Monday, December 22, 2014

Women's Night of Worship


God continues to stretch and grow me through my role as a worship leader. In addition to leading worship at church most Sundays, I've had the opportunity to lead worship at three Women's Nights of Worship. The first one happened last June before a dear friend left. It was really her brain child. She wanted to get together with women in her community to worship prior to moving back to the States. So we did. Then, my friend Dyan and I decided we should do another one in August after everyone who had travelled was back. And finally, we hosted the third event on November 30th.

 Around thirty women came to worship and pray through the prayer stations we had set up. One station was dedicated to meditating on the story of Jesus birth. We took time to read the accounts of Jesus birth and pondered the thoughts and emotions of each person in the story. What was Mary thinking and feeling? Joseph? The shepherds? The wise men? The animals?

Another was focused on praying for those who do not know the Lord. We identified those people in our lives and wrote their names on paper, adding them to a chain when we had prayed for them. We also took time to think through areas in our own lives that needed to be brought again to Jesus.





















The last station was to choose a picture of a Young Life staff member in the ebola stricken countries in West Africa and pray Psalm 91 over them. We covered those faithful servants of God in prayer.


 


And of course we had lots of amazing food and fellowship.



 
Even though Dyan has left for home assignment until August (tear!), 'we' still plan to have a few more of these throughout the year. It was a beautiful night of worship, prayer and fellowship. My only regret is that I didn't record any of the songs as these women sang their hearts out to God! WOW! It was truly awesome and a meaningful way to 'kick-off' the holidays season.
 
 
 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Black beans, parmesan cheese and chocolate chips.

Friends, we are so excited...

We have a group from Grand Rapids Christian High School coming the first week of January! We can't wait to show these students both the beauty and brokenness of Dar Es Salaam and engage with them as they process the work of God here and in their own lives. We LOVE having groups and sharing this experience with them.

Not going to lie - we also love them because they get extra luggage space, and that means we get a few goodies from home!! :) We're filling a few suitcases with school/church items, and giving some space to friends who are in need of particular things. BUT have saved a little room for our family as well.

So if you're out at Meijer and want to pick any of these items up, we'd love you forever & ever. Let us know and we can connect you with someone coming on the trip to hand it off to.

Our list:

* 6 bags of dried black beans
* 2 containers of parmesan cheese
* 3 bags of chocolate chips
These three are the top of my list EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. :)

* 20 packages/containers of Crystal Light drink mix OR Kool aid  - various flavors, but several lemonade (this is for my Tanzanian friend who loves Kool aid!)
* Ziploc bags - 1 box quart size, 1 box gallon size
* 2 containers Italian seasoning (again, for my friend)
* Socks for Isaac (a package of 3 ankle athletic socks- he wears size 1-2)
* Tennis shoes for Isaac - he needs size 2 - used it great!
* Medications: Aleve, Tums, chewable Immodium, Children's tylenol, Zantac
* notecards. I would love packages of cute note cards to write notes to people.
* iTunes gift cards to buy movies/music
* hand-me down summer dresses size 4-5T for Hope. I've got plenty of other clothes for her, but running short on dresses.
* non-Chocolate candy - marc loves it. skittles, starburst, etc.

Thanks friends! I miss Meijer. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday - THANK YOU!

As today is "Giving Tuesday", we wanted to take a minute to THANK YOU for your giving!

1st fundraiser on December 1st, 2012
 
Two years ago yesterday was our first fundraiser for our move back in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We had a craft show at Plymouth Heights CRC and raised over $2,000 to jump start our fundraising process.

Since then, many people have partnered with us through giving, whether special or monthly gifts, and we are so completely grateful for your support.

Your support goes far beyond what you may know.  Your support helps us pay rent, utilities, buy food, put gas in our car, yes...but here are a few ways your giving continues to give that you might not know about...
Eva and Hope 'helping' Elnert make tortillas.

* Your support pays the monthly wage of 2 employees. Their work for us is a huge asset to freeing up our time to engage in ministry. Elnert is our house helper and does our cleaning, wash, dishes and periodically helps with the girls. She is 24, married and has a almost 2 year old son. She did not have full time work prior to us coming. Hosea is our gardener - he cares for the proprty, helps with the dogs, opens and closes our gate, runs errands for us and is incredible with the kids - they love to play with him! He and his wife, Lucy live on our property and we are so thankful for them! Hosea has a big and generous heart, and I have heard often of times when he and his wife are giving some of their salaries to help people who are sick, buying mosquito nets for families without, or just using their hard-earned income to take a bus over 4 hours to go into a small village and preach the gospel. Providing work for him allows him to engage in ministry.


