Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Harvest




For Halloween this year, we got together with some friends and did an outreach in downtown Carthage where an estimated 800 kids came to trick-or-treat with their parents in 2009. So we were hoping to hand out a few tracts, and interview some people one-to-one with the gospel message. The Mendigurens came along side us with their wit and servant's hearts and we put together a great evening. Hannah and I and the babies stuffed bags with candy and tracts for the kids. Zeke helped hand out the treats by greeting the trick-or-treaters and carrying their "teet" and placing it in their bag with an "awright!" Isaac and Hadassah looked on and stayed warm. We had some great age appropriate Halloween tracts from Living Waters. All the while Darryl and Chris hit the streets with the Halloween million-dollar-bills and Jordan's camera. Thankfully, Chris had some costumes some dear friends gave them to use for ministry. Chris dressed up as a prisoner and Darryl the cop. They were interviewing people about how criminal should be punished for his crimes and incorporating the gospel message. They also video taped some interviews with adults and young people as they took the "Good Person Test." It was great! Unfortunately we are not going to share the videos online just because some of the people in them we don't have their authorization to share and although some of the young people gave us their permission, we feel it should be up to their parents to decide. We hope to put together some video clips from the entire night with the guys on the street but will have to wait a bit on that for lack of software to do so. But, alas, Darryl and Chris hit a Hallelujah Night on the way home at a local church and went into to the festivities. Below is a video of the charades that ensued. Enjoy!

video

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Solemn September

At the beginning of September we took a cross country trip to Sacramento, California to attend The Call. The tenth anniversary of the first one in DC. We felt it was significant to BE there to pray and so we went in faith. My mom went along mainly to help with the babies but I know she got much more out of it than just that. Speaking of the little darlings - they traveled marvelously and handled the time change and the all day event wonderfully. We had to escape the midday sun to take a nap and left a little early for bed but Darryl stayed the whole day and fasted with the crowd. It was powerful and we were honored to be present. One of the most significant moments was when Benji Nolot from Exodus Cry was sharing about human trafficking and we interceeded for that issue (Sacramento is #2 in the nation for human trafficking). In two short hours CraigsList issued a statement about restricting their controversial adult section from public use - which we believe was, an answer to our cry.  Video
We included photos from the travels to California below.


The following week week was the Moore County Solemn Assembly. Darryl spent what little time he had already to organize preparatory prayer meetings as well as the solemn assembly itself, sending out flyers and invitations to every church in Moore County. So rewind several months earlier, in February, when we went to Kansas City on a shoestring and faith to get impartation from the awakening that was happening there and to visit our dear friend and "spiritual mom" Sachi. Shara, who we did worship for while in Pemba, Mozambique told us to get in touch with her if we were ever in KC so we did just that and arranged to have lunch with her. She set up a lunch party at her house and invited other Iris people. During the lunch we met with Melissa who did the solemn assembly in Africa while we were there. She gave us some guidance and encouragement. So back to the MCSA... around thirty people showed up which was a huge number more than we had anticipated. The weather cooperated and it was a fantastic success. The final word that came out of the whole thing was this: make disciples of all people.



First bath together.

Wiped OUT! Baby jetlag.





The view from under our glorious shade tree.






Communion



Taking the flag from each state to the cross.

Big trees, little people.

First feet in the grass experience.

Taking the babies to bed. I think it was like midnight to them (EST).

The $8 bowl of rice that Zeke didn't eat.

Exhausted!

Road trip to Redding!



Zeke making friends.

Flying home.

Sorry to all those onboard!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Miracles Follow

This isn't the Solemn September update, and I apologize but I will have that up soon with photos. However, I just had to share a little bit of goodness from this beautiful Autumn Sunday! 

