Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Facing Fear with Faith




Fi Fi Faces Her Fears

We all face things we fear. And, perhaps, children's fears may be more intense. How do we help them through their fears and teach them to trust God? In my children's series, Really Rare Rabbits Book 2: The Secret at Peppermint, there is a tool to help children overcome their fears and learn to trust God. These rare, adorable rabbits take you on a dangerous journey with them to meet their grandfather. On the way, they face their fears and learn to trust God.

As a writer, I reap the benefits of researching Bible principles for my children's books. I spend time praying and searching verses to incorporate in my stories. Those verses inevitably cause me to dig deeper for spiritual nuggets to help children, and in the process my soul gets stretched. My walk with God grows more intimate as I strive to impart God's truth that will impact young lives for Jesus. I love writing for children because I know how their little minds and hearts quickly soak up God's Word.

We all go through storms in our lives or face giant obstacles in our paths. Maybe they aren't the giant green ghosts that my rabbits encounter, but all the same, we cringe when our giants appear. Children also face their giants. Fi Fi trembles when she meets the giants, but she remembers a Bible verse tucked away in her heart. "Don't fear; I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

How about you? Are you facing giants today? Just as I wrote how God's Word helped Fi Fi, it will help you also to overcome your fears.

Don't tremble, trust God to slay your giants.

*Revised editions available in English and Spanish on Amazon.com: links under each book to all three books for Amazon purchase.



English link: https://amzn.to/2Hh2hnJ



Spanish link:  https://amzn.to/2SLGEyc



Monday, March 18, 2019

Faith in Reverse


Andes Mountains, Bolivia

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:8 NIV).

Do you ever look back and wonder how you got where you are and where you're going now? I do, and even more so as the years pass from one decade to another. Funny how age changes your perspective about things like friends, fun, the future, and faith. I look back and think about what is essential in life more than ever. Did I make the best of my opportunities and experiences through the years? Does my faith now give me hope for my future as it did in the past? Does yours?

When we decided to follow God to the mission field, I remember doing just that––following. We put our house up for sale and trusted God to sell it before we left our hometown to begin our journey to our first-time full-time ministry at Sandy Cove Bible Conference––before going into missionary training a year later. I don't remember doubting the house would sell. It did sell––the day we had the U Haul truck packed and ready to leave we signed the contract. Do I have that same faith now?

Friends: Today we have many of the same friends as years ago, and also we have made many new friends. One of God's blessings to cherish––good friends. And, I made a new friend (to me) in the grocery store. This fun happened recently. I'm not sure the new friend agrees that I'm her friend, but I'm guessing she told friends about me that day we met.

Fun: The world thinks of fun in different terms than those who know Christ. It turns to drugs, drinking, and parties for fun. Humor is fun and can be seen in daily circumstances and not just in movies or TV or books. Just the other day, the grocery store became my fun outing for the day. I scurried about the grocery store thinking only of what I needed to purchase in a  hurry (while driving my grocery cart much like an Indie 500 driver). I had Zoey on my mind. Our Shih Tzu baby waited patiently in the car with her babysitter––aka my husband. Get in and get out. As I walked away from the bread bin, a lady started shouting at me. I looked over but didn't recognize her, so I thought she was talking to someone else. More shouting, only louder this time––"You have my cart." And, yes I did! I apologized and went on my way (with a smile in my heart), what fun. So yes, fun is different to me than it used to be because I see the fun in the little things, and they make my day.

Future: Now I'm a senior citizen but not ready to quit what God called me to do until He says so––no word yet from Him. Surprisingly, He just gave me a new job––Worthy Words Press. But, when that day comes, and we are called home to the States, it will be as scary as when we left for the mission field. Why? After 38 years in Bolivia, going "home" now is almost like going to a foreign place––even for furlough. We have no permanent home there, the food is quite different from our daily menu, and everyone there enjoys a different life than ours. And, driving at high speeds makes my curly hair straighten, and my blonde bottled hair turn white underneath the disguise of tint. But, I know when the day comes, the One who whisked me away to a foreign land will somehow make the transition to my homeland as easy as it was transitioning to a "real" foreign land. But, for now, He is still giving me a job to do in Bolivia while I wait for His next calling––wherever that might be, maybe retirement, maybe Heaven, maybe staying where I am. Who knows, maybe working in heaven's grocery store since I seem to have so much fun grocery shopping.

Faith: How can I be sure God will direct my steps for what comes next? Because I've seen Him do it in the past, and I can trust Him again. He is the same as He was in the past, and as He will be in the future. My destination may change, but He will never change. Assurance. Hope. Faith. I can't see my future, but I know the One who directs my steps to get to the future. But, for now, I'm living in the present.

Someday, I may need reverse faith to return to my homeland and I know He will give it to me––just as He gave me faith to leave for a foreign field. We all venture into "foreign fields" along life's journey. Do you know Him and trust Him for your future as well as your present? Can you trust Him to get you to your foreign (to you) field whatever, whenever, or wherever that may be?

Along the way, don't forget to have fun with friends on your journey to the future by faith. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Leftover Loaves


"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish," (John 6:9 NIV).


A little boy gave away his lunch. We gave away our time. I can't forget the day when we offered to use our ham radio to make a call for a friend's friend. It's unforgettable because people keep reminding me of it. A simple act of kindness is still remembered 33 years later by some but otherwise forgotten by me.

Just an ordinary morning. Business as usual at the mission house as my husband prepared to dart out the door to meetings. Then, the unusual happened. A call from a missionary friend asking if he could bring a friend over to talk with us? Nothing unusual about that except his unusual request. His friend wanted a favor. Would Chuck make a ham radio contact with a doctor in Brazil?

