Friday, August 31, 2012

A Bucket and a Bar

...of soap that is!

After a grueling 13 hours heading south on the Great Northern Road (from Cape Coast to Cairo), my body is no longer in motion. I definitely felt like a young child on my birthday determined by the number of times I inquired, "Are we there yet?"

We have stopped for the night at the Lutheran campus. We (the Lumwes and I) have been joined by a German missionary who will also teach at the conference. It's a good thing she is fluent in Kisswahili, for we were dropped off quickly as the Lumwes had a funeral to attend.

We scoped out no less than six different rooms (seems there was something miscommunicated on our arrival and needs). I was one screen door away from shouting an un-Christlike "just give me a bucket and a bar of soap and -I'll be good for the six hours we're staying here!"

Saved by the smell of frangipanni or tuberose but none the less saved.

So I offer an exhausted "shout out" of thanks for the well-wishes on my birthday. I can't say it's the "best day ever" but I can definitely exclaim I am in my favorite place on earth. You can't beat that with a stick OR a candle.

The mosquitoes are buzzing around my ears, there's an animal outside making sounds between laughter and a whoopie cushion, and dog-tired doesn't begin to describe my state of exhaustion.

We may or may not eat something, we may or may not have hot water to rinse off, but hey...

I'm a birthday girl, Queen for more than just today.

And that's enough to make me smile
In His service
On the road again tomorrow (FOR
JUST AS LONG),

The Queen of Quite a Lot

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Safari

It is still quite dark here in Arusha, and thanks to modern technology, I am writing to you from the road. It is so dark, I don't have to worry about missing some glorious view of nature that our Creator has designed. Although I am siting in the front seat on the left side of the car, don't worry, I am NOT "texting" and driving. Here, in the former British colony of Tanganika they drive on the wrong side of the road!

I arrived without problems, enough sleep and all my bags. My hosts (Reverends Charles and Sabina Lumwe) were waiting at the airport. Only six people got off the plane in Kilimanjaro. At 3:00 in the morning, I experienced none of the usual encounters (long lines through customs, waiting for luggage, throngs of people, eager drivers fighting for a fare). It was quiet and uneventful for me. I can't say the same for the rest of the passengers who disembarked. The other five people apparently did not clarify the "date" of their arrival and no one was there to meet them. One couple who had made the flight from Seattle, Washington did not get their luggage. I had my friends wait until they had finished the paperwork. Even though it kept us at the airport for another hour, having been in such circumstances, I knew they would be well past frustrated when they realized they were stuck without transportation (in addition to the loss of their luggage).

My friends communicated to a local driver (the ONLY one at the airport) and convinced him to wait as there were people inside who would need his services. We left them with telephone numbers, and assurance if they ran into more trouble help was only a phone call away.

We arrived at the Lumwe house just in time for nature's alarm clock to greet us. I knew the morning cacophony of 300 chickens, 5 roosters and 2 dogs would not make for a much needed rest, so...

I did what frequent travelers do - I put in ear plugs and tossed back something to help me sleep! It worked. No roosters crowing, no dogs barking no nothing - only blissful sleep. ELEVEN HOURS later, my host shook me awake with news of the time - "Charlynn, it is 4:00 in the afternoon, are you okay?"

I was, I am and although the crowing of the rooster woke me at 3:15 AM this morning, my alarm was set for 4:00 AM so I did not miss much in the sleep department. My hosts were apologetic about our early departure this morning (we were on the road at 5:00) but I assured them my body and my mind are sufficiently confused not to care!

Before we departed the household gathered for prayer. The daughter was instructed to pray for our "safari." I thought this a strange (but welcome) prayer request, and once we were in the car I asked the translation of the word.

Safari, in Kisswahili means "journey."

I like that.

We have seven hours to drive today. The sun has not cracked the horizon yet, the roads are dark and dangerous, so I am keeping my head down focused on a two inch square screen to calm my anxiousness.

I am on safari!

You are on safari with me!

Today, marks the 53rd year I have been favored with life. After the prayer, I requested a song. That's right folks - I made the Africans sing Happy Birthday to me. I might just make every stranger I greet today offer up a song. My usual traveling companions are probably reading this and thanking God they have been spared this embarrassment.

I am on the King of Kings SAFARI! I am celebrating, I am singing, I will probably be dancing, but for certain I am smiling

In His service



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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looking for Jesus

"You will seek me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

I live in Texas. During an election year, it is a hot bed of political activity for candidates seeking the Hispanic vote. Thirty-four percent of the population is Hispanic, and that folks, makes for a lot of Jesus'!

