Sunday, June 2, 2013


How do I begin describing my experience in this beautiful country? I thought that one month wouldn't be enough time to become acquainted with a foreign culture and people. And of course I didn't instantly learn fluent Spanish, nor did I come to understand everything that makes Cubans tick. But yet my heart became filled with love and sympathy for the dear Cuban people. I found myself falling in love with these lovable people and associating with their needs and desires. I know I will go back again. . . hopefully soon!

So about the trip. . .

April 14 my brother Levi & I met with the rest of the evangelistic team in Miami, Florida. Our team was led by Henry & Arleen Stubbs who have been involved in evangelism in Cuba for 15 years. Others joined our team from Idaho, North Dakota, North Carolina, Virginia, and of course Levi & I from Kentucky. That evening went quickly, as we became acquainted with each other, spent some time in orientation meetings, and did last-minute packing.

April 15, at 4:00 AM we began the big day. We made it to the check-in line in the Miami airport without much mishap, aside from some confusion about what airlines we were traveling on! The ladies at the counter meticulously weighed our luggage, including our carry-ons, charging us each $1 per pound for everything above 44 lbs. That bill came to around $1,000, but we were thankful it wasn't more. What we were more concerned about however, was the reception we might get on the Cuban side. Would we be able to get all of our precious literature and Bibles through? Would we be subject to "taxes" and "custom fees" or have our books taken away? We had about 45 minutes in the air from Miami to Cuba to pray and prepare our hearts for any questioning or problems might lie ahead.

We were met at the Cuban terminal by immigration officers, eager to direct us to the private immigration cubicles. However, we soon learned that before we could go through immigration, we needed the original copies of our religious visas. (We had already received photocopies of our visas a couple weeks prior.) The originals had been deposited at the airport a few days before, but apparently not with the correct window of time for processing. We were thankful to soon find out that a dear airport official had labored during her off-hours to make sure that we could still enter the country when we arrived! This lady, Maria Rosa, stayed with us through most of our airport experience to make sure we didn't have problems. We were granted mercy through our whole experience in the airport, entering Cuba without sustaining any losses or fines. Praise God!

A bus from the Adventist Seminary met us at the airport and took us to the seminary for a couple hours to re-organize and prepare to go to our 3 separate evangelistic sites.

We organized and divided all the Bibles, craft supplies, and Bibles. This took time because we had wrapped up these supplies and "hidden" them all over our suitcases!
We ate a delicious lunch at the seminary. . .
After lunch we loaded back on the bus and took off for our respective evangelistic sites. Levi and I joined Judy and her son James Collar to work in a town about 1 hour outside Havana.
The meetings began that very evening, so we were busy preparing even during the bus ride! The Bible worker had done his part in spreading the word in the town and organizing church members to help with the meetings. We arrived in time to eat a quick supper and set up projectors, etc., for the meeting!
My part was the health presentations at the beginning of each evening meeting. I spoke about the benefits of water and exercise, the effects of alcohol and caffeine, and the ways to reverse diabetes and high blood pressure.
James not only was the main speaker for the evening meetings, but also served as a translator for my health talks.
Levi enjoyed working with the children. He spoke each evening using the Truth 4 Youth program, an evangelistic program designed for children.

