Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas around the world!

I joined a "blog hop" at Baptist Missionary Women.
Missionary ladies from around the world have put a link to their blog. 
Follow the link to read about their special Christmas traditions and celebrations.


Sweet Treats!

  Although I had planned to organize another activity for our ladies during the Christmas season, I didn't even have time to suggest it before they approached me the last Sunday of November.  Due to the hecticness later on in December, it became clear that we needed to fit our ladies night in right away.  Right away meant exactly that...RIGHT AWAY!  I ended up with just a few days to plan and prepare.  I decided to keep it very simple and just use this time to build friendships with the ladies that could come. 
(We had at least three more ladies that really wanted to come, but their work schedule hindered them.)  

As I rolled, cut, and baked....rolled, cut, and baked....rolled, cut, and baked...gingerbread houses, it became clear to me why the kits can be costly in the store.  It is time consuming to prepare so many individual ones. 

Building and decorating gingerbread house was a big hit!

Everyone received a tray and gingerbread pieces.  I prepared a couple batches of Royal Icing.  Most of it was left white, but I did add a little red and green color to some of it.  I also set out some candy and lots of sprinkles.  Then the fun began!

Lena and her daughter - first time guests (Lena attends Ron's English class)

This was the very first time for all of these ladies to build and decorate a gingerbread house.

(left - Tonya, faithfully attends our services     right - Sylvia, came to our  first ladies' tea and attends Ron's English class)

Irena, attends our Sunday Services, attends Ron's English class
We enjoyed homemade pizza pockets, goodies, tea, and coffey as we decorated the gingerbread houses.  Toward the end of the evening, I taught them "Silent Night" in English.  They were each given a nice card with the Christmas story from Luke 2 to take home with them.

I'm looking forward to planning another special time with these ladies in the next couple of months.  Sure would love to hear some ideas from you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do you hear what I hear?

Christmas is just around the corner.
Just in case you enjoy listening to Christmas music as much as I do,
I thought I would share two great links:

#1   KNVBC is a ministry of North Valley Baptist Church (
Right now they are playing a wide variety of Christmas music.
You can enjoy beautiful, festive, fun, and majestic Christmas music 24 hours a day here

#2   Abiding radio plays Sacred, Instrumental, CHRISTMAS, and kids music.
This station has a great selection
including many songs from Patch the Pirate and Majesty Music.
Enjoy the sounds of the season here.

Enjoy these choices for lots of great Christmas music......we sure are! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Name them one by one

Novermber was a very special month as we did several extra things that focused on thankfulness.
Our biggest activity was our Thankful Tree which you can read about here.

At the end of the month we took a while during our morning family devotions to read all the things that had written down that we were thankful for.  It sure is fun to count your by one.

Last year I had made up a little song book with Thanksgiving hymns.  We got those out again this year and sang "Count Your Blessings", "We Gather Together", "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", and "Thanks To God".  These songs helped focus our hearts on the many blessings God has given us.

We also read Sarah's New World  as a family. 

Then on the 24th we drove to Latvia for Thanksgiving.  It ended up being a longer trip than we expected, but we finally made it.  There was a group of 20+ Americans that celebrated Thanksgiving together.  Some were in Latvia to finalize an adoption, two families were missionaries in Latvia, another family drove in from Lithuania, and of course our family.  It was a full house.  I sure wish I would have taken some pictures, but I actually wasn't feeling real well on that trip and it just didn't happen. 

It was also a special treat to visit with fellow missionary friends, Adam and Betsie Lewis and their three kids.  They live in Elva, Estonia - about 2 1/2 hours from us.  They invited us to stop by for lunch.  Our family always enjoys our time with their family.  As we were preparing to get back in the car to finish our trip, Sarah was asked to stay with her friend, Jazmynn, while we were in Latvia.  My heart was torn....I wanted her to stay with her friend, but I didn't want to leave her.  Ron and I finally decided that some time with another little girl would be good for her and we let her stay.  We were back to pick her up two days later.  I sure had missed her and was so excited to see her.  When we arrived, both Ron and I were almost knocked down as Sarah ran to us and threw her arms around each of us.  She had sure missed us too....and I'm glad =)

God has blessed me more than I deserve and I want to make sure I am thankful - not just on Thanksgiving Day or just in November, but every day all year long. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surprise party!

