Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas At Home

Dearest Readers,

Thank you to each of you who read my blog and pray for us.  I love hearing from you, and knowing how the posts I write are a blessing to you.  That is always an encouragement to me.

Due to a 3-day stay in the hospital (I had a bad infection and contractions, which the doctor feared could conduce to a pre-term birth), and many days on bed rest, I have not been able to post photos of our Christmas Banquet. 

I know that many of you prayed for us that evening, and I wanted you to know how the Lord blessed that evening.

Mom always plans, saves her money, and works hard all year long preparing for this Annual Banquet. I can say that all her time and money that she sacrificed was rewarded as the Lord blessed in a great way.  I know that the years to come will reveal more fruit from this ministry.


The theme of the Banquet was "Christmas At Home," and as every year, the decorations were so beautiful.  (Great job, Mona, on planning and working so hard on all the decorations!)




We had special music, sung by 9 of Mom's grandchildren, as well as a special presentation by the children in an orphanage in a nearby town.  Our hearts were blessed by the music presented by all the children that evening.





We also had a very special surprise that day:  Philip and Liz had to make a quick, unexpected trip down, and they were able to be here for the Banquet.  That was such a pleasant surprise for all of us.  Liz sang that evening and it was a sweet blessing to me to get to accompany her once again on the piano.  (I miss you, Philip and Liz!!)

Pardon the glare in my eyes! 


Our special speaker for that night was my uncle, Tommy Ashcraft (Mom's brother).  It had been about 12 years since he had been here, and it was such a treat to have him and be able to fellowship with him once again.  I snapped this picture of  Mom and Uncle Tommy the night he got here.

 
His message ("Anxiety") was a blessing to all, and several ladies told me afterward that the Lord spoke to their hearts through the message.
 
 
Another grand treat we enjoyed that night was hearing
a special song by Mom and Uncle Tommy.  They both sing so beautifully,
and hearing them sing
 "Down From His Glory"
together was just so special!
 
"Thank you, Uncle Tommy, for coming. 
It was so wonderful having you here!"
 
Something Mom does every year at the Banquet is to recognize and honor the mayor's wife, or any former mayor's wives.  If it is their first year to attend, she gives them a Bible with their name engraved on the front.
 
This year, we had 5 special ladies present:
2 former mayor's wives, a representative of a mayor's wife in a near-by town and the wife of a mayor in a near-by village, and the mother of the new mayor in our town.  Each was honored with a special gift.
 
 
The wife of the mayor in the near-by village wept as she thanked Mom for having this banquet.  She said it was the first time she had ever attended an event of this type, and that her heart was blessed to have been able to attend.
 
 
**Just a note**
~~The village where this lady and her husband serve is one of the villages where Dad took the Gospel by donkey 36 years ago.  This village, which now has much easier access, has a Baptist church pastored by one of the Indian men won to the Lord through Dad's ministry 30 years ago.  This Indian pastor now has 6 other works in surrounding villages, and other churches have been started by 5 of his preacher sons.~~
 
 
The church choir worked hard for over 4 months, preparing a special cantata and Christmas play.  All the hard work and sacrifice paid off, as the Gospel was presented through song, and a clear salvation presentation was presented through the play.  
 
~~Great Job, Mona, organizing and working so hard on this cantata!!~~ 
 
There were 2 ladies saved that evening, and the following Sunday, one of the ladies came with her family and has been faithful to attend the church services and other church-related events.
 
Once again, thank you, THANK YOU to all who prayed and sent encouraging notes.  I know you have a big part in this banquet, and we do appreciate it!!!  May the Lord bless you for your investment in this Banquet.
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In Loving Memory: Dad Lopez

If you have never read the book, Peril By Choice, by James Heffley (the story of John and Elaine Beekman), I encourage you to purchase this book and let your heart be stirred by these missionaries' great courage.
They made a difference in the lives of many Indian people, one of which was my father-in-law, thus making a difference in the life of my husband (one of ten children) and in the lives of our children.
I loved my father-in-law. He influenced my life...being a simple farmer, living a simple life in a far-away Indian village;  but having a fervent love for his Lord, for his Bible, and for his family. We miss him! I thank the Lord for the privilege of having been his daughter-in-law.
 