Lucy and Angie during a Swahli lesson
 
* Your support pays for my langugage lessons. Lucy, (Hosea's wife, who lives on the same property) sits with me and my friend Angie for 9 hours a week to help me with my Swahili. She, like her husband, has a huge heart and I consider both of them local missionaries. She has become a very dear friend and sister in Christ. Again, by supporting us, we are able to provide a bit of additional work for Lucy, which helps them make their monthly trip to the village to minister.


The Life Group we co-lead on Wednesday Evenings
through our church, God's Tribe.
In our group we have 6 countries represented: Tanzania,
Kenya, England, Zimbabwe, Canada and America.



* We tithe to our local church, God's Tribe. This church plant is just over a year old and is very much a toddler church, but is faithful in preaching the gospel each week. Your support is also supporting the work and ministry of this church.

* Your support allows other missionary families to engage in their God-given callings. Many, many, missionaries who live in remote areas are given only one option for schooling for their children: homeschooling. This is a viable and great option for some. HOPAC is strategically planted, however, in a large city which becomes the center for many missions agencies. This allows parents of these children an amazing, Christ-centered option for their kids for school.

If you're a parent, take a moment and think about what you could NOT do each day if your child's school did not exist and you had to homeschool....

LOTS, right?

Now, think what a blessing it is to have an international Christian school for these families! The missionaries who send their kids to HOPAC are doing amazing work: Young Life across 20+ countries in Africa, Doctors, Survey work (figuring out where the unreached people groups are in order to send new missionaries there with the gospel), local pastor training through theological education, ministering to the poor through kids clubs, sports clubs, and relationship building, teaching English to future teachers, teaching skills to women in order to give them sustainable work, drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, church plants, etc.

YOU are supporting these missionaries as you support us. Think of the lives that are being touched by all these missionaries here in Dar - YOU are partnering with them! What an amazing gift!

I'm sure there are ways your giving is touching even more lives and ministries - unseen ways - even to us on the field. I know it blessed us and brings joy to have so many partnering with us in the work God has called us to do here.

Now here comes the other side of this: We're still in need.

In the next few months, we are going to need to pay another 6 months rent (most of this is saved so far, need $800 yet), self-employment taxes (possibly around $8000- $9000) and we really, really, really hope to come 'home' for 8 weeks or so next summer, but that requires plane tickets (around $7000). We have not met our montly budget once since being here, despite reducing it twice. We've used every penny of our own savings. We're confident the Lord is asking us remain and continue on, but we need help in doing so.

Specifically, we are in need of an additional $1500 in monthly support and also in need of some annual or special gifts. We have some who give $5 a month, and others who give $200 a month. We have some who have given $20 a year and others who have given $1000. Would you consider supporting us with any amount this giving Tuesday or in the upcoming year?

If so, please click HERE and select "Missionaries - Africa" and then "Driesenga, Marc".

Posts and requests like these are difficult. We want to just share the stories and the great work that God is doing here in Dar, but fundraising is a part of our job as well. It's humbling, it's overwhelming, it's faith-building and it's truly a joy to watch the Lord provide for our needs.

Thank you for truly being our partners in ministry.

Asante sana, marafiki. Mungu ni Mwema.
(Thank you very much, friends. God is good.)




Monday, November 24, 2014

When you don't know what to sing...

I have been in the position of "worship leader" for a few weeks shy of one year now. As I write that, I cringe a tiny bit. You see, I hoped one year of doing this would lead to great strides in my leading capabilities...or at least the ability to play an "F" chord properly. Yet, a year into this new calling and I have so much to learn - about playing guitar and singing, yes, but more so about how to truly "lead" a congregation of worshipperes.

My first Sunday leading/playing last December (2013).
I had to sit down because I wasn't sure I could play/sing/stand all at the same time! :)
 
Our last church had a Minister of Music who created the flow of the service, rehersed with musicians, wrote Calls to Worship, etc, but he did not sing or play an instrument in front of church. In fact, no one sang into a mic at church unless it was 'special music' during the offering- the musicians played and the congregation sang. It was liturgical. It worked. It allowed the congregations voice to be heard. There are elements of that I truly love and appreciate.

