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My life in service to the King of Heaven

Quoting a Famous Man
Posted:Jul 27, 2009 11:26 am
Last Updated:Jun 19, 2024 7:24 am

Just read a post that a friend posted on another website and wanted to share it here. I found it thought provoking.

From the mouth of Winston Churchill:

"Success is being able to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm."

So maybe, just maybe, my life might be called a success.
WOW, Has It Been THAT Long?
Posted:Jul 25, 2009 10:18 am
Last Updated:Jul 27, 2009 11:18 am

Just connected to B.C. this evening and looked at the date of my last blog entry. I can't believe a month has already past since I wrote that last blog. How time flies...and isn't that an overly used phrase in all of our lives as the years roll by...but isn't it also the truth and one that can scare me a LOT as I see time passing. I'll be 50 in two years and I still feel like a young woman in many ways. Feel like it...but certainly am not. BIG SIGH!

Recently I've been tempted to be discouraged as well, that still after 48 years I am alone in this world, without a life companion, and wanting somebody to share my life with as much as I ever have. Sometimes the longing just turns into one big indescribeable inner ache. What to do...? I live in the middle of Central Asia and I'm quite sure I don't want to marry a local. I feel that God Himself, King of the Universe has called me to work here. So what are my options. In a natural sense, there aren't options for meeting appropriately aged single WESTERN men, not that I'm aware of anyway. So again I am forced just to pour out my heart to God and ask Him to please intervene and bring someone my way with whom I could build a friendship based on trust, respect, and common goals and interests. Is He big enough to be able to do that? You bet He is...I have no doubts about that...but whether He actually will or not is another question. And so the questions go around and around in my head and my heart. Will God ask and expect me to be single ALL of my life? It really isn't too much to ask of someone but not of me LORD, I plead, please don't ask ME to be that someone.
Do you know the feeling?

His grace is sufficient, that I know from past experience, but still I remind Him of His very own words in Genesis chapter 1. "It is not good for a man to be alone." I have my own revised version, "It is not good for woman to be alone either." GOD, I pray, I need something ( someone ) good from you. Will you please answer my prayers one of these years? I'll try to be patient but you know, I've been waiting for over 30 years. WOW! Has it been that long? It certainly has!!!
Divine Appointments
Posted:Jun 24, 2009 2:43 pm
Last Updated:Jul 25, 2009 10:00 am

Have you ever met someone and felt certain that the meeting was not just an accident but rather an appointment specifically arranged by our great God? This happened to me just this week and I would like to share this experience with you. Last night I wrote and sent a letter to my circle of family members and friends describing what happened to me on Tuesday evening of this week, so for the sake of saving time I am just going to copy and paste that story here for those of you on Big Church who might be interested in reading it. Hope it encourages your faith.

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s a few minutes past 8:00 PM here in Shymkent, Wednesday evening. I’ve been feeling rather “punk” all day due to my stomach “problems” that have been in gear since late Sunday night. So I decided to lift my spirits by putting on a CD of praise music and sitting down to share a special story with all of you.

The weather here these past few weeks has been unpleasantly hot and miserable. Yesterday afternoon a rain storm rolled in for a couple of hours and cooled everything down a bit, much to my relief. Around 7:00 I decided to go for a walk in a large near by park. I took a book with me intending to read in that setting until the light was too dim to see.

Abai Park really is a quiet sanctuary on the edge of the city here and has enough space in it for me to feel just a little bit alone when I am there. I quickly found a bench to sit on and sat down to enjoy the evening. Shortly afterwards two very chatty young women asked if they could share the bench with me. Of course I agreed. They were speaking Kazakh which I do not understand. Even so it didn’t take me long to decide to get up and move to another bench in a more isolated spot.

