a few more species that I was able to identify for my "fish list."

linckia laevigata - reef and lagoon starfish
plate-like, staghorn, and table Acropora corals
fungia horrida - mushroom corals (including a neon orange one)
plerogyra sinuosa - grape coral
spirobranchus giganteus - Christmas-tree worm (the bright blue-ish purple ones are my favorite, but the others are lovely too. Red, yellow, white, orange, etc. These are one of my favorite little things. If you wiggle your finger at them they disappear into the coral and then slowly creep out again.)
ascidians - seasquirts (I think this is what I saw. It has the closest description that I can find)

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Thought From My Readings

I'm leading out in the adult Sabbath school this week, and as I was reading some things on the topic of salvation, I came across this paragraph. I think it speaks for itself.

I have felt to urge upon all the necessity of searching the Scriptures for themselves that they may know what is truth, and may discern more clearly the compassion and love of God. Yet there is need of carefulness and earnest prayer in the study of the Bible, that none may fall into error by a misconception of its teachings. There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in the searching of the Scriptures: --Christ and Him crucified. Every other truth is invested with influence and power corresponding to its relation to this theme. It is only in the light of the cross that we can discern the exalted character of the law of God. The soul palsied by sin can be endowed with life only through the work wrought out upon the cross by the Author of our salvation. The love of Christ constrains man to unite with Him in His labors and sacrifice. The revelation of divine love awakens in them a sense of their neglected obligation to be light-bearers to the world, and inspires them with a missionary spirit. This truth enlightens the mind and sanctifies the soul. It will banish unbelief and inspire faith. It is the one great truth to be constantly kept before the minds of men. Yet how dimly is the love of God understood; and in the teaching of the word it makes but a faint impression.  {1888 806.1}  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thank you!

Twenty-five days ago I turned eighteen, and a bit more than twenty-five days ago some of my very dear friends teamed together to do something to make my day just a bit more special. Although they sent it right on time, it has taken close to 600 hours for the video to download (now maybe you understand my slow internet problems). I almost started crying for joy when I saw that it had come through today. This post is in response to their gift. Thank you.

Also, please don’t look for any form or pattern in this poem; it’s rather sloppy, but I truly mean it all. J

We arrived from different places,
Different backgrounds, different faces.
Each a God-given talent to share,
Leaders, hard workers, and those who care…
We made memories, and memories made us.
Our sophomore year was hilarious.
Junior year our friend-circle grew,
Hikes and adventures not a few.
Then we were seniors, what a surprise!
We grew, our lives changed before our eyes.
Good times, bad times, glad times, sad times.
Opened and ended with Askom climbs.
Each experience knit us together,
Played its part and drew us to the Father.
Fun times gave us faith to push through trials,
Hard times in turn gave strength and lent miles
Of trust, and depth to relationships which,
Have not broken but grown, our lives to enrich.
Now, for some, the seas are what separate,
For others, busyness’ walls are great.
Yet, God made us classmates, schoolmates, friends,
And His love, which binds us, never ends.
We can have faith, far apart though we be,
That one another in heaven we will see.
I wish I could let you know how much,
Your present for me my life did touch.
But words are not enough to say,
The way you filled my heart today.
You gave more than words, in the gift you sent.
Encouragement, smiles, and wishes meant
To make my day and bless my heart
Reached and touched me though miles apart.
Thank you all: Sam, Anne, and Katie,
Heather, Shannon, and Desiree,
Carmen, Michael, and Matthew too,
Kalyse and Heidi plus Andrew.
I know Liss helped a lot with this,
And special thanks to Amaris!
I love you all lots and miss you tons,
Wondering who I pray for? You’re the ones,
On my heart and mind all day
And when bedtime prayers I say.
Keep going strong! I’m rooting for you!
And don’t forget to pray for me too!
May God continue to hold,
And your character to mold,
Till we all meet again,
With Jesus, our best friend!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Fish List

I think I've mentioned my love of Latin on this blog before, and now you're going to get another dose of it. For the past several weeks I've been itching to get my hands on a reef fish identification book, and I finally found one. Unfortunately, it only has fish, so I can't identify any of the other miraculous things I've been seeing, but I'm glad that at least I can start a fish list. Oh, and sorry that there aren't any pictures, but the internet just isn't fast enough for that. 

Pomacanthus imperator (juvenile)-emperor angel fish
Gymnothorax eurostus - stout moray eel
Melichthys indicus - Indian trigger fish
Melichthys niger - black trigger fish
Aulostomus chinensis - trumpet fish
Parupeneus macronemua - long barbel goatfish 
Onigocia spinosa - midget flat head
Scorpaenopsis venosa -  raggy scorpionfish
Parascorpaena mossambica (what I saw looked like this one, but if it is this one, it is a little bit out of its range of habitat) - Mozambique scorpionfish 
Pteroia volitans - common lion fish
Antennarius pictus - painted frogfish 
Sargocentron spiniferum - sabre squirrelfish 
Thalassoma purpureum - surge wrasse
Thalassoma trilobatum - ladder wrasse
Scarus rivalatus - rivulated parrotfish 
Pseudanthias smithvanizi - princess anthias
Premnas biaculeatus - spinecheek anemonefish
Amphiprion perideraion - pink anemonefish
Zanclus cornutus - moorish idol
Forcipiger flavissimus - longnose butterflyfish
Heniochus acuminatus - longfin bannerfish
Chaetodon oxycephalus - spot-nape butterflyfish

Of course, I've seen many more than just these. I've seen fish from the serranidae family, other amphiprions (they all look like Nemo lol), and bunches of other identifiable things. It's been so much fun. Yesterday I spent about five hours in the ocean looking at fish and shells and corals. I think I'm going to live underwater when I get to heaven, at least for a little while. :) 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Unstable internet!
Haven't you loaded yet?
For hours I've waited,
But now I'm frustrated!

I lurk where your signal is strongest.
Downloading takes the longest,
Yet sometimes I can't even email,
Your performance is really a fail.

