Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pay Attention!

Have you ever been accused of not paying close enough attention?
When I lost my cell phone on our flight to San Antonio this past spring, I mentally beat myself up for a few minutes for not paying enough attention to my stuff.

Several years ago when I came back from Cuba to Mexico, I totally forgot to claim all my bags from the carousel, that is until I had to show them at Customs. Not only were the Mexican officials annoyed with this “clueless” American but I had the voices in my head berating me, too. I was not paying close enough attention and could have gotten into a very sticky situation.

I love watching animals; domesticated and wild ones. When they hear something, they suddenly come to attention and their ears prick up. They listen intently for the slightest sound. For Sasha, my 7 year old black lab mix, she becomes “all ears” and hopes for something small and quick to chase. For wild animals, they know their very lives may be at stake.

A few years ago, while on a sunset game drive in Botswana, in our safari vehicle we came across a pride of 8 lions laying in the tall grass. Our guide cut the engine and we sat for quite a while letting the shutters fly and observing their peaceful demeanor. We suddenly became aware of a hyena just about to wander into the lion’s camp. The hyena was oblivious to the lions as he was curious about the open-air Land Cruiser full of white people. The lions were far more attentive and all ears pricked up; they were on alert to the sounds of dinner being delivered! In the animal world, not paying close attention can be deadly. Animals learn to pay attention for they know their very lives may depend upon it.

This application is relevant for us in the spiritual sense. The Hebrew word “qashab” describes this kind of attentiveness or alertness.  Greek-American Bible scholar, Spiro Zodiates defines it as “to prick up the ears, i.e., sharpening them like an alert animal; to pay attention”.

God does this. I’m not sure if His ears actually twitch or prick up, but this Hebrew word is used to describe His attention being captured by us, His children, when we talk to Him. When we talk, He is “all ears!”

Psalm 17:1   Lord , hear a just cause; a pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer—

Psalm 55:2  Pay attention to me and answer me. I am restless and in turmoil with my complaint

Psalm 61:1   Lord , hear a just cause; a pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer.

Psalm 86:6   Lord , hear my prayer; listen to my plea for mercy.

Psalm 130:2  Lord, listen to my voice; let Your ears be attentive to my cry for help

Psalm 142:6  Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors,
    for they are too strong for me!

God’s ears are always listening for His children. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us that His eyes roam to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking those with hearts that are truly His. So He’s not just ears, but He’s “all eyes and ears” for His kids! When we speak to Him, He hears us; but more than that our words and our hearts capture His total attention much like an animal alert to the sounds around him.  He loves us that much!

I don’t know about you, but this makes me really want to talk to my Heavenly Father about the really important things. 

It’s almost 5am, and I’ve been up most of the night; and I’ve been praying and seeking God on behalf of my daughter. She knows that no matter what time of the day or night, she can interrupt our lives to ask our help. Somewhere in her travels as a tour guide she lost her purse along with her credit card and passport, and found herself stranded until this can be resolved. When her call came in the middle of night, we were “all ears” for her. And we won’t let up being “all ears for her” until her situation is resolved.

That’s just like our Heavenly Father. (Except that He can find the lost purses and passports, or find ways to replace them even in unlikely places like Alaska!)

So if you knew that He was not only listening, but is “qashab” for us; that He is alert with His ears pricked up and ready to listen and respond, would that change the dynamics of your relationship with Him?

God is “qashab” for you! This is what He loves to do. He’s all ears for you; now, what do you want to say to Him?

We’d love to have you on our prayer support team! We know that we will need more of Him than ever before as we go to Macha to love on the big ones and little ones, to watch for where He is looking for us to bring hope and healing.  Let us know that you are out there standing with us by shooting us an email occasionally. Words from home are always welcome!

Thanks so much for praying for us. While you're at it, please pray for our daughter, too. :)
Kathy & Greg
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Are You Excited Yet?

About all we can talk about these days is Zambia! We talked about raising funds, collecting items for the students and the school, arrangements that need to be made, what we need to take with us and how will we get everything in the baggage allowances!

And when we run into our friends they ask us: “are you getting excited yet?” Our usual answer is “we don’t have time to get excited, but we will be soon!” That’s really not true though; no matter what are doing or deciding it’s all a part of the adventure and the excitement.

Here are some of the things that the Z TEAM has been doing this week:

Sewing a puppet stage: Kathy has sewn the curtains and once we arrive in Zambia we will go
Puppet stage curtains are all done and ready to be assembled.
to Choma to buy PVC pipe to create the framework. A huge thank you to our anonymous giver for supporting this effort!

Puppets: Thanks to Jad and Julie Roeske we have five Muppet-style puppets to deliver. We are adding some missing eyes and rods, in some cases updating their wardrobe a bit. We have a feeling that when these characters make an appearance this activity will gain many new puppeteers!

Sorting and packing uniforms: Thanks to Carragh Knudsen, Betty Adsit and Crestview Academy we have 2+ duffel bags full of trousers (that’s what they call them in Zambia; “pants” refers to undergarments), shirts, skirts and jumpers, and sweaters for the students.

