Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Belated second update video from Texas

Here is the second update video that I put together in Texas. Sorry to those who haven't got to watch it yet. I actually put it all together in Texas but didn't get a chance to upload to Youtube till I got back (and then forgot for a while). So here it is if you still want to watch it. The first update video is posted bellow the second.
We actually got to show the kids these videos on the last day of VBS (Sunday, so actually the parents and elder sisters of the church got to see them too) and the enjoyed them extremely. I hope you guys do too.  

How I see it - by guest blogger Ellie Jackson

Hello all members, guests, and people who happened here by accident! My brother, Billy, asked me to write a blog post, so here I am. I’d like to tell you about the vision Billy has and how I see it. 
     My dad trained Billy as a photography assistant for wedding days when he was fifteen, and hired Billy as his main assistant when he was ____. (:P)("Billy here. I was 17years old") I've watched Billy progress in skill and his one wish was to take meaningful photos and to do something meaningful with them. First we were thinking sports photography, fun and fast paced, but God had other plans.
     Last year in the Spring, Billy went to Texas to a journalism conference and came back with an exciting vision in mind, to spread the work of missions through media, specifically photos and video. 
     Soon afterwards we were all thrilled to see an opportunity in Bali Indonesia. The Lord was amazing in providing finances and passage, and the pictures and experience there encouraged us to keep going. When Samaritian’s purse and Stepping Out Ministries offered free passage to Japan, on the condition that they stay one month and do constructive work, Billy and a friend Gary Northcut went together. Since then more opportunities have sprung up including a six month trip on the African Mercy Ship and more places in Japan. Billy is feeling out the next move while we support him with prayer, and I’d ask you to do that same. We really feel media missions is what God is calling Billy to do and I am more and more excited about what is going on. 

Recently Billy took a short and hectic trip to the bottom of Texas. After such an exhausting ride and in freezing cold weather, he was wishing to be welcomed in and given hot tea and a cookie while he told us all about his trip. Sorry Billy. Haha! He was locked out of the house until he banged on the basement window and Eddie finally got out of bed to let him in. Sorry Billy, we are glad to have you back.

Rock on Billy
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ellie Jackson

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Path of the Righteous

While I was in Texas the Lord encouraged me with Proverbs 4:18 which is my new theme verse. 
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn. It shines brighter and brighter until the full day

It is very easy for me to pass over wonderful verses like this because as I read it I often think in my mind "Yeah, that's not much of a guarantee for me. I can hardly call myself a righteous or godly man." But as I read this verse it shot into my heart and I wanted it. This is a promise I want to claim for myself. It means a lot to me as I look at my life and wonder what path it will take. It meant a lot to me as I left Texas and all those crazy kids we had grown fond of so fast, and I wondered when will I ever come back? Will it be this good again? When? This verse doesn't just promises that the path will stay bright but that it will grow brighter! I will do what I can to claim this verse for myself. I will cling to Christ's righteousness. I will work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I will trust the Spirit to do his sanctifying work in me. Without Christ there's no way this verse could mean anything to me, but with him it is a joyful promise! My path will culminate in his presence! Brighter than anyplace I can imagine! 

Praise the Lord and his abundant mercy!

I think you can tell I really like this picture. It goes so well with this verse that I like so much
I want the light. I want the full day to come. I want to follow the righteous path.

 It reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress, which anyone who hasn't read should read. You can find it on Paperback Swap by the way (Paperback Swap is pretty cool by the way).

Now to contrast this, strangely enough, I just got in the mail (while I was in Texas) a book by John Bunyan called "Journey to Hell". It is about a man on a different path than Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress. I haven't started it yet so I don't know if its good or not, but I can't wait to find out. I just finished William Carey (which I also got off PPS by the way) so this book is next in line. 

Also, this evening I just read a passage in Job that really contrasts Proverbs 4:18. It is spoken by Bildad one of Job's friends, but I think it is still true. It reads...

"Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant.
Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish."

So I hope this book by John Bunyan is an edifying reminder of what happens to those who tread the path of the wicked. 

Hey! And actually I got "Journey to Hell" off Paperback swap as well. (If you like books as much as me you should probably check it out)


Friday, January 20, 2012

Done but not Finished (mission trip to Mission Texas)

Been home for a few days now from Mission Texas, getting back to work and chores around the house, and just finally got to start today on the video from the trip. I feel like the trip is over but the work has just begun, and I don't mean just the video work.

I have a lot of questions about my future involvement with Mission Texas and with Hispanic ministry in general. Sarah Weber asks some of these same questions in her final blog post of the trip (you should read it). Should I go to language school to learn Spanish? Should I move there with the Suttons when/if they go? Does God want me involved in Hispanic ministry with Psalm 67 or somewhere else? (Like Japan or something)

One thing I do know is that I loved working with the kids there, and if God called me to go live among them teaching and serving I would not be disappointed.  While considering the ideas of language school, working with Aaron at the church, and further ministry in Mission Texas, it did not strike me as great opportunity or something to be pursued as other than short term mission work (with Aaron to help him in his work there), until one day as we were driving to pick up kids. 

