Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas in the Villages

I seriously think this has been the best Christmas ever!!  I cannot put into words how awesome it has been receiving the presents that many of you have sent to the kids that live in the villages of Cockleburr and Chuichu. 

It took us the majority of a week to sort and wrap the presents that were sent.  Many times I would look at the name of the child and then sort through the presents to see what they had received, and tears would come to my eyes knowing how much they were going to love the presents that they received. 

It was just so awesome to know that the kids were receiving gifts that were specific to them.  To know that someone knows their name and shopped specifically for them and prays for them daily; it just gives me goosebumps thinking about it. 

We filled up two rooms and a hallway with the presents, and we enlisted some help from our youth to wrap some of them. 

Doug and Becca wrapping presents

Michele helping sort and wrap

Some of the presents


We finally got all of the presents sorted and wrapped, and then it was time to load them up.

Eric's truck loaded and completely full!! We did this two nights in a row!!

The first night we went to the village of Cockleburr.  It was actually pretty cold outside and we had to meet inside Cindy's house.  First, we gathered all the kids and adults together and we read (more like talked through) the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus.  Then, we had cookies and hot chocolate.  Then, it was present time.

Y'all, I tried my very best to capture what it was like passing out the presents and the reaction on the faces of the kids, but it was so hard!!  It was just Eric and me passing out the presents with about 50 excited kids that were practically crawling up our arms and legs, so I didn't get as many pictures as I would like to have gotten.

Eric giving Andre his presents

Bianca receiving some of her gifts

Jeramiah excited to get his presents.  Notice how he doesn't have on a shirt or shoes.  I just smiled at him knowing that in those boxes were shoes and clothes that he needed so much!!


David proud of the shoes he received!!
Tony proud of his shoes too!!
All of the kids, with the exception of one family (the 2 kids shown above), saved their presents to open on Christmas Day.  For the majority, the presents that were sent are the only presents they will be getting for Christmas. 

The next night we went to the village of Chuichu.  It was amazing driving into the village that night.  I (Brittany) was driving the church van with our 2 kids and Eric was behind me in his truck with all the presents.  As soon as we rounded the corner to the road we needed to be on, the kids came running toward the van- almost in the middle of the road.  I stopped in the middle of the road and they all started piling in the van.  We filled it up right away.  I had to go drop them off and then we went back and picked up more kids and filled the van up again!!

This is Eric taking the picture out of his truck of some of the kids running up to the church van.
We found out immediately as we were getting everything set up that there were more kids there than filled out papers.  Actually, there were 20 kids there that we didn't have presents for. We had brought some extra, but after counting it still wasn't enough.  So, we called our friend Doug and asked him to bring some more out.

It was a great night!!  The kids were so well behaved and they listened so well.  Many of the parents came too.  They all sat down and I read/taught them about the birth of Christ and what the first Christmas was like.  For many, it was the first time to hear.  They thought I was going to tell them about Santa Claus, but as I talked their eyes stayed focused on me and they were excited to hear about the true meaning of Christmas.





  We also had a time of eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate before passing out the presents.  When we opened up the truck to start passing out the presents, their eyes lit up.  They kept asking, "How did you buy these many presents?"  And we answered, "We didn't buy them.  People all over the country did.  They sent them here just for you.  They love you and are praying for you."  They couldn't believe it!!

CB helping us see which present belonged to which kid!

This whole box went to his family!!!

Excited, but waiting patiently!!

When we left that night, I had so much joy!!  The kids and parents were truly thankful.  I went away excited to know that there was going to be 100 kids who would have something to open up for Christmas this year.  But I was more excited thinking that 100 kids plus some parents knew the reason for Christmas- JESUS.  And not only did they hear about him, they felt his love sent from around the United States!  The seed was planted.  I pray that we get to be apart of the harvest!!!!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to those who made this year the best Christmas ever!!!! 

We love and appreciate you!  We thank you for your support and prayers as we finish up our first year in AZ!!

Love,
Brittany

P.S. We are blessed to be able to spend Christmas with our families this year in KY.  So you probably won't hear from us for a couple of weeks as we relax and celebrate Christmas and the New Year with them.  We'll be back in full swing after that!!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Give This Christmas Away



If you have not heard Matthew West's song or watched this video, please do.  Amazing song!!



I just wanted to take a minute to say "thank you so much" to all of you that are truly giving this Christmas away!  So many of you have sent packages of presents or money to help us with our "adopt a child for Christmas" project (for lack of a better word). 

