This earth is not our home, but enjoy the journey!

This earth is not our home, but enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Crowdfunding for Children in South Rome Community

In 1989 I entered the world of Kindermusik.  I went for training that summer and started teaching a small group of children at the Child Development Center on the Berry campus. Fast forward 28 years (WHAT?) and I have 2nd generation kids in classes and have seen Kindermusik grads who continue their music into adulthood. The Kindermusik tag line, "a good beginning never ends" is one I believe. Kindermusik is more than just learning music, it's learning life skills through music.

When the education department at Berry College decided to partner with an under-served community, it made sense for Kindermusik to be a part of their education. The 3 year olds at the South Rome Early Learning Center (SRELC) thrive in the music presented via Kindermusik each week.  For many of the children, English is their 2nd language and the songs and books used in Kindermusik allow them an opportunity to practice their English skills.  Home materials are an important component in the program, so the learning continues with their families.

This year the SRELC is expanding, and we want all the children there to be able to participate in Kindermusik. Several campaigns are helping assure that this will happen, and you can be a part of bringing music to the children in South Rome.  Click here to learn how you can donate. Donations are tax deductible!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

P's of P squad, 3rd generation

In January 2015 my daughter, Alyssa Nobles, and fifty three young adults left America for the World Race.  This group is labeled P squad by Adventures in Missions, which is the organization sending them on this Kingdom Journey. Ahead of them are 11 countries over the course of 11 months. They will traverse 3 continents and spend the entire year in summer. 

In less than 11 days, forty six young adults will re-enter America. They have lived Hebrews 12: 1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

In the spirit of "11 in 11" here are 11 P's for P squad, including some scripture I prayed for them during the year.

These young people gave up their plans for a year.  They were willing to put plans on hold and seek after the plans that God had for them. They had no idea all the challenges they would encounter as God grew them and changed them for His glory.

Much prayer has accompanied this squad. They have prayed for healing, they have prayed against spiritual warfare, they have prayed for protection. Parents, friends, family and even strangers have interceded for P squad during their "normal days" and the struggles they have faced this year. 
"One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up." Luke 18:1

It happens!  It was all squad month during February, and everyone suffered some type of intestinal problem.  I'm sure having abdominal issues is even less fun when you can't flush the toilet paper...which is typical in 3rd world countries.

Living in community 24/7 in a foreign culture, with unusual foods, serving the local church as missionaries, giving up comforts like a bed, and regular bathing facilities for 11 months requires perseverance.  Bus rides through street riots. Bridges that are out and require you to walk for miles with your pack through Bolivia.  A life changing car accident in India.  An armed robbery that involves machetes. These type of difficulties would cause most people to give up and go home. Not P squad...they persevered!

They experienced the power of God in the Nepal earthquake.
"I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Everyday required patience and dependence on God. 
"For this reason also, since the day we hear this, we haven't stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing n the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enable you to share in the saints' inheritance in the light." Colossians 1:9-12

They knew how to work hard, but also to play hard. They enjoyed many pleasures as they traveled and enjoyed God's creation.  Waterfalls, safaris, boat rides, beaches, sunsets, sunrises, lakes, puddles, rice fields, volcanoes, swings, hospitality of others, good food, sweet children, great worship, and baptisms.

P squad knows how to love people.  They love like Jesus.  They love the unlovable, the hurting, the broken, the children, the widow and even the enemy.  
"Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.  Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

They experienced so much pain...physical pain, spiritual pain, emotional pain. 
"Therefore we do not lose heart.  though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

These young adults all went on the race for one purpose - to serve the nations and glorify God.

They pursued a deeper relationship with Jesus and He in turn pursued them.  They have grown and changed during this journey called the World Race.  

P squad keep pursuing Jesus, living life for His purpose, and pushing through the pain while loving people. Take pleasure in each day and know that God has a plan for you as you return to America.  I will keep praying for you.  

"The Lord is indeed going before you- he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged!" Deuteronomy 31:8

Love from MamaNobles

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Connections & Hospitality in Thailand, PVT, part 3

In September 1978 I arrived as a new student at Berry College in Rome Georgia. A new dean of students also came to campus that year, Tom Carver. Our paths have aligned in many ways through the years. Our most recent and longest relationship involves piano, I am his teacher. When Dean Carver retired in 2004, he began taking piano lessons.  As my kids started looking at colleges, I would ask Tom about them and he ALWAYS knew someone at that school.  What does this have to do with World Race, Parent Vision Trip and Thailand? When he found out I was going to Thailand he told me I needed to meet his friend, Rob, that teaches at the seminary there.  What a surprise, Tom Carver, has a friend in Chiang Mai Thailand!

