Author Archives: emilybarlow
Students came back to classes a week ago today. In some ways it seems like too much time has passed for it only to have been 7 days. I remember a teacher once contemplating becoming an administrator because, as a teacher, he was just too busy, there was too much to do. Even then I thought, I bet there’s just as much for administrators as there is for a teacher. Guess what? I was right…
Administrators can’t possibly do this job alone! As I work on schedules and those dreaded drop/add slips, talk to students, answer emails and concerns from parents, keep track of what reasons kids are asking to miss school, and making a thousand other decisions daily, I keep thanking God for my teachers that are hourly pouring their hearts and wisdom into students. I thank Him for teachers who make a point of encouraging me or asking what they can do to help. I thank Him for the kids that are excited about this year and the kids that want a better year than they’ve had before. And I thank Him for the hard moments, too. For the 6th grader that is so sad about how broken the world is and who is looking for why God seems to be so quiet. I thank Him for the student who was sent out into the hall already, just 7 days into the year. I thank Him for the teachers who already have problems that they need wisdom in how to handle. I thank God because He has already gone ahead of us in these things. He is giving wisdom, softening hearts, encouraging the scared, and strengthening His people to do His work. And I am thankful.
Other answered prayers:
A schedule that works- it’s a little hairy at times, but it’s working for us!
Great teachers both in core classes and electives- teachers who are stepping out and trying something new, teachers who faithfully offer the same classes every semester so kids can count on that stability, just all around GREAT teachers. This year still has some needs, but I am so thankful for the teachers and staff thatGod abundantly provided for Jr./HS this year!
An awesome Senior class for Bible and tech kids in drama- I have a valid excuse to get out of the office and into the classroom every single day and be with some kiddos. The fact that they are awesome just makes it that much better.
It caught me by surprise that:
Senior kids were supposed to always get top lockers. I never knew it until distraught Seniors came to Ms. Carlson with their bottom locker numbers. Thankfully we got it fixed and I know for next year 😉
It is impossible for me to create a routine. Out of our 6 school days, not one of them has been the same. I’m trying to hold some consistent office hours when kids/adults know I will be in, but even that is hard. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this daily surprises mesh with my “I 💜 consistency” personality. It may be a career long pursuit…
Some of my tech boys are so excited to be reading our Narnia script, that they will gladly read a girl part, just so they can be reading aloud. And that it didn’t take long for many of us to put our British accents on (although two of my students were born with theirs).
Pray for the Seniors and me in Bible class. That kids can be honest, and that God will go ahead of me daily, preparing our discussions and readings. Ask God to continue giving me wisdom in each moment.
Pray for our book shipment from the US to get out of customs and into our classrooms! Seriously, this is taking forever, even more forever than normal!
Pray for our first Youth group kicking off this coming Monday night!
Pray for our teacher’s retreat this weekend- for safety, fellowship, and if possible, beautiful weather!
Thanks for how you already pray, support, and encourage me. Your partnership in this ministry helps me keep on keepin’ on. May you see God’s blessings, provision, and presence all around you this week!
No one informed me that I get less vacation as an administrator than as a teacher, but in all fairness, I should have expected it. I’ve been back in the office now for 2 weeks, creating plans, finalizing schedules and classrooms, getting ready for all sorts of orientations, and in truth, just finding my way. Some things are the same every day, some moments greet me unexpectedly, but in everything, God has led 100%. Parents have already been in to talk. Sometimes our conversations ended in tears, but even in those times I could see the Lord leading. Would you pray for all the coming conversations in English and Spanish that I will have this year with parents? May our words be salt and light, directing us back to Jesus, the Living Water and Light of the world.
Our U.S. Supplies/Book order is in Bolivia… In Customs. I worked for months getting that thing compiled, ordered, shipped, and trying to get all our paperwork in order. I can’t imagine doing it without our Business administrator and her staff- Elizabeth and Jessica have been doing so much on the Bolivian side that would have driven me to tears if it was my responsibility. So, we are waiting for customs to tell us we can bring all that paperwork downtown and go through every single item to make sure it matches our invoices. Ask God for favor on our behalf with the customs officials. Ask Him to help us see what details might be missing in our documentation, BEFORE we get downtown.
