Monday, July 13, 2009

The Tabernacle

Team Dan's Tabernacle.
Team Judah's High Priest
Team Judah's Tabernacle complete with the Cloud over the Most Holy place.
Inside a Tabernacle.

A few years ago, when I first studied the Tabernacle in depth, I was overwhelmed! All of the measurements, the building instructions, and the needed supplies were hard to keep straight. What made it worse was that we were leading a group of teens in their study of the Tabernacle in order to help them build their own scale model.

Soon enough that feeling of being in way over my head departed and the desire to conquer the project and learn took root. As I opened up my Bible and read, re-read, and read again Exodus 25-30, then supplemented that reading with commentaries and artists renderings, I began to see a recurring theme... God gives us all we need to know and worship Him! We just need to read, study and be willing to listen and learn.

So many times over the years I have been thankful to the Lord for the things I learned as Scott and I worked with the youth during our last few years of Bible college. One of the many things I caught was the burden to teach young people to love their Bibles. To dig into the riches that can be mined within the treasure of the Word of God. Then, like Christ, they can increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

This weekend we gave 10 adults and 30 young people the same opportunities we were given years ago. They all rose to the challenge and used the talents and skills God has gifted them with to recreate 2 scale models of the Tabernacle. Each team had a different strategy for completing their assignments. And some teens took the challenge more seriously than others. But we trust everyone learned something new about God. And at the very least every time they read about the Tabernacle they will have this experience come to mind and they will rejoice in who God is!The teams had to work together to first solve the problem of how to cross the river and then to actually get across.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Until recently, when the H1N1 Swine flu hit the world, the word QUARANTINED seemed to be reserved more for a virus on our computers than for daily life. I wonder how many young people are just learning that term as it relates to people and real live viruses.

Uruguay, like many other countries world-wide, has been hit by the Swine flu. As long as it stayed warm the virus seemed to be held at bay but once it turned cold here (we are in winter now) it really took off. The government here has stopped reporting on cases because in late June it reached a pandemic state. So the reports vary from a couple hundred to close to two thousand confirmed cases. We also are experiencing an outbreak of the Type A flu.

Honestly, the whole swine flu thing really hasn't worried me. I might be completely off base but it seems to me that the reason this is receiving such attention is simply because the actual virus was detected. In other words this could be a typical year of flu, as far as everyone knew, had someone not tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

I do know that the last two winters we have had here we have been sick and there have been bad flu viruses each winter we've been here. So is it possible then that the H1N1 has been out longer than we've thought? I'm not trying to spread conspiracy theories just thinking out loud.

At any rate, we have the flu. Which one we don't know but it has hit our house. Wednesday morning Silas came down with a high fever and diarrhea. Wednesday night it hit Isabel. Thursday night Brandon became the latest victim. Yesterday it hit him very hard, within an hour his fever skyrocketed and he began having hallucinations. Scott came home from the youth retreat to get some things and I let him know about Brandon. Fifteen minutes later they were at the hospital in the ER waiting to be seen when Brandon had a seizure.

Scott was talking to him when he had the seizure and later told me he's never been so scared. I was personally stunned with the news. We have dealt with countless high fevers and never have had them accompanied by seizures. I will definitely be more proactive about fevers now.

While in the ER the doctor, believing Brandon has the flu, ran some blood tests to check Brandon's kidney function. You may remember that with his kidney disease viruses tend to affect his kidneys in a profound way. This time was no exception. Blood, protein and white blood cells were found in his urine. The blood tests revealed a high white blood cell count. So in addition to the flu Brandon has a kidney infection.

And here is where the QUARANTINE comes in, Brandon was sent home with a face mask and explicit instructions that he stay indoors and away from anyone else for 10 days. He has been told to rest for the entire time. If his fever goes back up, or doesn't end within 48 hours, he has to go back to the ER.

So today is Saturday and I'm waiting for the next victim though I'm really hoping our personal epidemic is over.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance....

"Make sure you dress for the weather because we'll be at the port. When you go in look for the American ship, you can't miss it." With advice like that we were not at all sure what the US Embassy had planned for this years 4th of July celebration but it sure did peak our interest and our hopes. We were not disappointed!!!