SUNDAY STROLL & GOOD NEWS AT THE POST OFFICE
So Darryl, myself and the babies went out for a stroll. Carthage is a small town that consists mostly of the jail, court system, lawyers and bail bondsmen so it is busy during the week with people coming from all over the county and dead on the weekends. Gratefully we encountered a few people at the post office and shared the gospel with them which was awesome! Both a man and a women, separate encounters, were not churched and received well. Darryl even got another connection on a family in need of some food that we could deliver to. Praise God!

REDEMPTION AND HEALING AT THE COURTHOUSE
After that we headed around the corner to the main street and there were a few teen boys skateboarding in the courthouse yard. I looked in my pocket and counted four million dollar bills. There were four boys. Darryl took the stroller and I headed for the bunch. I offered them each a million dollar bill and they took them graciously and enthusiastically. Then I explained what they were and lead into the gospel message (law & grace). It was so easy to explain with the courthouse in the background. They all said they went to church and one guy even said he was "saved" before, but it was obvious when we were walking up that they were not living with Jesus as their Lord. So I asked them a few questions. They all received it really well, in fact, I was asking one boy questions about eternity and his friend was answering too. It was so good to share with such open hearts!

CHASING AFTER MIRACLES
Afterward, one of them was discussing skateboarding accidents with Darryl and he mentioned he had a messed up hand that made sound when he open and closed it. We audibly heard it and so Darryl offered him prayer. A simple prayer later he opened and closed his hand and we could barely hear any clicking. So, we prayed some more. The boys were all excited and intently paying attention. It lessened even more but was just barely audible. One of the boys said, "It will heal overnight." Amazing faith from what appeared to me as the most rebellious, also the boy who was answering the questions when I was asking the other boy. We encouraged them, thanked them for listening, and went our separate ways. As we were leaving we heard the rumble of skateboards following behind. I figured, they must be going the same way, and besides there is a store up ahead they may be headed towards. But I turned to get out of their way and they said, "hey wait!" Apparently one of the boys has a twin brother who has Cerebral Palsy. And he wanted us to pray for him after seeing his friends hand healed! Twins, named Matthew and Nathan. Go figure! So we prayed, of course! And are all believing we'll be meeting again, but this time, they'll be bringing the good news to us.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. God is sooooo good y'all.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Super Harvest

So things are happening.

Two things that are major for the Russells. Number one, we have been graciously handed a food ministry which is a total answer to prayer in that we have been desiring to reach the needy in our area regularly after the great Christmas Outreach this past year. We have continued in relationships with a lot of the families but they were limited to random visits, home church invitations, and run-ins about town.  Now we have a great reason to go to their home! To take bread and Living Water! How spectacular is that?! So please pray with us to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up laborers. We hope to have more families to deliver to and more food, so we will need more hands. There is a very limited about of what we can do on our own with these two babies at the moment.


Next, we just found out while we were gone at the beach last week that the county went forward with settling some plans about building the jail. If you're unfamiliar with the story, here is a recent story in the news about the situation. They had previously planned to build around us. We know God put us here for a purpose and we are trying to fulfill that purpose - to reach the needy and the lost for Christ. Well, the NEWS is that they will be buying our property in the next two years. So what will be the next step for the Russells? We shall see! Stay tuned, keep us in your prayers and join us in labor.

Blog report on "Solemn September" coming soon!

Enjoy some beach photos below. 

Much Love,










"Super Harvest Moon"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ducks In A Row

I'm trying to get things organized around here. So I'm updating the blog finally. We used this blog in the past years for our international travels and births to share with friends and family. The blog site has changed a bit over the years so I'm going to reacquaint myself to using it in between catering to our two younglings. Being an At Home mama is so wonderful. I am happily busy just in the day to day with an infant and a toddler. Now that I'm getting the hang of juggling two I can do more than Facebook, which I'm trying to steer away from (for time consuming reasons!).