I had just sat down to read when once again a young woman, this time on roller blades, rather “stumbled” in my direction and then asked me if she could sit down beside me. Again I said yes but decided this time to engage her in conversation since she was alone. What followed was at least an hour of communication with this lovely young woman. I was amazed. She was so open and responsive to me and soon we were chatting like old friends. Sultanat is 23 years old and just finished a year of work “practicum” related to her area of education. She doesn’t presently have a job and so told me that she frequently comes to the park to go roller blading rather than sitting at home. Now was it “just an accident” that I happened to decide to go to the park this evening and “ran into” this young woman? I don’t think so.

Even when it was clearly time for us to be heading home due to the growing darkness, she wanted to walk with me and continue the conversation both answering my questions and asking questions of her own. I did ask her for her phone number and when we finally parted ways I told her I would call her and invite her over sometime for a meal.

As I walked down the street toward my apartment I felt a genuine sense of awe about this meeting. It is clear to me that Sultanat is NOT a typical young Kazakh woman. She has a free spirit and in some ways is not conforming to what I observe are fairly predictable cultural norms for young women her age here. As I had sat there talking to her and watching her animation and interest in the conversation I had felt such a sense of love for her. She is one beautiful specimen of God’s creation and it was as if for a moment as I sat there I had felt the longing of God’s heart towards her, that she would come to know Him in a personal way. Although I did not specifically speak to her about Jesus I did share my testimony with her of my faith in God and my confidence in His love for me. I will make a point of keeping in touch with her and in the mean time if you would pray for the Holy Spirit to be working in her heart and preparing her to hear the good news that would be deeply appreciated.

Once again, thanks so much for being workers together with me here.

Your fellow servant of Jesus,

A Poem from Prison
Posted:Jun 11, 2009 9:23 am
Last Updated:Jun 19, 2024 7:24 am

Imprisoned for her faith some centuries ago, Madam Jeanne Guyon penned the following poem. I pray it will be an encouragement to any who may feel that they are also in some sort of prison in their personal lives.

Strong are the walls around me,
That hold me all the day,
But they who thus have bound me
Cannot keep God away.
My very prison walls are dear
Because the God I love is here.

They know who thus oppress me,
'Tis hard to be alone,
But know not One can bless me,
Who comes through bars and stone.
He makes my dungeon's darkness bright,
And fills my bosom with delight.
Her husband works for the Mafia
Posted:Jun 10, 2009 9:32 am
Last Updated:Jul 27, 2009 11:27 am

I didn't realize just how intoxicated this woman was until she got up and tried to walk to the door of the cafe from the table where we were sitting on the outside sidewalk. She couldn't walk in a straight line.

Marzhan had met me on our staircase half an hour before. She was descending to the street with her three small as I was ascending to my apartment ready to retire for the night.

"Oh Rachel," she had said to me,"Please, I want to invite you to join me for a drink at the cafe."

I had turned this woman's invitations down on several occasions before. Although it was late, I felt I really had no good reason to say no this particular evening, so I had accepted. It wasn't until we were standing rather closely a few minutes later that I smelled alcohol on her breath. When we had sat down at the sidewalk cafe on the ground floor of our apartment building, she had offered to buy me a beer. I then told her that I didn't drink, accept now and then on special occaisions. She had urged me to accept but I had firmly refused and requested juice instead. So for the next half an hour I had sat and drunk a glass of pineapple juice along with her while she downed a huge glass of beer.

"I only want to speak English with you," she had told me. "I need to improve my English." So that is what I had tried to do for that half hour, but the conversation had been some what incoherent. I thought it was because of her poor English skills but now as I watched her attempt to walk to the doorway of the cafe I realized it wasn't just her poor English skills that had made the conversation somewhat incoherent, it was also because she was drunk. Internally I winced thinking of these three precious little under her care.

During the course of the conversation I had asked her about her husband.
"Where is he tonight?" I had queried.
"Oh, he should be here soon," she had answered.
"Is he at work?" I had then asked,
"Yes," she replied.
"So where does he work?" I had continued.
"Oh, he works for the Mafia," she had answered and then she had paused as if she realized that she had probably revealed to much information to me and she had quickly added,"not really." but I knew that her answer was probably the truth.