Now, I am upfront with a guitar and a mic, with other band members with me (thankfully!) and I'm also working behind the scenes planning out the musical aspect of the worship service. This is not an easy task.

Some weeks, the service comes together easily - there are songs that fit the theme of the message, we have a full worship team, everyone is healthy, at rehersal and on Sunday the sound equipment all works, we don't lose power and the songs work together beautifully.

Other weeks it's Thursday afternoon (rehersal that night) and I still don't have a single song chosen, I'm sick, I don't know who (if anyone?) is coming to worship rehersal, I don't know the theme for the sermon and the power is out. Again.

This week was looking to be a train smash (thanks to South Africa for that fun phrase). I haven't felt 100% in about 8 weeks, I knew of one person coming to rehersal but wasn't sure if the other 2 could come, I hadn't picked any songs yet, I didn't know the theme of the message and I was temped to just throw some songs together & hope for the best.

Instead, I asked the Lord for his guidance. And He was faithful to help me.

The songs came together and rehersal went well, despite the keyboard adaptor blowing up mid-prayer! I can't really say how it happened. I just started browsing my song folder again and slowly I picked ones that all fit the theme of God's love. I didn't realize how strong the theme was until Sunday morning was all said and done.

Without knowing our first song, one of our Pastors got up to read Psalm 118 to call us into worship:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

Our first song was "Forever"

"Give thanks to the Lord, our god and King, His Love endures forever"

The theme of God's love continued throughout our worship. It seemed as if God was weaving a beautiful tapestry together for the service, His love washing over us in incredible ways as we heard his word and sang songs of his great, unfailing, protecting, enduring love for us.

Our first Sunday at Mlimani Theater - October 12, 2014

I had many people who came up to me to tell me they appreciated and were ministered to through the music this morning. One of the youth group leaders told me that the the lesson for their group that morning tied in strongly with a few of the songs we sang. Another missionary who lives in the bush, but is in Dar for a few weeks said that she was so blessed to sing in her heart language, English, to songs that were so meaningful to her. A few others mentioned being ministered to through the service.

Most weeks I do not get any feedback about worship. Maybe a person here or there will encourage me or say they liked a new song. It's not common, and that's really okay. I'm not looking for the attention that could come with this very public role. I do appreciate it, as well as loving criticisms/corrections, but it's not something that I base how well I did my 'job' on.

The beauty of this morning is that not everything was perfect. I'm still struggling with a sore throat, coughing, stuffed up nose & blocked ears. Our team wasn't all there until about 10 mintues before the service started so we didn't get to run through our songs. The speakers were in & out during most of the service and the slides for a few of the songs were out of order.

BUT.

God was present and pouring out his abundant love on us. His message was clear and loud and penetrating.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.









Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Cards

Friends -

We LOVE getting mail. It's a rare, rare occasion around here, so it becomes a big deal.

I just wanted to give you all our address, in case you don't know where to find it or never had it to begin with, in case, you know, you are thinking about maybe, possibly, sending us Christmas cards. :)

I've found that because our kids are so young, they are forgetting what friends back home look like. And as we pray for our friends, family, supporters back home, it's so great to have pictures to go along with names. We would love to cover our walls with pictures of you all!

Please send us your family Christmas card/letter!!!

C/O Driesenga
HOPAC
P.O. Box 70027
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

It takes a bit longer to get mail here, but know that even if we get your card in March, we'll still be so excited and grateful!

XOXO

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Broken Bones - Days 2, 3 & 4

The day after Hope's accident, Marc took the day off of work and we drove back to the clinic in the morning. The clinic sent us over to a hospital nearby, called CCBRT. There we waited in a crowded room for the doctor to see us. He reviewed the X-rays and agreed that the bone could most likely be set without surgery. The schedule was completely full that day, so it would have to be the following morning. After visiting the lab for a blood draw, and another stop in the Doctor's office to give him lab results, we headed home after about 6 hours at the hospital...and Hope still had a broken arm. For those of you who have broken bones, how long did it take after it was broken until you were in a cast and back into 'life'? Here we were about 24 hours after the fall & nothing had actually been done yet. At this point, I was greatly missing DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. During this whole day, we were so thankful for a few different friends who watched Geneva...she's not a sit still type of kid, so 6 hours of crowded waiting rooms would not have gone over well.


