Good To Be Home!

I am going to pause from sharing about the trip to post some pictures from today! When we arrived home from Australia there was no snow, so you can imagine our delight when we heard a blizzard was coming!

20121220_122813_19406 This post is especially for all our special friends in tropical places. We miss you and wish you could be here at our home to enjoy the beautiful white scenery we woke up to this morning!

20121220_094355_19335 Right here Stephen is telling me to get out of the way because I am about to get my face full of snow as he turns on the snow blower.

My mom, Sarah and I went together and bought Stephen and my dad a snow blower for Christmas this year … a little early so we’d have it in time for the blizzard.

20121220_114901_19356 We get quite excited about storms, so we had to celebrate with pumpkin bread this morning (Sarah’s favorite).

20121220_115329_19367 …made with freshly grated nutmeg. [smile] Does anyone out there grate your own nutmeg? I had never done it before, but I bought some fresh nutmegs (is that what they’re called?! haha) at Victoria’s Market in Melbourne, Australia. It’s amazing how much more flavor freshly grated nutmeg has!

Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” What an incredible transformation. What an amazing God.

Well, many power lines in the area are going down, so I am going to post this before I lose internet!

Prayer for Mr. Biegler

Please pray for Nickie’s dad, Todd Biegler, who has been battling cancer for about a year and a half. Pray for wisdom in decisions, and healing from two infections as he is scheduled to have surgery next week. He is in the hospital right now.

IMG_0743 Last night Nickie and her brothers and sister came over for dinner along with and Cheryl Kissling, a friend of all of ours.

Kangaroos Interfere with Bright Lights Conferences

Savannah and her mom got up in the middle of the night to begin traveling to Lilydale, Victoria, where the Bright Lights conferences were being held. They knew they had a very long drive ahead of them. Unfortunately they had some obstacles to navigate around: kangaroos jumping in the road. They explained to me how one kangaroo was actually jumping along in front of their vehicle, keeping them from going the usual speed. Eventually they decided to pull off onto the side of the road for a while to wait for the kangaroos to clear.

On Thursday Sarah taught a Leader’s Training. We were so excited that forty-four girls and moms came. We were even more excited that many of them are seriously interested in beginning a Bright Lights group!

On Friday and Saturday we ran the Radiant Purity conference, and then on Monday we taught the Strong in the Lord conference.

Brownie lost his head during the Brownie skit. “Brownie, hold yourself together!” Cowgirl Bekah exclaimed while handing his head back to him–er–her. [smile]

I think we all agreed Jolynn was pretty funny as the “day-dreamer” in the CBN News Report skit during the purity conference.

There were many priceless moments during the conferences in Australia. Hard moments to capture on a blog … most happened during individual one-to-one interactions and during small group times. Australians have much less opportunity to attend live conferences like this, and many came from long distances.

Our prayer is that the seeds of God’s Word that were sown in girls’ hearts will continue to bear fruit and grow, affecting all of Australia and beyond. We know that as individuals make decisions to deny themselves and follow Christ, their influence affects many more.

After the Radiant Purity conference one girl told Sarah that her life had been changed. She is planning to end a relationship that she knows is not God’s will, to live for the Lord now, and also to begin a Bright Lights group with her mom!

Grace Wong giving final announcements as we concluded the Radiant Purity Conference. Grace has been leading a Bright Lights group in Australia for a couple years now, and she and her family were the main ones who organized and hosted the conferences. She did an excellent job, and we are so grateful for the hard work she and her family put into this. So many others also sacrificed to help in big ways.

Our team of leaders who helped us lead the conferences. We snapped this picture Saturday night after we were all tired out and about ready to start saying goodbye. Just like He does in every country, the Lord brought together a beautiful team of leaders who love Him and display it in their lives. It is so special to go to a “far away land” and yet be right at home with sisters who are so like-minded.

Besides for the three conferences, we also had some opportunities to enjoy Australia. The trees and animals in Australia are so different. It was really fun to wake up to unique bird calls. After feeding this bird, Jolynn ran into a little unforeseen problem. “Um…How do I tell the bird I want it to go now?”

Tuesday evening was a highlight for all of us as we went to the Langford’s house for dinner and had a really special evening. The delicious meal got even better when the kangaroos started hopping out. Talk about dinner entertainment – watching real kangaroos in the wild!

Though difficult to see in this picture, there were dozens of kangaroos hopping around out there.

I still have a lot to post so I will be putting up more pictures and reports soon.

