Friday, June 24, 2016

The Beginning of a Great Summer-- (The Conference: Part 1)

  Instead of staying in hotel, we decided to rent a vacation house for a few days. It was great and really nice. One  thing we didn't realize was that the downstairs bedroom didn't have stairs connecting it to the second floor. So we all stayed in the upstairs. We pushed a queen and a twin bed together and four girls slept there. Then Brenna and I took turns sleeping with Mom in the other queen bed and Mrs. Lydia took the couch which was quite comfortable. The porch was wonderful and several of us used it for devotions. What a lovely view! We loved it; it was a cute house.

 This was the first night of the conference. We were so excited.

 They did a good job decorating. The bathroom was decorated like a waterfall. It was really cool.
They had several college tour groups that sang throughout the week. We really enjoyed hearing the song that the choir sang each night; they sounded really good. The two preachers they had the first night were Bro. Steven Barnes and Bro. Dean Miller.

  Bro. Barnes preached on the prodigal son and the prodigal's brother. The name of his message was "The Dangers of Never Leaving Home." It was a good message.

 Bro. Dean Miller is the pastor of Central baptist Church, the church Dad used to be the bus director at a long while back. Bro. Miller started pastoring the church awhile after we left and the church started supporting us when we became missionaries. We loved hearing Bro. Miller preach when we would visit, so it was good to hear him preach again. He was so funny! If he wasn't a pastor I think he could have been a stand-up comedian. :)  His message was "How to face the fire" with the three Hebrew boys in the book of Daniel. It was a convicting message on faith and standing up for what's right. One of the things he said that I thought was really good was " The only thing you lose in the fire is what the world put on you."

After the service we went to get dinner at the Wendy's drive-thru and then went to the house and talked about the different messages that night and what spoke to our heart. Because it was really late we then went to bed.

The next day we left  to go to the water park that they had rented out and got there at 7:30 a.m.
The first day they rented it out just for the girls and the next day was just for the boys. We had a lot of fun. All of us went down the lazy river, then a really big water slide that we had to climb a lot of stairs to get to. It was kind of scary. Then we went down another slide that was more twisty, but what was really cool was they had a tube that four girls could sit in. So, we did three in one and four in the other since there were seven of us. That was really fun! After that we split up-- Tabitha went to dry off, Mom and Mrs.Lydia went down the lazy river again, Brenna and Tricia did two more water slides in a double tube, and Linsey and me did one more in a double tube. By that time all of us were ready to leave a little earlier than the others to go back to the house and shower, than we hurried to go back to the church for lunch and the afternoon session. 

  Bro. Dean Miller was the afternoon speaker and he preached on the book of Ruth. The theme of the message was "How to get closer to Jesus". The points he gave were: 1. You have to get clean,
 2. Anoint yourself, (Anointing speaks of the Holy Spirit.) 3. Be clothed with the right garments-- garments of salvation and praise, and 4. Commit yourself to Him. It was a really good message.

This is the night of the conference that we were really excited for because Bro. Bob Gray II would be preaching. Our family had started watching Bro. Bob Gray's messages online from the youth conference at North Valley BC. We just loved hearing him preach. Tabitha and Tricia had listened to one of his messages online as well so we were so excited to hear him in person.

 The first preacher that night was Bro. Scott Gray, Bro. Bob Gray's younger brother. That was our first time hearing him preach. He was a really good preacher as well. His message was "How to Continue  in the Chaos" and was about Joseph being sold into slavery and the hard life he had. Here are a couple of the points he gave: He dealt with bitterness (he didn't get bitter and angry with his brethren for what they did to Him), he dominated in his battles, and he determined to believe.

The next preacher was Bro. Bob Gray. His message was "The Sanctuary is the Secret" and was one that we had never heard before. It was really good and a big blessing. The scripture passage was Psalm 73, the one where the psalmist talks about seeing the wicked and how they were powerful, happy (seemingly), could say and do what they wanted, and were untouchable. The psalmist said that he almost blew it till he entered the sanctuary and saw their end. Bro. Bob Gray said that the reason we get envious at the wicked is because we don't get in the sanctuary. When you are in the sanctuary you won't want what the world has to offer. Basically he was talking about having a good devotion time and a good relationship with our Heavenly Father. However, Bro. Gray took it further. He likes to do a lot of illustrations and for this one he used a sheet and every once in a while he would put it over His head.  He said that at any time we should be able to get into sanctuary mode and talk to God.
  Brenna put it really good this way, she said that the Lord spoke to her heart about being a testimony to other teen girls saying, "Come on let's go pray," or "Let's go read our Bibles." or things like that.  So the point of the message: when we have a good relationship with our heavenly Father, talk to Him,  and see His goodness and love for us, we won't want what the world has. It was a powerful message and many of us went to the alter.