The next morning we arrived, ready to be the 'first case of the day'. We were brought into a private room and were left to wait there for almost 3 hours. Thankfully there was a TV in the room, so we had our fill of Nickelodeon. I was surprised at how nice this private ward was. It had it's own bathroom, a small little loveseat, a bed, a mini-fridge and the TV. Not at all what I expected, and likely, not what most Tanzanians every see. This private ward at the hospital had maybe 10 rooms, most people stay in any many large rooms with dozens of beds in each. I suspect we were put in a private room because Hope was a child, or because we were assumed to have the money to pay for it. Maybe both.

The nurse finally came and we wheeled Hope on the bed through the outdoor hallways into the 'theater' where they would put her under. We waited in a tiny waiting room with a few other people waiting to go in. They came and gave her a small dose of something to sedate her and after a few minutes she was a rag doll in my arms. I had been apprehensive about this part of things. I had asked the day before if I would be with her while they sedated her and they said no. They said they would need special permission from the director of the hospital for me to be with her. I thought this was a bit ridiculous. There was just about no way I was going to hand off Hope to a doc to go back for sedation...she would've scream having to go off with some stranger for a reason she didn't understand! I think in the end, they misunderstood my question or I misunderstood their answer, as it was no problem to let me hold her when she took that med. I was so thankful. They took her back and set her bone while we waited outside.
 

This is where Hope's proceedure was done.
After it was set, the doc came out and told us it went well, "more or less". WHAT? What does that mean? Those are not words you want to hear. He said we needed to stay overnight to watch for swelling and we were taken back to our room. We were not anticipating staying overnight. So after Hope got settled a bit, Marc and Geneva went home to get us a few things for our stay. While they were gone, Hope's pain started to get worse, so I asked the nurse for some pain medication. She came back with a shot. I was a bit surprised that for a child they didn't have another option. I've since come to realize that injections are extremely common practice for everything here.
So, after the nurse attempted 5 times to stick Hope and Hope pulled away, she gave up. Hope was in tears. I was almost in tears. The nurse left, leaving the needle in our room. I was half tempted to do the injection myself, as I was almost certain I could do it quickly and not stop just because Hope was crying. But I didn't. My kids have had shots before, but never did it take this many failed attempts. At one point the nurse asked, "Oh, is she afraid of injections?" Um, YES. She's 4. And you're poking her in the butt with a needle. And it hurts. And she's scared. And everytime a person comes in to see her, they end up hurting her.
 
Another nurse came in, gave her the shot and Hope slept for a bit after that. Marc and Geneva came back with our things, including food. We were not sure if the hospital would actually provide any food, as often family members are responsible to care for patients needs like that (they did bring us a plate of chicken, chipsi and mchicha around 8:00pm). We had an uneventful evening, a bad nights sleep (we shared a twin bed and I work everytime Hope moved), and a quick X-ray in the morning to make sure things looked good and then we were home! Both the German doctor and his Tanzanian collegue said the cast should stay on only 3 weeks. I was expecting 6-8, but because she is so young, they believe she will heal quickely. We were so thankful to hear that!
The cast will come off this coming Thursday already and she'll have another set of X-rays to determine if it has healed/set properly. Will you take a minute to pray for this? If the bone has moved at all, we will likely need to go to South Africa for surgery. I want to go to SA, but certainly NOT for this. We don't want Hope to have to have surgery, and it would obviously be quite a large expense for us, which we do not currently have funds for and our insurance will not cover.

All in all, we were happy with our care here and are so thankful that there are resources here for this type of injury. Medical care was a major concern for us as we anticipated moving. It's hard to put your children in a situation where you know there isn't a DeVos Children's Hopsital 10 minutes from home. I have been thinking about the many missionairies who have even less than we do in regards to medical care. Will you take a minute and pray for some missionaries you know, especially those in rural/village areas? Pray for their physical safety and protection, but also their spiritual safety and protection.

This ordeal has cost about $400. After 15 months of being in Africa, our monthly giving has yet to reach our monthly goal. Over the past year, we have used all of our savings to subsudize the gap in our budget. If you'd like to donate at all to help with these unexpected expenses, please visit http://www2.crcna.org/pages/crwm_donate_online.cfm.

