Monday, January 21, 2008

Safe in the Arms of my Loving Savior

As I sit in front of what I feel has been my lifeline these last couple of days... well other than my Bible... and my Savior... I feel at a loss of things to say. My happy-go-lucky, every thing's good world has been rocked. But the rocking has not been negative... I have seen my God work and make me see Him in some of the most unlikely situations.
It all started when I was busily bumbling around the house cramming a ton of camp preparations into a couple of days... when I heard my cell phone ring... in my room. So I ran like a madman and got there in just enough time... It was Lauren... but this was not the same Lauren that I talk to everyday... this was a very... calm Lauren (not that Lauren is not calm). She told me not to freak out... but she had been in an accident and was bleeding really bad. My heart sank to the farthest depths of the house... I didn't know what to do... but crying would not help anything. And asked her if she was going to the hospital and she said that she was... I told her that we would meet her there... the next couple of minutes were a blur... I told Jonathan who was in our room... and then ran upstairs to tell the girls. They say that I was really calm and that I left out the blood part... All I remember is I was trying to keep the tears from flooding down my face. I'm a guy... I have to be strong for the girls. While I was telling the girls Jonathan had called Hannah who, by the time we were ready, was waiting for us outside with her car. The car ride was very quiet... the only thing you could hear was whispers of prayers being sent up to our loving Savior. When I walked through the doors of the ER I could hear Lauren crying from the pain. Sarah ran to her side. I was too afraid that I would pass out from the blood. I walked aimlessly around the waiting room frantically sending texts all over Taiwan and back to the states asking for prayer for Lauren. The damage was unknown, but the stories from the translators was scary. Friends gathered together with more friends, family gathered together and lifted up prayers and petitions to our loving Savior. I can't begin to even tell you how much time we spent at the hospital... at some point we were told that there was something in her eye and that they needed to transport her to Hualien City. We all wanted to be there by her side... holding her hand and telling her that it was going to be alright. Only two people could ride in the ambulance. So Sarah and our friend Michelle (to do the translating) went along. When they left the hospital, it was off to our house to pray, and cry out for our friend Lauren. It was an amazing time of prayer...
I find it so amazing that our Savior has no language barriers... He is never closed... We will never get a busy signal... He is always there... In the midst of all of what seems on the outside to be turmoil, we had a English camp starting in a matter of days. We had planned to share many things with the kids related to God and the Bible. We saw these things that had been happening as attacks from our enemy... Satan. He did not want the love of our loving Savior shared with these kids. Even after Lauren began to heal, he threw us another fiery dart. Sarah found out that her little brother had had a seizure and was in the hospital. Sarah was very distrait. She has spent every waking hour for the past many days with Lauren, she had gone on little sleep, and had the same clothes on for a couple of days. We again, went running to out loving Savior... He is the only one that will provide true strength, healing, and comfort. Jonathan and I decided that we would let Sarah spend time taking care of Lauren and relaxing... we now needed to fill the spot of two teachers at our camp. The Lord provided us with another teacher, who was willing to come down from the English Village and help us attack this camp.
But Satan still had more darts to throw our way. After eating lunch today, Naomi (the other teacher) began to feel very sick. She thinks that it might just be something in what she ate. So again, we went running back to the one who loves us so... our loving Savior.
He lets all of these things happen for a reason... He wants everything that we do to be done for His glory. He is letting all of this happen for a reason... He will be glorified in the end. And the outcome will not be because of anything that we have done... it will all be because of what He has done... I am reminded through all of this of a couple of things...
The first thing is a hymn that I remember singing in Church. It says,

"Leaning, leaning, leaning safe and secure from all alarms
leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlastings arms."

When we lean on our loving Savior, we will be safe and secure. The Lord is the one that was keeping Lauren safe in that car... the Lord is the one that is healing her body... the Lord is the one that is letting all of this happen.
Another thing that I am reminded of is a Bible verse. It's in Psalms and it says,

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright."
Psalms 20:7-8

We do not have to worry about trusting in anything else... except trusting in our loving Savior.
The last thing that I am reminded of, is that nothing is to difficult for my God. Even when things are not going our way... when things are looking grim and bleak... I can find strength, comfort, safety, and peace in the arms of my Loving Savior...