I didn't realize  that this post would be so long so I am going to cut this one short and finish telling you abut the conference in a later post. Before I do though, I want to share a cool story... A few months ago Dad got a call from someone who wanted to pay for him and Mom to go on to Israel and pay for the tour, hotels, and food. Dad and mom would just have to pay for the tickets which was about $2,000. Dad and mom really wanted to go so they prayed about it for God would have to provide the money. Well, something went wrong with our septic and Dad paid a lot to get it fixed and had to borrow from the next month's pay check. A few days before the youth conference Dad called the man who was going to pay for their trip, to cancel. However, he wouldn't take no for an answer and told Dad to pray about it for a little longer for he felt God was going to work it out for them to go. Tabitha and Tricia were staying with us then and so they heard all about it.

  Back to the conference, after the service we all wanted to get our Bibles signed by Bro. Bob Gray so we went over to the next building and waited in line. As he signed our Bibles Mom, Brenna and I told him how we had started listening to his messages online on the mission field and how it was a blessing hearing him preach that night. He asked us where we had been missionaries at so we told Him. He asked which one of us was older, me or Brenna and when we told him he was surprised for he thought Brenna was older. We said no and that everybody says that.

Well as we were talking for some reason, out of the blue, Mom mentioned how we were a new church plant from High Springs, Florida. He looked really surprised, smiled real big and said, "You are not going to believe this, but someone in my church came to me this morning and gave me a check for $2,000 for a new church plant. He said  that someone would walk up to me tonight and say that they were church planters and that that was the person I was supposed to give the check to. It is sitting on my desk right now and you are the first person to come and tell me that you are a new church plant!"
  It was our turn to be surprised and boy, were we surprised! We were dumbfounded. Tabitha leaned over and told me, "The Israel trip! Maybe it's for the Israel trip!''
  I smiled back but thought it was probably for the church, still really amazing though. We were excited. When we were walking to the car Mom called Dad and told him. He asked her to say it again. Mom confirmed it. He said, "You're joking right?''
  "No, he really did!" She said. Dad was speechless, he was so surprised and excited!
 Dad wanted Mom to ask Bro. Gray the next morning who exactly the check was written out to, but Mom didn't really feel like she could ask Him. Well, the next morning or afternoon Bro. Bob Gray actually called Dad on the phone. He told Dad that it was for the pastor's family. Dad was really excited now. Before the night service Dad called Mom while the rest of us went to find a seat inside. When Mom came in she whispered to me and Brenna that the money was for us and for the Israel trip. We were so amazed and happy. It was so amazing how God worked it all out! Isn't God good?!!

  See you in my next post!!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Beginning of a Great Summer-- (The Trip)

  It is finally summer. I am done with school, it is hot outside, and it is now hurricane season. Amidst all that, my summer has been off to a great start. I feel like summer really began last week.

  Last week was the Deep South Youth Conference (DSYC) in Gulf port, Mississippi. My mom, Mrs. Lydia, Tabitha, Tricia, Linsey,  (the teen girl that just got saved and baptized) Brenna, and me were able to go. Tabitha and Tricia came Sunday night for church with their parents and stayed with us till we left for the youth conference. It was good to spend time with them. Josh enjoyed it as well. Every time they come we just seem to draw closer to them. We stayed up late playing games and eating ice cream and when Josh went to bed, us girls stayed up giggling talking, playing wii, and eating more ice cream! It was fun.
  Well, on Wednesday we got up early in the morning, loaded the Expedition, and went to pick up Mrs. Lydia and Linsey. Then began our trip. 

We decided to start out our trip on a spiritual note and read a chapter in Proverbs and sang scripture songs. Dad had printed a road trip scavenger hunt. We didn't realize that it would take all day to find all the stuff on our list, but we had fun. Occasionally, when one of us would finally find something, we would yell or scream it out and Mrs. Lydia would jump. It was great!                

  When Mom goes on a trip she likes to make it fun, so, we had a couple gas station stops to get a snack or a drink on the way there and back. We also had a stop at McDonald's to get a snack since we were going to eat a late lunch. All of us are definitely food-lovers, so we all got along well.    

In Alabama we stopped at Raising Cane's for lunch. (Raising Cane's is a place that our family has loved, but we only get it when we go to the Mississippi/Alabama area). Mrs.Pepper Scofield was able to meet us their. It was good to see her. Mom was glad to be able to talk to one of her best friends who she hadn't seen in awhile. Whenever they do see each other they just start where they left off and talk real easy quickly.

       When we crossed the Mississippi line we stopped at the welcome center to take a few pictures and stretch our legs. Our trip was almost done. We were so excited to go to the conference and finally hear Bro. Bob Gray II in person and to hear all the other preachers preach. It was going to be great. We just knew it.