So we have a lot going on that we'd like to share with the world not only in our home but as we branch out into the world in ministry to give the Lamb the reward for his sufferings. More details on that in the future. This will also be a good place to share what and where we're going so you can pray for us. So here is our immediate plans in brief:
- This weekend we're flying cross-country to attend The Call Sacramento, CA (www.thecall.org) and to visit Bethel Church in Redding, CA where we'll see Sachi before she begins the School of the Supernatural there in Redding.
- September 11th we're holding a Moore County Solemn Assembly at the park here in Carthage, NC
- Beach vacay!!!!
- Start up Home Church again at our house (more on that to come)


P.S. Follow our blog by clicking on the link to the right. We're also on Twitter if you want to get little short updates on how or what we're doing or just what the babies are doing or saying.
Our beauties. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Birth Story #2

I've been writing this story in my mind since before she arrived. In some regards wanting to know how it will go and in others just wanting to get a head start! Nonetheless this is the story of how a beautiful little lady came into our world May 19, 2010.

Having given birth once before at home I knew what to expect. Although so much happens from the time you give birth to raising a young one and going through a second pregnancy at the same time that when the time approached, I needed some re-education. Knowing full well to avoid the TV shows about birth experiences I pulled out my books on birth stories and watched a few real ones online. What I was really looking for though was the second baby experience. How is that different from the first? (If you haven't read my first birth experience it is in my notes from 2009) The search was unsuccessful, at least for what I was expecting to find - encouragement and perhaps tips. What I did know was that second babies tend to come faster than firsts, BUT nothing is for certain and every birth is different.

In my first pregnancy I had made the mistake of telling everyone the "due date" only to have my baby three weeks later in a whole other month and year. I say mistake because there is a certain emphasis we tend to put on that day and yet in reality there is a six week or more period of time when the baby can come that is normal. Our African friends don't get due dates, they get a "some time around May" kind of estimated arrival time. We do the same with animals. At that time though I was being told horror stories of late term pregnancies and asked about possible medical interventions which caused my already vulnerable state to escalate with anxieties about being pregnant forever and/or losing my child. So this time, I didn't tell anyone the "due date" knowing full well the baby would come when she was ready as the old proverb says, the apple falls from the tree when it's ripe. With all that said, I was 41 1/2 weeks pregnant when this birth story begins.

My midwife Debbie, who is largely a part of our family, came for our regularly scheduled appointment at 10:00am Wednesday May 19th. (She is amazing and we highly recommend her.) She comes and spends a total of an hour and a half at our home but probably only a third of that time is about me and the baby - the rest of the time is fellowship in Christ and relationship building which is vital to the parent/midwife dynamic but also makes a great bonus to the visit. (The sad part is after the baby is born we miss out on those visits, but there is always the next baby to look forward to!) Anyway, while she was here, I said, "I think we have another week to go," expecting that she would come at the same gestation time as Zeke. When she left Zeke and I took our daily nap. When we woke up I used the bathroom and noticed my mucous plug was coming out aka bloody show. "Uh oh!" I said, and called the midwife, husband, and mom.

After half an hour of timing contractions (and interacting with a toddler) they seemed to be seven minutes apart and about a minute long. I decided to call it and have everyone make their way here. I was a little unsure just because of the false alarm a few weeks prior. It turned out to be the right decision after all. Everyone made it here in great time. (Although my sister-in-law was at work and the assisting midwife had family issues and neither of them made it to the birth) Darryl got home and quickly filled the birthing pool and got things situated with Zeke in the backpack while I breathed and relaxed through contractions on our bed, excited to be giving birth finally. For the previous almost two weeks I had not been able to walk without pain from all the loosening of the joints in the pelvis and on top of that had post-nasal-drip-coughy-cough-yuckiness.