Our friend arrived with Fernando, and his sad story unfolded. His wife had a brain tumor. There were no doctors in Bolivia who could perform the surgery. Also, at the time, neither were there phone lines connecting the Amazon areas with the outside world. The weather conditions cooperated in connecting all parties. To our surprise, the doctor recommended a medication before surgery which also didn't exist in Bolivia. He agreed to send the medication. Then, a miracle! Weeks later, the medication completed, another scan and checkup were scheduled. The results, no tumor! 

We became good friends with Fernando and Charo. Together we helped start a church in their house that now thrives with 200 members in a beautiful church building. We are more than friends. We are co-workers for the Kingdom. Last week, they came to visit with their youngest son and his fiancé. During our meal, Fernando again thanked us for that ham radio call. Sincere gratefulness for a small act on our part––33 years ago. A delightful evening with precious saints. The conversation turned to the wedding and Jesse and Dyanna asked if we would be their spiritual parents for their marriage––as we are for Jesse's brother and sister also. It's a custom in Bolivia offered to only closest relatives and friends. We were honored to say yes.  An April wedding, of course, we agreed!

Another day is remembered and recorded in the Bible. Thousands of years later we are reminded of that day because of a small lunch that made a big difference. Do you wonder what difference you make for God's kingdom? Do you think the small things you do don't make a difference? I wonder too if the little things I do make a difference in the big world around me. But, a little boy caught my attention when I read a verse in the Bible. The verse jumped out and wowed me.

A little boy sat in the crowd holding his lunch. Most likely you know the story. A crowd of people needed lunch ––a crowd of 5000 people. The little boy stepped up. John 6:9 says, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish," but how far will they go among so many?" A little can make a big difference. 

Just a ham radio call, but it turned into a long-lasting friendship and the beginning of a church. The little boy only had one small lunch that turned into a large meal for 5000 people. 



Will you step up to Jesus and offer him your small "lunch"? Nothing is too small for our big God! You never know how far your small acts will go––just as the five barley loaves and two small fish multiplied, so will God multiply our small "lunches" for Him. And, with more than enough leftover loaves to share.



Monday, March 4, 2019

Recipes for Breakfast in Bolivia




Buñuelos and Api for Breakfast
One of the most popular Bolivian drinks is api morado, usually referred to as just “api”. Made from purple maize, cinnamon, water and sugar, the beverage is colorful, heavy and delicious. And it makes for a hearty breakfast, especially when accompanied with fritters (buñuelos).

Api is an altiplano drink, popular mainly in the Andean highlands of the country. It makes sense; on cold mountain mornings, there’s nothing better than a steaming hot cup of rich, liquid corn sugar. We tried it a number of times, both in restaurants and from street-side stands. With all the sugar, it might be too sweet for some palettes, and probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but a serving certainly provides plenty of energy for the day.

Purple Corn

Almost 20 years ago, our mission started Christmas trips to remote villages high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia where we are missionaries. My husband and Juan, a Quechua young man who was born in the Andes Mountains, began going to villages high above the tree line. These trips had to be made on quads because the roads ended before arriving to these villages. Then by foot, they reached the final destination––small communities where life is hard, and the people are precious. Twenty years later, we still continue doing this ministry each Christmas, but now with our Bolivian church.

Bread is a delicacy in the mountains. The highest regions don’t have firewood, but a little further down the mountain where there is firewood, flour is scarce. When the kids see bread their eyes light up––just like they do when they see toys. But, just as they readily accept the bread, they also accept the Bread of Life. They are hungry for both––bread to satisfy their tummies, and Bread to satisfy their souls. Every year we share the Christmas story in places where many hear it for the first time. Many now know the Lord.


In the valley and cities below the mountains live the more fortunate––although many still wait to hear of the Savior. But, bread is available and other delicacies as well. Here in the valley where I live, many wake up on Christmas morning to the aroma of Buñuelos frying in hot oil.

What’s a buñuelo, you ask? The sweet aroma in your kitchen of the finished product of this recipe will transport your thoughts to Christmas in the Andes Mountains. Can you imagine presenting a Bolivian donut (buñuelo) to a mountain child deprived of even bread? But, better yet, presenting the gospel to that child for the first time.


BOLIVIAN BUÑUELOS RECIPE:


Buñelos are a popular snack throughout Latin America. While they can be eaten at

anytime, Bolivian tradition sees them eaten on Christmas morning with syrup and hot chocolate.

Buñuelos are a soft doughy sweetbread that is deep-fried in the same way doughnuts are made, with a similar flavor but a slightly more chewy texture, traditionally served drizzled with a syrup or honey. The buñuelos are often puffy with a crispy crust and air pockets on the inside.


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anise
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 cups butter
Molasses to taste
1/2 cup sunflower oil to moisten hands

Preparation:

In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in water, add the fresh yeast, let it stand for about 7 minutes, then add the salt, anise, eggs and flour, mixing it slowly with your hand until you obtain a watery dough. Let the dough stand and rise twice before you start frying in hot oil.

To fry, first spread oil over your hands, take a handful of dough with the fingertips and stretch it into a 4-inch round; rotating the dough occasionally to form a circle. When about to fry, poke a hole in the middle, and put it in the frying pan with a stick (when in the mountains) or the back of a wooden spoon through the hole. Let it acquire a golden brown color on both sides before retiring and leave in a colander to drain away excess oil.


Serve with a jug of hot sugar cane syrup, molasses or honey (or maple syrup) for each person to add the desired amount on the buñuelo. Note: Some Bolivians prefer to eat their buñuelos covered in sifted powdered sugar. Enjoy!


*This is a typical breakfast on our mountain trips. Christmas 2019, the children will receive books as gifts from Worthy Words Press along with buñuelos and api.