Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Wedding Day

One of our AUNTIES got married today! 24 children, 7 staff, and I traveled in the poda pod (OH MY!) all the way to the East End of town to enjoy the day. We started out at 8 and returned home 11 hours later  but every hour spent stuffed in that van with 30 other people was worth it.

I was excited to see if a SL wedding was different from an "American" wedding. It's not that different. A bit more relaxed; you are free to yell and use silly string and confetti throughout the whole ceremony! There were 2 offering during the service, which I was NOT prepared for but thankfully I had a couple thousand in my purse. I think that at least 25 people signed the wedding license and there was a pledge time where people stood and pledged what they would give the couple in the future...they will be receiving LOTS of diapers if they ever are blessed with a little one:) And different groups and families wore matching'll see our beautiful style below.

I have a few pictures of the day but none of the bride:(

The children sang a song about marriage for the couple.

Waiting for the reception to begin...HOT and TIRED and HUNGRY is the look on their faces!

The TRS staff sang LOUDLY and ENTHUSIASTICALLY and slightly out of tune.

But they DANCED well and they ENJOYED the party!

The flower girls and the page boy...this is at the end of the day when we arrived back at the center...they could barely stand up straight they were so tired.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I've been having a lot of Elijah moments lately. I wish it were the BIG moments when he fed people or showed God's glory to hundreds of false god worshippers. It would be nice if it were similar to his prayers that stopped rain for 3 years and then got God to send rain again just at the right time. I'd like a dose of his confidence, his faithfulness, and his courage. But those aren't where I'm at right now. It would even be okay if they were the silent moments of Elijah...I'm sure there were many good things that he did that aren't recorded in history!

In 1 Kings 19 Elijah runs away...
He's just defeated a worship system that has enslaved people for years. 
He's won ground for the Lord by showing that God's power is greater than any other.
He's killed hundreds of his enemies.
He ran a race and beat a king in a chariot.
He's prayed for rain and seen an immediate answer. 
BUT he is threatened by a woman--yes she's the queen but he's faced her before--and he RUNS AWAY.

He goes and sits under a broom tree and asks God to finish him off. 
He's tired.
He's wondering where God is. 
Where's his reward.

And I LOVE what God does next he sends an Angel with water, food, sleep and REST. Because God knows that we are whole people...that's how he made us...and we cannot function without enough food, water, and sleep...EVEN if we are doing good things for him, eventually we all come to the point where we have to sit down under the broom tree and get fed. And I don't think we are supposed to spiritualize this and say God gave him the spiritual food he needed to go on...that comes this moment Elijah gets EXACTLY what he needs--real, physical food and water and sleep.
Then God addresses his crabbiness and his wonder with a question, "“What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

And Elijah is not afraid to give his real, honest answer filled with all his wonders and self-righteousness...“I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” OR "I've done all that you asked. Why have you left me alone! Hello, I am following you and this is NOT the way the story is supposed to be!" 

God's answer is beautiful.
a storm. 
an earthquake. 
a fire.  
a whisper. (my translation says a thin silence)

Elijah goes to stand with God. WOW! and repeats the same thing...God asks, "why are you here?" Elijah responds, "It's not fair and I am all alone but I follow you!"

And God answers with EXACTLY what Elijah needs...Hope for the future! 
New kings to anoint.
7,000 other followers who never bowed to false gods.
An apprentice to take his place when the time came for him to die.

Elijah goes away from this time with God refreshed physically. He's heard by a compassionate Father who reminds him gently that he is not alone and all is not lost. He steps back into life/ministry with a new plan. God gives him a companion and reminds him that the work of the Lord will go on through others long after he is gone. His plan is bigger.
than one event.
one moment.
one prayer.
one king.
one defeat.
one earthquake.
one prophet.
one nation.

There is so much we can learn from this account from Elijah. I shared the story at staff devotions and one staff member said he loved this story because it showed God's Word is inspired. If it wasn't the writer would have left out this part that makes Elijah look like anything but a hero. We like our heros to be strong always, unwavering in faith, and sure. But maybe that's why I love Elijah so much...he, like so many of the Bible's characters, was flawed and human! 

I think that no matter where we serve or how we serve, if we are serving the Lord we all face Elijah moments...we face the ones where everything is good and God's hand on us is evident to all; we face the ones where we run away, get stuck under a broom tree, and have to have the Lord rescue us. He lovingly changes feeds us, listens to us, speaks to us in silence, and changes our focus. Maybe he gives us a new ministry or like Elijah shows us how to turn it over to someone next. I don't know where you are at...I know where I am.
I'm at the end of a season.
hungry for home.
thirsty for diet coke.
Wondering what's next.
how do I finish well.
where do I go from here.
looking for a broom tree...not to die under! just to get some rest!