Collecting items for the school: thanks to Nancy Robinson and the Inn Towne Food Pantry we have cases of erasers, toys, granola bars, toothpaste, gum and lotion. Many of you have given us books, notebooks, pencils and classroom resources; these will all be a huge blessing, too.

Sorting and packing jewelry: thanks to many of you, but especially Jill Borgwardt-Wendtland and Tara Smith, we have lots of jewelry gifts for teachers and staff.
Uniforms in all sizes will get lots of wear!

Scrapping: This was a crazy idea we stumbled on! We’ve gladly received broken jewelry and silver items which we were able to sell to a scrapper and put towards our travel expenses. It wasn’t a lot but every little bit helps.

Thrift Sale: In just a week we will be holding a thrift sale to benefit our work in Macha. We have been unpacking, sorting and organizing the many donated items that friends have cleaned out of their garages and closets or leftovers from their thrift sales. Come check us out next weekend (June 28-29), on the corner of Crescent and Ferry Streets on Eau Claire’s west side. We’re still receiving items; if you’d like to donate call LeeAnn (715-379-3101) to make arrangements for pick up or drop off.
"We're going to MICS! We're going to MICS!"

Lesson preparations: We been made aware that there are some issues that need to be addressed with the children; so LeeAnn and Kathy are knocking heads to develop materials.  Not only will we be working with some individual students but it’s a possibility that we may present some short lessons to the classes on recognizing emotions and expressing them appropriately.

Making arrangements:   From how to get to and from the airport, to finding enough duffel bags or suitcases, to tracking airplane parts (we often bring needed parts to Zambia for our bush plane pilots), getting haircuts in a timely manner, making sure that the bills are paid while gone, the dog is cared for and the tomato plants will be watered, we have a lot to figure out.

We won’t bore you with the rest of the list! But you can see that with all this going on we
Look for these signs!
haven’t really thought about how excited we are. We know that when we can stop long enough to think about it, we’ll be pretty pumped!

In the meantime, the Z TEAM is meeting, talking and praying together as much as we can. You can join us in keeping us “prayed up!” See the sidebar for specifics. We appreciate your prayers for us. Those prayers go before us and lead us where God is calling us to join Him.

With anticipation for what He is up to now, and going to do!
Kathy & Greg
LeeAnn, Mike and Dennis

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Calling Us Back

God has called us back to Macha.  We (Greg & Kathy) will be leaving on July 1st. LeeAnn, Mike and Dennis will meet us in Macha on July 16; together we will all return to Wisconsin on July 31. Together, as a team, we will see the school operate without a hitch while the Krauses are in the US on medical leave. And we'll work on lots and lots of projects to complete on the buildings before the next term begins in September. In addition, we will be working with the Zambian television station in Livingstone to advertise Macha International Christian School to the entire nation. With the possibility of increased enrollment, it makes the building projects more crucial to complete. As you can see, we need all of us, all gifted differently to make this outreach effective and successful.
From adapting newly acquired buildings to repairing the water pump, (this was the pump that Greg and Dan Green installed back in October) to creating storage and closet areas, roof repairs, plumbing and showers, painting and more, there is a lot to do. Right now we are trying to determine which projects are the highest priorities as there is more to do than we will likely have the time for. It appears necessary to raise funds to purchase a couple of power tools to make the projects go much faster.

We are gathering badly needed items for the school. Recently Crestview Academy gave us 10 boxes of curriculum & books, as well as classroom resources.  LeeAnn and Kathy have been sorting through them to determine which items will be the first to go to Macha. We will use our checked luggage to haul what we collect to Africa. That means that we each will only bring for ourselves what we can get into our carry-on bags.

In a recent email conversation with Ronda, we found out that several of the kids have been writing scripts and performing puppet shows. Ronda mentioned that they could use some more puppets. We’d love to collect some puppets to take along with us. We’ve also decided to construct a puppet stage for the kids to use. Kathy will begin sewing the curtains, which we’ll take along with us. Once we arrive in Zambia, we will purchase the PVC pipe to make the frame.

In April, during the last term break, the home that ‘our kids’ live in with their grandmother caught on fire. While the structure survived the fire, the contents of the home were destroyed. The few clothing items that our kids had are now gone. We are looking for clothes, backpacks and shoes for our kids & others. If you like to sew and would like to make some easy uniform items, we love your help!

Many of you are helping us to prepare to go by supporting us with your financial gifts. Thank you to each of you who once again are standing and partnering with us. At this writing, our team has raised approximately 75% of what we need to cover our travel and living expenses.

There is still time to get involved if you are feeling like you want to participate.  We would love to show you the list of things that we are collecting to take along. Just send an email asking for that list:  .

If you would like to donate funds to either supporting a team member or towards the purchase of some power tools or others items on the “want list”, you can send a check written to Valleybrook Church and send to us: Greg & Kathy Smith, 11195 47th Avenue, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729; make sure to tell us your wishes.

Again, thank you for all who are collecting items, generously supporting us, praying for our team as we prepare and loving us with encouragement! We are getting excited and feeling loved!

Greg & Kathy