Each night the children had a craft that helped reinforce the lesson learned.
Judy assisted Levi with the children and the crafts. Her experience with VBS was a valuable asset, making the children's programs run smoothly.
Our meetings were not always as full as we would have liked. . . but when the call for baptism was made, 4 precious people came forward! (The four on the front row of the picture below.)
A special highlight of our meetings was a wedding! A couple who made the decision to be baptized also chose to be married!
This girl actually didn't respond to the first call for baptism, but then she had a dream which impressed her that she shouldn't delay to follow Jesus all the way.
Another story that happened at one of the other evangelistic sites. . . a man became so angry at his wife for her decision to follow Jesus that he told her he wanted to either kill her or take her Bible. Sorrowfully she gave up her precious Bible. . .He chopped her Bible with his machete and then threw it on the doorstep of the Bible worker. Later God worked on his heart and he began to attend the meetings. At the end he decided he wanted to be baptized! Praise the Lord for changing his heart!
One special opportunity for ministry actually ended up being the very home in which we stayed! The family had experienced its struggles recently and our stay was exactly what they needed to point them to Jesus. In the end, the 2 children, Elsita & Lazarito decided they wanted to prepare for baptism!
2 weeks went by very quickly. . . It was so sad to say goodbye to our friends. . . but we enjoyed the time to meet back with our teammates and recount our blessings. We also enjoyed a day at the beach. It was Levi & I's first time snorkeling (and Levi's first time to the ocean!), so it was very special!
One girl from our group had an underwater camera. . . unfortunately it couldn't capture half the beauty!
The team finished the 2 weeks and then we saw them off to fly back to the USA. Meanwhile, Levi, James, Judy, and I stayed for 2 more weeks in Cuba! James has been studying at the Adventist seminary which has allowed him to live in Cuba for the past 4 years. He took us to visit other parts of Cuba, broadening our experience and allowing us to see more of the real conditions there.

Our first visit was to a pastor and his family. This family has been faithful and earnest in their work for their own people. Despite great poverty (pastors are not paid much there!), they faithfully labor together as a family for the Lord. They were very grateful to welcome us into their home. (As a special donation to their work, James gave this family his personal laptop computer.)
 Next we headed to a piece of property that James hopes to develop into a missionary outpost center, perhaps as a place to host medical missionary training programs, etc. There are a lot of fruit trees, coconut palms, and nice ground for planting here. An Adventist family is staying there now, working on the land and reaching out to the rural community there. We really enjoyed our stay there, though it was the most primitive place we stayed.
Levi in front of a bunch of banana plants
James, the Cuban farmer
Levi & I enjoying a pre-breakfast feast under the mango tree! (I ate 5 mangos that time. . . yum!)
Finally we traveled to Camaguey to help with a medical missionary training program. I shared a class on literature evangelism, another class on chair massage, and another on prenatal nutrition.
After our travels, we stayed a few days at the seminary before leaving for the states. . . We also had the privilege of worshiping one last time with the church family we had left after the evangelistic campaign. This was very meaningful but only made it harder to say goodbye! How I long for that day when all of God's family will be Home together in our heavenly home. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Of Cats & Mice

Scratching, scurrying sounds attracted my attention to the big metal grain barrel in our garage. Curiously I glanced inside the barrel to see a fat mouse attempting to escape what had probably at first seemed like mousy heaven. But the level of grain was very low and the mouse was unable to jump out after eating its fill. Not wanting to deal directly with this captive mouse, but eager for it to be disposed of, I went inside to find one of our two cats. 

Maya is a beautiful, mild tempered kitty. She is affectionate and playful with her human family. But she lives in fear. Fear that is, of our dog Whitney. Maya lives inside the house, rarely ever venturing out because she thinks that Whitney will hurt her. She is good at catching mice, but her chosen habitat affords her few opportunities for hunting. 

Chiquito is a handsome, brave kitty. He is has no fear of dogs; in fact, Chiquito taught Whitney a lesson or two a while back which results in him being treated with respect by the dog! He is also an excellent mouser, often going on successful hunting expeditions in the barn and fields. But Chiquito is very independent and usually grumpy. With few exceptions, he considers his human family a nuisance. 

Inside the house, I easily located Maya sleeping by the woodstove. I picked up the purring fluff-ball and headed back to the garage with her. As I stepped out the door, Maya immediately stiffened and dug her claws into my sweater. Ignoring the easy mouse-meal in the barrel, she clung to me in fear. Attempting to drop her into the barrel was impossible without being scratched by her sharp claws. Maya had caught sight of Whitney, who stood nearby innocently wagging her tail. After a few minutes spent trying to interest Maya in the mouse, I gave up on this scaredy-cat and took her back inside. 