Patience is my lesson today,
And it was the same yesterday,
And the day before and before,
I have been tried o're and o're!

But obviously I haven't learned yet,
God's standard for me I haven't met.
Every day the test is the same,
My pastime is the waiting game.

So if you, my friends, don't hear from me,
Don't worry or fret or fear for me,
No longer can I substantiate,
An hour and a half per email to wait. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Realization of a Lifelong Dream

This post is written as a sort of surprise for my family. Mom, Dad, Livie, I hope you enjoy it!

My dad is a scuba instructor, and as long as I can remember I have read dive magazines while eating breakfast. I’ve seen cuddle fish, lion fish, nudibranchs, and scorpion fish, but only in pictures; until this week.

For my birthday, the Grilo’s gave me a gift certificate that covered 50% of the cost of an open-water dive course. So, this week, Miguel and I worked really hard and fast at school so I could take the course in the afternoons.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I was in the water from 2:30pm until 6:00pm, the first day in the pool, and the last two days in the ocean.  On Sunday I wrote the four quizzes and final exam, and, praise the Lord, passed with 100% in all of them.

Even though the sensation of breathing underwater was a little bit unnerving at first, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My first dive in the ocean was breath-taking, and after all four training dives, I’ve seen about 15 lion fish, several scorpion fish, jelly fish as long as my body, huge bat fish, angel fish, parrot fish, butterfly fish, large schools of snappers, clown fish, cuddle fish, anemones, giant clams, soft corals, hard corals, fans, sponges, cute little nudibranchs, flounders, crabs, live cowrie shells bigger than my fist, many kinds of starfish, and many things that I cannot name. The diving here is some of the best in the world, and it is just down the road from where I am staying. I am so blessed!  

As your senses delight in the attractive loveliness of the earth, think of the world that is to come, that shall never know the blight of sin and death; where the face of nature will no more wear the shadow of the curse. Let your imagination picture the home of the saved, and remember that it will be more glorious than your brightest imagination can portray. In the varied gifts of God in nature we see but the faintest gleaming of his glory. It is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." [1 Corinthians 2:9.]     The poet and the naturalist have many things to say about nature, but it is the Christian who enjoys the beauty of the earth with the highest appreciation, because he recognizes his Father's handiwork, and perceives his love in flower and shrub and tree. No one can fully appreciate the significance of hill and vale, river and sea, who does not look upon them as an expression of God's love to man.  {CE 55.3}  


The weekend of my birthday was quite incredible. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Tour de France, right? Well here in Timor, we have the Tour de Timor. It’s a biking race, and it took place a couple weeks ago. Last year Paulo did it, but he couldn’t do it this year because part of it was on Sabbath. Anyway, the Sunday after my birthday, Paulo’s biking club/team planned a "fun ride" for whoever wanted to come, but especially for kids. Paulo, Miguel and I went, and it was a blast.

You're probably wondering where I got a bike, helmet, and everything else needed for biking. I certainly didn’t bring my bike in my carry-on. The Grilo's have a biker friend, João Luís Gustavo de Matosme, who is very kind and generous (he also has written several books, is incredibly intelligent, was the one who planned and placed the country borders between Timor and Indonesia, etc). Anyway, he came to the little supper/vespers that we have every Friday night (which also served as my birthday dinner), and when I played violin for vespers he was really impressed. When he found out that I was looking to borrow a bike for the ride on Sunday, he decided to loan me one of his (the wheels alone are $1000, and the gears are $2000; I don't even want to know how much the whole thing is! It's so light I can pick it up with one hand!). He also gave me a water bottle that can be carried on the bike, a pair of socks for biking, and a pair of men's biking shorts (they work fine for girls too, they just have a funky pad in the crotch for extra protection. I'd hate to feel the bike seat without the pad though, it is quite hard).

For a jersey, Paulo lent me the jersey of the person who won the Tour de Timor two years ago. He also had a spare helmet and biking gloves which I used. As for shoes, my bike has clips instead of pedals, and I don't have shoes with clips. So far I don't know anyone with the same shoe size as me, so I was stuck in that department for a bit. Then Paulo suggested using shoes with the hardest/stiffest sole I could find, and it worked. So, I rode in my brown chacco's with bright red socks! lol

The ride started around 8-8:30 on Sunday morning on the other side of town. We biked there, and when we arrived, there was already quite a mix of professional bikers riding works of art and little Timorese kids on junk bikes. It was quite an amazing sight. When we finally got going, it was incredible to see the number of bikers on the street. I think there was about 150-200, but I'm really bad at estimating crowds. Anyway, we rode through the inland part of Dili and saw some of the districts that I had never seen before and then finished by off-roading down the dry Comoro River bed. It was a blast! There wasn't much uphill, it was mostly flat, but there were lots of gravel pits and holes and water crossings and other obstacles to go over and around. I really had fun. Miguel and I were in the front while Paulo and some of the other team members helped the poorly equipped kids in the back, but near the end Miguel got tired so I stopped and waited for him. I didn't want him to get lost or fall and not have someone there. We still stayed pretty close to the front of the pack though.

Overall it was a really great experience, and if I ever have the opportunity to do something like it again, I’ll jump at the chance. Praise the Lord for the fun things that He throws into our lives! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Hi, my faithful readers!

I'm so sorry for not posting very much this week, but things have been quite busy.

Don't forget that your prayers and support are greatly needed and appreciated, and I think of you all often.

If at all possible, I will have another couple posts on here by this weekend. There has been so much to write about!

