Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oh, ye of little faith!

On Tuesday, Kelly and I drove around visiting all our families. We have moms with new babies, women about to become moms, and people with needs too many to count.

Toward the end of the afternoon, feeling pretty exhausted, we went over to the sewing room to straighten up.Crowds of women, shelves of fabric, bins of yarn, boxes with files -- it can get pretty crazy in there! As we worked, we discussed the new sessions we'll be starting on Monday. Kelly is going to run our yarn circle.

Big problem -- the yarn bin was almost empty. She wants to begin by asking the women to make baby blankets. I told her we would have to go buy yarn in "baby" colors, and that was going to cost a bundle.
Meanwhile, the Women on Missions group at our partner church, First Baptist of Camdenton, Missouri, had recently sent us three boxes. I told Kelly that Mary Lou and Dori had called to tell me they were sending these boxes filled with cotton fabric already pre-cut into squares for our patchwork projects.
I showed Kelly the first box, and sure enough, there were the patches. My heart filled with gratitude toward those precious women.

Then I opened the next box. Not fabric but . . . YARN!
And most of it was . . . you guessed it . . . "baby" colors!
Weeks ago, before we knew what we would be doing on February 24th, and before we knew what we would need for our next classes, God was already at work. Providing for our needs -- that's what He does best.

As Mission Service Corps volunteers, Tim and I raise our own support. Or I should say -- our Father provides it. We laughed when we heard a speaker talk about MSC last week. He said, "Other missionaries are paid for being good. We are good for nothing."

Just when doubts and fears about the future begin to get the better of me, the Lord reminds me that He called His name Jehovah Jireh -- God provides. And He sure does!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The great commission . . .

Tim and I left Atlanta and drove to Savannah, Georgia, on Wednesday, February 18. We were excited to receive training and commissioning from our sending agency, the North American Mission Board. We loved our brief side-trip to the Atlantic shore, but it was cold! We're planning another stay when it's warmer.

We enjoyed visiting the Savannah Baptist Center, where -- to my surprise and joy -- I discovered a women's sewing program. This lady made the elegant outfit she's wearing. With pride, she showed us the tailored suit she was sewing -- lining and all! I was impressed.They have a much bigger room than ours, and look at all that fabric . . .
and all those sewing machines!
The class in Savannah stitches lap blankets as their first project.
Each blanket and garment carries a special tag. I came away inspired with lots of great ideas.
Sunday morning, we drove to First Baptist Church, Pooler, Georgia. I haven't seen one of these record boards in years. Does that ever bring back memories! The pastor preached a sermon that helped clarify what Tim and I were sensing the Lord was telling us.
On Sunday evening, all 144 missionaries and chaplains gathered at First Baptist Church, Rincon, Georgia. Children carried flags from every state and Canada. We posed with the young man who held the New Mexico flag, our former home state.
During the service, we had the opportunity to tell the congregation about our work in Atlanta with refugees and immigrants.As we stepped off the stage, fully commissioned, we felt like we were nine feet off the ground!
Afterward, we celebrated with longtime friends, like Tim Yarbrough. He leads the Acts 1:8 program at NAMB. Tim made the trip from Atlanta to witness our commissioning.
We had made so many new friends, it was hard to say goodbye. God put us together with this wonderful couple again and again throughout the week. They are Donna and Ron McCullough. She runs a food distribution center in Alabama.
This woman directs the international student program at a university in Vancouver, Canada.
One of our hardest goodbye was to Pastor Charlie, who plants churches in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Every night, he sang the blues for us in the lobby of our hotel. A Vietnam war veteran, Charlie was permanently crippled by a mortar blast at age 22. You would never guess the pain he suffers, because he smiles all the time -- even when singing the blues!
Our hotel was filled with orchids everywhere. To me, they became a symbol of God's majestic design and His love for all His creation -- from the mightiest oceans to the tiniest orchids. The lilies of the fields, Jesus told us, never worry about what they will wear, nor do they labor or spin. Yet, not even King Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. These bromiliads reminded me of my childhood in Kenya. That's where I first learned about Jesus and His amazing grace and mercy. I thank my parents for teaching me about God's love and for modeling His compassion in all they did. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina]"> the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

Terrific Tuesday!