And God is gently reminding me his plan is bigger. 
than one year.
one opportunity.
one dream. 
one prayer.
one defeat.
one nation.
one idea.

He is always good, 
His grace is sufficient
and I am always loved....and so are you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Birthday Celebration: July-September

The CAKE...chocolate. YUMMY!

Our Grandpa lead the singing.

The celebrants!

Happy Birthday!

Always ready to pose for the camera.



Favorite Big Sister

Not a fan of silly hats.

The girls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Over the last year I've gotten pretty good at ignoring the poverty around me. It's a terrible thing, perhaps, but it is also coping. Our Social Worker keeps telling me, "Cari if you try to help everyone you'll help no one and you'll have nothing left." I often find comfort in knowing that when Jesus walked this messy earth HE didn't heal everyone, talk to everyone, or rescue everyone. In fact, I don't know if he lifted a single person out of poverty. He fed a few, prayed with and for them but mostly he lived with a poor man...and reminded them that there is more to life than what you do or don't have. He denounced the systems that held them captive and oppressed them and HE declared that rich or poor...the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is yours if you choose it. 

But this ignoring only goes so far, and there are days when I am so overwhelmed by what I see and what I have and many don't have that I can barely function. In living color I see the contrast between the house that I live in here with it's running water and electricity and the shack next door build out of tarps and tin. When I am driving, ALONE in my car I see the LOOOOOOONG lines of people waiting for a ride on a bus that should seat 10 but will seat 25+, or the new city buses that can hold hundreds if you pack them in tight enough. I drive by the market where people buy barely enough food--that's been sitting out in the hot sun covered with flies--for one meal; I am on my way to the supermarket where I have been known to complain when they don't have the kind of ice cream bar I like. 

I had one of those days last week. I was out to get my weekly supply of groceries and on the way back all I could see was children. EVERYWHERE! Walking on the side of the road, shopping in the markets, selling cookies and fruit, and toting 5 gallon buckets of water. And my heart cried...Jesus, why?!? It's a school day! They look hungry! They should be playing and learning! WHY!?! and then I started to think...which one is mine to care for? I know I can only take one or maybe two, which one is mine? And the LORD who knows and understand me and loves me said this to my heart...."That one is mine! The one in the pink frilly dress, SHE IS MINE!" And I began to see the smiles on their faces. The adults around them who were holding their hands; the strangers who were helping them to cross the street. 

There is a richness in followers of Christ here that I wonder if many who grew up in the US can truly understand or obtain. Pastor Daniel says often that riches come from a content knowing that God provides and trusting that provision however big or small is from HIM and is for a purpose. 

My eyes have been opened to the world around me...but there is blessed and sweet rest for my soul in this...the God of the Universe, who created each one of these dear little ones, knows each by name. He watches over them. He might call me or you to care for a few; to be a part of HIS hand in their lives and we should listen when HE does and be ready. They are ALWAYS HIS. 

He is mine! See the one who holds his hand, that is me. 

She is mine! See that smile, I put it there.

 That one's mine!


You are mine! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Queen

Today we had a special visitor...Miss West Africa Sierra Leone!

She read to the children and talked to them about doing well in school and working to become someone someday. They told her they want to be lawyers, doctors, presidents, teachers, nurses, bankers, dolphins and sharks when they grow up:) Our girls all want to be African Queens I was just amazed again at our children! They were warm and welcoming, they gave speeches and sang songs, and they impressed that Queen to tears!

Here is our own Miss TRS African Queen!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Here's some pictures of our last few weeks at The Covering.
The Ruth girls came over for dinner. We ate chicken (including the bones), pizza, rice, and salad. YUM! We also told jokes and learned to eat with a fork and knife.

Sam's school doesn't start for a few weeks, I have been giving him assignments each he is writing a letter to a man in Spain who collects letters from all over the world. I'm not sure if he'll ever receive this one from Sierra Leone but the field trip to the post office was great fun. 
We are still getting a bit of rain. See the clouds? But recess is back! 
The library is open!

It's hot and we are sweating all the time...mostly it's me that is sweating:)

Baby Cari came to visit. She ate more rice than I did:)

The babies room got new bowls and spoons.

They also got new potties compliments of the Babies Room Staff. Amazing that they would donate to this ministry too.

This a daily occurrence. I get stuck under a pile of kids. Love it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Water Wasted.

I notice different things now when I read the Bible. Stuff I never saw before or thought of as important.

Maybe because before this time in Sierra Leone I've always known that when you flip a light switch the lights come on...and if not it's on the news and everyone is talking about an outage. Here there is no pattern and no way to predict if there will be light or not. Everyday is a whole new adventure.

The water works that way too...sometimes you turn on a tap and NOTHING comes out. And it seems that everyday we have a discussion about the lack of water. I've never thought so much about water in my life.

