Tag Archives: Israelites

What I learned about remembering – Ecuador, part 4


Our two weeks in Ecuador were divided equally into 2 separate, beautiful cities. Our itinerary was different for each city, as the churches in each city had different needs.

The Ibarra church was new, only a few months old, and had a significant need to get people informed about its existence. We were able to be part of several smaller-scale events like “free manicure” stations at the park, a soccer tournament, wearing crazy wigs and hats while holding “Jesus Te Ama” signs in the middle of an intersection… Things like that.

At each city, we also had a “big event” that we focused on. In Ibarra that was a breakdancing competition. So cool! In the middle of a enormous and beautiful park, a stage was set up, complete with microphones and music, and people came. We each had our own jobs to do while we were there. My job was to invite 

people to come. So we looked for people walking and said things that I hope meant, “You’re invited to come to watch a breakdance competition! It’s free! And there are activities for children!” Shawn and Noah had cleanup duty, keeping the park free of litter during the competition.

Noah and me at the breakdancing competition in Ibarra

Shawn and Noah at the breakdancing competition in Ibarra

I had my doubts that people would come. At the beginning, the crowd was small and I worried that after all the time and money they had spent preparing for the event, it would be a disappointment to all those at the church who had worked so hard.

But they did come.  More than 800 of them. People came, watched the competition, met church people, saw the church’s name, the church made some contacts, and many heard the message of Jesus before the evening was over, with people making eternal commitments to Him.

Noah and the drama team performing at the breakdancing competition

In Ambato, the “big event” was the main focus of the week. Here, the event was called “Gran Noche de 

Esparanza,” translated as “Great Night of Hope.”  An evening of music, entertainment, prizes, and Pastor Ferney.

Pastor Ferney sharing his story.

Pastor Ferney leads a church in Cali, Colombia, and he came to share his story with the 400 people who came out that evening. He shared with them how Jesus can change the life of a man deeply involved in the drug cartel, freeing him of the life he had and giving him a new one full of hope in Jesus. We watched and prayed as 76 people came forward to dedicate their lives to Christ.

The next morning we were privileged to hear Pastor Ferney at the church in Ambato, with a translator, as he spoke to us about the importance of family. We watched as he got on his knees, with tears in his eyes, asking the North American section of the crowd for forgiveness for the pain his life’s work has caused our country. So humbling and such an example of the redemption of God. We are never too bad for the forgiveness of Jesus.

The last day we were in Ambato, before we headed for the airport, our trip leaders, Chris and Anndee Stringer, led us in a time of reflection. We were able to answer some pretty deep questions for ourselves about the ways we were changed from the trip, the ways we had seen God work, the things we needed to remember. Anndee said it is too easy for us to go back home and answer the question, “How was the trip?” with telling them about the chicken feet in our soup.

How is it so easy to forget the undeniable work of God in the 2 weeks we were there, and focus only on the chicken foot soup or the toilet paper we weren’t allowed to flush?

But she was right. Even after my time of reflection and knowing how I was changed from this trip, the first couple of times I was asked about the trip – chicken feet and toilet paper.

I kind of reminded myself of the Israelites. In Exodus 16, we see them after God had miraculously convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt where they were oppressed as slaves, then let them cross the Red Sea, then destroy the Egyptian army chasing after them, they began to complain about being hungry.

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!.. you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then God sends manna, a kind of bread, from heaven to feed them daily.

Then in Numbers 11, in verses 4 and 5, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

Why in the world can’t they stay focused on the miracles God just did to save them?

While I wasn’t complaining about the chicken feet or the toilet paper- it was simply an interesting tidbit- how in the world could I let that trump the miracles we saw take place while in Ecuador?

God provides. God heals. God redeems. I saw all of this happen in South America. And I have seen His provision, healing and redemption in my own city, in my own life. Yet still I find myself complaining, or focusing on things that don’t matter.

I think a prayer journal of sorts could help here. Take a few minutes and think of ways God has provided for you.  Think of ways He has healed you or someone you love. Think of how God has redeemed you from what you once were. Write it down. Thank God for it. Remember it.

And, if you would, share some of these things here so we can thank God for it together.

“Let all I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” (NLT)

 Psalm 103:2

I couldn’t leave you without a picture – chicken foot soup 🙂

Sticky notes and tassels


Noah wanted an iPod for his 9th birthday. While I was worried about two things – 1. He will be disappointed to receive such a physically small present as his only present, and 2. Is he prepared to be responsible for such a pricy gift? – We did it and he loved it. He did a great job taking care of it. In fact, the only scratch even on it was from something I did.