Thanks for praying for the healing of this sweet little one!
 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Broken Bones - Day 1

On September 15th, Hope's 4th birthday, she slipped and broke her arm. She had walked from the living room towards our bathroom for her nightly bath, slipped, landed on her left elbow and started to cry. Marc and I were in the living room still while it happened. I got up and found her on the ground unable to move. I did a quick assessment, asked her a few questions and discovered it was her arm that was hurting. I moved her onto our bed and immediatly saw her elbow was much larger than it should've been.

I've known friend's children who have dislocated their elbows, and I was hoping that's what this was. We made a call to our clinic, called IST, who had us call the after hours doc (this happened around 6:30pm). She told us to make our way there and she would meet us. Our clinic, without any traffic is about 30 minutes away.

We asked Isaac to walk out back and ask Lucy (lives on the same property as us with her husband, Hosea) if she could come in and watch Isaac and Geneva while we both went to the clinic. She quickly made her way and we got in the car to go. We are so thankful for their presence and help!

Over an hour later, we finally made it to the clinic. Hope fell asleep on the way, and we were so grateful she could get a bit of rest. At the clinic, the nurse gave Hope a suppository for pain, and attempted about 3-4 times to get a sling on her. With each move of the arm, Hope was crying out in pain. Marc and I actually ended up doing more of the sling placement than the nurse. That was my first frustration. This was an international clinic, but it honestly seemed like she had never placed a sling before.

Anyhow, we loaded up again, having to move Hope with her huge, painful arm, back into the car and drive to HiTech for x-rays as our clinic does not have the equipment to do so. We got stuck in traffic  getting there also. When we finally made it, we got right into the room for X-Rays. The tech had Hope sit on my lap and me sit on a chair. Then he asked me to move oh so slightly, which caused pain for Hope. Then I had to move again. Then again. I was fed up & asked them to PLEASE figure out where you want us before you move us again. Finally we got the x-rays and Marc could hear the radiologist looking at the x-rays saying it was broken. UGH. Poor Hopey girl!

We got copies of the x-rays to bring back to our clinic with the report from the radiologist (no digital here! Good old film copies!). Finally back at the clinic, the doctor met us, told us we would need to go to a different hospital the next day because she needed either her bone set (with being put under) or that surgery was also possibility. They put a back slab/cast on the back of her arm and sent us on our way. We left with an arm still broken, no confirmation of a doc appointment the next day and the lingering thought of surgery and a possible trip to South Africa the very next day.

We arrived home just after 11pm, got Hope settled in bed and started reading up on our insurance policy, emergency medvac coverage (or non-coverage) and investigating potential flights to South Africa.

More on days 2 & 3 later!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kigali, Rwanda

Marc and I had the chance to go to Kigali, Rwanda for four nights a few weeks ago. Our school is adopting a new curriculum for the Bible program, and the author of the curriculum was going to be doing a training in Kigali. It worked out that I could tag along and we were able to get a bit of time to explore the city as well as spend time in training.
 
We stayed at a hostal for two nights, rode on the backs of motorcycles all around the city, ate out, ate dinner at 8pm and wandered around at 10pm. It was a little flash back to life prior to kids. It was certainly fun and a bit adventurous for us.
 
The first full day we walked 20 -30 minutes from the hostal to the genocide memorial. That afternoon, the owner of our hostal, David, drove us outside of town about 40 minutes to visit two other memorial sites. It was a completely emotionally exhausting day. It was a sobering feeling walking around and thinking that almost every single person you saw on the streets, working in the shops, eating out, driving motorcycles, etc had been affected by the genocide. If they were 20 or older, they lived through it. They had maybe lost loved ones. Perhaps they even were injured, tortured, beaten. It's possible that some of the people we saw and met had loved ones who were perpetrators.
 
I'll post few pictures of that first day below.
 
Some of the pictures, I honestly couldn't even post here. I can barely look at them myself...the blood-stained wall children were bashed against... Some things I saw I couldn't even take pictures of...the pole stuck up and through women used to kill them after they had been raped...
 
I find it hard to believe someone could doubt the utter depravity and brokenness of mankind after visiting these sites.
 
