My journey

struggles, joys that I am experiencing

the year that was

So apparently 2013 has come and gone already. Wow. What a year.

We have been in Alice for almost 2 years now and this was definitely packed in and a time of growing and learning. I had a read of my personal journal entries from last year, and was interested by a post written in January. I felt that God had said that it would be a year that I would need to hold on tight, and had the verse ‘those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, they will not be moved (or shaken)’. Oh my, if only I had knew what truth that verse held for the year to come!

Allow if you will for me to reflect on some things I have learnt and/or been reminded of in this last year.

1.¬†Jesus when he was on this earth never put much weight on whether people approved of him or not, because it says that he knew their hearts and how fickle they were (are ūüôā ).

This has been helpful for me to remember when I’ve found people flattering me or when they have been outright slandering me, or the one’s that think they are above me. Jesus’ response teaches me to get to the place where I can respond in the same way (not that I have fully achieved this, but that I am aware of it is on the way). Jesus knew where to get his worth ,from his Father… and me? I’m working on doing the same, because the Father’s thoughts on me are unchanging.

2. Doing things scared is much better than not doing it at all.

2013 was a year of me starting to take risks again. I did things I would have done years ago, but that I had  stopped because I had let fear of man and failure creep in. I went in a 24 hr dance marathon with some friends (turned out to be one of the highlights of my year), I sung solos, I entered a 24hr film comp, I directed and performed in a drama in front of thousands of people.

3. Forgiveness isn’t the same as denial, it is freedom.

This year I came to some realisations that people I had cared for deeply, didn’t care the same for me, and my expectations of them to care had just allowed hurt to fester in my life. Other people had treated my family badly and still treat us with disdain even though we weren’t at fault. We have been let down countless times and the list goes on… I assume you could all write your own stories :-)… BUT God was teaching me a deeper forgiveness than I had experienced before. It was literally like he was walking me through some very¬†dark places ¬†but we did not stop there. I felt raw, but could feel his deep healing working as he unveiled truths (not always pleasant truths, but truths nonetheless). These truths are to allow me to still be in contact with these people but go in with my eyes open, deal with things in my own heart and guard against attacks from without.

4. Don’t get distracted.

Look after the people God has entrusted in our care. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Protect the sheep from the wolves but let God deal with people with their own agenda.

5.¬†God’s grace IS sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in weakness.

Sometimes I have felt so tired and not enough time to stop. But it is in those times, when I have not much of myself to give, that I have seen God work in His miraculous power. I’d pray for someone and they would begin to get excited and they would be healed. Or they’d ask what they might do to be saved. Or there’d be a stack load of kids turn up hungry for learning the Bible. Or the latest one, he would multiply our dinner to feed all the people who just randomly showed up at our doorstep with nothing. Just love how our God does that. Mostly, it reminds me, it’s not about me… It’s about HIM… It’s always about HIM ūüôā

AND lastly but not least

6. Laugh. Lots. Let your hair down. Never forget where you come from, but don’t get stuck there.

 

Bless you all. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I pray that 2014 is a year you say yes to God and what he is doing. I’m going to give it my best shot. And if last year was the year of ‘hold on’ or ‘stand firm’, ¬†then this is the year of ‘thrust’,20130911_160722 of moving forward, of breakthrough. Get ready to run. It’s going to be fantastic!

Reb

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God’s ways are higher

The grief we witness here on a regular basis is at times overwhelming, but on the other hand,¬†having the people of Central Australia as a part of our lives, and the way we have been embraced, and the stories we have been told, which we otherwise would never have known have far outweighed the sorrow. Our opportunities to share of God’s love with their families are wonderful,¬†but¬†when people share with us their journey of faith and their wisdom we are bestowed treasures.

