Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning a Language; Part 5

Chapter Five, Learning a Foreign Language From an Informant, is loaded with helpful information and further practical ideas for getting the most out of language lessons from an informant. Informants have much to offer and can be invaluable sources of knowledge; however, success in mastering a foreign language depends largely on the student, his motivation, and his willingness to put forth great effort in the process. Before traveling to the country of destination and commencing formal training, it is recommended that the missionary become familiar with the overall picture of the language which he will be learning, if possible. This can be done through the aid of travel guides, phrasebooks, and grammars, if such volumes exist. Obviously, in some cases, such as aboriginal languages, very few resources are available. Under these circumstances, it is recommended that the missionary receive basic, preliminary instruction in linguistics.

Upon arrival, as listening and mimicry are commenced, the language student would do well to receive from his informant a list of practical phrases. Drills should be started immediately in order to learn these expressions as thoroughly as possible with pronunciation being carefully checked and corrected by the informant. First comes practical use of the phrases; understanding of grammar will follow. It is helpful to group both vocabulary words and phrases into various classifications such as greetings, relationships, food, buying/selling, etc. This action will provide reference points and practical usage right away. It is recommended that the student learn from the informant simple verbs in full sentence form versus the infinitive form. Learning proper intonation from the start is also very important. Lastly, it should be noted that the language student should never remain tongue-tied for fear of using a wrong mode or tense. It is impossible to learn how to use a form without practicing it. One must speak in order to learn how to speak, and correction should be constantly sought after in order to improve.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chapel Special

Last week in chapel, my grammar teacher, her husband, and niece sang a beautiful special music piece that I absolutely loved. I took two video segments of it to share with you, but for some reason, I am having trouble uploading the second segment to You Tube. In the meanwhile, here is part 1 for your enjoyment!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Language Learning; Part Four

Chapter 4, Learning a Foreign Language From a Teacher, makes it clear that learning to speak a living language cannot be accomplished solely through the use of books, such as grammars and dictionaries, but must be accomplished through instruction from native speakers. There are several different methods for obtaining such instruction. Beyond initial pointing and mimicry as has already been discussed, one can receive language training from a linguistically trained native speaker who can guide the study, from a private tutor or classroom teacher, or in the case of an aboriginal language, from a native speaker who can use some intermediate language. Careful attention to pronunciation should be given, and students should implore their instructors for correction of pronunciation at all times.

In addition to the formal instruction received from such teachers, it is also most beneficial for the language student to constantly engage in self-motivated exercises that will provide supplemental instruction and quicken the process toward total assimilation. One such exercise would be to personally create or expand drills of illustrative sentences using new words and phrases learned during formal lessons. Another helpful suggestion is to make a collection of useful phrases and review them constantly. Words should never be memorized as isolated items, but in meaningful combinations. Additional suggestions for personal supplementary study attempts include: reading aloud for a tutor and listening to the tutor read (including reading of the Bible), speaking with a tutor in planned conversation, associating with native speakers as much as possible (including living with a local family), writing down all new words during selective listening periods, listening to the radio, attending lectures and public entertainment, and attending church in the native language. Writing the language should also be attempted but only after learning to express oneself orally. Lastly, it should be noted that unused skills are readily lost, and therefore, all attempts to keep up with the language must be made.

Fun Videos From the Student Body

On Friday night, at the student rally, several videos were showed that had been created by some of the guys here on campus. I got such a kick out of these videos, I had to pass them along! The first one is a video of what the guys do when the girls are not around. The second video is a spoof patterned after a Mexican commercial that shows the days of the week here at RGBI comedy style. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Girls' Night at the Dorm

On Sunday night, we had a beauty night in the girls' dorm! A make-up artist and her assistants came and gave makeovers, hair cuts, and manicures - all for free! It was a blast!