God bless you and keep you as we hasten His coming!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Day of Thanks

I am thankful for so many things today. To start with, the Lord woke me up today, and gave me the alertness and energy I needed so that I could spend time with Him in His Word, and go running (He does it every morning! Our God is so faithful!). Also, Miguel gave me the biggest surprise! Before breakfast, while we were preparing for lunch, and in every spare moment he was working on some project that he wouldn’t let me see. Then at lunch time, he revealed his masterpiece. He had done his spelling and handwriting on his own so that I could have more time to relax and do my own things this afternoon! I was so surprised (and thrilled)! Then, to top it all off, I was able to find an internet hotspot where I could use Skype to talk to my family. It was incredible. When Olivia started playing violin for me, I started bawling. It was beautiful to hear the voices of the people I love the most. God gave me what I needed today, and so much more! I just had to share how He has blessed me. May I in turn be used by Him to bless others in this new year of life that He has given me. I am now 18. :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I really like flowers. Like, a lot. If I manage to walk through a flower garden and come out the other side without having a flower in my hair (or disguising the evidence of my crime in someone else’s hair), it is only because of an extreme show of self-control.

Here in Timor, I actually haven’t seen very many flowers. We live in the city, and it’s the dry season, so there is a noticeable lack of vegetation. The flowers I have seen have been so lovely though.

On Sabbath we visited a friend’s house for potluck, and it was all I could do to keep from asking her if I could pick one of her Hibiscus’. Even as I write I’m watching Miguel and his friend play in our pool, but at the same time I’m admiring the pots of multi-colored bougainvilleas that line the poolside patio. There are pink ones, purple ones, red ones, and white ones. They’re just so beautiful.

The flowers I’m most tempted to pick, however, are the ones right outside our door. I don’t know what kind they are, and I’ve never seen them before. There are pink ones and white ones and ones whose petals are pink at the bottom and fade to white at the top. They grow close to the ground on waxy leaves, and they look sort of like tiny, wrinkly, carnations. Probably the only reason I haven’t picked one is because I’m afraid it would close soon afterwards. Every morning they dot our front yard, and every afternoon they close up. I would be so sad if I picked one and it closed.

Yet one day, I won’t have to worry about the flowers I pick closing.

“And I saw another field full of all kinds of flowers, and as I plucked them I cried out, They will never fade… And I saw the little ones climb, or if they chose, use their little wings and fly to the top of the mountains, and pluck the never-fading flowers.” (2SG 53.1)

May our Lord Jesus come quickly! As the song says, “I want to go to heaven, pick a never fading flower…”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Storm

There’s a storm brewing. I can feel it in the air. Every morning when I go running the atmosphere feels stickier. The sky looks dark in the afternoon, and it isn’t because the sun is going down. Grey clouds churn and boil in a soupy sky. As I walked back from dropping Miguel off at his piano lesson I felt a single rain drop on my cheek. Nature is practicing - preparing herself. The wet season is coming.

Miguel and I are excited. We’ve already shook hands and agreed that when the first downpour comes, we will run out and play in it. I love rain, and I especially love warm, tropical rain. Last night we got a small sprinkle, an appetizer I guess. We had fun with it anyway.

Timor’s wet season isn’t the only storm that is brewing though. Have you noticed the signs? I have. I’ve seen it in nature, in the economy, in relationships and felt it in the spiritual realm. It’s real, and it’s coming.

“The storm is coming, the storm that will try every man's faith of what sort it is. Believers must now be firmly rooted in Christ or else they will be led astray by some phase of error” (LDE 64.3). 
“The darkest hour of the church's struggle with the powers of evil is that which immediately precedes the day of her final deliverance. But none who trust in God need fear; for ‘when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall,’ God will be to His church ‘a refuge from the storm.’ Isaiah 25:4.” (PK 725.2)

The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I haven’t written for the last couple days for several reasons. One is that I’ve been busy. Another reason is that the internet has been too poor to access my blog, and on top of that, I haven’t felt like writing because I’ve been sick. All weekend I couldn’t eat anything, but today I’ve started to eat canned fruit and white rice. I’m actually feeling quite normal.

Our cat, Panther, however, took a trip to the vet today. He’s been sick all weekend too, but he has an infection. His leg is swollen, he has a fever, and he’s been moping around the house with me. We make good company.

Of course, for the trip to the vet, we had to drive. I don’t know if any of you have ever had to go driving with a cat, but in my experience, cats are terrified of driving. You generally have to keep them in a cage for the entire trip to keep them from scratching you and making a mess of the car.

We don’t have a cage. Not only that, but Paulo and I were the only one’s available to go to the vet, so that meant that one of us would drive while the other held the cat. The only car at home was stick. So far, I only drive automatic, and besides, I don’t know my way to the veterinary office. I got the cat, Paulo got the car.

The experience of holding Panther on the way to the vet was most certainly memorable. I don’t think I will forget that experience for quite a while, or at least not until the smell of cat pee fades from my skirt. What struck me the most though was something that I saw just outside the veterinary office.

On the dirt road in front of the office there were several dogs (there are animals everywhere here). As we pulled up and parked they all walked away lazily except for one. A small white dog slithered away as quickly as he could, misery and fear all over his face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more revoltingly grotesque and yet achingly pitiable animal.

Bent backwards, twisted, and misshapen, his legs trailed behind him as he pulled himself along with his front legs. I’ve seen dogs scoot around on their bottoms before, but this was different. At first I just thought that his back legs were broken. It looked like his femurs had been snapped backwards and his hips dislocated. Then Paulo pointed it out to me. The dog could only move from the shoulders up. His back must have been broken, and he was paralyzed from the upper back down. I was horrified.

Here we were, right outside the veterinary office, a place where animals come to be healed, and there was this display of such agony. As I thought about this dog and his physical condition despite his proximity to relief, a flood of impressions filled my mind. Sitting outside a church doesn’t make a sinner whole. And just as the dog wouldn’t be healed even if he was sitting inside the veterinary clinic, I won’t be healed if I simply sit in church every Sabbath. This dog needed extreme help. Actually, he needed more than that. The only way to relieve him from his miserable life would be to put him down. It is the same for me. I must die to truly live, but I have something that this dog doesn’t have: a Savior.

