Thursday, July 20, 2017

Drawing Closer: Lesson Time

The living, breathing, transforming power of the gospel, understood by children and studied by theologians - it never gets old, sharing the truth of Jesus Christ.

We had 41 children for six days.  12 of them were from Harvest TGM, the others were from the community and surrounding towns.



This object lesson is perhaps my all-time favorite: The Rope Trick
Not only is it highly effective, but also leaves the kids thinking I'm a magician with mad talent.


A Word of the Day for each of the six days kept our focus and provided an anchor for crafts, games and memory verses.  We explored truth together, applied it throughout the week, and memorized a verse for each day.


Rotating groups for lesson, craft and game filled up our mornings.  We then broke into small groups during the afternoon for more specific discussion and interaction. 



I sincerely love watching children ask questions, wrestle with truth in their hearts and come to a better understanding of Jesus.



We had a whole day dedicated to the Word of God (Day 2) and how reading, meditating and memorizing God's word helps us to draw closer to God.

Inspired by points, the kids worked hard on their memory verses; some could quote all six by the end of the week, and we had some long verses!





Day 4 was on Worship: using our voices, lives and our talents to glorify God.  We gave them opportunities to express their God-given creativity and even held a talent show as an avenue to express those gifts.




Worship was a highlight.  A chorus of children's voices praising the Lord is a beautiful sound.



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Harvest Romania '17


How was Romania?

The much anticipated, yet somewhat dreaded question.

Typically I like to have a 30 second "elevator speech" ready when I return from overseas.  The bit that explains the basic questions, a highlight and something little I remember.  I did think about what I wanted to say, but it's so hard for me!

So many memories, little life lessons, smiles, jokes, beautiful scenery, the love of Jesus showcased through His people.

The kids... expressing themselves in broken English, smiling from ear-to-ear, intent faces as they quoted their memory verses, simple child-like prayers that conveyed more meaning than an entire sermon.

The difficult times... utter chaos of kids who can't understand the instructions you're trying to so patiently give, the groans when they see another long memory verse, the hot hot sun, the language barrier.

And then I remember that love doesn't need words, it has a language all its own.  And it's a universal language that everyone can hear and understand.

It's when you smile and remain calm when you feel like shouting, it's giving another hug, watching a soccer game and yelling Bravo! a million times, cheering for another trampoline trick, making yet another sticky s'more (and seeing the delight as they sink thier teeth into thier very first gooey campfire delicacy.

Snippet from one of the young boys on my team.
"Anna, do you know why I love Americans so much?"
"No, why?"
"Because you like to give hugs.  And people here don't do that very much."

Here are some pictures.  I hope to post stories and specific memories soon.



I'm convinced that ice cream/gelato brings people together!



Quick bite to eat on the bus as we head to the camp!



Craft time!



My fabulous team: Aquamazing
We divided the 41 kids up into 6 teams for small groups throughout the week.
Each team had a bandana that represented their team color.



Smiles all around!



The camp theme was all about drawing closer to God.  We talked about God Himself, the Word of God, Prayer, Worship, Fruit of the Spirit, and being doers of the Word.
Yes, I think I can pronounce all of those words




Group selfie, with a selfie stick of course.




Monday, June 12, 2017

Romania Update

Ice coffee in one hand, Bible in the other - Romania prep is real!

June 22nd is fast approaching, and I wanted to give you a quick update.


Plans are falling in to place and our team is hustling to get everything prepped and ready for when we fly out next week!  Funds are coming in (thank you from the bottom of my heart!) and the packing is about get real - or maybe it should be getting real, but I normally don't begin until the last min because I can't handle the anticipation of having an open suitcase in my room.

I absolutely love love love the theme for our week with the kids.  It's all about drawing closer to God - what it looks like to cultivate a relationship with God, and practically how they as children form habits and patterns to grow daily in their walk with Jesus.

I volunteered/was volunteered to partner with Daisy (teammate) to write the lessons and teach them during the camp, (hence the coffee and Bible).  Bible reading, prayer, worship, fruits of the Spirit, being doers of the Word... each day we'll talk about a different way to grow closer to God.  It's been challenging to dig into these disciplines, and encouraging to realize that all these aspects can be developed and experienced by young children.