As we began to plan our trip, I got Rob's email address and we began to correspond.  I had questions, and he had answers. I asked if he had a suggestion for a place to stay prior to PVT, and he did. We booked it for two nights, and so did 6 other race families! A week or so before we left, I emailed Rob that I would love to meet him and suggested that maybe he could meet us for lunch on our first day. Of course, I was really looking for someone who would help me navigate this new city and culture! Rob emailed me back and said that he and his wife have a spaghetti dinner every Thursday night in their home and that we (and other race parents) were invited! We haven't even left the states, and we have been invited to have dinner in a home in Chiang Mai. I was so excited.

Please note that one of my favorite things is to connect other people, especially if they are new to our community. Randy and I love to guide people to meet other people that can help them find a job, a house, a car, a church, or a friend.  So before I finish the Rob story, here are two other connections we had going to Asia.  There are two Berry grads serving with Campus Outreach at Chiang Mai University. They have been there since February, and I know one of them, Kim. Our dear friends, Jonathan and Sarah Pascual, met in Chiang Mai years ago. Sarah texted me that they had good friends that have a coffee shop/house church in Chiang Mai and we should meet them. We are flying to Thailand to do missions alongside Alyssa and her P squad, and I have people to meet, including families I that I don't know! 

I am excited to make these connections, but wondering how we will navigate and join up with all these people? I am apprehensive about being in a new culture, not knowing the language, not knowing how I will adjust to the time change, or the food. I had to trust that God had all this planned before the foundations of the earth. He knew Alyssa was going on the World Race, and that we would be with her in Thailand. He placed people in our path to make our transition into the unknown a lot more comfortable. God is so good.

Back to Rob! Our first day in Thailand, I called him and he was actually on his way to our guesthouse to see us.  Soon he drove up on his motorscooter (everyone has a scooter or motorbike). Rob is 77 years old and has lived in Chiang Mai since he graduated from college in 1960.  He had some years in the states working on degrees, but he has lived in Asia off and on for 54 years!  He teaches Greek in the Thai language at the seminary (that makes my head hurt).  It was great to swap Tom stories that morning at our guesthouse by the river.  He wrote down his address in both English and Thai for us to give to the Songthaew driver that evening.  There were 7 World Race parents that got to enjoy spaghetti dinner in a home on our first night in Chiang Mai.   
Hospitality abounds at the Collins home every Thursday night!

Rob and his wife, Esther, have hosted Thursday night spaghetti dinners for 20 years. It's always a different group of people.  Folks from the seminary, various mission organizations, students from the states, mission teams, etc... They open their home and show hospitality and the love of Jesus in such a wonderful way. It was definitely a highlight for me to be in their home.  In fact, the following week, I emailed him and asked if we could come again and bring Alyssa.  We went and met other fascinating people that are serving in Thailand in various ways. What a blessing!

Randy and I enjoyed our time with PVT, and being with Alyssa everyday was wonderful. We did ministry with her, learned about ministries in Chiang Mai, went to the markets, coffee shops, an art museum, saw elephants, petted tigers, prayed and worshiped with her.  It was glorious, but honestly our favorite day was the last day we shared with Alyssa.  We took a Tuk Tuk to the big mall, Maya, and had lunch at the food court.  Afterwards we walked several blocks to The Light Cafe where we were to meet Ann and Sinn (the Pascual's friends). We invited Kim Allerton, our Berry friend, to join us. Alyssa and Kim were friends in college. What a wonderful afternoon drinking coffee, making new friends and visiting with Kim. It turns out that Sinn used to work with Campus Outreach.  His wife Ann, knows Esther (Rob's wife). Kim's Campus Outreach friend, Brooke (also Berry grad), also knows Esther - from Cross Fit.  Yep, they have Cross Fit in Chiang Mai! Since it was Thursday, so off we went to Rob's for spaghetti dinner.

Sinn, Ann, Poom, the Nobles and Kim...connecting with new friend
"Make sure you don't take things for granted and go slack in working for the common goo;share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship - a different kind of "sacrifice" that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets." Hebrews 13:16 (The Message)
Cultural dinner in Chiang Mai
Elephant kisses!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

PVT - Thailand, part 2

I read all the blogs of P squad...every one of them.  I comment on many of them. This group of people on 3rd generation P squad have encouraged me over the past 7 months. They are willing to ask the hard questions, go to the hard places, love the unlovable, walk into the unknown and embrace life with their whole being.  They hear scripture in a new way, they listen to God with new ears and they pray with a renewed fervor and spirit.  