Sometimes I wonder why God allows us (and by us I really mean me) to be apart of His work.  I really lack faith sometimes.  When we started to work on what God was leading us to do this Christmas, I thought to myself, "There are so many kids who need to be loved this Christmas.  There is no way we will find enough people to sponsor them."   I am sure when I had that thought God laughed out loud :)


Thankfully, I was so wrong.  We got all 100 kids "adopted" for Christmas!!!  Praise God!!


I have had so much fun doing this.  I think I'm probably more excited than the kids are/will be.  I love getting a knock on my door from the UPS man or FEDEX man. We have become friends :)  I love going to the post office to get a card in our mail box that says there are too many packages to fit.  One day last week, I had 18 HUGE boxes to pick up.  They barely fit in my van!!!

Transporting the packages to where we are storing them!



Love opening a box to find this: presents!!


We have one room completely packed with presents everywhere! 


We will be taking the presents at the end of this week to pass out.  I will try my very best to capture the faces and smiles of each child (without being tacky and making them feel like a charity case) and will post an update. 

Please pray for us as we go to two different villages to pass these out.  We know the kids will be excited for the presents, but we are going to be sharing the story of the birth of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas with them first.  For some of them, it may be the first time to ever hear.  Pray for open ears and open hearts and for the chance that some may come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  What a true Christmas gift that would be!!!


Once again, thank you to those who gave this Christmas away to the kiddos here.  If you weren't able to give here, I pray that you give it away in your own towns and cities.  Don't miss the blessing of giving!!!

"Give this Christmas away,
If there's love in your heart
Don't let it stay there.
Give this Christmas away,
and your life will be changed
by the gift you receive when you
give this Christmas away!"



Brittany

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We did here!  It was very busy, but really good.

We had several things planned for the week of Thanksgiving.  Thankfully, we had a family from California call a couple of weeks before to say that they wanted to come and help us!!  Yay! ( I was beginning to wonder how we were going to pull this off- by that I mean cooking for at least 75 people- on our own.) 

In that same week, we got an email from a church in Mississippi that said they were sending money to help cover the cost of buying the food!!!  Thank You Jesus!!!

Getting organized and sorting everything out!

Yummy pumpkin pie!

Doesn't that turkey look good?

Getting everything set up in the village of Chuichu

It's almost time for everyone to arrive!!

Service with a smile :)

Some of the youth from First Pima also came with us to serve!






Dinner under the stars :)








We also passed out backpacks (donated from a church in KY) and some school supplies.


One awesome night down, but more to go....


More turkey

Ella and her new buddy, Charlotte, were such big help in setting up the tables.

Dinner at First Pima!


On Thanksgiving day, we visited the Caring House (kind of like a nursing home).  What a blessed time we had spending Thanksgiving with people that would usually have spent the day alone!! 

Ella and Charlotte (with the help of Kendall) passing out the fruit we brought. 

Melissa talking with her new friend

The next day we went out to Cockleburr.  It was a fun day just spending time with each other, playing with the kids, and praying for one another.  We also were able to pass out some blankets (donated from a different church in KY).

The kids playing a game of red light green light

All smiles!  Isn't he a cutie?

Saturday morning, Melissa and Meredith taught the girls from First Pima how to sew and make their own purses.  It was a great time of learing, but most importantly of building relationships.

Meredith showing Jessie what to do

The finished product!  They did an excellent job!


Thanks again to all the churches that sent donations to help us with Thanksgiving this year!  A special thanks to the Cripes for spending your Thanksgiving serving with us!  We really appreciate it!!

From our family to yours- Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

The Gibbs Family

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baptisms and a Baby Dedication

Last Sunday night was an awesome service at First Pima Baptist Church! 

We started the service off with a Baby Dedication that Eric was privileged and honored to conduct. 



Here Eric is talking about the importance and significance of dedicating your child to the Lord.  He is also giving the example from the Bible of Hannah dedicating her son Samuel.


Next, he brought Darien and baby Jace up to the front.  He asked Darien a series of questions about raising up Jace in church and to love the Lord.



Isn't he a cutie?


Then he asked the church a series of questions about their role in helping to raise baby Jace.  Eric and I were also honored that Darien asked us to play a key role in Jace's life (almost like the role of a godparent). 
The whole family was called up to the front as we ended the service of dedicating Jace and closed in prayer.


What a big family, huh? Ever heard of the phrase"It takes a village..."?  Seriously, one of my favorite things about the culture of Native Americans is the closeness of family.  This family has been so good to us since we moved and welcomed us in like their family.  They mean a lot to us!!


The next part of the service, Eric got the honor to baptize two new believers!  One of which was Darien!!  What a special service for her to follow the Lord in baptism and to dedicate her son with the whole family present!!  




