It was such an honor to be a part of the Latin American/Caribbean Covenant World Relief Retreat this past week! Representatives from Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, the US and Caribbean all came together to learn from one another and share about the ministries receiving assistance from Covenant World Relief. I had the privilege of being surrounded with some of our leading experts in areas of community development. It was a great time of networking, learning from one another and expanding our vision of what God is doing through our ministry connections. I also got to meet some of the greatest people…and to reconnect with good friends!
Check out more photos of our time together and more information on our partner ministries in Latin America and the Caribbean!
Wow, my sister is right. I haven’t been good at keeping up with my blog! oops! Now, I’m sitting here trying to figure out what I should write about. My mind seems in a whirl when I think of all that has been going on since my last post:
I had an amazing time once again in Taiwan. I continue to grow in my relationships with the great people of the Covenant Church of Taiwan and the team that went this year was absolutely wonderful. God is so good!
I am now able to wear high heels and exercise again! I get a little nervous sometimes, but the foot seems to be continuing to heal.
The interactive experience that was put on by Merge at CHIC had a profound impact on so many. We pray that this impact will be evident in how they live out their everyday lives in relation to others and God. (Ok, so the picture doesn’t show the amazing focus stations…just us crazy Merge people!)
Sadly, I said goodbye to Janelle and Calvin, but rejoice with them over the ministry God entrusted to them in Haiti and pray for this new adventure God has for them in Canada!
I have been able to enjoy going to visit friends and family…and having my parents come to the DR. I am truly blessed!
Since after this recap I still don’t have a clear direction of what to write about, I am going to steal an idea from a friend of mine. I’m sure many of you have questions about life and ministry here in the Caribbean. If you have a question, please email me tammi.biggs(at)covchurch.org and I will start responding to the questions in subsequent blog entries.
About three weeks ago, I was in Haiti again. After church, we had decided to go to the beach. In order to do so, we were going to be taking 2 motocycles. Now, I am seriously afraid of motocycles. I am afraid of crashing. I am afraid of other crazy drivers. I am afraid of getting burned on the muffler. The only other time I rode on a motorcycle, I was deathly afraid. I white-knuckled it the whole way. It was not a pleasant experience! But this time, I was not about to say “no”! With a little trepidation, we headed off…Janelle on one bike with Fred and another friend. Me, on the back with Cal driving. I realized once I got on the bike, though, I wasn’t that scared. In fact, I really enjoyed the ride! I was able to see some of the most beautiful country. I was able to enjoy seeing the people we encountered on the way. I enjoyed the sights and sounds of life. I enjoyed the little ones that would yell things to us.
I started reflecting on what the difference was. Why was this experience so different than the last? They were both bikes. Both times were on bad Haitian roads. The difference was the driver. I trusted this driver. I trusted Cal…and it made all of the difference.
I think it’s the same when it comes to uncertainty in our lives. It is easy to get worried, stressed or even scared if we forget who is in the driver’s seat. Sometimes I focus on the uncertainty. I have an active imagination and can come up with the wildest scenarios. I am glad for God’s reminder that day on the back of a motorcycle. I know it doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen. Even more so, I know that there is One that loves me and cares for me and promises to always be with me. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget to look to the One who holds all things together. I need to remember Who’s driving.
Here is something you may not know about me. I am a “delayed gratification” kind of girl when it comes to food. I eat around a sandwich because I don’t like the crust very much. That way, I get to eat the “good stuff” last. I eat popcorn in order of how much butter it has…from whitest to yellowest. I sample everything on my plate to determine what I want my last bite to taste like. It’s my way of “saving the best for last.”
When it comes to life, some call it “delayed gratification” while others call it “waiting patiently” (or in most cases, impatiently). I think the art of waiting is much more than something to develop patience. Sometimes I am good at it—like in the store. I use the time to pray for those around me, talk to those in line or be amused by what is happening around me. Other times, I must confess, I stink at waiting!
It is the same in my relationship with God. “Waiting on the Lord” is a discipline. It’s not one we are naturally good at. Its benefits are worth it, though. In those moments, we are reminded that God has His best in mind for us…and when God delivers His best, it is worth the wait!
So, join me in the discipline of waiting! It’s not easy. But then again, the best is worth waiting for!
I remember when being in the States, one of the songs that would always play over loudspeakers in stores was, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For some, however, it doesn’t seem to be that way. Whether it be from a recent loss of a loved one, to a broken relationship, to ailing relatives, to a lost job, etc etc; for some, Christmas doesn’t seem like the most wonderful time of the year.
God has been teaching me a lot in a time that could be aptly described as a very difficult month. I am learning to worship. I mean really worship—to praise Him and claim anew that God is God and worthy of my praise…even when I don’t feel like it…even when I don’t feel His presence.