Singapore Bright Lights Conferences

Singapore Conferences!

Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell B Vanderbon have taken on … um … a new look look for these overseas conferences. Dani has definitely exceeded what I thought a girl could do playing Mr. Maxwell.

The good thing was that I could actually get this dress zipped up. When we do overseas conferences we ask local people to help find skit props. Some Asian people are kind of … um, small! [smile]

Small groups!

This picture is of Reena (in white), a 26-yr old girl who is now engaged, sharing with my small group about how the Lord had changed her thinking in the area of purity and relationships. The girls loved hearing her share, and it was really a provision from the Lord to have her with us!

Dads praying for their daughters

Moms praying for their daughters

“Cool down” time with staff and those who had helped to host the conference, sharing stories.

Eating pizza and ice cream with flavors we don’t get in the States…red bean, durian, jackfruit …

This is something else we were eating that I’m going to miss! … it’s a soft bean curd desert with a sweet syrup-like sauce.

There is so much more to share, I feel that this is a very inadequate representation of the Singapore conferences. Right now we are in Australia. It has been an extremely full week and blogging hasn’t been top priority, but I will definitely be posting more reports soon. Sarah and Nickie are packing suitcases now as I write this. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to fly home.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet, especially since I have a sunburn! We’ve had an amazing trip, and we are going home to snowy Iowa for Christmas with full hearts of gratefulness and awesome memories. More reports coming soon.

Adventures in Kuala Lumpur

Wow, I’m definitely behind in sharing what has been happening. Since the last blog post, we’ve had two conferences in Kuala Lumpur, two conferences in Singapore, and now we’re in Australia. For now, I’m just going to give a short report of our time in KL, with more reports coming soon. (Depending on how much time + internet access I have. 🙂 )

We adjusted the schedule in KL so that each conference was just one day. Friday was the “Strong in the Lord” Conference, and Saturday was the “Radiant Purity” Conference. In a way, the weekend felt like it went by like one crazy blur [smile], but we really saw the Lord working in girls’ lives!

Bekah’s small group at the Strong in the Lord Conference.

Nickie kept very busy at the book table. It was encouraging to see how thirsty the moms were for discipleship materials for their families.

Although Stephen wasn’t with us, the Lord provided some other young men from the church. We really appreciated all their help and time. (Running sound isn’t always an easy job at a Bright Lights conference because of so many different actors coming and leaving stage during the skits.)

This is what we ate for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning at an Indian restaurant. These “fried pancakes” (roti prata) come in many shapes and sizes, and this one was about 3 ft tall.

…with sweetened condensed milk on the inside.

I’ve heard my dad give his “Rebekah” message from Genesis 24 many times at churches, but this was the first time I heard it with Chinese translation! (The church that hosted the conference had a Chinese church that met simultaneously to the English service.) This is one of my dad’s “life messages” upon which we have based many aspects of our ministry.

It’s been great having my parents with us. They flew in to KL and joined us the day before the conference started. Things are always better when they are along.

BUT the big surprise happened a week later when Stephen flew in to help with the Singapore conferences. He’s with us now in Australia. Having him with us has definitely been a highlight of the trip for me and Sarah. 🙂 It was a last minute decision.

Traveling light is not really a possibility when you are bringing a sound system, book table supplies, and misc. conference materials in your suitcases…plus traveling for 7 weeks. It definitely made bus trips extra interesting. We are VERY grateful to the many kind people here who have helped us with transporting them. I’ve also been gaining more insights on Hebrews 12:1. (Haha.)

Wherever we go, one of the highlights is always simply getting to know the people. This night was just a relaxed evening with a couple other families.

One evening we out with several young people who we got to know when they attended the University of Iowa. Their friend, Xin Hui, came to our church, and we got to know them through her. Sarah e-mailed them in advance saying we’d be in KL, and they took us to a nice Chinese restaurant. They also gave me a “green tea / red bean” cake for my birthday. It was great! [smile]

One evening, we got together with a Chinese church of new believers. It was refreshing to hear their vibrant testimonies and share with them some of the lessons the Lord has taught us.

As I mentioned, we are in Australia now. (Trying to keep warm, haha!)

Please PRAY for the Bright Lights Leaders Training that Sarah is teaching tomorrow. Last I heard, 44 girls and moms were attending. This is pretty large number for a Leader’s Training– normally these trainings are with a smaller group. It would be great to see more Bright Lights groups begin in Australia. The Radiant Purity Conference begins the next day.