Be Prepared

(It has been three weeks since I have been home. Today in my devotions was Luke 21:19, “…by standing firm, you will gain life”. I wrote this blog post three days ago. I love how God keeps me on track)

As I write these blogs about my experience in Nepal, specifically during the time of the earthquake, I have been reviewing my journal entries leading up to that day. There was an undeniable connection between those entries and the day the ground shook beneath my feet. From Scriptures to Oswald Chambers’ comments, the LORD was preparing me for that day. Through the following scripture passages and quotes from Oswald Chambers, God was preparing my heart to, “stand firm” so that I wouldn’t give in to the chaos around me.

Journal entries:

Oswald Chambers’ comments

— “the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.” (with the Holy Spirit).

— (based on Matthew 11) – “No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit, it is an inner unconquerableness.” (yes, that is a word).

— (based on 2 Kings 2) – “do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing.”

— “you have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent.”

— “unguarded strength is double weakness.”

— “kept by the power of God” is the ONLY safety.”

— (based on 2 Corinthians 1) – “our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the Promises of God and not by our education or intellect.”

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Scriptures:

Psalm 55:9, “…destructive forces are at work in the city…”

— Psalm 55:16-18, “As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me”

2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:15, “…they sought God eagerly and He was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side”.

(Morning of the earthquake)

2 Timothy 2:3,endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.

2 Timothy 2:4, “no one serving as a good soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.

2 Timothy 2:7, “reflect on what I am saying, for the LORD will give you insight into all of this”.

2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

Practicing spiritual health, spending quality time with Jesus, is the only thing that can truly prepare us for a crisis. Be it physical, financial, emotional, relational, or whatever. Basically any kind of crisis.

With the help and companionship of the Holy Spirit we are able to see, with our own eyes, Christ in the middle of any crisis.

I write like this because I want to share what the LORD has done in my life and to give you an eternal Hope in your journey.

I don’t expect all my readers to agree with what I write, but I do expect that somehow what God poured into me and how He prepared me through Oswald Chambers’ words and various Scriptures, would also encourage you in your journey as you not only face the crisis in your story, but also live.

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REFLECTION:

How do you prepare for what life throws at you?

What are some lessons you have learned from crisis’ that you have experienced?

How has God’s Word impacted your life?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita

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Victim or Vessel?

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

Morning after sleeping on the veranda of Dr. Rongong.

After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.

My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.

When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.

The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.

Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.

It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.

Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My newly acquainted friend Sonia.

My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.

I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.

I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)

Special friends we made at the Embassy.  Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

Special friends we made at the Embassy. Malcolm (red shirt) and Jewleon (black shirt). So blessed by their friendship and support during our time there.

I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.

When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the "Multi-Purpose" room, and lived up to it's name!!

Our accommodations at the U.S. Embassy. It was called the “Multi-Purpose” room, and lived up to it’s name!!

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As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.

Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.

In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.

“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)

I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.

REFLECTION:

In what direction is God tipping you?

How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?

What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?

Thank you for journeying with me,

Kinita

I LOOKED UP (Part 2 – the story continues…)

This was my fourth trip to Nepal to serve with a ministry that buys and frees slaves. We hold women’s conferences in a church and as the speaker, I encourage the women to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ through various topics that lend themselves to the Discipleship process already going on there.

I am very intentional in preparing a team for the ministry, opportunities and experiences we might have there. The number one way in which I insist they prepare is to, “stay in The Word“. God is writing each of our stories and as we stay in His Word, we will grow to see how it weaves into the fabric of our lives. I cannot stress enough how important it is for ALL of us to take time to “seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

This trip would prove to be one that would challenge each of us to rely on God through the unique relationship we had cultivated with Him during that preparation.

In the hours following the initial earthquake….. (excerpt from my journal on April 25, 2015, following the Nepal earthquake).

“Fear, anxiety and emotions are running high. I think I am internalizing them now. I pray, I sing, I claim the power of God. The aftershocks continue as we sit outside the church. We are being encouraged to move to the open field behind the church to seek greater safety”.

As I walked out to the clearing I began to sing, “I’m gonna go with Jesus anywhere, no matter the roughness of the road….”, a worship song we have often sung in our church. The Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

That day, I also chose to trust God with every shaking fiber of my body.

 

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area.  A very rough place to walk.

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area. A very rough place to walk.

Once in the field, I look up and see power lines criss-crossing the sky, which presents more danger and uncertainty if they were to fall. But before more fear can take hold, the Holy Spirit showed me what He wanted me to see instead.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip..."

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip…”

For the first time, in a few hours, I felt a twinge of peace in my soul that “everything was going to be alright”. God was truly present and He would see us through this. No matter how uncertain the circumstances were going to be, I could be certain that God would continue to be faithful in this situation. Looks like He chose to calm His child instead of calming the earth storm.

We hung out in the field for awhile and once it was “safe enough” (which was debateable), we headed back to the church site.

By now you might be thinking that “Kinita is really good at memorizing scripture”. I assure you, I am not. I can usually remember the words of a passage but not where it is found. Or I will remember that a certain book and chapter of the Bible is significant but can’t remember why.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time.  Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time. Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

That day, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me the help I needed by speaking those words into my ear. When I got home, I looked them up and found them in print.