Sin causes separation, suffering, sickness, injustice - everything bad and undesirable, and in its finality, it brings forth death.  There is no cure, or explanation for it. Its only remedy is complete eradication and destruction. Yet through Christ, the death of sin is transformed into the rebirth of a new person. Praise the Lord! Neither physical death nor death to self have to be the end for me. I can be filled with new life, a new heart, and the mind of Christ.

“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” –Romans 6:5-8 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


This is a bit after the fact, but I just realized that I never posted the good news on here. I got my clothes back!!! Remember the ones that the laundry lady took? Well, I don’t know why she took so long with them, and one of my things came back with a suspicious price tag pinned to it, but I have all of them back. Praise the Lord! He even cares about my clothes!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Post On Teaching...

Some of you are probably thinking. "O.K. So, she went over there to teach, right? And I haven't read a thing about teaching." Yeah, I know. It's just that there have been so many other exciting and new things going on that I haven't paused long enough to write a post on teaching, but here it comes. 
I got so excited when I first looked at the curriculum I would be using this year. It is almost exactly what I did in fifth grade! God is so good. Whenever I teach Miguel something I have a major deja vu moment, and it makes things so much easier (another nice thing is that Miguel and my little sister have a lot of things in common, so I almost feel like I already know him...well, almost anyway). 
God is so good, and He has given me so much to equip and prepare me for this job. So much of my life has made me feel at home here. My Latino side totally meshes with the lifestyle of my new Portuguese family. Paulo even reminds me of my dad. Ruth reminds me of a mix of my Tia Mabel and my prima, Erika, and like I said earlier, Miguel often reminds me of Olivia.
All that said, I still get lonely, I’m still tired, and teaching is still harder than I thought it would be. How do I convey information in a way that is understandable to a ten year old? How do I inspire him to love learning, to take initiative, to be proactive? How do I bring to him the reality and friendship of Jesus? Sometimes it seems like too much, and worry and doubt start to crowd my mind. Am I really doing any good?
Yet I know God has called me here, and I know that He equips those whom He calls. I know that He can use me, and I have faith that He will do things through me that I may never see or realize.
A good friend of mine sent me an email recently, and in it there was this quote: “"The humblest and poorest of the disciples of Jesus can be a blessing to others. They may not realize that they are doing any special good, but by their unconscious influence they may start waves of blessing that will widen and deepen, and the blessed results they may never know until the day of final reward. They do not feel or know that they are doing anything great. They are not required to weary themselves with anxiety about success. They have only to go forward quietly, doing faithfully the work that God's providence assigns, and their life will not be in vain" (from Steps to Christ).
May God help me go forward quietly, ever faithful to what He has called me, even if I don’t see immediate results.

Friday, September 7, 2012

An Unexpected Visitor

Hillary Clinton came to visit today. Unfortunately I didn't get to meet her, or even to see her, but I did hear the sirens of her armed escort as she drove by our compound. We live basically next door to the US embassy, so she was pretty close by.
All the main roads were blocked off for the entire seven hours that she spent on our island. It was impossible to get anywhere. Road raged Timorese honked their horns and crowded together, two per lane. The city was a wreck outside her field of view.
Everything she saw, however, was perfect. The American embassy, which has the biggest swimming pool on the island, was decked out for her coming. Now that I think of it, last week they laid new tar in front of the US embassy. Even the roads she drove on were freshly paved.
So, why all this fuss? Why was Clinton even here, on this insignificant and far-away island of the South Pacific? Apparently Timor-leste has oil.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Driving Again!

Today I got my picture taken for my international driver's license! I'm so excited! Another monumental occurrence on the streets of Dili today was my first lesson/experience in parallel parking (that just shows you how green a driver I really am). It was actually quite fun, and not too terribly challenging. So far the hardest thing has been that they don't mark one-way streets here, and there are a lot of one way streets. It is an adventure, that's for sure. Praise the Lord for His travelling mercies!

Monday, September 3, 2012


Here in Timor we drive on the left side of the road, and yes, I said we. I plan to get my International Driver’s License either this week or next week, and today I took a practice drive. After Miguel’s tennis lesson  this afternoon,  Paulo, Miguel, and I went to an empty lot so I could get used to the car that I will be using while I’m here (they have an extra car for me to use).  I drove around an old race track, did a u-turn and a couple other maneuvers, tried driving on typical Timorese terrain (really rough), and headed for the main road.
There is a little village about 14 km outside of Dili, and that was my first stop. Dodging motorcycles, taxis, children, chickens, dogs, pigs, and potholes all the way, we finally made it to our destination in the next town. After stopping there, I drove back to Dili. The road, although littered with distractions and hedged in on one side by a crumbling cliff, has the most beautiful view of the sea on the other side. Brightly colored fishing boats bobbed in the waves crashing against the rocks a few feet away from my tires. Across the small bay grow thick mangrove trees where saltwater crocodiles make their home. I can’t believe I live here and that I drove there today.
In Dili, I stopped at the mall, did some shopping (for clothes that disappeared in the laundry), and then drove home. It was an incredible experience and very fun. I think the most intimidating things were the narrow roads (sometimes with three vehicles for two lanes) and the left handed round-about that I went through. Thankfully, the pace is slow, so it is actually not too hard to maneuver my little car between the trucks and motorbikes. And the biggest blessing was that the Lord helped me. He kept me calm and confidant and safe, and I know that only He could have done that.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Missing You!

