some helpful encouragement

YAHOOOO!!!!!  I’m super excited because lots of the hard work that we’ve been doing with Saving Moses is starting to yield some fruit!!!!!  I have so many dreams in my heart for the work that we do with Saving Moses that sometimes I can get discouraged when I’m not making the progress that I’d like.  But today is a really good day for Saving Moses!!!!  We are making some breakthroughs with our nightcare centers, considering expanding to 2 more countries this year, getting some help with our marketing efforts and watching our efforts become increasingly effective!  I can’t give lots of precise details at this time, but it’s just encouraging to see how God is helping us to grow & become more impactful!

If you have some areas in your life that seem discouraging, please don’t give up praying for those things & continuing to trust God.  Gal 6:9 says that we don’t get weary in well doing because we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t faint 🙂

A Slow Trip

When I travel, I try to take the shortest routes hoping to spend the least amount of time traveling. For example, when I go to Angola with Saving Moses, I try to figure out a way to skip stopping in Europe so that my travel can be more efficient & more direct.
In contrast, I was reading in Luke 24 about how Jesus’ disciples were on the road to Emmaus & were unknowingly having a very engaging chat w Jesus. Once they arrived at their destination, they were enjoying Jesus’ company so much that they compelled Him to stay w them & share a meal. During the meal, Luke tells us that their eyes were opened & they recognized Jesus! As I thought about this, maybe they should have slowed down their travel / journey to enjoy Jesus’ presence along the way.
Slow down, Jesus is walking with you each day 🙂

Likes and dislikes

Here’s some transparency:

  • I do like walking through garbage dumps in Cambodia to find helpless babies, but I don’t like figuring out stuff about makeup (mascara, blush, etc)
  • I do like studying biblical Greek and Hebrew but I don’t like office administrative work
  • I do like dreaming about helping babies in Somalia and the DRC with Saving Moses, but I don’t like the stupid hoops we have to jump through to get visas to help these babies
  • I do like giving the babies of prostitues a safe, clean and loving place to sleep (nightcare) while their moms work but I don’t like getting criticized for empowering prostitution

If you’re like me, our lives are mixed up with lots of things we enjoy and lots of things, not so much.  I find that if I embrace the things I don’t like as much (makeup, administrative work, visa applications, criticism), I will often get to see and experience things about God that I never knew.  Don’t miss the chance to know God better by rejecting things that might be inconvenient or uncomfortable 🙂

Hello Again!

YAHOOO! We get to launch a new year today & that makes me very excited!! It’s a new year to try new ideas, meet new people, solidify the lessons of the past & possibly explore some new countries. In Isaiah 43:19 it talks about God doing a new thing. May this year for you & me be full of God’s new & wonderful things – happy New Year!

something new

Happy New Year, one day early!  When I was growing up, my dad always had the same breakfast:  2 eggs over easy, patty saugsage, whole wheat toast & hash browns with a continuous coffee IV drip.  We can all get easily stuck in a rut, but New Year’s is a great time to shake it up a little.  Think about a few changes that could be helpful for the upcoming year:

  • more consistent church attendance
  • healthier eating decisions
  • more water & less coffee
  • relationships that have healthy boundaries & constructive influences
  • increased Bible digestion – more reading, more memorizing, more studying, . . . . just more
  • become a Saving Moses hero and save babies where the need is most urgent & the care is least available
  • pursue truth & reject deception

Let’s turn the page on 2013 & celebrate change with a new beginning!

when things don’t work

Sometimes I can get frustrated when things don’t work particularly when I’m trying to get alot of things done & I’m being slowed down – very frustrating.  There are lots of things & situations that can break down in our lives & not work:  computers, cell phones, relationships, cars, work situations, communication, physical difficulities, etc. Sometimes, I can get frustrated with God & I can feel like God isn’t working like the Trinity is supposed to work – babies having terminal illnesses, toddlers watching their prostitute moms earn a living ( saving Moses ) , despots behaving with no seeming retribution or boundaries, employers cheating their workers from fair wages . . . . . and the list can keep going on & on.

But in my better moments, I know that God is very engaged in our daily living around the world and wants to use each of us to bring genuine love to the people with whom we interact, and possibly bringing this love into our communities most effectively when we feel the weakest & most frail.  So perhaps when things seem to be the most broken, maybe this is some of God’s best opportunity to bring divine solutions, presence, provision & help 🙂

let’s get comfortable

Being comfortable conjures up different things for different people.  For some people, being comfortable can be the experience of sitting by a fireplace in a cozy blanket & reading a book.  For other people, being comfortable is best described as being at a really fun and vibrant party.  For me, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be comfortable and I’ve learned some interesting things to pass along to you:

  • being comfortable can sometimes be an impediment to a deeper relationship with God – discomfort usually makes me do something different
  • I never want my comfort zones to exclude God – indeed, life with God is a more accurate expression of who I really am
  • I’ve learned that I can be extremely comfortable in a variety of external situations because of an internal contentment that comes from some very sweet & rich communion with God
  • when I’m uncomfortable, I tend to lean into God better

