GOD’S CHOIR

During World War 2, when London was being destroyed by the blitz bombings from Germany, William Temple, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury wrote the following about worship:

“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God. “

It is a beautiful day. One of those days where it feels good to be alive – in reality, I’m feeling better than I have in many months – and maybe years?  The air is deliciously warm and fresh, with a slight breeze moving the flowers.  I am surprised by the pleasant scents

I look around me and realize I am part of a huge crowd of people.  It must be thousands?

But there are no crying babies, and fussing children.  In fact, the children I see scattered are all contentedly sitting on the grass, playing quietly with each other.  I smile as I look at them. The word “contented” emanates from the scene, even from me.

All the loose ends in my mind no longer create knots of hidden restlessness along with my sense of inadequacy. I am at peace!

I again look up at the soft blues in the sky with its depths of color I’m unaccustomed to see, and they tug at me.

As I look around at this scene, I am amazed.  We are on a sloping plane of freshly cut grass. The thousands of people I see are in a natural amphitheater. Some activity is going on up on the stage (it is HUGE!)

Someone from the front of the crowd starts a snatch of a song. The melody is caught up by those close by, and it spreads throughout that mass of people!  I have goosebumps and tears run down my cheeks.  The melody weaves a tapestry of sound: I can hear all of the parts being sung by this immense crowd of people, the instruments on the stage blend in with the voices.  I’ve sung in choirs and played in orchestras – but I’ve never heard anything like this! In fact, there are instruments I’ve never seen.

I remember the first time I sang an unknown melody led by the Holy Spirit, sitting with a small group of friends on the floor.  It was unbelievably beautiful as our voices blended in praise to God.  But now?  Thousands and thousands of voices weaving in and out.  No disharmony.  We are all singing praises to our God and Lord, and the Holy Spirit is directing all of us!

Oh Lord!  I never imagined that I would be part of this rush of beauty and joy as I sing to my Lord.  And He is here!  His presence penetrates our souls, spirits and bodies.

I have no words, Lord, to express my overbearing gratitude. 

I am here, with my loved ones and YOU. 

I am here!

– Voni

ONE YEAR AGO

I WROTE THIS EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO – EVEN TO THE SAME HOUR. BUT I WILL HAVE TO CHANGE THE ENDING. 

June 8, 2018 at 6:51 PM ·  
My apartment in Natal, Brazil, is 592 sq feet. 
Definitely a NEST. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, SMALL kitchen, living area, small balocony. no laundry facilities. 
Many Americans would NOT like some of the challenges of living there. 

 
No hot water except in the showers. No dishwasher. (Yes, we wash our dishes in COLD water.. . and we get them clean! :)  

We do have Wi-Fi. Unexpected contrasts 

Simple and small – and HOME!  

 
I can put up my hammock (barely) on the balcony, see the ocean, feel the breeze, keep my windows and doors open, so the breeze from the ocean swishes through the balcony door, rushing through the living area and out the open front door. 
It also comes swirling into the bedrooms, but since there aren’t any large open areas on the other side of the apartment, it meanders through the two bedrooms and hall, to join it’s rowdy cousin blowing through the living area. 

This is HOME.  

 
I have no idea why I have this emotional attachment. Perhaps it is because this is the last home that Joe and I had in Brazil, and there are mementos scattered on glass shelves put on different walls. (When the floor area is small, it’s amazing how creative one becomes! :) ) 

I know ONLY that I need to go home for a period of time. I don’t know what are all the purposes the Lord has for me and my Nest in Natal? Perhaps it is so I can have closure to one phase of my life before I enter the next one? 
Only by going there, will I be able to know. 

At the moment, I am in Portland, OR with my daughter, Sheryl, and her husband. Hopefully I will go back to Valdosta, GA, to be with another daughter in August. 
 

THIS IS WHERE IT CHANGED… MY PLANS TO RETURN TO BRAZIL ARE STILL ON HOLD. 

June 8 2019 6:49 pm 

I AM NOW LIKE A SMALL CHILD, HANGING ONTO MY FATHER’S HAND. HE IS TAKING ME ON SOME DETOURS I HAD NOT EXPECTED. 

