Here We Go, Again!

| March 15, 2012

The Journey Continues

It’s been a long journey since my last post.
I started this blog years ago, as a journal of sorts. I posted a bunch regarding my upcoming trip to Moldova (June, 2009). I was on a mission to learn more by actually going to one of the largest source countries for victims of human trafficking. During the entire year before my trip, I researched all I could about human trafficking. I arranged for interviews with people working firsthand against it. The trip was amazing and I learned so much about modern day slavery. I intended to share all about it, here. Not surprisingly, however, it was also emotionally draining. And I returned exhausted from all I’d taken in about this terrible reality.
Real life set in and I had a lot to catch up on. Feeling a little overwhelmed, I set aside my self-imposed guilt and decided it was OK if I didn’t write about my experiences, right away. I would give myself a little time.
Well, that “break” was prolonged simply by living the busy life of a mom, pastor’s wife, and multi-tasking go-getter.  Then, I hit a period of feeling absolutely terrible as a friend and family member. I went through a very long time knowing I just needed to shut up. (Ever been there?) After that humbling season, it had already been an embarrassingly long time since my last post. So, I felt I should have something really good and meaningful to say before I posted. But, that never materialized. Then, I felt like my blog was too out-of-date to post anything new.
Thanks to much technical & design help from my hubby (and his motivation!), I’m ready to begin again! We’ve made changes, revamped and redecorated. I even edited old posts with good links and updated info.
So, here I am! It might take time to get back in the swing of this. I’m choosing to leave my old messages as a foundation for what I write in the future. It’s a growing thing. You’ll probably see some posts about that trip to Moldova. And, I’ll still be sharing about faith, family, creativity and purpose, like before.
I welcome you to this new part of the journey! Thanks for joining me!

Moldova Report

| December 12, 2009

Moldovan Sunset
In November, Amy and I shared at our church about our trip to Moldova, Eastern Europe. We traveled there to learn about human trafficking and discover more about the worth of one person. One orphan. One victim of trafficking. And our own, individual worth, found in Jesus Christ. If you’d like to listen to our messages through podcast (Amy’s first, mind second) you can listen here: listen here.
I hope you will be inspired to take the next step in your own journey of faith. You are worth it.

Arriving in Moldova

| July 27, 2009

On July 16th, Amy and I arrived safely in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova.  Stepping outside the doors of the airport was a true welcome, as we viewed such an amazing panoramic of green pastures and blue skies. As we drove into the city, it began pouring and we made our way through humungous structures that looked like city gates from “Lord of the Rings”. As we got closer, we realized that they were communist-style apartments.

"The city gates"
“The city gates”

Troy Darrin (our missionary host) shared with us how each one is a condominium, of sorts, to the inhabitants. It depends on the owners how they will fix up their portion. Most are the size of 2 small rooms, with a balcony attached. One of the rooms may be used as their livingroom/bedroom, with a couch that turns into a bed. The other half of their apartment may be an entryway, a small kitchen and a bathroom. We visited an amazing young couple, with a baby, who rents one of these. The woman told us that it depends on the complex whether they will have heat starting in October or November and whether you might be in one of the warmest or coldest apartments, both summer and winter, based on what floor you live on. (Does the heat come from the top or the bottom?) Some have gas, but hers only had electricity. It costs so much, they only kept one light bulb in their 3 bulbed lighting fixture. The hallway didn’t have any lighting fixtures. The amenities depend on when they were built by the communists and how many levels they have (architectural design). She said that during these summer months it is up to her to boil her water for food and for hygienic purposes. Her small home was kept neat and tidy, and she told us she was blessed to live there. These huge complexes fill the landscape of the city.

Chisinau Apartments

Chisinau Apartments

We made our way past many of these buildings, through flooded streets and downed trees. We found “shelter” in an upscale pizzeria-style restaurant and enjoyed some delicious food. Then, we drove back to the Darrins where I was treated to some meaningful gifts, a birthday cake, and ice cream from a tube. Super yummy! We went to the living room and began the gift giving… for Moldova! Amy, I and LOTS of you donated 3 suitcases of items to the Darrins, other missionaries and ministries and the wonderful people of Moldova. It was such fun! We gave away many of the items during our visits throughout the week. They brought so many smiles! And the Darrins were left with MANY presents to give away in villages and to children, families and others as they continue their ministry in Moldova. Thank you to all who blessed us with the joy of blessing others! It was so fun to be a part of it all.*

We come bearing gifts!