Here I am with Pakis, our Dean of Women at the school. She lives in the dorms with us and has become a good friend. We are exactly the same age and share a common love for the Lord as well as a desire to encourage young ladies. Pakis has a brilliant, radiant smile, but she hardly ever smiles for pictures, preferring instead the serious, pensive look. Catching this half-smile on (digital) "film" was a rarity!

Jada receiving a make-over...

This is Lorena, another dear friend here! She is the R.A. at the dorms. At 34 years old, Lorena has become a beloved older sister to me. Her heart for the Lord is beautiful to behold.

Sofia receives a hair cut...

This is Argentina. She is enthusiastic as can be!

Angela checks out her make-up job.

Angela is a real joy to be around! Her effervescent spirit is a blessing!

Kaila and Alondra are buddies.

Linda and Angela

With Argentina again...

Ester and Elisa - sweet friends!

Pakis got in on the fun painting nails and straightening hair, helping out wherever she could.

This is my friend Lilian, from Honduras. She is a joy to be with!

Angela, Cristina, and Elisa - just hangin' out...

Fun times are here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Language Learning; Part Three

Chapter three, Learning By Listening, describes in further detail the importance of acquiring a language the same way a small child does: first by listening. Two kinds of listening “skills” are discussed in this chapter: Passive Listening, and Selective Listening.

Passive listening means absorbing the language by means of being surrounded by it even when not concentrating on it. The comparison is made to becoming familiar with various selections of music. People often turn music on and then go about other tasks or activities while the music is playing in the background. They are not necessarily paying attention to the music, but their brains naturally absorb the sounds, causing them to be able to recognize the songs, hum along, and recall the melodies even when the music is turned off. So it is with a language. Just as the eyes help the brain assimilate and recall visual images, the ears help the brain assimilate and store acoustic impressions, even when concentration is not being given to the sounds. Five helpful techniques are shared in this chapter for developing the skill of passive listening:

1) Provide the brain with plenty to listen to. 2) Be relaxed, avoiding anxieties. 3) Do not erect barriers to sounds. 4) Give the brain enough time. 5) Let the brain work while you are doing something else.

As helpful as passive listening is on a regular basis, however, it is not sufficient for mastering a foreign language. One must also engage in selective listening which means training the ear to identify specific tones, strange sounds, similar sounds, words and phrases, and grammatical forms. By conscientiously working to recognize and classify each of these elements of the language, one at a time, the language student will better be able to reproduce what he hears when he attempts to speak. The brain is truly a fascinating programming center capable of linking corresponding signals between acoustic impressions and the motor mechanisms needed for reproducing the sounds. Thus, listening and speaking are very closely related processes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crazy Fun in the Cancha

Last night, there was a big soccer tournament in the sports center on campus! It lasted from 9:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and solicited a lot of team spirit from the various countries represented! It was a crazy fun experience!

An avid Mexican fan.

The Mexican cheerleaders.

Go Chile!

The South American Team

Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Venezuela were represented by their team. I personally rooted for these guys, and they did a great job!

Central America

Two great amigas - Lorena and Gaby


The game underway...

Lovin' the craziness!

Hip, hip, hurray!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Well, the second official week of classes here at language school has just come to a close, and I am happy to be able to report that I am having the time of my life! I guess you could say I have taken to campus life here at RGBI like a duck to water. :-)

The Bible Institute students began their classes on Monday, so the campus has been a beehive of activity all week compared to the quietness of last week. It's been fun to see my Hispanic companeros in the hallways between classes and to exchange information about our classes at the lunch table.

We all have classes from 8:15 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Right now, my classes include the following topics:
Grammar 1
Phonetics Lab
Conversation 1
Phonetics Instruction
Spiritual Life
Latin American Culture

I am enjoying each class tremendously, even though the material so far has all been review for me. I know things will get harder as we go, so I am enjoying the relatively light study load! The teachers we have are excellent and make each class come alive.

