Well, it's been a week...I'm still not completely better, but I'd say that I'm at least at 95%!! We did strike out last Thursday...but only after having a great time of sharing at the Days Inn (Joe, Gina, Theresa, Mrs. Shirley, & Dana) in Lafayette! (They even fed us lunch before we left.) While I was sick, Chris was still talking to everyone he came in contact with including all of the people who work at Days Inn. He met Mrs. Shirley who has worked for 27 years at Days Inn...she ministers where God shows her--with others who work with her or with guests. Then there's Theresa--she's raising her kids, going to school and working full-time to support her family! We also met Gina & Dana who explained how they have been reaching out to the community over the past 1 1/2 years. It's amazing to hear how they helped the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to hear stories of "regulars" who stop by from time to time to stay or just to chat. It was like being in a family! They even have a Wednesday night supper for those who are staying with them or even friends (aka former guests) who are just passing through. At supper we met Mrs. Lillie who drives an 18-wheeler to deliver mail from Tennessee to Louisiana twice each week. She shared with us about her daughter who had been on several missions trips. On one trip to India, her group was ministering in a community and there was a man who was deaf. "It just so happened" that Mrs. Lillie's daughter knew sign language. Isn't it amazing how God puts people at the right place at the right time!
Thursday afternoon we left Lafayette. We weren't actually sure where we were going to be able to walk to that day, but there was a town about every 5 miles. The biggest place was Crowley, but it was about 20 miles away. We weren't thinking that we would make it that far. Well, we walked about 7 miles and while we were taking a water break, Chris pointed out a car that was trying to make a U-turn in heavy traffic. It was Kevin who is from the area, and he wanted to give us a ride. (He was also driving a Sunfire similar to the car our friend Kevin from Smithfield used to drive!!) He dropped us off at a gas station in Duson because he had to go to his sister's house. He told us that if he saw us walking later that he would pick us up and carry us a little further since there was very little in the way of food or lodging between where we were and Crowley. Sure enough...about an hour later, Kevin stopped again to pick us up, and he took us into Crowley. We weren't sure where to go from there. I had started feeling pretty bad again, so we decided to eat quickly and find a place to stay for the night. We met a family (Shane, Heidi, Crystal, Alexis & Haley) at the place we were eating, but they didn't really offer us any advice. Chris was able to share a little with them, but I was so tired. We ended up staying at the Days Inn again just because we had such a good experience with them in Lafayette. I wasn't sure that it was the right place, but after checking the 3 hotels, I just couldn't go anymore. I called my parents and they prayed for me and Chris prayed for me, and I went to sleep.
I didn't feel a lot better in the morning, but we were pretty sure that we weren't supposed to stay at the Days Inn again. We packed up our stuff and started walking to Rite Aid and Winn-Dixie to ask the pharmicists what they thought I should do. It started raining, but this man named Steve almost immediately stopped and picked us up. (Again we praised God for His timing! Not only is God's timing amazing...here's another crazy connection that He made!! The family that we are staying with now is related to Steve...they went crazy when they saw his picture...It's so cool working for God!) After talking to both of the pharmicists, we decided that I should start an antihistimine, but if I wasn't better by Monday, I should go to the doctor. We walked from the Winn-Dixie to the Popeye's that was in the same parking lot. As we walked by the drive-in line, this guy, Henry, called to us from his truck. He wanted to know what we were doing, so Chris shared with him. He told us that he was running a Half Ironman April 1st in Galveston, TX (please pray for him and his training!!), but he was really impressed by what we were attempting. He told us that he would be praying, so we walked on inside. After we got our food and were seated, we noticed that Henry had parked his truck, and he came inside to talk to us again. He couldn't talk very long, but he just wanted to encourage us a little more and to help us out on our journey. We were in awe of God's provision! We had been sort of worrying because we had been having to stay in hotels while I was sick, but even in that the Lord was working!!
