Author SAM DONHOWE
co/authored by Shari Tvrdik
It was Sunday evening and the service at the La Paz God With Us Church was almost over.
I was thinking about what the afternoon would hold for me when all of a sudden the Pastor mentioned my name:
“we have a donation of clothing and shoes that needs to be delivered next Saturday to a village near Puno (southern Peru). The village has been affected by heavy frost this winter. If anyone wants to sign up for a brief trip to send relief to these communities, please talk with Sam”.
I stood up and waved as if I knew what the pastor was talking about, while silently unsure of what was happening and not knowing what the Lord had in store for me.
I spent the next week coordinating the arrangements for the trip (with all the flaws of Bolivian logistics),
I found out a little more about the situation in the region that we were about to visit.
It was a precarious time for the people living there.
Livestock, mainly llamas, had died due to the frost. There were children and the elderly in these communities who had taken sick with pneumonia.
The following Saturday we gathered the small team of five Bolivians and two Peruvian volunteers. After a 7 hour uncomfortable van ride our team arrived to the village of Crucero, which lies three hours north of Lake Titicaca.
This was absolutely not where I had planned to be when I arrived to church six days ago a beautiful Sunday morning.
However, I was thankful for the unexpected.
As we began to hand out the medicine, Christian literature, shoes and clothing to the people, I was reminded of what I read in the Bible during my quiet time earlier that day.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25: 34-40
The scripture which had been simply in words read in the morning, became living letters to me that afternoon.
I looked for Jesus.
I should see Jesus in these people and care for them as if they were Jesus himself.
So many times I want to see Jesus in the important people but instead I must train my eyes to see Jesus in the needy and weary.
Perhaps we would run to these uncomfortable places,
to these hurting people,
if we truly believed His words.
Author HEATHER VELVET JOHNSON
Two or three times a month I wash my clothes
(I know, it’s embarrassing how infrequent).
The reason why I do it so seldom is
It’s a physical hassle
I’m suspicious of whether or not my clothes actually become cleaner.
My friend referred to our washing machine once as “the clothing agitator”
In America (or anywhere where there is running waters) most washing machines have a
wash, rinse, spin and drain cycle.
Here there are 15 minutes of agitation.
No rinse, no drain and “spin” is in a separate compartment that you manually have to transfer everything to.
Any rinsing has to be done manually in a separate bucket, though usually I just add a couple of scoops of water in before the spinning.
At the end the dirty water has to be drained and dumped into the toilet outside.
Because there isn’t any rinse cycle I feel that I’m just adding soap to dirt and mixing it around Adding a fresh laundry smell to still dirty clothes.
The funniest thing is that usually I think I do a fairly good job of washing…
Until I visit America.
Then I realize that my fresh smelling clothes don’t smell so fresh
(More like I rolled around at a petting zoo and then went to work at a coal mine),
And my white clothing isn’t quite so white as I thought it was In my 4 years in Mongolia God has put me through the “agitator," getting the dirt to fall out.
Sometimes I wonder, am I worse than I was before I came to Mongolia?
I’ve seen things come out of my heart that I never knew were inside.
But the thing is, all of it was already inside.
It just took Mongolia to “agitate” it out.
Like my clothes being shockingly dirtier than I thought
Inside my heart was also much worse than I thought.
Doing laundry in America, I don’t get the “privilege” to see how dirty my clothes really are.
I put them in the machine, close the door, and 45 minutes later open the door to clean clothes.
But here, I have to get my hands dirty, draining the murky water
Feeling its weight
Dumping it out.
In America, I had the same stuff inside, I just wasn’t in circumstances where I could get a close view of my true condition
So take heart.
When it seems like you are far worse than you could have imagined.
when it seems like you’re spinning in murky water
It might mean that the agitation is a cleansing process
Removing the dirt,
If I want my clothes to be especially clean, I have to put new water in for each cycle
I usually don’t and reuse the same water for 2 or 3 loads because it uses so much water and requires more work of draining and dumping.