After lunch, my afternoons are filled with activities such as homework, tutor hour, piano practice, siestas, and cleaning my room. (We have room inspection twice a week and the standards for passing are extremely high!) The BI students all spread out to their respective work programs which could include grounds maintenance, cleaning various buildings, tutoring missionary language school students, working at the radio station here, working in the library, or serving as a secretary. Then, at dinner time, we all gather once again in the dining hall for fellowship and food! Finally, it's off to the library or the dorms for study hours. Sometimes, there are classes in the evenings too.

This past week, I was invited to a Monday evening class on the topic of Apologetics and thoroughly enjoyed sitting through the 2 1/2 hour class simply for the purpose of listening to constant Spanish! I was so excited to be able to understand between 80% and 90% of the class, thanks to the teacher speaking slowly and clearly! The class was quite large with more than 40 students present. It was really fun to watch them all interact with each other in a classroom environment and participate in lively discussions pertaining to why we believe what we believe as Christians. I am looking forward to hearing each of the various presentations they were assigned in the coming weeks!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings, we have an hour of chapel, which is another favorite experience of mine. On Tuesdays, the worship style is traditional American, so I participate in the orchestra with my violin and am also on the pianist rotation. On Thursdays, the worship style is Latino, with the primary musical instruments being guitars. Both services are completely in Spanish. I love gathering with the whole student body and staff to worship together and hear the preaching of God's Word!

Friday and Saturday nights are sports nights in the courts behind our dorm. Tonight a big soccer tournament will be taking place between all the many countries represented here! I am looking forward to going and cheering for South America!

Every day is a new adventure. My Spanish is progressing...slowly at times, more rapidly at others...but I keep reminding myself to be patient and take things one day at a time. :-) Some days, I feel like I am standing outside a door, listening in through the keyhole to the conversation inside the room, catching some of it, but not all, feeling a bit like an outsider. Then, there are days where I feel like I am inside that room able to hear and understand everything, feeling very much one of the group. Those moments are thrilling! Thankfully, every single person here on campus is a friendly, kind, and welcoming person, so even on the days when I feel outside the door, I'm never lonely. :-) God has provided me with wonderful friends, and for this, I am very grateful.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers! God is at work, and I thank Him everyday for the great privilege of being here!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Peek Inside the Dorm...

La Pared De La Escalera (the stairwell)

La Sala (the living room)

La Cocina (the kitchen)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Language Learning; Part Two

Chapter two, Principles of Language Learning, exposes the deficiencies of traditional methods for teaching languages as well as explains the best procedure by which to tackle learning a foreign tongue. Unfortunately, when adults desire to learn to speak a foreign language, they are usually taught a backwards method that begins with reading and writing the language which is then followed by conversation practice in a classroom. The comparison is made to a man who attempts to learn to swim by reading a book rather than getting in the water. Instead, the best procedure for learning to speak a foreign language is the same way a child learns to speak his mother tongue: first by listening, then speaking, and lastly, reading and writing.

Students learning a foreign language would do well to expose themselves to native speakers of that language as much as possible in order to develop an ear for the sounds, intonations, and gestures being used. It is pointed out that one of the most common errors in language learning is the failure to practice hearing. But only after learning to sit and listen can one do well with speaking. Mimicry of the sounds should also be attempted from the very first day. This involves acute and constant observation, “throwing oneself into the language,” and continual practice. Just as with learning to swim or play the piano, constant practice in mimicry is absolutely essential in attempting to speak a foreign language. Without it, one cannot hope to achieve fluency.

Automatic ability to speak in a foreign tongue is the ultimate goal and comes by three processes: drill and repetition, thinking in the foreign language, and continued opportunities to use it. To learn to speak, one must speak! A missionary who wishes to reach people with the Gospel will find that learning to speak, first through listening and then through conversation, will pave the way for effective evangelistic efforts in the future.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Around the Campus...

Beautiful flowers

The Cafeteria and Auditorium

The Girls' Dormitory

Benches outside the dorm

God's Incredible Creation

Language Learning: Part One

One of assignments I received this past week during one of our first classes was to read a small handbook entitled Learning a Foreign Language: A Handbook Prepared Especially for Missionaries. As I go, I am to write a one-page summary about each chapter as well as a description of what I personally learned from it.