So this week, when I was reading through 1 Kings, I read the familiar story of Elijah on Mnt. Carmel and was struck by something new...IT HADN'T RAINED FOR 3 YEARS! Imagine the water crisis! No wonder the king was crabby...he was also known as one who did more to anger the Lord than any king before him, not a great guy at all. Elijah calls the priests of Baal to call upon their god to consume their offering with fire and Baal doesn't show up; then he sets an offering out for YHWH. He has his servant gather 4 jars of water 3 times and pour it over the alter, in other words--Elijah WASTES water in the middle of a drought! I also feel compassion for that unnamed servant while reading this, to find that much water, in a drought, and haul it up the mountain was not an easy task! I've watched people carry 5 gallon buckets of water up a hill that I can barely climb without breathing like I just ran a marathon!

But back to the water...12 BIG jars full! GONE! This story is about so many things but I caught a glimpse...a picture, like the picture in the New Testament of a woman pouring perfume on the feet of Jesus...of faith that wastes what is most precious on earth to worship and express trust in a God who provides. Elijah had faith; he knew that when the people turned back to God because of this sacrifice and God's appearance on the mount, God would send rain. That which was "wasted" and consumed would be returned. Maybe Elijah wasn't sure of the results or the timing but he was simply sure that God would show up. Somehow, someway. He'd be there.

And after the confrontation is over, and Elijah has destroyed the priests of Baal (that's the edited for children's ministry version in the real version he slaughters them, but that's the stuff of nightmares and horror movies!) he prays for rain...and sends his servant 7 times to check to see if the rain clouds are gathering (again poor servant, he's go to be tired) and on the seventh time there is a cloud! The rain comes! Fast and furious! I imagine it to be like some of the rains we have here; not gentle and cleansing but FEIRCE and DRENCHING. 

I used to think the water was only necessary so that everyone would know this is not a I wonder if it was something else entirely. Something to ponder anyway. I'm going to take some HUGE leaps here and share some things that I think might be for me in this new reading of the story...

God uses all kinds of things to get out attention...things that are good like miracles and rainbows and things that are hard like droughts and famines. 

God cares about's all over the place in the scriptures; must be important.

Sometimes it feels like I am wasting things that are precious on earth; it is not waste if it is done to bring glory to God. 

Often when we waste things that are precious on earth, the God who provides often gives it back multiplied. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Got this song stuck in my head's been a long time (I was a small girl) since I've had this one playing in my head:) but it's just what I need today.

He's Still Working on Me
He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

1. There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.

2. In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.

by Joel Hemphill

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 35

September 28, 2011     

I have a serious love for the beach...WAVES, SUN, SAND, SHOPPING, FRESH SEAFOOD, DANCING (we had a sound system this time) and the SQUEALS and LAUGHTER of 90+ children and staff. It's my favorite day. I played "lifeguard" most of the time today...standing in the deep, watching to make sure no one got in over their head or swept up by a's where I love to be, observing the joy and fun of others. I also took time to play; to dig my hands and toes into the sand and soak in the grace of God.  He gives us all things to enjoy...good, perfect gifts...

Day 30

September 23rd, 2011

Today I've felt a gentle easing--a realization that there is life and joy in the ordinary. Not every day will be spectacular or filled with extraordinary things. Most days will be filled with the ordinary...small things like sitting at a table and sharing a meal with a child, smiles, emails, a few pictures, quick connections--that's all. 
We had a welcome ceremony today for the new team that arrived. They always wonder when they come what their purpose here is and God has a way of revealing His purpose...for them this place, these children will transform their thinking about who God is and what He is calling all of us to do...but mostly they are here for the simple, the ordinary...
to give a plastic bag of water
a piece of cheese
a piece of bread
to look a child in the eyes
say "I love you"
to pray and be prayed for
to be a "jungle gym" for a few days
paint a wall 
that's all but the ordinary will bring such joy to all of us and it will become extraordinary!

Day 28

September 21, 2011

Anna sister-in-love! How I love you!
Your encouragement, your prayers, and your love remind me that there is joy and life everyday. It's your birthday today and I am so grateful for you. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 26