November 18th.....


Andrew really likes cowboys, horses, guns, boots, and about everything that has to do with cowboys.
we had a cowboy birthday party.

I made some decorations to match the theme.
We played some games :
*dart gun shoot out
*cowboy pictionary
*guess how many beans in the jar
(among others)
After games, cake and ice cream, and presents
we enjoyed a few episodes of The Lone Ranger.

We had a great time celebrating Andrew's birthday with him.  Part of the fun was keeping all the plans a secret from him.  Of course, he knew something was up - - he just didn't know what.  The other kids enjoyed getting to be in on the secrets.  The funnest part was getting to spoil him on his special day.

Early....very early....on that November morning 11 years ago I was blessed with a wonderful gift to love and treasure.  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Andrew!  I love you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giveaway winners!

I am so excited about the great responce to my first giveaway.
It's too bad that I can't give all of you a free copy of More Than Just A Savior.
Stay tuned and I'll tell you how you can purchase a copy.
But first things first.... helped me pick two of you sweet ladies as winners.

So, without further ado
our first winner is:

Tinyla at My Life At Home
 the second winner goes to:

Jessica at From The Heart of Mrs. Missionary
 I am so happy for both Tinyla and Jessica.  Please contact me (you can use the "email me" button on the right side of the blog) and let me know your address so that I can have your FREE book mailed to you.

To purchase a copy/copies:

contact my brother: Stephen Benefield
Cost: $10 + shipping

With Christmas right around the corner, why not consider this great book at an amazing price as a gift.

Please be understanding of the fact that my brother has a busy schedule during his furlough.  Allow plenty of time when ordering any books. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Hot Off The Press" giveaway!

It is my pleasure to introduce to you my brother...

author of
More Than Just A Savior

The Benefield Family
Seth, Stephen, Candace, Emma Stephen, Angela, Gabriella, and Deborah
"Sheep never outgrow their need for daily leadership from the shepherd"

Stephen and his family have been missionaries in Phnom Penh, Cambodia since the Fall of 2000.  When they first arrived they worked with vetern missionaries while learning the culture and language.  Within a couple of years, they started the Good News Baptist Church.  God is using this family to do a great work in Cambodia.  Hundreds have been saved and many baptized under their ministry.  Scores of lives have been changed because this dear family has given their lives to share the Good News of salvation to the lost people of Cambodia.  Their family has faced their share of problems, discouragement, heartache, and trials, but through it all they have remained faithful.

"The most important work, and the first work, is a work that is done on the inside."

Stephen recently wrote a book -  More Than Just A Savior ~ Every Christian's 10 Wonderful Relationships With God.  This book will challenge and encourage you to develop or deepen your relationship with Christ.  I am confident that this book will be a blessing to anyone who reads it.

"Our flesh will betray us into enemy hands if we give it even the slightest opportunity." 

The book was printed in Cambodia (in English, of course {smile}) and brought to the states when my brother and his family returned for a furlough.  That was about 5 weeks ago.  They are literally hot off the press!  Our family is currently reading and studying through the book.  It is a well written, fantastic book. 

"As you seek Him in prayer and in His Word, you will find Him again and again." 

Someone will receive a FREE could be YOU!

"Christians who live in stubbornness and rebellion are disrespecting their King and wasting a precious relationship that they have with God."

*simply leave a comment

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES (leave a seperate comment for each thing you do)
1) Follow or subscribe to Rachel's Reflections
2) Follow or subscribe to The Missionary Memo (my brother's blog)
3) Post on facebook about this giveaway (make sure to put the link)
4) Tweet about this giveaway (make sure to put the link)
5) Blog about this giveaway (make sure to put the link)

The giveaway will end at 9p.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 14, 2011.  