So far, I have only read the first two out of five chapters, and already, they are proving to be fascinating and insightful! I am highlighting sentences constantly as I go!

Because I am finding the material so fascinating, I wanted to share with you what I am learning. So, here is the summary of chapter one. Look for additional chapters in following blog posts!

Chapter one, Languages Must and Can Be Learned, is a fascinating explanation for prospective missionaries of both the importance and definite possibility of mastering a foreign language. As missionaries, the ultimate purpose for learning to speak another language is that the message of salvation and transformation through Jesus Christ might be communicated clearly in a way that makes sense to the people who speak that language. Therefore, learning another language includes much more than mere words. It also includes knowing the culture of the people, their idioms, jokes, and analogies to which they can relate. It’s about understanding their problems, their needs, and their aspirations. To put it simply, learning a foreign language is about getting to the heart of the people in order to share the heart of God.

Despite the barriers that many adults must overcome in order to speak a different language, this chapter emphasizes the fact that these barriers can be conquered with the right attitude and plenty of diligent effort. What is often more difficult to progress past are the excuses that so many people make, particularly Americans, for why they cannot (and therefore will not) work toward developing fluency in another language. Such excuses often include being too old, being tone deaf, or not having adequate time. However, these excuses are just that and do not represent realistic impossibilities. Learning a language certainly takes a lot of time. Many think this is a waste for missionaries, but it is not! Taking the time to learn to speak the native tongue of the people they hope to reach is the pivotal aspect that could make or break their ministries in the future. A helpful scale of proficiency is shared in this chapter by which students of a foreign language can measure their progress and prevent stopping short of their ultimate goal.

Learning to speak a foreign language is possible! Certainly, it requires great effort, endless hours of study and practice, humility, and constant interaction among the people who speak the language, but no language is unlearnable.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Answered Prayer!

Meet Samantha! She is the roommate I have been praying over for several months now. What a blessing to finally meet her yesterday!

Samantha is a journalist from Vera Cruz, Mexico. She is 29 years old and speaks almost no English. This is a very helpful factor for me when it comes to learning Spanish, because she's not able to translate words I don't understand. Instead, we go around and around in Spanish or resort to dictionaries until I can finally grasp what is being said. Sometimes, it takes a little while, but eventually, the "aha!" moment arrives in my brain! :-) Samantha is very patient. She is always ready to supply me with words as I grope around in her language looking for the right one. She is also quick to praise, quick to smile, and always ready with a laugh about something.

I think we're going to get along just fine this semester!

Katrina and Samantha

Monday, August 9, 2010

Buenas Tardes del RGBI!

Bright flowers. Beautiful sunsets. Shade trees. Mosquitoes. Balmy weather. Cozy dorm rooms. Cold showers. Delicious meals. Friendly people. Spanish, Spanish everywhere!

Welcome to the Rio Grande Bible Institute!

My new life here at language school is just beginning, and what a time it has been already! I started speaking Spanish within the first hour of setting foot on the campus, and I haven't stopped. The Hispanic girls in my dorm far outnumber us few "gringos" living here, so the opportunity to practice mi espanol is constant. I have already had dozens of "lessons" and haven't even set foot in class yet! :-) My new friends are wonderful teachers, correcting me constantly and patiently teaching me the correct word or phrase I am trying to say. So far, I have met students from Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Paraguay, and Venezuela. It has been so fun getting to know them and enter their Latino world!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up and explain how each day has gone since my arrival.

After five and a half hours of driving, we cruised into the sunny, palm-tree-laden city of Edinburg and quickly located the RGBI campus. Mom and Dad helped me unpack and transform my bare little dorm room into a cozy, home-away-from-home. With a bright quilt on the bed, a green rug on the floor, orange gerber daisies, and a colorful prayer map on the wall, I am so pleased with how bright and cheery everything looks! My roommate hasn't arrived yet, so for now, I have the dorm room all to myself. :-) Because she is a returning student in the Spanish Bible Institute, Samantha is on a different schedule than the new-comers and should be here Tuesday or Wednesday. I am looking forward to meeting her!