There have been tears, laughter, struggles with myself, missing Joe, learning to trust God more. When I start to become discouraged, I remember Jesus’ words: 

Matthew 18:2-4 The Passion Translation (TPT) 
“2 Jesus called a little one to his side and said to them, 3 “Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in. 4 Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm” 

The time WILL come when I will think and talk to God as I sit on that tiny balcony, look at His creation around me, feel the sun on my shoulders and the breeze on my face and understand more of what God is doing. 

But now, I have to keep walking as a small child. 

BUILDING AN ALTAR

Belo Horizonte, Brasil

1986

The living room is huge; big enough we had our daughter’s wedding in it, with over 100 guests – unforgettable as some of those guests shot off LOUD fireworks from outside the house, and others brought their own drinks to doctor the punch we were serving. (We only learned about that later. Different culture and different mores. This was not considered rude: rather, almost as a game.)

Tears during the ceremony, laughter afterward, as our guests mingled and conversed. A mixture of languages spoken: Portuguese, English, Spanish – possibly more- representing several different countries.

Our flower decorations were primarily small trees we’d cut; (the forest was about 5 miles away.)
We wired them upright in strategic places throughout the living after placing their trunks in the sand that was in buckets.  Then a few flowers were scattered throughout the room. It was simple and lovely.
The best decoration of all was the view from our verandah of the city below our mountain perch. The laughter and love that filled our home that night will never be forgotten.

 (The next day, I spent the whole day with a table knife in one hand and Bombril under my bare foot, as I went over that whole expanse of parquet floor digging out rice from between the cracks and using the Bombril to clean the floor of the food that had dropped and was then walked on. Don’t have a party serving food and throwing rice over a parquet floor!)

Then, there was the night we invited the Ice Capades skaters and crew to our home for snacks and conversation.  The show was closing unexpectedly, so that evening there were many tears and unanswered questions: but we were able to show them how much we loved them.

Bible studies, home church services – the varnished brick walls could tell many stories. However, tonight, all is quiet.  Rare.

A few moments ago, my husband left to visit some friends of his, and my children are downstairs in their rooms. Tonight, as is too common, my husband, Carlos, said some words that cut my heart before he left. He wanted to let me know he preferred the company of his other friends to mine, and his words were very clear

I am now sitting at one end of the living room, where you will find my “refuge”.

This end of the living room is separated from the rest by a large “see through” fireplace; open on both sides so the warmth fills the whole room. I love to sit here with all the lights out, the flames from the fireplace keeping me company as I look out over the lights of the city, the expanse of star-studded sky, and talk with God.

I’m sitting on a rustic sofa, made of white boards with a piece of foam rubber covered with a deep turquoise piece of material. Simple. I lean against the varnished outer brick wall, my hands around my pulled-up knees, looking out over the city and watching the flames.

I give my tears to God and sit quietly, absorbing the music coming from our improvised sound system.  The Gaither’s start singing “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all tears are gone. Because I know He holds tomorrow I can face uncertain days … because He lives …”

My heart becomes quiet as I sing the words with the Gaithers.  I will always remember this moment when, without realizing it, the “my refuge” area of our living room is transformed into an altar before the Lord where I can praise Him.  Not because everything is “right” – but, because He lives!

-Voni

Can you remember moments when the Holy Spirit helped you build an altar of praise before God?
Please share, as we learn different ways altars are built.

If you want God to laugh

Last week a friend asked: “What do you need to do to make God chuckle or laugh?”

Of course, I had no idea.

She smiled at me: “Make some plans.”

I burst into laughter.  I can certainly identify with that one!

The other day I sat down and counted how many times my plans have changed since Joe’s death.

1/ He and I planned for me to move back to Brazil to live.
 Not feasible: because of finances my first move had to be out of our apartment and into
 my daughter, Sheryl’s home. I then spent several months trying to sort things –   including my thoughts.  Only it wasn’t as simple as choosing which thoughts to keep and which ones to discard.  I discovered that things are easier to organize than thoughts. 🙂

2/ A few months later, I went to Georgia, to the welcoming home of another daughter. Lanae (– that was in September after several tries without success. Couldn’t get things sorted and packed as quickly as I’d planned Changed the tickets three times. ( Using mileage so no fees for changes.  Good thing!)  and my girls are an incredible help to me!

3/ Lanae and I – from Orlando to Natal, Brazil, to get my citizenship… mid Nov-1st part of Dec               
Only two tries to get those tickets.  20 days jam packed to get all documentation done plus other obligations. (God to teach at a couple of churches… love those people!)
Back to Orlando     

4/ At Lanae’s….one year after Joe went HOME… I’m beginning to think more clearly.                       
     