It was a bit surreal at points during the visit. We were the only people visiting the churches. The guides spoke very matter of factly,  which of course, is their job. They repeat this information daily and have had to live with it for 20 years. And there I am, trying to stifle back the ugly cry, tears pouring down my cheeks, unable to imagine. The birds sung in the background. Little kids riding bikes passed on the road outside the fence. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. Children were walking home from school. And there we were looking at bones and coffins and clothes and school workbooks and shoes and holes blasted into walls and bullet holes everywhere and busted doors and dishes and weapons and blood-stained walls. And what kept coming to my mind?
 
Iraq.
 
 helplessness.
 
anger.
 
guilt.
 
questions.
 
I'm still processing it all, to be honest. Will post more pictures another day.
 
For more information on the history of the Rwandan genocide, please visit the memorial site here:


 
wall of names. A majority of it is empty as there are so many unidentified victims yet.

Flowers left in memory at one of the mass grave.

In one of the gardens at the memorial. Elephants are known for their great memory.
This one has a phone so he can call the rest of the world to tell them what has happened.

The first church we visited. The government has built roofs overtop the churches
so they can continue to be used as memorials.

This is the Sunday School classroom.

The kitchen where people were burned to death.

The clothes of the victims have been left in the churches.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quirks & Oddities





We have bars on all our windows & doors for safety. This is one of our windows in the living room/entry way of our new house. First, you can see the loving care that went into painting the room (!!) - we've been scraping paint off the floor since we moved in. Haven't even attempted the windows (and screens) yet. BUT, just take a moment and think about the chore of cleaning your windows on the inside & having to navigate around the bars. Not an easy task!  caption
 

We are so glad to have an actual bath tub for bathing the kids.
Many homes do not have a tub.
 However, the faucet for the tub is directly above the SIDE of the tub,
and just spreads water along the wall.
Eventually it gets into the tub for a bath.  

 

Again, this is common here, but different from the States. We don't have a gas line
in our house, so we just have a gas tank directly next to our stove. Yes, I've run out of
gas before in the middle of cooking. :)

Sink in our dining room. This really isn't an 'oddity' here though.
 
It's common to have a sink in the dining room of your house or
restuarant to wash your hands before and after eating. Espeically
because you're more likely to use your hands to eat here.

One of the nice things about this house is that INCLUEDED were air conditioners in our bedroom
and the living room, and also a water heater. Those
are typically NOT included in the hosue and you
have to buy them separate if you want them.
I love how
they covered up the cords/wires with some folded cardboard...they could've painted the cardboard at least! Ha!

The other piece of folded cardboard to cover cords.
I didn't want to open that cabinet anyways...

Again, blessed to have a water heater, but it's much different that the States.
Here, you have to turn the heater on a while before you want to take
a shower/bath in order for it to heat up. We've gotten quite used to doing this, and
in the hot season this past year we really didn't even use the water heater, but
for 'winter' like right now, it's so nice to have!
Yes, that's the shower/toilet room. No walls/curtain to separate them. You just hope you don't spray
the TP and get it all wet while you're showering. And you have to squeegie
the floor after so there isn't water
left everywhere.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

I wrote a song.


Psalm 73:28
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.
 
The title of this post is actually a bit misleading. I didn't actually write a song - God did. I'm writing this post to tell of the deeds of the Sovereign Lord and to glorify His name.
 
Brittany
World, meet Brittany. A former youth group student, turned youth group leader, turned friend. I had the honor of singing in Brittany and TJ's wedding almost six years ago. In the last several years, Brittany has shared her life and faith on her blog: http://sprinklesandwrinkles.blogspot.com/
 
After the birth of her beautiful baby boy, Brittany and her husband experienced the loss of their two little girls. She shares their stories on her blog: http://sprinklesandwrinkles.blogspot.com/p/edens-story.html and http://sprinklesandwrinkles.blogspot.com/p/jubilees-story.html. Have tissues nearby. You've been warned.
 
Throughout Brittany's pregnancy with Jubilee, God really laid this family on my heart and I prayed like I haven't prayed before. After the loss of Jubilee, I continued to pray and pray and pray. God has given this amazing family the gift of faith, that much is sure. I have been blessed, challenged and encouraged watching them live our their lives of faith, even in the face of such tradgic loss.
 
Psalm 100 became a Scripture that Brittnay and TJ clung to during this - they were shouting for joy to the Lord through it all - the pain, the loss, the wondering, the questions, the grief, the prayers. They never stopped worshipping the Lord or questioning his goodness or his enduring love.