Hey, by the way, although I am having a great time, I just thought I'd let you all know that today I was missing you. All of you. Friends, family, just someone who isn't new. Someone I already know and who speaks proper English. I'm thinking of you and praying for you and I so appreciate it when you pray for me. :)

My Last Stop Before My New Home

This was supposed to be posted a few days ago with my other travel notes, but the internet was having problems and it didn't work. Sorry that it is so late and out of order
Singapore: (about 1:00am) As I write this, I am sitting alone in a rather deserted Singapore airport. I’m actually rather lost, and I don’t know where to go or what to do, so I decided to relieve my nerves by writing a bit. I tried to figure out where I’m supposed to go when it is closer to my departure time, but my flight isn’t showing up on the screen things yet, and I think that is just because I still have at least seven hours until I need to head toward my gate. I tried calling home, but my phone keeps telling me that my phone plan doesn’t allow outgoing calls. I tried emailing, but the only way to get free wifi is through the information desk. I’m sitting across from it right now, but, since it is about 1:00am here, there is no one there to help me. I looked for a lounge or safe place to sleep, but nothing was convincing. Either it looked safe but was a smoking area, or it wasn’t a smoking area and didn’t look safe. Maybe I’m just not good at looking, but I don’t want to get lost, and it is nice to write, so I think I just sit here till the information desk opens.
(about 4:00am)Since I last wrote, I have been able to find a very nice bathroom, and a bunch of computers that are set up for public wifi use. Praise the Lord! I even got to chat with Allie, although I haven’t made any direct contact with my family (I was able to send them an email).  While I was at the desk of computers, I had my Timor Air verification printout in my hand. When I left to go have my devotions, I forgot it on the desk. For part of my devotions I write out my prayers in a journal (I have found this so effective!), and just as I was asking the Lord to keep me from forgetting or loosing anything, two policemen came riding up on mopeds. Of course, I was rather nervous, and I didn’t really know what they wanted at first, but I had just been asking the Lord to help me to trust Him, so I wasn’t too frightened. In broken and thickly accented English the police asked to check my boarding pass and passport. I gave them my passport and then realized that I didn’t have my verification printout for my ticket to Timor, and I hadn’t gotten my boarding pass  yet, so I didn’t have that either. I told them right out that I had lost it, but that I thought I might have left it by the computers (praise the Lord for giving me honesty and a good memory!). The policemen walked with me to the computers, and sure enough, there were my papers, however, a couple Asian men had been having a discussion and had used my papers for drawing diagrams and making calculations. Thankfully the policemen just laughed, gave me my documents, and told me exactly where I needed to go to get my boarding pass. And that’s where I am right now; sitting in front of the counter that issues boarding passes, waiting for it to open, because nothing is open at four in the morning. Lol! PtL! Praise the Lord for answering prayers just as they are being written.   


So far, the latest adventure has been my laundry. The Grilo’s have a maid who cleans their house and does their laundry. You put your laundry in a basket; the lady comes, takes the basket, washes the clothes, and supposedly returns all the clothes. Supposedly. Oh, and by the way, she doesn’t speak English or Portuguese, only Tetum.
Shortly after I arrived, I turned in my first load of laundry. I sent in all the clothes I had travelled in: my new jacket, my nice black skirt, everything. My new work out shorts and my favourite Canadian t-shirt also went in the pile. A fair amount of my meager wardrobe, not to mention a large portion of unmentionables, was taken away by the cleaning lady, never to be seen again. At least not yet, I haven’t completely given up hope. Paulo and Ruth are trying their best to get to the bottom of this bottomless laundry chute, and I’m praying that they’ll be successful. As for now, Timor Plaza, here I come! If only Timor Plaza was an American mall with American quality clothes…


One thing that has truly amazed me here is how easy it is to get people to smile. In the states I have a little game I like to play. I smile at people in stores or walking down the street, or even people I know, and try to see how many people will smile back. This game is really hard to play in America. Hardly anyone ever smiles back, and it can be discouraging.
When I came here, I didn’t play the game intentionally, at first. I play it so much at home that it has become a habit. What made me remember the game was when people would smile at me as we drove down the street. I realized that whenever I smiled while looking out the car window, everyone who caught my eye would smile back. If I wasn’t smiling, people would just stare blankly (and blank stares can be scary, haunting, annoying…it depends on who is staring). When I did smile though, it was so lovely. Little children would smile and wave and the tired faces of old women would light up.
And everyone would smile. I found it so incredible. Here, where little babies run around naked and teenagers look like they are seven because of malnutrition; here, where the birth rate is high, the literacy rate is low, and half the population lives under the poverty line ; here, in all the filth because of a great lack of clean water; here, people smile. Yet in America, where people have running water, electricity, food, BMW’s, blackberries, Wii’s, iPods, iphones, ipads, and a host of other material things, I rarely see a smile.
I have so much to be thankful for, yet I complain or think that I don’t have enough while these people smile through their trials. It is my prayer today that Jesus will help me not take for granted the blessings He has given me, and that He will show me how I can share Him and His blessings with others, even through a smile. J


Another thing I've had to learn about here has been the doors. To open the double doors to the house, you have to push on the door that you don’t want to open, and then the door that you do want to open will swing open towards you by itself. Then there are the sliding glass doors that looked to me like regular doors. I tried and tried to open them, only to see my young student slide them open with ease a few minutes later. And my bathroom door! I have to hang all my weight on it to get it to latch shut. It’s all so strange. Yet the strangeness of these doors has made me think of another strange thing: humans.
Some open up without even being touched while others need you to hang all your weight on the door to their heart before they will let you in. As I’ve learned to adapt to the doors in my new house, I pray that the Lord will teach me how to open the hearts of the people of my new country and culture. May He give me, through prayer and faith, not only the keys to the doors of heaven, but also the keys to peoples’ hearts.

Toilet Trials

Before I came to Timor-leste, I read a post about Asian toilets on Allie’s blog (Allie is a friend of mine who worked here last year). She said something about a bunch of buttons on the toilet and not knowing how to flush it. After reading her post, I thought I was prepared.
The first time I stepped into the bathroom, I noticed that the toilet was different. It didn’t have millions of buttons like the one Allie encountered, but I still wasn’t sure how to flush it. Later, when it came time to use this complicated device, I was relieved to find a little lever that looked just like what we American’s use to flush the toilet. Proud of my investigation skills and thankful for the wisdom Allie had shared with me on the art of flushing an Asian toilet, I confidently pressed down the lever, deciding to leave all those silly buttons alone. Immediately two little sticks shot out of the back of the toilet and started spraying water at me. First one would squirt a jet of cold water, then the other, then the first one, back and forth and back and forth, right at me. Quickly, I shielded myself from the offending spray with one hand while I pushed the lever with the other. Thankfully, the two water guns retreated. I had won my first fight with an Asian toilet, although my pride was severely dampened.
So, a rather wet Miss Teacher had to go ask her student how to flush the toilet, and the answer was those sneaky old buttons after all. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finally Made It!

