Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cambodia, Here We Come!

Tonight we are attending an informational dinner on the work in Cambodia. Four of us will be heading to Cambodia in May for three weeks. I'll be working with women and children as well as teaching computer skills and English to the Bible students there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Come before Winter UKRAINE 2012

Crowned with God's steadfast love, the week together in Ukraine melted our hearts, refined our lives, annointed our souls and wove us together into a beautiful cloak of His amazing benefits in human form.  May His hesed cover you as you are sheltered within His loving care.

Monday through Friday God's cloak-passed from renewal to renewal by the tender hands of the missionary liaisons-served as a physical symbol of God's arms of compassion.  Outside the snow covered the ground and the chill penetrated the skin, but inside the mantel of God's benefits warmed us in comfort, strength and joy.  We felt the unity of the women who have experienced Come before Winter renewals in so many corners of our world since the first one in Brazil in 2001.  We stroked the emblems they placed on the cloak and lifted them in prayer as their lives united with ours. 

Throughout the week we emersed ourselves in the 103rd Psalm.  Sinking into its verses--pulling them over us as a cloak of revelation--delving into their meaning through the structure of the poetry--seeking His meaning for our lives through meditation--opening God's plan for humanity through a theological exegesis of the chapter--submitting to the Father's hesed in prayer--we approached the Kingdom's throneroom to draw closer to The One who through eternity has drawn us into His loving shelter.

Each step of the renewal has been intentionally planned to honor both God and women called to serve Him in diverse settings and programs.  From the greeting at the door to the farewells all over the building, the Lord's name is lifted up and each woman is affirmed.  We literally begin and end each day in prayer and worship as a community.  Times of informal sharing around the dining tables, out on a walk in the snow, in the swimming pool or gathering in a common area created bonds of friendship.  Scheduled appointments with small groups and with individuals for prayer forged lives together over miles and into eternity.  "The whole of life without any exception can be an act of worship if we choose for it to be."  Come before Winter reflects that truth in every way.

The week was bathed in prayer and tears...tears of sorrow, of pain, of frustration and of pure joy.  Some of those tears poured freely in worship as we considered the verses and wonders unveiled in Psalm 103 through song and scripture.  Hearts turned upward as truths penetrated our innermost being.  Other tears were shared with small clusters in times of sharing our goals and desires to be more fully dedicated to following His guidance in our lives.  Sometimes the tears were shared one on one with a precious sister in intement prayer appointments.  Always the tears were shed in the presence of our loving Father whose compassion wraps His children in His arms and renews their youth as an eagle!

Bouquet of Blessing
Cluster of Joy

Single with Purpose!

Leading with Love

Crowned with Everlasting Love
Thank you for touching my life in this amazing week of renewal...whether your touch was physically there in Kiev, Ukraine, as a team member or a participant or one who served us through the sanitorium or a sweet young life who offered flowers along our path or a spiritual touch over the miles--over the waves--as a prayer warrior or a support through cards or notes or finances.  Your touch, my friends, was felt each and every day as we united in service.  God's hesed flows over and through you!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


What an incredible journey!  The entire experience with Come before Winter has been one of introspection, growth and renewal.  Today has been Holy.  we literally begin and end each day with worship...sandwich in a little quiet introspection between studies, prayer and sharing.

These women have had so many wonderful experiences to share with each other and with us.  They are coming from varied ministries, and yet they are united in one faith and one spread the kingdom!  Love abounds!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Today is the day we have long awaited!  Our ladies will arrive this afternoon, so we are all busy with excitement!

Beginning at 10:30 this morning our first lady arrived.  Coming from Austria, Russia, Kasikstan, Swaziland and one other I'll add later, the women were all here by 4:00.  Forty four women ministering in five countries joined our team of fourteen to worship, study, edify and pray.  Five of these mothers brought young babies.  We have enjoyed an evening together to get to know each other, to understand the schedule and process and to worship and adore the Lord.  Our joy has been multiplied and our burdens will be lifted as we share, confess and learn during the week. 

Lift us up as we learn more about each other and as we learn to study and worship in spirit and truth!  God is good all the time!


This morning we awoke to a beautiful snow lightly drifting through the trees and around our grounds.  The snow changed from constant tiny flakes to large snow clusters and back to tiny flakes.  Off and on through the morning we would glance out to check on its progress.  This snow was not enough to change the levels of snow on the grounds, just enough to clean the air and to delight our senses!

