“I Was There” – A Christmas Story

When I was in Jr. High we were a part of a homeschool group that published a monthly newsletter. Students could send in poems or short story to share with the group. I was 14 when I wrote the following story to send in. It’s fun to see what I wrote all those years ago!

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The sun was setting and it was cooling down.  We all went to get our last drink for the night at a brook nearby.  Now there was nothing unusual about this because we did it every night.  We all enjoyed our drink.
Then it was time to go back to our grassy meadow.  We were all finding a comfortable spot to sleep when all of the sudden a bright light appeared!  It was an angel of the Lord!  Some of the others were afraid and ran away.  They must have gotten lost because I don’t remember ever seeing them again.  I certainly would not run away; I felt honored to be in the presence of an angel.
Then the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘”Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rest.”‘*
Then the angels left us. We were taken to find the Christ child.  Just the idea that I was there the day that Christ was born was really exciting.  When we found him it was as the angel said.  He was wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  I stood next to him and watched him as he slept.  I thought, this is Jesus Christ, my Creator and the one that has come to save the world from their sons.  This was a special day.  It was the first Christmas.
*Luke 2:10-14

Old News

Wow! It has been way too long since I posted anything here. I got on today to look for my Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe and noticed it had been three months since I had written anything. Three months! So decided I had better get on and write something…even if I don’t feel like I have much to share right now.

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Traffic in downtown Dakar on a Tuesday afternoon. Often cars come within just a few inches of hitting each other.

After living in Senegal for over 15 months I think I have forgotten what would seem new and interesting to someone who has never been here. But I think if I try to look at life through your eyes I will find things to write about that will interest you. If you have questions about life in Senegal please leave me a comment and I will try to write a post about it! My life has been so full of new things since I moved here. Things I don’t want to forget…so even if its old news I’ll start sharing some of it with you!

Let’s go back 7 months ago today.

On December 25th, at 2 am I flew out of Dakar. I was headed home to Minnesota for my brother’s wedding! About 22 hours later, I was getting some of the best hugs of my life! What a sweet Christmas memory! I wasn’t expecting to be home at all during my two years here in Senegal, so it was extra special to be home for Christmas. God is so good! My brother’s wedding was such a special day and the time with all of my family was truly a blessing! I’m so thankful that God worked out the details for me go home for a visit and that he knows our needs even before we do.

Here are some pictures of my trip. I didn’t take all the pictures I should have…but I enjoyed each moment with family and friends! Which is sometimes more important than capturing the moments in a pictures right?

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Celebrating Christmas!

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Christmas dinner #2 – I loved getting to spend time with all of my nieces! They are getting so big!

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Coffee time with the soon-to-be bride and groom!

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Hugs from my big bro…the best!

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My beautiful Mom, dashing Dad and wonderful aunt on the day of the wedding.

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My old car all decked out as the wedding get-away vehicle.

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Fun family dinner…some of us look like we were having a little too much fun!

Carols by Candlelight

One thing that took awhile to figure out when I moved to Dakar was…were to go to church. I visited some Senegalese churches mostly for cultural immersion, especially since they were in French. Some Sunday’s I stayed home and listen to my pastor’s message online or watched a sermon. A handful of times I went to church a Dakar Academy (Christian school for missionary kids and international students) just a short walk from my house.

But there was one church that after being there a few times I started to feel comfortable, International Christian Fellowship. It’s a church full of people from all over the world who are in Dakar for a dozen different reasons, but are all looking for a place to worship God.

I can’t say that I feel super connected there yet, but I like the fact that everyone is very friendly and genuine. My hope is to push myself to get involved in small ways and start to get to know more people. But for now, I’m very thankful to have a church that is involved in reaching out to the people in this city!

Tonight I enjoyed an evening of singing Christmas carols with this new church family. Although it’s December in some ways it felt more like the 4th of July…everyone sitting on blankets and wearing their sandals. (Even though it was in the mid-70’s I was feeling quite cool.) It was a special evening and beautiful to be a part of an outdoor candlelight service (keeping the candles lit proved to be quite tricky). I will still miss being a part of the Christmas Eve service at home this year, but I’m thankful for new experiences!

December Newsletter

I love this time of year…first there’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas and finally New Year’s Day! Each holiday is different, but each one helps me turn my thoughts to God; what he has done, is doing and will do in my life.  I hope and pray that as each year passes I am better at recognizing the gifts God has given me and then presenting those gifts back to him.

This year I have approached the holidays with a different perspective than normal.  This new perspective comes from the fact that the next time I will possibly be at home with my family for the holidays is in 2016.  Even that is dependent on how God leads me in the next two years.

As I have pondered this truth it has made me all the more grateful to have this time with my family.  I would encourage you to enjoy your holiday celebrations with the same gratefulness!  Each moment that God has given us is precious and if God has blessed you with family and friends don’t take those relationships for granted.

