I am well known for my non-existent sense of direction. I can get lost in a closet. It is even harder to find my way in Honduras where there are no street names or addresses. Fortunately, I live close to the airport. I just look for a sign to the airport and soon, I am on my way home.
I am studying the Gospel of John right now. John doesn’t write about Jesus’ miracles, instead he writes about His signs. That got me thinking. Signs point you somewhere. The sign isn’t the destination. No, you follow the sign to get to the destination.
I got to thinking about situations I have called miracles, and, indeed they are. However, I wondered how I would think about them differently if I called them signs instead. A few days ago Suzy posted before/after picture of Alex Eduardo. Alex was 14 mos and weighed 11 pounds when he came to us and, the doctor said, was weeks from death from malnutrician.
He is 4 now and doesn’t walk. He jumps! Everywhere! He is healthy, adorable, energetic, sometimes naughty, and full of life. The fact that we got him, how and when we did, and his recovery is a miracle. But what if we look at the same set of events as a sign? What is this sign pointing to? It points to life. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” exactly what a starving baby needed. Jesus, working through many people in Honduras and the US restored Alex’s life. Alleluia!
The other miracle that is harder for me to think about is Yarely. We prayed for the same miracle – the restoration of life that God granted Alex. Instead He gave her and us the miracle of resurrection surrounded by many tangible assurances that He was with us in our grief and that Yarely lives with Him forever.
Can we see Yarely’s death as a sign too? If so, where is it pointing? Again, it is pointing to life. This time, not physical life but, instead, spiritual life, the life Jesus came to give us — His physical life for our spiritual life. Alleluia.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, follow His signs…to life. Everlasting life
It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote an update, so a new one is definitely overdue. Since it has been so long I can’t update you on everything that has happened here, but I can give you some highlights and some things we’re looking forward to coming up.
About two weeks ago we finished up baptism classes with a young boy who lives in the village and he was baptized into the family of God. You know, no matter how many baptisms I witness it never ceases to excite me to see another person accepted into the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Sunday morning that David baptized this boy we had tons of children at church. One of the things we do here that keeps the Anglican schools and churches connected is that we have “Family Sundays”. Each week one class grade is assigned a Sunday where they are expected to show up for church with their family. Usually it means that we have lots of kids who get to participate in the service while also representing the school. Well the Sunday when the boy was baptized was a Family Sunday for one of the younger classes (lots of little kids!). It turned out that there would also be no Sunday school that morning, which gave David the opportunity to call all the kids up to the front of the church for a children’s sermon where he could explain to them meaning of baptism. Now, at the two churches here where we serve the baptism font is at the entrance of the church (representing how when someone is baptized they are entering into the body of Christ). Well as I said we had a lot of little kids at this service and after a sermon about baptism they wanted to see the thing take place. At the end of his sermon David invited all the children to the baptism font (along with the family of the boy getting baptized) so they could see the whole. So many excited little faces! I love baptism probably as much as those kids, so I made sure I ran to the back of the church too so I could see (and get a picture!).
We also have about six kids undergoing classes to get confirmed in the next few weeks and they are just as excited! I remember when I got confirmed I was looking forward to it, but having grown up in a different denomination I had already been taking Holy Communion, so it felt more like I was getting received into the church. Well for these kids it will be the first time they get to take Communion and it is understandably a big deal! While the confirmations have not happened yet, I’m told that many of the girls will even be wearing white dresses and veils! While the clothes don’t matter for confirmations, I think the white dresses are a cool representation of the marriage of Christ and His church.
Since I’m on the theme of classes right now, I’ll keep going! We are also in the process of giving pre-marriage counseling to a couple getting married next month! This is my first time being involved in marriage counseling since going through it with David. While David is doing the teaching, I’m enjoying being part of the discussions. He says I’m there to keep him honest. Ha! That basically means I call him out when he exaggerates … hehe. This couple has been together for thirteen years, so while David and I can share some things about how marriage is going for us, we are also getting to learn from this couple and their family.