September 19th, 2011

Me...I'm always making plans and lists and goals. Most of the lists and plans and goals never make it any farther than a piece of paper tucked away and eventually forgotten BUT I have made another plan and today I took the first step to carry it out!
I've decided that I will have everyone at the center over to the Guest House for dinner before I return to the states. WOW! That's a LOT of food...thank goodness Aunty M. likes my plan and has agreed to help:) Okay, I'll be honest, she does ALL the cooking. I just move a few chairs and greet the guests. She won't even let me help with the dishes and I'm totally fine with that too. I'll admit it, I'm lazy.
We've made a schedule and made sure that everyone will get a chance and tonight we started with Room 3 boys...the oldest ones! I am a bit scared of the room of 25 4-7 year old boys so I thought I'd start out on the easy end.
They came! Some of them didn't eat their rice for lunch because they were so excited to FEAST on Aunty M.'s chicken and fried rice and PIZZA! They were early! This is extremely unusual in Sierra Leone and I think it was because Pastor D. was in charge of them for the night and they were all EXCITED. We played a few board of them decided to play a few tricks on me and hide some of my things! And we had a lesson in table manners--important for boys who are used to throwing food they don't want on the floor, eating only with spoons, and licking the top of ketchup bottles! And after we ate we sat and talked about life, speaking in tongues, and family curses. (Um, Pastor D. talked and answered their questions, I listened:)
One of the other things on my joy/meaning list a few days back was sharing meals with people. I also love to host meals...the kind where you make your best food, set the table nice, and plan to sit for a long time and enjoy each other. I don't do that enough and I can sense another plan...list...goal coming on for where ever I "land" next.
Oh, and can you please pray for me? That group of 25--I split them into two groups and they'll be coming on 2 different nights in October. BUT I'm still scared!

Day 21

September 14th, 2011

Today I came back to the Guest House from the Center and found "We love you Aunty Karl" written on the fridge! This was obviously for me becuase we are missing some magnetic letters for our alphabet...the "C" and the "i"...and there are no karl's around. And, in high school some people called me Carl once in a while because they engraved my name wrong on my freshman yearbook! So it had to be for me!
Several of the girls had come over earlier in the day with another aunty to play in the activity room and visit Aunty M.
I didn't see it for a while...I sat down to eat my supper and there in front of me was another reminder that God is good.

Day 17

September 10th, 2011
Today I took 2 boys from the center and we went to visit Aunty M.'s house. She's been on vacation for a while now and I have been missing her! She wanted me to come and see all the work she has done on her house...
Several of us visited her house a few months ago and she showed us how terrible her roof was. The zinc had rusted and the rain was soaking through the plywood ceiling and flooding the house. The cement siding was cracked and the foundation was being eaten away. It was the begining of the rainy season so she was in great need of some help.
Some friends and I donated some money...some other friends donated some labor...and she now has a new roof and ceiling...and no more leaking means that she can save and buy one bag or two of cement at a time and repair the walls and foundation.
The transformation was amazing! She has decorated and set up a corner for a dining room where she can invite guests and family to come and enjoy her FANTASTIC food. And so we ATE...chicken, spagetti, and chocolate cake with fudge frosting--of course. Wow!
So here's what I realized...I love seeing tangible ways where I have been able to make a difference. I think sometimes I just need to see it. Something concrete, something finished, or something the is clearly defined. I know that God is always working...always moving and providing...but when I see a rainbow (saw one of those today too!) or I see a miracle I am reminded of His power and His work...otherwise I forget. It's the same way in helping others...I know that the little things we do...the ordinary, everyday ways that we reach out and love...make a long-term difference for Christ's-sake in others but I like to see the results sometimes!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Begining of a New School Year!

September brings turning leaves, cooler temps, and fall wardrobes...WAIT! In Sierra Leone, September is the end of the rainy season and the temperature is warming up, daily! The sky turns beautiful colors over the ocean but the leaves remain the same. BUT new wardrobes come out in the form of school uniforms.
Ours are blue and white as you can see below; when driving through town I see uniforms of every color! I love the bright pink and brown of the school down the road and the reds and greens of others. One thing that becomes apparent now though is how many children are on the street when they should be in school. One of our children told us that her last school had 500 students in one class! Can you imagine teaching that?!?! Her teacher didn't show up most days.
Parents can't afford school fees or the uniform or the shoes or the book OR their children bring income into the family by selling or working on the street and they can't afford the loss of that. And even those that are priveledged to go to school can't expect a good education in overcrowded classrooms with underqualified teachers.
What is the future for a child that doesn't go to school? If they can't read or write they might still get a job but chances are their employer will rip them off in some ways. Without an education will they know enough not to take out a loan or make an agreement with someone who is trying to force them into slavery? And when they have children of their own, the cycle will simply repeat itself.
One thing that I have become aware of in new and fresh ways is how grateful I am for my education. I was priveledged to attend elementary-high school in a school where I had the right amount of attention from teachers. I had parents who never considered sending me out to get a job to support the family...they didn't need to consider it.
Our children at The Covering have this same opportunity; they recieve an education that is far better than most of the children of this country. You can see it in their smiles below. They love the chance to learn; I've never seen children so excited about booksd or so grateful for the chance to sit in a classroom.
I thought I'd share with you some pictures of the first days of school this school year at The Covering. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011


When the sun shines during the makes the evening better too!

Another birthday lunch! No pizza for him, CHICKEN!

Fun with a bottle top and a string.

Happy...just happy.

More smiles!

I chased my motor car up and down, up and down, and now I am tired!