Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Doritos Story!

When my family and I first arrived on the mission field in 2003 life was much more difficult than we thought it would be. We were well aware, when we arrived on the island of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, our life would become very challenging. My wife and I both came here for a survey trip. (As a side note, this survey trip was not to determine if this is where God wanted us, as is too often the case today, but to get acquainted with where God had called us to.) During the survey trip we recognized many of the challenges we would face, but it is something different when you arrive in a place like this and you do not have a return ticket in your pocket!

When we arrived we found ourselves without electricity, water, and in a culture vastly different then what we were accustomed to. We thought we would have 12 hours of power each day, as it was during our survey trip, but that changed by the time we arrived on the field. The place we made arrangements to live in had a water tank (our source of water is rain water), but we were not told it leaked, and was completely empty. We did not even know where there was a river for us to get water and wash. Needless to say, we all experienced culture shock! After a few weeks I did purchase a generator, and the owner of the place where we were staying purchased a small water tank, so we had running water in the house.

After four months, we were still figuring out how to survive in this environment. We had the help from a small mission work I was working with, and those people really looked after us and helped us. By March, we had our first of what would be many run-ins with Malaria. I was the first to get it, and it was very severe. I thought I was dying. We battled rats in the house and had confrontations with them nightly. (I have many rat stories!) I was not getting anything accomplished with language study or ministry-wise. I was just trying to get by. Then one day my entire perception changed, all because of a bag of Doritos!

About six months into our time here I went to our small trade store to pick up a few things. This store would be smaller than the convenience stores in the U.S. and not a quarter of the selection. We can get basic things there though, for which we are thankful. I just walked in, and as I passed by an aisle I noticed something. I quickly went down the aisle, and behold there was one small bag of Doritos! (As many of my friends and family know, Doritos are my favorite snack food.) I was shocked, stunned, surprised, and thrilled. There is nothing in this store from the States, and I mean nothing! I bought the bag and quickly walked back to our house, and Mariann was sitting outside. I hid the Doritos behind my back so she could not see them. I approached her and asked, “What is my favorite snack? She replied, “Doritos!” I then threw the bag on the table in front of her. (Our kitchen and dining room were outside at this time.) She was shocked as well. We both stood there amazed at this bag of Doritos! I was thrilled. I did not even want to eat it. I then returned to the store to talk with the owner of the trade store, who by this time was my friend. I asked if he had more of these, and he said yes. He told me he had one case of Doritos that came in. One case! I bought the whole case!
The trade store owner did not “order” a case of Doritos; they just came in with his other food items. The trade store has never again carried Doritos, but I knew exactly why that one case of Doritos arrived. Why? Because I knew when I saw the lone bag of Doritos on the shelf, it was the Lord telling me, “I know right where you are. I am here.” There is not a doubt in mind those Doritos were there for me and my family. The bag of Doritos did not change my circumstances one bit, but it did change my view of my circumstances. I learned how to have joy in the midst of hard times.

Oh how we need to heed the lesson of keeping our eyes on God and not on circumstances! It truly does change everything, even if nothing changes!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fathers Day Present.

From time to time I would like to write about different occasions where God answered my prayers. I will start with one my favorites in May/June of 1993. I was still in the Air Force stationed at Holloman AFB. I was very active in the ministry at Berean Independent Baptist Church. About one month before Fathers day, I was looking through my closet, and noticed I did not own a single suit. I had mix matches of jackets and trousers, mostly thrift shop items. As I stood there I asked the Lord for a suit, and then asked that I have it by Fathers Day in June. I was not demanding of the Lord, as if he owed me anything, but asked as a child would humbly ask his Dad.

I arrived for visitation /soul winning at church on Tuesday night, 5 days before Fathers day, and still no suit. As I pulled in, our song leader, Earl Faulkner, pulled in beside me. He said he had something for me and he went to the back of his car to get it. He pulled out a suit! I was thrilled and could hardly believe it. There was still a problem though: This suit used to belong to him, and we were not nearly the same size. I weighed 140 pounds fully clothed, at least 20 pounds lighter than Earl Faulkner, and I was shorter. The next day I took the suit to a tailor to have it fitted to me. The tailor called that Saturday and said the suit was ready. It was now the day before Fathers Day, and the suit was ready! However, there was still one more problem. The tailor said the price was $50, for all the work she did, and she did have a lot of work! I did not have $50 to give her, so I could not go and pick up the suit. Of course, the Lord already knew I did not have the money and He was already working.

Later on that day the mail arrived, and I had a card from my Mother in Ohio. I opened the card up and there was a $50 bill inside! I stood there amazed at all the Lord did from a simple prayer made while I was looking at my closet. Needless to say I quickly went to the tailor and picked up my suit, which I wore to church the next day, Fathers Day!

That Fathers Day was a special one for me; not because of me being a father, but because of my Father in Heaven, who always shows such grace and mercy. How true is the saying from the book of Matthew, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year!

A new year is now here! New Year is a time when many set as a time to start afresh, to begin anew, a time to make resolutions on improving ourselves. Many people will set out this New Year seeking change for their life, but the fact is most will fail, while few will succeed. I wonder how many times I have been asked or have heard people ask, "Can I change?" When I hear this question, often what comes to mind are the words of Jesus Christ, "The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak." Let's face it, in and of ourselves, it is hard to change. All of us, at one time or another has struggled with attempting to change.

The key to real change lies in God and not in our own strength. All the power to change is there: The power to turn a drunkard into a deacon; the power to turn a prostitute into pious person; the power to turn a struggling person to a rock. The problem lies not in God unwilling to supply the power we need, but in our willingness to humble and submit ourselves before Him. The fact is, the biggest item we need to change about ourselves is not our weight, or bad habits, but our selfishness, and lack of desire to lose our life for Christ. In our desire and submission to Him we find the power to truly change. May we say as the Apostle Paul did, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."