On top of the school duties, I have been helping get our WGM volunteers here and settled in. As Volunteer Coordinator, I’ve been emailing with these wonderful people for months, excited to have them here, and thankful for their willingness to serve Jesus and Bolivia. In the coming weeks and months, they will have lots to learn and remember. Sometimes it’s as simple (but important) as, “Don’t flush the toilet paper!” Other times it will be more intense- how do I access my U.S. Bank account, how long do I soak my veggies, what do we use here instead of ______, or how do I get back from here? You do such an amazing job partnering with me in prayer, would you consider adding Mary, Jonathan, or Shirley to your prayer list this year? Lift them up so that our Father will be glorified in them and through them this year.
Not all of my life is busy with work. Friends are starting to come back for another year of ministry. On Friday, we are having an Olympics Opening Ceremony Party, in which we each chose a country to represent in clothes and food. I’m Greece. I also have the kitten, Greebo. He is still super playful and learning how not to use claws except for defense. We had a scary moment with one of the guard dogs, but thankfully Greebo’s claws served him well. I won’t always include a cat pic, but just so you can see how beautiful he is:
So, this is my life: supporting God’s work, loving people, and training a kitten. I am enjoying having time to get everything done because life gets a lot busier starting Aug, 9 with Teacher Orientation and continuing through until Aug. 23, Student Orientation. After that it’ll be leaning hard on the Lord until June 16, I bet.
Thank you for walking this road with me. I wouldn’t even want to do it without your love, prayers, encouragement, and partnership. I am blessed to know you!
Scroll down for a few more pics and prayer requests, if you’d like!
That’s my office & That’s my chair- That’s where I have already felt your prayers and sit confidently knowing your prayers go with me and that Jesus is right by my side, no matter what. Pray that I will know when to be in the office, when to be in a classroom, and when to be in God-honoring discussions, wherever they will happen.
This is our major construction project over vacation. We had to completely empty the Theatre classroom, Pre K, Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grade classrooms of EVERYTHING so that we could raise the floors and sidewalks. Our hope is that this will greatly reduce the likelihood of our classrooms flooding during rainy season. We’ve also raised the sidewalks in other areas on campus. More floor raising to come these next few years! Pray, pray, pray, that this construction gets finished soon, so teachers are able to move back into their classrooms and get ready for the year. Many classrooms are being used as storage for these empty rooms. So, those teachers will have to wait for construction to be done as well before rearranging their rooms.
And this is our tagline that was adopted a couple years ago: Redeemed Lives, Quality Education, Transformed Society. As a school, we are working to make sure everything fits in those categories. But we can’t do it alone. There are still vital roles to be filled for this next school year. There are still teachers planning to be down here but without all of their needed financial support. We need you to be prayer warriors on our behalf, calling on the Lord and trusting with us that He will always meet our needs.
These last few weeks I have had Scripture, devotionals, Facebook photos, and conversations all surrounding God’s goodness, His faithfulness, and His timing. I’m so thankful He keeps sending me reminders that He is my provider.
Comment here (or on Facebook) and let me know:
- How have you seen God provide lately?
- In what ways are you waiting for Him to show up as only He can?
Want to go Behind the Scenes in your own neighborhood?
Ask a teacher in your own school corporation if there is a way that you can help support them. It might be praying for that teacher, or buying some needed supplies, or simply taking the time to listen. Let’s invest in students all over the world!
Hey all! I wanted to get a quick word out about this week’s camp. It’s a great opportunity for our high schoolers to get out of the city for five days, have some good (crazy) times, and get to dive in to learning more about this faith walk with Jesus. We leave Monday morning from school and will get back to school Friday afternoon around 3. I’m heading out as a counselor, hopefully for 11-12th grade girls. I imagine I’ll also be a team leader for group activities and generally help out wherever is needed.