Before you get confused, Jesus is a very popular name among the Hispanic culture. However, it is pronounced "Hey-soos." People don't get confused down here when someone calls out "Hey-soos." But to see the name printed (like in the title) anyone could be taken aback and assume what comes next is religious in nature.

I'm just repeating the title of an article that appeared in an 1997 South African magazine. They were looking for "Hey-soos," not "our" Jesus (as in Son-of-the-Living-God-our-Lord-and-Savior Jesus). In fact, the person the author was looking for was not named Jesus at all, but Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit born singer/songwriter of the early 70's. The songwriter (and the ensuing search to find him) is the subject of a new (must see)documentary titled "Searching for Sugarman."

Why would I be musing about such a saga on a rainy Sunday afternoon?

In a word:

JESUS (not "Hey-soos")

It's been a few days since I saw the documentary and I can finally comment without tearing up (so far so good). There is a surreal quality to much of the film; part mystery (the search), part myth (what happened to the musician), and part history (the profound effect the music played in the anti-apartheid movement among white Afrikaaners).

SPOILER ALERT: if you intend on seeing the limited release movie you might want to stop here.

My oldest son (the Ironman) often laughs at my ability to spiritualize the smallest "secular" thing or event. Watching the unfolding of the movie was a PROFOUNDLY spiritual experience for me. Yes, I capitalized profound! Decades have passed since the music of a virtual unknown ignited the passions of young whites protesting the horrors (toward the black population) of Apartheid in South Africa. Although the end of Apartheid was less than twenty years ago (1994), like most Americans, I don't recall much about the events of it ending, much less what was happening in the 1970's.

I can ramble on a rainy day, and turn a music documentary into a significant spiritual event because I "look for Him (Jesus) with my whole heart." I find Him everywhere and in everything because, there is no place where He is not. (see Psalm 139:7-10) I'm not "looking for Jesus," I have found Him.

"We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless..." Hebrews 11:38 The Message

As Believers, we are called to a life of faith (Habakkuk 2:3-4 and Hebrews 10:38). We are instructed to live NOT seeing (for the most part) the impact our lives make in our communities and our world. The story of an obscure musician thought to be dead, illustrated that fact beautifully. Sixto Rodriquez, at the time the journalist found him (quite alive in 1998) was a common laborer. He was hardly a superstar in retirement living off royalties or past fame. Both men could not believe their good fortune; a journalist who discovered a legend, and a brick-layer learning he was a icon in a country 8,000 miles away!
"...the world didn't deserve them! -making their way as best as they could on the cruel edges of the world..."

During their conversation, the journalist says, "Did you know that in South Africa, you are bigger than the Beatles, bigger than Elvis?" The humbled musician only replies, "I don't know how to respond to that." Fame, by American standards had not just eluded Rodriguez - it had never even noticed his genius. The cruel edge of obscurity for a brilliant talent.

We live most of our faith on the cruel edge of a similar obscurity. We seldom see the impact our obedience brings about. We rarely know how our prayers are effecting change in the heavenly realms, and as for our short-term missions into Third World mayhem, most time we (personally)experience more change than the people we encounter.

"Not one of these people, EVEN THOUGH their lives of faith were exemplary..."

Would the artist known as Rodriguez lived any differently had he known of his legendary almost mythical status in South Africa? Would you live any differently if you knew how God had used YOU to change a country 8,000 miles away? Would you pray any harder, give any more?

"not one...got their hands on what was promised..."

In case you're wondering how the music of an American man got to South Africa in 1970, the myth has it a young girl carried his album with her on a family vacation. Who could imagine the consequence of that choice?

There are thousands of things I have absolutely NO understanding about whatsoever. It's actually more like a billion, but if I don't know about them, I can't count them now can I. I don't know if I would respond with the shy and detached mannerisms the musician showed in the film. Even after enjoying the popular Christian music hit of the 1990's (Thank You for Giving to the Lord), I still think if someone told me in the nation of Bigger-than-your-Backyard-Land I was a hero, I'd be shouting, "What? Shut-the-front-door!"

"God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together..." Hebrews 11:39 The Message

Let me take this moment to encourage all the writers, musicians, artists and ALL Children of the King, to be inspired and motivated. If the story of Rodriguez resonates with you - HOW MUCH MORE IS OUR GOD REALLY REALLY REALLY doing for those who call upon His name; for those who are working, singing, painting, writing, living a life of FAITH (belief in what is hoped for as YET UNSEEN), as well as for those who are "looking for Jesus?"