After unpacking, Mom, Dad, and I went shopping at Wal-Mart for a few extra items I needed and then ate one last dinner together at a fabulous restaurant called Cheddar's. Then, it was time for good-byes. I will miss them!

I took a walk around campus and then spent the rest of the evening, with new amigas in their dorm rooms watching them unpack and chatting about life (in Spanish of course!).

Breakfast was first on the list in the dining hall. (The food here is great!) Then, it was off to church we went! The church we attended this past Sunday was a small, Hispanic Baptist church that reminded me a lot of my church back home. I understood much more of the ladies' Sunday school lesson than I did of the sermon, because our teacher (who was the pastor's wife) spoke less rapidly than her husband! :-) Due to a lack of sleep in my new bed the night before, I was fighting sleepiness the whole church service, so that may have had something to do with it too! (Honest confessions here...)

After church, we returned to the campus and ate lunch. Then, I took a much-needed nap! My new friend, Jada, who is also in the language school, came by for a visit and we learned that our families have much in common! It's always nice to meet a likeminded friend. The rest of the evening was filled with relaxing activities like hanging out with Latino friends while they set up their dorm rooms, playing the piano, taking an evening walk (and getting chewed alive by mosquitoes), and reading in bed. I am happy to say my next night of sleep was much better than the first! I think I am getting used to the new surroundings...

Today started out bright and early with breakfast at 6:45 in the dining hall followed by registration for the semester. Then, my fellow language school students and I traipsed around the campus tending to various orientation necessities like getting our pictures taken for ID tags, checking in at the post office for our mailbox combinations, and paying our bills.

Next came the language aptitude test so the professors could determine which class division to put us in. I was totally surprised by what this test contained! I thought it was going to contain Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation drills, but this was not the case! The whole test was conducted in the language lab with all of us sitting in individual partitions and listening to an instructor on a headset. We were exposed to exercises in a language that I am highly suspicious doesn't even exist but was simply made up for the purpose of aptitude evaluation! (The test said it was written at some prestigious university, the name of which I now can't remember.) I guess this way, no one could prepare or study ahead of time! :-) The whole test took an hour and a half and included drills regarding numbers, phonetics, grammar, and memorization of vocabulary words. I am very interested in learning my scores since I really have no idea how I did in such an unfamiliar language! It was interesting and stretching, to say the least!

At the very end of the test, we were given a few questions regarding English and Spanish grammar to see how we rate with what we already know in those departments. Finally, some familiar territory!

After lunch, we gathered with all the RGBI staff for a meet-and-greet time. The president of the college gave some welcoming remarks and then each person present proceeded to introduce themselves and describe what they did on staff here, or why they are attending language school. It was a delight to hear from everyone! I was so impressed by the warmth and friendliness of the faculty. Many of them have been here for decades and you can tell they really love their work. One gentleman has been here for over 60 years! Several of them mentioned how they have been praying for us by name ever since we sent in our applications. What a blessing!

It was also fun to hear from fellow missionaries. There are married couples with children, older adults, as well as single young people like myself who are studying here this semester. One family is with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Another family just came off the field from Papua, New Guinea, having served with New Tribes Missions, and are now getting started in a new work on a Spanish field. One gentleman and his wife just finished four years in Spain and want to get fluent in Spanish in order to move on to the next step God has for them. The majority of my fellow students are heading to mission fields in Mexico. One family is going to Uruguay, another lady to Bolivia, and others are scattering to Hispanic ministries throughout the USA. It is exciting to meet these folks and hear what God is doing in their lives!

I have just now come back from the campus bookstore where I purchased all my libros for the following semester. Dinner will be in an hour, then I think the girls in my dorm are going to watch a movie together...in Spanish of course!