While my own camper experiences always happened during the summer, SCCLC camps happen in Feb and March. So, students have an added incentive of missing a week of classes to be at camp. This is both a perk and, sometimes, a frustration, especially when you have campers who come to camp with hard, unwilling hearts and complaining attitudes. It happens. On the whole though, it is an awesome week of being with students!
So, would you pray for a variety of concerns throughout this week?
- Hearts that are softened and obedient towards the Holy Spirit. We know that God’s word never comes back empty, but we also know there are lots of different kinds of heart soul. So, pray for a rich soil that the Word can root into deeply and bear fruit!
- Fellowship, love, and unity to flow throughout the campgrounds. Pranks and jokes are a part of camp, but ask God to send swift conviction against any idea that is designed to break another person or tear someone down. Ask God to send a clear vision and wise understanding to all the leaders to take care of little issues before they become big ones. And ask God for His children to love as He has loved us.
- Strength and stamina and protection- for leaders and campers alike!
- Fun! Because we want the students to want to come back next year 🙂
Photo cred: KB Wilcke
I sent an email to a couple of friends who had asked for an update, and I figured I could post parts of it here as well. I’ve been almost 3 weeks in Bolivia and time is flying. I’m adjusting and settling into both my house and my ministry. Read on for more details…
I have been really blessed this re-entry to not have as much loneliness and homesickness as I usually do. The flip side is that, while I am full of peace and a sense of well being, there is not as much ecstatic joy as I’m used to. Honestly, I think God is just mercifully keeping my emotions fairly even instead of all over the place. That’s different from my other terms, but I’m incredibly thankful for His steadfast love. All of my suitcase items are unpacked and have a home- my belongings that were in storage take a little more time. As I unpack each box and trunk I’m surrounded by dust, dirt, and always a few bugs (some alive, some just leaving evidence behind). So, everything that comes out of a trunk has to get a thorough cleaning before I can find a place for it. Thankfully, my fellow missionaries made sure my house was clean before I got back. What a blessing to be ready to move in as soon as I arrived. All the cleaning means that it takes much longer to get completely settled in. But, with having Monday and Tuesday off for Carnaval, I am almost done! Thank goodness! Little by little, my house feels more like home.
My role at the school is mostly one of observing and helping for this second semester. I had a wonderful meeting with the Director and current HS Principal where we established that all of us were walking by faith and so excited that the Lord is leading our transition. That means I may not get much certainty as far as a job description, but Revelation never lets us forget how God is in control now and forever! So, I’m able to rest in the surety of His timing and that we all are looking to Him for wisdom. A coworker had to leave suddenly for her father’s funeral in the U.S, so I ended up teaching Algebra for 8 days. I’m also in charge of getting our book order organized, ordered, and paid for in these next couple of weeks. Pray for all those details. It’s a huge job, and if our information is not PERFECTLY filled out according to Bolivian customs, it will cost more time and money to get them released from customs once they finally arrive in June. I’m nervous about the process, but confident that I’m filling an urgent need and God will see me through it. In another week, I’ll be taking over an English class of 10 Seniors. The current HS English teacher is teaching 5 different English classes right now, so I’m taking this one to help her continue do well and stay sane in all her others.
Some prayer requests for this week:
I’ll be speaking for 3 minutes on love in Chapel tomorrow. Pray that God will help me focus my words and that He’ll do the rest, both in chapel and throughout this semester. Pray that students will willingly embrace God’s love for them and then freely hand that love out to everyone around them.
Pray that I will be mindful of all the details I need to remember in doing the book order, and that I’ll let God guide me through this process just like any other.
Pray for a yearning that can only come from the Holy Spirit and only be satisfied by Him. All of us need a deeper thirst and love, not only for our personal relationship with Jesus but so that others can be drawn to Him through us. Pray for all of us, faculty, staff, administration, student, believer and non-believer, that we would seek Jesus while He may be found.