I knew going to join Alyssa and her squad at PVT would be a blessing, but I had never been off the continent of North America.  I was not excited about the long travel days and hours in the air.  I didn't know what to expect because I had never been immersed in another culture.  

After a few days in Thailand, I found that being away from the normalcy of America to be so refreshing.  I think that is what the World Racers experience as they move to different countries and cultures.  In the spirit of one of my favorite P squad blogger, Melissa Bjorklund, here are some things that stand out from my time in Thailand.

So many
markets - everyone is selling something
motorcycles, scooters, songtaews, tuk tuks
spirit houses with food offerings
animals roaming the streets
people outside - sitting, hanging laundry, eating, talking, working, walking
coffee shops

The people in Chiang Mai never seem to be in a hurry
The children don't throw temper tantrums or seem cranky

I loved hearing the new language and trying to communicate with people and the racers do it so well and with such ease.  I learned a lot about relationships watching P squad during my week at PVT.  

I learned
share your story
hear their story
let go of your desires and serve others
accept those that are different 

World Racers spend 11 months in 11 countries serving and loving others.  They are learning about relationships and in turn they have taught me so much through their examples. 

Thank you P squad for living out Colossians 3:1-17
(my paraphrasing)
Racers set their mind on things above and put aside worldly things and desires. 
The racers have compassion, they are kind, they are humble, they are gentle, they are patient, they forgive and accept others. They truly have an attitude of gratitude and do all for His glory.

Fresh Vegetables at the market

Fresh meat at the market

booth at one of the many night markets

A few P squad racers reunited on streets of Chiang Mai

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Visiting Thailand for PVT and The World Race

When Alyssa left for the World Race in January we learned about the Parent Vision Trip (PVT). Each racer is given the opportunity to invite his or her parents to join them for a week and do ministry alongside them. Knowing Alyssa's route, that would mean PVT would be somewhere in Asia. I knew Cambodia or Thailand were possibilities because PVT is typically in month 8 of the race.  My family all said that I wouldn't go.  I didn't have a passport, and I haven't ever been on a mission trip outside of local missions. Randy would go.  He has a passport and has been on many mission trips to Mexico and the US.

At launch in Atlanta we were given the book, Kingdom Journeys, by Seth Barnes.  I began reading and reflecting on the words of this book.  I began to ask God what He wanted me to do.  Would I be willing to get outside my comfort zone? What would that look like?  In late February I made an appointment to apply for a passport.  Then we get the invitation from Alyssa to come to PVT, it would be in Chiang Mai Thailand in July.  

As we prepared to leave the country for 12 days, people would ask if we were excited. I honestly didn't know what to say. This was going to be a whole new experience and I didn't know what to expect. Yes, we would see Alyssa, but the point of PVT isn't just to visit your daughter, it's to experience God and serve Him outside your comfort zone.  

In my life, things are routine and scheduled. I have everything I need, can go anywhere I want and communicate easily. In a foreign land all that changes. Being outside of my normal life, allowed me to focus more on God. 

Here are five things that I took away from my time in Thailand:

  • Listen for His voice and use less of mine.
  • Learn where He is working and join Him, even if it is hard, uncomfortable or messy.
  • Love well.  This looks like listening more to others and loving them without judgment.
  • Be the Light. The motto at Lighthouse in Action is "be Jesus with skin on"  Bring the light to dark places by loving like Jesus.
  • Time is needed, prayer is needed, workers are needed. Nothing happens quickly, you build relationships by loving like Jesus and then you pray for those that come after you to water and cultivate the seeds of love you planted.
I loved spending time with Alyssa and her squad mates.  They have been loving like Jesus all over the world and they encouraged the parents at PVT to do the same.
Slum ministry means painting fingernails.

Parents of racers...great memories were shared

A ministry of Lighthouse in Action and a great cafe!

Alyssa & her Dad after lunch at Zion 
Alyssa and teammate Zach at Art in Paradise

Racers waving goodbye as parents go on excursion

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Remembering My Dad....A Generation Ends

Everyone has a Dad.  Not everyone has a Dad from the Greatest Generation, serving in World War II and surviving German prison camp for 7 months. Not everyone has a Dad who worked hard to provide for his family. Not everyone has a Dad who loved God and served Him faithfully through the last years of his life. I can claim all of these for my Dad.

