Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Paula's Ponderings -- Peace

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the music. I usually start listening to Christmas music in November, because otherwise I don’t feel like I have had enough time to listen to it! And of course being stateside for Christmas this year means that we have been able to listen to and participate in an extra dose of Christmas music!
It seems that each year there is one certain Christmas carol or song that stands out and goes over and over in my head and heart. This year it is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. The words were written as a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and later set to music. The phrase “peace on earth” is repeated several times and it is that phrase that got me pondering
I thought about two of the countries where we have been privileged to live and minister. Both had gone through devastating wars to win their independence only to be followed by even more destructive civil wars. Wars much like our own civil war, with brother against brother and people group against people group. Nations were split as each side tried to dominate the other and gain power in order to run and rule their country. Tenuous peace agreements were signed and then broken as the factions once again picked up their arms – each in order to dominate the other.
Years later, the remains of the wars are visible: Burned and rusted out tanks and trucks along the roadside; twisted sections of railway tracks marring the landscape; bombed sections of bridges or many times whole bridges missing; and roads that are more potholes than smooth surface; and shells of buildings with bullet holes or signs of having been burned and/or stripped of anything of value. And we see probably the most gripping remains of war: amputees, many missing more than one limb; burn victims; and the stories the people. Stories of running for their lives, living in refugee camps, loved ones lost, and the struggle to survive.
And always, there is the pursuit of peace. Even in our own daily lives, as we listen to or read about daily news events, it is easy to agree with Wadsworth’s words, “There is no peace on earth”.
And yet… there are promises of peace:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… —John 14:27
For He Himself is our peace… —Ephesians 2:14
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guide your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7
peace be yours…through Jesus our Lord. —2 Peter 1:2
…the Lord blesses His people with peace. —Psalm 29:11
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. —Isaiah 26:3
And of course,
…He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

What a joy it is to meet, walk with, and share with others who have found His peace. May we find hope, comfort, and most of all His peace as we once again celebrate the anniversary of His coming and look forward to His return. May we remember that in spite of wars and other bad news “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep”. May we remember that when our hearts become His dwelling place, there can be Peace… Peace on Earth.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paula's Ponderings -- Living Water

We have an interesting water system at our house here in Lubango. Since we are not connected to city water, we have our own 3000 liter tank in our backyard with an electric water pump to get water into the house. The tank is filled by calling a company that brings water to the house. We do have to watch the water level in the tank, so that we don’t run out of water. Two times recently, when we realized that we were low on water and called for the truck to come fill our tank, it took them a couple of days to get to us. By the time the truck arrived to fill our tank we were out of water. We always keep a container of water for emergencies and I also keep an extra supply of filtered drinking water. But still, being out of water was a little worrying – several of the things I wanted to do required water – washing dishes, doing laundry, watering plants, mopping the floor. Plus just the fact of not having water is worrying. So we were really happy to see the water truck when it arrived.

(Interesting twist: the next time we called ahead for water to allow a couple of days for the truck to get here, they were here within two hours!)

Water truck
Filling our tank

This got me to thinking about living water:

If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you Living Water. —John 4:10

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. —John 4:14

Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! —John 7:37-38

Just as a cool drink on a hot day refreshes our body, Living Water refreshes our souls with the renewing and refreshing of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that this Living Water is available to me and I don’t have to worry about it running out!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Quick! How many Bibles do you own? Most of us have several in different translations and formats – paperbacks, hard cover, leather cover, study Bibles, devotional Bibles, pocket sized and large print. And now with digital versions available, we may have several Bibles on our phones, tablets, and computers.

Do we take the availability of God’s Word for granted? For many in Angola and around the world, it is a luxury. Recently, Phil was preaching in a Sunday morning worship service. As he announced the scripture reading for his sermon, he noticed that there weren’t many in the congregation who seemed to be turning to the passage he announced. So he stopped and asked how many had Bibles. Out of approximately 70 people, there were only 2 Bibles!

Phil selling Bibles at District Assembly
Scenarios like this have motivated Phil to have a Bible ministry. Before he heads out on a trip to preach or teach, he purchases Bibles (usually in more than one language) to have them available for purchase. Here in Angola books are very expensive, so in order to offer Bibles at an accessible price, he sells them at a loss. Recently a young person came to Phil with 900 kwanza (US$9.00), 100 kwanza less than the price of 1000 kwanza (US$10). Phil sensed that the young person had sacrificed to come up with that much and that it really was all he had. So he sold the Bible for 900 kwanza. That same trip, another church member came with a rooster that Phil accepted as fair payment for a Bible!
Wrapping Bibles in plastic wrap to keep them clean.

Pray with us that as our Angolan brothers and sisters realize the importance of having a Bible to read and study, and sacrifice to obtain one, we will be able to continue to make them accessible.

Students in the "Introduction to the Bible" class 

If you are interested in knowing more about this ministry, please contact us: MisNazTroutman@gmail.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Intensive class in Bie


Last week was a whirlwind of activity as Phil prepared to teach an intensive course ( complete course in 5 days!) for pastors in the Bie area. This is his first class away from home, so preparations included a tent, sleeping bag, and cot. He also took a marker board and easel, a small generator so the class could meet at night, and a projector and speakers to show the Jesus film. But, most important of the preparations was the materials for the course. We worked long hours and got it all done so he could  head out on Saturday morning.

Please pray for Phil as he teaches this week: safety as he travels, wisdom, insight, health, energy and some sleep! Pray, too, that the students would be eager to learn and absorb the materials in order to better serve their congregations.
and ready to go!

   Thank you for praying!