This update includes everything EXCEPT a rather involved but amazing story from my journey back to SC.
Click here to read J's story
MAY 30TH SPECIAL EDITION
My final support-raising tour to NY went very well. I know some expect that to mean more support. BUT I mean God aimed me at what He wanted me to share, I did that and my family in Christ at Faith Fellowship Responded! It was Pentecost Sunday and a celebration of Memorial Day. So I shared about Jesus who, more than any other has shown us love by laying down His life, resurrecting and sending His Holy Spirit so we can join Him in His work in the field where we are planted.
I was led by the Spirit to share personally about His miraculous rescue, salvation, healing and redeeming of my life since becoming His adopted Son more than 30 years ago. God took a troubled, severely introverted and wounded kid and made of him a man who believes to his core that LOVE is risk and sacrifice but is always worth it.
"Greater love has no man than to lay down His life for His friends."
Friends and family-to-be who haven't yet met Christ.
My challenge was to let God use the brokenness we all experience, and sometimes engender in others, by being vulnerable, and sharing how he is healing and redeeming those wounds for the good of His Kingdom.
God wastes NOTHING. Our every wound, victory, lesson learned can be a tool to help others see Him more clearly in their own lives!
I usually don't get immediate feedback on the message but several men, women, and teens stopped to share about specifically identifying with an abusive childhood that caused them to feel rejected and fear relationships. Each was empowered by the Spirit to heed the call to be courageous and risk to make relationships where they are vulnerable...only because He is with them and redeeming their pain for their good and the good of those He plans to reach thru them.
I was most touched by the 2 teen boys who both shared a confirmation of a future call to missions and a past similar to my own that had almost made them give up on God's plan for them. They were inspired and excited that if God could use my trials to draw me closer o Himself and to other people then He can do the same for them! That made the trip worth it!
Several families made pledges. In addition to 4 or 5 other families we are being cautious but optimistic that we will be very close to fully funded. About 99%.
So there is still room if you are thinking or praying about monthly support.
Since my last newsletter and posts I have been able to spend special time saying "goodbye-for-now" to some special friends like Nickalus, Betsy and Caleb Johnson who made a surprise visit to SC in time to get hugs in person. I drove to Nico's family home, where his parents live and got some great shots of the kind of Americana, landscapes that sing, that I will truly miss.
After leaving the Johnsons I prepared for my trip to NY and got another surprise. It was cheaper to fly out of Raleigh, NC RDU Airport, so I had asked Jeremy and Kim Alford if I could park my car at their home during my absence. I din't think I'd get to see them but they stayed awake extra late, for them : ) , and we got to reconnect, share news, inaugurate their new apartment by bein the first friend visit, and to hug goodbye-for now in person.
I love to fly...my favorite parts are takeoff...when you can feel the transition from land to air...and being ABOVE the clouds. Every single time I am moved and just imagine what it will be like when we can do all that, fly above he cloud to meet Hm in the air, under only the power of His Holy Spirit! Rapture Practice!
After an easy flight I arrived in Syracuse where Jon Bartholomew was ready to meet me. We drove to Watertown after some serious Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. I enjoyed every single minute of the next 4 days with Jon, Tracey, Tristan, Kendall, Kiersten,, Aidan and Isaiah (Zay)! We had bonfires in the backyard, sang a lot, stayed up late into the night talking and sharing our hopes, fears and celebrating how God has moved in all our lives since I met John in MB 4 or 5 years ago!
Zay Zay looks like a little man in this pic before the sun went down and our bonfire blazed to life!
We visited some of the historic sites in the area!
The Battlefield itself.
The Church where Jon,s dad Pastors, where Jon grew up, and his sister is the worship leader. Nicole and her team were so welcoming and even held a special rehearsal on Saturday so Tracey and I would feel comfortable singing and worshiping with them on Sunday!
As I said before the message Sunday was more than I'd hoped for and we all left celebrating those who died for our freedom, most of all Jesus who asks us to be ready to die as well but more importantly TO LIVE for Him! I left early Monday orning and cried the whole first leg of my flight. I bonded with the family in such a short time but it seemed like years we had known each other. Zay Zay said he wasn't gonna let me leave. Tracey and Tristan sent me off with letters from the family that spoke eloquently of that bond and moved me to tears. We plan to Skype to preserve the bond of unity He has woven between us!
Tuesday I had another milestone. It has been clear since I learned I have to learn to drive a stick-shift or manual transmission that only one person could teach me. Kinsey Muller. She is so patient and kind of a little sister to me and a dear friend, and the mother of my Godson with AC Muller.
I knew I needed someone so patient and loving that my only stress or fear would be about the driving itself. No worries about disappointing my instructor. I had my first lesson and it wen so well I was pleasantly surprised. I still need lots of practice and my goal is to balance clutching and giving it gas as soon as possible.Thanx Coach!!
Gratuitous pics of Micah's family: Me, Kinsey and AC
Micah with Mommy and the Kipe women : )
"Hey girl, you know my uncle is a Missionary...I plan to visit him in Paris when I'm older. He's pretty cool."
Then last night, even tho I will see them all separately, I had dinner with the Ortiz's and saw them for the last time all together : (
Noah Benjamin is so stinkin cute huh?
"As I was sayin...this is CLEARLY not enough bread crumbs mommy!"
I love you guys! Jamin, Lauree and Noah Benjamin Ortiz! Can't wait to Skype but I'll miss those live hugs and giggles. And by giggles I mean you Jamin cuz you giggle more than Noah! I wish you could all see how tenderly Lauree sings to Noah. It's one of my favorite things about my sister : )
That's all for now. There's Texas soon and packing in between. I'll prolly send out one more of these to say I finally received my visa and will definitely board a plane on the predicted date. In the meantime remember on Friday June 1st at Travinia I will be celebrating my 41st Birthday. You may join but by RSVP only : ) Just so we can plan space for you : )
Until next week be blessed and pray with us for this moving and momentous transition!