I think back to the very first journal my dad gave me.  I was probably seven years old, and I loved that purple little book.  My entries weren't deep and profound - they included a verse I pulled from my daily reading, an application or question and a prayer request.  Simple yes, but it instilled within me a habit of reading the God's Word daily and learning to apply it to my life.
My heart is excited to be able to encourage these kids to begin or continue these basic and life-chaning habits.

Prayer Update
Pray that God would be preparing hearts - both our own and the kids'
Pray that God would guide my heart as I prepare the lessons
Pray that God would continue to unify our team and the Romanian team

Thank you for your prayers and support!

"Draw near to me and I will draw near to you." 
James 4:8

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Romania, 2017

God is building His church - all over the world!

I am so blessed to be able to serve on the Global Impact Team here in my local church, Harvest Bible Chapel Lancaster (HBCL).  We work with the elders to serve our overseas church plants, plan events and trips, and anything else related to missions work.

HBCL is committed to raising up leaders, planting churches, and establishing believers in their relationship with God.  One of the ways we achieve this is to partner with Harvest churches being planted both locally and worldwide. We began a partnership with Pastor Doru Hriscu in Târgu Mureș (TGM), Romania back in 2015 (Harvest Bible Chapel TGM).

Harvest Târgu Mureș has requested our help in launching their very first kids camp this summer and I have been asked to be a part of the team. We will be heading to Târgu Mureș this summer to work alongside the Romanian church.

Romania Kids Camp, June 22nd - July 2nd, 2017

Of course I was excited to be going to Romania, but when I heard the theme that will guide our week with the kids, I became even more excited.  Târgu Mureș’ first kids camp will begin with an essential theme;
Daily time spent with Jesus - the importance of devotions.

Our team of six will join the kids ministry team in Târgu Mureș in leading a 6-day kids camp at Harghita Christian Camp.  

The camp will be held Sunday-Friday (June 25th-June 30th). 
The number of children will be around 30; 17 from the church, with others invited from outside. Ages 8-14.
Most of the children do speak English, but to a varying degree, so we will be working with interpreters, to some extent.

My dear friends and family, please know that I’m so grateful for the love and prayers I’ve received on a regular basis over the years. I truly desire to live the love of Jesus to people both locally and all over the world.

I am hoping to post prayer updates and progress reports as I have time - so stay tuned.  Hopefully.

If you would be interested in partnering with me financially please visit:  https://harvestlancaster.org/give/missions-team-giving to give a tax-deductible contribution and select “Romania” from the drop-down menu.  



Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 Theme

October 2016 rolled around and I began, with excitement, to pray for my 2017 theme.
Nothing.
November arrived, and I was confident it would come soon.  I kept my ears peeled for anything inspiring that might sound like a theme.
Nothing.
December blew in with a chill and I started to wonder if I was going to just have to pull words out of the air for my beloved theme.

I thought I had my theme early in the year.  I thought it would be one of victory.  Of expectancy.  I wanted a theme that would make my dreams come true.  You see, every year the events of that year oddly enough correspond with the theme; further cementing the truth/idea/lesson that God spoke to my heart.

The Way Up is Down, was for 2016 - this was a tough year.  Full of humility, laying down of desires, giving up of dreams, heartache, longing and learning to seek Jesus in the day-to-day.
I wanted something very different for 2017.

Nothing was coming.  I wanted to have something for Jan. 1st.  I already knew that this year wasn't going to be the kind of year that I was hoping for... My heart was leaning towards Deeper, Live in Love, something similar.

January 1st found me in the car singing along with Meredith Andrews' Deeper, thinking maybe that was it - then I was in church, praying that God would give me something, anything.  The band began to lead us in Good, Good, Father.

As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

And there it was, my new theme for 2017;

Deeper Into Love

Pressing into humility, into the love of Jesus.  Plunging headfirst into what it means to know God.
Soaking in His love, and then finding out what it means to love those in my life.
Not just the kind of love that's easy.  But the Biblical, Jesus, gospel-changing kind of love.