Chiquito was located in his favorite spot on the couch, looking out the window. As I scooped him into my arms, he began hissing and growling at me! Ignoring his grumpy behavior I took him to the garage and dropped him in the grain barrel. In less than 10 seconds Chiquito had the mouse within his jaws. He was still growling, but he looked up at me with pride as if catching this mouse was something he did without any of my help. I reached down in the deep barrel to pick him back up, but he wouldn’t let me. Instead he jumped powerfully out of the barrel by himself and ran growling out into the woods to enjoy his tasty dinner all by himself. 

What foolish kitties Maya and Chiquito are, I laughed! One was too scared to accept the free mouse meal and the other took it with prideful arrogance and ungratefulness! And then it struck me. How often have I been like my cats? 

God has given me many opportunities to be a witness to people for Him. He softens the hearts of the people, prepares the way, and provides for my every need along the way. His Word is filled with promises of protection, guidance, and victory. My cooperation is the only thing God needs. And yet, like Maya I often avoid or run away from witnessing opportunities because of fear.  At other times, I go out reluctantly like Chiquito. And though I don’t deserve it, God rewards my humble efforts with success and victory. But what do I do? I return with prideful selfishness, as if it were due to my own efforts that victory was given! 

Hmm. . . quite a lesson to learn from cats and mice. May God take from me my selfish pride and unreasonable fearfulness and make me more like Him!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fundraising for Cuba!!!!

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray that all of you are in good health and are receiving the blessings of God in your life!

God has blessed me in many ways and I am excited about the doors He has been opening for me. To give you a brief update on what I’ve been doing in the recent years. . . I spent a fruitful year as a student missionary in Nepal & India during 2009-2010 following my graduation from Ouachita Hills College. My experience in the mission field opened my eyes to the needs in the world and confirmed to me God’s calling to brighten the dark corners of the earth. I also came to see the importance of obtaining medical missionary skills for any future work in developing countries. I returned to the USA and enrolled at Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama for one year to receive lifestyle-oriented medical training. I spent the next year canvassing door-to-door in the USA, ministering to people, sharing Christ-centered literature, and also learning leadership skills in working with the canvassing programs. This past fall I attended a 3 month academic intensive for midwifery! I am not sure if God will have me continue to become a midwife, but I have been walking through doors as God opens them.

Speaking of God opening doors, another door has opened to me recently. That is, an opportunity to go to Cuba! During childhood my grandmother had the privilege of growing up as a missionary child in the country of Cuba. Because of this background I grew up eating fried plantain bananas, rice & black beans and being told stories about the beautiful country of Cuba. However, Cuba never stood out to me as a place especially in need of hearing the gospel (at least not above that of any other Latin American country). I knew it was very poor. I knew it was Communist. I knew about Fidel Castro. But until recently I didn’t know that access to Bibles and Christian literature was so restricted.

Bibles are not sold in Cuba and the government restricts what is printed and distributed in the country. In many churches, the church members tear a single Bible into sections, sharing it around so that at least each family has a portion of the Bible to read. The restriction of the Word of God, combined with the Communist influence and extreme poverty has made Cuba a field much in need of missionary labor. Because the distribution of Christian literature (a.k.a. canvassing) has been my ministry over the years, this need especially caught my heart strings.

April 15-27 my brother Levi and I will be going to Cuba. We will be putting on an evangelistic campaign for 2 weeks with Henry & Arleen Stubbs, a dedicated couple who have conducted many mission trips to Cuba through the years. I will be preaching during the evening meetings and Levi will be speaking for the children’s meetings. During the daytime we will be visiting people in their homes, sharing in a personal way the love of Jesus and helping with any medical missionary needs. [We are hoping to extend our visa and stay a little longer after the campaign to make the most of the investment made in our trip. If this is possible, we will also be visiting churches in the island, encouraging the believers and sharing medical missionary presentations.] This will be Levi’s first mission trip, so I am eager to see how God can use this trip to open his eyes to the world’s needs and deepen his commitment to a lifetime of service for Jesus. We also plan on “smuggling” in as many Bibles and as much Christian literature as our personal baggage can contain!