*if you would like to enter to win, please make sure the comment is left on my blog, not a comment on facebook.
*if there are 30 or more comments, I will give away 2 books!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Thankful Tree

I just love the trees as all the leaves change colors
The crisp, cool air is so refreshing
THANKSGIVING is right around the corner.

In our home, the Thanksgiving holiday is a big deal.  We try to teach our kids to be thankful all the time, but it is this time of year that we put more effort into being thankful and counting our blessings.

This year I came up with this idea:
I have a tree stand that is actually a Christmas decoration that you hang those pretty, shiny ball ornaments on.  But for right now it is our THANKFUL TREE.  Using my supply of scrap book paper, I cut out lots of colorful leaves. 

We are going to go through the alphabet for our thankful list. Each day we get a new leaf with the letter for that day and write down every thing we can think of that we are thankful for that starts with the day's letter.

Then we punch a hole,
tie some pretty ribbon on it,
and hang it on our THANKFUL TREE.

Just a few days into the month and we are having a great time counting our blessings.
We are so blessed!
This has helped us to ponder all the many things - both big and small - that we enjoy from God.

I am very pleased with the thought and effort each of the kids is putting into this project.
When we have completed the alphabet, we will take time as a family to read all the leaves.

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good;..."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Two thumbs up -- five stars

I have never used my blog to give a movie review....and I most likely will not do it again.
this movie is OUTSTANDING!!!

A while back some friends of ours told us about The Runner from Ravenshead.  They spoke very highly of it and so we borrowed their copy.  Our entire family enjoyed it immensely.  

The Runner from Ravenshead has 5 actors - four brothers and one sister - that's it.  The oldest was 9 years old at the time they made this movie.  The acting done by these children is amazing.

 This movie is filled with action, adventure, humor, anticipation, and so much more.
Since this movie is an allegory, it has spiritual value to it as well.

I highly recommend this movie!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tea Time

My heart is full and overflowing!!!
I am so thankful for the way the Lord blessed at our first Ladies Tea.

The decorations.....

All the decorations I used were very simple, yet stunningly beautiful. 

It was so exciting as ladies started coming through the door.  All the planning and preparation was done and the time for our first Ladies Tea had come.  If you remember, I was praying to have 12-15 in attendance.  Although I had personally invited 4 ladies, only one of them had commited to come.  Other ladies had also been inviting friends and I had places set for 16.

visiting with ladies while waiting for everyone to arrive
It was time to start and my guest {Sylvia} had not shown up.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  I had prayed earnestly and I really believed that she was going to come.  I sure had wanted to have a friend there that I had invited, but I was excited that our regular church ladies had friends with them.

Just as I was heading in to welcome everyone and get started, the door opened again.  To my great delight, it was the lady that I had invited from a little fabric store that I have been to on several ocassions.  I am so glad that I listened to that still small voice when it told me to stop by and give her an invitation.  Not only was I very pleased that she came, but also that God had answered my prayer and I had friend there that I had personally invited. 
my guest, Nadeshda, and I
We started off our activity with a delicious lunch.  Even though many of the ladies did not already know each other, everyone enjoyed fellowshiping with one another.

The devotional....

I had spent hours studying the devotional that God had laid on my heart.  Most of all I had prayed, my family prayed faithfully for me as I prepared, and many friends had showered me with prayer and I felt the Lord's presence with me in a very real way.  I was still nervous though!  In fact, when lunch was done and I started giving my lesson I thought, this is like it is in a different language!  Of course, it was in a different language, but it looked like a language that I had NEVER seen before.  Even as I said the words, it was like I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth.  Thankfully, that did not last very long because the Lord quickly calmed my heart and I was able to consintrate on what I was saying.
The lesson was very simple (mostly for my sake), but I also wanted to share the most important thing that unsaved people can hear - the simple plan of salvation.
My prayer now is that the seeds that were planted in their hearts will grow.     

At the close of my lesson, we sang "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".  It is such a awesome thought to know that Jesus wants to be our friend.

getting ready to sing

Craft time....

