Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Can YOU "Live Love" This Year?

We "officially" became NAMB missionaries in September of 2010. At that time, we prayerfully chose our ministry name to be "Live Love Ministries." We chose that particular name because our goal/mission is to show love in the way we live our loves. Every aspect of our lives. We know that in order for people to see Jesus in us, we have to love them like Jesus would love them. This means meeting them where they are, which also means, more often that not, meeting their physical and emotional needs before we can show them how Jesus can meet their spiritual need. So, we "Live Love".

How can you "Live Love" this year?

There are many ways that you can, but we would like to present you with an opportunity to help and support the work that we do here on the reservations.

When we first became NAMB missionaries and moved to AZ, we made a 2 year commitment. Because we are MSC missionaries, we had/have to raise our own support. This means that NAMB is behind us and supports the work that we do, however, they do not pay us. We are responsible for finding churches, Sunday School classes, and individuals who will support us and the work that we do.

We had many people give us one time donations. We had several individuals and a couple of churches that made the commitment to give to our ministry monthly. We are so thankful for those of you who have given to us and/or our ministry! There are no words to really show how much we appreciate it! Your selfless giving is making an eternal difference in the lives of many Native Americans!

Obviously, our 2 year commitment has passed, and we have decided to continue our ministry here. We have no idea how long we will be here. We will stay until God tells us to go somewhere different.

Many of our monthly supporters have told us that they would like to continue their support. (We thank you so much!) However, we have had a couple that have had to stop for various reasons (became unemployed, decided to support other missionaries just starting out, etc.)

Also, our ministry has expanded to more villages and more districts than we originally had 2 years ago. And it is expanding even more this year! (Look for a separate blog post about that in the next couple of weeks.)

To put our need bluntly, we need about $1,000 more of monthly support to effectively minister the way that we need to.

The monthly support that we receive not only supports our family, but also our ministry. This means that we pay for everything that we do. At this point, we are responsible for the youth and children's ministry at First Pima and any work in Sacaton, the work in the villages of Cockleburr, Chuichu, and Kohatk, and the work in District 2 on the Gila River. Occasionally, we do some work in a couple of other villages too.

In these five areas of ministry, we provide transportation for the people to attend the events. We provide food, crafts and activites for the children, and any ministry material needed (ranging from curriculum/lessons/Bible studies to use all the way to contruction materials needed for a project).

We also meet whatever needs arise. We are constantly getting asked for help in paying electric bills or water bills (for those that have actually them) and for groceries (especially towards the end of the month).

We were able to do all these things effectively at the beginning of our ministry because of those that gave one time donations or those "random" checks that we would receive in the mail many times with a note attached saying "Use this where needed the most."

At this point, the one time donations that we had saved are completely gone. We are trying to do everything with the monthly support that we receive, and there is just not enough to do everything and meet the needs that arise. This past month, we have had to tell a couple of people that we just do not have the resources to help them at this time. It hurts us so much to do this because we know that we have built trust with these individuals, and they do not go to anyone else for help. Eric is considered their pastor, and the services or Bible studies that we have is their church. So, they are going to their church for help.

You may be thinking, "$1,000 is a lot of money. There is no way that I can help with that."

It does seem like a lot of money. Believe me I know.

But I also know the God that provides it, and I know that He chooses to use His people to provide it many times. Maybe God wants to use YOU to meet needs on the reservations.

We have came up with an easy way for you to "Live Love" this year.

We are asking 200 of our friends, family, or people we don't even know to make a commitment to a monthly support of $5. That's only $60 for the whole year. Pretty easy, right? Just think of the things that you spend $5 on- a Starbucks coffee, a fast food meal, a ticket to a movie, etc. Sometimes you can find that much in change in your couch.

We would like to have our goal met by February 14th. Yes, that's Valentine's Day, and what a way to truly show love by giving to those that need it! You will be loving "the least of these"!

We want you to know that it is a really humbling experience to tell others our needs. However, we have people ask us all the time how they can help us on the reservation. Providing $5 of monthly support is a real and tangible way to help us meet needs of others and to help us with our ministry.

Is God leading you to partner with us?

If so, you can go to this link: https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1023666&supId=356649513

It should take you to our page on the NAMB website. You can click on the "Give Now" button. You may put in a $5 donation. Then it will ask you for your information and if you want to make it a recurring donation or a one time donation. We are asking that you please make a commitment of 12 months, which would be $5 a month for a total of $60 for the year. (If you are able and want to give more, you are able to put whatever amount you want when clicking on this link.)