 2018 goes by in a blur.  Many tears. Much soul-searching. Part of the time with Lanae, part of the time with Sheryl  Medical exams – Sheryl and the doctor couldn’t think of more to give me … I come out of them quite well.  Weather affecting my pain level  Juggling supplements and medications.
My son-in-law is on kidney dialysis.  I need to stay longer at Sheryl’s than I’d planned.
(I was going to be in Brazil right after Easter).    Those changes of plans are rather big.

At least 4 ticket changes during the year with more mileage miles.

Now it is the end of April 2019  2 years and 2 months since Joe is gone.

I’m in Portland, unsure how much longer I’ll need to be here.
My friends in Brazil say my next arrival in Brazil can be compared to the 2nd coming of Christ.  No one knows the time nor the hour.


I’ve dealt with many questions about where I am supposed to be.
The answer at this time is: I don’t know the future.  I know where I am now.
I will be returning to Brazil when the Lord releases me from here.
While I am here, I have some things to do, even as I am learning more about teaching from a distance.     

And yes, I know that God is writing my itinerary.
Every time I try to put in the dates I want, He chuckles as He erases my handwriting and puts in the dates He has chosen.      

         “God writes straight with crooked lines.”  A Portuguese proverb

  • Voni Pottle

MY DISCOVERY

MY DREAM

I awakened slowly, with tears in my eyes and a leaping joy in my heart.  I realized I’d been dreaming but 0h! it was so real!

I am in a small church – the one I knew as a child.  It is a Sunday morning.  I apologize to a missionary who is there; so few have come to ear him speak and I am embarrassed.
He smiles and tells me not to worry. It is in God’s hands.
I ask him if I can say a prayer for him and the few there before I leave to another commitment. He quietly says,  “Please.”

As I pray, I am surprised by my own words: the fervor in my heart, praying for God to move and bring into that building  those He wants to be there: for His will to be done!
When I open my eyes, I discover a few more people are there, including two couples I know and love.

I go to the back of the auditorium to leave, look at the missionary and the people, and realize that this time here in this small church building is more important than any other commitment I might have..  I sit down to listen, and begin praying once more.


I’m amazed! More and more people come in, some wearing their beach apparel.  They had obviously been headed to enjoy the ocean beaches and beautiful sunshine, but for some reason had responded to our prayers.

The small auditorium gradually fills, Then, as dreams often do, the size of the auditorium enlarges, as more and more people come in. and now a large stage appears behind the missionary as he speaks.  He asks if there is anyone who would like to be a missionary, carrying God’s Good News to other lands, and to their neighbors.

A line begins to form as people move towards the stage. In that line are the couples I know.
I go to hug them and realize I, also, need to rededicate my own life to obeying God’s command.  I’ve been sidetracked by what I considered my own “needs” and health.
I was spending more time on that than what God had given to me to do.  I was in danger of becoming more involved in “cares of the world” than in following God’s commands.

I join the queue of people waiting to go upon that stage of life before us.


My tears of release and joy awaken me.  
Father God, may this dream be an altar before you, and my life be upon it.
In Jesus name, I pray this prayer. Voni

PRAYING – FOR CATS AND COMPUTERS

1963 Salem, Oregon 

Our four children and my husband, Cal, are waiting impatiently in the car. We are leaving on a week long camping trip.  
We have to leave our cat at a friend’s home – and the cat has disappeared!  
I run into the back yard, desperately searching for that small animal one last time- and praying like mad! 
“Please, Lord, bring that cat back. We can’t leave her here while we are gone. And I can’t come back to look again… please!” 

As I run around the yard, urgently looking and calling, what to I see? That cat walking leisurely into the yard and coming up to me, rubbing against my legs and purring! I bend over, careful to not move in a way to frighten her, pick her up – hanging onto her tightly – and run to the car. 

We leave her at our friend’s home, have a wonderful trip with our kids, stop to get the cat on our way home. We are all glad to see her , even my husand :) and her purrrr machine is loud in volume and working well. 

That scene from over 50 years ago is still indelibly printed in my miind. You may ask, “Why ?!” 