The second person to be baptized was a young man named Shawn.  We met him a few months ago.  He walked up to our house off the street and asked Eric if the church would give him a Bible.  He shared with us that he just got out of jail, and while there someone had dropped off the booklets called Daily Bread.  He said that he had been reading that but didn't have a Bible to go with it.  Of course, we gave him one.  Eric talked with him a great deal that night about his experience in jail, offered our assistance in whatever way we could him, and invited him to come to church the next night.  Guess what?  He came!  We talked with him several times that week and he finally opened up that he had no where to go.  (He is from a different tribe, but has to stay here until his probation is over.) He had been sleeping out in the desert.  So, we talked with some church members about the situation, and thankfully someone has offered their home for him to stay in!!  To make a long story short, he continued to come to church and he accepted Christ as his Savior about 3 weeks ago during a revival!!



Like the old hymn says, "to God be the glory, great things He hath done"!!!  Praising Him for working in these two lives!!!


Brittany

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Summer Mission Opportunities

Recently, we have had several people/churches show interest and inquire about coming on a mission trip this summer.  Of course, summer is our busiest time of the whole year, and we already have several weeks booked for 2012.

So, I thought I would post the weeks that we still have available for groups to come.  Remember this is only for the summer.  We welcome groups all year long.

May 26-June 1

July 14- July 20

July 28- August 3


If you have any questions about scheduling a trip or know for sure that you want to, please don't hesitate to call or send us an email liveloveaz@gmail.com



Brittany

P.S. We had 7 children "adopted" for Christmas yesterday!  Please pass the word along to anyone you think might be interested!!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Would you like to make a difference in the life of a child?

I hope your answer is "YES!" 

After a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation, we are extremely busy preparing for the next couple of months.  Of course, you know that two of the biggest holidays of the year are fast approaching- Thanksgiving and Christmas.  For many people, these holidays are fun and anticipated for a great deal of the year.  However, for others, it's a hard time especially here on the reservation.  For many people living here, there is no hope or anything to look forward to.  A great deal of people don't know Jesus and having nothing to celebrate.  For them, it is also hard to be thankful when they don't have enough money to feed their family a Thanksgiving meal. 

So, we are planning two really huge outreach events that we could really use some help with.  These events are meant to meet physical needs, with the hope that we will be able to share Christ and the greatest need of all will be met.

The first event is going to be a Community Thanksgiving Meal.  We literally plan to invite the entire community of Sacaton to this meal.  We also plan to have a Thanksgiving meal in the village of Cockelburr as well. 

Ways that you can be involved with this outreach 
1. Pray that we will have the opportunity many times to share Christ with those that attend, that they will have receptive hearts, and their lives will be changed forever.
2. If you live locally, donate food items to be cooked or cook the food yourself and come join us!
3. Donate money for food to be purchased.

The other huge outreach that we are doing is for Christmas.  We are asking that you prayerfully consider adopting a child or family for this Christmas season.  We have identified several children/families that need assistance with Christmas this year.  We have already begun to pass out forms to the families for them to fill out with all the necessary information.  We know for sure that we have at least 50 children that need to be "adopted" this Christmas but more than likely there are close to 100 children that need "adopted".

If you choose to "adopt" a child or family for this Christmas season, you will receive information about the child or family such as name, gender, age, interest, etc.  The most important thing that you can do for the child/family is to pray for them.  We ask that you would commit to praying for them daily.  We also ask that you would help their parents in buying a couple of presents for them.  We are leaving the amount you spend and the number of presents up to you and what you feel comfortable with.  If you live locally, you can buy the presents and drop them off at First Pima Baptist Church in Sacaton.  If you do not live close, you can send the amount of money you would like to spend on the child/family and we will buy the presents for you.  Another option is to buy the presents yourself and ship them to us.  The deadline for presents and/or money to be received by is December 9.

We plan to have a Christmas service in each village that we work with so that the true meaning of Christmas is heard and taught.  Please be in prayer for this as well.

Here are just a couple of the sweet faces that need to be "adopted" this Christmas:






If you feel that God is leading you to be involved with either of these outreach events, please send an email to liveloveaz@gmail.com and let us know.

If you would like to donate financially to these events, checks can be made to Live Love Ministries.  Our address is PO Box 2237, Sacaton, AZ 85147.  Please include a note specifying how you would like the funds to be used. 

We want to thank you for your prayers and for partnering with us in ministering to the Native Americans of the Gila River and Tohono O'odham nations. 