If you are at a point where you aren't able to give, then we would appreciate your prayers for us and our ministry. We know this is most important anyway, and we thank you in advance for your prayers!

Please feel free to share this with others. We would really like for you to! February 14th is just 2 weeks away, but we know that God is able!

Love,
Eric and Brittany

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First World vs. Third World

I want to address an issue that has been on my heart for quite awhile.  It's almost like it has built up over time, and if I don't address it I'm going to explode. 

We moved to live on the reservation a little over 2 years ago.  It's a totally different world compared to KY.  It's a totally different world compared to most places in the United States.  Although it's not a different country, it has many third world characteristics- extreme poverty, poor living conditions ( many being without electricity and water), lack of work or job opportunities, little Gospel presence, etc.

While I live here, I can drive 15-20 minutes in either direction and be in a typical city in the United States.  Even more, I can drive 30 minutes and be in one of the largest cities in the United States.  These cities have everything you could ever need (food, water, shelter) and everything you could ever want (big shopping centers, car lots, huge housing developments, fancy church buildings, tons of entertainment, and the list could go on and on). This is the first world. 

I feel like I live in 2 totally different worlds.  Some days I don't notice as much as others, but many days it drives me crazy.  I'm having one of those "drives me crazy" weeks.

 I believe God has put it on my heart to share my experience with you.

Since Monday was a holiday, it was extremely nice outside, and Ella was out of school, we took the kids to a local park.  While we were there watching the kids play, a couple of ladies were having a conversation.  They were not sitting beside us or really even that close, but their conversation was easy to hear because one of the ladies was extremely loud.  At first, they were talking about their children and extended family.  Then the conversation turned to church related things.  I decided to pay a little bit more attention to the conversation because I am always interested in what people have to say about church.  Maybe I was eavesdropping on their conversation, but I think if you talk loud enough for the whole park to hear, then you're inviting them to hear what you have to say. :)

The lady that was loud took over most of the conversation.   She first talked about going to church that Sunday and about how she liked her pastor.  Then, all the problems started coming out.  She shared about how she didn't like her previous church because the pastor didn't do such and such right.  So when her family decided to switch churches, she interviewed the pastor at their current church before going there to see where he was on the issue.  Obviously, she liked him and decided to stay there.  Then she talked about how the church had a worship leader that just didn't work out and they had to fire him.  She said, "That was just an awful situation."  Then it shifted to the new youth pastor who she thought seemed to be working out fine, but wasn't sure because she didn't have any youth.  Then to the topic of how the church has 2 services now.  The biggest problem for their family was deciding on which service to go to.  It was such a hard decision to make.  Then, she talked about how the previous Sunday she helped with the sound and when she looked up, she saw two of her children sitting in 2 different places with friends instead of sitting beside each other.  That was the newest and biggest problem.  She just didn't know what she was going to do about that.  The conversation went on and on. The more I listened, the more I wanted to throw up.

I looked at Eric and said, "Man, the problems of a first world Christian."

I guess it hit me a little different than normal on this day because we had 2 of the sweetest girls stay with us this weekend.  They were on that same playground, and I was praying that they didn't hear the conversation that was taking place. 

You see, they are from the Tohono O'odham reservation.  When Eric went to visit their family on Friday, their mother asked if it would be possible for us to take care of them this weekend.  They were having all sorts of problems.  They had no electricity.  They have literally 20 people living in one home.  They didn't know if they had enough food for everyone for the weekend.  They didn't have any clean clothes.  They have one car that is so unreliable they can't really even go anywhere.  Most importantly, they have no church to go to.  The only way they have church is if we go to have church in their village. 

Those are the problems of a third world Christian. 

Do you see the difference?  Do you see why I want to go crazy?

The first world lady from the park is all upset because she can't decide which church service to go to. The third world lady is upset because she doesn't have a church to go to. 

The first world lady feeds her kids 3 meals a day (maybe more).  The third world lady had to make a decision for her children to go somewhere else for the weekend so they could be fed.  Have you ever had to make a decision like that?  I haven't, and it's still hard for me to fathom even though I see it so often.

Friends, we need to take a good look at our lives.  If the biggest problems we have are choosing which church service to go to or which restaurant to eat at or which vacation to go on, then we need to make someone else's problems are own. 