So we headed back where the hotels were...this time to the Crowley Inn because they had the best rate. You are never going to beleive this, but the same lady, Betty Frank, who worked the night shift was working the day shift. When we asked her about it, she told us that it was the only night that she worked. Normally she works days. Is that God or what? She gave us a really good rate, and while we were waiting for the room to get ready, she began to testify to God's goodness in her life. She shared of her Uncle Keith and Auntie who have amazing faith in the Lord. Keith is a pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist in town. Over the course of her life, God has used her Auntie and Uncle. She shared of a time just after she left her husband (He was abusive.), and she was working so hard to make ends meet. She received a notice that her water was going to be turned off, but it was 4 days late in getting to her. She didn't know what to do, so she walked over to her Auntie's house and waited until she came home for lunch. As soon as she saw her Auntie, she told her of the notice and asked if she could drive her over to the water company. Her Auntie started digging around in her purse and pulled out the first notice. Then began explaining...when their water bill came, they found Betty's bill enclosed in theirs. Keith didn't know why Betty would have told the water company to do something like that, so he told his wife to call the company. The people there had no idea what she was talking about. By some mistake, Betty Frank's bill was put in the evelope with Keith Matthew's bill. Keith realized that it was no accident...instead God was telling them to reach out and help their niece, Betty. Betty couldn't believe the story...the only people in Crowley who would care about her water being turned off had "accidentally" recieved her bill. She said that it was as if God was looking down on her and saying, "I have millions of children, but I see you, Betty, and I know your needs." Whew...I was moved to tears after hearing her story!! Not very long after her sharing, our room was ready, so she wanted to show us where it was. On her way out, she saw her Uncle Keith's car parked at the restaurant, Fezzo's, that's attached to the hotel. As she was telling us that, we looked into the window and saw her Uncle & Auntie waving at her. So we went in just to meet them. Then we went on to our room.
After we got settled in, Chris left to go to the library. I just wanted to pray and read a little before I took a nap. Right as I finished praying, the phone rang. It was Ms. Betty. She told me that when we went into the restuarant, the owner, Pat Bordes saw us and our packs. He saw the scripture "We walk by faith & not by sight," and couldn't believe it because he was doing a talk the next day about faith. He wanted to invite us to supper that night so that he could hear our story. I was sooo excited!! When Chris got back, I told him about it, and we went over to meet Mr. Pat!! We were so impressed because he took time to sit down with us and really listen to our story! He's a Christian, and he was going to share at a confirmation retreat on Saturday. His 2-year-old son was killed in a tragic accident about 3 years ago, and he shared of how God has carried him through this time. The Catholic church has retreats called Cursillo, and God spoke to him in a mighty way at one of those retreats. It was pretty amazing to again see how the Spirit of God is moving across denominational lines! So we had an extremely tasty dinner, and a wonderful conversation about the Lord!!
Saturday was pretty low key...I rested some more, and Ms. Betty called to let us know that if we stayed another night that the manager, Ms. Josie, would take care of our room. Isn't God good?!!!
Sunday morning, we went in to talk to Ms. Betty because she had told us about a church in the community, Northside Assembly of God, that we had to go to. She said "those people at that church love the Lord." So we went to ask her how to get there. She gave us directions, and we walked over. We saw on the sign that a revival was starting that day, so we were pretty excited to see what God was going to do!! As we walked in the door, there was a lady who greeted us. We introduced ourselves to her and gave her one of our prayer cards. Then we went into the Sunday school class that was already under way. The teacher, Barry Thompson, was giving a very clear Gospel presentation and two people (a father and daughter) came forward to accept Christ at the end of SUNDAY SCHOOL!!! We knew we were in the right place!! After Sunday school, Pastor Singley came in and introduced himself to us. We shared just a few minutes about what we were doing. The singing started, and we were just enjoying being in the service. When Pastor Singley came up, we were shocked when he asked Chris to come up and share what we were doing. In about 5 minutes, Chris quickly told our story, and we went back to sit down. Before we could be seated though, people began giving Chris "a pentecostal handshake" to help us on our journey. We couldn't believe it. When God calls you to do something, don't ever be worried about how it will happen! HE WILL PROVIDE! Then the evangelist, Rod Vincent, came up to bring God's Word. What great revival did he share about? From Nehemiah of course!! It was so good because he also shared his testimony of how he came to the Lord.