The USS Oak Hill was in the area because of cross-training exercises with Uruguay and Argentina. This was our first time on an in service American Military ship. They fed us good 'ol American BBQ - Burgers, dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chips and soda (Dr. Pepper and Mtn. Dew!!! Can't get either one here.). While we were eating the Captain took the time to greet us and chat for a little bit. Then they made the first cut into a HUGE cake with a Marine saber.

After lunch we were able to take a tour of the ship. Which was quite informative. Kaitlin has pictures of all the little kids sitting in the captains chair and at the helm. Brandon got a picture with him sitting in a new humvee. I was amazed at how the door was so thick and heavy. I embarrassed the daylights out of Brandon, Kaitlin and Bethany when I had them line up for a picture by a landing craft...I wasn't thinking of the side show the kids would become. The anchor of the Graff Spee - the Nazi ship sunk in the Montevideo Harbor. Part of the group that was in our tour of the ship. The man to left of Brandon is a Marine serving in the embassy for a year. The Harmon family is to the left of him. And on either end are embassy employees.

The pictures below were sent to us by the Harmons, fellow missionaries and dear friends of ours who were also enjoying the 4th on the USS Oak Hill.

The whole family! And some guy in the background.
Isabel and Felicia Harmon.
I was "getting" a kiss from Silas. When you ask him for a kiss he holds his cheek out for you to kiss him. That's the port of Montevideo and the skyscraper (the only one here) is the Antel building.
Cutting the cake with the Marine Saber. The captain is on the left.

After lunch we were enjoying our Dr. Peppers and Mtn. Dews. The soldiers directly behind us were Argentines.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Reaching the Other Side

About a year ago I signed up to receive an occasional devotional on Monday Morning Club from Claudia Barba. I have been so blessed by each one but this one especially spoke to me. I suppose that after just having been in the very place where Jesus spoke to the disciples, knowing that He had waited until the 4th watch, and having recently passed through our own storm wondering where God was, I could relate. I hope this is as much a blessing to you as it is to me.


The disciples were doing what He told them to do—no more, no less. “Get into the boat, and go to the other side,” Jesus had said, and they had obeyed. So when a horrible storm began when they reached the middle of the lake, they must have been as bewildered as they were panicked. What was going on? Why would Jesus send them out onto deep water, knowing that just as they got to the farthest point from safety, wind and waves would threaten their lives? No matter how quickly they bailed or how vigorously they rowed, they were going to die. Two tempests raged that day: one on the sea and the other in their hearts. I don’t know which was worse.

I have never been in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, but I have felt like it—at least once. At that memorably low moment following a line of ministry squalls, I complained to my longsuffering husband, “This is a very strange way for the Lord to treat servants who are just doing what they were told. Where has He gone, and why has He left us here to die?”

I was repeating the disciples’ mistake (and maybe yours) of believing that I knew what God was supposed to be doing. At Jesus’ command, the disciples took off rowing, assuming that His goal must be for them to arrive at the opposite shore. But His plan instead was to teach them something on the way. He directed them into the storm to prove that He is the Master of tempests. He planted them in the middle of the tumult to demonstrate that He would always, eventually, come walking on the water.

We had embarked on our ministry believing we knew what God was planning to do--that since He had called us to build a church, big numbers, large offerings, and continual victory were surely His will. But God’s definition of success was not the same as ours. He wasn’t just building a church; He was building us. His construction tools included storms that made no sense to us but made perfect sense to Him. I thought that trying circumstances were hindering us from accomplishing His purpose, when they actually were His purpose, for His concern (as always) was not our comfort or success, but our character.

The disciples eventually reached the other side, but when they arrived, they were different men. The Lord did build our church, but by the time the steeple was in place, the ministry couple inside had been thoroughly changed. All that bailing and rowing had made us stronger and softer. Our spirits had grown sturdier as we learned to distinguish His face even in the murkiest skies, and we had become much more compassionate, with our ears tuned to the cries of other sailors floundering in other gales.

A storm is a stressful, scary place for disciples in a little boat, but when they are there at His direction, there’s no better place to learn from the Master.

Matthew 14:22-33

With thanks to Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Israel Day 9

Finally, we stepped foot into Old City Jerusalem! But not onto the Temple Mount, not yet anyway. We entered the city through the Dung gate and waited in line for security to enter the Western Wall area. It sure was thrilling to walk right by the Western/Wailing Wall as we entered into the Western Wall Heritage Museum. It took 20 years to excavate the Western Wall tunnels which run the full length of the wall that is not exposed. The block below is the largest found so far along the Temple Mount. Experts say it weighs as much as 20 tanks. Old columns, a Herodian road, and an Hasmonean period aquaduct are among the treasures unearthed.