So how can you help? We will need help with prayers, Spanish Bibles, craft supplies for the children’s meetings, and of course funding! If you have extra Spanish Bibles or Spanish literature sitting around gathering dust or a big collection of stickers/construction paper/scissors/glue etc. that you wish to help with, you can mail it directly to me: 359 Three Angels Dr., Liberty, KY 42539.

To go to Cuba, Levi & I must each raise about $1,400-$1700. This amount covers the airfare to Cuba, visa expenses, the supplies for the evangelistic campaigns, housing, and other expenses of the trip. You can make a check payable to “World Youth Group” and specify my name or Levi’s in the memo line. You will receive a tax-deductable receipt for your donation. The address to send your check to is:

Henry & Arleen Stubbs
World Youth Group
PO Box 1454
Westminster, South Carolina USA 29693

Thanks so much! “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Greener Grass

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Or so they say. Since my teens, I have watched many friends hop the fence into the world. They invited me too. I did spent some time sticking my hands through the fence and sampling the goods from the other side. But it didn’t satisfy me. And then I found Jesus. Now I praise God for the fence. While safely inside its confines, God has satisfied my every need and filled my life with endless joy. I have had all the adventure, fun, and friends I ever wanted while in service for my Master. But sometimes I wonder about those who still on the other side. Do they know the pain and sadness they have caused themselves and their parents?

This past Sabbath I spent time in prayer with one of these parents. As I listened, a lump formed in my throat. Her prayers were not for herself, not for ordinary blessings, or for material needs. No, they were directed in loving earnestness for her two daughters. Daughters raised with sacrificial love in a careful home. Daughters provided every advantage to prepare them for a life of missionary service. Daughters gifted with every opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior. But daughters who chose instead the cheap glitter of the world. 

It broke my heart to listen to her prayers. “Lord, please be with my dear daughters. . . Plant in their hearts the desire to know you. Make them see that You love them. Send angels to guard and guide them. . . Help them to want to know you. Do whatever it takes . . . to bring them into your kingdom. . .” These girls are enjoying themselves in the feverish excitement of the world. But if they could only hear their mother’s prayers. . . they would surely be brought to tears.

Young people, if you are wistfully looking out over the poisonous, fake-green pastures of the world, STOP! Consider! Is it worth risk to my salvation and eternal happiness? Will I waste the quality Christian upbringing I was given by my sacrificing parents? Will I cause my parents pain and sadness by rejecting Jesus? 

You will loose nothing by standing up for Jesus. All the angels of heaven are ready to help you. Jesus will cover you with His righteousness. You will experience true joy and satisfaction. Adventure, friendship, excitement, passion—all exist in their purest and strongest forms in God’s service. Your parents’ prayers will be answered. Your influence will affect your friends and all you are around. And you can unite with the army of youth who is finishing the work so Jesus can come back soon!

And when your life is finished or when Jesus comes (it’s soon!), you can say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” – Timothy 4:7-8

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blueberries and Blessings

DSCN5217 In terms of eating, there are few things that I like better than free access to fresh fruit, especially fresh from the vine/tree/bush/bramble. This week marked the beginning of blueberry season for Alabama. I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I learned that Uchee Pines has a berry farm. And as soon as I heard rumor that they were ready, I was one of the first to be out among the blueberry laden bushes with my bag, gathering the tasty little berries for my breakfast. Growing up, blueberries were usually too expensive to feed a family of 6. This spring for the first time in my life I’ve had the privilege of eating them to my heart’s content!

c Naturally excited to tell anything good that others would enjoy, I’ve been announcing to all my classmates that the blueberries are ripe. At the breakfast table I’ve been sharing what I’ve picked too. (Note: I think most of the Uchee Pines is waiting till next week to start picking them. . . then they’ll be a bit sweeter they say. But I’ve never had anything but store-bought blueberries, so I don’t know the difference, lol.)

But I found something interesting; the staff who have been here for years are barely excited for blueberry season. One individual told me that she had had her fill of blueberries and unless someone baked her a blueberry pie, she probably wouldn’t bother with them DSCN5216this year!

