Browsing Tag

Missions

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Ultimate Hot Spot

Talofa! For the past week, Glenn and I have enjoyed extraordinary hospitality and we’ve been blessed to teach on the beautiful island of American Samoa. Glenn has done elder case studies with the men of the Nu’uuli congregation and surrounding areas in hopes of their aspiring to be godly elders for the future of the church here. Unlike most places on the mainland, women were willing to spend two-and-a-half hours in study of the Word with me and then, when that was over, they wanted to stay and ask questions. Our treatment by the family there was far better than we could deserve and we will always be grateful. I ate a few foods that were brand new to me, including mussel and turkey tail (I did not even really know there was a tail!). I have eaten taro root and yams that were white and Glenn loved the octopus. 

We met for our services in a red and white building at the foot of a huge mountain that exhibited beautiful waterfalls when the rains came. (We teased them that they painted the building just for us Bama fans!) The singing was the most beautiful and energetic I have ever heard. I could not understand most of the Samoan words, but I knew, for certain, there was no reservation of praise and thanksgiving. Abraham Soli, who traveled with us from West Huntsville, along with Joseph, occasionally, (who is local) did the interpreting for Glenn. His sisters, Ruth and Pisa, also from West Huntsville, interpreted for me in the women’s classes. This island was their childhood home. Their father, a faithful elder and preacher of the gospel, started the congregation and his body is now buried in a tomb that stands right behind the building. Their mother’s tomb is beside his. To say they are loved here is an understatement. They did an excellent job translating, as well as being very generous and loving to the people of the island. In return, the islanders were very kind and generous to all of us. They did not eat until we were finished. They would not allow us to wash as much as a fork or cook a dish. They truly loved beyond measure. 

The biggest challenge of the week was communication. Though our translators were excellent, there are all kinds of difficulties when you are trying to match two languages to deliver exact meaning. Imagine trying to define Greek words from Titus 2 to the best of your limited ability, and then, when you are done explaining, the explanation is still not in the right language for understanding. You still have to go through one more round of defining. 

Connectivity with the world off the island was almost impossible. We had no cell phone connections, an extremely scant facebook connection every now and then, and our email was turtle slow. There were some important emails and urgent correspondence that we did not feel could comfortably wait till we got home, so we kept trying…trying at the hotel, trying at the church building, trying at McDonald’s. But it was to little avail. We will be spending some time trying to catch up when we reach the mainland on Wednesday morning. The 17.5 hours in the air, between here and Huntsville, Alabama, is a chasm of lost communication, itself. We will wait to hear from loved ones until that communication is restored. 

But there was One that we love dearly with whom we never dropped a call, with whom we never had to wait for connectivity or for whom distance has never been a problem. I am so glad—SO GLAD—that my God is never unavailable. When I could not offer any help to the couple who were experiencing marriage problems, I could still implore in their behalf and beg for His providence in making a way for restoration. I could pray James 1:5. When I could not speak with my children or grandchildren, I could still talk to their most important PARENT and beg for his mercies on them—that they would be constantly in His service and in His care. I could still talk to the ONE who could do so much more for them than I could ever dream of doing. When I could not call my siblings who are so good to me as we work through the settling of matters after our dad’s death, I could talk to that other Father, Who is overseeing the whole process and Who is, even now, caring for the father and mother we miss so much. On Sunday, when we knew that we could not worship with our spiritual family on the mainland, we knew that we were doing the exact same things that they had already finished doing and that the sweet savor had been coming before our Father’s throne all through the hours of the first day of the week from all around the world. We were connected in the most important ways.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Prayers for Pago Pago

Monday 5:45 am.

I have finally found my seat on this little jet that will taxi us over to Houston on our first leg of a trip to Pago Pago, American Samoa. They told us to go to the restroom before boarding because the lavatory is inoperable. I mean they told us that just after I purchased and drank half of that large coffee. I was sure I needed that coffee, after having started my day at 3 am. Now, I’m pretty sure I paid five dollars for a cup of misery in the air. After three extra expedition fees, my passport did not arrive. Here’s hoping the copy of my birth certificate works when I try to exit the states in Honolulu. If not, I guess there are worse things than waiting there in Waikiki for my husband to come back from the mission trip in Samoa. 

But really, I am very prayerful that lots of good can be done by the One who is hearing my petitions through the clay vessels that we are. He is good. This church (the Nu’uuli church) has recently experienced a loss of valuable leadership along with facing all of the other obstacles that the devil loves to put in the paths of congregations. I’ve been asked to speak about the role of women in the family. I hope you will pray for Glenn and me, and Abraham and Ruth Soli, our translators and fellow teachers, as we try our best to help immunize this church against false teachings with the powerful spiritual booster that is the Word. We love the Soli family and their patriarch, who passed away last year, is sorely missed by God’s family in Pago Pago. We are so blessed to have a large constituency from this good family at West Huntsville.

By the time we get home from Pago Pago, it will be the tenth flight since last Friday for Glenn and me. We’ve learned to sleep sitting up, to hurry up and wait, to unpack and repack to beat the business pros and that sharing a toothbrush every now and then is the only practical thing to do.  Most of all, we’re extremely blessed to have learned that God’s people, wherever they are, are a welcoming, nurturing family. 

I hope you’ll pray for His blessings on our travel and His work in American Samoa. We’re so thankful for all of those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to be sure there’s a group of God’s people on this island. They built the fire. We just get to fan the flames a little.

You keep fanning them, too…wherever you are!