I won't SEE a great cloud of witnesses in Tanzania. I won't experience fanfare like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones when I step off the plane in Kilimanjaro. You won't be getting reports that include tales of fans fainting at my appearance. BUT, one day you will know the full report of how God used YOU to change history, and to make His-Story one that reveals His Son and brings glory to His Name. I am one obscure girl boarding a plane to a distant land carrying a life-altering, world-changing revolutionary thing. The consequence of the choice is considerable!

"You never saw Him, yet you love Him. You still don't see Him, yet you trust Him - with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to..." 1 Peter 1:8 The Message

Smiling, knowing somewhere I'm probably famous in His Service,


Participate financially in the 2012 World Tour - next stop Tanzania! visit our website:

www.sunshineafterrain.org

Movie Trailer:
www.sonyclassics.com/searchingforsugarman/

Original Article:
"Looking for Jesus"
Directions Magazine - October 1997
www.sugarman.org/sixto1.html

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/SugarmanRodriguez



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Princess and the Pea


"If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing." 1 Corinthians 12:26 The Message

Summertime in Texas is twenty degrees past "hot." Running errands becomes an adventure into "sauna land" as temperatures inside motor vehicles reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. In preparation for my upcoming return to Tanzania I had to venture outside into the HEAT. What I thought would take less than an hour, ended up taking four hours of back and forth driving to the bank, to the Western Union office, back to the bank and then back again!

I was hot, I was irritated, I was disagreeable, AND I was hot! Sweat was dripping from my brow as I fought the blowing vents in an effort to redirect them. Then I remembered who I am and where I am going. While my reality was a heated afternoon of discomfort, I was driving a car. The miscommunication did add to the length of the time I was outside of my central air-conditioned sanctuary, but it was still a minor glitch rectified by the close of the business day. 

I remembered the women and lay leadership of Tanzania I would be visiting in two weeks. I remembered they (over 300) would be traveling by bus, through the night over dangerous roadways, to attend a four day conference on Child Evangelism and training. I remembered the hardships I knew many had endured in years past: WALKING for four hours (each way) to attend the seminar, even waking up at 4:00 AM to prepare meals for the family before setting out on their journey. Last year I was with the Believers in Zanzibar and heard of the persecution and threats, loss of job and job opportunities because they are Christians. And I am irritated by the speed it takes my 1997 CAR to cool down?

In his letter to the Church in Corinth, the apostle Paul explains the meaning of being a "part" of the "Body" of Christ. The teaching gives greater awareness of community and our place and responsibility to ALL who call upon the Name above all Names. 

I remembered my brothers and sisters in Africa; the issues and struggles of their daily life make my temporary discomforts pale by comparison. When they are suffering - I am suffering as well. Where they have a lack, I experience a deficit spiritually. My part in the body, is to do MY part in assisting to meet the needs; whether it means supplying them with Bibles or sharing skills to advance the Kingdom. When they are elevated - we (here in the western Church) are elevated.  

I wasn't clear on the plot of the classic children's fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." I just recalled the complaining, and in the Texas heat as I was doing my share of complaining, it brought the tale to mind. But after "Googling Up" on the story, I discovered a greater revelation than the irritation I remembered. 

The Prince desired to marry a "real" princess. Many in the surrounding kingdoms claimed the title of princess, but how was he to be sure of their genuine nature? On a stormy night one claiming to be a princess sought shelter in the castle. The Queen devised a plan. She would plant a pea under a stack of mattresses, for only a REAL princess would be sensitive enough to detect its presence. 

The next morning when asked how she had rested, the "real" princess confessed, in spite of the comforts of twenty soft mattresses she still was unable to sleep, something was discomforting. She passed the test revealing her true nature because of her heightened sensitivity!

Isn't that what Paul was telling the Corinthians? Be sensitive to those who suffer? Our level of sensitivity and compassion reveals our "royal" nature to those we encounter. As a child of the King of Kings, when I'm uncomfortable with MY circumstances, it should drive me to a place of gratefulness for the provision I am afforded and compassion for the multitudes who have far less resources to effect their conditions. 

The upcoming return of Sunshine After Rain Ministries to Africa presents you with an opportunity to exhibit your "royal" nature and share the responsibility as the Body of Christ. 

Your financial support of the ministry will equip over three hundred pastors, Sunday school teachers and lay leaders to effectively share the gospel and the Good News with thousands of children in the towns and villages they represent. 

Your prayers are covering the fulfillment of the Great Commission of our King to "Go and make disciples of all nations... to the ends of the earth! 

"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Hebrews 13:16

Smiling as a true Princess
In the King's Service,

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www.sunshineafterrainministries.org


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info@sunshineafterrain.org



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