Who is that missionary?

4 03 2013

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Here we go!!!

From left to right is, Yours Truly, Coni; Peggy Laney and Margo Talton. We traveled together from Wilmington and met Naomi Tepper in Spain. Naomi flew in from NY the day after the blizzard. The original plan was for us to fly the day of the storm from ILM to NJ to Madrid but all flights got cancelled due to the storm. So, the travel agent got on it immediately and we were able to fly out the next day with an added stop to our route. We lost the first day but rehearsal and blocking with power point and sound and translators started right on time on Monday morning.

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Margo, script supervisor. Peggy, interviewer. Naomi as Ruth, interviewee. Becca, awesome translator and friend.

After our morning of work, we were blessed with a trip into Madrid with the very best ever tour guide, Elliott Tepper. He also happens to be the founder and CEO of Betel ministries. Elliott has a mind that retains an incredible amount of data and our visit was resplendent with pointing and facts. I will attempt to remember some of what he showed us by stating it under the pictures.

2013-02-11_16-05-16_989A beautiful street we walked on the way to a square filled with restaurants and shops. Hey, hostal macarena!! Love the wrought iron patios.

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This is an inner wall in the shopping square. The right of the wall is covered with fresco paintings that we thought quaint and beautiful. Elliott was amused to inform us that we were taking pictures of pornography as the men and women displayed were naked. No close up people!!!!

Last trip here we ate in one of the restaurants in this square. This time we ate a very late lunch in a cave!

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Naomi Tepper, Margo Talton, Coni Andress, Peggy Laney. And, Fernando!

We ate some lovely meals in between ministry and travel. Okay, the bowl of baby eels was not so lovely!!

2013-02-14_14-28-28_998yeah! I thought it was noodles at first. I did eat ONE, just to say I did it. Even with all the garlic, it was not delicious to me.

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This paella was pretty amazing though! This trip was not all about the food but I must show you one more place that we stopped to eat along the road from Madrid to Malaga, a six hour drive through the mountains and acres of olive trees.

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2013-02-13_15-11-23_261This is our host, founder and CEO of Betel ministries, Elliott Tepper.

2013-02-13_15-13-06_271A lovely lunch that we all shared on the mountainside patio. Lots of bread and olive oil too.

I hope I have not bored you with pictures of food and scenery. There is still so much more to tell you. I cannot promise you that the next post will not have another picture of food and fellowship because Spaniards know how to treat their guests. We came to be a blessing and we were so blessed by Betel.





Serving in Spain through the arts

24 02 2013

The message we are carrying to the women of Betel International is this: Live the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive those who have hurt you and walk into your new life without yesterday’s baggage.

It sounds like a simple message but, I promise you, more people than we think get stuck in sorrow and unforgiving. I know this from experience.

The women here have been through a lot. They have been on both sides of the fence; needing to forgive and needing to be forgiven. It is often so overwhelming to be in this position that people can not find the beginning of the road to healing and freedom.

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We are using the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament, an old widow and her daughter in law who is also a widow, to put into pictures how to move forward. This is the basis for the conference that we built to bring to the women. We call it Victorious Warriors because it takes a warrior to battle through the sorrow, shame, anger, and humiliation that has been heaped upon us over the years. We are survivors, and that is a good thing but a survivor can still remain a victim. It takes more to be victorious. It is a battle of the mind to stop believing the lies of an enemy who tells us we are worthless and doomed to fail at every endeavor. It takes a warrior’s courage to find the strength to try; to move forward; to believe that God has a better plan and He is not mad at us. It takes tremendous strength to take that first step toward HOPE.

When the women first enter Betel Ministries, they are broken and defeated. It sounds like a bad place to be but, in truth, it is the best place to surrender from. Sometimes the warrior must surrender in order to win the battle. We surrender the lies, the escape paths through alcohol and drugs and we surrender our wills. It is from that place of brokenness that we can begin again. We lay down the running and squarely face our failures and stop making excuses for them. We stop lying to people. We lay down the lies we believed for so long and accept the fact that God loves us and no one is worthless. And we lay down our self will and begin to learn how to embrace God’s will for our lives. It is good, His will for us. We have made a mess of things and He is waiting to restore us to sanity and a good life.

I read a lot of Facebook posts and some of things that crack me up end with the words, “said no one ever”. I have one that fits here. I want my old life back of lying, stealing, disrespecting myself, being drunk enough to pee my pants and high enough to puke on the police officer’s shoes… said NO ONE EVER.

Betel ministries all over the world provide refuge and a place to begin again. The people of Betel are courageous warriors. I am grateful for an opportunity to serve them.

 

 

 





Betel of Spain

26 11 2011

A month has gone by since I went to Spain. It has taken me all this time to process what an amazing ministry Betel International  is. Several folks supported this mission trip and I want you to know that God used your gifts in a unique way. He is so creative in reaching the hearts of the ones He loves.