Tomorrow classes begin, and I can't wait!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

And the Adventure Begins!

Today is the day! It's off to language school I go!

Next time you hear from me, it will be live from Edinburg, Texas!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Stories of God's Provision

One of the convictions the Lord has given me ever since reading biographies about missionaries like George Muller, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and Lillian Trasher is to tell Him, and Him alone, of my needs for provision rather than telling people or soliciting financial support from others. Not only do the examples of these heroes of faith inspire me in this path, but more importantly, the very words of my Father Himself as He promises to provide for me, answer prayer, and meet my needs.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:25-33)

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10)

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Based on the Lord's working in my heart, I determined several years ago that I would either earn what I needed for missionary service or pray for God to provide it in a supernatural way. He often chooses to do this by touching the hearts of people and prompting them to give financially. When these experiences take place, it is so evident that the Lord is at work, I cannot help but sing His praises and glorify His Name! Additionally, such a walk of faith strengthens my dependance on the Lord and teaches me of His trustworthiness. When you have no safety net but Jesus, you realize your need for Him in a powerful way!

Let me insert here that I do not stand in condemnation of missionaries whose fund-raising methods are different. For some, deputation or solicitation of support is all they know, and God works through these methods to provide for them. He has many ways of supplying our needs!

However, ever since I began doing short term mission work at age 18, I have put this faith-walk to the test and found the Lord ever faithful to provide! This new chapter in life is no exception. Let me share with you what the Lord has done, that you too might be encouraged to trust Him fully with your needs!

In January, when I sensed the Lord leading me to prepare for language school in the fall and received my parent’s blessing, I calculated that I would need to work until the very last minute and save more than half my income every month in order to have enough to pay for my tuition, room and board, and books at school. This would not leave any money leftover for extra expenses like toiletries, school supplies, dorm furnishings, or airline tickets home for Christmas, but would only cover the bare minimum of a year at school. As I worked and saved diligently, I prayed for the Lord to take care of all these needs and show Himself strong on my behalf. In the spring months, God laid it on the hearts of several families and individuals to give toward my dream of going to language school. I was completely surprised and blessed by the generous monetary gifts these people gave! Coupled with the money I had already saved, their gifts allowed me to have enough to pay for tuition, room and board, and books all by the end of April rather than the end of July!

This meant I could use my tax return money to purchase a new laptop rather than needing it for school bills. Due to a long, futile struggle with viruses on my Windows laptop, I decided it would be a good investment to purchase a Macbook due to the fact that they don’t get viruses. According to the research I had done online, the cost of a Macbook alone (including tax) would use up every penny of my tax return. There would be no extra money for the necessary software I would also need to purchase.

Rather than taking money out of savings to cover the entire bill, I decided to take the matter to the Lord, asking Him to provide everything I needed within my set budget. Shortly after I began praying about the matter, I had a conversation with my pastor about Mac computers. He told me that $50 student discounts were available for those who would be using a Mac at college. This was exciting news! Maybe, just maybe, this discount would allow me to have enough money after all!

With excitement to see what God would do and my firmly set budget in place, I marched into the Apple store to learn about my options. Well, my friends, it turns out that I was able to receive a $100 student discount on the laptop, a $30 discount on the software, and even a free printer with my purchase! (I hadn’t even thought about the need for a printer, but God had! Isn't that just like Him to provide above and beyond our needs?) I ended up walking out of the Apple store with all these provisions in tow and still had a few dollars leftover! Wow - God is so good!

As if all this wasn’t enough, He also answered my prayer for a new camera. My other camera had broken, and while this is more a want than need, I still prayed that He would provide one. My parents didn’t know I had been secretly talking to the Lord about this issue. As my birthday approached, my dad went to the electronics store to buy me an external hard drive for my new computer as a birthday gift, but he ended up walking out with a camera instead! In telling me about it later, he stated that as he made his way to the computer section of the store, he saw the cameras out of the corner of his eye and remembered that my camera had been giving me trouble lately. As he examined the camera options, he felt led to buy me one instead of the hard drive! We both know now Who did the “leading” in that situation!