Thanks for walking with me in ministry! What God does here, He does through the working of His Holy Sprit and the obedience of His people. Isn’t it great that we get to share in His plan? 🙂
It seems like most of my sharing on here and Facebook lately has been on waiting, trusting, and accepting God’s timing as perfect for my life and journey. It’s an important time for me to learn as much as I can from God about His character and my own. But as I was praying tonight, I began to get another perspective. What if this timing thing is about more than me? What if God’s vision really is big enough to handle ALL our needs in His own perfect timing? Of course it is. So, what if my being told to wait is partly because someone else needs to hear, “Come.”
So, this is me, adding my voice to His. Come. Come to Christ and receive forgiveness for sins, reconciliation to the Father, and an eternal love relationship that can never be taken away. Come to daily fellowship through Scripture and prayer to discover Jesus more and more. Come to missions through your volunteering, giving, and praying- be brave enough to invest in people who are investing in transformation. Come.
And see. See what God will do when you give Him yourself, all of it, everyday. And share what you learn through coming to Jesus.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone had me money or a pledge card and apologetically say, “I know it’s not much…” or “I wish we could do more.” And then I do my best to explain that although every missionary would love a check that covers their entire missionary budget, we are BLESSED by any gift. We understand each gift of any amount comes from faith, love, and a belief that what God is doing in our ministry is worthwhile and needs to continue. Each monetary gift or partnership pledge is so much bigger than the amount that is attached to it.
I’m in Oregon for the week, leading up to my M. Ed. Commencement ceremony, and I was privileged to speak at a church in Redmond on Sunday. The congregation was warm, welcoming, and interested in what God was doing in Bolivia. While there, the pastor’s son, David, ended the service by praying for me and my ministry, saying, “Thanks, God, for bringing Emily here and reminding us that missions is for everyone.” As I left their house on Monday morning, he handed me an envelope. Inside was this:
As I got to my hotel in Portland Monday night and opened the envelope, I praised God that He would encourage a 16 yr old lover of Jesus, missions, and theater to come alongside a missionary with those same passions and together make an eternal difference in students from all over the world. Only God.
We’ve survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. But I wonder why on earth does Giving Tuesday come after all the shopping deals of the century? Why, as a culture, do we give with our leftovers instead of our first fruits? If we gave first, faithfully following the amount God called us to give, would our embarrassment over the amount diminish in the light of His providence and plan? I don’t know, but I’d like to try. Care to join me?
At one time during this Homeland Ministry Assignment (HMA), I was about $200/month away from being fully pledged to get back to Bolivia. I couldn’t believe it! And then the rollercoaster started up again…
For those of you who understand how support raising works, skip down a bit. For those of you who don’t understand how support based ministry operates, here’s a quick tutorial for how World Gospel Mission organizes our support:
Each missionary has two types of financial needs, a one-time cash need and a monthly recurring need. The one-time cash need covers expenses that will only happen once this ministry term, like airfare back to Bolivia, an amount allotted to set-up house again once I get there, any new technology to purchase for this ministry term, and (for me) my tuition so that I can go back and be the best principal for grades 7-12 that I absolutely can be. There are also times when a Bolivian or someone in Bolivia desperately needs financial help, possibly because of a death or illness in the family or a natural disaster; along with giving from my own personal funds, I can also provide some help because of people who have given to my ministry. This one-time cash need is supplied mostly from those amazing love offerings and one time checks that come from churches and individuals maybe once or twice, but not on any scheduled agreement. They are so important to every missionary! Even when people can’t commit to giving on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis, their gifts still meet crucial needs. The monthly recurring need happens when churches and individuals commit to giving on a scheduled basis, like every month, every 3 months, or every year. This type of gift can be called a pledge, a share, a faith promise, or something else that I haven’t heard yet. They can be any amount, given by check, cash, or through an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). This promise is between 3 parties (missionary, donor, and God) and in essence goes like this, “By faith, and for as long as God continues to empower me, I (the donor) promise to give (whatever amount) each (month, year, etc) to (whichever missionary or ministry God has equipped you to partner with).” All of these pledges are recorded by our headquarters and tallied up. Once the pledges equal the monthly amount needed by the missionary (and the one time cash needs given match what was needed), the missionary gets released from Homeland Ministry and sent back to the field. And there is much rejoicing!!