Psalm 100


A psalm. For giving grateful praise.


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
 
The Song

This past May 2 was the two year anniversary of little Jubilee's arrival and departure of this earthly world. On her blog and facebook, Brittany asked people to share what they were "Shouting for Joy" for that day and to simply share what was filling our hearts with gratitude to God.
 
I sat down and didn't know what to share at first. I decided to read through Psalm 100, and immediately the song "I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart" came into my head. I actually thought how sad I was that, while it's a fine song, it didn't at all seem fitting for remembering Jubilee and the goodness of God through the whole situation.
 
My guitar was sitting next to me, as I had recently finished practicing for worship on Sunday. 
I picked it up and a song began to form. I've never written a song before, so I was a bit shocked that it came together so easily, but I attribute that to the fact that it was truly written by the Lord.
 
God wrote the words Himself and the Holy Spirit inspired the music. I was able to share the song with Brittany & TJ on May 2, as I felt it was a song God gave to me, but was meant for them.
 
 

 

Jubilee {Psalm 100}

written May 2, 2014
 
Intro: C G C G
Verse 1:
C2                     G
Shout for Joy, to the Lord
C2                   G
all the earth, worship Him
C2                      G
Come before Him with joy
C2                         D
Know that He is God

Chorus:
                          G                  D
And we sing, Halleluiah! Jubilee!
C2                        D
We adore you, Trinity!
G                                D
You have saved us, by your grace
C                      D                                          C  G  C  G         
Now we enter, your courts with praise

Verse 2:
C2                                 G
You have made us, We are yours
C2                              G
You the shepherd, we your sheep
C2                           G  
We kneel down, before your throne
C2                          D
to  worship you, JESUS
 
Bridge:
G                                 C2                           D
Lord you're good, Lord you're good, Lord you're good
 C2   
 your love endures forever (x2)
G                       C2                              D
Faithful God, you're faithful God, you're faithful God
C2
To every generation (x2)
 

I recorded this a few hours after it was written - not the best 'performance', but you'll get the idea. Take a listen - and if you like it, GLORY BE TO GOD because He wrote it. If you don't like it, well, God wrote it. :)
 
 

Friday, June 27, 2014

UPDATE - MOVE update!

UPDATE (Saturday, June 28) -

LESS than 24 hours after this original post, we have finances for EVERYTHING ON OUR LIST!!!

PRAISE BE TO GOD! We are completely in awe of how the Lord has provided. We got a few emails yesterday sharing of donations that friends have made, with the final email right before going to bed which covered the rest of our list.

Friends, I couldn't sleep last night, I was so giddy with excitement over God's provision.

The song that kept coming to mind as I laid in bed was,   "Sing Your Praise To The Lord" by Rich Mullins.

I'm singing praise to the Lord today for his goodness, his provision, his faithfulness and his love and for showing all of that through you. We would not be here without you all!

We are still in need of people willing to join us by giving a special gift or to partner with us through monthly giving throughout the 2014- 2015 year, so if you felt inclinded to give and didn't get around to it for our household needs, we still need you! Please follow the instructions below.

Thank you!!!

________________________________________________________________________________

Friends,

We wrote & YOU RESPONDED!

In our most recent prayer letter sent last week, we shared our list of current needs and have been SO BLESSED by your response!

Yes, there are things we are still in need of (see below), but we are blown away by the generosity of our friends and partners in ministry. So many of our 'big' items have been covered already! We look forward to showing and telling you how this new house will be used for ministry and life here in Dar.
We praise GOD for providing through YOU ALL!

Prayer Letter Report:
As we wrap up our first year in Tanzania, we are in a need of a strong finish in financial giving. Currently, we are at 75% of our yearly budget with two weeks to go in our fiscal year. Looking ahead, we've reduced our budget for the upcoming year, but are still in need of friends to partner with us through monthly giving. We are also in need of special giving for basic living items as we set up our own home. We have items lined up from other missionary families who are leaving, but need additional financial support in order to actually purchase them within the next few weeks! 

