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Thursday, April 1, 2004
The seven of us arrived at Gatwick Airport this morning. I had arranged
for a taxi to meet us and take the four brothers to another airport
north of London to catch their flight to Bergamo, Italy.After a long weekend touring in the North,
they would meet us in Wales next Tuesday evening. Gladys and I, with
Alicia Behrhorst, took the train into the south part of London where
we picked up our car, and drove out to Dartford, west of London where
we would stay with friends that night.
Friday, April 2, 2004
Today we made the five hour journey west by car. By now the change
to driving on the "correct" side of the road is nearly automatic,
and the route is becoming quite familiar to me. As we crossed the
Severn River bridge into Newport, Wales, I felt a wave of relief come
over me, as if leaving a foreign territory behind me and coming home
to where I belong.
Gladys and I arrived at "Rhos-y-ghadair Uchaf", the Elsaesser's
farm in the late afternoon near the little village of Felinwynt a
few miles northwest of Cardigan. We were welcomed with dinner and
had a nice time catching up a bit with Alex and his family. It was
surprising to realize that with Gladys we had been here just under
3 months ago! For Alicia, however, it was two years ago that we had
come here with a small work team from our church. And it was during
that time that the Lord had spoken to me so clearly about my mission
to come here to pray and intercede for the nation of Wales and for
the coming revival.
Saturday, April 3, 2004
This morning was absorbed into the haze of jet lag, and this afternoon
we made made our first trip out to the Chapel for a while to pray.
After a brief visit with Mr. & Mrs. Williams, the caretakers of
the chapel and grounds, we let ourselves into the chapel with the
large key. Once again we were enveloped in the cold and silence of
this place, and began to make our presence and our prayers felt once
again within these heavy stone walls. As we prayed and sang out in
worship, I could not but help wondering once again how indeed God
would begin a move of His spirit in this place! And yet the assurance
of what I have heard and seen about this coming to pass is as solid
within me as these old walls are solid around us.
Afterwards we went to the supermarket in Cardigan to stock up on
food and supplies for the first week of our stay here, and came home
again to the little trailer where we stayed when here for a month
last year. The weather was quite cold and very windy. Our little refuge
shuttered and groaned as the winds lashed against the sides with occasional
fury, heavy with moisture picked up from the Irish Sea not even a
mile down over the green fields to the south of us. We certainly hoped
for better weather for next week when the work begins!
Sunday, April 4, 2004
went to church this morning with Alex and family. It was a blessing
to come here now and greet friends that we have made in our previous
visits. Though we don't see evidence of a numerical growth in the
group here, there is a sense of expectancy among the members. This
is not just a group of believers hanging onto a far away "until
death do us part" hope, but rather there is a tangible yearning
for a breakthrough. You can sense it in the worship and in the preaching,
and it is encouraging!
Monday, April 5, 2004
I woke early this morning and was drawn to 1 Chronicles 28 where
we see David setting Solomon up with everything necessary for the
building of the temple. He even tells him in verse 21, "And,
behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall
be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall
be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man,
for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will
be wholly at thy commandment." As I read this, I saw that parallel
in what we are actually doing now, in preparation for this to be fulfilled
in Wales. Our own calling, and plans to move here, are just a small
part of God's plan for the coming outpouring. There are many other
"willing and skillful men" also being prepared and placed,
for for service at the King's command. Many have been here for years.
Still others have been sovereignly called out to leave homes and nations
to come and serve here.
Today I was able to spend nearly 6 hours at the chapel alone. After
an initial time of watching and praying, I got down to some serious
soul searching. Like so many times before, I found myself overwhelmed
by the fact that I have been called to pray here. It is such an enormous
privilege to be here and plead God's heart for Wales.