Friday, January 4, 2008


Xin Nian Kuai Le!
(sheen kneeon qui luh)

Happy New Year!

Wow! The God we serve is so amazing! As I look back over the last year of my life I am amazed at where the Lord has taken me... where, at times, I have taken myself... my struggles, my feats, my failures, and my victories. He has been right by me the whole time... holding my hand... even in the times when I didn't want it to be held.
I was thinking back earlier this week on one of my marathon train rides to Taipei... where was I a year ago? And, where have I gone in a year? Last year started with a new job in San Antonio. I was so excited that I had the chance to be a "businessman." Its most kids dream. I had not been to college and I thought that this is what I would spend the next 10+ years doing... boy was I wrong. So I moved to San Antonio, TX. I moved into an apartment. I was on my own... I had me to worry about... and that was it. How stupid my thoughts were. When I had originally gone to SA I had the blessing of my parents... but my Mom was no to happy. As I spent more time on my own... my relationship with my parents began to grow farther and farther apart. Anyways, over time at where I was working... the Lord began to show me that this is not where or what what He had for me. I did not like this... I wanted to be here. I mean I had been to Mexico once to do mission work there... so I was serving His people. I was not ready to submit to the Lord. I remember going through a particularly hard week... and I was on the phone with Andrew and I told him that I wanted to go on a missions trip to somewhere far away. I think that the Lord heard my cry. After life started to get back to normal... I began to spend a little more time with Him... and I started to see that I should probably move on. So I told this to my parents. I told them that I think that it was about time to give my two-weeks notice. I just wanted to finish up a project that I was working on. I was talking to my Mom late one night on the phone, and she was telling me about a class that she had been reading about. It was a class that would teach you how to teach English to people who spoke other languages. So we both researched it... the class was starting in less than a week... in Oklahoma City. She told me to pray about it... and to make sure that this is what the Lord would have me to do. So, I prayed about it... and called the next day... there was no answer... so I went back to the Lord... then I called again... this time I got an answer. The person I talked to said that she would get back to me. Well she called back and there was openings in the class. But it started the next week... so I had a thousand things to do before I left... and I was still working for a company. So I gave everything to the Lord... and then went out to conquer the task that was at hand. Well... everything worked out and the next week I was on a plane headed to Oklahoma City. I spent spent the next two weeks here... not only learning to teach English... but meeting, spending time with, and getting to know about 25 students from Taiwan and Hong Kong. I I felt that the Lord was calling me to go to Taiwan and teach English. I did not know why because I did not ever know where Taiwan was... much less anything about it. But the Lord worked all of my visa paperwork and everything else out. But alas, my time with the VOICE students and staff was over. It was a very sad time. But we had to say goodbye (I was going to see them again in a couple of days because they were at my next stop on my "prep for Taiwan" trip around the US) and I had to go back to SA and pack up my apartment. One of the requirements for going to Taiwan was that I attend a course called "Journey to the Heart." It was a 10 day course that was supposed to help you to clean up your heart... and spend some quality time with the Lord. I did not want to go one bit. I was scared about what I would find out about myself... and aboutt was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences that I have ever had a chance to get to be a part of. Well, while all of this was going on what others would think about me. So toward to end of VOICE I asked for prayer for mt time at JTTH. One thing that Karen Chen who is one of the people who is in charge of the VOICE program is to be myself, and to be real because they had gotten to know the real Austin. So, that is what I set out to do. Well, it turned out that I made a really good friend at JTTH and also had a chance to spend some time just listening to God. Before this point the Lord had never really given direction from His word to go to Taiwan. I was sort of doubting, and thinking that I had done this all and that is was not from the Lord. Well... one, this was a bad thing to think because things had happened that only the Lord could orchestrate, and two, He decided that He would show me. One of the passages that He gave me may seem kind of cliche, but it was from Him. It was from Matthew 28:18-20. It says,