We come bearing gifts!

The Sky Is The Limit

| July 19, 2009

Picture taken en route to Moldova

Picture taken en route to Moldova

Over one year ago, Amy and I were riding in a car,  coming home from a women’s conference. We were sharing how God had spoken SO much to each of us during the weekend. We were so excited because God was showing us both, in an almost tangible way, that He has a special purpose for each of us. I was sharing how God confirmed in multiple ways that I was to learn more about sex trafficking, a completely new concept to me. I was telling Amy how so many things happened that it had to be more than coincidence. You see, I found out that the same country that my youth pastor is now a missionary in (Moldova) is the same country that has the highest rate (per capita) of trafficking victims. I said, “Maybe I’m supposed to go there, someday.” Amy yelled out, “I’m coming with you!” From that moment on, God confirmed over and over again that that is exactly what we were to do.
Three days ago, Amy and I were flying on an airplane from the USA. We were amazed that God was actually bringing us to Moldova. Since we arrived, we’ve experienced more than we could ever have imagined. Throughout these few days we’ve connected with Romanian, Russian and English speaking Christians because we all share an unseen and unheard connection with an invisible God. That connection is supernatural and always amazes me. This morning I shared Jeremiah 29:11 with a village church. I shared that God has a special plan and a purpose for each one of us. I’m following God and enjoying every minute. It’s our heartfelt prayer that each one of you will find your unique purpose, too. God is truly accomplishing HIS purposes. Wow. I’m so thankful we get to be a part of them.

Maybe There’s Hope

| July 10, 2009

We will be stopping at La Strada Moldova, an NGO working to help trafficking victims.

La Strada Moldova is an NGO working to help trafficking victims.

I am leaving for Moldova in less than a week.
Today, I printed off and cut up home-made “bookmarks.”  Each one has trafficking hotline numbers listed for many European countries, in multiple languages. Part of our mission is to place these in airport bathrooms and on empty seats along our journey. We want to spread awareness about human trafficking to whoever may find them. More importantly, we pray that God would orchestrate the right person/people to discover what we leave behind.
Maybe one traveling girl will realize the danger that she’s in, herself. Many girls take jobs overseas only to arrive at their destination and discover they’ve been trafficked. Maybe seeing our list of trafficking hotlines will confirm the warning signs she’s been noticing along the way. Maybe she will be able to get out before it’s too late.
Maybe one young boy, already sold as a sex slave,  will find our bookmark and memorize the phone number so he can, some day, call for help. Maybe just seeing that number will give him hope. Young children are sold every day, all across the world.
There is a story behind every trafficking statistic. If you are interested in reading some, check out La Strada Ukraine’s website. Please pray for God to do miracles. Thank you.

God’s Power for ALL Moms

| July 3, 2009

talbotts

The Talbotts provide life training for mothers in Wautoma at Naomi House. Find out how you can help them at http://naomihouse.org/

God’s been speaking to me about mercy.

When I think about victims of sex trafficking, I have the utmost mercy for them. I think about what they have faced. I understand that because of these horrors, it might be hard for them to be healthy moms to their children. They need healing in every respect.  The Home of Hope (changed to Freedom Home after my trip), in Moldova, is loving these women and training them to become better parents. I feel such faith that they will become who God intends for them to be, through His power.

When I think about some of the ladies in my own community, I get frustrated. I recently witnessed obvious neglect and abuse at a local park. It made me mad to see how these children were being treated. How could that mother fail to treat them with the love that every child deserves?

Then, at a prayer meeting, God convicted me as He connected these two thoughts. He showed me that these local women have histories that I can’t imagine. Maybe they’ve experienced abuse and neglect themselves. Maybe they just don’t know any better. But, doesn’t God have the power to change them, too? Why shouldn’t I have the same hope of restoration and health for them?

It just got me wondering if part of the purpose of my trip to Moldova might be to inspire me to help hurting moms in my own community. I’m open to whatever God has planned.

Take the Lead

| May 30, 2009

Nina Winkelman at the Moldovan display that she and her coworkers created. 

Nina Winkelman created a display at Platinum Salon in Stevens Point to collect gifts for Moldovan children.

When Amy and I were planning our special night, “The Worth of One,” we had people like Nina in mind. Our greatest vision was to inspire others toward the purposes and plans that God created them specifically for.