The verse that talks about “people living in darkness have seen a great light” kept popping into my head. I decided to look up the context in Matthew 4. In doing so, I was reminded of a fundamental truth. If you look at the beginning of the chapter, it is of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Satan kept trying to get Jesus to show “proof” of who He was. Time and again, Jesus used Scripture. He didn’t “wow” Satan with what He could do. He didn’t appeal to emotions. He stuck to the truth found in the Word.
So if you are one of those people that finds this time of the year less than wonderful, I have a challenge for us—to remember God’s promises, even when you may not feel His presence. In the midst of a very trying time, Joseph was told of this promise: “‘[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).”
He is with us! In the midst of the joyous times and in the middle of the painful times. He is Immanuel, God WITH Us. And He is our peace. Praise GOD for that!
I just got back from our Merge Annual Meeting in Mexico and have been a little worried about my passport. My passport expires the middle of January and I have a trip the end of January…not leaving me much time to renew it!
I was going to get up first thing this morning and go to the Consulate in Puerto Plata but my pastor asked me to help him with something. I helped him and then drove to Puerto Plata this afternoon. They were supposed to open at 2, but the assistant to the Consulate didn’t arrive until almost 2:30. That wasn’t a big surprise. I went in and explained I needed to renew my passport. She proceeded to tell me that I couldn’t do it today because she can’t handle the money. Only the Consulate can! I asked if I could leave everything with her and have a friend that lives in Puerto Plata bring the money the next morning. She then said I had to do it in person and the Consulate was only there in the mornings on Mondays and Thursdays. I was ticked. I had drove there…and even called the other day to check on everything. Never was I told this information! I grabbed my things in disgust and walked out.
As I started driving, I started to feel convicted. I was going to have to go back on Monday morning and now I had acted badly towards the woman in charge! I kept feeling “the nudge”. I ignored the nudge for a bit…but then I called. I explained to the woman I had just been there and wanted to apologize for my behavior. I asked for her forgiveness. She said she completely understood. I then asked to confirm everything I needed to have with me on Monday. She said it was TUESDAY and Thursday. Not Monday. In my anger, I had heard Monday. Can you imagine? Because of my anger, I would have drove back up there on Monday to the same results! I am thankful for the lessons the Lord continues to teach me.
The last few weeks have been difficult ones. I received a call that my mom was really sick. First they thought it was just a nasty version of the flu…but she progressively got worse. Long story very short, she has a rare strain of E-Coli in the blood. Praise God, they have now found a treatment that is working, but it will be a very slow process for her. She needs to be given a treatment intravenously for a month.
Not being there is hard. Not knowing what was going on was, in some way, even harder. I am sure my dad will be very glad when I am not calling him every few hours and giving medical suggestions! haha.
Last week, amidst the questions and of not knowing, I began to feel less and less in control. Not many people would have noticed, but a friend of mine did. He asked me a question: “What are you holding onto? This is the time you need to be clinging to God…and it appears you are not holding very tightly.” Ouch…but SO true. I was so wrapped in ME not being there, ME feeling helpless, ME not helping to care for my mom. I was so wrapped up in ME that I started losing grasp of the only One that I truly needed…and that my mom needed.
I am so thankful for the reminder. If we are truly honest with ourselves, I don’t think I’m the only one that has to sheepishly admit that in the midst of uncertainty, I sometimes lose my focus and grip on God. I am so thankful to the people that have been praying for my mom’s recovery, calling me to check in and speaking truth into my life. I’m thankful for the reminder that in order to “get a grip”, I need to cling to my Father and trust Him.
A few weeks ago when my brother-in-law was in the DR, most of the kids thought he was the wrestler, John Cena. We got a big kick out of it! The wrestling theme for me has stuck, though. Now, just to go on the record: I DO NOT watch wrestling. I think it is ridiculous. I do, however, have more and more of a desire to become a wrestler.
A few years back I was reading in Colossians 4. I got to verse 12 and it says: “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” What an image! That image of Epaphras “wrestling in prayer” became an image I have wanted to hold on to.
When that verse comes to mind, I have to ask myself, am I wrestling in prayer? Do I bring others with passion and conviction before the Lord? Do I pray enough that others “will stand firm in the will of God, mature and fully assured”? If I was honest with myself, I would have to say I am in the light-weight division. I am not a good wrestler…but I want to be!
My time here with our Taiwan brothers and sisters continues to remind me I need to be a better wrestler. The first few days I was here, I had a lot of opportunities to share my story and hear the stories of others. For the majority of them, they are the only one in their family that is Christian. It is a struggle…Christian values are completely counter-cultural…many are ostracized from their families. I had the privilege to talk with them, pray with them and encourage them to continue to live out their faith in a way that makes those around them drawn to new life in Christ. What an honor and privilege to be woven into their stories!
I went to a prayer service the second day here. Pastor John gave opportunities to pray for different things. Although I didn’t understand much (actually only Amen, an occasional Jesus and thank you), I was moved by their passionate, fervent prayers for their families and their country. They are good wrestlers! I am once again convinced and convicted of my need to jump weight class.