This past Tuesday was BUSY!

As usual, the children swarmed Kelly as we went from home to home visiting our refugee friends.
These children all gather to play -- usually on the floor.One mother was in the hospital for the second time in a month. She had surgery, and we helped transport her to and from the hospital. I did some Swahili translation for the staff, making sure we had everything in order. Please pray for our refugees. Many are in poor health.
Kelly and I also dived into some fun at my house! Holly Springs Baptist Church in South Carolina brought baskets and baskets of necessities for us to distribute among the refugees.
We sorted them by category and then labeled baskets for each family. We have several babies due in March, so we were happy to see diapers, wipes, and other baby items. Thanks Julie and Holly Springs! We love you!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day at Fort Benning

We were giving -- and GETTING -- whole lotta love on Saturday, February 14. We drove more than two hours south from Atlanta to Fort Benning.For several years now, we've been giving away copies of my book The Loved One. It's about a mom whose son one day announces that God has called him to enlist in the Army -- instead of accepting a full scholarship to Yale. You can probably guess her response.
I co-authored the book with my dear friend, Peggy Stoks. While writing it, I worked through my understanding of patriotism and sacrifice.
I'm always deeply moved by the people we meet at our military bases. We see retired couples whose service dates back to the Korean War and the Vietnam War. And we see strong young men who are leading our troops with great courage today.
We see people of many races and nations. This weekend we met soldiers from Peru and Colombia. Loving couples strolled through the PX arm-in-arm. Beautiful!
I hear so many fascinating stories from these special men and women. It makes me proud of the United States and her role in protecting freedom. A mother's eyes fill with tears as she talks about her son, and I sense her struggle to accept the mixture of pride and fear that fills her heart.

Let's keep praying for our servicemen and women -- and their families.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beading begins . . .

Beading began with a bang today. I had sent word about the new class through the Somali and Bhutanese grapevine, but I didn't know how many women might show up.You guessed it! Women came pouring into Clarkston Community Center. The teacher had planned for six students. She created neat tool kits, labeled bags, and beads.

Within a few minutes, her class list grew to nine and spilled over. Our teacher proved her spunk by immediately agreeing to start an afternoon class. That one, too, filled up fast. Now we have yet another waiting list at The Refugee Sewing Society.

I loved watching our new teacher explain beading. It's hard enough when the women aren't looking at you because they're so focused on their work. Try catching their attention when you're speaking in English and they all speak Nepali or Somali!
The intense concentration of these women thrilled me. I can already tell the beading classes are going to be richly blessed by God.The women learned how to work with two kinds of pliers.
By the end of class, each woman had created several sets of lovely earrings.
Meanwhile back in the sewing room, Dhaka and several other women arrived to make market bags. We're increasing the size, so things are a bit confusing. I love the way our women comfortably use the floor for measuring and cutting.I had gone to our discount fabric store earlier in the week and purchased a bunch of new fabric. Tim Cummins with the North American Mission Board reimbursed that big expense. Thank you to everyone who contributes to Whirlwind Missions!I came home with my new fabric to discover that the Women On Mission group at First Baptist Church Camdenton Missouri had sent us THREE big boxes of fabric! Wow -- that was big excitement for me. Thanks so much, ladies!

God continues to surprise and amaze us. We are so grateful for new teachers like Ruthie North and Shirley Thomas. We're blessed with volunteers like Margaret, Amy, and Crystie. We're thankful for wonderful partners like the North American Mission Board, Whirlwind Missions, Intown Community Church, Clarkston Community Center, and many others. We couldn't do this without you! May God bless you.

And we love YOU, our readers and supporters, for sending fabric, yarn, and beads!

Speaking of love . . .Andrei baked this gorgeous brownie heart for me for Valentine's Day. Tim presented it along with a beautiful rose from him.
The heart is covered with chocolate, pink and white icing and studded with chocolate kisses. Wow . . . I think I'll go have a slice right now!

Love to all of you from all the Palmers!