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

I felt that this was the Lord telling me to go... and that he would guide my steps... and that He was in everything that had taken place up to this point. Well, the last day of JTTH happened to be on the same day of the VOICE graduation. So, I had permission to attend. It was such an awesome time. The leaders of the different groups that the students were in said something about each of the students. Well, during the VOICE program two of the students called upon the Lord, and repented of their s
ins, and believed in Him. It was such and awesome time when they relived these moments at the graduation for Cynthia and Henry. I don't think that anyone there made it through the graduation without crying. Well, the final alas had come, and I had to say "goodbye." The next stop on my trip was Myrtle Beach, SC. Here I was meeting up with Aaron... and our friends that we have had for... pretty much ever... Yannick, Kingsley, and their Dad. This was a good time to just have a time to relax on the beach and just have some fun. Well... after that, we headed back home... and this time it was home home. Well... for me, it was home for three days and then... off to Taiwan. Well... I finally arrived in Taiwan... and by the time that we got to the hotel it was in the early morning hours. Well... the enemy did not take to long before he began his attacks. One of the guys that came over with us had a seizure. I was VERY scared... while he was laying on the bed Wes was standing over him praying for him while his brother and I attacked his bags looking for his medicine. Then... praise the Lord we found it... and then we all began to pray. The Lord heard the cries of his children, and it did not last to long... but it seemed like an eternity. The rest of the time in Taoyuen was covered in prayer... our hotel was covered in prayer... and everything that we did was covered in prayer. I still did not know where I was going to be going in Taiwan. I knew that it would be one of two places. I would either stay in Taoyuen... or go to Yuli, Hualien. Well, after about a week of praying that the Lord would send me where He would have me, I was on a train headed to Yuli. While I was on the train I decided to read my Bible. The last day of JTTH our leader had given us a passage of scripture that he wanted to give to us. It was Isaiah 55. Well, the Lord spoke to me through a portion of it. It says,

"Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Isaiah 55:4-7

I just felt like this was my marching orders from the Lord. Well... I would love to say that since I have been in Yuli that it has been all happiness and rainbows... and that I have learned to go to the Lord with whatever problems that I am having... but it has not. I love each person that the Lord has brought onto this team... but there are times when I have a very bad attitude toward them or about them. The Lord has showed me that this is not how I need to be. He has showed me that this will only cause division. Recently, I was "pinned" by the Mormons which are very active here in Yuli. I felt very threatened by them... and after talking to them... I began to doubt again. It seems like that is a defense mechanism that I have... but for a couple of days I was having some major battles. But one morning I was reading in my quiet time... and all through it the battles were being waged inside of me. But then the Lord spoke to me through His word. I was reading in John. It was after Jesus had resurrected and he had appeared to the disciples. And so the disciples went and told Thomas. But he said that he did not believe and that he would not believe unless he could see and feel for himself. And then in John 20:26-29 it says,

"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

The Lord really spoke to me through this passage. I felt that the Lord was telling me not to doubt Him, but to trust Him... and rely on Him. Well... the past couple of weeks have been very... interesting to say the least. They have been very stressful and to spend the Holidays away from my family only added to the stress. But about a week ago, I had been going through a particularly hard time... and decided to go up into a mountain that is down the road... It was just me... my Bible... my cell phone (just in case of an emergency)... and God. I had a chance to just be still and silent before the Lord. I had not been able to do this since I was in MI at JTTH. It was an awesome time. Well... to wrap things up, for New Years, I went to Taipei with Lauren and Sarah, and then on the first there was a VOICE reunion. It was such a fun time! VOICE seems like it just helps me to re-focus on the Lord. I think to easily my focus starts to shift to Austin and what he wants... and off of the Lord and what He wants.
Well... I thank you all for praying for me... they are much appreciated. I want to encourage you to never loose site of the Lord... He is an awesome God! Nothing is to difficult for the God that I serve. He is always there for me... no matter what I am going through. I am glad that I have a friend that is always there for me no matter what I am going through. I pray that I will keep Him by my side during this year... that He would be who I run to in difficult times... in times of trials... in times when I don't think that I can go on... He is there for me. Keep us in your prayers...

2007 Travel Breakdown:
2 Continents
3 Counrties
15 States
13 Airports
30 Airplanes
100,000's miles