 

Keep Some Light

Sometimes we can be in really dark situations or seasons in our lives. Darkness can be lots of different things: bad environments, yucky people, wicked things that happen to or around us & lots of other things ( I’m reminded of one of the neighborhoods that I walked in for a possible new nightcare location in Cambodia with www.savingmoses.org – a totally evil & wicked place that was overwhelmingly dark even during the day).
With that being said, lets be mindful to keep Jesus as the Light in our hearts – dont let the darkness seep into your thoughts or emotions no matter how strong it may seem. Darkness never overcomes Light so lets stay full of Jesus in our hearts so that we can bring light, hope & genuine love to any darkness that could be in our lives 🙂

Traveling lots

Sometimes when I travel I feel like I’m in perpetual motion & I just want to pause for some stillness. I’m really feeling like this now: in April, I was in Angola, May was China, June was South Sudan & July has been Cambodia. While this is lots of travel, I’m really grateful to God for such amazing opportunities & experiences to express genuine love. And when I’m home, I want to continue to get better & better at giving genuine love with less Sarah & more Jesus. Anyone eager to join this adventure with me?

I don’t care

When I was in high school, I used to like some of the Robbie Nevil songs that praised the glories of apathy & indifference (Wot’s It To Ya’, C’est La Vie).  I think I liked these songs at the time because I didn’t know how to handle my deep feelings of care, concern and connection for people and the world around me.  Sometimes I still feel this way & can get overwhelmed when I think about various situations, Saving Moses, people and events – I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening in Egypt with the instability there.

But just because my feelings can be overwhelming from these various situations, relationships and experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot become apathetic.  In my mind, apathy is just a socially acceptable word for passive violence.  So what do I do with these things that can easily overwhelm me?  Pray.

Prayer is the best immunization against apathy.  Pray often, pray quickly, pray fervently and pray all the time.

whooops!

When I was in Angola last week with Saving Moses, I was trying to say goodbye to some of my new friends, the moms of the malnourished babies that we help to feed.  In Angola, the official language is Portugese & it can sometimes be similar to Spanish (a language in which I’m kind of comfortable).  As I was leaving, I was explaining in my mixed Portugese and Spanish efforts that we are leaving in the morning to go back home.  The moms seemed to get REALLY excited & I thought they were just being very polite & friendly.  After I kept telling lots of different moms about us going home the next day (in the Portugese / Spanish mix), our translator overhead me talking & quickly jumped in with lots of Portugese & explained something.  Later he told me that I was telling everyone that we all, including each mom with whom I was speaking, were going to fly home – implying that I was going to bring all of them with me back to America.  That was a BIG WHOOOPS!!!  Thankfully, the moms understood that my language skills in Portugese are still in the developmental phase :/

I say all of this to ask you to think about letting the Holy Spirit be the translator for your life, rather than trying to understand life without His Help.  Bad translation can lead to some very dangerous misunderstandings 🙂

Mundane can be magnificent

I finished my trip to Angola with Saving Moses & one of the things that continues to hit home with me from this trip is the power of mundane. Having watched the moms of the babies who receive malnutrition formula from us, I’m extremely impressed with the daily commitment to be present & fully engaged in their families. In some ways, these moms exude genuine love. But in some ways, their daily routines could be considered boring & dull. But may we never believe the deception that genuine love is dull or even unimportant just because it can be expressed in daily routines. Genuine love is magnificent!!! And the picture is the “kitchen” our moms use in Angola at our malnutrition clinics w Saving Moses 🙂

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Segunda

In Angola with Saving Moses, I met a 3yr old little boy who was severely malnourished. His mom, Lucia, is a beautiful, engaged and very concerned mom who has a beautiful little baby girl, Josephine, who is about 2months old – bright, cheery & zesty! Segunda is very emaciated but I have really high hopes that he’s going to make some rapid improvement & be released within the next few weeks. Please be praying for Segunda & his mom, Lucia!

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Amazing

I’m with Saving Moses here in Angola where we are providing malnutrition formula every day, 4-6 times a day for

I would love to bring you with me to meet these heroic moms & their lovely babies because you would be deeply touched to hear their stories, to sense their strength & watch their genuine love. Every time I come here I meet new moms & get to catch up with some moms & babies from previous years. Today, we were able to visit with Angelina & her little girl Desorae, as well as Marcella & her son Belito, both families who we have met with for a few years now. Both moms & their kids are pregnant & doing extremely well 🙂
To be really honest with you, these trips are always really hard on my heart (it’s extremely difficult to see babies who are emaciated or bloated because of malnutrition & are frequently inches from death). But I must also say that this trip has been really rewarding because I am also able to see the MASSIVE difference we are able to make every day by providing malnutrition formula. It brings me indescribable fulfillment to know that we are feeding not just today’s babies but also investing in each baby’s potential & future. How could we do anything less?