What I wouldn’t give to see these wonderful ladies and men healed so they could return to their families and their homes, and we pray and believe for that to happen.¬†But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I hear a lot about the latest catch cry ‘on earth as in heaven’ and what people think that means like bringing our idea of perfection here and all people are healed etc… well I think it is possibly deeper than that. Healings are great yes, prosperity is comfortable yes… but gold comes through the fire and is refined… and is lasting… perhaps on earth as it is in heaven is more about our will bending to¬†His, our ambitions being set¬†aside¬†for His, and our ways, not taking¬†precedence¬†of His…Things will not be perfect this side of heaven and God is not interested in us taking glory for ourselves and becoming a big name, he is interested in matters of the heart… persecution came on the early church because they needed to spread the word… perhaps sometimes our earthly suffering is sometimes the same…God giving opportunity for us to expand our reach…I know I would maybe have never met these people if they were not here in town… and I see that even in the midst of sickness and suffering, that they are making an impact on the lives of others… on my life… by being here… I am by no means saying that God is a sadistic god who uses our suffering for his gain‚Ķ I‚Äôm just thinking on how God utilises these things in our lives to bring about his purposes…all this to say… I am thankful for my richer life and the different perspectives I am seeing because of the life of the people I have met…

I do get glimpses of ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ but not usually how one would expect: it’s by looking in people’s eyes and hearing their heartbeat.alice-springs-pictures-3

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The word of their testimony

The team from Stirling Source Church in South Australia arrived on our doorstep last Saturday afternoon not knowing what the week ahead might hold for them. Most of the team were seasoned yearly visitors to the Alice, but this year we decided to change things up.

For many of them, it was the first time they shared their testimonies. A few of them felt they didn’t really have much to share, but as they looked over their lives they realised that God had taken them all on a journey, and they could speak of God’s grace and faithfulness on their sometimes difficult and individual paths. As the week progressed, so did their confidence, and people were moved and the

team sharing at the hostel

opportunities for prayer increased.

Never underestimate the power of  your testimony. As said in the book of Revelation

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death

Our testimony is one third of the integral way we overcome the enemy, and the team got an opportunity to see how powerful their testimonies are. People responded with wanting prayer (experiencing God healing people), to others wanting to share parts of

their own stories as well as experiencing people come to salvation and rededicating their lives.

The testimonies were one highlight of an extremely hot and challenging week for the team. Another was their faith in action, doing some yard blitzes for those unable to do so themselves. This was a blessing to the families as they saw people who barely knew them working hard to make their lives easier.

One of t

he ways some of the team ministered to us was when they took time for our children. In particular, Becky and Vanessa who gave up some of their ‘free time’ to play with the boys and teach them sewing. Thanks ladies, this was beautiful.

My prayer for this team is that they will grow in their knowledge and understanding of their God the Father who was willing to lay down his most precious possession for them, his Son, and that this will spur them on to live a life of good works as an outworking of His love in them.stirling team

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the eyes have it

God is moving. well actually, He never stops moving, we just become more aware of the fact sometimes.

At the moment, He seems to be particularly interested in eyes. A couple of weeks ago, whilst praying with a lady from church at a connect group she had healing to her eyes. Hopefully you can read below….Image

And then, this Sunday we were just about to start our Sunday worship service and a lady who was singing who needs glasses to read any print, kept taking her glasses off and cleaning them because she couldn’t see the print properly, it was all foggy… after a couple of times she looked at the sheet without her glasses, and could see the words perfectly. She put her glasses back on. foggy. took them off. Clear.

Her eyesight was healed! Saw her this morning, and she’s pumped about reading her Bible without her glasses…

Seems like it’s a season for eyes to be healed. And just like in the natural, so it often is in the spiritual.

Last Sunday morning, there was an amazing time in the Sunday School room. We were teaching on how Peter and John were on their way to the temple and were asked by a lame man for money, but money they didn’t have… but because of Jesus… when they prayed, the man was healed and began to walk and leap and praise God. We then shared the stories that are happening around us and that when they say yes to the Holy Spirit and Jesus working in their lives the same things can happen with them when they pray. Their spiritual eyes were opening…

The children were ¬†all (miracle in itself)¬†¬†standing, worshiping God, and we asked if they wanted prayer to close their eyes and put their hands out. Well they all wanted prayer and waited as we went round from child to child. All were touched by the Holy Spirit and a few after were saying they felt really wobbly on their feet as we were praying. I look forward to hearing what miracles Jesus does through these children as they step out in faith….

Exciting times.