Pastor Singley (pictured with Sister Patsy & Kali) invited us to eat with his family and Preacher Rod (pictured with Chris), so we were able to meet the whole family...Mrs. Patsy (Pastor Singley's wife), Ryan & Carrie (their son-in-law & daughter), and Nick, Hannah, & Kali (their son-in-law, daughter & granddaughter). The food was so delicious...there's something about Southern Lousiana food!! We started talking about our intercessory prayer group from home and sharing about all that they taught us about prayer. Then we told them about when Mrs. Lois came to pray for us to recieve the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He immediately began to manifest Himself in Chris, but nothing appeared to be different for me. We know that in order to be able to share the Gospel with power & love, the Holy Spirit must be present. So over the course of this trip I've asked a lot of questions and prayed a lot and read a good bit as well! I explained this to the pastors. Pastor Loyd wrote a short booklet about the Holy Spirit, so I read that Sunday afternoon. Well, Sunday night at the revival Preacher Rod gave the invitation for people to come down. Many of the ladies from the church came to pray over me, and I began to sense that something was different! It was pretty awesome...I'm continuing just know God more daily...to be authentically empowered by His Holy Spirit!
Mrs. Lou Jenkins gave us a ride back to Crowley Inn...she's such an sweet lady who loves the Lord so much! When we got back to our room, we found at that Ron & Susan Naish had made it to Crowley! Susan is Chris's cousin, but Ron & Susan are also missionaries to Central America. The Lord blessed them with a new vehicle to use in Central America, so they were driving it down from Asheville! We had tons of fun swapping God stories all evening! (What a great God! He sent them just in time for Chris's 35th birthday on Monday!!)
Monday morning, Ron & Susan met George & Jenifer at breakfast. When Ron asked George how he was doing, he responded "not too good." So Susan asked if they could come by their room to pray with them. George & Jenifer agreed, so Ron & Susan went up and shared with them for an hour or two. Chris and I started looking for Ron & Susan, but we didn't find them until we went upstairs to meet George & Jenifer ourselves. We were able to share testimony of this walk, Guy & Hailie's story, & God's transforming power in Chris's life. The timing was perfect. After we finished talking and sharing that it was Chris's birthday, George all of the sudden got up and walked over to the sink. They "just so happened" to have cake left over from one of their children's birthdays. So George wanted to share it with us (Jenifer was shocked...she later explained that it was extremely out of character for him to do something like that.) They had exactly enough pieces for each of us to have some! Amazing God!!
Ron, Susan, Chris & I went to run some errands, but when we returned, George & Jenifer wanted to talk. See they have had A LOT of tragedy in their lives and a lot of pain both physical and emotional. So they came to Ron and Susan's room to tell them that they had discussed it. We were right they needed something else...they wanted to know Jesus!!! (What a birthday present for Chris when they told us about it!) We were sooooo excited when they shared that Ron & Susan lead them to the Lord! I mean how much does God love someone that He would send 4 missionaries from NC so that you can come to know Him!! We were amazed. So George & Jenifer ended up going to revival all week long (even after we left!)
Then (as if that wasn't an amazing enough birthday) Mr. Harold and Mr. Chris arrived just as we were cutting Chris's 2nd birthday cake. Mr. Harold is the director of foreign missions for the Original Free Will Baptist, and Mr. Chris is a pastor for the denomination. I worked with them for many summers, and Chris worked with them for two summers as well. They even came bearing gifts of long johns for Chris from my parents. (Just in time for the cold weather!) They were on their way to Mexico to drop off a van for David, a pastor in Piedras Negras!! Then we had a great time sharing with them and praying together!!! What an unbelieveable day?!! Chris often says, "Only God can write a story that's this amazing!"