Monday 10:45 am… And the post script to the above is…

We all got off the plane so they could fix that lavatory. Somebody had stuffed a large quantity of paper towels into that toilet. Regulations would not allow us to make the flight with an inoperable toilet after all, although the pilot really wanted to take to the skies. The toilet repair delay caused us to miss the Houston connection to Honolulu, which caused us to miss the only flight to Samoa for the next four-and-a-half days. Our mission was aborted, the gospel meeting postponed, all of the people in Pago Pago who had taken off work were displaced. And, now, five hours later, we are back home. All because of a large wad of paper towels in the wrong place. This mission trip, for now at least, literally went right down the drain …with that wad.

Still there’s the Romans 8:28 clause.I believe in that clause today.

“…all things”… (that’s all the ramifications around the wad in the toilet, too)…”work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.” Maybe the reschedule will work a greater weight to His glory than would the work of the present week. Whatever the reason, the result is a repurpose for this week. And there are so many purposes competing for the bonus time.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #35…Public Mission Appeals

32As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 35  of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids (today our girls, particularly) to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

Something significantly insignificant happened one Sunday when I was a child. I do not know why it has remained with me so long, but it impacted my thinking forever about dreaming big for God and about putting missions into the hearts of my children.

To my knowledge, every single time a missionary came through Birmingham and spoke at the Adamsville Church of Christ, the elders allowed him to ask the members for financial support. They were not afraid of the financial drain that this might put on the local treasury. They just helped out of that treasury and then they made the appeal to the people. They made sure to know, to the best of their ability that he was a faithful teacher and then they promoted the giving. I remember having some of those missionaries over at our house for Sunday supper. I can specifically remember some of the questions my daddy asked on those occasions. He wanted to know about the culture in India, for instance.

Most importantly, I remember my father writing out a check each time and contributing to each work. I also remember being encouraged personally to go to my own little purse or piggy bank and bring the smallest of gifts to give to the “work”. Once, I remember, I was small and my contribution was very small…52 cents.

That evening when we went to services the total contribution for this foreign work was posted on the “number board” beside the pulpit. It read something like $3459.52. I remember looking at that number from my seat beside my parents and thinking “There it is. My 52 cents!” I knew, even then, that without my 52 cents, those numbers at the end of that big number would have been zeros. I was glad that I had filled in those digits with real numbers. At the time, I thought it was important. Now, I know it was important.

That’s why I wanted my kids to go to their piggy banks when the missionaries came round. Maybe that’s part of the reason I wanted them to write letters to missionaries and, finally, to go with missionaries and see the work and even do the work. The 52 cents, as you know, is unimportant. But what you may be putting in the heart of your child is eternally valuable. I’m thankful for a father who wrote the check and a mother who fried the chicken. Mostly, I’m thankful for parental encouragement to give the 52 cents. That 52 cents has been a good investment. In some ways, I think it is still working in my life and in the lives of my children. I hope it will even work in the life of  my little grandson, Ezra. You never know what 52 cents can buy.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’a K.I.S.S. Number 11 – Make for Missions

One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:

Make for Missions

I hope your congregation has a hands-on type view of foreign missions. By that I mean that representatives from your eldership and some of your members actually go to the sites and see for themselves what’s going on. This approach is a great idea for at least two reasons. The first reason is that your elders will be sure that the money you are sending, as a church, is being appropriated properly–that sound doctrine is being taught  by faithful stewards. The second is that those faithful missionaries need your visits to encourage and bless them as they strive to spread the borders of the kingdom in those difficult areas. 
And when they do go, there is a great opportunity for your kids to participate in the good that’s going on. Suppose your kids were to make cards to go in the suitcases of the traveling brethren. Imagine an elders’ wife sneaking your kids’ cards of encouragement in the luggage of the traveling elder for him to find when he gets to the foreign land. Or what if your kids made a card for the foreign congregation to go on the bulletin board there? Suppose they included pictures of the children in your church for the kids there to see on that bulletin board? It can do more good than you know–on both ends.
Maybe your children are artistic and would like to make book marks or beaded bracelets or refrigerator magnets for your representative to hand out to members in the foreign church. Maybe you have a teenager who could even crochet a baby blanket to send over for the expecting preacher’s wife in your mission field. Perhaps your son could make up a few bags of candy for the children in a particular class in that tiny foreign church. The ideas are endless. The items you suggest to your children just need to be very small and very lightweight, since the recent imposed charges for extra luggage on flights have taken effect. 
At West Huntsville, our elders go to Ukraine, Colombia, Argentina, and India. Bookmarks will be going to Argentina in January and then, later on in 2012 hand-crocheted scarves will be headed to the freezing Ukraine. I know both will be welcomed. The children in your church or family could just write colorful little notes of encouragement for the missionary family and fold them up to fit in a zippy bag in the traveling luggage. Then, after the representative arrives in the foreign country he could put the notes in a “happy jar” (purchased there to avoid breakage and save weight in travel) for the mission family and tell them to draw out a note each day and unfold it and read it aloud at their family devotionals. You could even try to have enough notes to provide one for every single day between visits by the Americans. (If your work is in a country where there is a language difference, you could find a translator to staple the translation to each of these little notes, but be sure you go ahead and send the original writing and/or artwork of each child, as well.) 
The mission families will  be blessed. But there will be a blessing just as big in your home, too!
PS. If you live in the Ellijay, Ga. area, you can go hear Hannah Giselbach speak on purity to moms and teens at the Ellijay Church of Christ (hlcolley@gmail.com for info) or, if you live in the Huntsville, AL area, hear Peggy Coulter at Mastin Lake Road (sparksremarks@hotmail.com for info). You’ll be blessed at either.