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the heart and Body

Alice is literally in the centre of Australia, and some have gone so far to say it’s the heartbeat. So if it’s where the heartbeat of our nation is at, then we had better look after it, as I’m pretty sure the heart is a vital part of us sustaining life. Right? ūüėČ

People come and go from this place, some unmoved by the atmosphere but loving the landscape and blue skies, others disillusioned by the hardness and dreams lost and buried here. Others are awakened here… they sense the heartbeat calling them in, drawing them in to new things and adventures untold and the deep wells of spiritual wealth in this place… and so they come. For a short while or long. Some fly in for a whirlwind tour to scout the land and feel their way and encounter new things. Others leave everything behind and come to sow their lives- some last that out, others leave from the sheer magnitude of life in the desert with its challenges and obstacles and tireless needs.

Over the last month, we have encountered many new faces and some old long-time friends who have all been drawn to this wonderful place our family have come to call home, and the exciting thing is, they have all sensed the same thing. God is doing a new thing. He is preparing the soil for a new and fresh outpouring of his Spirit and His body (His church) are getting hungry, and are awakening from their slumber and listening to the call for harvesters. Some are finding their feet and where they fit in with what God is doing here.

This week in particular we have had visits from some beautiful people who have encouraged our souls and prayed with and for us. This prayer and worship time was refreshing and just what I needed and didn’t know it. The body of Christ was doing its job. Edifying one another and spurring one another on. The coolest thing about it, was that these people were unknown to me. We were connected by our love for Christ and a love for people. The rest naturally followed. I am very aware that we often get caught up in the natural world we live in and forget about how the spiritual or supernatural is intricately intertwined in our lives… but as Watchman Nee said we are spiritual people having a natural experience, not the other way around. When we walk with God close, our lives don’t look the same as others. Our cravings are different from others, and we find ourselves in awesome experiences and being a part of naturally-supernatural moments.

The body of Christ is an amazing family, that reaches far past our nationality, language, culture and family ties. Jesus binds us together, that we can feel connected to a believer whose baby needs prayer in the Philippines, to an Indigenous man riding his horse over Australia to reach people for Jesus, and to a bunch of Koreans who come and sing and pray at your house just because they love the Lord and were obedient to His call. This body is made up of a bunch of once unruly, misfits, thieves, slanderers, murderers etc who have now laid down their former lives and said yes to the gift of life from Jesus Christ… a motley crew who, with warts and all, God chooses to outwork his grand plan of giving people opportunity to once again commune with him.

I love this body, and thank God I’m in Alice, where I get to see all these people come in, wanting to be a part of the heartbeat of Australia, be a part of its call and where I get to see daily, my God at work in ordinary people who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of Jesus. I believe as we lay aside our own agendas and how we think things should pan out, we’ll see God weaving his tapestry and we’ll begin to flow in time with Him and see even greater things than we can imagine. This heartland of Australia will begin to beat in time with His heart and bring healing first here and then flow on and on.

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Hinds feet on high places

I read a book when I was a teenager that was like the chick version of Pilgrim’s Progress. I loved it, and the images the words brought to life have stuck with me even though it has been years since I have read them.

Today, I climbed Mt Gillen, the base is a few minutes drive from our home. Ben has done it a few times with some friends before, but I’m always reluctant to go with a crowd as I know I’ll be the one that slows the progress. I enjoy the walk, and somewhat the climb, but maybe I’m just a tad, no ok, quite scared of falling, slipping, getting stuck somewhere and not being able to get down. So I have declined before. But today there were no excuses. Mum and Dad generously babysat the children, and Ben and I began our ascent.

There is only one part that you could really call ‘mountain climbing’ and for those of you that are regular climbers, or adventure junkies you would find me quite amusing saying that I’m excited to have reached the summit. (I was more worried about how I was going to get down). The last leg is the hardest, which brings me to what I really want to share about here.