One of our activities was covering and decorating picture frames.  I had beautiful fabrics to choose from with lots of accessories {buttons, ribbons, flowers, jewels, etc}.  The ladies really enjoyed this project.  Creative juices started flowing as they decorated their frame according to their personal taste.

Sarah and I had also made lots of sugar cookies (tea pots, tea cups, and muffins) to decorate.  A couple ladies did not want to make a frame but they enjoyed getting to "paint" some cookies.  Several other ladies spent a few minutes after their frame was done decorating a few cookies to take home.

As the ladies left each one thanked me for a wonderful time.  I received many encouraging comments and several ladies expressed an interest in attending our Sunday services. What a blessing!  My heart was filled with gratitude for all that God had done.

first Ladies Tea October 2011
(left to right) Sveta, Galina, Lena, Nellie (Valodia's wife), Olga, Penny, Rachel, Lisa, Sylvia
(front row - left to right) Irina, Marita, Lena   (Nadeshda - not pictured)

Special Thanks!!!

I would like to express my sincere thanks to people who played an important roll in making my first ladies activity a success.  Of course, first and foremost I want to thank God.  The entire day would have been a waste of time had He not been with me.  I am so thankful for His guidance and strength.  
Other people that helped make this day possible....
Lisa Sampson
Lisa is a fellow missionary and my friend.  She lives in Narva (45 minutes away) and arrived early Saturday morning to help with final preparations.  I appreciated Lisa's willingness to be a help. 

Penny Smith
Penny is also a fellow missionary and friend.  She rode the bus from Tallinn (2 hours away) to help me out.  I asked her to come and help fellowship with people.  It would have been hard for me "mingle" and fellowship with all the ladies by myself.  Penny was a blessing!

My Family
My family was a huge blessing.  For weeks leading up to our activity they prayed daily for God's blessings.  They helped with lots of preparation work.  Ron, Daniel, and Sarah served lunch to our guests and even did a lot of the clean up work.  (Andrew was at home watching Caleb).  I love each of them and am so glad we can serve God as a family.

Sequoia Baptist Church Ladies 
  I am so thankful for the way this special group of ladies jumped in and helped.  Many of them bought supplies, decorations, candles, and paper goods that were sent for us to use.  I am humbled by their sacrificial giving.  Thank you, my dear friends,  from the bottom of my heart! 

Praying Friends
Of course, each of you that prayed for this special event had a part in making it a success.  God answered your prayers and gave us a great day.  It is such a blessing to have praying friends!

My Mom
She was my encourager from the minute I told her I wanted to host a ladies tea.  She was the one who encouraged the ladies of our home church to be a part in gathering the supplies we needed to have sent. 
I also know that she spent time in prayer for me and this activity.  What touched my heart the most was the note she sent me Saturday morning.  It encouraged me for the day ahead more than she will ever know.
I love you, Mom!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If she can....I can

I recently read the book of Esther in my devotions and this past week God used it to give me courage as I prepared my devotional for the Ladies Tea. 

Do you think Esther was afraid to go before the King even though she had not been called, knowing she could be put to death?  I think that she was.  This is why....she asked Mordicai and all the Jews that were present in Shushan to fast and pray three days and three nights for her.  She also said she and her maidens would fast and pray.  She knew the seriousness of the situation.  She knew the power of prayer.  She was willing to do what needed to be done.  Esther 4:16 says, " will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."  She was willing to lay aside her fears and trust in God.

Every time I thought of giving my first devotional in Russian, my stomach would start doing flips.  I knew that Satan was trying to defeat me before Saturday ever came.  So, I prayed for God to calm my heart and my fears.  Then I began claiming promises in God's Word and meditating on those.  It was at that time that God brought the story of Esther to my mind.  These are the things that God reminded me of:

I was not going before a King that might kill me
I would be in front of friendly ladies.

Esther recruited lots of prayer partners.
I too had people {in America and other countries} praying for me

Esther committed to pray.
I committed to spend extra time in prayer each day.