Tuesday was only a little less incredible...ha, ha, ha! We were able to spend a little more time with Mr. Harold & Mr. Chris before they needed to hit the road. God opened the door for us to speak on KAJN Christian radio station. After we spoke, Mr. Thompson (the station manager) gave us a tour of the station. They have a special prayer ministry called The Upper Room. At the very top of their building they have people coming in to pray for those who call in from 7 am - 5 pm. (That day we met Harriet Bias who was praying.) If someone comes to the Lord, they have a 12 part Bible study called "The First Steps" that they can send out to callers. They also have short studies and verses about common topics for pray requests from the callers. Dean & Paula St. Cyr both work for the radio station. Dean is the director of outreach ministries/The Upper Room, and has written the Bible studies that they use with the callers to The Upper Room. Ron & Susan and Chris & I had a great time talking with them and learning about their ministry!! For lunch Ron & Susan had the opportunity to eat with Pastor Singley & Preacher Rod so that they could share their ministry with them. (Pretty cool how God opened that door for them!!) Chris & I were able to fellowship with Kirt & Koye over an authentic Cajun meal!! Kirt's heart beats so strongly for the Lord! It was refreshing to hear his testimony and about his struggles. We never tire of hearing the awesome ways in which the Lord works!
All of us were able to go to another great revival service on Tuesday night! During the services we met a man, Rev. Percy, who came to the revival from a little place called Branch, LA. His love for the Lord shone on his face and manifested itself in his every action. It was our privilege to meet him because so often now people don't travel to a town far away to support a revival unless they know someone in the church!! We also met Marilyn & Corrie Campbell after the service. Marilyn's husband, John, and Marilyn are missionaries to Africa. They are home this year on furlough and to raise support. When they go back they will be in Benin which is in West Africa. Corrie is their daughter. She's been back in the states going on 4 years. She's a junior at the University of Lousiana at Lafayette. I really enjoyed talking with her and hearing her take on being a missionaries' kid! She too has seen God do such amazing, mind-blowing things outside this country. So it was an encouragement to me as we near the Mexican border that God is in control--especially outside the borders of our country! Praise God for the peace that He gives! (I was also pretty pumped up to know that she was named after Corrie Ten Boom, another great missionary...and Corrrie told me (as did Kelly O'melia before we left home) that I really have to read The Hiding Place and Tramp for God. So if any of you have free time...go to the library and check them out...apparently they are amazing!)
Wednesday morning, we were pretty sad because we had to say "good-bye" to Ms. Josie, Ms. Betty, Mr. Pat, and George & Jenifer! We had especially been praying for someone to be in George & Jenifer's lives, so we were pleasantly surprised to see Ms. Lou (the precious lady who brought us home on Sunday night) drive up at the hotel. She had been at the ladies' prayer meeting that morning and wanted to tell us bye if we were still around. She drove up right when we were about to pray with George and Jenifer and leave. So she joined our prayer and loved on them a little. She also wants to bring them back and forth to church (They live in the same town north of Crowley!) and study the Bible with them!! I can't even count the times anymore of how we've seen God's perfect timing! I'm so amazed at Him!!
While we were with Ron & Susan in Honduras this past summer, we learned about a people group, the Garifunas, who only recently had the Bible translated into their language. Chris & I were interested in helping buy Bibles for them, but we didn't know how God would work that out. When people ask us what we wanted for Christmas this year, we told them Garifuna Bibles. Ron & Susan told us that they were going to be able to buy about 150 Bibles. Is that a miracle or what?!! Now they want us to help give them out when we arrive in Honduras. If they aren't already there, then Ron said that they'd fly down and we could go with them to deliver Bibles! Can you imagine never reading a Bible in your own language? I don't think I really can, but I know my life would be miserable without Jesus!! After a wonderful time with Ron & Susan, it was time for them to go on to Houston, but Chris & I felt like we were supposed to stop in Lake Charles. So they stopped there to drop us off. Then we ate lunch together and said our good-byes. What would Lake Charles hold for us? Well...God was about to show us!!
Pictured below: 1) RE lighting CE's candles for his 35th birthday...call out the fire trucks!! 2) The gym that they are almost ready to dedicate in memory of Seth Trahan who gave his life for his country in Iraq. He loved God and heavily supported missions even at his young age! He graduated from Northside Christian School, so they are naming the new gym in his memory. 3) Ellen LeBlanc with RE--she's the pianist at Northside Assembly of God--a senior in high school with great talent!