I cannot explain the ministry of Betel any better than this brief video documentary about Betel International. In 1985, eleven years before opening in Britain, Betel (Spanish for Bethel) received its first destitute men and women off the streets of Madrid. Since that time more than 100,000 homeless, substance abusers and socially disadvantaged have been helped throughout Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, France, Central Asia, Australia, Ukraine, Mexico, USA, Russia, Finland, Bulgaria, N Africa, Czech Republic, Ireland, Mongolia, Argentina, Brazil and the UK. Betel residences host more than 2,000 recovering men and women in 80 cities in 21 nations

Peggy Laney is the missionary director at Myrtle Grove Pres. She has been to Betel in Madrid before and God placed a burden on her heart for the women there. They have survived  a completely destructive lifestyle and are being redeemed from alcoholism, drug addictions, prostitution and lives of crime. Through it all, they have lost any sense of who they really are and who a loving God has created them to be. Peggy became aware that in their journey of restoration, many have lost (or never had) a balanced knowledge of their femininity. She began to put together a conference for the ladies of Betel ministry. It was to include teaching them on some of the women in the bible who were used by God to bring salvation to mankind. God is able to use all kinds of unsavory back grounds for His glory. I, for one, am very grateful for this truth. Peggy and Cynthia Mattis did some outstanding teachings on Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab and Jael. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony of how God has redeemed my life from alcoholism and heroin addiction after these powerful teachings.

Part of the conference was to include a time of “make-overs” for any of the women who wanted one. This was to be a time of pampering and nurturing. Peggy wanted a couple of hairstylists, a make-up person and some one to do manicures and pedicures. This is how I got invited in the first place. Peggy needed a hair stylist and Mary Tepper, the “mother” of the ministry, gave her my name. That is another story that only God knows all the details of.

I have posted some pictures in other posts since I have been back. I do not want to repeat the bits and pieces I have already shared in those posts. I only wish I could help you to know how much your prayers and donations of make-up and finances for me to purchase hair products once I got to Spain have meant to these precious ladies. Thank you for your generosity and for allowing me to experience giving back in a whole new way for me.

This is a sample of the make overs we got to do. This is Ani. She has been in Betel for 3 1/2 years. For all of that time, the girls at the house have been doing her hair. It was an honor to pamper her a bit.





He brought me up out of the pit.

3 11 2011

Ladies were excited as we threw "showers of blessings". Hair and make up products.

The missions director on our trip to Spain, Peggy, asked if I would share my testimony with the ladies there. It was an opportunity to give the unedited version to an audience of all ladies. Well, unedited except for the fact that the schedule required me to speak for no more than 20 minutes. I had no idea how to cram my lifetime into 20 minutes. I prayed. Hard.

Our journey to the conference outside of Madrid consisted of  a plane trip and a trip on the bullet train.  We left the USA on Friday and arrived in Spain Saturday afternoon. When we arrived at the camp I immediately set up a station to do haircuts and styles. I was already sleep deprived but God blessed and we turned out some happy make overs. Lisa did some lovely make up and we began to see some beautiful “chicas” at the conference. We were awake for more than 30 hours before we got our first nights sleep.

Sunday morning, Peggy asked me if I was ready to share. I honestly had no idea in my head of where to start or what to say and I told her so. I had prayed, read some scriptures and meditated on my favorite Psalm but my head was empty! That is when Peggy took the time restraint off and freed me up to just share my heart no matter how long it would take. Still, I had no idea what to say… but God knew exactly what He wanted me to do.

Peggy Laney and Cynthia Mattis had shared some teachings on women in the bible and the role they played in the history and genealogy of Christ. Did you know that an adultress, a prostitute and the wife of a wishy -washy man were all very important women in Bible history? Bathsheba, Rahab and Jael. The teaching on these ladies had set the stage and the spiritual atmosphere for me to tell my story.

I have been through a LOT of stuff in my 59 years and I am a walking miracle. I stood at that podium and felt an immediate connection to these ladies. Even though I needed an interpreter the language was not a barrier because our hearts were the same. The first thing I said is, “I am you.” As I shared my story the order of things began to flow. As I looked out into the audience of 70 women I saw heads nodding in agreement, smiles and at some points in my story, tears. I wept openly as I spoke about losing my husband of 28 years.

I am no different than these ladies and they are no different than me. God has a hope and a plan for my life. He has blessed me with so much and He will bless them with what they need too. Former prostitutes, adulteresses and wives of no account men. When we turn our lives over to a God who loves us, He makes ugly things beautiful. He redeems. He restores. His plan is greater…..

 

 





Spain

31 10 2011

Leaving for Madrid

I had the bottom bunk.

These are some photos of the beginning of our mission to the ladies of Betel ministries. Our mission was to encourage them to understand that women are important and loved by God. My part of this mission was to give hair cuts and new hair styles to help rejuvenate the women. Out of seventy women, I only got to do three makeovers because we were only there for 26 hours. If I didn’t have to sleep after 30 hours of travel I may have been able to squeeze in 2 or three more haircuts. I can be such a slacker sometimes!

Cynthia arrived a day ahead of us and kicked off the festivities!!