At one point I was asking the Lord some pretty straightforward questions
about who I was to be here doing this. "Why me, Lord?" and
the like, feeling my total unworthiness. And as I opened myself to
examination, I discovered that there was a part of me that seemed
to want to justify the Lord's choice, as if there were some kind of
merit in me to make me deserving of this incredible calling. I can
easily pray and confess that I am nothing more than an unprofitable
servant, but my soul doesn't like to hear that stuff. But it rather
quickly leaps to pretend that there is some hidden "goodness"
in me for which the Lord was going to use me. I found myself deeply
convicted of this, and there I stood totally naked and defenseless
before my Maker, weeping, broken and penitent, in awe of His boundless
love and forgiveness. It seems so contrary to human nature, but truly,
apart from this place of a broken and contrite heart, there must be
nothing at all that "we" can do to be useful to Him.
After this experience, I found a great freedom to pray with authority
and direction, and cried out to God for the descendants of those buried
here. I appealed to Him for the release of the generations that have
been ripped off by the devil's schemes ... entertainment, self-seeking,
etc. The tremendous coldness towards and disinterest in the things
of God is like a fog that has enveloped the great majority of youth,
not just in this nation but around the world today. And this is not
limited to youth, but seems like the goal of the modern world. "Life
(the knowledge of God), liberty (freedom to worship and serve God)
and the pursuit of happiness" seems to have gotten turned around.
"Pursuit of happiness" is now at the head of the list, and
the other two elements are long since left misunderstood and forgotten.
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Off we went today to the monthly prayer meeting at Ffald-y-Brenin,
the retreat center near Newport in Pembrokeshire that we visited in
January. Several of the people we had seen then, but there were also
some new faces. It was a blessing to arrive early enough to share
coffee and meet some of them. What a blessing this group of prayer
warriors comes here month after month for a day of prayer for a new
outpouring of revival for Wales and the world.
In a short teaching during morning session, Roy Godwin shared from
2 Chronicles 15 and Ezra 3 about how the sacrifices were re-established
before the high places were torn down and any rebuilding could be
undertaken. That dovetailed in very directly with what the Lord showed
me yesterday in 1 Chronicles 28. We are all called on to become that
willing sacrifice, pleasing to the Lord. There is a price to be paid,
and it will get more costly as we proceed towards obedience, but oh,
the recompense of seeing His glory manifested will far outweigh any
meager offering on our part.
During one of the prayer times in the afternoon session I was overcome
once again by a deep crying out in anguish, imploring for God's process
in Wales to be fulfilled. When these seasons of strong intercession
come, all I can do is weep and pour out my soul before the Lord in
what I can only describe as a profoundly joyful agony. When I am by
myself there is great freedom, but with others around I try to keep
as silent as possible to not interfere with their praying. It is embarrassing
sometimes because my nose runs like a fountain and it can get pretty
messy. I found it amusing that afterwards, a very sweet-spirited elderly
lady who was seated two chairs to my left leaned over and said she
was "so sorry I had such a terrible cold!" When I explained
that I wasn't sick at all but just praying, we shared a warm laugh
and moment of acknowledgement that His ways are not always according
Tuesday afternoon, April 7, 2004
After the prayer meeting at Ffald-y-Brenin, Gladys and I drove down
to Carmarthen to meet Alex. He had adjusted his schedule to get off
his work there to meet the four men from New Orleans at the train
station. So we distributed people and belongings between the two cars
and headed home, about an hour north. We heard all about the adventures
they had during their long weekend in Italy, where they saw Venice
and Bergamo, and then Monday explored London a bit also.
They were being hosted with a very nice family from the English-speaking
New Life Centre in Cardiga. They live in the picturesque town of Aberporth,
a small port town perched atop the cliffs of the Irish Sea, about
4 miles from the Elsaesser's farm in Felinwynt. It was here that we
had come for a baptism last spring at the little beach nestled between
the rocky arms of this natural harbor. I left them to get acquainted
over a lovely dinner that Ruth had prepared for them, and encouraged
them to get a good rest for what would likely be a long day's work
Wednesday, April 7 - the work begins!
After picking up the others, we wound our way through the narrow
little streets and up an incredibly steep hill, called "Punishment
acquired its very descriptive name during the Second World War when
soldiers from the nearby base were marched up and down repeated to
do penance for unsuitable behavior and/or endurance training! With
5 of us in an old Ford Esquire, we prayed we would not meet a car
coming down and have to stop and find a place to pull over and let
it squeeze by!