What we didn’t know was that Nina has a real compassion for the kids of the world. Her coworkers watch in amazement as Nina has patience and love for even the tiniest, most difficult, wiggling salon customers. When she heard about the needs of the children in Moldova, she decided to do what she could to help. She and her coworkers set up a special display and are receiving donations that will benefit orphans and the children of victims of sex trafficking. Because of people like her, our suitcases will be packed full of things that will bring smiles to some of the poorest children in Europe.

Others have shared with me what they’ve been challenged to do: Volunteer at First Choice Pregnancy Center. Work to share about purity with young women. Go for the big vision, “Changing the World.”

Because we are following our dreams to Moldova, God is inspiring others to follow their dreams. Nina is leading her coworkers in the worthwhile endeavor to love kids, both near and far. Whatever your purposes are, I challenge you to take Nina’s example. As you make that next step, others might just follow your lead.

Details. Details.

| May 30, 2009

Moldova is to the right (small,yellow) and Sweden is at the top (green)    

Moldova is to the right (small,yellow) and Sweden is at the top (green)

Many people have been asking Amy and I questions about our trip to Europe. So, here’s the scoop. We plan to depart for Moldova on July 15th, arriving on July 16th. We will be staying in Moldova 5 full days with Missionaries Troy and Heidi Darrin. We are working to arrange meetings with people who help orphans and victims of sex trafficking and interview them about what they do, their organizations and more.

We are scheduling visits with:

  • Andy and Nancy Raatz at the Home of Hope (name later changed to Freedom Home)
  • Moldovan orphanages
  • Moldovan pastors to discuss how these social justice issues affect their churches and communities
  • Moldova’s Teen Challenge
  • Government organizations who are working to combat human trafficking (Please pray with me that I will be able to meet with Stella Rotaru.)

We are excited to meet the people of Moldova. We will spend time in the busy capital of Chisinau and go out into the small village communities, as well.  We plan to share it all with you through photos and blogs and video, during our trip. Check back here.

You may not know that we are flying from Moldova to Sweden. We will spend 5 days there, visiting my twin brother and his family. During our time there, we will travel by train across Sweden for my sister-in-law’s family reunion. We’ll have opportunities to do some site seeing, as well. Then, we will fly back to the US on July 28th.

The entire trip will be a total of 14 days, including travel.

If you have any more questions, please ask. We’d love to share more details with you!

The Worth of Many

| May 9, 2009

For weeks, Amy and I have been planning a special night for those we love. At “The Worth of One,” we wanted to inspire compassion in others for the millions of orphans and the hundreds of thousands of victims of trafficking in our world. We intended to share about why we are going to Moldova, Eastern Europe. We were grateful for the opportunity to request financial help from those willing to partner with us on our mission. But, our greatest desire was that God would do His supernatural work in each person there, to show them their own amazing value and encourage them towards their dreams. Amy and I going after our dreams will be world changing. But a roomful of people all going after their dreams is exponentially world changing.

Well, God went above and beyond anything I could expect. He showed up. I really believe that the great worth of each person was made completely clear. Many people shared with me about what God was speaking to them, personally. He is truly motivating each one of us to do things that lead us beyond ourselves. We have an extraordinary God who is more than happy to use every available person, even if they feel too ordinary. I am so grateful to God and to each one who is helping us fulfill the dreams that He gave us.

Please leave a comment here if you were inspired by “The Worth of One.” Your comment might encourage even more people towards their big dreams. God bless you!

Responsibilities

| May 9, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I was trying to fall asleep, but I couldn’t stop thinking about finances. I was asking God why he would lead me to take an expensive trip to Moldova when there are so many other needs; more needs than resources. Was this being responsible? 

It wasn’t a vision or a picture story that I tried to conjure up. But, as I was praying, I sensed that I was climbing up into The Lord’s lap. I felt such faith that He was my daddy, and that He would meet my needs. I started crying, filled with an intense trust that He would be faithful to provide. It was a miraculous moment filled with new, childlike trust.

On Thursday night at “The Worth of One,” my Daddy provided enough financial support to provide for both Amy and I to purchase our plane tickets! THAT is the kind of God I serve! That is the kind of Father that I have.

I’m doing what He’s asking me to do. And, He’s doing what I’m asking Him to do, so that I can follow Him. What a great relationship we can have with our Father God! What a good God!

“Sometimes the will of God feels downright irresponsible. You are called to make a decision or take a course of action that seems to make no sense. And if you do it, the people closest to you may think you are crazy. But responsible irresponsibility means refusing to allow your human responsibilities to get in the way of pursuing the passions God puts in your heart.”

Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase p. 18