I could go on and on with additional stories about the provisions that have poured in from my Heavenly Father’s coffers! It has been exciting and even a little bit overwhelming to see just how faithful God is to provide for us when we trust Him. Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” Another favorite quote says, “Where God guides, He provides.”

I know my situation is not unique. Many of you may also be in a state of needing God’s provision. May I encourage you to seek His face about the matter, to trust Him and not worry, and to commit your way unto Him? He longs to be our confidant...our Guide along the journey...our Father who hears and answers prayers!

I sit here tonight humbled by all that God has done...and the story has only begun.

If you are one of the many whom God has used to provide for my needs... in the form of money, gift cards, or items for school... I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you for being sensitive to the Lord's promptings. Thank you for your investment in my life. You are a true blessing! I will try, by God's grace, to be a wise steward of all that I have been given.

Please join me tonight in praising the living God for His very real, very tangible demonstrations of love, care, and provision. He is Jehovah Jireh yesterday, today, and forever!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farewell To Family

Aunt Nora and Katrina

So many goodbyes are a part of leaving for school! It was great to spend time recently with my aunt and grandparents for an "adios celebration" complete with Tex-Mex food, laughs, and hugs!

Mema, Papa, and Katrina

The gang's all here!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Visit From the Jamesons

Katrina and Jeremiah (age 4) playing Pictionary

There are some families you encounter in life that leave their mark on you forever. The Jamesons are one of these families in my life.

Originally meeting through the Maiden's Quest retreat, I had the privilege of serving in their home for one year as a mother's helper. During this time, I learned much about how to raise bright, energetic, and creative children. Mrs. Jameson taught me by her example what it means to truly delight in one's children and find the greatest joy in raising a family. Her seven youngsters impressed me every time I was with them with their latest projects whether it was filming a movie, sewing skirts without a pattern, building a wooden airplane for the littlest brother to ride it, or knitting a scarf. There is always something interesting going on in their home...garage... backyard...or imaginations!

This past Sunday, we enjoyed having the Jamesons over for a meal and fellowship as well as the opportunity to say goodbye before I head off for language school. They have always been so encouraging and supportive of whatever endeavor I pursue. What a blessing this is!

Thank you, Jamesons, for your friendship and love for the Lord!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Movie Review of No Greater Love

These days, it's rare that I come across a movie worth recommending, but I must say, I am very pleased to tell you about a new release on the Christian market called No Greater Love.

The story of this movie is about a family broken apart by sin and restored by God's grace. After having a baby, the wife falls into depression and addictions which cause her to lose hope and leave her family, completely disappearing out of their lives. Devastated, her husband searches everywhere for her, but to no avail. Eventually, he gives up searching for her, assuming she is dead, and tries to move on with his life. He raises their son by himself and with time, becomes attracted to another woman. Fast forward ten years. Though not a Christian, Jeff takes his son to a VBS at a local church and finds to his utter shock that his wife is a member there! As they work through a period of healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness, both learn what it truly means to love unconditionally. Meanwhile, Jeff is confronted with the realities of Christianity, the sovereignty of God, and the need to make a decision about what he is going to believe.

Not only is the story of this film edifying and intriguing by turn, the acting is high quality and the cinematography professional, making for an all-around excellent film! I now count it among my favorites.

The movie is rated PG for "thematic elements," which I guess is referring to the brief flashback scenes from the couple's early years of a rocky marriage. However, I would not hesitate at all to recommend this film to families with children of all ages. I found nothing of a "questionable nature." Even with that said, though, I think it will be most enjoyed by teens and adults.

If you are looking for a good, wholesome film for your next family movie night that is glorifying to the Lord and enjoyable to watch, consider No Greater Love! You can watch the trailer here.

P.S. If you do end up watching this movie, be sure to keep watching past the first few credits at the end as another, final scene is tucked in between!