Corrine’s Race… My Race

Life is so short. That’s why we need to make every moment count.

My daughter talks about how grown up she is. She is a whopping 11 years old!

My friend passed away this week and she was a whopping 91 years old!

I guess to an 11 year old that’s really old and it seems like eternity. But, to this 38 year old, who is almost middle aged, it is only a breath.

Life is only a blink in view of eternity. What we do here truly does matter for the rest of eternity.

When you’re young, life seems invincible and infinite, just like my sweet daughter, so nieve.

As I turn my thoughts over to my friend, I realize her life is gone now. She is only a memory. Here today, gone tomorrow. We are all but a vapor. Life is fragile and can not be wasted.

My daughter believes she has her whole life ahead of her and I pray she does, but I don’t think she gives much thought to how in the blink of an eye she will be graduating high school, leaving home, finding a career, getting married and hopefully, for me, having children.

Before you know it, she’ll be me, 38, and before you know it I’ll be 91.

Life goes so fast and in a snap it’s over.

I keep saying I want my life to matter and I do believe I have realized the dreams I had for myself back when I was 11 years old. I didn’t dream passed the age I am now, when I was 11. It’s probably because I thought that 38 was SO old, SO far away and SO much was going to happen to me by then. It was and it did and yet, by the grace of God it’s not over.

A big part of me believes it may just be getting started.

I met my friend when she was 73 years old. To the on looker, her life would seem to be winding down. After all, she was well into the retirement age.

Her child was an adult, she was welcoming great grandchildren into her family and she had been widowed for 24 years.

In my estimation she deserved to coast through the rest of her life, put her feet up and watch life go by.

By the world’s standards she was done.

By God’s standards, she wasn’t off the hook. Sometimes, I think she too was just getting started.

Her faith and love for Jesus equipped her to live life on her knees in prayer and with her face in the Word of God.

She didn’t physically go to work everyday, but spiritually speaking she did.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she earnestly prayed for her family, friends and church daily.

She knew that God had purposed for her to fulfill in her church, in the lives of her family and others.

From spending time with her kids at the family trailer, to opening her home every week for a “power hour of prayer,” to attending Bible studies, to serving in the kitchen and serving on the Board.

Her zeal for God was contagious. I loved being around her, praying for her, being encouraged by her, and joking with her.

She gave it all she had until the end! And we all knew it.

“Well done, my good and faithful servant,” was spoken over her Sunday night at 9:00pm by her blessed Savior and friend, Jesus Christ. O what a joy to know that her life mattered and continued to be used by and for God until the very end.

Was she an example to me? You bet!

“Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” 2 Timothy 3:14

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Life is hard and it is short, that’s why we need Jesus. He is our prize and we get the privilege of running this race called life with him and for him.

I want to be all in to the end, just like my friend.

I want my children to say of me, “she was all in to the end.”

We only get one chance at this life, let’s live it sold out for God, remembering to be faithful in the big and small things, and through the good and bad times.

Thank you Corrine for showing me how to live everyday with eternity in your heart. Thank you for being a part of my “cloud.” May I run my race, just like you.

Corrine

Corrine Cates (1922 ~ 2014)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1,2

 

“And the word of the year is…..”

Jen“Courage” is my word for 2014. I picked it at the beginning of the year and I believe God has a lot to teach me about it.

Courage is a BIG word for me. Actually, it’s not JUST a word, I believe it is an attitude, a discipline, a way of life and what really scares me is that is risky.

I have to admit that I voluntarily selected this word, knowing full well that it is going to stretch me, my faith and the things I do.

I chose the word “courage” to be my aspiration for this year because I believe I need more of it.

I don’t think I’m a very courageous person. In fact, aside from a few things I’ve done in life, I’m pretty much a wimp.

I don’t like risks, I don’t like difficult challenges and I don’t like feeling like a failure. What I tend to like is comfort, and routine, all of which do not require much courage.

You will never see me jumping from an airplane, or dangling by my ankle from a rope hanging off the side of a bridge…no way, not this girl!

That certainly does take courage, but that’s not the kind of courage I’m hoping to gain.

I’m looking to develop courage to do other things, all of which keep both of my feet firmly on the ground!Courage

Things like furthering my education by going to college, or using my spiritual gifts in new and creative ways. I want the courage to do more things on my own, independently of my family and without feeling like a need a buddy beside me.

My favourite movie of all time is “The Wizard of Oz.”

Remember that scaredy cat, the lion? What does he ask the Wizard for?

Courage!

Why?

Because he is always afraid. Afraid to be who he really was. He knows he is a lion, who is not living like one. He needs courage so that he can be strong and do the things that lions are supposed to do. He longs for that kind of freedom, but he’s too scared to try.

I’m a lot like the lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” I too, long to live a life of freedom. To live apart from the fears that keep me from being all God created me to be. I want courage to believe the truth about who God says I am and the courage to step out in faith to live out those truths.