I guess I was a little shocked at the apparent lack of enthusiasm for the blueberries. I mean, at the store they’re probably $5+ a pound and don’t have half the flavor that these have! But then I realized that in this experience there is a lesson for me.

The story of the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 tells of a people who had first tasted the sweetness of God’s love and had committed their lives to Him, but had backslidden to complacency. They had forgotten their first love; the reality of Christ’s sacrifice had become dimmed. God’s counsel for them was, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” (Rev 2:5) 

God is calling to my heart. Don’t forget the sweetness of surrender, the blessings of salvation. Don’t get so “used” to them that you do not value them.

Listen to this, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

The people Paul is writing this epistle to have already heard the gospel preached, already received it, and already are living it out in their lives. But here is Paul, repeating the same truths to them yet again. You ask, “Why?” The last part of the verse makes it plain: because only when the truths of the gospel are kept fresh in our memory are they capable of saving us.

So now you have a lesson I learned in the blueberry patch. God Bless!

No Seeming Success

A human version of a storm cloud—that’s what she looked like. Her arms crossed in defiance and her lips puckered in a pout, it was evident that somebody wasn’t happy! I heard her mumbled to herself as she boarded the van, “I don’t want to go. Why do they make me? I wish they would just leave me alone.”

I was visiting a Christian boarding academy for the weekend and was joining their outreach team this Sabbath afternoon. Our plans were to sing and play instruments at a local nursing home to bring cheer to the elderly residents. I was glad for the opportunity to get out into the community and also glad to spend some time getting to know some of the students at the academy.

Right away I noticed the unhappy girl. My heart went out to her; she looked miserable behind the defiant mask she wore. I made it a point to sit by her in the van and then tried to start a conversation. It felt like the time I was going to start a business collecting hickory nuts, cracking them, and selling the delectable meats. The collecting wasn’t hard, but striking the nuts with a hammer only sent them flying to the other side of the garage, unscathed. My conversation questions were answered in a yes/no fashion, making me feeling like I hadn’t gotten anywhere.

“Dear Father,” I prayed silently, “I know there is in this child, a hurting heart that needs your love. Please shine through me that she may see You.”

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” I tried again at starting a conversation.

“Go into the army.”

“Really?” I tried not to sound surprised. It’s not every teenage girl whose life goal is to go to the army.

“Yeah, I wanna get outa here. I want to get away from home too.”

“I see.” Inwardly I was praying again. Randomly looking for a topic that would interest her, I asked her about the CNA program offered at the academy. “What do you think about medical work? Are you looking forward to working as a CNA in the campus nursing home while you’re in academy?”

“Nope. I don’t want to. I never will. I hate medical work.”

“Oh,” I said, “you know ’never’ is a dangerous word.”

“How is that?” She asked.

“Well,” I began, “it was dangerous for me anyways. When I was about your age I said ‘No, Never’ to quite a few things that I now am doing. What I thought I would hate actually turned into something that I love doing—medical missionary work, Bible study, preaching, history, backpacking—all of these things were things I said I hated and would never do. . . But when the Lord Jesus took hold of my life. He changed my heart and helped me to see beauty and enjoyment in these things. He gave me peace and happiness that I never had when I was in rebellion.” From there I told a few stories of my mission experiences in Nepal.

“Huh,” my captive audience grunted, “but I will never be a CNA. I’m going to the army. I’m not interested in spiritual things either.”

The van pulled into a parking spot in front of the nursing home and my conversation was over with my little friend. I was disappointed. I wanted to gather this stormy child into my arms and make her to know the love of God. I wanted to see a change for the positive in her life. I wanted to see the peace of God shine from her face. But it wasn’t to be.

Honestly, much of my missionary work has been like this. No response, no marvelous outcomes. Just silence or rejection. The canvassing work was especially like that. Sometimes I would have beautiful experiences, but I never saw someone baptized because of my work.