Let me try to describe something real quick.
Big giant freeway... normal main road... gas stations, Walmart, K-Mart, Target,... Winter Texan trailer parks surrounded by high fences, and then a little turn right past the fence, past some little apartments...  and then Boom! Just like that your in Mexico for all you can tell. Little roads sometimes dirt, little ramshackle houses, dogs with pups following, and little mexican family run stores. All this for a very short area and then with a snap of the fingers your right back on a main road in Texas.

These little colonias (as Aaron calls them) are where we get alllllllll those kids. (once we were carrying 28 people and didn't even realize until we were counting them on their way out of the 15 passenger van) And we only really cover a few streets! With more people and another van or two we could have gathered twice to triple the amount of kids we had each night (about 50 or so).

While we were driving through one of these to pick up kids we stopped at the little family store on the corner (it was a little before time to actually pick up the kids). One of the young men who had come the night before to the VBS was working there (about 16 years old I think). As we were driving away Aaron pointed out that above the store was a room for rent, a little apartment for rent right there in the middle of this little colonia. 
"Wouldn't it be something if you could come down here and live there above the store right in the middle of all these kids" Aaron said. "You could be right here in the midst of things, be part of the community, start a C-group right here, and still go to the language school to learn spanish."
 By this time I had gotten the picture and my heart was beating faster. I was thinking "Wow, that would be awesome! THAT would be a worthwhile reason to come down here." I was thinking about it for the next few minutes as we drove. 

And now I'm back home, my heart is calmed down, those crazy, out of control, lovable kids don't surround me anymore, and I'm back to questioning... "God, where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do? What is my life work?" BUT it is not despairing! It is NOT like the horrible end of the new Prince Caspian movie where they are all sad because they have to go back to the real world. Instead I am reassured that God IS FAITHFUL! He is moving me forward in his timing and his way which is far above any way that I could imagine. And this little mission trip that I thought was just a little mission trip is part of his way and may mean more than I realize. 

Like Sarah mentioned in her blog Proverbs 4:18 was an encouragement to me throughout the trip and as we were leaving.     
"The path of the Righteous is like the light of Dawn. It shines brighter and brighter until the full day"

The light is not leaving but growing. God's kingdom is spreading, growing into a mountain that covers the whole earth. "Things Hidden" was the theme for the week of VBS (material from Children Desiring God), and a large part of that was about the kingdom of God. It was a blessing what little part of the lesson I was able to hear. It was a blessing what little I got to teach. And it was a blessing to hear the kids singing and reciting verses and retelling the lessons they had heard.

One more thing to mention right now. God taught us a lesson about his sovereignty that week. I don't know if you have heard stories or rumors yet but the first day of VBS was BAD! I mean really bad! Not that it was bad that we had it, its just that is was almost complete chaos. We went in thinking we had this thing all organized, slick, pat, we were going to do something awesome for these kids. When we all got back to the house that night we were just sitting on the couch looking at each other like "What are we going to do?". I was thinking "No day of working with kids in all my life has gone this crazy". We all started cracking up at just how bad it was especially in light of our expectations. When Aaron started to lead us in prayer it was "Lord...    Lord...     Lord I just don't know what to say!" and we were all laughing because that's exactly what each of us felt. Anyway, we did pray and we did make some major adjustment to the schedule and we did come to the next evening having no idea what to expect. And WHAT a change! How could kids who were so rowdy the night before cooperate so well? So then we thought we had it down right? We knew how to make this thing work now. But the next night was almost as crazy as the first! 

The Lord taught us a lesson. We are not sufficient in anyway. Our strength alone will get nothing done. It is only be his grace that these kids started to learn and listen and obey. It was an awesome blessing to hear the kids reciting, singing, listening, obeying. We had to work hard, very hard! But we needed the Lord's strength and provision the whole way through.

Pray for me as I now work on the video that I captured. I want to do meaningful work with it. 
Pray for Aaron and Rachel as they consider how the Lord would use them to further his kingdom in Mission Texas.
Pray for me as well as new opportunities have come over the horizon.
Pray for me as I really really would like to go to the John Piper conference the end of this month. "Its on God, Manhood & Ministry"  (That is completely awesome! Isn't it?)

Besides this you should go to Sarah Weber's blog and read her account of the trip. A few of my pictures are there but she did a way better job of recounting the events that took place.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morning Sunrise on South Padre Island

While mission trips are not all sunrises and sunsets we were blessed by God with the opportunity to experience both at the beach during this trip.
When we got back to the house after Aaron preached at a little baptist church in McAllen Texas we packed all our stuff and got as much as we could into the van that night. Next morning we took off a few minutes before 4:30am on our way to the beach to watch the sunrise before we left for home. We got there almost an hour before the sun actually came up so we were able to see first light and also walk a bit before the sun appeared. When it did it was gorgeous, and over way to fast.
Here are a few pictures from that morning (Monday morning).