By the time Debbie arrived the contractions were getting more intense and closer together, now every four minutes. She got things situated and mom arrived as well. So Zeke was now occupied out doors and Debbie and Darryl joined me on the bed and we had great conversations and laughs in between contractions. After getting up a few times to go the bathroom it was evident that movement made contractions come more frequently so Debbie suggested I get up and move around. "What?! I thought, then saying 'I don't think I can stand up during a contraction.'" Debbie reassured, "Sure you can!" So I did it, walked around and sure enough stood up during an intense contraction! (By the way, I've heard it said in business you can have it two of three ways: Fast Cheap Right. You pick the combination. So in a similar way, if you are going to have a fast labor, it's not going to be easy.) At this point the contractions were getting more intense. I was wondering when would be a good time to get in the birthing pool, and we determined now would be just as good as any. With Zeke it seemed like labor got easier or more manageable and I felt more alive in between contractions probably because I was relaxing more. However, this time around when I got in the water I felt like it lifted my belly up but immediately brought on a contraction.

We had a beautiful day and a gorgeous yard/garden for me to look at during contractions. Still, in between them we seemed to have a different mini conversation and when they came on everyone fell silent as I breeeeeaaaaaaaaathed deep. This breathing was helping but at this point every contraction was more intense than the last and were getting less and less manageable. I mentioned this to Debbie and took gulps of seltzer water which was so refreshing. I had been in the water only about thirty minutes and could hear and see Zeke running and playing outside with his Gramma. I told Debbie I felt like I was about ready to push soon but we still hadn't seen that gap in contractions indicating my readiness in body. However, on the next contraction I felt her head emerging! Sure enough, it kept on coming out. I yelled, "get the camera!" But by the time Darryl got it on, her head was fully emerged and then he put the camera back down in time to catch her. (I never did get to push, my body and baby did it all on their own.)

Our baby girl was born into her Daddy's loving hands! He pulled her up out of the water and placed her onto my chest. She was so quiet and calm but breathing and perfectly normal. She nestled in and decided to go ahead and take a nap. In less than ten minutes she was nursing well and has ever since. While we were in the pool bonding and relishing the moment I felt like it was her and I alone and I realized how she came into the world and that those same loving hands that caught her would some day give her away in marriage and I had a good little cry. I told Darryl this later thinking that he and Debbie had left the room for the moment but he said, "no, we were there too." Funny how things are in that moment.

So our little girl was born, she was a 9/10 in APGAR, minus one point for a little less pinkish color at one minute born than should be and at five minutes was perfect. Darryl got to cut the cord and I got out for a shower and then into bed in time for dinner. The labor was a mere 3 hours long. It was intense, but I wouldn't say painful. Something I learned this time was about afterbirth pains. They apparently get stronger with each baby and boy were they! That was the painful part. I barely remember having them with Zeke more than the first day or two, and here we are five days later and there is still a faint remnant of the stabbing cramping sensation of uterine involution going on in my lower abdomen. Next time I'm going to be prepared with some serious herbal reinforcements and moist hot packs!

Zeke seemed concerned with her crying when he came in to see her just born while I was still in the pool and still is a little bit, but every day he is making great strides in adjusting. He touches her gently, points out her facial features, kisses her and does the sign for baby. It has helped him to know he can still nurse when he wants to even when he is sharing with a new baby. Thank God he gave us two!

There is so much more I could write about but that goes beyond just the birth. I feel so so blessed. The birth was so perfect, in timing, setting and intensity and everything. Just having Debbie and Darryl as the birthing team was really intimate and special as they coached me really well. All the while Zeke and his Gramma were enjoying each other's company which took that load off us all. I'm healing really well and quickly, although I'm staying in my pajamas lest anyone think it's back to business as usual! Thanks to everyone for praying, God heard! We are so thankful that we were able to have another successful homebirth and look forward to more in the future.

Hadassah Naomi Russell 8.11lbs 20in born at 6:06pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010 fearfully and wonderfully made.



Hadassah = 'hidden'; Ester's (meaning 'star' in Persia) Jewish name before the exile; both names also mean 'of the myrtle tree' which I found a scripture verse referring to this being a place angel's dwelt. I like to think that makes her hidden in Christ.

Naomi = 'beautiful woman'