When we got back to thefarm
"Rhos-y-Gadair Uchaf", it was a joyful time of greetings
and introductions. This was the second trip for Sergio Enamorado and
David Beristain, having accompanied us on the missions work party
two years earlier. For both David's friend Johnny Barrera and my part-time
assistant Pablo Cruz, it was their first time in Europe, where the
word "old" takes on a new significance. After their weekend
in Italy, the nearly 200 year old farm buildings we would be working
on somehow didn't seem so old any more!
So we met together and I gave them a little bit of the story of how
Alex and Renie had come here just over five years ago. There are three
"old" stone barns which will be converted into living quarters
for families which, like Alex and Renie's youngest daughter Alissa,
have a child with special needs. The vision for this project is thatthese families cancome out to spend their holidays or retreat
times in this beautiful place near the sea. This will be a place they
can leave behind the daily routines and find a time of refreshing
and be ministered to by God's love.The children can ride ponies, pet the sheep, or help collect
chicken's eggs. There are beautiful walking paths along by the seaside,
beaches, and other attractions nearby as well.
Before left New Orleans I had tried to describe what we would be
doing, but now I showed them exactly what our task would be for the
next five days. We would begin with the barn which is attached directly
to the south end of the house, and remove the old disintegrating mortar
between the stones, and replace it with new waterproof mortar.
It is a very slow and painstaking job, chipping away with long-pointed
pick-type hammers. In some spots the old mortar falls out if you just
look at it hard enough, but in other areas it is just hardened mud
that after 100 years or so of soaking and drying outtime and time again can be hard to remove.
The new mortar we are using with plasticizer and waterproofer mixed
in not only adds tremendous structural strength to the thick stone
walls, but will now be an effective moisture barrier in this very
wet climate so that the living areas can be kept relatively dry and
comfortable as residences.
As everyone got to work, learning as they went, the work went by
quickly. The time change gave us plenty of daylight hours, until after
8 o'clock. Before we knew it, the workday was over and we were all
exhausted. Everyone slept extra well that night!
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Today we worked a good and long day. I want to mention a detail that
provided great deal of intentive to our labors. Alex & Renie's
kids were all on Easter vacation, and the older daughters were working
away outside as well. They were busy tearing out an old barbed wire
fence in the upper pasture and building a post and split-rail fence
in its place. The sight of these girls driving a farm tractor, loading
the wagon with the wooden rails, and using a 15-pound two-person muscle-powered
fence-post-driver like old pros had a wonderful effect!
The chipping went on most of the day today, but by mid-afternoon,
a couple guys started doing the pointing - putting the new mortar
in place. There is definitely an art to it, but it can be learned
You have a square pallet, which is the size of a large plate with
a handle on the bottom which you grab in one hand, andput a small pile of mortar on. In the
other hand you have a small triangular mason's trowel, and placing
the edge of the pallet against the stone just below the joint you
are filling, you just flip or push the amount of mortar you need to
fill the gap, and then packed it in and smooth it out with the trowel.
You quickly discover you are a sculptor at heart, and then have to
resist the temptation of making each joint be a masterpiece. You are
almost ready to add your initials when you realize that there another
50 or 60 joints within your immediate view!
With aI have found
myself to be the official "mud mixer", making the mortar
and wheeling it down to the "annex" as the barn attached
to the house is called. I remember as a boy mixing cement and mortar
for different projects around our old house in rural Maryland. Then,
we did it in a large trough or wooden box, using a shovel or hoe.
So having an electric mixer at my disposition was real luxury.
After the first few batches, about a wheelbarrow full each, I got
the "mud" just about right, and from there on I felt all
the professional! The correct mixture consisted of 5 parts of sand
to 1 part cement, each part being a bucket or shovel full. Then when
the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, you start adding water until
the desired consistency is attained. It had to be just wet enough
to stick to the stones, but a bit too much would make it to loose
to hold itself in place. There is quite a lesson to be learned in
such simple things. I will elaborate more tomorrow.
