Thursday, July 31, 2008

Six new students!

Do I look tired? Slightly overwhelmed?
Today was a BIG day for me! Very exciting. Terry and I drove around in the pouring rain to meet with potential students. By the end of our visit, I had scheduled six new students!

I'll work with two Burundian women who are single moms and have been in America a while but still need help with English and life skills. I'm thrilled to be a part of their lives.

My third student is the mother of seven. She has struggled in her new homeland. She needs a lot of prayers and great compassion. I'm eager to see how God works in her life.

My fourth and fifth students are cousins who have just arrived from a refugee camp in Tanzania. They are a little bit shy and scared. I know they'll blossom as the weeks go by.

My dear Somali friend is my sixth student. I already love her and can't wait to spend more time with her, teaching her and showing how much God loves her. (photo removed by request)

Thanks for praying for me!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If you plan it, they will come...or not

The different events we have been involved in during our three months at Huntington Ridge have all been pretty well attended. We had no reason to think tennis camp and Vacation Bible School would be any different.
Both events were scheduled to run Monday, July 28, through Thursday, July 31. Then no one showed up for tennis camp Monday or Tuesday. But two precious little girls came to VBS.

Tim had several of the HR children playing tennis earlier in the summer. He hopes to reacquaint them with the sport this fall.
The VBS program consists of crafts, Bible stories and discussion, and a snack. The girls seemed to enjoy the one-on-one attention Monday. We were so pleased when they both returned on Tuesday. It has been an exciting privilege to introduce them to the beloved stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and Jonah and the whale.Our friend Sherry and her handsome baby boy, Wesley, came to help out on Tuesday. Sherry used to live at Huntington Ridge, and she continues to be involved in the community through the after-school program.One thing about dealing with matters of eternity. It’s not the numbers that count, it’s one’s faithfulness in carrying out the Great Commission. Please pray that these children will come to know Jesus as Savior as we continue in Vacation Bible School and beyond.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

To Congo, Burundi and Peru in one day!

The day began with gunshots.

Andrei heard the commotion right outside his window at about 6 am this Sunday morning. The neighbors confirmed the incident. We continue to ask for your prayers for protection.

Where could the day go but up? And up it went! We headed off to church where we worshiped with friends from many countries. We heard and sang hymns in the languages of Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Burundi, and Burma. A whole group of Karen Christians sang. After church, I visited this new little American and her Sudanese family. Have you ever seen such beautiful brown velvet skin?
We took our Burundian friend and her four children home. They had walked to church, but with a baby, twins, and a son all under age five, she needed a helping hand. Andrei enjoyed cuddling the little girl.
As we drove home, we saw that a big fiesta was underway in the parking lot beside our complex. The Fiesta Popular Peruana -- still going strong as I write -- celebrates the independence of Peru.Tents protect people from the fierce July sun.
Booths are set up around the parking lot.Handcrafted Peruvian dolls, flutes, bags and other trinkets are for sale.The food is aromatic and delicious! This woman was wearing her traditional Peruvian hat. Notice her "stars and stripes" bag. She has bridged two worlds.
This young lady looked all of 15. She was really belting out the songs.
As we walked away, we passed this woman. What amazing hair!
And what an amazing day...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to dress like a Somali...

I never know what will happen when I visit refugee friends in the village!
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Today, I had the great joy of taking a nurse from North Carolina to visit in the homes of some refugees. My Somali friend and I are always happy to see each other. She's a strong woman with a no-nonsense attitude. Today, all seven of her children were home and she was feeding the baby when we arrived at her door.

She has lived most her life in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. All the children except her baby were born in the camp. I gave her a set of photographs I had taken of her and the kids on a previous visit. She looked at the picture of herself and shook her head. "Refugee," she told me. "Not good." Obviously this photo reminded her of hard times. (photo removed by request)

When I asked if I could take her picture, she held up a hand in her typical authoritative manner. "Wait!" she told me. In moments, her older daughter had brought a sparkly head covering from the back bedroom.
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My friend put it on and then pronounced herself "ready" to be photographed. A Muslim, she made sure her daughter was properly covered as well.
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When I admired the head coverings, my friend issued another command, and her daughter brought out two packages containing more sparkly cloths.

"Zawadi!" my friend announced in Swahili. "A gift!"