And for us, if we really want to be healed of the muck inside
We will have to feel its weight
And dump it out
Away and UN-retrievable
Over and over again.
The final step is to hang my clothes up to dry
No dryer here except the sun
And sometimes after exhausting heart work, we too have to just wait
Wait and let the Son do the rest.
The five mile drive from our street girls' shelter to the local cafe was especially frenzied that day.
Mongolian traffic is challenging. Let's just say It can make a missionary not very missionary(ish).
One lane highways can quickly melt into four lanes and any display of weakness or hesitation is noticed by your fellow sojourners otherwise un-lovingly known as traffic piranhas .
To keep my cool I let my mind wander.
I thought of my dad back in the USA and imagined how proud he would be of his country girl driving in these crazy city streets. He used to worry about me on the road, even after I got married and had children of my own he'd often check my tires or the level of my engine oil when I stopped over for a visit.
Lost in thoughts of my own father and now solidly stuck in traffic I began to sing the new Chris Tomlin song to myself,
"You're a good good father, it's who you are, it's who you are...and I'm loved by you..."
"Shari," my passenger piped up speaking in Mongolian,
"what is good good father?"
Her question sat juxtaposed against my beautiful life, my kind and concerned father...and her painful story.
My passenger was also one of our toughest and newest shelter girls.
She had suffered in ways I'd never understand.
Her father was a drunk abuser who disappeared before her first cry.
From that first cry forward there was a trail of rejection, abandonment and loneliness that formed a crooked line all the way to this moment in my car. She was on the verge of losing her place in our shelter because of her refusal to stop bullying the younger girls.
She had so much anger.
We were headed to the cafe, just her and I, to talk about her future.
There were two distinct paths she could take. One would lead to life and the other.....
I looked at her beautiful face through the rear view mirror.
She didn't speak English, but she listened so well.
She had asked me what the words I was singing meant.
"What is good good father?"
Why had I sung THAT song? I scolded myself.
Explaining the words would heap insult to injury, and then I remembered I was a missionary.
It may sound silly but often I could forget.
In the middle of the mess, the traumatized children and the stress of it all I could prioritize the cause for the Gospel forgetting that I was indeed called here as an ambassador for Christ first.
Before all else.
EVEN Before the physical needs, there was the spiritual being waiting for a life raft.
I began to translate the words first,
"I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone
You're a good good father
It's who you are,
And I'm loved by you, it's who I am"
The translation drifted into her mind with the suspected affect, a reminder of what was not in her life, the huge missing piece of the puzzle....parental love.
And then with the help of my dear sweet translator, I shared the hope.
The song was not about a man.
It wasn't about a father here on earth.
"I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching
For answers only you [God] provide
'Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word
You're a good good father
It's who you are,
And I'm loved by you, It's who I am."
And right there packed tightly into traffic we talked about her Heavenly Father THE good Father who would never leave her or break her heart. THE good Father who LOVED her, who could indeed handle every last drop of her anger.
"Because you are perfect in all of your ways
You are a good good Father. "
Before we reached the cafe we had reached the point of our meeting.
"I want to teach the song to all the girls, " she said.
"I want them to know."
Author: Shari Tvrdik
The following is an excerpt from a letter submitted to Little Pink House of Hope, written by Shari Tvrdik, Cup of Cold Water Ministries missionary to Mongolia.
“Of course,” I laughed to myself.
Of course Dr. Jeanne is a red head.
Only a red head would travel to the Mongolian slums with stage 4 cancer.
I knew red heads, more on that later.
It took grit for Dr. Jeanne to come to my aid on the other side of the world.
Grit and courage.
Dr. Jeanne came at a time in her life when her days were important.
I remember feeling overwhelmed by her gift of days, to me, a complete stranger.
She came because I needed a psychologist .
Well, not me actually, at least not right then.
An entire nation needed a psychologist.
I had been working in the slum district of Mongolia for six and a half years as a missionary to the suffering poor, and especially the street child. It became obvious to me that the greatest need surrounding me, apart from Christ, was mental healing.
