Awesome Staff

The staff members on Crystal Cruises are truly wonderful.  I loved meeting them and learning where they came from.  One special event that I attended was the “Mozart Tea.”  It was really special–the music, food and costumes.

I had seen the man on the right previously–he’s from Peru, where I have been to visit sponsored children.

This man at the piano was dressed like Mozart and played beautifully.

The snacks were incredible.

Here are many of the other staff members we met–all were so nice and special in various ways.  This man kept the decks clean and is from the Philippines, another country I’ve visited.

Our personal maid is also from Peru and she was great.

We just couldn’t thank them enough for the wonderful service they offered!

 

Firmly Nailed

In honor of our Easter celebration this weekend, today I share another wonderful devotion from Beth Moore.  How beautifully the Old Testament prophesies the coming of Christ!  There are numerous pictures and stories that prefigure the coming of our Savior.  Here’s one:

I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him.  He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.  I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father.  –Isaiah 22:21-23

Now here is what Beth says about this passage:

If you study the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus, you will find that they come in a dazzling variety of forms.  In some places the predictions were clear.  They obviously pointed to the coming Messiah.  In other instances they were veiled.  Join me now as we look at an absolutely fascinating passage–these words that apply so beautifully to Christ at this moment.  In their immediate sense, they were written about Eliakim, the palace superintendent during the Assyrian invasion of Israel, but you can see their ultimate significance in terms of the cross of our Christ.

Note how God said He would give His servant the key to the house of David, opening a door no one can shut.  He said He would “drive him like a peg into a firm place.”  As unfathomable as the process is to you and me, the cross was the means by which God chose to position Christ in the seat of honor for the house of His Father.  The cross is the open door no man can shut.

Isaiah 22:23 says, “I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place” (KJV).  The original word for “firm” in the NIV and “sure” in the KJV is aman: “in a transitive sense to make firm, to confirm…to stand firm; to be enduring; to trust.”

Nothing was accidental about the cross of Christ.  The Son of God was not suddenly overcome by the wickedness of man and nailed to a cross.  Quite the contrary, the cross was the means by which the Son of God overcame the wickedness of man.  To secure the keys to the house of David and open the door of salvation to all who would enter, God drove His Son like a nail in a sure place.  A firm place.  An enduring place.

When God drove His Son like a nail in a firm place, He took the written code, finally fulfilled in His Son, and canceled our debt to it.  With every pound of the hammer, God was nailing down redemption.  — Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 270

Missouri Star

My sister and I spent nearly a whole day at Missouri Star Quilt Company.  It’s an amazing place to visit.  Basically, they took over an entire downtown of a small community and converted every store into individual fabric shops.  It was fun browsing all the different shops.

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All the shops are decorated beautifully, according to various themes.

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There’s even a place for husbands to hang out while they wait for their wives.

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Of course, you can find every kind of fabric imaginable.  We bought a few because the fat quarters were only 88 cents/apiece.

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We took a peek at the sewing center and there were classes going at the time.

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Jenny Doan–the founder of Missouri Star Quilt–was pretty busy because it happened to be their anniversary sale day, but we did have a chance to meet her.  She has created quite the successful business with her online tutorials, retreats, classes, patterns, magazines and fabric sales.

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Muuo’s Dream

We had just arrived at Muuo’s project in Kenya, and now we had a chance to learn more about their ministry, and to meet the very people who support Muuo and over 300 more children through their tireless work.  Here is the Project Director, Julia.

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This is the Pastor, Allen, with an intern, Regina.  2016-07-06-09-36-55_500

We also met social workers and the accountant, as well as other leaders employed locally by Compassion for this particular child development center.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Muuo were having fun with her phone; they were taking selfies and she was showing him some photos from her work at NASA, which he was thrilled to see.

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They showed me Muuo’s file and I was allowed to look at information about his activities at the project, health and academic reports, etc.  Then the funniest thing happened.  There was a standard form in his file that told about his sponsor and correspondent (me).  Some of the blanks were empty and Muuo asked me to fill in the information, since he’d always wondered.  It was my delight to complete the paperwork in person!

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Next they showed me the notebooks where Muuo has been composing his letters to me.  They were almost exactly what I had been receiving from Compassion (obviously, teachers helped with grammar corrections later, but there were few errors).

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They pointed out that they had lots of notebooks, since we have been writing so much, and that this has made Muuo very happy!  It’s been a blessing for me, too, to receive regular correspondences from all my kids.

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I couldn’t have been more pleased, than to think that my short letters to him have been so important in his life.

Now it was time to go to his home and meet his family!  We were all so excited.  This is Muuo’s home and family.

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We also had small gifts for everyone.

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Muuo’s mother gave me a lovely purse.

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Then she showed me her cooking area, and I asked if she minded having her photo taken.  She was very gracious and willing to pose for me.

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I fell in love with Muuo’s sweet, loving parents — Kalalya and Anna, of the Kamba tribe.

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As with Jerica’s family, we freely hugged everyone, not realizing it might have been against normal cultural customs.  But they were very loving towards us, too, just like before.  There’s something special about knowing you have been praying for each other for years, and knowing that you each share concerns and dreams for your own children, and for each others’ families as well.

The kids were adorable!