For me, it is amazing how many times I’ve thought of “that cat!” 
I’ve had so many crazy things to pray for… whenever I’ve stopped because the request was so “crazy”, not even of enough importance to ask God for help, I remember “that cat” coming to me, purring. 
 
2019 January 

All this brings me to Sunday night.  
I’m sitting in the recliner in the bedroom, hoping to get some documents finished. Lanae fixed me a cup of delicious coffee. We couldn’t find my coffee mug with a strong lid, so she put the coffee in one of her mugs. I don’t hear her say, 
“Mom, be careful for this mug’s lid isn’t very tight, ” 

Sipping on the coffee, I put the mug onto the little shelf beside my chair, settle into my chair and reach for the coffee mug. 
Can you imagine my chagrin and distress when the full mug of hot coffee with cream capsizes as the lid comes off, POURING coffee over my keyboard, my chair and the floor.  
The computer keys are awash in a river of coffee. 

I hastily move the mug off the laptop, turn the laptop upside down and shake as much of the liquid out as I cant. My hand is shaking and I am praying as I reach for a small computer vacuum and start running it over the keys. I can’t find the little pieces for the suction to be stronger.. but I keep on passing it over the keys. 

I turn the computer on – making sure the power cord is not in it. the lines and colors that come up give me little hope. Lanae brings me her small hair dryer. I run that back and forth over the keyboard, praying for my computer. 

Eventually, I turn on the power to leave my computer on all night. If running it will help it dry out faster, that’s what I’m going to do! 

I eventually quit, tired and praying, my mind keeps repeating itself  
” God knows I don’t have the money to buy a new computer. . . I wonder if he would bless me putting up something on GO FUND ME . ???  
I need to find the time to finish my website so the 503 i’m working on.can receive funds “… eventually falling into a fitfull sleep – with a knot of sorrow in my stomach – and still praying. 

That was three days ago! The day after it’s coffee baptism, the computer gradualy came back to life. Tonight, I am working on it again, in the same recliner in the bedroom.! 

I have difficulty believing what I know happened! 
But it did! No coffee cup next to me with loose lids. In fact, little coffee while I’m working here. 

I’m sure I did not follow “correct procedure” with the computer. 
But God moved on behalf of thie 86 year old widow… maybe He used my guardian angel … I do NOT know HOW… I only know that because I sent a desperate prayer – for a cat, and a computer and all those other things ..- My Father, My Lord and the Holy Spirit touched my life once again- and I am thankful! 

..I AM STILL LEARNIG I CAN PRAY FOR CATS – AND COMPUTERS – AND MANY OTHER THINGS IN BETWEEN. 

What about you? Do you also have crazy prayers God has answered. Aren’t we blessed to have a Father like Him! 

Voni 

ADAGE: YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT – TRUE!

Spring 1943
On a small farm, NW part of Washington state, near Canada. 

I am 10 and my brother is 8.  We are having supper at the round dark oak table in the dining room with Mom and Dad.  It’s a Friday night and Clio and I want to run out a play again before it gets dark: but it is not to be.  Dad wants to talk to us about tomorrow.
We stop fidgeting to listen,

“Children you know it is time to plant the garden so we will have food for next winter. Tomorrow looks like a good day for it.  This week I plowed and prepared the ground.. and today I marked the rows with string between stakes so we can see where to plant.  Tomorrow morning we’ll get up and have breakfast and go to work on the garden.” Dad smiled as he said this. He loved the land. He was actually looking forward to planting this garden!  Clio and I did not share his enthusiasm, but we knew we would be working on the garden tomorrow. 

The next morning after breakfast, Dad an Clio headed to the garden.  As soon as the breakfast dishes were done, Mom and I joined them  where Dad had prepared everything  In some rows we had to put seeds about a foot apart, then cover them with the cool damp earth.  We all worked hard (Clio and I probably not as hard as Mom and Dad). . . finally we thought we were done… WRONG~.  

