Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Journey Begins

I turned to my traveling companion as we made our way down the gangway, let out a deep breath, and said "this is it." After a half hour delay in our departure it was good to finally be boarding to get the "show on the road" as they say. We certainly are a "show". Six women, 650 lbs of checked luggage, the maximum allowed for carry on and 14,000 miles to go.

"See I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way, and to bring you to the place I have prepared" Exodus 23:20

One last phone call to our African counterpart, to hear her graciously say "don't worry, we are waiting for you, everything will be okay for you.." The responsibility has been daunting, in between dashings and deaths from other countries and cemeteries.

But then there is Him -

Meeting me in my anxious moments with a wink and a peak behind the eternal curtain into the land that has no clock ticking.

I was setting up an iPod playlist to motivate me past the melancholy state I was meddling in, and it was if I heard the voice of my departed friend from beyond speak through his peals of incredulous laughter - "God has never let you down before, do you think He is going to let you down now that you are embarking on something so significant for Him?"

I laughed to myself, cried recalling when the words had been said to me in person. It was the spring of 1995. Eleven years ago, when I had been commissioned to write a book of poetry and prose on a pilgrim's first trip to the Holy Land (Sunshine After Rain). Zola, thought it quite comical for a person who was living on a shoestring and a prayer, raising three small children to think God wouldn't come through. "You have more faith than most people I know, trust me on this God is not going to let you down."

As I got over my mood, self-doubt at my abilities to undertake such a project, I had to wonder if Zola (now with the Lord) was amused once again. Seeing the rest of the story, watching from a heavenly vantage point as plots thicken in the Middle East, war and rumors of war and seeing the "fig tree" in bloom.

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "
Matt 24:32-35

These six are giddy with excitement. Conscious of the length of our trip, awed by the responsibility that awaits us and eager to see all that He has in store. The surprises, the blessings, the burden, the humbling and the benefit that comes when you are willing to enter into the suffering of Christ and His world.

"There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world - the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth." Colossians 1:24 The Message

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Waiting


Life comes with no instructions and many interruptions! On July 1, I was called home from the first Joni and Friends camp due to a death in the family (my daughter's grandfather) after a long, hard fought battle with cancer. I was however, able to return to the second camp ministering to over 50 families affected by disabilities. It was like a balm from Gilead, to minister to those in need and be ministered to myself by their gracious outpouring of love toward CARE EE and me.

On July 30th, I will lead a group of five Kingdom Servants to Tanzania for a women's conference. We will be conducting sessions on a wide variety of topics including Biblical Counseling, HIV/AIDS Awareness; Forgiveness and Prayer just to name a few. Our African counterpart has encouraged us with the words "we have so many ladies who are now waiting to hear from you. They are like small birds with their mouth open to be fed by their mothers."

We have spent many hours in prayer and preparation to "feed" these willing hearts and minds for the Kingdom. I am asking you to join us on this great adventure!

Pray for our group! God has blessed us with additional ministry opportunities in the outlying community and the city of Moshi. Out outreach will be to several orphanages and a school for the blind. Pray for travel mercies. We will be taking humanitarian aid and school supplies for this outreach.

Remember, "the share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike." 1 Samuel 30:24

God bless your faithfulness to this ministry!

Friday, July 28, 2006

TANZANIA - Calendar of Events




Tanzania is 8 hours ahead of CST
JULY 30
Departure

JULY 31
Arrive Frankfurt - Depart for Africa 10:40 pm

AUG 1
Arrive Tanzania
Overnight in Dar es Salaam

AUG 2
Travel to Vuga; begin preparation for Conference

AUG 3 - 5
Women's Conference for 80+ participants from rural villages

AUG 6
Church Worship and Ceremony for participans

AUG 7
Outreach in Community

AUG 8
Travel to Lushoto; Outreach to Irente Center for the Blind; Orphanage and Home for the Disabled

AUG 9
Travel to Moshi; Outreach to Amani Home for Children

AUG 10
Local Outreach

AUG 11
Travel to Dar es Salaam

AUG 12
Depart Dar es Salaam for South Africa 3:20 pm

AUG 13
Arrive in DFW

Friday, July 14, 2006

Jesus Starts with a "J"

His face always makes me smile.

And when I saw him arriving at the Joni and Friends Camp - he was smiling back.

"CARE EE. You're here - it's good to see you!" With his labored steps affected by cerebral palsy, it took longer than usual for Jay to reach me. It did not however, affect the strength of his heart's affection for his favorite clown! His spastic arms embraced me wholeheartedly. His companion laughed, "Finally, he gets to see the person he talks about twice a week all year." I turned to his friend from Coventry (an artistic community for people affected by disability) with a suprised look on my face. "Yes, he really does talk about you all the time."

Whenever I would walk through the dining room, the chapel, or pass from one building to the next - if Jay was around, he was aroundme. "Charlynn, I like Playdo, do you think you can find some for me? When's CARE EE going to be around?"

As I would explain my schedule and my various "characters" appearances, Jay would just be staring at me, hanging on every word, waiting for his opportunity to speak and say, "you are my friend."

I confess, when I was in a hurry (from performance to performance) the shout of Jay "Wait up CARE EE " would pause my steps with a sense of bother. Jay's mother would come to coral her son and explain my hurried nature. Jay would counter ALL explainattions with his own answer, "But CARE EE is my friend." We would hug, he would release his grip and say, "See you later friend."

On the day of the Talent Show, each encounter with Jay brought out a big smile. "CARE EE, you're in for a big surprise tonight." Without question, the Family Retreat Talent Show does hold huge surprises. It is a night families cherish and the kids can't wait to show us their "stuff". We have wheelchair jumping, poetry reading, pianos tickled, and voices of angels couldn't sound any sweeter than those of our camp's children. They proudly take the stage and praise the God they know loves them.

It was Jay's turn at last. His friend (from Coventry) was going to "sign" while he sang. He kept looking over to the side of the stage where CARE EE was standing, distracted that I was not next to him. As he began to sing, he motioned me beside him. "CARE EE's my friend" he told the audience as he put his arm around me to steady himself.

I mostly looked right at Jay while he sang, but from the corners of my eyes I could see many in the audience crying openly. They couldn't see the tears of a clown, running down her white cheeks - I'm not sure Jay did either.

Because nothing was going to stop his serenade to his friend.

"Jesus, be my center, be my source, be my light .. Jesus."

Jesus -

His name starts with a "J" - and this week at camp I saw in my friend Jay glimpses of Him. Always quick to acknowledge I am in the room, ready to say hello, always wanting to stand right beside me and to tell everyone I am his "friend".

And when it came time to show off his talent - he wated to do it with me right by his side.

Somehow I know Jesus is doing the same.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

CAMP ALLEN - Joni and Friends Family Retreat

July 9
Leadership Meeting

July 10
Volunteers Arrive

July 11
Families Arrive - Ice Cream Social

July 12
Special Evening Dinner - Midnight at the Oasis

July 13
Wheelchair Dance

July 14
Talent Show

July 15
Say Goodbye till next year