Mexico, May 30th 2014

The trip has flown by, but lasting impressions have been made.

Monday morning the team visited our first rehab center. Pastor Candido has been faithfully active in ministering to these men and teaching them to play instruments and several of them performed for us. How incredible! That men who once were addicted to drugs are now singing God’s praise!

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We had a time of testimony and several of the men there shared their stories of how they had been at the bottom of the bottom and God had rescued them.

As they shared and as we sang together, it was rather amazing how our hearts and spirits connected in beautiful oneness. Truly we have brothers and sisters we never knew about! God works in mysterious ways, and often, we will never hear of all He has done.

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As Stephanie Weber shared, in the song Santo, Santo, Santo or in English Holy, Holy, Holy we sing about being around the throne. Singing that with the Mexicans is a special blessing. It’s a small taste of heaven, where every tribe and tongue and nation will gather around to praise our God.

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At each rehab center we visited we left a bookshelf and a few books. As we are able to visit again in the future, we will add to the library a few books at a time.

Thursday we were able to visit the first rehab center again. We gathered in a large circle to sing hymns together, and again we had a time of testimony.

Then we played games together. Indeed, this if family!!!! The games were great fun, and if I may say here, I won the Ultimate Trashcan game.

What I would really like to impress on you, is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ in Mexico. We heard stories about destroyed marriages, destroyed families, living in abandoned houses, young teenagers on drugs, and lives ruined by addiction. Rehab center after rehab center, relapse after relapse, until God saves them and changes their lives. Through Christ we are overcomers. While the world says, “once an addict, always an addict” the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.” Many of these men want to be pastors and help \ QQple who are in the same situation they were in. And most of the directors of the rehab centers were once addicts themselves.

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Please remember your family in Mexico and in other parts of the world.

America is so small and contained as far as we see it, but God is so big and beyond all that we imagine. And He is working in Mexico, among the men who had no hope before Jesus. Pray for these men, pray for their growth, and pray for the lost.

Ellie

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An Exciting Adventure In Sight

My upcoming clap-my-hands event is—get ready—MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mexico-flag-2I’ve applied and was accepted for another trip to Tamalipas Mexico, to the same church I went before—and can you believe it, I’m even more excited this time! (Which says a lot!)

During my first dive into Mexico, I was able to see the depths of potential, but I didn’t reach them. Specifically in two areas:

First, I didn’t volunteer myself like I might have, had I been in my comfort zone. I wasn’t looking for opportunities to step into the awkward to do some good. And I saw opportunities slip by me and I didn’t seize them. I know a second mission trip isn’t going to break me of my comfort-zone-barrier, but I’m going to put forward a better effort.

Second, I came home with the enormous task of “I must write absolutely everything front to back, and right now!” I failed, obviously. Few articles were written about the amazing experience I had and the inspiring people I met. I credit that mainly to the weight I gave myself. The enormity scared me out of it and it never got done for fear of having it done wrong. Later I did write some of it out in my journal so that I would always have it, but it never got out to the church that prayed and supported me through the mission trip. Again, it won’t be perfect this time, but I’m making it a particular goal to write these things out, and to begin while I’m there. During the last mission trip that Psalm 67 Missions Network made I heard many, “It was incredible.”s and “I’ve never seen anything like it.”s, but I didn’t hear a lot about what “it” was. I want to write that for you. I only have my skills, but I’ll stretch me as tight as I know how to document this trip.

Once more, I plead for your prayers. Exiting my comfort zone is not my strength, neither is discipline or patience. But my strength is loving people, and I want to put that into full use on this mission trip, even when loving looks and feels silly.

The trip is between May 22nd and June 1st, and until then I will be raising support, both prayer support, and financial support. I will also be working in improve my Spanish, as hopeless as that seems.

Like I said, I’m incredibly excited. We expect the Lord to do amazing things through this trip.

If you feel led to support me financially, you actually can online now, by going to my profile: https://psalm67.managedmissions.com/mytrip/elliejackson4 But I want your prayers even more than that. Prayers that God will give me a godly attitude and skillful hands.

 

In Christ,
Ellie

Painful Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be the most painful part of an offense. When someone has truly wounded you very, very deeply, the idea that you must pass over their sin and love them anyway is repulsive and sickening, especially when they are unrepentant.

Can you imagine a sweet girl like me carrying a grudge? Can you imagine me burning with anger for years? It doesn’t happen often but that doesn’t speak to my character, unfortunately, only to my attention span. Honestly, for me to remember to be resentful is a lot of work, and once someone makes me laugh….well their sins just slip away. Long lasting hurt and bitterness isn’t something I often deal with, but I have.

Almost two years ago I felt utterly betrayed, misused, and abused.Though the offense might not have been directed at me specifically, it was against a dear loved one and that made it worse. Anger, hurt, bitterness, and tears were all at once blown to enormous proportions. I could barely swim through all the pain to “do the day.”

Some of the anger was righteous anger; what was done was truly awful. But beyond that, I was angry and bitter at what it meant to me. I cried every day for weeks. I had dreams where everyone had forgiven this person but me, and I still shunned them.

