After a couple days of catching up on sleep I can now say I am actually feeling a whole lot better. I hope the rest of the team is recovering as well.
First off, I want to thank Pastor Steve Shields for helping me overcome all the email problems I was having in the beginning, and for sending the last two emails informing you about the missing laptop, etc.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Our bus pulled up to the hotel in Mendoza, Argentina and as 50 or so people filed into the lobby with all their luggage we were unknowingly being targeted by a couple of qualified thieves. Many in our group noticed them mingling with us and felt uncomfortable by their suspicious activity. No one saw them take anything, but when Shellie said one of them nearly knocked her over as he ran out the door, I think we can pretty much draw to conclusion what must have happened to the missing laptop. It was never more than a foot away from me. I did turn my back on it while helping Tom issue room assignments, and that must have been when it was taken. I thank God that’s all it was, and that they didn’t harm anyone or steal anything else more important.
The laptop is worthless, but the information in it is priceless. I felt completely naked without it. I had to check in with Almighty God and ask the big question, “why?”
A couple reasons came to my mind:
1- Everything that went with that laptop and is now in the hands of “who knows who” is all about the work of the Lord. Perhaps God has a special message for some unsuspecting person when they review the material within.
2- I learned a valuable lesson in that it’s not about “me”. I can’t tell you how many hours of typing email and lists or the number of photographs, etc…. tons of information including a 15 minute slide show almost completed…. it’s all gone. So, what have I learned? The only thing that is lost is all the work “I” did. Thank God it’s not about me because all the work “He” did is still here!
There’s no picture to show how God changed the hearts of the listeners as Christy came out-of-the-box sharing her testimony. There’s no picture to show how God changed the hearts of the witnesses at Doug’s baptism, and there’s no slide show that can replace words spoken from the heart about how God touched me on this trip. God used many people and things which are all perishable to accomplish His purposes. He and His work will never end. I’m glad to have been used by Him. In that, I’m speaking of the good works I do. For I believe He will even use the bad works of the bandits to accomplish His purposes. With that thought and since we are only on this earth for a short while, shouldn’t we consider all our “works” knowing He will use both good
and bad? Which will you prefer He find in you?
The Bible says there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another (John 15:13), but what does the Bible say about service? It says quite a bit. You should read it. Especially the parts about how our attitude should be in the process. All of us miss the mark on that one from time to time (remember, it’s not about me…). I believe the greatest service is one that ultimately leads people to Christ. He gave us this great commission when He said to the disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations…. and teach them to obey everything I have commanded… (Matthew 28:19-20).”
Perhaps you haven’t experienced the greatest love you could have for someone, but I’ll tell you this; If you came on this mission trip, or if you gave money for someone else to go, or if you prayed for someone
on this trip, then you were a part of what may be the greatest service you could be involved in. That is the work of the Lord in reaching others for His sake.
And now, to those of you who prayed, we thank you. For God hears the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:29). We felt His response as He acted according to His perfect will.
And to those who gave according to what the Lord put on your heart, we thank you and pray that God will bless you in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over… (Luke 6:38). The results
of your gifts will continue to change lives in days to come.
And to those who came…. you already know the blessing you have received. But I would like to thank you personally for your hard work and perseverance through much pain and suffering (more than previous
years I think). I, and the rest of the “30-dayers,” had the privilege of working with both teams and getting to know each of you was to experience the handiwork of God seeing the many parts serving together
as in one body…
It’s been an awesome journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Remember to keep praying for the finish work to be done so the girls can move into more comfortable and safer homes asap. Pray also for the Tias and the girls for now that we are gone it’s like Christmas is
over and we desire that they would look to their Savior to carry them through as He always has. We want them to see Him and not us. We know they already have October 2005 marked out on their calenders (and
so do I for that matter) but we want them to seek first the Kingdom of God in every day of their lives.
Lets stay in touch and continue to encourage and pray for each other. God has spoken to me through you and I’d like to have more of that!
One of the issues I can’t wait to update you on will be the the Vision For Chile website. I’ve got some personal testimonies, lots of stories, and some professional pictures (from Andres) I plan to upload for your personal viewing…
Stay Tuned! (to the Lord, that is…)
Many Blessings and Love to You All,