Dili: Getting off the plane in Dili was like being in a movie. They opened the door of the plane, I stepped outside, went down the stairs, and then walked across the pavement to the customs/security/immigration station. I’ve never gotten off of a commercial flight like that, and it was really neat. I was really nervous going through immigration because there were some parts of my paper work that I had left blank because I just didn’t know what to put there (like my address in Dili, I still don’t know what it is! Lol). Praise the Lord though, I kept praying and things went really smoothly. I got a visa, found my luggage, went through security, and was warmly welcomed by the Grilo family. Miguel welcomed me in the traditional Timorese way by putting a hand woven stole around my neck (like getting a lei in Hawaii).
After meeting at the airport we went immediately to the house. I couldn’t have asked for better. My room here is almost twice the size of my room at home, I have a queen size bed, my own bathroom, and it is all so beautiful. I’m going to learn how to put pictures on here so that I can show you. The ceilings are high and the doors are all wooden and very tall.  The floors are tile, and there is a little courtyard and a very nice in-ground pool.
First I unpacked. Then we ate a very nice meal (with your favorite kind of mushrooms daddy! Lol), I took a shower, and then I took a nap. I didn’t think I would be able to sleep, but the next thing I knew, Ruth was waking me up and it was 8:00pm - time for her friend’s birthday party (they gave me the option of not going, but I couldn’t resist the adventure, and I want to be exposed to as much Portuguese as possible).
The restaurant was gorgeous. Candle light, Lebanese and Thai food, and lovely flowers and decorations: all right on the beach. I could even see the stars and the moon (hey livie, I saw the moon, the moon saw me;) and the sound of the waves was so nice. I could write more, but it is 11:30pm over here(7:30 am at home).  So, Buena noite!


Japan: In Japan, I was a little bit unsure of myself going through security and finding my gate, but the Lord led me exactly where I needed to go, and even delayed my flight so that I had time to Skype my family while I waited at the gate. I also got to watch the sunset, and that was really beautiful.

From Japan to Singapore: Immediately when I sat down for the flight to Singapore, I felt exhausted. I don’t know if that was what made the difference, but my second plane was so much more comfortable than my first one. I had been perfectly content with my first flight, but this one was lovely. The seats were bigger and cushier, they reclined more, I had more leg room. There was more than enough room for me to curl my legs up in my seat and fall asleep. It was torture to wait for takeoff, but I couldn’t recline my seat until we reached a certain altitude.  When we were finally high enough, they wouldn’t turn the lights off. For the first couple hours of the flight they went up and down the aisles again, offering me food and jewelry and lotion, filling my water bottle, and making all sorts of announcements. They brought me another Asian vegetarian meal, and this one was similar to the last, except that the hot dish was actually good. It had rice and lentils and greens and mushrooms ( I thought of you, Daddy, and of Gina, lol). I ate even less of this one than of the last one though, because I just wasn’t hungry.
Another thing about my second flight was the TV. I turned mine off, but no one around me seemed to be tired. Screens flashed and flickered the whole time, and it was highly annoying, but I did manage to sleep a lot.
Landing in Singapore was quite lovely. It was dark (around midnight), but I couldn’t see the stars because of the clouds. Then I thought I saw some stars through a break in the clouds, but the stars were below me. Were they reflections? As we dropped lower (which was also interesting, we were descending and I had not seen any land yet), I could see the reflection of the lights in the water. They were little boats. Hundreds of them dotted the calm sea, some small and white, others larger and nearly orange. The effect was ethereal. The sky and sea blended into almost the same color, and the “stars” floated peacefully beneath me, seemingly unaware of anything outside their circles of light. 

Timor: My Newest Adventure

Sorry it has been so long. These next few posts were written a few days ago but I couldn't post them until now. Most of them were written while I was sitting in the Singapore airport for about eight hours.

I have promised many of you that I would keep a blog of my travels and adventures, and yet as my friends read this, some of you are thinking to yourselves, “Travels? What travels, what adventures?” I would have asked the same questions if someone had mentioned this journey to me a few months ago, but now as I sit in an airport on the other side of the world, this adventure is very much a reality. This has been a rather quick change of plans, but the Lord seems to enjoy surprising me.
 I’m on my way to home-school a little boy on the island of Timor for ten months. He and his family are Seventh-day Adventist, Portuguese, and very nice. Allie Wahlman worked for them last year and had a great experience, and now I’m continuing what she started.  I’ll be using the Griggs home-school program, and that is a pretty comprehensive overview of what I know about this mission.
I call it a mission because I know I’ve been called. New things are always appealing to me, but leaving everything that I know and committing to something I’ve never tried is a bit of a stretch for me. Especially because I already had plans for this year - I was going to go to Weimar. The Lord seems to like teaching me to trust Him down to the last minute though, and He certainly caught me by surprise this time. Not long before grad at FA, my friend, Ceri, told me about this position and asked if I was interested.  I honestly didn’t think it would work out, but I said I would look into it. Like I said, I enjoy new things.
From that day until now the Lord has been leading me. I fasted and prayed, and He listened to me. I asked for a sign, and He gave me one that was almost too clear to believe and certainly too clear to ignore. He worked out the details while I watched Him in awe, and even now, as I’m traveling by myself, His care and calling give me peace. I know that this is the mission that the Lord has for me right now.
And right now I’m almost there. May the Lord empty me, fill me with Himself, and use me to glorify His name.  

