It is just under a week before we leave for Pearlington and I have been extremely thankful for my journal entries over the past several years.  The weeks leading up to the day we leave for Pearlington are generally intense and sometimes full of drama.  The attacks from satan are increased by what seems like 100% (Summer 2007 trip) and sometimes the drama is very personal and includes rescheduling the whole trip (Summer 2008).  This year things are just as intense and Gary is busy making phone calls.  The southern (warm climate) culture is learning how to work with us from the Northern (Cold Climate) culture – God has been very purposeful in all of His actions over these past 3+ years.

In the past I would have said that all we encounter while getting ready are definitely attacks from the enemy that does not want the light of the gospel to go forth – and there is some truth to that.  But I don’t want to give satan more credit than he should get and  the perspective that I have gained from reading through past journal entries and Pastor John’s sermon on Sunday, makes me understand just how valuable all those twists and turns that I have gone through over these past years in making me into the person I am today.

I am your basic Type A person and want to have all of my ducks in a row.  Plans are made and things go according to plan.  So in my Type A-ness, when the 01 March deadline came and there were no applications turned in – I began to wonder what God was up to.  Then when the second, third and fourth deadlines came, I am ready to call it quits.  However Gary kept looking under rocks and following leads for potential team members.  Late April while working at the CDG conference, there is a voice message on my phone.  It goes something like this, “Hello Corrie, I got your number from Brad Nelson.  I am a pastor at a small church in Iowa and I have a team of people ready to go on a trip but no where to go and I understand you are in need of a team.”

That was the beginning a flurry of activity and a joint venture between Bethlehem Baptist Church and Morningside Baptist Church!  The excitement they bring and the experience that we bring is a wonderful partnership and very intentional on the part of God.

I have also seen how God has used those past experiences to take my very Type A, task oriented personality and make it much more relaxed and relational in nature – for God is also intentionally relational and will go to great lengths  in pursuit of relationships.  There are divine appointments that are waiting for us as a team in Pearlington and I have come to a point where I can replace rigid plans that need to happen with outlines of things that I would like to see and let God direct my steps to those that He is in the process of getting ready for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still be very Type A when I need to be – but I have learned when to lay aside all those plans and look for what God is already at work doing and come alongside to serve Him.

There is still much that should be done – notice I said should not needs to be or has to be!  There are still some things that we would like to see worked out prior to our departure – but God has given 15 people a heart to serve and will guide and direct our steps throughout this week and while in Pearlington.  However here are some things that you can use to fuel your prayers when God brings this trip to mind:

Some specific prayer requests for our week;

*Team Unity – We are partnering with a group from Morningside Baptist Church.  They are excited and have such energy.  Their enthusiasm is being caught by all.  Please pray that we will work well as a team that has not had much time together prior to our departure on Friday.  We have met once as a team.  Pray that we would bond well on the way down – that there would not be any major issues and that all that we say and do, will encourage others on the team, those we come in contact with and glorify God in the process.

*We have made plans, but God has already been at work tweaking them.  We still are not sure where we will be holding the BYBC/VBS in Pearlington.  The church that we thought we would use, now has a conflict.  There are some issues with the other African American churches – but we do have a plan B.  Pray for wisdom as Gary navigates through this twisting road.  There does not seem, at least from a human standpoint to be an easy answer.

*God has given the Ayers family many good relationships in Pearlington.  When one lets God take your heart and knit it together with others, their pains and hurts are also felt by us.  The sad note for this trip is that one of the girls that I  have had each year was diagnosed with cancer in March.  At this point I do not know where she is in the treatment of it nor do I know how she is doing.  Pray for my interactions with her and her family.  She is 19 or 20 with an almost 2 year old son.  This has been a difficult year for the family.  Pray that I can be a sweet aroma that points them to place their hope in Christ – regardless of the outcome of TaShauna’s battle with cancer.  Ask God to give me wisdom to know what to say when and when to weep with them.

*Pray for prayers for our safely while traveling, serving and working.  We have some friends in Pearlington that are still doing some construction projects, we may be doing some work with them – pray that no one would get hurt.

*The Ayers family has entered into a new phase – Courtney and Giovanna will not be making the trip to Pearlington this summer for a variety of reasons.  Pray that they will have an enjoyable week here and that God will provide all that they need – Courtney will someone to watch Giovanna while she is at work.  Courtney and Garrett share a birthday on the 26th and will be apart this year on that day.  It has always been a family celebration.  Pray that God will help both of them to find joy in what they will be doing this year through Him who is greater.

I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for the team this year!