There are many other pictures to show and stories to tell. I will be working on that more throughout the day. Our last day with the kids (Sunday) was a awesome day as well, and just thinking about all those kids back there that I won't be seeing for a long time yet even if the Lord does allow it makes me wish I had more time to love on them, teach them... there's so many of them, and they so clearly need someone to show them love.

I will work getting a further post up soon. Sorry for posting events out of order. I hope you enjoy the pictures of God's beauty in creation.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vacation Bible school at Cristo El Rey baptist church

Mon evening we went to the beach. It was a wonderful time. I think the Lord was blessing us before the storm that hit us Wed. night (so to speak). 

For some reason I think most of us thought that this VBS thing with the kids would be easy. Aaron has lead camps and directed kids for years, I have been leading kids in games for some time now in different places including Bates Creek Camp, but what we had on our hands Wed. night was totally different. The kids were totally lovable but at the same totally lacking in discipline. It was a whirlwind we didn't keep up with very well that night. 

At the end of it after we had dropped off all the kids and made it back to the house we were just looking at each and trying to figure out "What are we going to do tomorrow night?", and in between discussion of change we would all burst out laughing like crazy at how many of the plans we thought were so perfect fell through the cracks and what became of the messes that followed. 

Despite what felt to us like total failure the Lord was good. He taught our team some things and we did earn a little of the respect of the kids in certain areas. Plus I think the Lord was getting us ready for the blessing of the next night...

Go ahead and watch the video if you want.

This video does not portray all the craziness of the day. In fact these are the sanest times as 
the craziest time required me to put down the camera.

The next night, Thu night, was SO much better. We totally restructured the schedule, and we concentrated on containing and controlling the kids. So the beginning meeting with all the kids together left. Only small groups now. The music time moved from the big sanctuary where it was impossible to keep all the kids in line to a small room where Rick had wonderful success in teaching the kids the songs that the night before they would not hardly listen to. We moved all the tables and chairs out of the craft room and had the kids just sit on the floor. Most importantly we implemented a list of things to do before the kids could go to their next activity. They are very simple, but it made a BIG difference. Before they left they had to
  • Clean the mess
  • Line up at the door and be listening
  • We would remind them of expectations
  • We would pray with them
This simple list, the other changes we made, and the Lords abundant blessing made us feel so much happier that night. After the struggle the first night it was hard to stop laughing about how well the night has gone. Much thanks and praise to the Lord!

When the kids would come out of the lesson room and go to crafts they could tell Sarah all about the four soils and how we need a good heart, when they left Sarah's room they were ready to listen because they would not get to take home the "Ooblick" they made unless they were good, and praise the Lord! As they left Rick's room to go the lesson they would be singing and shouting the songs! We thought at first there must be problems going on in Rick's room because of the noise was lifting the roof off in there.

But when I went in there they were all under control and in order. I asked if they were having vocal exercises. "Oh no" says Rick "That was only our big crescendo! Want to hear it again?" If you have ever heard Rick Clausel end "Awesome God" please imagine this. All the kid raising their voices as high and as loud and you can imagine, in one voice to the Lord our God. It was truly awesome!
I have video that I will be working on tonight so that hopefully you all will be able to see some of what I am talking about.

Pray for us tonight! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pictures and Update from the first few days in Texas

So I didn't take hardly any pictures on Fri, Sat, or Sun, it wasn't till Monday that I really got my camera out I think and... is this Tue? Already? I got some pictures and video while out with Aaron today. But I won't be showing those yet as I have to go through them and we are getting ready to meet the hermanas (the women of the church. there is only one man) to go hand out fliers in the community. It should be a lot of fun so stay ready for those pictures as well.

But I do want to show the pictures that I have. Video will be coming later.

 Getting ready for the day. (it can be tougher that you think sometimes)
 It was kind of cool getting to see the Language school campus and getting to talk to Steve and Robin Henry for a little bit. Afterwards we came back to the house and had lunch with them.

One of the housing options on campus 

 We got to drive by a bunch of police, border patrol and a hovering helicopter who were looking people in this orange orchard.

Now Aaron wants every one to know that mission trips are not all beaches and sunsets, and that the following pictures only depict a small span of time in the over all time trip, and that really missions is lots of hard work.

The drive to the beach

It was super windy at the beach! But it was super fun! There was the sand...
... and the sand castles...

...and the awesome sunset!!!
It was also crazy crazy windy!

Thank you to Sarah for being such an awesome model for pictures! It was great fun!

And so concluded an awesome evening!