My First Solo Flight

Somewhere over the Pacific: I’m sort of in a daze right now, so it’s hard to remember what my first flight was like, but I do know that it really wasn’t that bad. The whole time both my seat partner and I were in and out of consciousness, and I ended up quite rested by the time I got to Japan (despite the fact that all 10 hrs of the flight were spent in broad daylight). When I wasn’t sleeping, the flight attendants were filling my water bottle and giving me funny food. My mom ordered me an Asian vegetarian meal, and I guess this was Asian, but I think it was more like American-Asian. There was bread and butter (since when is that Asian?) some sort of cucumber salad, a couple pieces of fruit, some over seasoned soggy tofu, oily noodles, and oily fried veggies. I ate some of it. Then, just a couple hours later, they brought me the whole thing again, except that this time the veggies were cold and inside the bread (have you ever heard of a cold, stir-fried veggie sandwich?). Hmmm…mom’s GF granola bars were quite tasty and homey. Thanks, Mom! :)
My seat partner was a very nice Japanese lady, probably ten years older than me, although we got along quite fine and I don’t think she had any clue how old I really am (note: when you travel by yourself, people think you’re older than you are and that you just have really young looking skin, just happen to be one of those lucky people that always has a baby face, etc. at least in my experience, lol). We talked about Several different things, she gave me here email and invited me to visit her the next time I come to Japan, and we parted ways. 

It All Started in Seattle...

Here come some of my experiences on my way to Dili.

Seattle:  So, I thought I knew what I was doing. I got to my gate without a problem, hooked up to the wifi, and tried sending my mom an email from my new Samsung Galaxy. I even filled up my water bottle at a nearby fountain. I thought that it was odd that another flight was boarding at my gate so close to when my flight was supposed to board, but I shrugged off my suspicions and kept figuring out my phone. Someone said something over the speaker system about two passengers who were about to miss their flight and have their bags taken off their plane. I felt bad for them, thankful that I still had another thirty minutes till I was supposed to board. “Katly Atua, Katly Antuna? This is the final boarding call for your flight. Katly Antuna.” Adrenalin started pumping through my veins. That was my name they were calling! Grabbing my laptop, phone, violin, and other various things that I had taken out I rushed over to the desk by my gate. The lady there quickly explained that what I thought was boarding time was actually departure time! Praise the Lord for getting me on my first flight for this incredibly long and intimidating journey to the other side of the world. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bindweed and gophers

The Lord blessed me with another lesson from the garden this afternoon. I was weeding again, and if weeds were people, the garden paths would've been covered in blood. Firmly planted wherever it could find a bare spot of ground was a very tenacious intruder: bindweed. With a hand rake and my own bare hands I attacked the creeping plants. Soon vines, leaves, and other plant parts were flying over my shoulder and freshly tilled ground was appearing where tangled weeds had been. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that I've had to go to battle in my own garden. As soon as I turn my back the remnants of roots that I have missed start to grow and spread all over again.
While I was thinking and weeding, I started wishing that these weeds would be more like the gophers that recently moved into our neighborhood. My dad has taken up the practice of bringing his gun out with him when he works outside. After a while curious little critters start peeking out of their holes and scampering around. Needles to say, they don't scamper around very long. When my dad is done with his target practice he picks up the rodents by the tail and deposits their remains in the entrances of their holes (I know, this is really morbid, but I got a great object lesson from it, so just wait). Then he puts his gun away and that is that. There are that many less gophers and that many less gopher holes, because a gopher is not about to use a tunnel that has another gopher's corpse in it (yuck!). So I was thinking, if only the bindweed wouldn't come up again where I killed it the first time. If it would just learn its lesson and go somewhere safer, after a while I would be done with it. But bindweed is courageous (or maybe brainless...), and it doesn't let the dangers of the past keep it from growing in the future. When it is kicked out, it comes back with more persistence. When it is cut down, it grows with more vigor. When it is poisoned, it renews itself. This made me think of a verse.
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
I don't want to be persistent in evil like the bindweed, but I do want to let the memory of my Lord's sufferings give me endurance to do what is right even when persecuted. Unlike the gophers that are so easily scared away from their homes, I want to claim more territory for Christ and expand His kingdom like the tenacious bindweed.
In just a couple weeks I'll be heading overseas to spend a year as a student missionary, and I know that there will be plenty of opportunities for perseverance in the face of difficulty while I'm there, but I can be persistent at home too. When I don't get upset with my sister, when I do my household duties without being told, when I study and practice music diligently, I'm practicing perseverance in what is right. It is faithfulness in the little everyday things that prepares me for the big things ahead. After all, "life is chiefly made up, not of great sacrifices and achievements, but of little things" (from somewhere in Help in Daily Living by E.G. White). I'm nowhere near capable of the tasks that the Lord has for me in the future, and the devil will be trying to trip me up all along the way, but I do know that Jesus is stronger than the devil, and that in each day He gives me ways to train for the trials ahead. May I see each burden as another way to make my spiritual muscles stronger, and may I see each opportunity for doubt as an opportunity to strengthen my faith. May I grow like a bindweed.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Gift

"I have the gift, and I give the gift to Ruth and Loralee and Olivia. Who has the gift?" As I was having my devotions this morning, memories of this game, "the gift," came to mind. To all you poor people who don't know the secret of the gift game, I'm not going to spoil it for you, keep trying to figure it out, but I wanted to share a little lesson that occurred to me for the first time today.

Christ has given us an immeasurable gift. The gift of redemption and of eternal life. If we really have His gift, it will change us and fill us and pour out to others.

