Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Full Day in Thess

Today was it. Two more travel days and home to my husband and babies! We prayer walked more of the city and continued passing out website cards. After handing out as many as we could to living, breathing people, we started blitzing the cars and mail boxes. My box is emtpy and I am ready to come home.
This has been a fabulous trip! I have so much more to write when I get home, have recovered and gotten back into reality for four young children. For now, please pray for our travel......................from here, I take 3 buses, 2 trains, 3 planes and 1 automobile to get back to my house. Looking forward to arriving in one tired piece.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not Much Longer

Today was another full day. The most meaningful part of the day was at the very end. We took a bus up to the top of the city and you can see the wall and gates that date back to when the Apostle Paul came to Thessaloniki. They are still in use. Our VERY large bus drove through the very tiny gate. We were able to walk around at the wall and look out over the city. We arrived shortly after sunset, so the city was all lit up. An incredible and humbling sight. It is a vast city and the masses live in spiritual darkness. Our team took time to pray for the people and for the Christ followers that live here. We prayed that the Greeks would find life abundantly in Jesus Christ and that the Lord would have mercy on the Greeks. It is a daunting task that only He can do. Looking out over the city is an image that I will not soon forget................and the souls it represents.
PS - I promise to load pictures when I get home. You will understand my frustration with technology when I tell you that the computer I am using still has a 3.5" floppy drive on it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working Hard - Full Day in Thess

Today was a very full day in the western part of Thessaloniki. It is an area where the families live - young to old, poor and wealthier. My team was on the streets 8 hours today covering our assigned area. Here's how this works: you have a map and an assigned area that you literally walk and pray down the streets. We came upon an open market where there was vendor after vendor selling any and everything. It was a very diverse area and we were able to put website cards in the hands of so many of them. The challenge from today was the lack of English spoken in our work zone. I probably encountered five people total that could speak ANY English. Sharing the gospel is challenging under the best of conditions, it was pretty much non-existent under these conditions.
My team of four was also struck by an event that happened over lunch. About 10 feet (literally!) from our lunch table, a small kitten was hit by a car while we were eating. Not a pretty sight and it really was sad and struck a chord on our hearts. The problem we talked about moments later was how upset we were over the cat and yet there had been no gasping or near tears over the people around us that were dying and going to hell as fast as that little kitten passed. Really gave us perspective.
Please pray for the veil of darkness to be lifted from this city. There are less than 1500 known Christ-followers in the city!
I'm missing home now more and more. I looked through all my pictures on the iPhone this afternoon. It's just not the same. I look forward to hearing their voices!

Monday, September 27, 2010

We Have Pictures Too!

I have finally been able to get a picture up. There are many of the historical sites, but we really got to work tonight so I wanted one of work for you. More on our day in another post. Here is Jessica on a busy street corner handing out a business card that leads the Greeks to a website that spells out the plan of salvation in their language. Each of our team members is equipped with 500 cards. Pray we are obedient and willing to pass them all out. My team of three was able to hand out about 150 over the course of an hour and a half....a long road ahead.
Speaking of long day..........tomorrow we prayer walk the western part of the city. The plan is to prayer walk an area that houses 1/3 of the 1.5 million people that live in this city. We are looking at a 9 hour day of prayer walking. As you pray for us, think of this statement that we were reminded of today............."How many people prayed for me as I embarked on this trip? Probably at least 300?? For the people of this city that is less than 1% evangelical christian, NOBODY has EVER prayed for them." These people need the power of prayer to enact a movement of God among them. Please pray.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Greek City - Day 2

Today we went to ancient Corinth. By bus, we traveled along the coastline for about 1.5 hours and saw the Corinth Canal (Panama Canal - the same but different) and then on to the ancient ruins where the Apostle Paul preached for 18 months. We saw the place where he would have been chained as he awaited trial before the Roman authorities. An incredible expereince - more on that when I return home and can appropriately gather my thoughts.