Today’s pictures: peekaboo, mom Angelina & her daughter Desorae 🙂

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Learning different ways

I’m sitting at one of our malnutrition clinics for Saving Moses in Angola & it’s the noon feeding time, so I am having the pleasure of watching 30+ moms feeding their babies w the therapeutic milk that saving Moses provides everyday for approximately 4-6 feedings per baby. In the attached picture, you see a mom using a spoon to feed her baby & I’ve had lots of people ask me why they don’t use bottles at our clinics & the answer for this question has 3 simple parts:
*i can use our money to buy therapeutic milk or bottles. The more money I use for bottles, the less I have for milk
*bottles aren’t commonly used here & would be considered to be more of a luxury than a necessity
*bottles require more maintainence: cleaning, hygiene, replacing parts etc, whereas spoons are a very simple feeding tool in contrast to bottles 🙂

As I finish this blog today, let me just say that I wish you could sit with me, watch & hear all of these babies eating their lunches. They’re really noisy & it’s nothing less than music to my ears bc often times, a quiet baby is too weak to make noises. The louder the better 😀

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Babies, babies & babies

I think that it’s really important from time to time to get some fresh perspective on life & the world in which we live. Today has been a day of fresh perspective for me. I’ve met heroic & legendary moms & dads who are doing everything in their power to keep their babies alive. But I also met a mom today who was extremely discouraged & I’m deeply concerned that she may have given up hope. Her baby, Josephine, is only 10 months old but is extremely sick & close to dying. Her mom, Miciah, brought her to our malnutrition clinic to receive milk & medical help but was herself not feeling well. We took a short break for lunch & upon returning to the clinic, I started looking for Miciah & Josephine but couldn’t find them. As I asked around, the nurse said that Miciah had left the clinic w Josephine & the nurse strongly encouraged mom to stay. Miciah left, regardless of the nurse’s appeals & we don’t have a way to track them down – no address or phone number. I have tremendous concern for Josephine because she was not doing well at all. Please remember to pray for her – I’ve attached her picture so you can please remember her. The lesson for all of us is to never surrender hope.

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Welcome to Angola!

Heat, humidity, crowds, chaos & haze. We’ve been traveling now for over 40hours & we’re closing in on “almost there.” I’m presently sitting in a waiting hall for domestic flights & trying to get a little oriented. I had a nice but BRIEF chat with some Chinese guys from Shandong province, where Mao was born and in a few hours, we get to visit one of our biggest malnutrition clinics.
Whenever I visit Angola, I’m always reminded that its only been in the last 10years that there has been any stability whatsoever here. They had more than 30 years of a MASSIVELY brutal & inhumane civil war & before that, Angola was a Portuguese colony for over 300 years. This is important because wherever there is political instability, babies often experience the most significant impact because the infant mortality increases proportionate to the quantity of instability: long instability = masses of dying babies / high infant mortality. So for the next few days, we will be visiting our malnutrition clinics, meeting some wonderful moms & seeing how the benefits of consistent therapeutic milk plays out for malnourished babies who would likely die without our help.
Stick around w me thru this blog, Facebook & twitter so we can make this journey together 🙂

Repetition creates improvements

I’m writing this on my way with www.savingmoses.org to Angola for my 4th visit in 4 years. I have some friends with me & we’ll be visiting our 6 malnutrition clinics where we provide therapeutic milk for babies who would likely die without our clinics. I have mixed thoughts & feelings about this trip but I LOVE that we get to be part of God’s immense & tangible expression of genuine love to babies.
Babies are totally wonderful & in some ways, they represent the best of humanity. I love their innocence, trust, curiosity, joy & zest for life. And while this may sound initially kind of twisted, I love to hear babies cry in our malnutrition clinic because their silence can indicate something awful especially with malnourished babies.
So come along with me, stay tuned to his blog, Facebook & twitter & we can share this adventure together 🙂

Disconcerting thoughts

In less than a week, I’m going back to Angola w www.savingmoses.org & I have some mixed thoughts about this visit. Of course, I love the people with whom we work & I have nothing but massive respect for the daily work they do. I’m also eager to see some old friends since this will be my 4th visit & I’m getting to make some nice friendships. These are nice things but there are some not very nice things that I experience on these trips. It’s not pleasant to hold a baby who is malnourished & is struggling to survive. It’s difficult to see frenzied moms who are doing everything in their power to keep their baby alive. It’s hard for me sometimes to try & explain the needs I see to an audience that can occasionally be apathetic & cold. But when everything is said & done, despite the tremendous privation I see & the gut wrenching feelings that I experience, on these trips I sense Jesus is very real ways that I’m often unable to explain & because of Jesus’ presence, the disconcerting thoughts are not as severe. Traveling with Jesus helps me to have peace in my mind & heart

The unexpected

There have been situations in my life where I e asked God to do something & what I asked for didn’t happen. Quite often in these situations, what has happened instead of my request tended to be better than what I had asked for.
What we plan & ask for doesn’t always work out but we must always know, trust & believe that God loves us & God’s ways are always better & higher than our ways 🙂