Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short on Blog Posts...Full on Homework!

I apologize for the lack of blog posts lately.

I can hardly believe it's been over a week and a half since the last post!

Suffice it to say life has been so busy lately there just hasn't been extra time for blogging. Between classes, homework, flute lessons, musical commitments, a girls' Bible study, errands, chores, and everything else, free time has all but disappeared! I am hopeful that I'll be able to share a few pictures of recent happenings sometime this weekend...but we shall see.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience and your prayers!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Day at the Mosque

We have had a missions conference taking place these last several days at school. As part of the conference, a group of us took a field trip to the local Islamic mosque. Here we are, all ready to go with our head coverings!

Yanerling and Johana

Katrina and Satsuki

Satsuki inside the mosque (looking very Muslim).

The first sensation that hit me when we entered was the smell of incense. It was also interesting to note the barrenness of the worship room. I am accustomed to church sanctuaries complete with pews or chairs, musical instruments, pulpits, etc. Inside the mosque there were only huge carpet squares and a few bookshelves as well as a wooden partition separating the men from the women.

Most people immediately take off their shoes as they believe that treading on the carpets is to tread on holy ground, just as Moses was on holy ground before God at the burning bush. However, since we were there simply to observe and not participate in the worship, they allowed us to keep our shoes on so long as we didn't walk on the carpet.

Sitting in chairs along the back of the men's worship area, we observed the entire call to prayer and mid-day "service." This included a "message" from one of their leaders in Arabic that was translated into English for us on headphones. I counted about 70 men and boys that participated in worship. There were also several women and small children behind the partition but I was not able to tell how many.

After the service ended, we were given a presentation by one of the men about Islam. Then we had the opportunity to ask questions. Being from a Bible college, everyone's questions pertained to doctrinal matters as we were trying to get a better understanding of what Muslims believe compared to what we believe.

Here are the highlights I can remember learning about Islam that I did not know before:

~ There are 5 main prophets that Muslims believe in as servants who did God's work. None of these prophets were perfect, but they did not commit "major" sins. They were each given the word of God for that time and included: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Because Mohammed was the last of the prophets with the "final word" so to speak, he is given the most credence and the Qua-ran is considered the word of God for today.

~ Muslims believe in the Torah, the Psalms of David, the Gospels of Jesus, and the Qua-ran as Holy Scripture. However, they only believe in the first three as contained in the original languages of Hebrew and Aramaic, and claim that we no longer have access to those documents today nor to accurate translations. The Qua-ran however, has been translated perfectly and contains no error.

~ Jesus was virgin born, but not because He was the Savior of the world, simply because God ordained it to be so, just as He ordained Adam to be created from dust and Eve to be created from a rib. So Jesus was created uniquely from all others.

~ Because Jesus' mother, Mary, is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qua-ran, she is given special recognition. Muslim women cover their heads with scarves when they worship because they are following Mary's example (according to pictures of Mary).

~ Jesus did not die on the cross. A man that looked like Him died on the cross while He meanwhile ascended to heaven.

~ People will enter eternity with God based on their deeds committed on this earth. When a child reaches the age of puberty, a black angel and a white angel descend to sit upon each of his shoulders. The black angel records the person's bad deeds while the white angel records the good deeds. At the day of judgement, God will weigh the bad deeds against the good deeds as well as their level of repentance for wrongdoings to determine their destination.

It was an enlightening and saddening few hours. I came away feeling like we had just witnessed the very thing 1 Corinthians 4:e-5 speaks of: "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Friends!

With the new students at church last Sunday.

"Getting to know you...getting to know all about you..."

Dorm Buddies:
Nathaly (from Ecuador), Me, Yanerlin (from Nicaragua), Johana (from Chile, Satsuki (from Mexico)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meanwhile, Back In the Valley...

What a whirlwind week it has been!

My family arrived home from Ukraine on Tuesday night after two full days of international travel that included a brief overnight in London. It was so good to sleep in our own beds again and experience the delightfully warm temperatures of Texas!

For me, Wednesday - Friday were days filled with laundry, catching up with friends and family, tending to various sundry home details, and then re-packing my bags for my return to language school.

I arrived here at the Rio Grande Bible Institute yesterday afternoon and am SO excited to be back! It was wonderful to have a break during December, but I found that I really missed school and all that it entails: the language, the people, the campus activities. What a blessing it is to be here once again!

As soon as I was picked up from the airport, Spanish has been in full swing! I was concerned that I had forgotten a lot and that my conversation skills had become rusty over Christmas break. However, I am finding that it has not taken long at all to re-adjust to Spanish mode, and my speaking skills are quickly catching back up to where they were before. Thank You, Lord!

Most returning students don't arrive until tomorrow or later this week, so I have been having a marvelous time getting to know the new students. There are six new girls in our dorm from Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Nicaragua. They are very sweet, fun-loving young women! I am forward to getting to know them better as the semester progresses.

Of course it's also wonderful to re-connect with old friends and staff from last semester. We have enjoyed long conversations over meals and volleyball once again at our beloved cancha!

Tomorrow is registration day and then classes begin on Tuesday. The semester promises to be full and rewarding!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More faces of Melissa!

I just got an email from my sister alerting me to their latest blog post that contains the many expressions of my adorable niece. These pictures made me laugh out-loud, so I just had to pass the link along! You can see the pictures here.

Last Pictures from Ukraine

Dad enjoying Melissa

With missionary friends on New Year's Day

Foot rubs and fellowship.

It's always a treat to see my dear friend, Kelsie!

We got to spend quite a bit of time together during this trip, which was a blessing!

Uncle Jessie and Aunt Teresa talking to Melissa

It's a baby swap!
While Jessie enjoys Melissa, Katelin takes a turn holding Kelsie's newest daughter, Hosanna Joy.

Game time around the table.

Cassia takes a turn at Taboo.

Snuggin' with Hosanna.

The day before we left, it snowed quite heavily, so I tried to capture it on my camera.

Can you see the flakes?

We got such a kick out of seeing how the neighbors dried their laundry outside even on snowy days, we just had to take a picture!

Within a few hours, the snow clouds rolled away and the sun shone once again!