Morning breakfast is such a time of renewal for us each new day here as we meet in a lazy, quiet dining room with eggs, porridge, ham, sausage, cheese, bread and butter and a sweet dish of some kind...crepes or pancakes filled with cream cheese. 

After breakfast this morning, we gathered in one of our small group rooms to worship.  Each team member takes part in the celebration of Christ.  The songs, verses, passages, innerspections and sharing all draw us together and lift our souls to heaven.  The morning flies by as we worship with heart and soul.  The songs are a mixture of those from our youth as well as some written especially for this experience.  The experience is like none other as we become the unit of servants that God has planned for us to be this week.  I cannot think of a more meaningful or personal experience in worship.  We all would love to share this experience with each of you, our dearest friends and family in Christ!

The afternoon was a sabbath rest for us...walking and exploring in the snow...reading and relaxing in the rooms...talking and visiting with our team.

Then the evening became a bustle of activity!  Each one with an assignment and a purpose of preparation for our guests and fellow ministers who will arrive tomorrow!  The big rooms and the smaller meeting rooms all hummed with happy voices and the movement of furniture.  Papers, computers, and the shuffle of feet added to the music of preparations.

Dinner interrupted us and brought us to a time of relaxation before a final preparatory team meeting and rehearsals for choral readers, singers, etc.

The night brought sweet rest and renewal for each one!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Come before Winter Preparations

CbW team preparations in Ukraine provides a time for building relationships and making ready every detail of the five days we will spend with our participants. Elina has joined us early to help us with translations here at the hotel.
This morning Janet and I woke early for prayer and study. We were very ready for coffee when breakfast opened at 9:00. Breakfast offerings included an egg casserole, sausage, ham, porridge, breads and an egg/cheesecake.
We had time in the morning to reorganize and explore a little more before gathering for a prayer walk throughout our facilities. Small groups of our team went in five different directions covering every bed, hall, meeting room, stairway and outdoor area with God’s blessings. It was such a sweet time of conversation between us and our Father as He walks beside us on our journey.
Lunch was served and our meetings began in earnest as we met to prepare for Monday’s arrival of ladies! We labeled books, put together name tags, stuffed book bags, determined locations for each activity, sorted materials, practiced choral readings, shared prayer times, walked through the various portions of the days and our responsibilities and practiced for the celebration!
This is such an incredible group of Royal Princesses! Blessings abound as stories are shared. Lives are changed as prayers are lifted. Community is formed as hearts are opened. We represent all walks of life and so many different areas of the country. Each has had some experience on the mission fields of the world bringing those cultural diversities into one team. It is so fun to sit back and watch God blending lives and supporting each one!
Another sweet night of rest awaits us as we anticipate worship and Sabbath rest tomorrow!

Travel to KIEV

Our tour guide entertained us until midnight when he dropped us off at the airport. Manesh was familiar with the check in process and walked us through until we arrived at the long, slow line. We had all we needed and knew how to proceed from there, so we sent him home. Slowly and tediously we walked through the steps of check-in, security and boarding being extra careful to double check all luggage tags and carry-on tags at each check point. The eight hours in flight were mostly spent sleeping with a light snack first and breakfast near the end.
Jonnie and I had to say good-bye before we could go through our separate security points since our flights left from different wings of the airport. Our three weeks had been planned and prepared with so many meetings between the two of us for months before the trip. Two strangers who became sisters and walked down paths rarely traveled by women parted for a time with eager anticipation of the days we will share together later in March.
Waiting in the Frankfurt airport, I was rearranging my carryon bags to stash my backpack and fill my Come before Winter bag when I saw a lady sitting just across the aisle glancing in my direction from time to time. Sure enough, it was my new roommate! Janet was traveling from Swaziland as the missionary liaison for CbW Ukraine. She arrived in Frankfurt shortly after I did, so we had an hour to visit and make connections before the team all arrived. Janet has served many years in Africa, and Betty K taught her children while she served in Kenya. In fact she and her husband always stay with my dear friend when they visit in Texas. They lived in southwestern Kenya where KWO has several orphanages and feeding stations, so we had many things to discuss. By the time the team arrived, we were fast friends!
The flight to Kiev was brief and beautiful! The land soon became covered with snow and glistened in the bright sunlight! It was so fun to emerge from the plane to the crisp air and delightful clean fresh world! Our luggage all arrived and sailed through customs. Our drivers and vans were waiting for us, so we loaded and headed to the sanatorium. Check in was smooth…Time to unpack and reorganize…wash clothes…eat lunch…meet together and make lots of plans!
Several of us adventured outside for a walk through the snow during our free time. We stayed in the well beaten path where the snow is about four inches deep, but the traction allows for safe hiking. The snow on the yards and unplowed areas is as much as 6-8 inches. The area is filled with houses and apartments of various ilk. Some of the Ukrainian people were firing up a grill in a backyard as we passed. They tried to communicate with us as we stopped to pose our picture in the snow. But there were more giggles from both sides than true communication.
Our day ended early so we could catch some much needed rest.
A new adventure has begun!