Some weeks before she had invited me to her apartment. I was on my way somewhere but had stopped in for a few minutes. What met my eyes had totally surprised me. Lavish interior decoration, furniture that was obviously very expensive. The atmosphere was almost one of decadance but certainly lovely and appealing to the visual senses. Of course I had asked myself at the time, "I wonder where these people got money from to pay for such expensive interior decoration." The apartment buliding where we live is defenitely not an upper middle class category of apartment building. Now I knew. HMMMMM. Her husband works for the Mafia.

How Sad. How very very sad. Here was a woman who probably litterally had anything money could by, but her life was so miserable she was drowning herself in alcohol and no doubt potentially destroying the lives of her ages 5,3, and 6months. "Oh God," I silently prayed,"If there is something you want to do in this woman's life and you want to use me to help You accomplish it, please show me what it is." I sat there for a few more minutes. It really was getting late so I finally got up, stuck my head inside the doorway and said good-night to Marzhan. I walked back to my apartment a mixture of sadness and thankfulness inside of me. Sadness over what had just been revealed to me about this woman's life during that half hour of time but gratefulness that I had been given such a different life than hers. I know with a deep sense of conviction that "but for the grace of God, there go I."
His Ways are Higher
Posted:Jun 3, 2009 3:50 am
Last Updated:Jun 14, 2009 4:14 pm

This is the second half of the story that I posted last week under the title "The Pain of Seperation". Even if you did not read the first part (it was much longer than today's post) please read this one and join me in prayer for this family.

This morning I left for the village wearing a long bright colored skirt and my hair pulled back in a braid. Over my shoulder I carried a black shoulder bag with teaching materials in it, as opposed to the back pack I usually carry on these weekly journeys. A back pack can identify someone as a foreigner from a mile away. Today I wanted to look as much like a local as possible.

When I arrived at the home of the Kazakh family in the village I was surprised to find they had a houseful of guests, relatives from out of town. I greeted them and then began my lesson as usual with the two , Aye-ee-da, age six, and Bagzhan, age nine. Forty minutes later, the lesson finished, I was invited to join the family for tea and then lunch. I spent the next one and a half hours sitting on the floor at a low table conversing with various ones as we sipped tea and nibbled on cookies and salad. The conversation revolved around their lives and mine, marital status, , family, work, and questions about America. Everyone here is curious about my country and the questions are typical. Do the police take bribes in America? What is an average wage there? Is everything more expensive than here?

Today I happened to have taken my pack of picture postcards so I shared those with them, an added point of interest. Finally tea was over and lunch began, two large platters of soft flat noodles with chunks of meat spread on top. Bishbarmak is a favorite Kazakh dish. Bis is the word for five and in this case it means that this dish is eaten with five fingers and that was indeed how we ate it today. My friend, Zhena, offered to get me my own plate but I told her that was not necessary. When in Rome, do as the Romans. ( I did, however, turn down the offer of a shot glass of vodka.)

On none of my previous trips have I had so much time just to sit and relate to this family. In Kazakh culture relationships are a top priority. This is a family that I long to have come to know the Lord. I will be in their home every week this summer teaching English to their and now that I am no longer involved in other activities in the village I will be able to spend this amount of time with them every week. God knows what He is doing in our lives even when we don’t. His ways are higher than ours and when He closes a door He opens a window.

Please join me in prayer for this family that their hearts may be touched by the Holy Spirit as I spend time with them and that an increased thirst for spiritual food and drink will take place in their lives. Pray that I will have wisdom in the way that I share my faith in Jesus (Eesa, in Kazakh ) with them. Pray that some day they will come to eat freely of the bread of life and drink freely from the fountain of living water.
Cotton Candy and Life
Posted:Jun 1, 2009 6:19 am
Last Updated:Jun 3, 2009 4:03 am

I went to the park today. I planned on meeting an English student there for conversational practice. She didn’t show so I just sat and enjoyed people watching for a while. Lots and lots of smiling , licking ice creams, holding tightly to the hands of their parents, young people strolling with arms around each other, older folks too, some with grandchildren and some alone, but all of them out for an afternoon spree.