It’s hard to believe that 2013 will soon give way to a new year.  I hope that throughout this year you have had chances to grow and mature in your walk with God.  I am looking forward to all that God has in store to teach me in the coming year.  There will be so many new things in my life in 2014!  It is exciting, but also a little scary.

Earlier this year one of my partners reminded of God’s command to Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”  He says it four times in chapter one alone. He knows how easy it is for us to lose sight of him and get caught up in our fears, but when we look to him and remember his promises we are given the power we need to be strong and courageous.  Let’s live our lives in His strength this year!

Sharing out of PovertyHe’s only six, but he said, “I have enough to share.”

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One day little Ouseynou told us not to give money to our littlest t boys if they needed help because they happened to be short on their quotas for the day.  Ouseynou said he had it covered.  We asked him what he meant and he said, “I have enough to share and I want to help them.”

What a joy it was to all of us to hear that this little boy, who has nothing but his begging can and flip-flops, cares so much for the littler ones! And this has now become a daily occurrence on Ouseynou’s part.

We are humbled and encouraged by such a selfless act by one of these terribly neglected and mistreated children of Senegal.  That such generosity can come out of such a miserable life could be a wonder, or it could be a testimony to the transforming power of the love of Christ and God’s word.

(Shared with permission from Dave and Denise McCarthy’s 2010 newsletter)

Final Thoughts…

I am so excited to share with you how God has been moving since I last wrote to you!   It has been such an encouragement and blessing to see my support levels continue to rise and to know it is only a result of God’s goodness.

One-time Expenses – 100%

 Monthly Expenses – 66%

In January and February I hope to finish up meeting with friends and churches.  Also, in January I will be attending my final training with World Venture at their headquarters in Littleton, Colorado!  I am excited to see how God will bring all the final pieces of the amazing journey together in the next few months.  If you haven’t gotten to visit with me in person about my plans I would love to get together with you, just give me a call or email me and we can set up a time to get together!

Thank you for your prayers!

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“For such is the Kingdom of God”

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As God has called me to minister to street boys in Senegal, I am reminded of Jesus’ love for little children.  “Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

For me, love will include serving the boys through tasks that may not always be pleasant.  But no task was too small or beneath Jesus as He served here on earth. In Philippians 2:7, Paul says this about Jesus “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”  I am thankful for these reminders from the Bible about what ministry should look like!  I’m blessed by the chance to serve Him by loving his children in Senegal.

I am continually amazed with how much God loves each and every one of His children…you and me, street boys in Senegal, those living in war torn countries, the rich, the poor and those that may seem unlovable.  I have been reminded of God’s love for me numerous times over the last few months.  As I strive to follow Him and share with others about the ministry He has called me to it is easy to get lost in the daily grind, but each time I start to feel worn down, God brings something into my life to encourage me and remind me that I’m not alone.  He has set me on this path and He will be with me all the way…what a blessing!
Earlier this month my family and I had the chance to go on a road trip to visit extended family.  We had a great time visiting, fellowshipping and reminiscing!  It was really nice to be able to share with my family about the ministry I will be a part of in Dakar…and I have been blessed as God has led many of them to support me in this journey!  Knowing I have their prayers and support means so much to me!

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“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers I pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.”

Philippians 1:3-5

 

Can you believe that the month of October is almost gone? Before we know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us.  I’m very thankful to be at home for the holidays this year celebrating with family and friends close by!  But I’m also looking forward to being in Dakar next year for the holidays.  

Final Thoughts…

As 2013 quickly draws to a close my mind turns to all of the things God has been doing in my life this year and all that 2014 will hold.  I am so thankful for all of my friends and family who have been praying for me throughout this journey…I can really feel God’s strength upholding me through each of you!

My hope and prayer is that I will be able to attend World Venture’s pre-departure training in January.  (This is a required training that I must complete before leaving for Senegal.)  To attend I must be at 60% of my monthly expenses.  If I am unable to attend in January I will have to wait until June for the next training.  Please be praying with me that God will allow me to reach my goal!

Also, if you have made a verbal commitment to support me but haven’t yet sent in a commitment to World Venture, please do so.  (Making a commitment doesn’t mean you have to begin sending in support yet…you can wait until I head out for Senegal, if you want.)  If you have questions, call or talk to me…I’ll be glad to help!

 

One-time Expenses – 90%

Monthly Expenses – 40%

 

Thank you for your prayers,

Kim Johnson
 
 

The Birth of Jesus Christ

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:18-21

It’s so amazing when stop and consider the details that God orchestrated when He sent His son to earth.  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be in Mary or Joseph’s shoes sandals?  I’m sure that very few people, if anyone, truly believed that the baby born to Mary was of the Holy Spirit and not Joseph.  I know I would have a hard time if most of my friends and family didn’t believe me.

This Christmas make some time to look again at the story of Christ’s birth.  Consider the faith of those involved and think about how God used their willingness to be used by Him to change the course of history! Then ask yourself, “How strong is my faith in God and am I willing to be used by Him in any way”?  I hope that in a year from now you can look back and see ways that your faith in God has grown.