Hello Sweet Cheer: April 2012

4.11.2012

Youth Conference

This week I'm heading back over to posting about my Haiti trip!

     One of the things we had the opportunity to do was lead a conference for the local youth.  As most of you know my calling lies with teen girls and women, so working with youth is always exciting for me!  Myself and a team of people going on the trip planned out each days topic and skit.  


     We decided to go in the direction of Sex & Relationships for the entire week.  With that, we wanted to somewhat ease into the heavier stuff!  We started with a sermon on Community & Accountability.  We talked about the importance of community and accountability, how to find it, what it should look like, etc.  The next day was entitled "The Purpose of Sex", where Elise Hurst and Taylor Noon spoke about what God intended sex to be, what the Bible says about sex and how it is supposed to be a good thing.  The third day we talked about a couple different things.  Marie spoke on self-worth, David talked about what it means to be a man of God, how to treat women, etc.  The fourth day was the day I spoke alongside a guy named Devyn.  We spoke on Sexual Healing and Sexual Abuse.  We talked about what healing is, what it means to be healed, HOW are we healed, etc.  I got to share a little bit of my personal testimony which was super scary.  I felt like God was prompting me to be open and honest about my life so I shared some pretty personal stuff.  I hope it was effective and I hope they listened.



     One of the things the Lord taught me on this trip was that He wants me to be vulnerable and get outside my comfort zone.  He showed me that a lot of what He wants from me is openness with people, and that's where my ministry is going to be the most fruitful and effective.  

     Another huge thing I learned throughout the trip was that it's not about the results.  I had a few different moments where the Lord was saying, "Be obedient, do what I'm asking of you."  So in those moments I obeyed, but nothing really came of it.  I stepped outside of myself and did what God asked me to do, but NO ONE came to Jesus?  Nobody fell on their face and repented?!  There was no big Holy Spirit moment!?  How could that be?  Here's what I learned: God doesn't ask us to do things because we're going to see immediate results.  He doesn't always ask us to do things that elicit huge response.  A very wise man I know once said, "Sometimes it takes 28 times of hearing about Jesus for someone to come to the Lord.  And we never know if we're number 1, number 15, or number 28."  The moral there is that we are ALWAYS called to be obedient to the things the Lord asks of us, but we are not always called to be number 28.  

Back to talking about the youth conference...


    So along with giving sermons each day of the conference we broke up into small groups.  We had three girls groups and the guys probably had about five groups.  The idea is that those groups are where they can ask questions, talk about what they're dealing with, etc.  It was pretty difficult to get them to open up to us and to be honest, I was pretty discouraged the whole week because they weren't responsive at all, really.  This was one of those instances where the Lord was teaching me that it's not about results.  I had to put myself in their shoes and think that if I was 15 or 16 years old at a conference here in the states, I probably wouldn't pour my heart out in a short four days.  I might take me a little longer than that to open up as well.  So I walked away hoping and praying that what we had said and asked had made some type of an influence on them.


    About four days after we returned from the US we heard from Jody (the missionary we worked with in Haiti) that a few teens had come forward after we left.  My heart BURST with Joy when I got that news!  To think that I walked away just HOPING that the Lord had stirred something in them through what we talked about, and a few teens had actually COME FORWARD, CONFESSED what they knew, or what had happened to them... WOW!  I was in such awe of what God was doing through us that we didn't even know about!  AMEN!

    I think that's enough for today.  Hopefully this isn't too lengthy, but there's just SO much to say about this amazing trip!  Thanks for reading 'til the end!

Peace & Blessings!

Mere

"And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it." 2 John 1:6

4.06.2012

What does today mean?

     I grew up in the Methodist church.  I've celebrated Easter for the past 19 years.  Easter is a concept I've been quite familiar with over the years. I can remember reciting every Sunday, "...on the third day He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sitteth at right hand of God the Father Almighty..."  This is something that was talked about.  We celebrated the resurrection of our Lord!  And Amen for that.  He is Risen, He is alive and well, His presence is among us.  But what is it that we didn't talk as much about?  His death.  What He endured.  The fact that the SAVIOR of the world was HUNG, BEATEN, and TORTURED for MY sins.  My God DIED to bring me back to His Father.  I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but this is heavy stuff.