The park was full. As I walked toward the front gate I had to step out of the flow of people walking into the park. I happened to step back behind a cotton candy machine. I watched with fascination as the man operating the machine held a stick over the blower blowing air into the sticky pink goo on the outer sides of the metal canister. Almost as if by magic that sticky pink goo turned into fluffy, enticing, delicious looking, pink, cotton candy.

As I stood there I noticed a small girl waiting by the metal canister watching with anticipation as the man spun her a big pink fluff of candy. She took it from his hands, her eyes wide and glowing with pleasure and excitement. I looked at her and smiled. Oh the joys of childhood.

At that moment I began to recall my childhood years. My parents were very health conscious and did not allow us to eat sugar, so any time we were in a public place such as a park or fair and there was that delicious looking cotton candy walking around in the hands of other , I longed to have a taste of it. I knew better than to ask permission because I already knew the answer would be no. Then, when I was 13 I happened to go to a fair without my parents. My older sister and myself were invited by a special aunt and uncle to accompany them. This was my chance and I took it without hesitation. Both my sister and I bought a big roll of pink cotton candy. I took one or two bites and then clearly recall thinking “Oh, this is it? This is what I was longing for all those other times? Why this is nothing, just pink fluff that melts in your mouth.” I’ve never eaten cotton candy since.

Have you ever felt like that about life? Have you had longings and expectations? Have you thought this person or that event or this career or that possession would bring you a sense of satisfaction? Then when you got what you thought you wanted you were disappointed. It was, after all, nothing but cotton candy that melted in your mouth. When we expect to find lasting fulfillment outside of the Lord, there is no question that eventually it will turn into cotton candy. He is the ONLY one who can satisfy us on our deepest level of need. Yes, relationships, special events, careers and possessions can add pleasure and comfort to our lives, but if we are looking to them alone for satisfaction, we’ll soon be disillusioned.
The Pain of Separation
Posted:May 29, 2009 9:11 am
Last Updated:May 31, 2009 3:07 am


Preface: Although there is freedom of religion in Kazakhstan since the fall of communism in 1991, the police can still cause trouble for believers here. We as foreigners need to be careful NOT to draw too much attention to what we are doing here that is of a religious nature. We come into this country on work visas, not on religious visas.

Friday morning team meeting, May 22, Shymkent, Kazahstan

Team leader, Shibu speaking:

“Pavel (village pastor) told me that the police have been asking him why so many foreigners are coming to work at the rehabilitation center. He has asked me to reduce the number of us who are working there. We need to begin keeping a lower profile in the village.” The five of us involved at the rehab center all look at each other. Which ones of us are willing to forgo our involvement?

Shortly before I returned to Shymkent this time, a lovely young Dutch couple joined our team. The husband is a trained counselor and has been going to the rehab center two days a week and spending hours of time sitting and listening to these men tell their stories. (Using a translator, of course.) He has told us that some of them tell him it’s the first time that anyone has ever sat and listened to them in this way. I am sure it is doing wonders for these men with their broken lives. His wife travels out with him and she spends time at the women’s center. I’ve been involved the longest in this setting, now over two years of making weekly trips an hour both ways, to contribute something to the lives of the women and there. So who should continue to go out and who should stop going? We make no decision during the meeting but a few days later our team leader informs us who will go and who will not. I am one of those chosen not to go.

I have asked permission to continue going to the home of a Kazakh family there where I am giving English lessons to two of their school aged . Because these people are not believers and have no connection to the church, our team leader has agreed that would be OK, but he has warned me again I must spend a minimal amount of time there and stay as obscure as possible.

Today was the first time I have traveled to the village with these restrictions. Yesterday, I wrote a letter in Russian to explain to my friend, Gala, why I cannot come and visit her for a while. Gala is a believer who lives on the same road where the women’s rehab center is located. I also put a few small gifts in a little gift bag for her 4 year old . The Dutch couple agreed to deliver the letter and small package. I am grateful.