Esther's maidens were praying for her.
My family was praying for me.
{it did my heart good to know every person in my family - even 5 year old Caleb - was praying for me}

 God had an important job for Esther to accomplish.
The job God gave me  is important.

God asked Esther to do her part to make a difference.
God wants me to do my part to make a difference.

Esther did not let fear control her.
I did not want fear to control me.

God used Esther to save the lives of her people.
I want God to use me!

Although I was still nervous as I stepped out in faith to accomplish what God had laid on my heart, God filled my heart with peace and asurrance that He would be with me every step of the way.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Anniversary!

September 25 was an exciting day for us as we celebrated our one year mark of holding Sunday Bible studies in Johvi. 
 We were blessed to have a guest speaker and his wife from Belarus. 

Saturday was spent preparing for Sunday's celebration....

awesome helpers
Serving the Lord is a family affair.  It is a blessing that our kids are joyful, willing helpers.  I am so thankful for their tender hearts toward the Lord, our ministry, and the people that God has called us to.
preparing Borsch

Sarah made cookies

Sunday Service.....

God used Vladimir and his wife, Olga, to be a blessing.  Our people responded well to their special music and message. 
Vladimir and Olga singing a special

Vladimir preaching

The meal....

We have been truly blessed with helpful, sweet ladies that pitch right in to do what needs to be done.  All of our people helped provide the meal.  In fact, I had to insist that I would make dessert so that I would get to be a part too. 
our ladies getting everything ready for the meal

our people getting to know our guests

Vladimir sharing his testimony
Our people enjoyed visiting and asking questions with our guests before they had to leave.  We were disappointed that they had to leave so quickly after our meal, but we appreciate their willingness to fit us in before they returned to Belarus.

We look forward to the weeks, months, and years ahead with anticipation to see what God will do.

September 2011

(I know many of the pictures are blury....sorry about that.  In the hecticness of Sunday morning, we locked ourselves out of our apartment =(  my camera was in there!  So, I had to use a phone, which of course, does not take great pictures.  After the service we had our first church-wide activity....breaking in to the Pastor's apartment.  The door sustained some damage, but they finally "broke" in.  We ordered a new door the next day.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Isn't it exciting to be busy serving the Lord? 
I am so thrilled to get to share with you how the Lord is blessing, answering prayer, and opening doors.  Along with this post, I will include a warning:  tissue may be needed due to tears of joy, you may want to shout or praise God.  These responces are normal for healthy Christians.  If you do not receive a blessing, please see your pastor immediately and tell him you need to get saved!

If you remember, in July I mentioned some prayer request. (you can read that post here) It is such a joy to let you know that Lena (the lady with short, brown hair pictured below) in now a sister in Christ!  Several months ago, Ron gave her a print out of the book done by Cary Schmidt.  We met with her a couple of times and talked with her about salvation.  At the beginning of September she told us she had finished reading the book so we once again planned a time to meet with her.  Both Ron and I felt she was really close to making the decision to accept Christ.  We arrived at Lena's appartment on a Monday evening and after some visiting Ron turned the conversation to salvation.  When Ron asked where she would spend eternity if she died, she answered, "in Heaven with Jesus".  She then explained that she understood salvation was through Jesus Christ and that she trusted in Him for her salvation.  Ron asked when she had done that personaly.  She thought for a moment......then she replied, "last Thursday.  When I finished reading the book you gave me there was a prayer at the end.  It said if I wanted to get saved to pray that prayer.  Of course I wanted to get saved, so I prayed."  Wow!  We were so excited.  For the next few minutes Ron shared with her that as a new Christian she needed to pray and read her Bible every day.  He also told her how important it is for her to be in church regularly so that she can grow and learn.  That evening we left her house with grateful hearts for another name written in the Lambs Book of Life. 
We ask that you would continue to pray for Lena.  Ron said her testimony of salvation is one of the best that he has heard from a Russian.  This past Sunday afternoon we started discipleship lessons with her.  Sunday morning before church her and I were visiting and she asked me if she could invite other people for our Sunday service.  Uhh...well...."OF COURSE".  I told her she is welcome to invite anyone to come.  Then at lunch she sort of asked Ron the same question.  (guess she didn't believe me)  Sunday morning on her way to church on the bus she told another lady that she was going to church and invited her to come sometime.  
Thank you for praying with us.  Now we can rejoice that this prayer has been answered!

