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A couple of Sundays ago, we sang “Blessed be the name of the Lord” in our International church service. That is a favorite here, among English speakers and Mongolians alike. Perhaps because we see on a regular basis the extremes on both sides of this song. Since that Sunday, I have had so many opportunities to bless His Name, that I feel that in order to do it well, I need to share them. This is going to be a long one, so hang on. You might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and have a seat...or switch to Facebook if you want something more lightweight.

Blessed Be Your Name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Two weeks ago, our friends Josh and Damon arrived here in UB, as a matter of fact on the very day we sang this song in church. That same evening Cori and I went to the airport at midnight to say goodbye to two very dear friends. We grew very close to Diana and her daughter Rachel during a mother-daughter Bible study we did together this summer. Yesterday we returned to the airport to wave goodbye to Josh and Damon as they returned to the US. We feel incredibly blessed by the abundance of friendships that God has given us over the years. Blessed be His name.

Blessed Be Your name when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

We were anticipating receiving new teammates this week. Richel and Melody Maraat with their three children, Adrian, Ana and Abi left their home in the Philippines last week. They planned to stay 5 days in China to obtain their visa and join us in time for Field Forum. It seems that God had other plans. Upon their arrival into China, the two girls were sent to quarantine due to flu-like symptoms. Richel and his son had to continue on to Beijing in order to claim all their luggage. It has now been confirmed that the girls have the H1N1 virus and must remain in isolation for at least seven days for treatment. A family separated, sickness and in a strange country where you don't speak the language. Where is God in that? “Lo, I am with you always.” That's the promise. So while we don't understand, we commit our dear friends to the loving care of God and trust Him. There is no place like the wilderness to learn to trust His heart when you can't trace His hand. Blessed be His name.

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

I'm just going to have to share details here for you to get this one. Josh and Damon had asked us for a list of things we would like them to bring. We love friends, and especially when they come bearing gifts, and extra-especially when those gifts include coffee and chocolate! We felt blessed big time when they unloaded their suitcases. Josh informed me he had been able to get everything on the list except the Oreo cookies, because he was afraid they would be crushed by the time they arrived. That's a pretty big accomplishment. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was going to crush them anyway, because they were going to be the crust to Jonathan's birthday cheesecake. Especially since all his personal items were covered in cornmeal. The container just couldn't handle the air pressure changes and his bag looked like a cornmeal factory explosion.

I was too excited about the jello to care. You see, I had meant to specify “peach” jello, because Bernie had been wishing for a peach pie that I used to make every summer when there were fresh peaches. The recipe called for peach jello. But in all the hectic days prior to their arrival I forgot to email and say, “Hey could you pick up a box of peach jello.” Would you like to guess what flavor the first box of jello I pulled out of the bag was? Yep. Peach. Some of you skeptics are thinking...coincidence. I'm about to make it harder on you.

Remember how I talked about the abundance of friends we have coming and going? Cori had to say goodbye to two more friends, Ben and Megan. They had only been here nine months, when the mining company their dad worked for sent them back home to Australia. Cori got a message from Megan asking if we would like some of the things from their pantry they wouldn't be able to use. Of course, I wasn't going to turn that down, expecting a bag of flour and sugar, maybe a bottle of ketchup or something.

The doorbell rang on Tuesday morning, two days after I had finished putting away all the goodies. Ben and Megan were at the door with a couple of bags. I thanked them and went to get Cori. They said, “We're going down for more.” In total, when they had made five trips up five flights of stars, we had over a dozen bags of groceries. I don't mean the little plastic Kroger bags. I mean tote bags. I felt like I had just robbed Sam's Club. And right there on the top of the first bag was – drum roll, please – a huge box of Oreo cookies. Would you like to guess what was at the bottom of the bag? Corn meal that was still in the container!

Bernie had been looking for the spice Rosemary a few days ago, but I didn't have any. There was a bulk sized container of Rosemary. So not only do we now have Rosemary, but so does Christina, Haniki, Marlene and Diane.

Not only were we blessed, but four other families came to visit and left with bags full of things that were just what they needed. There was a large container of “Fairy Dust” sprinkles that had Bekah Wahlen's name written all over it. I can't count the amount of times our friends and co-workers said, “Oh, I was needing some of that.” “Now I don't have to have that shipped from ...”

It took me two days to sort through it all and find a place to put everything. God knew and he used someone I didn't even know to shine some sunshine into our lives. He also knew I was going to need the encouragement of seeing His love for me in the little things. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

On Wednesday we celebrated Jonathan's 17th birthday. Then on Thursday, we called to say Happy Birthday to my Uncle Gerald in the US. My Aunt Gwen is at the end of a very long battle with cancer. She is at the phase where they are simply trying to keep her pain free as much as possible. The family is all there...except me. When I saw her over our holidays at Christmas I had hopes that she would be there when we came on home assignment next year and that when I left it wasn't our last goodbye. But now I probably won't even make her funeral.

We read the news of a fellow missions family with AIM (African Inland Mission). The husband and father of four young children was killed in a plane crash. How our hearts grieve with them. We want to ask “Why?” But there will seldom be easy answers. What do we do?

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord

We are not promised pain-free lives here. We are promised that God is always with us. We are promised that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. So with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throat we still say it. Blessed be your glorious Name.

You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

It is a choice, isn't it? Rarely easy. Either because we are so caught up with the blessing that we forget or we're so overwhelmed by the pain we feel that we can't. But there is freedom and joy when we get there. And God is glorified and light shines to the darkness.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

** A special thanks to Matt Redman for the lyrics to this song that expresses so eloquently what I cannot.

Reader Comments (4)

Update -- we received news this morning that the Maraat family has been reunited and are starting the process for their visas. Please continue to pray for them.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee'

Thank you for a fun and practical post which served as a wonderful update of your family, too. I met you 2 years ago when our short term team from Salem was doing the vision clinic there. All of you made such a wonderful impact on me. God continues to use those couple of weeks spent in Mongolia to change me. Blessed be His name!

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristy Nordstrom

Well said. Thanks for sharing.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJack Bruce

Thank you for sharing, Our God is so good, He even cares about our jello. Oh, how I love Jesus, WE are the apple of His eye, God has provided us w/ a new home...Now that's GOD, we own our own home? TO GOD be the GLORY, He is using it for the youth in our church. I have such a passion for those kids to know HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD. Love you all, annette

September 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterannette brown

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