Today was the first day that I have traveled to the village with these restrictions. Nearly 5:00 in the evening when I arrive, I ask the taxi driver to stop in front of this Kazakh family’s home. I walk directly to their gate and slip inside. An hour long lesson with these sweet follows my arrival. Afterwards tea, bread with homemade butter along with a cup of sour milk is a must. One cannot refuse hospitality here. By the time we finish it is nearly 7:00. I excuse myself, fearful that it may be too late to get a taxi back to Shymkent. I’ve told them that next week I’ll come in the morning for the lesson.

As I walk to the taxi stop I keep saying to myself, “Low profile, Rachel. Keep a low profile.” How does one keep a “low profile” in such a small place where one has been going every week for two years? I have to walk past the orphanage. I had planned to go say “Hello” to all the there today. Better not. That is NOT low profile activity. Everything in me wants to throw caution to the wind and just take a quick detour past my friend, Gala’s house, but her house is in the opposite direction from the taxi stop. I need to spend as little time as possible in public view here now. So I choose NOT to throw caution to the wind and keeping walking in the right direction.

Thank God, I only have to stand at the stop for a few minutes before a car pulls up and the young driver asks me if I’m going to Lenger. I am, so I climb into his surprisingly clean and comfortable vehicle with a sigh of relief as we head down the road looking for more passengers to pick up along the way. Suddenly the music he is playing on his radio changes. A soft song with a hauntingly beautiful melancholy melody begins to play. The gentle sound of the stringed instruments fills the car. I want to cry. Why does it hurt so much to love people?

I think of the hours of time I have spent with Gala and her , two little ones, Vika and David, aged 4 and 1, and two older sons, from two previous marriages: 20 year old Jenya, who is one mixed up messed up young man, (he has numerous scars on his arm where he has attempted to take his life) and 16 year old Sasha who loves to play on my computer when I bring it with me. The last time I was there I told him that he needed to give me lessons on how to use all the programs on my laptop. He readily agreed to do that.

I think of the women at the center, both those on staff and those in the program. Just a few weeks ago I began teaching them some Jewish worship dances. Now none of those activities and relationships will continue, at least not for a while. My heart longs to stay involved with all of them, but I must not. Sometimes I feel I cannot go on along this road I’ve chosen to follow, this road of pouring love into the lives of those I serve. Sometimes I think my heart cannot take any more of this, not when the flow of love has to be cut off and the relationships set aside, at least for a while. But the separation is for a purpose, the purpose of actually protecting the ones we serve there. What could be worse than to draw attention from the police to a local ministry?

Low profile it MUST be. Low profile it WILL be and God help me bear the pain of separation.
What is Love?
Posted:May 26, 2009 5:53 pm
Last Updated:May 30, 2009 5:39 am

What is love? I grew up in a Christian family where my parents gave a lot of love and attention to all of their but when it came to their own relationship something was sadly lacking. As a I often felt that my parents did not love each other and that concerned me a lot. Theirs was a relationship often filled with conflict which sometimes verged on the brink of violent. My mother had a lot of anger and my dad seemed to know just what to do to provoke it. That was when things seemed to get a little out of control on her part, smashing dishes, throwing objects not created for the purpose of being thrown.

I also grew up in a family where I often heard my father tell us, “You know girls, love is NOT a feeling. It is a choice.” Love is a choice. Good thought but things did not improve in their relationship, in spite of the fact that my dad continued to choose to love my mom. ( and yet at the same time also continued to push her buttons.) Their relationship lasted for 23 years until my mom finally left. I was 19 years old when this happened and it broke my heart in an almost unimaginable way.

My parents are now back together, but they were separated for 15 years and the process of reconciliation was long and slow. They are now both in their 70’s. My mom is an invalid and my dad is caring for her during these last few years of their life. I don’t know if my Dad has emotions of love toward my mom, but he certainly does love her and shows it in the way he cares for her.