Front of the dormitory at the Campo

The makeovers were done at such a fast pace that I didn’t want to spend any time taking photos. This is a photo taken after her hair and make up were done and she went back to her room to change clothes for the evening session. Her hair had been long and unhealthy so she just piled it on top of her head. When she sat in my chair and told me, with the help of an interpreter, that she wanted her hair like mine I asked her to repeat it three times just to be sure I was hearing her correctly. She was mui valiente (very courageous). And she felt beautiful when her hair and make up had been finished!





Transformations

30 09 2011

It was my intention this morning to read and to post about the upcoming trip to Spain. During the reading portion of my morning, the dog distracted me with barking from my back garden.  While I was still in my PJs and  without the assistance of any foundational under pinnings, I stepped out back and got further distracted by the overgrown weediness of my, so called, serenity garden.

With all of my ADD self, I began pulling random weeds until Bella started to bark at a van that pulled into my drive way. In a tizzy, I dove back into the house and  into the bedroom for some decent, mid-morning apparel. Mission accomplished, I opened the front door to find my friend Carolyn standing there with a shy grin.

“I came to weed your garden.”

I posted on Facebook yesterday that my serenity garden had turned into an anxiety garden because I had neglected it for the past 5 months. As I looked at it I was just overwhelmed and did not know where to start to get it in order again.

Carolyn is the kind of friend who is like a family member. She has spent many hours in my  home and knows how much enjoyment Ed and I always derived from our little haven in the back yard. It bothered her to know that it was causing me to feel anything but peaceful. It bothered her so much that she just showed up at my house with a bucket for weeds and a pair of garden gloves.

What an angel.

In two hours my garden was transformed again into a place of peace and delight.

Not only did we weed and lop off drooping branches, but we hung out together. As we worked together to transform the neglected, weedy mess into something pretty, my thoughts drifted to the ladies of Spain. (who knows that I enjoy a good analogy?) These ladies have been through some very tough times. As I am learning more about Betel Ministries, I am made aware that several of the people in the mission are HIV positive. Some have managed to get out of human trafficking situations. There is nothing pretty or peaceful in all of this. These are very weedy and tangled lives. It is easy to see how they could be overwhelmed at the idea of transformation. Where on earth do you begin when coming out of heroin addiction, alcohol abuse, the sex slave trade and who knows what else?

All I know is God is allowing us the opportunity to touch these broken lives in a way that can bring visible beauty to them. As we apply make up and give new hair styles and speak words of LIFE to them, we are coming along side their Creator and the One Who knows what their destiny will be. He has brought this team together for a time such as this. I do not have to know anything else. I will just try my best to serve and leave the results to God.

 





Have scissors, will travel.

25 09 2011

When I got the call asking if I would be interested in going to Madrid to cut and style hair for the women of Betel, I said I needed a little time to think about it.

I was told that I would be responsible to purchase my airline ticket for about $1,000.00 but everything else would be taken care of when I got there.  The cost was not a deterrent to me but, rather, I was concerned about wether I cared enough about anyone to put myself out of my comfort zone . I am tired. I feel like I just don’t know anything anymore, like I have nothing left to give. And yet, still, I was praying that God would awaken a passion in me.

I checked my bank account and noticed that Social Security had deposited another of Ed’s monthly payments in my account. That was a problem because I am not eligible to continue to receive his benefits until I retire. What a pain in the neck. Now I have to contact them and tell them they made a mistake and they will have to deduct it from my account. Argh! Thoughts of red tape and stupid paper work were annoying me.

The next day, I got a letter in the mail from SSI telling me that they made a determination that they owed Ed $1,300.00 and that would be deposited in my account!! God was speaking loud and clear. And if that wasn’t enough, I could almost hear Ed shouting from Heaven, “Go to Spain, baby! Here is an extra $300.00 to get your luggage over there.”

Soo….. I am going to Madrid! The travel agent, who had already booked the rest of the team weeks ago, was able to get me on the same flights so I can travel with the group. Co-incidence or God-incidence?

Peggy, who is heading all of this up, met me for lunch a couple of weeks ago. As she shared with me her heart for the ladies I could feel a stirring within my spirit. The things she talked about were things I used to care about. I came from this meeting knowing these three things;

  • God always knows my heart better than I do
  • God always hears my prayer
  • God always has a plan

That is the “me” part. But this is all much bigger than me.

Tomorrow morning, I will meet with the other ladies who are committed to this mission. Together we will embark on an adventure that only God knows the outcome of. I only have to trust Him and try to keep my “self” out of His way.

Proverbs 3:4&5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”

If you are interested in being part of this opportunity here are three ways:

  • I will be collecting make up and nail polishes to bring with us. You can drop them by my house or at the information desk in the lobby of Rock church on Sunday.
  • You may also donate money to help defray the cost of the hair products and the cost of shipping them to Betel ahead of our arrival.
  • Please, pray for the ladies of Betel to be transformed by God from the inside out and for each person involved in putting this conference together, that we fulfill His destiny.