It sounds fairly straightforward, although I admit it was incredibly confusing when I first started with World Gospel Mission in 2003. What few people every talk about, however, is the roller coaster of emotions that support raising can be. Support raising is only one aspect of Homeland Ministry. I love the other aspects, connecting with my supporters already, sharing God’s faithfulness to us as we have ministered together (me through being there and them through helping me stay there!), connecting people with mission opportunities all over the world, and sharing how God uses ALL of His Body to do his work worldwide. I don’t mind the long hours driving, I enjoy the chance to share and serve! But the roller coaster of support raising can wear me out if I’m not careful.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there was a point where I was only $200 in those monthly pledges away from having all of my monthly need pledged. I KNEW it was all going to come in and I’d be released to return to Bolivia with no hiccups. And then the mission needed to recalculate what I needed to raise for insurance. OK, that was a hard blow, but I could still handle it. Then I got notifications about churches or individuals needing to stop their monthly support. I also get reports that while someone has told me that they are going to give a certain amount each month, they have yet to start. And some of those emails hit harder than others, not necessarily because of the amount given or not given. It’s more about the state of my own heart and emotions; really, it comes down to my faith. And that brings me to today. Even with some amazing new pledges that came in last month, my records still say that according to the pledges that have actually been consistently given each month, quarter, or year, I still need $457/month. If everyone who has promised to pledge will still be able to do so, that brings the need down to $312/month. But the whole 18 months feels like it’s been support coming in, new pledges coming in, support not coming in, and pledges not coming in, back and forth, like a roller coaster without the fun.
My faith tells me to hold on, but I’m discouraged. How on earth do I ever get back to Bolivia when the financial aspect keeps changing? How do I stay in Bolivia when everything keeps changing? Most importantly, how do I keep my eyes on God’s faithfulness and the NUMEROUS supporters who have been able to and chosen to give faithfully month after month, year after year, even when it hurt, even when they hadn’t heard from me, even when the world told them other “investments” were better? How do I remember how blessed I am when the fear and frustration threatens to be overwhelming?
By keeping the main thing, THE MAIN THING:
Keep praying me through, friends. Pray my faith will be strong and that I will let God use me in whatever way He deems best. And I’ll pray the same for you!
Ever have trouble getting out of bed? Maybe the night was too long, maybe the upcoming day looks too hard, maybe it’s just that the bed is so comfortable and the world is not. For whatever reason, some days it’s just hard to get going.
Maybe you noticed that I haven’t been blogging every week like I wanted and intended. Partly, it’s because I don’t feel like I have much to report. I’ve finished my M.Ed. degree, I’ve been helping my sister and the family through the rest of her chemo and her surgery, I’ve been loving on people and trying to find ways to help out. I’ve been enjoying some last moments with my family before I head back to Bolivia after Christmas. I’ve been studying Revelation. Like I said, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing much. But early this morning it sank in, once again, it’s not about me.
What I’ve done shouldn’t be my focus- it’s what the LORD has done, every single morning. He has woken us up with a new song of faithfulness and mercy; He has prepared good works beforehand for us to walk in them; He rejoices over us with singing, comforts us when we mourn, encourages us in our weakness, and shows us our unfaithfulness, all because of his faithfulness, love, mercy, and righteousness. Wow.