My father-in-law passed away (suddenly) on November 14, 2009, at the age of 80.  In his memory, I wrote the following poem a few days after his death.
 
Dad Lopez
 
His shoes may not have been the best
That he wore on his feet
But I know that Dad Lopez walked with God
For he radiated a joy so sweet!
 
His hands were rough from many years
Of working in the fields
But he used his hands to work for God
And he lived a Christian life that was real.
 
His clothes were old and worn,
He didn't care for things that were modern or new
But he was clothed with God's righteousness
And to his God we was always true.
 
He didn't know much about technology
Or of the fancy things of this world
But he knew how to love his family
And he knew how to love his Lord.
 
His speech was not very eloquent
His words were simple and plain
But he used his words to express his love for others
And he was thankful, and he never complained.
 
He was never served by
People of high society in this life
But someone who served him with all her love
Was his sweet and cheerful wife.
 
He was never taught how to be a good husband
Or how to be a dad
But with his actions and his words
He expressed his love and affection that he had.
 
I'll never forget how every night
When gathered around the table
He'd sing sweet songs and read to us
From his beloved Ch'ol Bible.
 
It was this Bible in his native language
That he helped the missionaries to translate
And as he read from God's Word in Ch'ol
What sweet memories he did create!
 
His house was not at all fancy
Just a simple wood house with a tin roof
But we know that he's in Heaven, walking streets of gold!
What comfort we have in this truth!
 
He's got a mansion all his own!
Built for him by God Himself!
Dad Lopez sought first the kingdom of God
And he never sought for wealth.
 
And Dad Lopez was never around people
Of great wealth or fame,
But now we know he's with his Lord,
Who's name he faithfully proclaimed.
 
For now he's gone, and we miss him
But we know that one day we'll be together
Someday in Heaven we'll be re-united
And be with him forever.


Dad Lopez teaching our Little Andrew to grind corn (2008)
 
Dad Lopez (Gregorio Lopez) was saved by God's grace when he was just a young man.  He was only 19, married, and already a drunk.
 
God's grace led Missionary John Beekman to the mountains of Chiapas, back to a village called Amado Nervo, where Dad Lopez lived.  Not intimidated by this young drunk's cursing, name-calling and rock-throwing, John Beekman faithfully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation.  Dad Lopez, coming to his senses one night picking food out of a trash dump, remembered the words of the missionary who said that God loved him and wanted to save him.
 
He was gloriously saved.  His is a story of God's love for the un-lovable.  How grateful I am that God looked down from Heaven upon that young man, and led that fearless missionary to give him the Gospel.  I never tire of hearing how Dad Lopez faithfully served his Lord, along-side great missionaries, translating the Bible into his native Ch'ol dialect; then helping to start the first Bible Institute to train the Ch'ol young men to take the Gospel to other Ch'ol-speaking people.
 
In loving memory:
Gregorio Lopez Cruz
 
Born: May 5, 1929
Saved: May 3, 1948
Died: November 14, 2009 

 Lopez Family, January 2009

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pondering Upon a Phone Call

On Monday night, we received a phone call from Martha, a lady whom Mom has known for many years, and who has come to Mom's ladies meetings and Christmas Banquets regularly.

Martha, now in her 70s, told me that she is in Mexico City, getting treatment for cancer that has spread throughout her body.  She said, "I wanted to call and thank Billie for always remembering to invite me to her special meetings, and also to ask you all to pray for me.  I will not get to go to the Banquet this year, but I thank you for the invitation."

She got saved at last year's banquet. 

Martha is the third from the left (in the lime-green top), being honored at last year's banquet
Martha, a sweet old widow, who is the daughter of an ex-mayor of our town (in the 1940s) has been on my mind all week.  I am asking the Lord to keep her in my mind and on my heart so that I'll keep my focus on what this banquet is really all about:  giving the Gospel to ladies, some of whom might be there for the last time.

How many Marthas will be at our banquet this year?  Would you please pray with us for the salvation of the lost ladies who will be present?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dear Readers

I want to remind you that our annual Christmas Banquet is just around the corner!  We are only 17 days away from this special event!