We all face mountains in our journey on this earth. Some of us, say to that mountain ‘move’ and it does and you continue on your journey. Others of us, reach the hard part of the climb and shy away and head off on a different path, trying our best to go around the mountain. Still others of us, (myself at times included), begin the ascent and find ourselves ok until we look down or back and then freeze in fear as we see how far we have to fall if we slip (this most possibly was me for a moment on my way up the mountain today ūüôā ). We have three choices here. 1. We can stay where we’re at and wait for the birds of prey to come and find us.2. ¬†We can go back down and find another way (possibly harder than the first way we try). Or 3. we can pull ourselves¬†together and make ourselves continue up. Scary, but the elation when you reach the summit is wonderful, made even greater by the scariness of the climb. You didn’t let it defeat you.

The book I mentioned before is based on the verse in Psalms 33:18:

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places.

We can try to climb on our own and the going will be tough. We will have to try to find the right path and make it through the ascent alone. Or, we can choose to walk with someone who has walked the path before, who knows The Way, who gives out His hand when it’s time to climb straight up and reach the high places, Someone who encourages us to continue on when we feel like we can’t make it. Someone who not only barracks for us but has walked this very journey before and knows the mountains we’re facing of betrayal, of hurt, of pain, of generational curses etc… Jesus says ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’. ¬†He is also the guide and friend we all need on this mountainous journey we all walk. He may not always move the mountain aside, but he is there to guide us over. If we’ll let him. A friend of mine recently shared:

a lie I believed for so long was that I was alone. I knew it in my head to be wrong but I was blinded.

In the book,¬†Hinds Feet on High Places, sometimes the girl’s companion was Sorrow, and Suffering, but these were not companions called to stay. When she embraced these companions they took her closer to the summit where she received her prize of having feet like a deer where she could reach the high places. Today, I climbed in the natural, but I was very aware of the mountains that God has been dealing with me in the spiritual and emotional. Are you facing any mountains today? I pray you are highly aware of the hand of our Jesus to navigate you to be ‘above the circumstances’ instead of ‘under’.

half way up Mt Gillen

half way up Mt Gillen

 

The Top

The Top- not my own photo

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Another bus story

Ben (my husband), has done quite a bit of study on building inter-cultural relations and one of the things he has shared with me that has stuck with me: ¬†that they (not quite sure who¬†they¬†is, but let’s just go with experts in the field) say that humour does not cross cultures. You cannot assume that something funny for you will be funny to another people group. Well I suppose that can be said to be true if any media stories are to be taken as truth, where ‘jokes’ have gone wrong when they go off shore, or when I take my Greek friends to see “the Castle” and they give me a strange look and then I go to a live ‘Wog Boys’ ¬†show and they are falling off their chairs laughing whilst I am merely falling asleep.

But I have seen humour cross the cultural barriers when there is friendship. Something happens as you become familiar with people and they let their guard down, and we become playful. Where am I going with all this? Well where I inevitably go, if you talk to me long enough… to the church bus run.

On Sunday, a guy from church (we’ll call him Joel) and I, go on one of the bus runs for our church. Now we more or less pick up the same people every week and have the same conversation every week. We pick up a lot of older ladies from hostels in town (where they are living so they can get to their renal dialysis appointments 3 times a week). Twice a week we have the pleasure of picking up these ladies who most are walker or wheelchair bound and take them to church activities. Every week, they ask where Ben is, and I tell them, he’s waiting for them at church. They then ask where Maku (my youngest boy) is, and I tell them he’s at church waiting for them. And every week it’s the same, except for our random weeks, which I love. Like this Sunday.

Yesterday, we needed to drop off a gentleman on a different side of town than we usually go with our run, and we decided to take him first as the ladies usually like to go for a drive. So we began to travel slightly north, and they begin to say, where you taking us? Darwin? I say yes, and so begins the banter, in which most of them get involved, even the grumpy man at the back who said we were taking too long to get him home for his lunch. They say “the driver man (Joel) can catch us some fish… with a spear. And the man at the back can get us some kangaroo, which he says we can eat raw…” and so it continues…. it was as if the event was really taking place and we were all to be involved including the driver man hitting a goanna which we could cook up.