I will return to this site to give you a look into our final day in Delhi and India later as time permits.  Jonnie and I had a relaxing morning before checking out of the Svelte Hotel and touring the temples of Delhi with Manesh.  We were so plesantly surprised at our young guide's exhuberance and thrill of leading his very first tour.  He does not yet have his guide's credentials and usually conducts airport transfers only, but the national holiday limited the number of official guides available for tours.  We were definitely the blessed two as he added life and joy to our final day.  We were weary, but he gave us new life.

Lotus Temple
We began our tour with the Lotus Temple which is the main temple of the B'hai.  This is a religion which seeks to unite all world religions in one faith.  the nine ponds, nine petals in each of three different levels and nine points on the star at the top of the inside dome represent the nine major religions of the world.

The main Hari Krishna Temple is the ISKCON temple.  manesh was particularly proud of this temple as he finds his spiritual mentor here.  We were amazed by the millions of fresh flowers adorning the main room of the temple and surrounding the statues of their idols.  The followers were celebrating "Holi" today with colors thrown or painted on passers-by.  Water balloons contained colored water.  Water guns were loaded with powdered colors before the water was added.  Young people and business men found themselves painted by friends and strangers.
The largest Hindu Temple Akshardham, was opened in 2005.  The security to enter forbid us to take anything in with us.  We were amazed at the beauty and detail throughout the grounds.  The inlaid marble mosaic work inside the main building was emense and so very intricate.  The golden statues of their many gods were so massive and detailed in every way.  The marble carvings around the building of 148 elephants in every pose seemed like a parade as well as a tribute to the many ways the elephants help the people of India. Manesh treated us to several Indian delicacies we had not tried until now in the food court.
and the Sheikh Temple, Bangla Sahib was our last temple tour of the day.  We included it on our tour since our driver for the week is a sheikh.  We entered it during the most busy hour of the day and the crowds surrounding us were devout followers in worship.

Manesh wanted us to meet his childhood friend, Nitin, so he took us to the mall for Jonnie to find stuffed animals and anklets for her grandchildren. The mall near the airport was three times larger than our hotel mall had been.  All of the major businesses of the US are represented there as well as local stores.  The dancing water fountain and light show was impressive. There we stayed until the mall closed and we needed to head on to the airport.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Agra Fort