I only see my parents every two years as I’m working overseas. Recently I spent six months at home. It was a scheduled break but I asked for an extension on it because my dad was very sick with cancer. I lived with my parents during that six months at home because both of them were in great need of help at the time. During this time with them I once again had a close up view of their relationship. I would say it has improved quite a bit with time, but I would also say it still seems to lack a lot. It is certainly not what I would want in a marriage at their age.

So what is love? Is it only a choice? Or is love also an emotion? Good question. I guess I only have one love in my life at this time, and His name is Jesus, so any evaluation of love that I make will be drawn from my relationship with HIM.

Over the years I’ve been involved in a few different dating relationships with men, but as I look back on them I wonder if I really loved any of them. I have no regrets that I am not with any of them today. But this man, Jesus, there is something special about my relationship with Him. First of all, He is perfect and He loves me with an unchangeable, all consuming love. When I look into his beautiful eyes I am filled with adoration. I want to worship Him. When I read and reflect on His word, I have a sense of awe and wonder over who He is and the great reward He offers to those who completely surrender their lives to Him, not only a reward in heaven but also a reward in this life. I am amazed that someone so wonderful would choose to love me the way He does.

Every day he lavishes love on me. The sweet odor of the pink carnations I have on my desk is a kiss from Him. The pleasant coolness of the park, as I take my morning walk, refreshes my soul. I enjoy the beauty of His handiwork, the rays of sun shining through the water that leaps high and then cascades down out of the fountain. The gentle cooing of the doves and merry twittering of the birds fill my heart with joy. I want to sing along with them in worship to one who is not only my lover but also my creator. Yes, there is feeling in my love for this man, Jesus. But none of this would be possible if I were not choosing to walk close to Him in obedience every day and seeking to find my satisfaction in communion with Him.

So I conclude, love certainly is a choice, but if all is right, that choice should also lead to emotions. We cannot depend on our emotions in this walk of faith, but if there were NEVER emotions, well, I think I’d begin to wonder if the love was real.

So who is this man named JESUS? This man I am so deeply in love with but whom I also choose to love. He is the KING of GLORY, the Lord, mighty in battle, the PRINCE of PEACE and the LOVER of my soul. I want to worship HIM because HE is worthy of all my trust, my adoration and my love. Will you worship HIM with me?
Friday Evening Entertainment
Posted:May 22, 2009 10:08 am
Last Updated:May 26, 2009 5:25 pm

It's Friday evening. So what does one do on a Friday evening when working in a foreign country where few "fellow" foreigners dwell and social net working in English is not a possibility? I just re-signed up on BigChurch last week. My internet connection is miserably slow in my little apartment here. 33kbs a second. I do plan to get high speed soon when I can afford to pay for it. So what did I choose to do this particular Friday evening? I connected to BigChurch and the time spent reading blogs this past two hours has provided an evening of entertainment for me. Thanks to many of you for sharing from your heart, your lives, your thoughts, your convictions, your beliefs. I wanted to make comments on several blogs but the dial up connection broke when I tried to "post a comment". After several unsuccessful attempts I gave up. Good way to develop patience, using dial up internet at this speed. Contentment is what I am learning in life. Seek more than anything else to know God in a true heart to heart way. Wait on Him. Give thanks in everything. Trust His loving heart in all the decisions He makes for your life and you will be CONTENT. Tonight I am more than content though. I am very grateful. During the course of this week I experienced a strange attack of pain that was almost out of control for me. God intervened. I was able to get a hold of another American in the city and she being a doctor was able to diagnose the problem and prescribe the necessary medication for addressing it. After two days of intermittant bouts of extreme pain I am pain free and feeling much better. Such experiences make you more grateful for just being able to have a peaceful evening without pain. God is good and faithful all the time. Even when we feel all alone and things seem out of our control. He reigns. Let the earth rejoice. That means you and I little earthlings made of the dust of the ground. Our creator sees and knows our weakness and He works MIRACLES in our lives. Blessings on you all. Good-night from afar, where ever you are. Your sister serving in Central Asia.

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