Now to you reading this, ¬†you may say where is the humour in this… Maybe it’s not hysterics, but it is playful, banter, imagination, fun… crossing all sorts of boundaries, cultural, age, gender and it worked. There was not one of us on that bus that wasn’t smiling and enjoying the story… It was a wonderful experience of humour crossing boundaries where it ‘should’ not apparently. I love being a part of these times. Stories that are really ‘you had to be there’ sort of stories, but one’s that convince me of this: that¬†love is what crosses all boundaries that are in our way. And where there is true love (that only God can give) for the people you come into contact with, no matter how hard and daunting it can sometimes be, good things happen and people’s barriers begin to come down… and true friendship begins and deepens.

Bus run

Some of the people we pick up on the bus

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Jesus moments

There are days when all flows just how planned and you feel extremely satisfied with life and all that it is…. and then there’s the rest of the days. The plodding days, the downright awful days, the freak me out days, the overtired, overworked, over people days… and it is in those days that one would like to retreat into hibernation, or drive off in to the sunset, or consume a whole tub of chocolate ice cream and then feel guilty about that and consume a mega block of Cadbury chocolate to overcome the guilt… of course I’ve only heard about those days, I’ve never done that ;-).

Jesus had those days (though I’m pretty sure he didn’t eat the chocolate). Ooo now before you super theology spirro gurus write me off as a heretic, I’ll give some Biblical evidence for my radical observations and explain where I’m going… When Jesus had ‘one of those days’, he withdrew to the solitary places. When his cousin John got beheaded, he withdrew to the solitary places to grieve Matthew 14:13 and it says in Luke 5:15 that Jesus¬†often withdrew to the lonely places to pray. There is a time, and this is the one I am thinking on today, that Jesus says to his close disciples, “Come away, to a quiet place and get some rest” and so they sail to another area, but arriving there and about to rest and recoup, Jesus sees the crowds that had caught wind of where he was going, and he has compassion on them and began to teach them, and then went on to feed them all… over 5000 of them… It was supposedly his ‘down time’. His ¬†‘me and my friends time’ and yet when he saw the people he was overwhelmed with¬†compassion for them because he saw they were like sheep without a shepherd… they needed care and guidance and sustenance which he had in his hand to provide.

I have felt in this place, where I have withdrawn to the solitary (well tried to :-)) places in need of some rest, and it will be in those times that someone will come or call, in need -physical, spiritual, relational and I have felt what I call a “Jesus moment” about to take place. His compassion (not my own), His sustenance, His power and His provision give me what I need, at that moment to fill the need of the other person.

Now before you all get concerned that I am saying that we should all give up our rest time, me time etc… that is not what I am saying. We need time to refill and spend time letting the Holy Spirit replenish our temple (our body). We also need to set boundaries with people and not always do everything for them…

What I am saying… is that there will be times when we think we can give no more, when our tank is depleted, when we are exhausted, when we are justified in our time out, but a person will come or call with a need, and Jesus will prompt us to say ‘yes’ to the compassion that He can give us for his wounded treasures, and be amazed at His grace flowing through us and extending to others. It is often in those times I have seen the greatest breakthroughs and miracles, because it is literally less of me and more of Him… purely a “Jesus moment”. He¬†will give you rest, and He says He¬†will empower you to run and not grow weary…

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how beautiful…are the feet that bring good news