Trauma was everywhere but there was nowhere to go for help of this kind.
The problem was that psychology was yet an underdeveloped field in Mongolia. As much as we wanted to help and heal the children, we were simply not equipped to handle the sizable pain they needed to work through in order to overcome and thrive.
I imagined the miracle first, because that is where everything beautiful first springs from.
Faith is something first hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1)
I "hoped for" an experienced psychologist to come to Mongolia (for free) because we had no funding to pay for it. She would train our psychologist in trauma therapies, our psychologist would begin to reach the broken hearts and minds of the children and the nation would be turned right side up.
But it wasn’t.
What experienced psychologist would want to spend her time and money traveling to the unpopular destination of the Mongolia slum district?
It looked bleak.
And then the miracle unfolded in the most unexpected way.
“Shari, I’ve got her!” It was Cup of Cold Water Ministries Director Dan Hennenfent, emailing me from the USA.
“Her name is Dr. Jeanne, she has thirty years of experience as a psychologist specializing in trauma therapies especially with children”
My heart jumped inside my chest.
“Here’s the catch” he wrote.
“She has stage four breast cancer and traveling might be a challenge, but she is willing to go for it anyway.”
The world muzzled my hopeful soul.
I thought of my mom, the first red head I'd ever loved.
The mammogram machine.
That look in my dad’s eyes.
Her last breath.
My sisters sobs.
We had all stood outside the house together. Circled up at sunset because that’s when she left us. The setting sun glowing up the yellow autumn trees.
What had just happened to us?
I hate cancer.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring her here.” I typed out to Dan.
“It’s dangerous. We do not have reliable doctors or hospitals.”
And then I added with my mind made up, “please thank her for considering it.”
I hit SEND and felt the sadness.
It was Dr. Jeanne who replied.
It is on my bucket list to give something of myself to someone who needs it. I’d like to come.”
A few months later, against all my better judgment and despite my fears, I stood waiting for Dr. Jeanne outside the arrival gate in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia,
The red hair hit my heart.
I loved her immediately.
I held her close when I greeted her, like I had found a treasure.
I squashed down the what if’s about the coming two weeks and chose to entertain the idea of what a miracle Dr. Jeanne's arrival truly was.
Dr. Jeanne outworked me in those two weeks. She had a plan and she didn’t want to waste time. I could blame her cancer for the naps she took each day, but when she slept I slept too, from the sheer mental exhaustion of her many classes and trainings.
She blew my whole team away away, so much so, that I often forgot about her cancer.
When I hugged her goodbye I was without words. How could I express to her what her gift of days had meant to us?
Dr. Jeanne’s short term mission work in Mongolia reminds me of the planting of a forest.
The work to make the ground just right, the toiling and the tilling, the planning, or perhaps one never purposely plants a forest, perhaps it starts with a simple seed.
Her plane left the runway taking her from those seeds and returning her to her family in the USA. She left Mongolia with the same kind of hope I had as I "imagined" her arrival.
Faith, the substance of things first hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
I imagine again, one day, long after we are all gone, a lush forest will be there.
I wonder, will anyone know about the small redhead from the United States who gave from what little she had to spare to come and push those first seeds into the hard soil?
Children will be healed from the inside out. Dr. Jeanne left a legacy.
She taught me through those weeks in Mongolia that it is possible for your darkest hour to hold the greatest gifts you have left to give.
Dr. Jeanne told me about the Little Pink House of Hope as we traveled from one meeting to another on a rare hot afternoon in Mongolia. It was an organization which awarded dream vacations by the sea to people in various stages of cancer. They provided all the food, housing, entertainment and even doctors and nurses so that the families could create a beautiful memory together.
“I’m not a water girl.” She giggled.
“I’m not one who likes to get in the water but oh,” and here she paused looking out the car window. I watched Dr. Jeanne as she slipped away somewhere far from the dusty streets of Mongolia.
“Oh how I love to just look at it, the big wide ocean, and feel my smallness. Somehow it makes me feel safe to be so small.”