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We’ll never forget the wonderful opportunity to meet this amazing family.  Their faith is strong; they are loving and generous.  Just like the previous day’s visit, we sensed that they work hard and provide in every way possible for their children. Life is not easy,  but I’m pretty sure they’ve never complained.  They’ve provided a good life for themselves, but through the sponsorship Muuo now has the opportunity to attend school, stay healthy, and realize his dreams of becoming, not a pilot, as he thought in his early years, but a pastor, like his older brother.  This is his greatest dream and motivation now, he tells me, and I’m so very grateful for his faithful sponsor and for the opportunity she’s given me to be his correspondent.  I’ll tell more about the home and project visit in the next post.

 

 

Jerica’s Family

I will never forget the short time we spent with Jerica’s family.  We came with gifts — food, flashlights, necklaces, gum for everyone, a soccer ball, a card game and other items.  2016-07-05-16-37-25_500

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You can see Jerica’s mother here in the blue dress with her husband beside her, looking at the gifts.

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But the greatest gift was meeting this incredible family.

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Here I am with one of Jerica’s grandmothers, Serah, and a great-aunt, Catherine.  2016-07-05-16-53-04_500

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Can anything be cuter than this?
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They also gave us gifts, which I’m sure were either a huge sacrifice or were provided, in part, by the Compassion center.  I couldn’t believe my eyes; they are such precious keepsakes of our time together.

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We were sad to walk back to the car and say good-bye to everyone; our visit was just too short.  However, when Jerica graduated from the Compassion program, I was allowed to share my contact information with her.  We quickly found each other on Facebook and have been able to chat, still, across all these miles (when she’s not in class)!  I asked if I could share about meeting her and the family, and she graciously gave permission, saying she trusts me.

One sad note is that she told me that her father’s sister, Lydia, has since passed away.  Chris managed to capture this amazing photo of her.  Jerica said she “fought her battle well after suffering for quite a long time.”

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I told Jerica to give hugs to everyone for me, especially her dad, in the loss of his sister.  She giggled (on the chat) and told me the family had laughed about the hugs we had given freely to everyone.  In their culture, especially for the older people, it is not common for people to hug openly unless they’re married.  And yet, said Jerica, Chris had hugged her mom and I hugged her dad.  But they took it all in stride–she said her mother gave a “testimony of joy that she let out in church” the next day.  Isn’t that sweet?  Cultural differences can be so funny and, at the same time, special to realize!

I’m truly grateful to God for bringing this beautiful young lady and her family into my life; I am forever changed by her spirit, steadfastness, joy, faith and leadership qualities.  I can hardly wait to see where God takes her with her education, and in what ways she continues to be a blessing to others.

Oh, and I hear that Jerica’s nephew, Alex, is sleeping with the soccer ball we left behind!

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Jerica’s Home

I had just met my precious Jerica, a young woman I had sponsored through Compassion International, and now we were on our way to her home–Chris, Sarah, Jerica, Alex (her nephew), Paul (the Compassion representative) and me.

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We started out by car but soon came to a section of the road that would be easier to walk, as you can see below.

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We loved walking with Jerica, family members, children and goats!

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Very quickly we arrived at the home, and had the wonderful privilege of meeting her family, which I will share about in the next post.

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Aren’t they beautiful?

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These kids are absolutely adorable.

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Meeting Jerica

The most exciting part of our trip to Kenya was meeting our sponsored children.  First, my sweet girl, Jerica.  We had travelled by car for several hours and finally arrived in her village.  I hardly recognized her at first (I thought she was one of the teachers); she was so grown up!  But then we began to talk about some of the letters we’d written to each another, and a bond formed quickly.

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Jerica had excelled in every way at the Child Development Center that Compassion provided.  I started sponsoring her when she was a teenager.  I knew she had lost her sponsor for some reason, and wanted to give her the stability of sponsorship, as well as the letters of love and encouragement that I sent regularly.

This is the wonderful smile that first drew me to her initial child packet years ago.

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I’m so proud of her.  Through the sponsorship, and through her hard work and determination, by God’s grace, Jerica has been released from poverty in Jesus’ name.  This is the latest photo I had received of her from Compassion.

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As a teenager, she rose quickly to positions of leadership in her church and project, working with the youth, leading praise and worship, helping the aged and participating in athletic events.  You can see her in front of a wall that has her name (twice) on the “Scroll of Honour!”

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She’s in university studies now, which has been part of Compassion’s program for students who qualify; studying education, physics and molecular biology.  Isn’t that amazing?

Here we are with some of the staff members that have been a huge part of her success.  This center ministers to at least 370 children in need; teaching them agricultural skills as well as computer skills, providing meals and immunizations, health care, tutoring and Christian discipleship.  I have nothing but great respect and appreciation for these hardworking, loving individuals!

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We had a special time sharing a delicious meal and Jerica’s nephew, Alex, joined us.

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Chris and Alex played on the playground equipment.

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I took a peek inside the church.

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We took tons of photos, of course.

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Then we headed for Jerica’s home with the Compassion representative (Paul) that was hosting our visit.  Before meeting Jerica, we had picked up some groceries for her family, which you will see in the following two posts about the memorable home visit with Jerica’s family.

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