What does that even look like?

I think it's more than just giving a hug, paying it forward in the drive-through line, and showing up for small group.  I'm not sure I understand it completely, but I have the One who defines it, lives it and IS it directing my life.

So here's to a new year...


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Was Sick of Being Single

"I'm sick of being single.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm in the middle."

My thoughts were brutally honest as I shared my heart with Jesus on a Sunday afternoon drive.  It wasn't that I wanted a relationship, or that I was longing for a guy in my life.  I am content in my single state, enjoy the freedom that I have and am grateful for this season of my life (be it however long).
This restlessness came from a lack of purpose, or shall I say impact.  Now, hear me out... this will hopefully make sense.

In Titus 2 Paul gives household order - Older men, older women, younger men and younger women. The older men lead, the older women teach the younger, young men have their families to lead and younger women are instructed to work their homes, submit to their husbands and raise children. Fabulous.  But what about me?  I realize these verses aren't meant to span the entire field of life stages, but I can't deny that I was a little frustrated - because my mind wanders and creates all sorts of questions.

Oh I know, I know there are verses to the single person (1 Cor. 7), but what about the single girls?  I know I'm supposed to pursue Jesus, to be single-minded.  But I wanted a specific purpose, a task, a tangible way to make an impact.

As I was wrestling these thoughts, a couple tears began to pool and I struggled to sort through my feelings.  Then all of a sudden, in my heart, I felt Jesus say to me;
"I love you."
I stopped thinking and let my heart soak that in for a bit.  And then I felt Him say,
"You reflect My beauty."
Once again I thought about that for a moment.  And my life became less about me and my desires and more about Jesus.  I was overwhelmed, and began to ask God "make me more like You! And then I got this;
"I am.  You're single."

It hit me. I began to cry in earnest.  I want to be like Jesus, and pray frequently that He would have His way, and do whatever it takes to reflect His beauty in me.

What if He is using my singleness to make me more like Himself?
What if not having a spelled out "purpose" forces me to seek Him on a daily basis - thus conforming my life to Him?
What if feeling insignificant teaches me that it's not about me, it's only Jesus in me that brings forth anything significant?
What if feeling in the middle brings me to my knees in prayer?
What if not having children allows me to pour into girls around me?
What if not having a husband gives me a special season of intimacy with Christ?

What if these feelings/doubts, this stage of life, are what Jesus is using to make me more like Himself?

Suddenly singleness doesn't feel so purposeless, or less impactful, or less significant.  But rather a special time that God has given me to refine, shape and make me like Him - reflecting His beauty more purely and with greater intensity.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

See Beauty

The beautiful country of Haiti was quickly disappearing beneath us. Those hot sweaty days full of praise and encouragement were in the past.  I began writing down memories and special moments during my time with the Haitian people.  Quickly I began to realize that after each paragraph I would write the simple statement - "It was beautiful."

Jesus was teaching my heart throughout this trip - to see beauty.

After checking into our accommodations the first day, a couple of us went down to look at the ocean.  A palm tree arched across the sky framing the blue ocean tones and casting shadows over a small row boat.  My heart delighted in the beauty of what was in front of me. 



Then I heard voices by my side.  
“Look at all the trash!” 
I brought my gaze closer to shore and realized, to my surprise, that the beach was completely littered with garbage.  It was piled in heaps and scattered across the shore.  A stark contrast, one that I would continually encounter - beauty next to brokeness.


At first glance I hadn't noticed, I was too enraptured with the beauty of the ocean.


I felt Jesus was asking me to look for the beauty, notice beauty, focus on beauty.  He created this land and called it good, He designed these people and loves them.  Of course sin has come into the world, perverting and masking what God originally created, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is beauty in everything God has made.

As I walked through neighborhoods, drove through the crowded cities full of poverty and mess, I couldn't help but see each person differently.  Not a single person was an accident.  Clearly, each human being God creates has value, potential and ability to use their life to glorify God. 

Will I choose to see the beauty that inhabits all of God's creation, or the brokenness that threatens to overcome it?

What will you choose to see?