My spirit fluctuated between two attitudes: 1 What they did doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, I can’t ever do that, and 2 I must be noble and forgive them anyway.

The path was long. It started with prayer. I knew from the start that I could never forgive them without God’s help. I prayed prayers like, “God help me to want to learn to forgive them. God, please help me to really pray for their good…. And make them eternally miserable for what they did!” Sometimes I was able to sincerely pray for their salvation. Then I would write in my journal, “I’m finally free from this bitterness!”

That usually lasted until I happened to see them again, even just for a second. All the anger and hurt would come back. I would go home and cry again.

After awhile I wrote this blog post with my first plea for prayer from others. I was pretty bad at expressing my feelings then, and they were very mixed, but my life really did feel like a grimy cement tunnel with no escape.

I have a journal on the computer where I journal everything in my spiritual life as an allegory. I called the offender “Traitor” and called my bitterness, “this rope around my foot.” I couldn’t go anywhere while it was there. Sometimes I thought it was gone, but then it would trip me again.

It took time. It took time for me to finally come around to their point of view. Every sin looks different to the sinner than the audience. The initial sting took time to wear off and I could see beyond the broad grin on their face to the emptiness that someone without Christ must carry. It took a lot of time for me to finally meet their eye for a split second and nod. It took a lot of time for me to finally give a little smile.

It took prayer, time, and compassion. Like I said, any person without Christ has a void. While grins were easy to fake—I wore fake ones every day—tears were hard to see. I could finally pray for their salvation and the fixing of their life only when I realized that without Christ, I would be worse. With Christ I have been provided everything I need for life and godliness. But without Him I would be like chaff, driven by the wind and tossed by the waves.

I don’t know when the rope around my foot was finally cut. But when they actually spoke a greeting and I wasn’t repulsed, I realized that I didn’t hate them anymore. When I heard about family struggles and didn’t feel scorn, I knew. When I saw them spend hours on the internet and had compassion, I knew that they were forgiven. But I felt like it was only me who had been freed through it all.

It is freedom not to carry around anger. Regret still lingers, but it doesn’t tie me down. I might think about the whole deal sometimes with a sigh, but it doesn’t plague my days and nights. I still don’t know what God was doing through the whole thing. I have no clue why He didn’t prevent it, but that will take time, perhaps a lifetime.

For now I pray that the Lord might save this person for His glory, and that the testimony of our family might not be lost with time.

After all, God is always good, and His grace is sufficient.

In Christ,
Ellie

Urgent Prayer Request!

Prayer request. There is a severe weather storm watch on a storm that could include enough snow, wind, sleet and freezing rain to make travel dangerous OR impossible. The storm looks like it could be a possibility right during the time we are wanting to leave (AND it covers both of our route options!).

Just know that Aaron and I (Billy) are going to keep a close eye on this and we hope to make a decision by tonight on what will have to be done. Be aware that just like we would not take a team into a hazardous situation in Mexico, we will not take a team into a hazardous blizzard either. So this storm could necessitate either a early or delayed departure time for us.

So Pray! The Lord has been faithful thus far! Is there any reason to doubt him? Pray that the Lord would take care of us in this. We of course would like to leave as we have planned but pray that the Lord would make it plain to us when he would have us to go.

Thank you!

 

Edit:

The blizzard warning for Oklahoma is gone! Praise the Lord! We are leaving at midnight. Thank you for your prayers.

Mexico Update

I wanted to update people on my blog about the trip to Mexico. Friday the 14th was the deadline! Praise the Lord, all the funds are collected, not only for our team and two additional members that we had been praying for, but $400 more for construction of the church building.

I was greatly blessed by our team meeting on the 8th. We talked about the places we hoped to be going, talked about our mission, read our team covenant together (really good), and prayed as a team, and we really felt like a team. We are praying for each other, seeking the Lord together, and knowing that people are praying for me, it’s more than I can say. Thank you to everyone praying. Because I believe that prayer actually does work, and it strengthens me a lot.

One prayer request we had on this trip was to involve the whole church, not just the branch of the church called Psalm 67 Missions Network. The Lord has answered prayer! The Manna Project was started by a couple in the church, collecting spare change, change that would have gone to soda, chips, trinkets, but instead God has impressed on us to give toward Bibles. In quarters, dimes, nickles, and pennies, through the Manna Project, we have received $275 dollars for Spanish Bibles! It was a prayer need that the Pastor had given us and we had prayed about. Not only that, but many of the people in our home churches have pledged to be on our prayer team, praying regularly, being faithful to read updates, and some supporting through giving financially. It has been a blessing!

In 8 days we will be heading down to Mexico, the minute it is no longer “Christmas day.” Pray that though we must leave Christmas celebrations soon, we will have a chance to share the gospel with unsaved family members, and show then what we truly are living for. Pray for safety. Even though the place we are going is safe, the world is still dangerous, and we will be near the border. Pray for wisdom for our team leaders, Aaron and Billy. Pray for the Pastor and the church in Matamoros who are directing us in our plans, pray for great wisdom and understanding for them.