But as electronics go, he eventually wanted the newer version – the iPod Touch. We bought it for another holiday when he was 11. Unfortunately, on a Friday evening, he and his dad got home late and Noah changed into his pajamas half-asleep. The next morning, my husband did a load of laundry and Noah’s iPod touch was in the pocket of his jeans.

The iPod was ruined. We tried rice, letting it air dry. Nothing worked. So my husband decided the fair thing to do to teach a lesson in responsibility was to have Noah pay half of the cost of a replacement iPod and he would pay the other half. So that’s what they did. Fast-forward a couple of months, and I did laundry, and when putting the clothes in the dryer, I saw the new iPod in the bottom of the washer. Ruined. We prayed over that iPod and everything. He ended up getting an iPad for Christmas a few months later, rather than the long list of Legos he had originally hoped for. (iPads are much larger than iPods and harder to miss going in the washer).

While my husband and I disagreed about whose responsibility it is to check the pockets before washing – the wearer of the pants or the laundry doers – I had a hard time remembering to check the pockets before dumping clothes into the washer, even after two traumatic laundering experiences. So I put a sticky-note with a big, black check-mark over the detergent hole to remind me of my responsibility before each load. It helped tremendously. I haven’t missed checking a load since.

For my Bible reading, I am in the book of Numbers. I was cruising through lots of rules and regulations and punishments, when in chapter 15, verses 32 through 36, I read about a guy who was gathering wood on the Sabbath day – a violation of the rules God had given them. God commanded Moses that this guy had to die for his blatant disregard for God’s commands.

Back to rules and such in verses 37 through 40, it says, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”

The tassels for the Israelites were a kind of check-mark sticky note for the Israelites. These tassels (I kind of envision a Dolly Parton sort of fringe, though I think I’m way off on that one) were to remind them of the laws to obey, laws designed to guard their hearts, to keep them focused, to train them to control their actions, and especially to give honor and worship to God.

When an Israelite woke up and put on her ensemble for the day, she would see a tassel and remember to have reverence and respect for God and only God – no golden calves, no man-made idols. Her focus would be brought back to Him, perhaps leading her to remember how awesome He is. How He led her and her people out of Egypt, when without Him it would have been impossible. How she was once literal a slave, but now she is free. How He led her and her people by a cloud during the day and fire by night. How He gave her manna to keep her from being hungry.

When this Israelite lady would clean laundry during the day, she would see her tassel on her sleeve and remember God’s command saying she isn’t to covet her neighbor’s house. She would look around and see her own home, her own dishes, her bed, and be thankful for the comfort she has, thankful for a place to rest her head and be with her family.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in big, time-consuming projects I get myself into, or so distracted by regular everyday routines that I could use a tassel. Or a sticky note. Something to remind me of what God wants from me. Something to remind me of what he has already done for me.

Some of these things happen naturally. When Noah makes me laugh, or gets his own ear-to-ear, wide-eyed, genuine smile, I naturally thank God for letting me be his mom, and naturally feel a renewed passion not to screw him up.

When I see a beautiful sunset – the kind with pinks and purples all mixed in – I instantly tell God, “Nice work!”

But in everyday things, how do I remind myself to not grumble when things don’t go my way? How do I remember to be thankful in all things? What about the days I’m feeling down on myself? How do I remind myself not to bring everyone around me down too? On days I’m doubting how God is going to make things work out, how do I remind myself of the many, many times He has been there for me, and the bunches of times He has been there for His people in every situation I read in my Bible?

I really don’t want to go with tassels. That’s kind of ‘80s-country and not my thing. But I need a plan. I’m thinking maybe sticky notes.

Maybe one on my mirror to remind me of how I can trust God, no matter what, like Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Maybe one in my kitchen to remind me to be thankful – 1 Thessalonians 5:18In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

For you, it could be something other than sticky notes. I heard a woman on the radio saying she talked to God about thinking about Him, and knowing He is thinking about her, when she sees a robin. Sounds kind of kooky, I know, and she admitted as much, but she said the experiences she has had with robins because of this have meant so much to her. Whatever works for you, just make a plan to remember.

I will start with my two sticky notes and hopefully add more. More promises, more reminders. Like the Israelites, I hope this plan will remind me of blessings, guard my heart, keep me focused and keep me thankful.