Brittany

P.S. If you could pray for my health it would greatly be appreciated.  I'm having some issues with an ulcer that is bringing lots of discomfort.  Thanks! :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Great News to Share

Hello Friends and Family!  It's been quite a while since we have updated, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been anything going on.  Actually, we've had several things take place; it's just been hard to get to the computer to update.

First, one of the students in our youth group gave her life to the Lord last Sunday morning.  She has been coming since we first started the youth group in February.  When Eric and I first met Darien, we could tell that God was going to use her one day in a big way.  We had been praying for her to accept Christ since that time.  Praise God she did last Sunday!  I think Eric and I were probably as excited as she was.  In the next couple of weeks, Eric will hopefully have the opportunity to baptize her.  Please continue to pray for Darien as she is starting her new life in Christ and also for her as she parents her sweet baby boy!


Darien is the one on the right.  (I couldn't find a pic of just her.)

Also, Eric had the privilege of baptizing Darien's aunt, Terrie on Sunday night.  This is also Doug's sister. 


Sorry- this picture is hard to see, but it was truly a great night!

The last thing I'll share for today is that we received a Budget truck load of "goodness" from Kentucky on Friday.  Edgewood Baptist Church from Hopkinsville brought a group out this summer on a mission trip.  While they were here, they did a VBS in ChuiChu during the day and a revival at Casa Blanca at night.   I believe that God really worked in their lives that week.  We got a phone call from their associate pastor, Brad Hall, about a month ago saying that he had 27 pews, a pulpit, a communion table, etc. that he would like to get to Casa Blanca Baptist Church.  Of course, we were thrilled, as was the church family.  We would like to say a huge thank you to their church and a special thank you to the sweet couple that drove the truck out here.  All the pews and accessories (if that's ok to say) went to Casa Blanca except 11 of the pews that went to First Pima Baptist Church to put under the ramada.  They will use those for the revival they are having that starts tomorrow.  Also, in the truck were tons of blankets that we will pass out this winter as it turns cooler to families that do not have heat.  New Bethel Baptist Church in Eddyville also sent tons of backpacks that we will pass out to those children who are in need.  Once again, thank you so much to all the churches and families that contributed to this project.  We know there are probably lots that we don't even know about that contributed, but we want you to know that we truly thank you.  Here are just a couple of pics:




This was donated to take to the kids at ChuiChu

Here are the pews set up in the ramada


   Thanks again to everyone for praying for us and for the ministry that is going on here in AZ!


Brittany


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Being Light in the Dark

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."  John 3:19-21


These are the verses that came to mind Tuesday afternoon as we arrived in Cockleburr for our church service.  Immediately, as our van pulled up to the house, several members of the community that gather there started to disperse in all different directions.  Who knows exactly what we had just pulled up to?  But whatever it is was, it was evil.  You can just feel "it" when you arrive.  Doug noticed it as well.  He said, "Look. They look like cockroaches scattering everywhere when you turn on the lights." 

If you follow along at all, you probably know that Satan has had a stronghold in that village for many years.  Well, I guess practically forever.  The first Christians in the village are living there now and have only belonged to Christ for a couple of months.  It is hard for them.  They face trials and tough decisions on a daily basis.  One of the ladies has a husband who is drunk every single day.  From the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed, he is constantly drinking.  Most of her children are drug addicts.  They sell and buy right there by her house.  Darkness is present everywhere you look. 

I say all that to say, please continue to pray for us and for the 4 Christians in the village.  Although many great things are happening, it is still a struggle.  




However, we know that the Light is changing things and making a difference.  Even though it seems like we are just a candle in a dark forest- the Light is being seen.  There is one man in particular that came to the church service Tuesday night that is right on the verge of giving his life to the Lord.  There are a few others that will say that they know that they need Jesus, but they just can't give up their drinking just yet.  But they still come and they hear the Truth of God's Word!  Pray for these inviduals as well. 

We can't forget to tell you about the kids.  The kids are just amazing.  They see and go through so much.  They are constantly on my heart and mind.  When we pulled up Tuesday night, they all came running out of the house ready to have church.  They love it!  They are the ones who go get their friends and tell them to come.  The older ones listen so intently everytime it is time for the story.  They just soak in everything that is said.  They have learned what sin is and can give you examples.  One little boy that is about 5 years old said, "I know that drinking and doing drugs is sin."  They are getting it!  Please continue to pray for them as well and also for me as I teach them.  Also, pray that I get some help in teaching them. It seems that more and more children are coming every time we go out, which is a great thing.  However, I am only one person and with 25-30 + kids that can be wild as guineas, it can be a little challenging.  But I love it!!

Here are a couple of the precious kiddos that we love so much:





Thanks so much for your prayers as we continue to be light in the dark!!!



Brittany