We continue to have chapel for the three schools every other week and the university every week. St. Hilda’s and St. Barnabas’ schools actually just had their Harvest Festival services a couple weeks ago, so I have now seen how each school celebrates Harvest. Not having celebrated Harvest in the California I would probably compare it to a much larger celebration of a Thanksgiving Day church service. Big service! All focused on giving thanks for the many blessings God has given us (specifically in the harvest).
Let’s see, how can I update you on the music front? Choir continues to go well. The children’s choir that I have started, while small right now, has gotten a little bigger and is beginning to have regulars. Right now we are working on Christmas music because we are planning on having a Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols next month with the youth choir helping to lead the singing. The kids are very excited! But honestly, who doesn’t love Christmas music? As far as piano lessons, I have not started giving lessons yet, but I’m in the process of figuring how to get teaching materials down here and I’ve started taking names of potential students so I can setup my schedule. I can’t remember if I told you last time, but all the money that comes in for giving lessons will be designated exclusively for the church’s youth fund to help offset expenses for youth activities like youth group, Sunday school, and choir. David and I are very excited to see the excitement of kids and parents alike over the extracurricular music activities we are working to put together.
Now for the more personal things that have been happening. I think the news that has made me the most excited is that my sister is going to come for almost two weeks over Christmas!! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to show her our life here in Belize! And just to see her!! AAHHH I’M EXCITED!! I’m sorry for the all caps … But while in our ministry things have been going so well, and we are very happy, I’ve been dealing sickness and culture shock for weeks now. Since my last update I think I’ve only had one week where I wasn’t sick. In case you were wondering, when you move to a new country you catch every single cold. As in, if one person in the country is sick I’m going to catch it too! Honestly, it became almost comical. It’s like clockwork. I finish one cold and the next week I have a new one. Well, maybe this means when we do have kids I’ll never get sick!
On the culture shock side of things it’s still pretty hard. While there are some days where I have my “I hate spoons!” response where I’m crying (and laughing at the ridiculousness of my reaction), there are other days where I’m depressed for seemingly no reason. It’s really hard to explain. I’ll have a wonderful day one day and then out of nowhere I’m depressed the next day. While I couldn’t tell you what was wrong, I’ll just be down for the day … and then fine again. Emotionally it’s quite the rollercoaster! Thankfully I have an amazing husband! I think I brag about him in every update, but I don’t feel bad about it because he is honestly amazing! He can tell when I’m having a bad day and immediately lets me know it’s ok to be down. Culture shock is awful!! But we have also had some really good days too. Besides the wonderful things happening with our ministry here in Belize we have been able to have some really good days off where (surprisingly) no bad things have happened! Last week we got away for two days to South Belize and the most amazing (bat-free) time! It was a great time to reconnect and get away!
I feel I have to tell you now, since I specifically said last week was bat free on our getaway, that our day of yesterday was not … When I was downstairs exercising last night, David calls down for me to close the door to our bedroom and stay down there. There was a BAT IN OUR HOUSE!!! You probably remember from our last bat story that I apparently have a very big fear of bats … Welp, it’s still there! Thankfully I still have a husband who just had lots of rabies shots! He was able to trap the bat in a room then open up all the doors upstairs so it could escape (all while I coward in our room … bawling …). After assuring me the bat was gone, and plugging up any holes where it might have come in, he then walked me around the house to show me that there was no place it could be hiding. Once again, Best. Husband. Ever. So, we will now be patching screens and having our attic inspected for more of the creepy little critters! Hopefully I’ll be able to get over this fear, but I’m more hopeful that the bats will go away so I don’t have to!
Thank you all for your prayers and your support for David and me here in Belize! We are so grateful for each of you! And as you know, we are still very much in the process of raising support (even though we are already in the country) to ensure that we can stay and continue serving. So if you would like to support us financially, or know someone who would, or would like to increase your gift, please click on the Connect button at the top of our page. Everything helps! And thank you for all your prayers! More than anything, your prayers are needed. I should also add, we would love to pray for you too! If you have any prayer requests let us know and we’ll be happy to lift them up in our prayers!