Another prayer request I had mentioned in July was for Irena.  She was saved last summer, but had not been being real faithful to church.  Except for the weekend of her birthday she has been attending very faithfully.  In fact, two weeks ago she brought a visitor (Sveta).  Sveta was in church again yesterday. 

At the beginning of August we moved to our new location.  The apartment is much smaller that the other building we were renting, but so far it is working out great.  Ron's English classes are in full swing again.  He teaches once on Monday, twice on Tuesday, once on Wednesday, and twice on Thursday.  He doesn't have as many students as last year, but he did not advertise at all.

before picture
We held our first service in our new place knowing that we had a few things to work on.  One of our ladies made some curtains for the window.  The lighting was really bad (especially since the days are so dark all winter), so Valodia helped Ron and Andrew put in some floresent lights. 

putting in new lights


kitchen/ Sunday School room/ fellowship room/ multipurpose room

God has given us a beautiful place to meet for church and English.  Lord willing our church attendance will grow over the next couple of years and we will have to look for a larger place to meet.


Would you join with us in prayer for three very specific things?  The first one happens THIS SUNDAY, September 25.  We will be having our first guest speaker.  Vladimir is a national pastor in Belarus.  He and his wife, Olga, are in Tallinn right now having special meetings with a fellow missionary.  Ron met Vladimir and Olga when he went to Belarus last September.  When we found out that they would be so close, Ron invited him to come and preach to our people.  Our service will start at 11 (like usaual).  We have invited all of our church people to stay for lunch and then we will have a second service.  Of course we will end the day with some more fellowship and dessert.  I am so proud of each of our ladies who have stepped up and offered to help bring food for the meal after church.  Everyone is doing something - what a blessing!  Looking forward to what God will do.
Vladimir and Olga
In October we will begin having weekly Wednesday Bible studies in English. 
When Ron announced this a couple of weeks ago, the people had a very positive responce.  We don't know if the excitement is because of another oportunity to study the Bible or because it's in English.  However, God can use His Word to speak to hearts in any situation.  
The kids and I are also looking forward to having church in English.  Ron will be using the book "More Than Just A Savior" written by my brother, Stephen Benefield (missionary to Cambodia).  Our home church, other churches, and missionaries have used the material in this book to teach and disciple their people.  We look forward to the impact it will have in our family and also our church people.     

Lastly, I would covet your prayers for my first LADIES TEA that I will be hosting.  The date is October 22!  This is a BIG step of faith for me, but one that I believe God wants me to take.  Several times I have questioned myself wondering if I was crazy when I made this decision.  Then I remind myself what a big God I have!  I also know that you will pray for me and that will make a big difference. 
Here is what you can pray for specifically:
1)  I am praying that we will have 12 - 15 ladies.  We have 5 ladies plus myself and I am asking each person to try to bring one friend.  
2)  all the planning and preparation
3)  as I prepare a devotional
4)  I will be doing the devotional in Russian (I've never done this before)
5)  that the Lord will prepare the hearts of the ladies that attend
6)  ladies that I plan to invite  *Irena (kids' piano teacher)   *Valodia's wife   *a lady I met at a little fabric store   * Tamara (a maintenance worker in our apartment building)
I am very excited as I plan and prepare for this special event.  The ladies from my home church, Sequoia Baptist Church in Visalia, California, are helping gather craft items, paper goods, etc. to help make this evening special for the ladies that I have given my heart to.  Their desire to help and be a part has sure blessed and encouraged my heart.  THANK YOU, MY DEAR FRIENDS.  I LOVE EACH OF YOU! 


Please forgive me for such a long post.  God is doing so much, my heart is so full, and I wanted to share it with you.


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