Some time ago I discovered a quotation that encouraged me greatly in my work. It goes like this. “We are to be sincere, earnest Christians, doing faithfully the duties placed in our hands, and looking ever to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our reward is not dependent upon our seeming success, but upon the spirit in which our work is done. As canvassers or evangelists, you may not have had the success you prayed for, but remember that you do not know and cannot measure the result of faithful effort.” {CM 114.2} 

I have learned that despite the absence of measurable results in my work, by faith I can know that the reward for my work, is no less than the evangelist who just baptized 50 converts or the Bible worker who just brought 20 people to pray the sinner’s prayer of repentance.

Sequel: The experience with the girl happened 3 months ago. Last week I ran into the teacher who had been driving the van that day when I was visiting. She stopped me and said she had a little news for me.  The girl I had talked to—she had come to her teacher just a week ago and told her that she was sorry for the way she’d been acting and wanted to be forgiven. She admitted that she wasn’t happy and actually wants to change her life. Maybe she’d like to try Jesus too.

Hearing this snippet of good news, my heart rejoiced to hear of God’s working on this girl’s heart. I don’t know exactly what triggered this change in my little friend, but I’d like to believe that God used this little conversation we had in the van to stir within her heart a desire for something better.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Before and After

I have a fascination with seeing before and after results. The more drastic the difference, the more enjoyment it seems to bring me. I discovered this as a small child when my mother taught me how to clean the bathroom. She showed me how to clean the sink fixture with an old toothbrush, how to scrub the bathtub until it was white, and generally how to make the bathroom shine. From that time onward I took pride in cleaning the bathroom. To this day I especially like to clean it when it was really dirty just so I can see the difference when it is clean. (Just ask my roommates, lol!)

A new “before and after” that I have been enjoying in the last month has been working in patient care at Uchee Pines Institute. I am enrolled in the Lifestyle Counselor course here, where large portions of the coursework consist of working directly with the guests who come to the Lifestyle center. Since a month ago, we have been working with patients instead of having classes all day. Yay!

Uchee Pines runs 17-day sessions where patients suffering from cancer, diabetes, lupus, MS, obesity, and all other serious or chronic illnesses come to the lifestyle center for natural treatment and an education on how to change their lifestyle to promote healing. At the beginning of the session, a lifestyle counselor (LC) is assigned to the patient as a kind of personal nurse to take care of them during the time they are here. As an LC, I work together with the doctors, providing assistance in the diagnosis and treatment of my patient(s). This means attending doctors appointments with them, taking pulse, blood pressure, and blood glucose; drawing their blood, doing urinalysis, giving massages, fever treatments, designing diet plans, making herbal teas, and sometimes just spending time with the person talking and praying with them. Every day I chart their progress and every day I literally see improvement.

This last session has just ended and I’ve been reflecting on the progress and improvements I saw during the last 2 1/2 weeks that I spent with my patient. This dear woman had been to dozens of doctors and specialists through the course of 20 yrs without finding any real diagnosis or proper treatment for her problems. So she finally comes down to a little place way out in Alabama that treats people with water, herbs, and fruits/vegetables. And the doctors found out exactly what was causing her problems and how to treat them. Every day was like watching a wilted, drooping sunflower revive and come back into full bloom. By today, every golden petal was out and the sunflower was turned toward the sun. She was SO much better! I felt so privileged to be her LC and to have a part in helping her. [I am continually amazed at how simple remedies combined with the power of the Master Healer bring about miraculous results. To God be the glory!]

You know, I’ve discovered that God loves seeing the "before and after” too. Look at the verses I found:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Luke 15:7

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

God delights in taking poor, wicked wretches and making them into His treasures. He loves to take out our blackened, stony hearts and replace them with tender, love-and-truth-filled hearts.

I find that cooperation with God always brings about spectacular “before and after” results. I’ve found it true in my own personal life. I’ve found it true as I work together with God for the salvation of others. And I believe with all my heart that in the very near future, God will take our filthy, old, sinful world and replace it with one that cannot even compare in beauty and wonder. I can’t wait!

My question for you my friends is: are you letting God accomplish the “before and after” results in your life? Are you trusting Him and believing His Word? Are you letting Him have His way in your heart?


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