Charles Daniel Dugger was born in February 1923 in north Florida, the youngest son of Charlie and Addie. Dan was one of 9 children who moved from Macclenny to Hawthorne in 1929 and remained on that property until his death in April 2015. With his passing, is the end of that generation. My Dad loved to work, it's all he knew. He farmed, chickens, cows and a pig or two.  He had pecans, pears, and planted the most wonderful garden full of vegetables every summer and fall.  I was fortunate to learn how to work hard through his example. I'm sure I didn't understand the importance of what I was learning when I was feeding chickens, picking up pecans, picking peas, shucking corn and many other chores that were in my required of me.

My Dad taught Sunday School from 1960 until 2012.  He taught junior boys, preschoolers and worked in VBS. He was a deacon in the First Baptist Church. He visited the sick, and took vegetables to them from his garden. He sang in the church choir for as long as I can remember.  He gave me a love for music as he made "a joyful noise unto the Lord" - walking to milk the cows.  He was a man of few words, but when he spoke "he didn't stutter"...which meant get busy!  

He was married to my Mom for 62 years, and loved her to the very end. He missed her so much, that 5 months after she passed away he went to join her.  He lived a long, full life that makes me realize how fortunate I was to have such a Godly example. My life was shaped by him in so many ways...thanks Dad for everything!

Shelling pecans at age 91

Taking a walk in the field at age 92, just a few weeks before he went to heaven!
  He loved being outside.

The last family photo in March 2015.
My Dad went to be with the Lord on Easter 2015, Victory Day!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ends of the Earth - World Race

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts. 1:8

When Alyssa said she was going on the World Race, this mom was not happy.  I actually huffed out of the room!  After processing it and praying through it, I embraced her decision to take this adventurous journey.  In my heart I knew that God had prepared Alyssa for such a trip.  

  • She grew up in church learning about missions through Girls in Action (GA's), went to GA summer camp and came home talking about all she had learned from missionaries.
  • We had college students in our home that went on short and long term missions. She heard their stories and her heart was molded to love the nations.
  • At the end of 9th grade she began regular trips to serve at an orphanage and school in the border town of Piedras Negras Mexico.
As a parent you pray that your child will follow the Lord.  It's easy to say we trust Him with our children wherever He leads them, then they go on the World Race!

One last trip to Chick fil A before leaving on the World Race
What have I learned since Alyssa left on the race?

No News Is Good News

The first month (Ecuador) we heard from her frequently.  We got text, she blogged, she posted on Instagram and Facebook.  Then she decided to go on a screen fast during month 2 (Peru), to focus on the Lord and detox from social media.  Then she lost her phone...confirmation from God concerning the screen fast.  (Cue the voice that says to the mother - "well you said you trusted God, how about when you don't get regular communication?")  We haven't heard much from her since early in February, but an email or blog is such a treasure.  It's similar to the excitement of getting snail mail.

Praying Scripture

Pray without ceasing.  Sometimes it's hard to know specifics to pray when communication is limited.   I have learned to pray scripture over Alyssa and her team and squad.  A few that  I pray specifically and frequently are:

"In peace Alyssa will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make Alyssa dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

"You will keep Alyssa's mind dependent on You in perfect peace, for Alyssa is trusting in You." Isaiah 26:3

"the Lord appeared to Alyssa from far away.  I have loved Alyssa with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to Alyssa."  Jeremiah 31:3

"Do not fear, for I am with Alyssa; do not be afraid, for I am Alyssa's God.  I will strengthen Alyssa; I will help Alyssal I will hold on to Alyssa with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 43:19
Galatians 6:9
Deuteronomy 31:8

Geography Lessons
Alyssa's Dad taught geography and social studies. Her brother won the geography bee in the 6th grade and eventually majored in geography.  I am geographically challenged, but I am currently learning about South America.  I can tell you the major cities in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, though my pronunciation leaves much to be desired.  I have learned about Che Guevara the Argentine revolutionist who hid out in Lagunillas Bolivia. Lagunillas is where Alyssa will be during month 3 of the World Race.  She leaves South America  for Asia at the end of March, and I will begin to explore those countries, cities and villages via maps and the internet.

The following pictures were taken by team or squad mates and posted on Facebook or Instagram.  Check out these videos by Eva to learn more about the ministries of P squad.

Savage Ministries in Trujillo Peru

Drum line talents take to the streets to gather Peruvian children for VBS.

Alyssa and team mate Kate