Happy Early Thanksgiving!!
P.S. This will be my first Thanksgiving doing the majority of the cooking. Wish us luck!
SAMS Short-Term Mission Leaders’ Training February 18-19, 2017
SAMS is holding a winter training in February 2017. This year Herb Bailey of Uncommon Grounds will teach a segment on Cross Cultural Ministry in the United States. Training covers areas of team selection, budget and fundraising, cross-cultural orientation, spiritual development, logistics, de-briefing, how to work with the poor and what to expect when your team returns home.
The schedule is as follows: 9:00am-9:00pm, Saturday, February 18. 9:00am-5:00pm, Sunday, February 19 at 1013 Merchant Street, Ambridge, PA 15003. Accommodations can be arranged with local seminary families. Registration is $99 and includes training material, lunch and dinner. You can register online here or reach out to Lynn Bouterse at 724-266-0669 or LynnBouterse@SAMS-USA.org. Download the brochure here.
“God calls us to mission. We are chosen. How we answer the call is the important part of the equation.” –Jacky Lowe, SAMS Missionary, Madagascar
Jacky Lowe went from a short-term missionary Bridger to hearing God’s call for long-term service. She was convicted at the New Wineskins Missionary conference to follow God’s call to Madagascar.
Jacky Lowe is preparing for missionary service to Madagascar. She is thrilled to be heading back to where she once served as a short-term bridger partnering alongside the women in Toliaria. There, she taught them essential skills such a sewing and bead work that would enable them to start their own business. Through her testimonial timeline, we see how God worked over the course of years to place Jacky where she is today, and give her the right tools to serve no matter where she is called.
November 2007: At the Diocesan convention in SE Florida I heard Rev. Patsy McGregor speak about her mission work in Madagascar. I knew then I wanted to go and help.
2009-2015: I worked on three short term missions in 2009, 2010, and 2015, but I knew the Lord was calling me for full time missionary service. The people in Madagascar so want to learn about the Lord and develop skills for life, and I have a passion to serve them. In 2014 I was busy making plans to visit my family in England when Patsy phoned me and asked me to come to Madagascar summer 2015. At first I thought, “I can’t go I want to see my Dad!” But God had greater plans, so I went to England summer 2014, spent a wonderful 5 weeks with Dad, and he died January 2015.
January 2016: When Patsy asked me to work full time with the women in Toliara at the new women’s center, my first reaction was joy. Now I can do God’s work. Quickly after fear entered. “How am I going to do this?” I thought. For two weeks I talked with people and prayed to make the decision to say yes. Two weeks later fear came again, but I knew just to rest in God’s arms.
April 2016: What an amazing experience to attended SAMS & New Wineskins conference. My roommate Mary McDonald, a SAMS vet missionary, helped me to discern. “In ten years will you have regrets if you do not go?” she asked. I knew I would have regrets. We are to follow Christ no matter how hard it is. I knew God wanted me to follow him to Madagascar.
Today: As I make plans to go to Madagascar for 1-3 years to work with the women there I think, “I can do all things through God who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:16. I still have days when doubts enter, especially when people ask me, “Why don’t you just retire and spend time with your grandchildren?” or “Why do you have to go so far away?” As I said at the beginning it is a call from God. He says, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1. Now, most days I feel a deep peace because I have answered God’s call. Looking back this journey of preparation has equipped me with all the tools I need. I have supportive friends and family, but most importantly I have God. Let the work begin!
By Jacky Lowe, Missionary preparing for long-term service to Madagascar. Would you prayerfully consider supporting Jacky today? Pray, support, and give here.
We are to follow Christ no matter how hard it is. I knew God wanted me to follow him to Madagascar.
SAMS Missionary to Madagascar
Join Jacky as one of her supporters. Visit the Meet our Missionaries page today to give, support, and encourage Jacky.
I didn’t react. It’s a little like evangelizing. When someone’s non-belief is strong, you can’t convince them by arguing with them. You just have to love them. Read more in Jeannie’s November 2016 Newsletter.