One head covering was for the nurse and one for me. My friend taught us how to put them on. Each one cost $20, she told us. She had bought them at "the Somali store." I've got to find that place!
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Twenty dollars is a lot of money if you're a refugee, and her gift shows the tenderness of her heart. I will always treasure my head covering. But I'll treasure my friendship with this Somali woman even more.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mexican drug cartels move in ... and more

Gwinnett County, where we live, is considered a major hub of Mexican drug traffic. Cartels use the I-85 corridor to move cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States. The suppliers blend easily into the large Latino population here. So what does this mean for us?Safety is a big issue in our lives. Gangs leave their mark on structures in our apartment complex. Police have warned us that guns and drugs can be found in every building here. We need your prayers -- for us and for the many innocent people we have come to love.

The proliferation of undocumented Latinos here has created an outcry against "illegals." Headlines regularly attest to the attempt to push immigrants out of the United States. Yesterday's newspaper reported that truck drivers can be ticketed if they don't speak English well enough to suit law enforcement officials. Letters to the editor in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reflect growing hostility toward our Latino neighbors. In reference to the headline above, one reader wrote in today's paper: "Yet another problem connected with an overpopulation of illegals in our country." Another wrote: "Our taxes have increased and what do we get? Drug cartels running rampant in Gwinnett! Get them out!"

This kind of boiling animosity makes life here hazardous for Latino citizens as well as the undocumented population. Tension is running high. People are afraid. Children live with fear and uncertainty. Meanwhile, we continue to live here and try to show God's face to everyone.

We are not in favor of ignoring the legal system in the United States. At the same time, the immigrants are here, and they need to know the love of Jesus Christ. The world is a much richer place when people of many races, languages and cultures can blend in peace.

Thank you for your prayers on our behalf!

Monday, July 21, 2008

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

We decided to take a day and play “tourist” in Atlanta. We rode the MARTA to the Georgia Aquarium and had a wonderful visit. God's creation amazed us once again.
Tim hams it up with former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young on the walk from the MARTA station to the aquarium. The route passes through Centennial Park, built for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Andrei attempts to pet a stingray in one of several petting pools at the Georgia Aquarium. This pool also contains bonnethead sharks.
One fish, two fish, over 100,000 kinds of fish in the Georgia Aquarium. By careful feeding, an aquarium docent explained to us, keepers are pretty successful at keeping fish from eating each other.
The stars of the Georgia Aquarium are four whale sharks. It is fitting that the world’s largest aquarium -- this tank holds 6.3 million gallons -- should have the world’s largest fish. People can get into the tank and swim along with these gentle giants if they are scuba certified and willing to pay the fee.

We went home and "slept with the fishes," dreaming of fish, fish, and more fish!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You are so beautiful . . . to me!

Sometimes all I want to do is sit with my refugee friends and just look at them. Old or young, small or tall, sticky-face or shiny-face, they are so beautiful to me.

Please gaze into the faces of the people I spent time with today.
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Don't you see the face of Jesus in "the least of these" -- our brothers and sisters from Africa? I do!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Broadus Baptist is Back!

Broadus Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, sent us a new group of volunteers today. The Huntington Ridge children got off the bus from summer school and hurried to the little classroom for crafts, a puppet show, and snacks.Sometimes teams wonder if their visit makes any difference. If you had seen the eager smiles on the faces of Jessica and Angel this afternoon, you would have no doubt. They couldn't wait for the fun to begin!

A big slice of Andrei's latest car cake meant chocolately delight for everyone!
See you tomorrow, team. Great job!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Virginia Visitors!

An enthusiastic church team from Virginia came to Huntington Ridge today to love on our kids and share the good news of Jesus with them. I was surprised and delighted to learn that some members of this group are as young as 14! What a great age to begin reaching out to others in the name of Christ.

The first order of business was to round up kids. Andrei and I walked around the complex knocking on apartment doors with the team. After a puppet show, the team set up a craft project. The one-on-one time is a great opportunity to get to know these precious little ones.
In a quiet time like this, children feel the love of those who have come to share Jesus to "the least of these."
And never forget their moms! When you minister to children, you're touching their mothers' hearts, too.

Andrei shared one of his car cakes with the group. It was pronounced "delicioso" by one and all!

International Health Fair...

On Saturday while Tim was at work, Andrei and I went to an international fair sponsored by Clarkston International Bible Church. The focus of the event was to provide health screenings. But in "the village," any gathering of people is always an international spectacle! CIBC provided the gym where people from all around the world could set up booths. There were flea market-type items for sale. We also saw a display of jewelry from Kenya and gorgeous paintings done by a refugee from Burma.

The best part was the food! We got to sample dishes from Liberian, Karen, Burmese, and several other people groups. Yummy!