Invitations are being taken to ladies all over our city (and in other surrounding towns, as well); special music is being practiced, and this year our church choir is presenting a special Christmas drama/cantata; corsages have been made, to be worn by our guests of honor ("First Ladies" of our city...former mayors' wives, as well as the mother and wife of the present mayor).  There are many details yet to be taken care of.

One of the things Mom does every year is to buy a Bible for the first-time "First Ladies."  This year, she is buying 5 Bibles.  Every "First Lady" who has attended a Banquet in the past 14 years has received a nice Bible.

Our present mayor's wife's name is Martha, and his mother's name is Dolores.  Please pray that these ladies will be able to attend, and hear the Word of God preached that night.

If you would like to help with the purchase of a Bible, or if you would like to give an offering toward this banquet (there are other expenses that still need to be covered), please send me a note.

Mom giving a Bible to the Mayor's wife of a near-by town
at last year's Banquet

Please pray with us that all the details will come together; pray that the name of our Lord will be glorified, and that as our Saviour is lifted up, He will draw these dear ladies unto Himself.

(To read last year's Banquet post, please click here.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

B is for Boy!!!



This is a photo I took of the the card we gave to Mom last night
as a way of announcing that we are expecting a
B  O  Y !!!
 
We went to the doctor on Thursday and saw our baby on the screen for the first time.  How exciting it was to see him moving around.  All seems to be fine, for which we are so thankful!
 
The ultrasound showed that I am 28 weeks along,
and that Baby weighs 1.618 kg.
 
Little Andrew is so very excited, but our Debbie-Girl, so desiring a baby sister, felt so disappointed.  When we got in the car to leave, Andrew told her we should be thankful that the baby is healthy.  "And you know what, Debbie?  Just remember that you will always be my Special Little Girl!  And besides, you will be like another Mommy to our Baby Boy!"
That seemed to cheer her up and helped her see the positive side of things.
 
Thank you to all who have prayed for us.  Please continue to pray for Baby and me.  Time seems to be just flying by! 
Before long, I will have my Baby Boy in my arms!
 
Love from a very grateful Mommy!
 
 
 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sharing Pictures

 In May, our children were "train bearers" at a wedding, and my husband snapped these pictures of the children.

I wanted to share them with you. 

Enjoy.





 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Heartbeats

My heart was beating faster than normal yesterday as Dr. Bonilla told me to lay on his examining table.

His nurse passed him his fetal doppler, and she applied gel to my large belly.  When Dr. Bonilla put the doppler on my stomach, we could hear a "whoosh, swoosh" sound.  He said, "That is your placenta."  He moved the doppler around some more and we heard a very loud and very fast, "Tock, tock, tock, tock."  He looked at me and smiled and said, "That is your baby's heartbeat."  He turned the doppler around so I could see the number...144 beats per minute.

"You have a very strong baby, as far as his heart indicates," he said.

Hearing your unborn baby's heartbeat is one of the sweetest sounds in the world!  How it thrilled my heart to hear it!  

"...Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."

Please continue to pray for my pregnancy.
(I am at 24 weeks now!)  We will go in for an ultrasound in 3 weeks.  So far, all looks good and feels good!

Thank you for your sweet comments and your continued prayers.

Much love from Mommy and Baby!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Debbie Turned Seven!

On Sunday, September 23rd, our Deborah Jolene turned 7.  It is hard for me to believe (I feel this way every year as her birthday approaches).  However, this year it wasn't so "hard" for me, thinking my "baby" is already 7.

Can you guess why?

You are probably smiling.  Yes, it is because we are expecting another Baby, and anticipating a newborn to come soon eases the conflict I feel at seeing my children grow up so quickly.

I am so thankful for our Debbie.  She is a ray of sunshine in our home. 

I have to share the following cute things she said recently:

Debbie recently finished first grade.  On her last day of Penmanship, she came to me and said, "Mommy, my heart is beeping because I'm doing my last page of Penmanship!"

The children and I enjoy reading the pregnancy calendar, which I printed off the internet.  Every morning we read what our baby is "doing."  On August 27, we read "Try talking to your baby.  Baby can hear you."  I took advantage of the moment and talked to the children about being a good example to our baby.  When he's born, he will look to you to see how to talk, how to treat other, etc.  I said, "You need to be careful how to talk to one another, because even now, our Baby can hear our voices."