Friday, April 9th, early morning - What a night!
I had some very vivid dreams last night, which I believe relate directly
to what is to come. In one there was a very small group, myself and
only 3 or 4 others, and we seemed to be in a place in a forest, and
in a sort of pit or sinkhole, and at first it seemed that there was
intense prayer going on for each of us in general and then more of
an intercessory crying out for mercy for this land. Then, I found
what seemed like a very old wreath-like shape, and as I examined it
and continued praying intensely, I found it to be like a dried out
and emaciated person rolled up and just chucked into this pit. So
I took this figure up in my hands and began to bend it a little and
rub it and try to make it a little pliable, and so just worked at
this for a while, praying intensely all the while. As I called the
attention of those with me to this curious creature, there appeared
others of these dried out and abandoned figures as well, so they too
began to pray over them and work on them as if they were old leather.
Sometime around this point I woke briefly and found myself rubbing
my own cold face with both hands, warming my cheeks from the chill
of the morning. And then I drifted back into the same dream again,
and as we worked on them, these figures began slowly to come to life
again. At first they started breathing, and grew faintly warm, and
then actually begin to fill out a bit and get softer and more responsive.
It was as if they had been asleep for ages and ages. As we massaged
their faces and arms, they very slowly came back to be quite themselves
again, and then joined in with us as we prayed for more restoration
for others that we found.
As this went on, I realized somehow that there were other pits like
this one in different parts of Wales, and that the same process needed
to happen. I don't know how I got from one place to the next, but
found myself there also and saw others doing this same kind of process
of praying and massaging these figures back to life again. This seemed
to be the key to the beginnings of the revival - restoring these lost
and forgotten members to a place of power in closeness to the Lord
and to one another, and in care intercession and ministry to still
As I lay awake again shortly afterwards, I began to reflect on our
work of the previous day, and the mixture of the mortar for "pointing"
as they call it, filling in the spaces between the stone in the old
buildings. There had been an insistence on the mixture of sand and
cement, although written instructions and opinions on making different
mixes for different purposes were abundant. But for this particular
work of pointing, five parts of sand to one part of cement was very
clearly recommended by the professional workers who had done the back
walls of the main house when we were here in December. Alex also had
emphasized this proportion, as did his daughter as well, who reported
that she had actually experimented with different measures and found
this one to be the best.
I could not help seeing the parallel with the five-fold ministry
gifts. The application of the mixture would be useless of course without
the cement, which represents the unfeigned love of God for one another,
and everyone alike. The sand, the many, many grains, each unique yet
indistinguishable amongst the mixture, would just fall to the ground
useless without the cohesive power of the cement. And as I was responsible
for making the mortar, I got to watch the process closely as the sand
and cement tumbled and blended together in the turning drum of the
mixer. Once evenly combined, I added water, which I had pre-mixed
with a plasticizer to make the mortar more viscous and workable, and
another ingredient to make it waterproof when it set up. Much care
was needed as the mixture neared the right consistency. Not enough
water would leave the mortar too dry, causing it to crumble and fall
apart rather than sticking to itself and the surrounding stones. On
the other hand, just a bit too much water would make it too soft,
and it would not retain its shape as it was pressed into the cracks
and spaces with the metal trowel.
As I considered this, I was fascinated to notice how much this process
paralleled the operating of the church. Making mortar is much easier
because the properties of each ingredient are always the same. People
working together in the church present a much more difficult dynamic.
It is essential to maintain the delicate balance between the Word
and Spirit, the letter of the law, and the living out of the law of
love. One extreme would be the leadership growing administrative and
legalistic to maintain order and focus; the other would be the "sloppy
agape" of just flowing in the Spirit without much regard and
adherence to the principles of truth and doctrine as clearly presented
in the scriptures.
It seems that keeping the correct focus on the end product is the
best way to keep the balance. If in fact the main objective is to
build up an inviting and inhabitable house made of living stones,
then the condition of each stone and its adjoining neighbors are what
determine the best mix. It is not the mix itself, but rather the whole
house that becomes a home for others.