Wednesday, January 29, 2014

November '13 Update - His Grace Carries Us Through

Thanksgiving dessert: Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and sweet potato casserole

Maba and I teaching a Godly Courtship seminar to the young people

Watching my mother-in-law prepare to weave a mat

Maba doing some farming in the cassava patch

Dance practice in church

Hope for Kids in Sunday school classes

Excited students and teachers learning how to share their faith

Teaching the students the Gospel Pathway presentation

Maba and I in traditional Fijian outfits to attend a wedding

Thanksgiving meal - YUM!

Family outing at Beachcomber Island

Cherishing quality time together

Celebrating our 1 and half year anniversary of marriage

Nephews and niece who we babysat for a weekend and decorated our Christmas tree

Practicing weaving a mat :)

Psalm 128:1-2
“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.”

During the month of November, God’s grace carried us through the busyness. His grace covers everything around us and touches our inner being. John Stott said, “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” It was a blessing to see God work within our circumstances and use us to demonstrate His grace to others. This past month was filled with amazing opportunities to minister and use our gifts to unify the body of Christ.

Ministry Events:

·      Maba and I received an invitation to speak during a youth rally in our church where other youth groups were also invited. We were asked to speak on the topic of relationships, which is a sensitive and rarely discussed issue in the homes and churches here. Maba and I came up with the title of our session - “Godly Courtship in a Broken World ”. This was an event near and dear to my heart because I have seen so many young people here in the Pacific find themselves in difficult relationships, young couples who have no clue how to prepare for marriage, and young girls who find themselves pregnant and having no direction because no one has taught them to understand what courtship means as a Christian and how to handle the ins and outs of relationships and beginning marriages that are grounded in Christ. This opportunity was an answered prayer! Maba and I greatly prepared in advance to come up with 8 helpful points founded on Scripture and sensitive to the culture that would have a great impact on the young people. It was a blessing to speak alongside my husband and also share our own love story that God had ordained and continues to sustain! I even got to join the worship team and that brought me great joy since I’ve missed singing on a worship team! Even local church pastors, youth leaders, and Sunday school teachers were present during our seminar. We received wonderful feedback from everyone about how helpful and challenging our teaching was, and it opened many doors for us to counsel young people in our church and their friends!

·      This month Maba and I focused on home visitations in our local community. We were able to spend time in the home of one of Maba’s high school classmates, Seva, who had quit his job earlier this year to take care of his sick father who then passed away recently. Their family had not been attending church for some time now, so Maba was able to encourage him to come back to church and take active steps to help provide for his family and let him know that there are people around who are ready to help him and his family. Seva was so thankful for all Maba shared with him and that it had lifted his spirits. Also, we observed a new family(Mother and daughter) in the area that started attending our church. The mother informed us that her daughter, Helen, wanted to get involved with the youth ministry but was a bit shy. So one afternoon Maba and I walked to their home to visit Helen to introduce ourselves and share with her about the youth ministry in church and invite her to come to our home. She was so happy that we had come around and excited to make some new friends. The next week she came to our place with some of the young people and has joined in with some of the events!

·      The EE Fiji team came together for a special meeting. Our national director, board members, and other field workers were present to share all that happened in South Africa during the EE International Conference and reflect on the growth and fruit of ministry during 2013. We discussed goals and rooms for improvement for 2014 and welcomed new team members (Seth Coleman, 2007 Pacific Intern from the US, who is now the assistant national director). It was wonderful to catch up with one another and pray and fellowship together!

·      This month I was able to follow-up with the Hope for Kids ministry in the Sunday school department at our church. I visited the different age groups in the Hindi and English/Fijian services and reviewed the main points of Hope for Kids with the children. It was amazing to watch them share the Gospel message and hear about how they learned so much! The Sunday school teachers shared how they are always excited for class and want to bring their friends! When small ones have a real understanding of the Gospel and who they are in Christ, it’s something special!

·      3 churches in our local area from different denominations (Methodist, Apostle, and Assembly of God) started a semester of EE implementation(45 people total in training)! Praise God! One pastor shared with us that his church has been greatly challenged by the EE materials and another pastor shared that they are praying to host a clinic soon in their church.

·      The dance team of young people in church has been very active this past month. Maba and I have been able to lead practices and teach 3 different dance items – praise, worship, and meke (traditional Fijian). I personally love dance ministry! I cherish those days I did it when I growing up in the youth group and young adult ministry back home! It has given us more opportunities to encourage and pray with the young people as we opened our home for dance practices. We also came together for a time of fasting to prepare ourselves for performing the items in church and the local community. It has been so great to see the young people come together as one body to minister through song and dance!

·      Our plans for traveling to Australia after Christmas has been cancelled due to come hiccups with obtaining a tourist visa for Maba. We are trusting God’s plans for us and know He has other ways for us to serve and reach out. We are filled with His peace and hope to organize a local mission trip to one of the outer islands here in Fiji in January, so please be praying for that!

·      Thanksgiving weekend was really fun for so many reasons! After almost 5 years of living in Fiji I finally was able to celebrate a real Thanksgiving! I researched recipes to put together a menu that would be feasible and realistic due to what ingredients are available in the islands: Honey glazed roasted chicken, Shepherd’s pie, Sausage stuffing, Oven roasted and herbed vegetables, Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and Sweet potato casserole! Delicious! I felt so accomplished! I was so happy to host Thanksgiving at our home with family – my dear friend Lavenia, her husband, their small daughter, and her sister-in-law. They visited us for the weekend, which was special because we don’t see each other often. The last time we were all together was back in June for her daughter’s 1st birthday in Suva. That Saturday we all went to the beach together on a nearby island and just had a blast! I thank God for people here who have become my family and have a special place in my heart! I don’t know what I would do without them!

Other side notes and Fun facts
·      Our niece and nephews spent a weekend with us and were able to help us decorate our Christmas tree! I even made them Christmas sugar cookies to decorate, which they loved. Our house is overflowing with the Christmas spirit!
·      Maba and I were able to do carry out some island work by farming and weaving. Maba harvested some cassava root crops and I tried my hand at weaving a mat with the help of Maba’s mom and grandmother!
·      We praise God for working in the life of Maba’s sister, Lewa. She has recently come to know the Lord in a real and intimate way and has been enjoying the sweetness of growing in her faith! We have been able to encourage and pray with her. She has seen God work in her and her family in so many ways.
·      December 1st – Maba and I celebrated a year and half of marriage together! God is so good! We went out on a fun and much needed date night out for dinner and a movie J
·      Recently, we caught up with our dear friend Nikita. We hung out at a coffee shop for over 3 hours just sharing about life and our faith. She blessed us with some mission support as a Christmas gift, which touched our hearts greatly. She has such a big heart! We’ve only known her for almost 2 years and we’ve grown so close!

Prayer Needs
o   Opportunities to serve and bless others during this holiday season
o   EE follow-up and trainings
o   Planning a local mission trip with a team to an outer island in January
o   Support-raising for personal and ministry expenses

Thank you for serving side-by-side and hand-in-hand with us in this ministry! We hope you have been blessed by this past month’s stories and testimonies. We are so blessed and encouraged by how God is using us to lift up others in their walk with Christ and living out a Gospel-centered faith, and pointing people to Jesus! Your prayers and support are so appreciated! Please share with anyone you know will also be encouraged!

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Abounding in His Grace,

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