We have been with our tour guide, Vicki for the past two days. She has been an incredible guide and is a very intelligent woman. We have spent a number of hours with her and she has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly. Please pray her heart is moved towards life change that only the Holy Spirit can bring. I pray she is the tour guide for our next team in a few short weeks!

Tomorrow, we head to Thessaloniki by train for 5+ hours. We will be doing the bulk of our work and church planting efforts in the western part of the city. We have 9,500 cards to put in the hands of Greeks. Pray these cards open doors and help to plant seeds of hope in the lives of these people. NEHBC family - to those wishing they had signed up for a team this year: here's your chance. Pray for us. Your efforts back home on your knees on our behalf are critical to the movement of God on the other side of the globe. We thank you!

As for how I feel about being gone.................ohhhhhh I miss NL and those four little people. I can't wait to squeeze them and hear their voices. It's kind of a weird deal when you are on a trip like this. Because you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be at that time (where God wants you), you are not consumed by thoughts of things back home. I miss them and wonder what they are doing from time to time, but it is not consuming. Keeping the mind focused!

I'm not sure of the technology arrangements once we get to Thess, so this may be it for a few days. Please continue to pray.

Time on the Farm

Some more of our experience outside of the city.........riding a real horse - not the carnival pony rides; watching the hours-old chicks being tossed into the chicken house (50 days to sell day). It was such fun and so good for our kids. Great memories as a family.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Greece - 1st Complete Day

I am too exhausted to do any of this justice, so just a quick note..........we were on the streets of Athens for almost 11 hours today. We toured historical sites, had a reading of God's Word on Mars Hill, handed out some cards to native speakers, enjoyed the local culture and did some team bonding. Tomorrow begins with a bus ride to Corinth for more of the same. Pray for opportunities for us to interact with tourists and locals alike.

Friday, September 24, 2010

We Made It

Our team has arrived in Greece and with the time change, we are ready for bed. Looking forward to a great day tomorrow touring the city of Athens and having divine appointments with the people we encounter. Please pray it is a fruitful introduction to our work that lies ahead. We are all excited and ready to do this!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Off

Today is the day. I leave for 10 days to experience Greece as part of a team from our church. We will be touring ancient biblical sites as well as working hard at church planting in the city of Thessaloniki. I'm leaving behind our 6, 5, 3, and 1 year old with Daddy. They are going to have a blast and I'm looking forward to seeing what all the Lord does in and through me.

I have mixed glad the Lord has enabled me to go and looking forward to everything He has in store for me; a bit nervous about being gone so long; wishing NL could go with me; don't want String Bean to really learn to walk while I'm gone; pumped about spending time with my sister-in-law on this fabulous trip; can't wait to see the places talked about in the Bible.

I hope to manage a blog post or two while gone, but there are sure to be plenty of pictures and stories of what the Lord does over the next ten days in Greece. The Daddy blog might be pretty entertaining while I'm gone.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Don't Know What to Do

There's no concrete here and you can see stars. Our kids don't know what to do! They played in the dirt forever yesterday afternoon. This horse voluntarily came up to the fence. It's so different from our normal routine and very exciting. We are in Normangee, Texas. The Six Linos traveled here to be together while Daddy preaches a revival at the first church he pastored - while we were dating at Texas A&M. There are such wonderful memories and friends here. I'm so thankful our kids get to experience just a taste of it. Today....the chicken houses. Truckloads of babies arrive today. Kids can't wait.

Reminded With Every Fork and Spoon

My husband loves me. I know this because he says it and acts likes it. This is a note that he left in our silverware drawer for me just over 8 years ago. It stayed posted in its original place through two moves and the little hands of four kids. Only recently did it become dislodged from that drawer where it so often reminded me of the man who God chose to love, protect and provide for me. He has been the best choice ever!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Day I Wasn't So Sure About