Towards the end of the tunnel as we were headed near the Hasmonean Aquaducts. Yes, the tunnel was pretty much this narrow throughout.
Jewish women praying at the site that is believed to be the closest to where the Holy of Holies rested on the Temple Mount.
King Herod employed a method of cutting the stones so as to fool the eye when looked at from below. The upper stone set slightly back also kept the wall from appearing as though it were falling or leaning outward. If you look closely you can see the tool marks in the stone.
A piece of a parapet or guardrail.
Looking down onto the old Herodian road.
In an old cistern at the end of the tunnel. These cisterns connect to ones below the Way of the Cross church believed to be directly located above the actual Via Dolorosa where Christ carried His cross to Calvary. As we came out of this cistern we entered into the Arab quarter.
The game of Kings (I believe that is what it is called) that Roman children played. Our guide said that it was highly possiblethe Roman soldiers were playing this game with Jesus, because the actions of the Roman guards towards Jesus - the robe, the crown, the beatings - were so similar to this game. The picture above shows the game layout. And below is how it was found in the stone of the basement of the Way of the Cross church.
The Via Dolorosa, though not the actual stones Jesus walked upon this is the way He took to the Cross.
An Arab shop selling Olive Wood Nativity sets and other novelties and souvenirs. I so wanted one of these sets but the more authentic ones (set in a cave) were well over $300. Oh well!
An orthodox Jewish man taking pictures of the Old City Jerusalem wall.

After a long and interesting walk through the Arab quarter we arrived at the The Temple Insittute: Treasures of the Temple museum. Without a doubt it was fascinating to see all of the items they have made in preparation of the future Temple. They did not allow pictures but if you click on the link above you will be able to see all that we did. The Candlestick below is to be used in the future temple.
A Jewish woman praying on a balcony which faces the Western Wall. I certainly admire their devotion.
This is the view of the Western Wall from the balcony aforementioned.

Closing out the day at Yad Vashem the Israeli Holocaust museum certainly left an impression on all of us. To go from the very distant past into the recent past of the Holocaust was sobering. I have always had a heart for the Jewish people, even before I was saved and began to understand my Jewish heritage that I have through the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. The plight of the Jewish people in Europe was quite simply tragic! Then to learn from our guide that many of those who had opportunity to leave didn't because their Rabbi's discouraged it was heartbreaking. Then of course the tragedy doesn't end in the death camps with their gas chambers and crematoriums, nor did it end when they were liberated by the allied troops. The horror of Jewish Semitism followed God's chosen people into displacement camps, and into refugee ships which were denied a safe haven in most of the world's sea ports.

I honestly cannot fathom how an entire world would see what you can see in the pictures below and not do something to help. To not welcome these few survivors who lost literally everything is absolutely appalling to me.

Then finally when the Jewish people are granted statehood they must go to war for it. It saddens me to think about those who survived the concentration camps only to die fighting for Israel.
As we walked through the museum we were able to see all of the propaganda that Hitler used against the Jewish people. The games for children that were designed to indoctrinate them into believing that Jewish People were nothing more than animals. And as a matter of fact were less important than rats and other vermin.

A Nazi officers letter to his young family reassuring them that Jews must be killed. The more one killed them the easier it became. And when one lacked the strength to do what must be done they could call on the Fuhrer for his strength to be imparted upon them.

Towards the middle of the museum was a picture of a young mother holding her sleeping baby in her lap while her older child stood by her side. I wondered if she knew what she had ahead of her. Or if she was trusting in what her Rabbi had said, "All will be well."

Did she ever make it to a concentration camp?

Did she survive?

What about her children?

Was she, at that point, in the beginning of her journey or at the end?

Had she thought, as I have at times, "I'm so tired from holding this baby I just need to lay him down."?

Was she inwardly grumbling?

Or was she praying?, begging God for deliverance?

Was she savoring every last moment of life, with her little ones?

Was she memorizing his little face?

Was she lost in the serenity of his sleep in the midst of a nightmare of such monumental proportions the human mind cannot begin to fathom?

A mother's questions. A mother's heartache. A mother's nightmare. A mother's agony. A mother's tears.

And God was still on the throne! And God was still good!