So, if the morning looks a little too much and the bed seems a little too comforting, take a moment to hear the voice of the One who calls you out, raises you up, and sets you next to Him as a co-heir with Christ. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Why do we memorize Scripture? For some, maybe it’s a habit from way back in Sunday school or Wednesday night days. For others, it’s a duty obeyed. I wholeheartedly believe that the Word is alive and active, getting to the root of all matters (Heb. 4:12), and that it is God-breathed and purposed to give us life (2 Timothy 3:16). Not only does taking God’s words to heart keep us from sinning, but it allows us to know how to draw near to Him. Double blessing!!
This year, I’m upping my Scripture memorization. I’ve been lazy before: it’s so easy to do a keyword search on my Bible app that I’ve neglected purposefully planting it in my heart. Don’t misunderstand me- I know what Scripture says and I measure what others say according to its truth, but I want to know it so well that if my Bible (in whatever form) was taken from me, God’s word would still reside accurately in my heart.
Ironically, I’m turning to an app to help me do this. Although I have purchased the pro version, the free Scripture Typer version is great as well, and well worth your time. I’m not getting paid to promote the app- I’m sure they don’t even know I exist. But I wanted to share a resource that is working for me. Here are a few screen shots to get the idea:
You can organize your verses into groups. Currently, I’m only working on my BSF verses, but I plan on adding more collections later on.
The green check mark is a sign of progress. If it’s time to review a verse, it’ll change to a red X.
There are three steps in the program: Type It, Memorize It, and Master it. The Type it phase shows the whole verse on the screen and, as you type in the first letter of every word, it highlights the word. The Memorize It phase creates blanks for half of the words, like this:
You still type in every first letter, but half of the verse is your responsibility to get correct. The Master It phase has a completely blank screen, with the words appearing as you type in the first letter of each one. It’s simple in its design, but very effective.
if you are interested in learning more, check out their website https://scripturetyper.com
Do you memorize Scripture? Why or why not? What techniques do you use to help you memorize and then revisit them, so you don’t forget? Can you tell of a time when you were glad you had a Scripture memorized?
I’m tired. For three hours today I wrestled with technology just to create a 2 minute video clip for my mission. This happened after two intense days of studying, chauffeuring, meeting new people, starting our fall Bible study, helping with homeschool, fighting traffic/construction, helping/organizing/leading whatever, and trying to sleep. Honestly, there were moments in this technology skirmish where I wanted to yell, kick, and throw my computer against the wall. Instead, I fought back tears because I didn’t want to look puffy on camera. And I still don’t know if what I finally created will work. Whenever I get this worked up over something not going well, I have to process what’s going on in my heart. And often, I find the same heart struggle showing up in a brand new way.
I want to be perfect. This is not to be confused with the perfection and holiness that comes through Christ. I do want that, too, but it’s not the subject of this post (not yet, anyway). THIS desire comes from wanting people to be pleased with what I’ve done, wanting my work to be without blemish or mishap, afraid that what I make will not be enough. It’s pride, and it’s a desire to please that is rooted in a love of self. It’s ugly, and it’s exhausting. And I’m tired.
So, what to do? It’s time to cry out to the One who has delivered me from this battle every time I’ve asked. It’s time to rejoice in how, although I struggle with this pride and fear, I am getting victory too. I have walked through countless situations where I am now able to choose Christ’s perfection over my own perfectionism willingly and joyfully! Whenever a new situation comes along that shows this battle in my heart, He lovingly reminds me that He is working within me to will and to act according to His good purposes. It’s not about what I can do – It’s about how I can rest so closely in Christ, with my heart recalling His promises and my mind focused on His purposes, that He moves in and through me. That’s amazing! And it is a gazillion times better than trying to do it on my own.
And I’m asking for prayer. Because what I REALLY want is to hide in the Lord and let him preserve me and surround me with songs of deliverance. I want to live in this surrender, every single moment of every single day. Would you pray that I will?
P.S. You don’t know how many times I wanted to delete this post and walk away. But if God can get some glory and give some hope because I am willing to say that I am not perfect, and that without Christ I am a hopeless wreck, but WITH Christ I have victory, joy, refuge, and deliverance, then I’m willing to let the post stand.