Last Tuesday brought about a day that I had tossed and turned about........for a long time. It brought about mixed emotions. The two little girls started preschool at our church's Early Childhood Center. Samoosa attended last year, but this year String Bean would join her. All four kids are gone at the same time and I am by myself. The ECC is a fantastic ministry and all of our children have learned and grown so much while there. I wasn't worried about the program. I was very excited to have almost five hours to myself. I pretty much have the whole semester of free time already planned out of things that I must get done while my four little helpers are not with me. But I was sad. String Bean was just 15 months when she started. She still isn't walking and she is still very much the string bean of the bunch. I just didn't think it was best for her to be away at school already. The other three didn't start until they were two years old. I struggled with the decision for a long time and came close to changing my mind several times over the summer - after paying all of the registration fees. It came down to this...........I will be a better mommy and wife if I have some time alone on a regular basis. It's not that I don't love having everyone around. It's that I can't continually function at a high level of excellence in our home if I don't have some down time to regroup and re energize. I haven't fully figured out what regrouping looks like, but I know it includes working out, uninterrupted time with the Lord, some naps here and there, reading and running errands - quickly and quietly. There will be lunches out with girlfriends along the way while floors are drying and laundry is washing. It will be different for sure.

2395 days ago, my journey at this full-time job we call 'mommy' began. It is one that never stops and is by far the most rewarding. I know the Six Linos will thrive and enjoy life together even if I am a little sad that our baby is already in preschool. She did have a good first day with no tears and her big sister took good care of her while enjoying her first day as well.

String Bean ready to face the day!

Samoosa the pack mule - carrying her sister's napmat in addition to all of her own stuff.

Samoosa's class off to a good start - 9 boys and 4 girls!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drastic Measures

I think my kids understand me a little better now. I have made myself more clear. Several weeks ago while Daddy was out of town, is when it happened. Over time we had become discouraged - actually down right irritated is a better word - with the level of care that our children use with their belongings. They are so rough on toys and things seem to break easily. I had been working hard to talk to them about how we use things the way they were meant to be used instead of using our creative minds to find new and destructive ways to play. Well, this particular day I guess I was already a bit high strung because when I saw another broken toy I put a stop to it. I told each of the kids they could have their blanket and pick one toy to keep. The others would all be gone when they woke up the next morning.

Of course when you say those things, you have to mean it or you will never be able to threaten any action again. Prior to bedtime, I had them remove all of the toys, games, etc from their rooms. I stayed up most of the night and cleaned out the play room. Some stuff went to the garbage can, some stuff went to Goodwill and the rest went to our closet and other hiding places throughout the house. It was exhausting but worth the effort. Here is what their playroom looked like when they woke up.
If you know our playroom, you know this is drastic. I left some books out for us to read to them on occasion, but otherwise they were on their own to be creative. The older threesome played hard together for the almost month that their toys were gone. They played chase and fun imagination games. They often wanted to be downstairs helping me do whatever I was doing, but I reminded them that this was their time to think about using things properly and learn to appreciate the things they have been given.

The toys that I saved returned to the playroom last week and it was like Christmas. They were so excited to see all of the things they had been missing and wanted so badly to use during playtime. I haven't found a broken toy yet. I can always remind them of this time without toys. It's good for them!

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Addition to the Daily News Ticker

This past week, I found a wonderful new podcast. I would call myself a Fox News ticker junkie. I often just switch the channel to read through the ticker. It keeps me up to date and not too engulfed in my 6 and under world. It's hard not to be consumed by the four little people in my life. I have to work hard to know what's happening around my community and world. There is so much going on around me that is more important than my little bubble.

Dr. Albert Mohler has started a new podcast called The Briefing. It is a short daily briefing on current events from a biblical worldview. The Briefing enables Christians to think biblically by providing daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations. It's wonderful! It's not very long and is packed with good information to keep me balanced in my understanding of current events. I have listened to every one of them so far (during workouts, in car pool line or just while working on the computer.) I am thankful Dr. Mohler is willing to be a sound biblical voice in today's quickly changing world.

You can use the link above to access each day on the internet or use itunes to subscribe to the podcast. Great resource!!! He also has a weekly podcast called Thinking in Public (an interview forum for intelligent conversation about frontline theological and cultural issues) which is very good - longer in format and very informative.
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