Can you help?
Help cover rent                      $1000
Stove                                        $300
1 large bed                              $275
Refridgerator                         $225

Wash Machine                      $200
Bunk Beds                             $150
Guest bed                              $150
1 Large Mosquito Net          $75
1 chair for living room:       $60
1 chair for living room:       $60
1 dresser                                $35
1 dresser                                $30
1 dresser                                $30
Desk                                       $30
1 Mosquito Net                     $25
1 Mosquito Net                    $25
Bookshelf                              $20
1 Fan                                      $20
1 Fan                                      $20
Bookcase (kids)                   $15
1 kids chair                           $15
1 kids chair                           $15
4 trash bins                          $12
Kids table                             $10
Laundry Basket                  $9
Step stool                             $7

To give,  follow these 5 simple steps:
1. Visit Christian Reformed World Missions Website by clicking here: https://secure3.convio.net/crcna/site/Donation2?df_id=5220&5220.donation=form1
2. At the first drop down menu (Under "Allocate my gift"), choose "Missionaries - Africa"
3. To the right there will be another drop down menu, choose "Driesenga, Marc"
4. Continue to fill out the gift amount, billing and payment information.
5. Send us an email to let us know what you have contributed so we can update our list: thedriesengafamily@gmail.com

As always, your gift is tax deductible.

We are so thankful for your continued partnership, and look forward to sharing more stories of God's grace on our blog. www.thedriesengafamily.blogspot.com

With love and deep gratitude,
Marc & Gretchen
Isaac, Hope & Geneva

Friday, June 20, 2014

"How exactly do you pray to God?"

"How exactly do you pray to God? I've been praying 5 times a day as a Muslim, but how do you actually pray to the real God?"

This was the question asked of me last week Saturday by a beautiful lady who had just a week or two prior, converted from Islam to Christianity.

A missionary here in Dar who works at HOPAC had befriended this lovely lady and had been praying for her for over a year. Recently, the conversation turned into a conversion. And then an invitation to attend our latest "Ladies Tea" that our church hosted.

Our church hosts a ladies tea every 3-4 months. It's a 3-4 hour long event where we get to leave the kids home and enjoy time with just ladies. We push for eveyone to invite a friend, especially if that friend might not feel comfortable coming to church. We hope that it's a safe place for ladies in all walks of life and faith to come and share in community.

This past Saturday, my friend Angie and I were in charge of the tea. When we began praying together about it, it was quite clear that God's Grace was to be the theme of the morning. Angie has such a heart for women, and a passion for sharing God's grace. I have been drawn to her since meeting her because she is a humble, faithful, passionate follower of Jesus who loves others deeply. I have already learned so much from her just by spending time with her, and her gifts have been a huge asset to the life of our church (and to me, personally!). It was clear that she had much to share with the ladies, so she graciously agreed to be our speaker.
 
2 Corinthians 12: 9 & 10
 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
 



 
On Saturday we ate together and had time to welcome guests and chat for a bit. We then moved into a time or worship that I had the priviledge of leading. Angie then shared about the above passage and did a fantastic job. We broke into small groups to share with one another and also did an activity that really demonstrated God's grace. We were all given a rock. As we shared with one another what we found to be our areas of weakness, struggle, hardship or difficulties, we wrote them on the rock. We then went walked out to the ocean (the house we were at is right on the beach - it's lovely!) and spent a few minutes in prayer before throwing our rock into the ocean. Now, this was NOT an activity to 'throw away' your weaknesses, but Angie reminded us that God's grace and love are bigger than the ocean, and we were merely throwing our rock into God's immense grace, because it's big enough to cover our weaknesses. What a beautiful picture!
 
 
As I stood on the beach, this lovely woman, who had been in my small group, came up to me and asked the above question.
 
We talked about the freedom we can live in as followers and lovers of Jesus. She already knew about the Lord's Prayer, and I shared with her how Jesus wants a relationship with her, not just a prayer of obligation. It was a fantastic conversation, and it was clear her heart longed to know more.
 
After everyone wrapped up their groups, we headed inside where we did a small craft. We took journals and covered them with old scraps of fabric, making designs or simply covering them. The idea was that these old pieces of throw-away fabric could be turned into something beautiful and useful, much like God's power being made perfect in our weakness.
 
Towards the end of our time together, one woman commented, "I wish this was a whole weekend thing!". It's obvious there is a desire for women to connect and share life together, and it's an honor to be a part of how God is doing that work in our church.
 
Please say a prayer for this woman today, as she learns more and more what it means to follow Jesus and walk in His ways!