For me specifically, I honestly don’t know what to pray for, because I have not gone on a mission trip before. I am simply praying for the Lord to prepare me in any areas I need help in, I am sure there are a lot.

Thank you so much!

signed

Electric Bubbles

His Commandments are Not Burdensome

(1st John 5:3), “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. ” Isn’t it true? For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments, not somehow our paying our way. Why, it is only through His strength we can obey His commandments, and His commandments truly are not burdensome.

(Matt. 11:28-29) “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” This is where the Pastor’s wife,  during Sunday School yesterday gave a mock sigh, “Oh Lord,” she moaned, “That is so hard. To come and rest when I am weary? Lord, you can’t expect that! To trade my burdens for your yoke, which is light. Lord, you are so hard on me!” Really? Can we go about doing His commandments grudgingly? Is it possible?

(Matt. 6:25) “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Burdensome? I think not! Though it can be hard not to be anxious, isn’t it so much better not to! And if the creator of the universe, if the very Son of God, the anointed one, God incarnate, tells is not to be anxious and later tells us, “See first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” can’t we trust him enough to let go of anxiety. It is a blessed to trust him! It truly is the love of God that we keep His commandments.

Again, (Matt. 6:7) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” I often forget that this is a command. I used to think it was telling us we could ask, we could seek, we could knock, but I didn’t see it commands us to. (Actually, if you can ask, seek, and knock, why wouldn’t we?) It does! It is not a burden to come and ask.

(John 13:14) “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” The Lord Jesus Christ did it. You realize that is does not take much physical strength to wash feet. It takes mental humility. If our Lord can lower himself to wash the feet of his followers, then so can we.

(1 Thes. 4:3) “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” Our class reflected yesterday on the destruction that has come through sexual immorality. Socially, there are more diseases than we can count! The country is torn apart on the issue of Homosexuality. And personally, in individuals, lives, families, homes, children, churches, they have been torn apart violently through sexual immorality. Can we then begrudge the Lord who tells us to abstain? Oh no, the Lord has given us this commandment for our own good. It is the will of God that we remain whole, truthful, and pure.

(1 Thes 4:16-18) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Rejoice! Rejoice in everything! Rejoice in what, in God. We are told we not only can, but must rejoice. “Lord, you are so hard on me?” Never! Pray without ceasing, undoubtedly  all Christians can testify to prayer, right? Pray without ceasing, how often I gain from prayer, I am calmed by prayer, I feel refreshed by prayer. This verse alone has helped me with prayer more than any other. Pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. Surely the Lord’s commandments are not too hard. They are for us, the love of God shown to us, that He gives us strength and a willingness to obey.

(John 14:15) Where we originally were yesterday, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” A regenerated person must understand that obedience is not the means of salvation, it is not the way to be saved–rather it is the result of being saved. A whole life, devoted to God, saved from the sways and passions of the world. We are secure, and let us never stop thanking God for His goodness through commandments.

 

signed

Electric Bubbles

Support Letter–headed for Mexico!

Dear Friend,

The Lord has opened a way for me to go to Matamoros in Tamaulipas, Mexico on a mission trip through the Psalm 67 Missions Network. Having the blessing of my parents and church leaders, I feel that this is a way for God to direct my life and an opportunity to serve and bless others.
The team will be going down Dec. 26th and coming back Jan. 3rd, and while down there, we plan to be doing the following:

Vacation Bible School with the children
Construction in the church and buildings
Street Evangelism, handing out literature as well has inviting others to hear the Gospel during VBS and preaching times on Sunday
Encouraging the Pastor, his family, and the leaders
Visiting people and places the teams have worked with previously
Discipleship, encouraging others, praying, teaching, and challenging on another

I want to ask for financial support, but more importantly your prayers. I have not been on a mission trip before, so pray as I experience new routines, activities and problems. Pray that I never tire of serving and am always seeking God’s will in whatever I do. Also pray for the other people on our team including: John, Russ, Daniel, Anita, Sarah, Craig, Billy, Gennie, and Aaron. If you could pledge to pray for me before, during, and after the trip, please let me know and I will update you as best I can, as well as take comfort in knowing you are praying.
The funds for the trip must be paid 50% by November 26th and 100% by December 14th.
To give toward the trip, please mail cash or a check to Psalm 67 Missions Network. If you would like tax credit, the funds must be non-refundable and my name cannot be anywhere on the check. Mail to

Psalm 67 Missions Network
3761 Telegraph Rd
Arnold Mo, 63010

Please ask questions! Email or call me. To contact Psalm 67, email or call Psalm 67 (636)224-8811. office@psalm67missions.net For information about the finances call 314 602-3827 For questions about the trip email billy.jackson@psalm67missions.net

Thank you very much! Your prayers mean everything to me.
Your sister in Christ

Ellie Jackson

P.S. Also, pray that my passport come in on time!