Believers in Jesus…..here’s how it works. When we say, “we died and we are now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), it means first we have died to our own desires, passions and expectations and that God is our protector, shield and guard. The Holy Spirit is our companion. Unfortunately, so many people say this and then in a crisis, run and hide behind idols. That day, something died in me for good. Even though I can’t quite put into words what died in me that day, I can say with more clarity and vigor, that God’s Words and His Presence became more alive and palpable than ever before in my life.

We have an incredible gift of His “Shadow” (Psalm 91) and yet some still choose the things of this earth.

Please understand, I haven’t arrived. God continues to refine me. My prayer is that God will use this experience in my life to give you the Hope that He wants for you.

That day as Kathmandu was lifted approximately 1 meter in the air (statement made in a report I read), I believe I was lifted onto God’s shoulders as a reminder of His care for me (Luke 15:5 was prayed over us before we left on the trip).

Although I continue to deal with some physical ailments from that day, my heart is stronger today because of how God showed Himself to me when I looked up.

“Shoulders” by King & Country …was a great inspiration and a song I held in my heart throughout this particular trip and as I prepared for going.

Thank you for journeying with me. May the LORD be gracious to you when you look up.

REFLECTION:

Where is the earth moving under your feet and causing you uncertainty?

What is the earthly storm you are going through?

Where are you looking?

How do you respond to the “aftershocks” surrounding the crisis in your own journey?

 

Gotta Have Faith

When the earth moves beneath my feet and the mountains (threaten) to fall into the sea. (Psalm 46)

I gotta have faith.

That happened. No really, but the earth did move beneath my feet while on a recent mission trip to Nepal. By now it’s all over the news and for some people it is just that – news. They have moved on and are now addressing the “next big deal”. But for some of us, it is still a big deal because not only has it changed our hearts forever, but because people we served with and love very much are still digging out from the rubble and doing their part to continue serving others who are suffering the ongoing effects of this tragedy.

Inside the church

Inside the church

I was in CrossWay Community Church in a church service when this life altering experience took place. We had just experienced some of the most exhilarating tear-filled time of singing, worship, and prayer minutes before. The Holy Spirit was so present. My heart was overflowing with praise to God for the amazing 2 weeks of ministry in East and West Nepal that had ended the day before.

Celebration dinner the night before

Celebration dinner the night before

I was getting strengthened for what was next and my heart was open to the LORD for His leading.

Pastor Arbin Pokharel began preaching on Acts 1&2, beginning a new series on “Discipleship” and the importance of it in the life of a believer”. I wrote in my notes that day, “God has given us the keys to the Kingdom”. I don’t remember if he said that, or if that’s what the Holy Spirit was telling me as a result of the message he was speaking on.

Then the lights went out – typical Nepali fashion – so no one seemed concerned. Within seconds everything shook. (As I recount this story, I continue to feel that shaking. The triggers are still strong and unpredictable). It was as though we were all in a doll house and the (giant) child outside was shaking it. We scrambled and some screamed. My teammate fell and I grabbed her to pull her up. I was not about to take another step before making sure we were all safe. In doing so, I wrenched my back, only to find out later that I pulled my trapezius muscle and popped a couple ribs. Ouch.

After huddling by a wall and praying fervently we were encouraged to exit the building because there were cracks on the opposing walls and it wasn’t clear if they would topple at any second.

So much was uncertain.

You see, when the earth moved under my feet, I experienced an immediate sense of loss. Loss of balance, loss of understanding, loss of direction, loss of time, loss of reality, loss of safety, loss of nerves. But all the while, I was certain that God was with me every wobbly step of the way.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. I was trying to be still alright. It was a little hard, physically, because the force of the tectonic plates shifting the earth beneath us was more than my body could sustain. My soul however, remained still amidst the encroaching fear. As a team we had celebrated the night before the reality of God’s obvious presence during the previous two weeks. Now I was in a valley of uncertainty. BUT I was determined to claim this same truth. He was present. How did I know? Because His Word says, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5). I chose to put my trust in Him and His Word.

I was certain of God and His Promises.

We all made it safely to the clearing on the outside of the church building. It was like running out of someone’s basement and onto their front lawn. Once we arrived there, we experienced another 6.9 scaled quake. Without having time to recover from the 7.8 in the church, the emotions just piled on.

The clearing outside the church  (far left of screen)

The clearing outside the church (far left of screen)

While on the front lawn of the church it felt like we were standing on a wobbly card table. Not cool.

Over the next few hours we sang, we prayed, and I journaled what I could. I took some pictures because I didn’t want to miss out on what God was going to tell me later about those moments. Yet, taking pictures felt a little awkward because I wondered if I was violating a sacred experience somehow.

As a result of this experience, I am more sure that the keys to the Kingdom are Faith, God’s Word, and Prayer. Do you have them?

To be continued……..

REFLECTION:

What elements of faith do you hang on to in the midst of crisis?

Are you in a crisis right now? Where, to whom or to what are you running to?

Thank you for journeying with me

Kinita