     Today is Good Friday.  Today represents the day Jesus was tried by Pilate and Herod.  The day the entire crowd chose to free a criminal, and shouted about Jesus, "CRUCIFY HIM. CRUCIFY HIM!"  Picture that for me a minute.  Pilate is standing there, crowds and crowds of people below, with Barabbas the prisoner on one side, and Jesus the Son of Man on the other.  Pilate asks, "Who shall I release to you?" And without hesitation, the people erupted in requests to CRUCIFY my Jesus.  Is your heart breaking yet?

     We are a sinful people.  And yes, the story ends in a celebration of Victory over the grave, but today we remember the suffering Jesus endured to SAVE MY LIFE.  I am not worthy of mercy, grace, or forgiveness.  I am not worthy of a Savior who didn't just die, but was PUT TO DEATH.  Friends, Jesus who was without sin, who endured the same temptations we face daily, who walked this Earth some 2,000 years ago, who is Holy and Worthy to be PRAISED, was offered up as the Perfect Sacrifice for my shortcomings.  He took on the SINS OF THE WORLD.  Wait... He what?  Yes, you heard correctly... He TOOK ON THE SINS OF THE ENTIRE WORLD.  People, He experienced the physical and emotional pain and suffering of every past sin, current sin and future sin.  My little brain can't even imagine what it would be like to pay the price for ONE man's sin, much less the sins of the ENTIRE world.

I could go on for pages, but I'll leave you with this.

     What does today mean?  How will you spend your time today?  Will you play church today?  Sure, you may attend a Good Friday service this evening and that's great!  I'll be attending one with my family.  But will you go, sit through a sermon, sing songs and go home?  Will you take your family to hunt for Easter eggs?  Maybe you'll go to the mall and take a picture with the Easter Bunny?  Will this weekend be about going through the motions?  What will today, tomorrow and Sunday actually mean in your life?

I'll leave you to ponder these questions.

Peace & Blessings!

Mere

4.02.2012

KaPaFu


Finally.

It’s been a few weeks and I’m just finding some time to pour my heart out.

As most of you know I went to Haiti over Spring Break this year.  We traveled to the Northwest region of Haiti to a small town called Mole St. Nicholas (better known as “The Mole”).  This is the same place we went last year and it was incredible.  To go back to the same place and see how things had changed was such a treat.  I’ve been processing and mulling over the things we did and learned that week and I want to share a little bit of that here. Instead of telling you the trip day by day I want to explain each big thing we were a part of over there.

We did a lot that week including VBS, hut-to-hut evangelism, construction, teen youth conference, and playing with orphans.

I’ll start with construction.

This year, we worked on a project to build a cistern in a small fishing village called KaPaFu.  (side note: waking up at 4:45am and doing physical labor all day sounded to me like nothing I wanted to do) This was a place that we could only access by boat.  My small group of 9, plus our interpreter Pierre and a few other Haitians all piled onto a small motorboat around 5am one morning and took a 45-minute ride to the village.  Upon arriving it was still dark and we got right to work moving boulders.  We worked until the sun came up and then took a break for breakfast.  The rest of the day was filled with fellowship.  The guys in our group continued with the labor but the girls had the opportunity to hang out with some women and children.  Boy was that a treat!  We got to watch a woman gut a fish, we were welcomed into many of their homes, we got to pray over and speak with them, and loved on a few of the children who were too young to be in school.

In particular, there was one precious little 2-year-old girl who was around the entire day.  I got to hold and tickle her for a little while but the second she met Marie that changed.  She loved Marie.  She wanted to be wrapped in her arms all day!  Abbey actually picked her up first and she loved Abbey!  Then Rachel, Stephanie and I were with her for a bit before she met Marie.  The second she saw her she was hooked.  The others who held her were good, she liked us, but no one was like Marie.  I couldn’t help but in that moment, see a beautiful picture of what our relationship with Jesus should look like.  Before we meet Jesus, we might know other things that are good.  I know I did.  Before Jesus, I was here and I liked what I had.  I thought I had it all. But the day I met Him my entire perspective changed.  All of the sudden what used to seem sufficient, no longer mattered.  We might even go back to those things sometimes, but when in the presence of the Lord we realize He is ALL sufficient, ALL fulfilling, ALL satisfying, and those old things don’t even hold a candle to Him.  Once you’ve tasted His glory and His goodness how could anything else suffice?  Nothing does, nothing can.  

The one day I really wasn’t looking forward to God did more than I ever thought possible.  We went there to serve them, bless them, and to build for them, and I left feeling served, blessed, and built up.  Funny how God works, huh?

Peace & Blessings.

Mere

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17