Wednesday morning we slept in a bit after another week of early mornings and busy days. We left the hotel at 9:30 packed for Delhi. Our driver has been very punctual and extremely helpful all through our journey. Once again, he met us in the parking lot to meet the new day. Our Agra guide certainly knows his territory as well. He prepares us in route for our next destination and stays right with us giving us the best of the photo ops, the detailed facts and figures and even the folklore embedded in the local oral history!
We visited Agra Fort this morning--at least the third of the fort that is open to the public. It is the largest of the Mogul forts in India and two thirds of it are used today for the military of India. The intricate details carved into the marble and the red sandstone remain to today in many sections. It is unbelievable to look at the inlaid precious stone making such beautiful designs in the walls and to imagine the craftsmen taking on such a project! Above the archways in the summer palace are sections of inlaid stone that shine through the translucent marble still today. The winter palace housed a library of three rooms with ornately carved shelves lining the walls high above our heads. The rooms were amazingly well ventilated with hidden air vents above the doors. Latticework carved into the walls of marble donned emblems of many religions and reflected the moguls’ symmetric design both in the walls of the lower chambers as well as in the balconies above the courtyards. Entrance into the fort was originally through the gate only if the draw bridge was lowered. The drawbridge spanned the double moat surrounding the fort. The outside moat was filled with water while the inner moat housed tigers.
One of the outstanding memories of today’s visit to the fort will be the wonderful views it afforded of the Taj Mahal! We enjoyed taking pictures through the haze from every lattice shape we could find.
Another memorable moment came when Jonnie took her first picture within the gate. She set down her water bottle and leaned against the stone wall. One of several monkeys playing in the grass behind her grabbed her water and ran off with it. The mother monkey took the bottle from her young when they were unsuccessful at poking a hole in it. She bit a hole in the bottom of the bottle and gave drinks to her young.
After a thorough tour of the fort, we said goodbye to the guide and headed on the five hour drive to Delhi. Our driver kept us up to date on the national holiday beginning this afternoon and continuing on through the day tomorrow. It is the Hindu festival of colors and we saw many, many pilgrims headed to the temple to celebrate. Others were sprying their friends with bright colors. Faces, shirts, cars, etc. were all donned in pinks, blues and greens! Booths set up along the road and in the villages selling powder by the kilo and water guns of all sizes to use to squirt the color! We will be very careful when we go out tomorrow afternoon!
It was nice to arrive back in Delhi this evening and to return to the Svelte Hotel. We feel like we are home again. Tomorrow will be a slow day of packing and reorganizing with a short outing in the afternoon to see the Lotus Temple. Tomorrow night we will go to the airport about midnight to fly to Frankfurt where Jonnie and I will part ways. Jonnie will be home Friday evening. I will arrive in Kiev where I hear the temperature is 24 degrees F today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


This morning we arose before the break of day--before you even had your dinner yesterday evening! The hotel shuttle took us over to the airport and kindly stayed with us till we were safely boarded and luggage stowed above our heads. We chugged along the rails for several hours before arriving at our destination about an hour and a half from Agra! Our driver was waiting with the rest of our luggage and was glad to see we had finally arrived…our train managed to be two hours late!
From there he drove us to the Red City where we toured the palace of one of the Indian Rajahs who had really tried his best to bring unity to India. He had married three wives…one Catholic, one Muslim and one Hindu. He built a palace for each of the wives, but his favorite wife certainly was evident! He palace area was three times the size of either of the other two! Each palace had symbols representing each of the three religions etched into the red sandstone. They were fabulous tributes to the artistry and ingenuity of the generations long past.
We stopped by the hotel to freshen up a bit before making our final trek of the day! We had originally been scheduled for an evening tour of the Taj Mahal, but our paperwork here indicated a morning tour. We were quite disappointed in that because we had heard that the colors of the sunset made the experience so much more enhancing! Our guide suggested we might want to see the Taj in the sunset, so we were thrilled with his suggestion. (That also means we can sleep in a little in the morning!)
The Taj Mahal is everything that anyone has ever said! It is beautiful beyond imagination! The grandeur and intricate detail merge to bring all of your senses together as your eyes widen each step you take towards it! Our guide knew exactly where to have us stand to take the best pictures…how to pose us to get the best effect…and where to lead us to get us into the line as easily all the way through the experience! I could not begin to tell you the majesty and splendor we experienced, so I will let you glance on a few of our favorite shots…

Monday, March 5, 2012



Peacock-India's national bird






Today we once again were sent out early this morning on another canter to search for tigers. We did find antelope and a small baby croc and several birds that we had not seen. We met some delightful women traveling throughout India on their own who wound up being our next door neighbors here. In fact, we have found several groups or twosomes of women traveling through this area of India. It is perfectly safe and a delightful place to vacation.
The afternoon adventure was a bird of a different color! We met two delightful couples-one from NYC and the other from Britain. The British couple is enjoying their sixteenth visit to India! We shared a jeep safari with these two couples all afternoon. Our guide was assuring us all along the way that he would find us a tiger for our final safari adventure. We stopped to introduce the British couple to the park animals along the way as we ventured deeper and deeper into the park. Passing several other jeeps also searching, we were diligent at the task at hand. Finally we pulled off the road onto a little overlook area and stopped for a minute. There in the river just below us was a large male tiger gnawing on a limb. He gave us a thrill and a little show as he relaxed and cooled himself in the afternoon sun. Then as we continued snapping photos, the guide suggested one gentleman get down to take better shots. When the tiger sensed his decent, he rose and slowly sauntered away from us. We continued snapping until he was out of range. Then our driver took a side road and reached the river crossing where he knew the tiger would head next. We beat him there by just a few minutes and enjoyed watching his approach. He once again sensed the other approaching jeeps and turned again. Our driver knew where to find him for a third time! We were satisfied with a wonderful viewing of God’s majestic Bengal tiger. Soon our NYC pediatrician will send us her snaps with a high powered zoom lens, but for now, you can enjoy our find along with us!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where's the Tiger?