She told me how she would love to bring her three children to see the ocean one day. She wanted them to know it, the bigness, the whole of the sea in front of them.
I imagined her standing by the ocean, telling her children how small they were in the Great arms of God.
I decided that day I wanted to try to help Dr. Jeanne get there.
I have returned to the United States.
Although I don't have cancer, I do have a bucket list and one of the things on that list is to write to you about this amazing women, in hope she may be awarded your vacation by the sea.
Yesterday, I asked Jeanne to come over so I could interview her and write this story.
I hugged her without that red hair, for it was all gone now. She still felt like a treasure in my arms.
“I’m not afraid to die, “ she said.
“I just don’t want to leave my children.”
Mei Mei, Jackson, Makaia all three adopted by Jeanne because that’s the woman she is.
“Why do you want this vacation Jeannie?” I asked her.
She replied, “I want to make a memory a really beautiful cancer free memory.”
And then she smiled, “But even if it’s not cancer free, it will be a memory of all of us small by the sea together, and that’s enough”.
And this is the way I can help her, to tell the story of Dr. Jeanne. On behalf of the street children in Mongolia, and a missionary who needed a miracle, would you kindly consider choosing Dr. Jeanne Wysocki for a Little Pink House of Hope.
There is no soul more deserving in our eyes. Sincerest Gratitude,
Dr. Jeanne Wysoki and her family were awarded the Little Pink House of Hope vacation in April 2018.
She showed them the sea.
Author: Amber Werner
I told the women in the prison that I had been a foster child. That I was made to feel unlovable and unwanted by a previous foster parent. I talked about my joy when I was adopted, only to have that family fall apart because of alcoholism. I told them that I had let my past wounds lead me into a life of drug use.
I, too, have been arrested and that only by God's grace was I able to turn my life around.
Today I was in a woman’s prison in LaPaz Bolivia. I was escorted there by John and Carmina Donhowe who have been lifetime missionaries with Cup of Cold Water Ministries. The Donhowe’s translated my testimony for the imprisoned ladies.
“It is only through God that we can find our worth”, I continued.
"If we look to others, we will always be let down and disappointed. Our past sins do not define our future. God already loves us and forgives us even before we ask for his love and forgiveness.”
At the end of my story I asked if anyone had questions.
One woman asked if I had been given any gifts from God. I answered that at my home church I am famous for my hugs. So the women started lining up for a hug from me! I hugged the first woman and she immediately broke into tears. I could tell that she was feeling God's love. Peace flowed through me. Then the second woman in line came up for her hug and the same thing happened! This continued for all of the 20 or so women that were there. They even left the chapel to find their friends to get a hug from me!
One woman in particular could not stop crying. She kept saying "forgive me, forgive me" over and over. I told her that God has forgiven her sins and that she is His beloved daughter. These women are so thirsty for God! They are crying out for His love!
Today exceeded my expectations by far. I feel so blessed that God used me to show His love for these women in prison.
…I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36
AUTHOR DAN HENNENFENT
“Dad, just stay very aware of who you meet on the new flight.”
Those were words of wisdom from my son Luke moments after I cancelled our Tuesday flight and re-booked another for Wednesday. UPS has been playing ping pong with the passport and Bolivian visa of my traveling partner and CCWM Secretary, Glenn Harms.
So is God’s hand in this circumstance?
I feel something like Gideon when God whittled his army from 32,000 down to 300. (Judges 7:1-6) Originally there were four people from the CCWM board on the team going to Bolivia to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Life and Truth school.
Then the first one dropped, then the second one. With only Glenn and I left, the passport situation became more grave as it’s 10 day journey wore on. They believe that it has two bar codes on it, so the automatic sorters send it back and forth with no human intervention.
Convinced that I could pick it up at a regional UPC sorting center this morning (Wednesday) for the flight this afternoon, I was looking forward to the overnight flight with Glenn to LaPaz, Bolivia.
Who will we meet?
What will be the ‘good’ for being delayed by one day?