So, I’ve decided to redefine my idea of courage. I always thought that courage meant the absence of fear. I would assume people accomplished things because they were fearless or unafraid not in spite of them.

I recently realized that God told people in the Bible like Joshua, to have courage over and over again. Why did he need to tell them to have courage? It seems obvious, but it is often overlooked. It is because they were afraid. Joshua needed a lot of encouragement, in order to do what God wanted him to do. I believe God essentially says to Joshua and people like me, “You can do this, even if you’re afraid. Do it scared.” In other words, it’s ok to BE afraid, but it’s not ok to STAY afraid. If you stay afraid, then you are disobedient to God, and stuck in a cycle of fear and defeat.

Joshua would never have led the Israelites to the Promise Land if he chose to stay afraid. He took courage and believed God was with him all the way and that with God, he could do amazing things. I wonder if his word for that season of his life was COURAGE?

It’s also encouraging for me to see courage being lived out in the lives of the people around me. Take the other morning, for example.

I was reading scripture with some students from PILAS (the ministry I’m visiting while I stay in Guatemala)Reading

All of them are learning English and some of them had the courage to read the verses out loud in English in front of me, a “Gringa,” whose first language is English. Yikes.

I admire that!

These students are living out lives of courage by the very fact they are in this education program.

It takes courage to dream of a better future for your life.

It takes courage to be the only one in your village to go to college.

It takes courage to get up every day and face the challenges of learning a different language.

It takes courage to believe in Jesus when no one else in your family does.

That’s courage!

That’s what I am striving to attain in each aspect of my life. I’m building my faith muscles by exercising courage. When I am faced with a challenge I am going to say, “with God, all things are possible.” I will take that next step of faith and be amazed at what God can do through me when I have courage.

Christmas Cards, Camp Adventures, DR Missions Trip and Rod’s Health!

To say that January has been a busy month is an understatment!  I don’t even know where to start, so I will try to categorize things for you.

Christmas Cards

Listening to the instructions

Listening to the instructions

Tyler, Hannah, Carter and Abby all worked hard before Christmas to make and sell Christmas cards with the goal to raise a bit of month for a Centre in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We had an opportunity to serve at the centre and became friends with the directors (The Quinteros Family), so we have had time to meet and know a number of the kids from the community.

The Vis kids raised an over 3,900 Bolivianos!  While this is definately worth celebrating, the bigger thing (to me) is the countless times

Hannah and two friends

Hannah and two friends

they created opportunities to share their God story about Bolivia!  Our kids attend public schools and were given opportunities to talk about the Centre and the reasons we were there.  I believe seeds where planted as they were public about their faith!

Camp Kwasind

Our next family adventure has begun!  If you haven’t heard yet, I accepted the ManagingDirector role at Camp Kwasind, beginning January 1st.  What camp ministry experience do I have, you ask?  Great question!  I have been the Spiritual Director for a few Sports Camps at Camp Norland and Jen and I were the speakers at a

Dock Conversations

Camp Kwasind family camp, but that is about it.

To be honest, I did wonder why I would be asked for this role.  My background is in
Pastoral Ministry and a family business (Bright Spot Drycleaners), so how does camp fit in?  My short time here has shown me that the answer is “perfectly.”  At Camp, I will be able to put to use my full toolbelt of experience, education and interests.  In fact, the more I learn about Camp Ministry, the more excited I get!  And I haven’t even mentioned how perfect we believe this will be for our family as a whole!

Stay tuned to hear about some of our camp adventures and discoveries in the days ahead!

Back to the Mission Field

Prayer

Before going to Bolivia, I (Rod) had been part of 4 short term teams to the Dominican Republic with the Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec and Careforce International (wow, that’s a mouthful!).  While I was in the Interim Family Director position at Compass Community Church, I was asked to lead a March Break youth mission trip.  Naturally, it made sense to connect again with the Lighthouse School in the DR.

From March 7th to the 14th I will be part of a team of 12 people traveling and serving at the Lighthouse School in Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic.  This is a community of over 250,000 people, many living in extreme poverty and poor living conditions.  Education is one of the best ways to break generational cycles of poverty and the lighthouse has had incredible impact in this community over its 20+ year history.  I am excited to be returning to once again participate in all that God is doing there.

You can read more about the Lighthouse by visiting Careforce International’s website (here) or their facebook page (here).

One of the many joys of any mission experiences is raising support, both financial and prayer.  So many of you have been part of our support during our time in Bolivia and I would covet your support once again.

Finacial donations can be made via my Careforce page (here).  Tax receipts will be issued by Careforce International.

If you are able to commit to praying for me and the team from Compass, I would love to know.  Please comment here or send me an email at rod_vis@hotmail.com.

Lastly, the Lighthouse always has specific item needs… from paint brushes to ink for their printers.  If you are able to help somehow in this need, please read the list (here) and let me know if you are able to help.

My Health

In short, I am still not 100%.  I am walking better and more each day, but I still can not run or manage stairs very well.  Most days I feel fine and I am ok to move at my own pace.  I am still confident that I will be running by summer.