 Our accommodations in Jaipur were splendid. The breakfast buffet was more extensive than any preceding it! We enjoyed all but the night sounds of the city of Jaipur! Early this morning we headed out with our driver towards the city of Ranthambore. Along the way he pointed out many wonderful tidbits of information as we passed flock after flock of sheep having been to the sheerer for their summer do. Shepherd after shepherd guided his flock to the right side of the road so we could pass by. Sheep took advantage of being herded to the side by grabbing a bite of grass to nibble along the way.
We passed through towns of gypsies all busy making a living for themselves. Their colorful dress was distinctive as they wear big baggy pants and long dresses along with their shawls, scarves and turbans. Their were hundreds or over a thousand camel pulling carts, hauling loads or grazing along the side of the road. Women were out harvesting wheat reminding us of the story of Naomi and Ruth…then we saw a young child gleaning from a field the women had already harvested with cycle in hand.
We enjoyed the varied terrain which alternately reminded us of the Permian Basin, the Big Bend, south Dakota’s Badlands and the southern hills of Arizona or California. The roads varied almost as much--no, maybe more. We had beautiful divided highways, cobblestone roads, rocky roads, dirt paths, narrow one-lane asphalt, potholes and back to smooth highways. We would go for miles without seeing anyone, then be in the middle of a small village surrounded by the bustle of working class people! We passed beautiful Toyotas, Suzukis, tractors, carts, bicycles, bikes, pedestrians, and even home-made trucks! The highlight being the cotton candy man riding his bicycle down the highway with bags of cotton candy piled twelve feet high behind him!
We were enthralled by the variety of buildings! Several fancy high-rise apartment complexes that rent for amounts unheard of to most of the people we have seen were surrounded by high-tech skyscrapers housing business men and multi-million dollar companies. Later we passed straw huts with thatched roof in the midst of clay houses in a village that shops in corrugated aluminum kiosks along the main street.
Women balanced hay, wheat, water or bowls of other items atop their heads while donning apparel we would reserve for parties or other special affairs. Women worked in fields alone or alongside men. The lumberyard was a bustle of busy bodies sawing, pounding the bark off of branches, loading trucks or wrapping bundles of bark for sale. The brick factories were astir with multi-generations working side by side in an age old tradition of making clay bricks one by one using wooden frames and their hands.
We were amazed to pass a small airport as we neared Ranthambore. Our driver explained that the airport was built especially for Bill Clinton to land here to visit Ranthambore. The monies that Clinton allocated to this area has provided public schools with a free lunch program, running water to each household in the form of their own personal water pump outside their door, good roads and a nation-wide program developed to save the tiger. The airport is rarely used since its initial guest ten years ago, but occasionally a VIP will fly out to the National Park who has enough importance to merit a private plane and the manning of the airport for the day.
Upon arrival at our hotel, our driver informed us that he would be going on ahead of us and would meet up with us again just out of Agra on Tuesday afternoon. We quickly rearranged our suitcases so that we could send him with as much as possible to lighten our load for the train ride Tuesday. We keep remembering things that are in the back of his car we wish we had kept with us!!!
The hotel is very nice. We had a lovely buffet lunch before boarding a twenty-passenger vehicle to head out to the National Park in search of tigers. Around and around in circles we drove while the tigers slept peacefully in the tall grass hidden from sight and completely happy in their blissful slumber. We found flock after flock of beautiful peacocks and peahens, somber deer, spotted deer, monkeys, crocodiles, egrets, parakeets, storks, killdeer, kingfishers, a random butterfly here and there and a pair of mongoose, but no tiger today! Tomorrow morning we will head out at 6:30 in hopes of finding a tiger before he settles in for his daily slumber.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the Indian chai and samosas, the delicious and varied foods we have been served. Now it is off to bed for much needed rest and up tomorrow for two rides into the jungle!!!