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.)


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