But like Gideon, my team has been whittled once again.
The passport is still missing and I’m traveling alone today.
Staying very aware of whom I might meet on this solo flight.
The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Field Report written by Dan Hennenfent
Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, Thailand is a block long stretch of neon
with bar after bar packed side by side on both sides of a very narrow street.
The ‘traffic’ going up and down Soi Cowboy are men, sometimes walking alone, or pairs, and sometimes in packs of eight or ten.
On the “front porches” of the bars are tables, bar stools an occasional dancers pole, and girls. Many girls that are barely clothed.
Through the front door of each bar (which is really just a curtain) is loud disco tech music, lights, a dance floor and more girls with less clothing.
It’s on the front porches on the outside of the bar where our mission team
has spent time getting to know a handful of the women whose job it is to get men to buy over priced drinks.
Members of our team, working in groups of two or three will buy a girl a drink, which really just buys us the privilege to visit with her for ten or fifteen minutes, but that is long enough to let her know that someone in the world really cares about her.
When it goes well, a girl will agree to meet with us the next day over lunch or other social way and the conversations go deeper. The ultimate victory for us as an outreach team is to introduce them to the women of The Well, servantworks.com a ministry to bar girls in Bangkok. So far this week there has been one victory! Our team is working on number two right now. What are the lives of one or two Thai bar girls worth?
The blood of Jesus!
WHAT'S MY QUARTER?
AUTHOR SHARI TVRDIK
"You're not going to believe the story behind this quarter! "
My sister Joanne stood in the grocery store isle holding up a quarter as if it were a piece of gold.
We had bumped into one another at the store, both in a mad holiday rush with no time to talk.
"Remind me to tell you all about it when we have a chance to catch up." she said.
Three days later we sat together, coffee in hand and sure enough, the quarter was the first thing I wanted to hear about.
"I believe the Lord has been stretching my giving and obeying abilities and He is using a quarter to do it!"
Joanne shared with me.
"It all started when I felt the Lord leading me to leave my quarter in the shopping cart at Aldi." She said.
She was referring to a local grocery where you had to insert a quarter into the cart in order to use it.
"I truly did not want to part ways with that quarter." She continued.
"I never carry cash, and especially not coins. I have one quarter that I continually use for the Aldi carts. I know exactly where it goes when I leave the store and I always have it on hand."
And then she added, for drama sake,
"There is nothing worse than arriving to Aldi WITHOUT YOUR QUARTER."
I laughed because I knew from personal experience, exactly what my sister was talking about.
Without my quarter I've had to either wait near the cart rack and awkwardly beg a stranger to give me their cart as they are returning it, or drive to an ATM, collect my cash then drive back to the store and ask for change. A lot of hassle in order to begin my shopping.
Joanne went on to tell me about her struggle to obey the Lord's gentle command to her. She explained her main fear was she would forget to replace the quarter and wind up quarterless at the store the following week.
"Then I believe the Lord spoke to my heart again saying,
"Do you not believe I could provide a quarter for you next time you need one?'"
In the end, Joanne reluctantly left the quarter inside the coin slot of the cart.
"Now, why was this such a big deal for me?
"How could I not willingly obey such a harmless instruction from my Heavenly Father?
The following week as Joanne approached the grocery store she realized she had forgotten to replace that quarter. Annoyed with the whole situation she proceeded to go through the hassle of driving to find change at a fast food place.
"I was feeling frustrated when I arrived back AGAIN to Aldi. As I walked up to the cart rack with my quarter from the fast food place in had, I noticed the first cart in line had a quarter sticking out of the slot! I stood there in shock, remembering the Lord asking me if I believed HE could provide a quarter. It was as if He was right there smiling as I discovered His provision."
Her excitement in the story was contagious. I could sense she had truly experienced a precious lesson from the Lord. "And it didn't stop there!" Joanne said.
"Since then, quarters continue to surprise me, showing up in the most unlikely places. I've never had so many quarters. It's almost funny! "
A joyful grin splashed across her face.