It's time the first world Christians start helping the third world Christians. 

Y'all, these two women live maybe 20 minutes from each other.  Either the first world knows nothing about the third world or the first world knows but is doing nothing about it.  Both are unacceptable. 

When Jesus left this world, he left us (meaning Christians) with a task.  He said for us to be "His witnesses" (Acts 1:8).  Who are you witnessing to?  What kind of witness are you being?

It's time many Christians stop going to church to "soak it up and sit" but to go to be trained so that you are ready and prepared to enter the mission field the rest of the week. 

You may be thinking, "I know I should be doing something, but I don't know where to start."  That's understandable, but many people use that excuse so much that they convince themselves not to do anything because they don't know what to do. 

An easy place to start is to ask a pastor or missionary if they know of some ways for you to serve.  Many times all you have to do is get out of your comfort zone and you will see the places or people that you need to be serving.  It means talking to people that you many times wouldn't or going to places that you don't normally go to.

Think about the places that Jesus went and the people he ministered to.  He loved the sick, the lepers, the outcast, the prostitute, the orphan, the widow.  Do you love them too?  How are your actions saying that you do?

Jesus went to the people and didn't expect them to come to him.  Are you waiting for someone to step foot in your church before serving them?  Where are some places in your community that you could go to serve others? 

I say these things not in a judgemental way, but truly out of love. 

Many times God has used someone to teach me a truth that I needed to know, even if it wasn't easy or I felt like they stepped on my toes a little bit.  I pray that God may use me in the same way so that He may receive the glory and honor!


Love,
Brittany




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Christmas in the Villages 2012

Christmas this year was AMAZING!  Thank you so much to those of you that "adopted a child for Christmas"! Because of your love, many children were able to open presents on Christmas morning that they otherwise would have not gotten to do.

Everytime that I start to describe what the three different services were like, I can't adequately put it into words.  I just keep coming back to AMAZING or AWESOME :) 

This year, we added a village (Kohatk) onto the previous two (Chuichu and Cockleburr) so we were able to provide Christmas for around 150 kids!!  You should have seen the youth facility where we stored the presents.  It was maxed out!  I kept telling everyone that came to help us wrap the presents that it was actually organized chaos :)



Part of the wrapping presents crew


More of the crew
 
 
 
Some of the presents.  See what I mean about organized chaos?  We really did have a system to it!

It always amazes me how God orchestrates the whole process.  We always get emails and money from people we have never met.  Some just "happened" to stumble across our blog, some are friends of friends, and we had one this year that used to come on mission trips to the T.O. reservation years and years ago and somehow figured out what we were doing and wanted to be apart of it.  Of course, we always have wonderful, supportive churches and Sunday School classes that take on a huge part.  Not one time, has a child ever not been "adopted for Christmas". 

Thankfully, this year, we had some help for wrapping and for the services.  We had Ken and Thurleen Bain (fellow missionaries), Tami Gibbs (Eric's mom), Kaitlin Penn and Aiden (Eric's sister and nephew), Doug Jones (he came for a 3 week visit), and Renae Hester (she flew all the way from GA to come help us!) helping us with the services.  It turns out that things went a lot smoother this year with some help :) 

In each village, we held a Christmas service.  We told the Christmas story through a book called "What God Wants For Christmas".  The book comes with 7 different presents that can be opened.  In each box or present is a specific person or people that play an important part of the Christmas story.  The last box represents what God wants for Christmas.  Inside is a mirror, so when you open it you should see that God wants you for Christmas more than anything else.  The kids really liked it and it is a neat way to tell the Christmas story.  After that, we had a snack of hot chocolate and cookies.  Then, the presents came last.

This year we also brought a Christmas tree to each village for the presents to go under.  The majority of the kids did not have a Christmas tree so we thought it would be something to make the service a little more special.  When the service was over, we left the tree at the home of the ones that let us have the service at their house. 

The first village we went to was Cockleburr.  Below are some of the pics from the service there:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here are some pics from the service at Kohatk:
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last, here are some of the pics from Chuichu:
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
I have had a terrible time trying to upload the pictures on the blog today for some reason.  I am going to post all the pictures that I have onto facebook to our Live Love Ministries page. If you have facebook, go to our page and "like" us and you can view all the pictures in the Christmas album. 
 
Thanks once again for loving the precious kids here on the reservations and for making this Christmas one to remember! 
 
 
Love,
Brittany