 As the plan of redemption begins and ends with a gift, so it is to be carried forward. The same spirit of sacrifice which purchased salvation for us will dwell in the hearts of all who become partakers of the heavenly gift. Says the apostle Peter: "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Said Jesus to His disciples as He sent them forth: "Freely ye have received, freely give." In him who is fully in sympathy with Christ there can be nothing selfish or exclusive. He who drinks of the living water will find that it is "in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The Spirit of Christ within him is like a spring welling up in the desert, flowing to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish, eager to drink of the water of life. It was the same spirit of love and self-sacrifice which dwelt in Christ that impelled the apostle Paul to his manifold labors. "I am debtor," he says, "both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise." "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."  {5T 730.4} 

So this morning, I thought to myself, "Do I have the Gift?" Yet perhaps a better question would be, "Have you received the Gift? Have I shared my Gift with you?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Yesterday was another lovely day at home. It was especially nice because I started it with a morning run (went on another one this morning, I think I'm getting addicted). Anyway, this running thing must be contagious, because yesterday afternoon as I worked in a friend's garden my thoughts started running too.
I just couldn't believe how many rocks were in the soil. The soil itself wasn't very rich, and then there were so many rocks in it that when I first saw the garden I thought it was planted in gravel rather than soil. As I hoed away at the weeds I couldn't help but think that even though the weeds were quite plentiful, the garden would fare better if I just went through and raked up all the rocks. If this was my garden, there wouldn't be this many rocks in it. I would have raked them out before I planted. As thoughts like these floated through my mind the Lord impressed an object lesson on my heart.
There are rocks in my garden. Lots of them, and often I get to busy to remove them or I don't even notice them. Distractions and idols clutter my heart, making it hard for the love of God to grow there, yet somehow allowing the weeds of sin to take root. Do I eagerly rake out the rocks so that Christ can grow in me, or do I hang on to the earthly things that I seem to love so much? I think I'm going to go rake my garden.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Today was my first day at home after graduating from Fountainview Academy, and home is more wonderful than I remembered. I woke up later than I'm used to, but it was still cool and misty because it had rained in the night. I tossed on my favorite zip-off pants, my old running shoes, and a hoodie, grabbed my sister and a warm water bottle, and went for a hike.
The hike wasn't too long, but it was pretty. Our acreage is at about 3000 ft of elevation, so it's a bit cooler around here and summer hasn't really arrived yet (right now I'm in our living room wearing a wool sweater and sitting by the crackling fire in our wood stove). Outside it's rather chilly, but the grass is tall and wet and green, and the spring flowers are still coming out.
After our little jaunt, my sister and I had our devotions and started on our day. I got a lot of violin practice done, and that felt good. I think the highlight of the day was this evening though. I helped mom make a traditional African meal of fresh garden veggies over cornmeal for supper, and my sister and I got to do an experiment for dessert. I've never made vegan/gluten free rice crispies before, and it's been so long since I had the real kind that I'd almost forgotten what they tasted like. Providentially, my little sis had some vegan marshmallows that she wanted to finish up, and we had some rice checks that I figured would be just as good as rice krispies.
At first they looked a little sketchy. Vegan marshmallows don't melt exactly the same as normal ones, they don't get quite as soft, so the cereal was rather difficult to mix in. My familiy laughed when they saw me trying to mix and shape the sticky mess. Some of my friends take pretty pictures of the food they make, and my sister thought I should do it too, but I thought I'd better not. It might be embarrassing.
I wish I could have a link here that made some of my rice crispies pop out of your computer screen and into your mouth when you clicked on it. They were so good. Childhood memories of sleepovers, birthday parties, and picnics floated through my mind as I chewed on my perfect little treat. It was sweet but not sickening, and the crunchy chewy balance was perfect. I'll have to make them again.
Praise the Lord for such a fun day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


They said, "The Master is coming
To honor the town today,
And none can tell at what house or home
The Master will choose to stay."
And I thought while my heart beat wildly,
What if He should come to mine,
How would I strive to entertain
And honor the Guest Divine!

And straight I turned to toiling,
To make my home more neat;
I swept, and polished and garnished,
And decked it with blossoms sweet.
I was troubled for fear the Master
Might come ere my work was done
And I hasted and worked the faster,
And watched the hurrying sun.

But right in the midst of my duties
A woman came to my door;
She had come to tell her sorrows
And my comfort and aid to implore,
And I said, "I cannot listen,
Nor help you any, today;
I have greater things to attend to."
And the pleader turned away.

But soon there came another -
A cripple, thin, pale and gray -
And said: "Oh, let me stop and rest
A while in your house, I pray !
I have traveled far since morning,
I am hungry and faint and weak;
My heart is full of misery,
And comfort and help I seek."

And I cried, "I am grieved and sorry
But I cannot help you today.
I look for a great and noble Guest,"
And the cripple went away;
And the day wore onward swiftly -
And my task was nearly done,
And a prayer was ever in my heart
That the Master to me might come.

And I thought I would spring to meet Him,
And serve Him with utmost care,
When a little child stood near me
With a face so sweet and fair -
Sweet, but with marks of teardrops -
And his clothes were tattered and old;
A finger was bruised and bleeding,
And his little bare feet were cold.

And I said, "I'm sorry for you -
You are sorely in need of care;
But I cannot stop to give it,
You must hasten otherwhere."
And at the words, a shadow
Swept o'er his blue-veined brow -
"Someone will feed and clothe you, dear,
But I am too busy now."

At last the day was ended,
And my toil was over and done;
My house was swept and garnished -
And I watched in the dark - alone.
Watched - but no footfall sounded,
No one paused at my gate;
No one entered my cottage door;
I could only pray - and wait.

I waited till night had deepened,
And the Master had not come.
"He has entered some other door," I said,
"And gladdened some other home !"
My labor had been for nothing,
And I bowed my head and I wept,
My heart was sore with longing -
Yet - in spite of it all - I slept.

Then the Master stood before me,
And His face was grave and fair;
"Three times today I came to your door,
And I craved your pity and care;
Three times you sent me onward,
Unhelped and uncomforted;
And the blessing you might have had was lost,
And your chance to serve has fled."

"O Lord, dear Lord, forgive me !
How could I know it was Thee ?"
My very soul was shamed and bowed
In the depths of humility,
And He said, "The sin is pardoned,
But the blessing is lost to thee;
For, comforting not the least of Mine,
You have failed to comfort Me."

- Emma A. Lent