That night, as I tucked them in bed, we had prayer together.  When it was Debbie's turn to pray, she said, "Jesus, I'm sorry for not always talking right."  (Distressed.)  "I didn't know my baby could hear me.  Help me to talk kindly from now on."

Below are some photos I took on her birthday.  She is so excited to be 7, but she was disappointed on Sunday that she looked
the same as when she was 6. 

Debbie received a very special envelope from Ukraine from her
Aunt Jolene.
 
She actually received it in August, and on the outside, it read, "To be saved and opened September 23rd."
 
She patiently waited, and on her birthday, she opened it.  I snapped the following pictures.

 
A beautiful card that Aunt Jolene bought in Israel. 
If you notice, it opens backwards!


A magnet frame for the refrigerator!
 
And a notebook...
(she also received a refrigerator magnet with a picture of the Garden Tomb.)
Very special gifts, indeed.
"Thank You, Aunt Jolene!"
I said, "Deborah, your Aunt Jolene really does love you."

Her party with cousins and aunts and uncles was on Saturday.
Below:  Cousin Hank and Andrew and Debbie helped me decorate
puppy cupcakes (what she wanted).  We had fun.
 




 
 (You can see the puppy cupcakes in the lower left corner.)
 
 
 
Cousin (and playmate!) Esther and the Birthday Girl! 


I love you, My Sweet Deborah Jolene!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Compassion... for Me!

"Lord, I feel like I need spiritual encouragement!  Please send me spiritual encouragement today!"  I prayed one morning about 2 weeks ago.  I had just woken up to consciousness and was still lying in bed.

Ashamed, I thought of the past few days, when it seemed I lacked joy and cheerfulness as I had gone throughout my day.  "I don't want to live another day like this!"  I thought.

Later that day, I received a phone text from my sister-in-law, Mona.  She said, "The guys are doing a test for the radio transmitter.  Be listening and praying!"

Now, you remember we have moved to a small town nearly 2 hours away.  My heart sank.  "I will be praying," I thought, "but I'm sure I won't be listening!" 

That evening, my brother Tom called:  "Hey, Anna!  We just did our first test, and we are getting texts from..." and he named 6 surrounding villages.  "Can you hear us?"  I told him, "No.  We can't hear you from here."  I was so thankful and excited for him, but I couldn't help feeling sad and disappointed for me!!!

Later my Honey came home and said, "Hey!  Listen to this!"  He could hear the new Christian radio station in his car!!!!  He pulled the car right up next to our front door, opened his car door, and we heard the beautiful music and Tom's voice coming through clearly over the radio waves!

Amazing!  We sat on our front steps and listened.  Absolutely wonderful!!!!

Then, my Honey remembered Dad's old short-wave radio, which we had recently brought to our house.  "I'll bet we can hear it on that!"  he said, and hooked up the old short-wave.  Sure enough, 104.3 FM could be heard clearly in our livingroom!

Woo-hoo!!!!

Lovely, up-lifting, encouraging music could be heard, streaming through our home.

I know God heard me.  24-hour uplifting, encouraging, edifying programming that I can listen to all day long!!!

Truly, a red-letter day for Christians in Chiapas, who desire to listen to Godly programming that glorifies our Lord, lifting up the name of our Saviour through "Radio Compasión."

It has been a long road, especially for Tom and his family, to get to this point.  I know many miles travelled, sharing in churches, Christians all over the world giving, men and women working, much sweat, many tears, big sacrifices, and literally years of praying have been invested into getting Baptist Compassion Radio set up.

"Thank you, Lord, for this blessing!"  My heart has been blessed many times over in the 12 days that this radio began its broadcasting.

I trust that with time, I will be able share with you some of  the many texts that Tom has received (and continues to receive daily) from people listening from miles away, over mountain ranges, and in little Indian huts.

But for one lady, it's made the world of difference, as this radio station makes its way over an amazing distance, and God made it reach far enough for me to be able to hear.

Because one morning I prayed for much-needed spiritual encouragement.

Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, Tom.  Thank you to any of you out there who are reading this, who gave sacrifically toward this ministry.

It is finally a reality, and I get to enjoy it!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Changes and Blessings

Two months ago, due to my husband's job, we moved to a different city, nearly a two-hour drive from where we were living.  Because of this move, my husband now travels less over the treacherous highway he traveled nearly every day; and our family is able to spend more time together.

The decision was difficult for my husband, because of our love for the church in which we were working and all the activities in which we were involved.  However, it has been a change for the best.  We have received many blessings.

Do we miss family and church brethren?  Yes!  Do we suffer from "home-sickness" and loneliness sometimes?  Yes!

But God has brought us great joy in the midst of this big change in our lives.

We are expecting our third baby!!!  (I think I am due the end of January.)

Our Little Debbie will be seven years old in September.  After all these years, it will be quite a change for us, having a new-born in our home.  But we are all so very excited!!!

Rejoice with us!!!!

And please pray for the baby and me during this pregnancy.  My first 2 pregnancies and deliveries were very easy, with no problems, and I have been asking the Lord to let me have as easy a time with this Little One.


Below are some photos we took on Father's Day.





 Daddy is the King in our home.  How we love him, and we appreciate all he does for us!!!



  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Blessings

On Friday, Debbie and I got to attend the Mother/Daughter Banquet that Liz and Mona (my very creative sisters-in-law) organized.  It was all so, so beautiful!  There were a total of 80 present (counting mothers and daughters), and there were several first-time visitors.

Liz gave the devotion that afternoon.  Her theme was "Beautiful for God," and in her devotion she used different beauty products and applied them to how a lady should care for her inner beauty more than her outward appearance.  "Excellent Job, Liz!  Your devotion was a blessing to me, and it challenged me to seek to be beauitiful for God."

 (All the pictures taken of the banquet are in Mona's camera, so I don't have any to share with you.  Maybe she'll share them with us!)

Yesterday (Saturday) Andrew and I were able to go to the mission in San Lucas.  We had a great time.  I am posting some photos that were taken yesterday.

Several of the young men went to hand out Gospel tracts before the service started.

 Andrew snapped a few photos of people who received these tracts.  
How these photos blessed my heart! 
"Lord, use Your Word to bring salvation to these needy people in San Lucas."






 Tom preaching in San Lucas

Look what Tom and I got to do!
Do you know what instrument this is? 
 
This instrument is called a "Marimba."  Its layout is just like a piano.
This is the first time I had ever played one of these, 
but Tom and I were able to play several hymns.
It sounded so beautiful.  Our favorite one was "Showers of Blessings."
Doesn't this make you want to come to the mission field for a visit?!
You are welcome to come!!!

Thank you for your prayers for our family.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Must Be Love....

video
Must Be Love
Deborah Jolene, 2012

The other night, I was in the shower,
and my little Deborah Jolene sat outside the door and said,
"Mommy, listen...."
and she started singing "Must Be Love" to me
(from the children's cartoon, Charlotte's Web).
She said, "Mommy, that's just for you."

My heart just melted, and as soon as I got out of the shower,
I had her sing it again as I recorded it.

I now have this memory to last forever in my heart.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whither Thou Goest

Whither thou goest, I will go....
Wherever thou lodgest, I will lodge....
Thy people shall be my people, My Love....
Whither thou goest, I will go....
As in that sweet love story long ago....
The same sweet love story now is so....
Thy people shall be my people, My Love....
Whither thou goest
I will go.


"Thank you, My Darling, for 10 love-filled years.

I have enjoyed every step of our journey together, by your side...
as your companion, help-meet, lover.
I love being the one who washes your clothes,
who cooks your meals,
who hears you whistle as you take your shower,
who watches you put your tie on every Sunday morning.
I love being the one who greets you as you step through our door.

I feel blessed that you chose me to be your wife.

I love your smile.
I love the way you brighten the mood just by walking into the room.

Thank you for the many sacrifices you make for our family.

I love you.
Now and always,
and I look forward to the next 10 years with you!"


To see pictures of our wedding on March 23, 2002, click here.


(I am terribly behind on my posts. Our 10th anniversary was March 23.)