Sunday morning

Sunday morning

Kids Club

Kids Club

Youth group

Youth group

From time to time we have teams that visit Alice Springs and bunk down at our home for a week. Last week 18 young people descended on us- affectionately known as ‘Seaton Mob’. Lots of new faces, including Tom, who has seen the miracles of God flowing in his life, in particular over the last year where he has been recovering from being hit by a truck, whilst riding his bicycle. He really is a walking, talking, laughing (and what a laugh that is:-) ) miracle.
The team was headed up by Sam, a fella who quietly and confidently led the team, even though at times he had no idea what he was getting himself into…
This year saw many changes. In the past outreach teams main focus has been to run kids programs. This time around we wanted to see if there was a way of reaching whole families, and encourage the people in our congregation, as well as do some street outreach- singing and prayer.
The team sung in a few of the hostels that we have relationships with through church and the response at those places was fantastic from both the residents and the staff. The people were so happy to have the team sing for them and were encouraged by their prayers for them. One person even shared how last year he was prayed for and was healed.
There were healings happening when the team were praying this year as well!
What brought me great joy was when the team took our youth out to Telegraph Station and played some games and had a BBQ tea. There were a couple of our guys who chose to start following Jesus that night- priceless.
The kids club was good too. Due to some technical difficulties, the team had to show their flexibility and run the program outside. And to their credit, they held the 40+ children’s attention for an hour. Well done team!
Ben and I love to see young people come and give of their time and grow in confidence with growing and sharing their faith. When I was a young teen, not that long ago really ;-), a Pastor was willing to give me a go sharing my faith and just giving things a go, and he put me in good stead for where I am at today. He birthed a passion in me that couldn’t even be put out when I detoured off the path for a while, and it was that seed planted in me then, that ultimately brought me back on the narrow road as Jesus so calls it. It is our hope that these times in Alice can be the same for these young adventurers. That they are spurred on to go deeper in God, not be satisfied with the status quo, that they will stand out and stand up for righteousness and injustice and be passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, not just with their lips but with their lives as well.

The first day some of the team were quite timid when they went out on the streets, but by the end some of the girls were so excited that they might have another opportunity to pray with someone. Just beautiful. They even learnt a chorus in Pitjantjatjara, which according to someone in the know, was “deadly”- that means good :-).

Our church were blessed by the time they spent here. (Must mention Jill Daly and Bethany’s food was exceptional once again- wasn’t it Joel?)

Things didn’t always go to plan (but when¬†do¬†they in Alice?) and we faced some opposition, but I do believe it was a fruitful time. I know our family were blessed and laughed a lot and danced a little, bring on the Bollywood.
Look forward to the next team (after hopefully some sleep ;-)) and seeing what God has in store for us and them.
The verse that springs to mind as I think on this team and the others that come our way… “How¬†beautiful on¬†the¬†mountains¬†are¬†the¬†feet¬†of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…” Isaiah 52:7.

Todd Mall

Todd Mall

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The Vibe

The CrossI was asked what my favourite part of the Easter weekend was…. I have to admit, I found it hard to find ‘my favourite’, it was a really special weekend… so I replied with the only thing that I felt would express it truly: it was ‘the vibe’ of the thing (coined beautifully in the movie ‘the Castle”:-) ).

The whole weekend was about the church being a family, being the church. The services were great: filled with people singing and dancing and artwork that was unbelievable, but everyone who wanted to be involved, could be. And there was such an excitement and anticipation in almost everyone that was there. Love was just oozing out of the place. Even those that like to be grumpy, couldn’t help themselves but smile a couple of times at least.

Were the items perfect? No. Did it run smoothly? No But we had 4 year olds to 70+ year olds getting up and expressing their love for their Saviour Jesus. And it brought tears to my eyes.

The fellowship that weekend was special also. We had lots of unplanned get togethers that were just pure fun. Picnics, BBQs, cricket, walks, Maccas and it was just beautiful. Old and new friends. People we had never met before to family.

I wish you could have all joined us for this time. This weekend was all about our church remembering who Jesus is and why he did what he did. His cause was outworked implicitly and explicitly throughout the entire weekend that Jesus came to give life, and not just life, but life to the full… abundant, full, joyful, in relationship with Him, and His people.

DSCF9218

Beautiful dance on Good Friday- Lead me to the Cross

Karen and Rosie

Karen and Rosie

BBQ and cricket funBBQ and cricket fun

DSCF9220Some of the kids singing a Pitjantjatjara chorus

DSCF9221

The choir. These ladies are just amazing at singing. Felt privileged to have the chance to hear them sing

Sunday Resurrection Dance. The boys even cut loose with some break dancing :-)

Sunday Resurrection Dance. The boys even cut loose with some break dancing ūüôā

DSCF9213

At the young people's Bible Study we had a foot washing just like Jesus did with his disciples at His last meal before the cross

At the young people’s Bible Study we had a foot washing just like Jesus did with his disciples at His last meal before the cross

We shared a passover meal together at Bible Study Thursday night

We shared a passover meal together at Bible Study Thursday night

20130307_091110

The boys helped do the background for the cross

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