Well, that has been our month… and the year is just starting!  Talk to you soon!

Short Christmas Card Update

Overlooking Cochabamba

When our kids decided to raise some money to send to Bolivia, I was proud of their initiative and motivation to help others.  I also thought they might raise $100 – $200… assuming they were able to follow through (let’s be honest, they are still kids and, like most kids, are prone to be distracted over time).

While we did have days when we had to remind the kids why we were spending evenings making cards to sell, they did a great job and each found their groove in unique ways.  For example, we learned Tyler had no desire or ability at making cards… and, to be honest, I don’t think many would have bought cards he made.  But, on his own, he became the sales man at his school by telling everyone the story behind why we were making the cards and who was getting the money in Bolivia.

Well, like I said, I expected a best case scenario of up to $200.  Well, we tallied the numbers and the Vislets have raised about $650 (that is over 300 cards)!!  We still have a few outstanding IOU’s, so it could be slightly more if that money comes in.

I am very proud of the work my children have done.  I believe God placed a challenge/idea on their hearts and has blessed them (and children in Bolivia) because they responded to God.

I will give a more detailed update and some of my reflections in the next week.  For now, Thank you to everyone who has supported us in the past year and especially during this past month with the kids Christmas Cards Fundraiser.

Be Blessed.

Vislets in Bolivia

Christmas Card Update

In case you did not know, we have some creative and awesome kids!  I might be bias, but if you want to know what they are up to this year for Christmas, you should read about it here.

DSCF5814 To date, the kids have raised over $150.  They will be selling cards at their school Christmas concert and Carter’s class has made 200 reindeer candy canes to sell in support of the same Center in Bolivia.  I believe this number can double by next week.

For those not familiar with the Bolivian exchange or what $150 Canadian can buy (as Carter was wondering the other night), the exchange is about 7 Bolivianos (yes, that is their currency) for every Canadian dollar (roughly).

That means, $150 is about 1,050 Bolivianos.  So what does that buy?  I am happy you asked.

Last year at the center, during the week leading up to Christmas they ran a VBS style camp for the children in the community.  There are different costs associated with that, but one thing they did every day was buy juice bags for everyone before they went home (think drinking box here).  1 boliviano buys 2 juice bags.Juice bags

So, $150 or 1,050 Bolivianos = over 2,000 juice bags.

The reality is they are not going to use the money to just buy juice bags, but for our kids this was an easy visual to help them understand the blessings this money can be.  I hope it is a good visual for you too.

Several times over the past week one of our kids will ask, “So how many juice bags are we up to?”

Till next week!

Christmas

At times, it is hard to believe that only last Christmas we were in Bolivia starting to feel home sick with the 

December in La Pazreality of where we were really sinking in.  The sun was nice and getting to swim outside on Abby’s birthday was a great joy, but family was a far away and we were in a very strange and different country.

Christmas for us in Bolivia was a very simplified event compared to our Canadian traditions.  While we truly enjoyed many things there, I don’t think we realized how great it was till now that we are back in Canada.  We have struggle at times with the sheer volume of “stuff” around us.  We are constantly being told to buy more and more… get this deal or that one, but make sure you buy buy buy.  Living in Bolivia, even being away from family, seems so much better.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is not all bad here and good there, but it is definitely different.

We are seeking to simplify Christmas here a bit more too.  It isn’t easy with four children who are marketed too constantly, but we are doing our best.  Partially because we have too, but largely because we feel we need too.  Christmas, for us, has to be different from the commercialized version we are sold.

Part of this desire has led to a conversations with our kids.  They have decided (completely on their own) to do something for a place we volunteered at last Christmas, Centro Comunitario Sumumpaya.  You can see our thoughts and pictures from last year at Christmas (here) and from the Centre (here).

Our children have decided to make and sell Christmas cards to raise funds to send to the Centre.  Jen and I have always tried to help them with these types of ideas by acting as there road crew and working behind the scenes, supporting them in any way we can, but letting them be the drivers of the idea.  We have also been blessed with a great school and staff who have not only encouraged and supported our family and children, but provide them opportunities within the school to share their ideas.  Carter’s teacher has even decided to have a class project to raise some funds to the centre too… something  that would never have happened if he did not share what God had placed on his heart!2013-11-30 14.08.532013-11-30 14.09.19

Sometimes, as most kids do, they have great ideas but are not able, or fail, to follow through… but our kids have already made somewhere around 80+ cards and raised over $50!  How exciting is that!

Our plan will be to raise money till school ends before Christmas, and update the amount raised on this page. If you have any questions or comments, please use the section below and we will monitor that closely.  If you would like to purchase any cards, please email Jen or I (rod_vis@hotmail.com & jen_vis@hotmail.com) anytime.  You can also see a PDF of the information flyer by clicking here.

It is a real blessing to have a front row seat to what God is doing in our kids lives.