"God continues to provide quarters to remind me that obedience is the very best way to show that I believe! "
Her final words struck my heart.
She was right.
It is the very best way.
My sister's quarter story has been on my mind this week. It has agitated my heart in a good and growing kind of way.
What is my quarter? I wonder.
Do I believe that He provides for me?
Am I willing to find out?
packing and weighing.
This was the main job that I had to do in the last 3 weeks.
It seemed ok since summer is a time of traveling and camping for most Mongolians.
Then came the meetings,
and many goodbyes followed.
I did so well until the last couple days.
Everything at my home, community and my whole country seemed extra precious and beautiful.
Everyone I know became so hard to part with.
My heart started to ache.
My tears were easily flowing and I needed to hide and cry in my bed.
Why am I leaving my family?
Why am I leaving my job?
Why am I leaving my beautiful country Mongolia?
Why do I need to leave them when I love this place so much?
We usually don’t know how precious the people and life around us are until we are separated. It is in our human nature to not notice the significance of our loved ones until they are gone from us.
Gratitude is something that we need to look for often.
My dear sister-friend Siew Ling gave me a bracelet on my birthday which says GRATITUDE on it. I’m thankful that she reminded me of this important part of life. I’m grateful for my life in Mongolia.
This chapter of my life is ended.
Thank you my Lord for all the blessings.
27th of July, 2017. I arrived in the United States, at O’hare International Airport.
Happily this place didn’t seem foreign to me since it is the 4th time coming here and my dear friends were waiting for me.
The only difference is a thought in my brain which says
“You know that you are not going back soon, right?”.
I heard this over and over again.
I have been to many places in the past 10 years, but all temporary.
I never left Mongolia with tears until this time.
Many are happy and also jealous of me.
They said, "You are going to AMERICA for 16 months!
And you have a scholarship!
You have friends!
You know English!
Oh I wish I was going instead of you!
I would live there forever.
Yes, they are right.
But I’m the one who is leaving
and I’m the one who doesn’t like to leave my home country for long.
Here I am today.
Among the corn fields.
Today felt like an empty page in between chapters.
It will pass soon and I will start my new chapter soon.
Don’t know what adventures are ahead of me, but I’m peaceful,
because God knows and He planned it.
God, please teach me and tell me WHY I AM HERE!
AUTHOR NOAH WARD
It hits me like a wave bearing the force of the ocean behind it.
The overwhelming of my brain
This is the daily grind of language school. It is a grind that is hard. It is a grind that has its many challenges, yet also has its benefits.
I stare at a paper with letters that confuse me
….yet they are starting to make more sense.
The vocabulary I study seems to go in one ear and out the other
….yet I use new words on a daily basis in conversations
I think I only understand 40% of the story
….yet when questions are asked I comprehend more than thought
Language school offers so many challenges. At times it can be discouraging. You feel you are making no progress and you constantly feel worn out. You look at the end of one year and wonder if you will ever make it. You see veteran missionaries speaking Thai with such ease and you wonder how is it possible.
Will I ever be there?
Will I be capable of the same feat?
Will Thai people ever understand me?
When I first arrived in Thailand, a veteran missionary and I sat down for lunch. He described a story to me of when he was in language school. He shared the challenges that he faced and his story paralleled what I go through very well. He described the same situations and the same doubts. He then proceeded to give me an encouraging thought that has pushed me to keep pushing everyday.
“Always remember why you are here.”
These words are some of the most valuable words I have ever been offered in my twelve years on the field in Asia. I have heard them before, but this time they came at the right time. It is so easy in times of stress to forget. This is what keeps me focused on the task. It is my constant reminder that my God is greater and I want people to see His Glory. It is so important that I keep my eyes set on this goal and not let the little things derail my focus and my trust in Christ.
This question is one that can be applied in all jobs and all lives.
Why are you where you are?
What is your purpose in your job, your mission and your life?
I know mine and it is what pushes me to keep going.
Do you know yours?
Stories From The Past
Who Writes The Stories?