Dad came up to us and congratulated us on doing such a good job, Then he said:  “There’s just one more thing to do.. Plant the potatoes. “ 

Now, this wasn’t seeds. Rather it was pieces of potato that Mom had cut up for planting.  The secret in all of that was the “eyes” on the potatoes.  A certain break in the skin, easy to see, but I don’t know how to describe.  When Mom cut the potatoes, she made sure that each piece had an eye in it.
We then were to take the potatoes, dig a small hole and put three pieces of potato into the hole, making sure that the “eye” on each piece was turned UP Clio and I are not happy!  Our backs hurt from bending over, we are ready to quit this garden business.  But, Dad has given us our instructions.  We take the pieces of potato and start.
We work out a system.  I dig the hole, Clio drops in the potatoes, covering them well with the dirt while I dig another hole.  At the beginning we are very careful to turn the potato “eyes” in the right direction.  A little over half the row we become speedier – by simply dropping three potato pieces into the hole, helter-skelter, then covering them.
We get done… call Dad and tell him we’ve finished. He comes up, looks as the row and exclaims: “I’m surprised at how quickly you got this done!_ Great job! That’s it for now. Your mother and I will finish up.  Go on and play.”   We scamper off before Dad can change his mind. . . and totally forget about those potato “eyes.” 

Several months later.
The weather is warm. No more jackets and we can go barefoot.  Now, there is a bucket of water, brush and towel by the back door.  Before we are allowed to come inside, we have to put our feet, one at a time, in the bucket, use the brush to wash off the dirt from our feet and dry them well.  Mom does not want dirty tracks on the floor.  We painfully learn how serious she is about this, so obey.

This specific evening, as usual, Dad takes off his shoes, our feet don’t make dirty tracks, our hands are well washed and we are sitting around the dining room table, enjoying some of the fresh vegetables from the garden that Mom fixed for supper. (She is a GOOD cook.)   

As we are eating, Dad starts talking about the garden.  “All of the work of planting and weeding (Clio and I did our share of that, also.) has been worth it!  We have plenty of vegetables to can (more hard work!) for the winter.  It looks like the fruit trees are going to bear well.  We have much to thank God for!”
Dad paused.  “But there is one thing I do not understand.  We are going to be short on potatoes.  A little over half the row is fine.  But the other part almost no potatoes grew.” And he looks at my brother and I, with his eyebrows raised, waiting for our comments. 

We shamefacedly confess what we had done. His only remark is: “I thought you got through planting those potatoes very fast.  Now do you understand why it was important to plant them like your mother and I told you to do, why she was so careful how she cut them?  This winter, you may not have as many mashed potatoes as you would like.”
With downcast eyes, we understood.
————————— 

January 2019 

I’ve never forgotten. I can still remember planting those potatoes – I had a little guilt as I let Clio just throw them into the holes. I was older and knew better. But no one would ever know… and we’d already done so much!   

This lesson is indelibly etched into my mind to remind me to that responsibility is demanded by life and expected by God.
That old adage: “Your sins will find you out” is only too true. 

How about you?  Do you have some memories like this? 

Know what?  Ï thank God for the word “forgiven.”

Voni 

Last night of 2018

Voni Pottle
December 31, 2018 at 8:25 PM ·
Tonight – tears of memories. Talking with a friend, Paulo Martins who played and sang with our singing group, Novo Mandamento. So many experiences… singing in churches, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit when He came in. Journeys in an old station wagon… piled high on top with instruments… and full of people. I’ll never forget when we carried a huge bag full or oranges from Rio to the YWAM base in Belo Horizonte.
There was no room – so we emptied the oranges out of the bags until we were surrounded with oranges. At least we didn’t go hungry on the road. 🙂

You can find the longplays on YouTube
.. conjunto Novo Mandamento… in Portuguese… but many of the songs are familiar in English. (We translated them into Portuguese).

You can find the longplays ….on You Tube.. conjunto Novo Mandamento
this is in Portuguese, many of the songs were in English and we translated them

December 31, 2018 almost midnight
The last day of this year. I started 2018 in Valdosta, GA, and ending it here also, I’ve had many plans and ideas that didn’t materialize: others that God surprised me with. Today, I am missing Joe… as I look back … which Isaiah tells us to not do – but look towards the future… for God is doing a new thing.

It was a wonderful Christmas…but that is now in the past… and, of course, I wish it weren’t . 🙂

As we look forward, trusting God for our futures, may we praise Him for the joys and challenges of the past.

I love each one of you!

 

My Christmas Photo Book

 

 

Lanae and I in Miami with Jonathan’s family and Beth Hall – Christmas morning

 

 

 

Did you ask me about my family?
I have 6 children,
18 grandchildren and in July it will be
23 great-grandchildren

The grandchildren of my eldest daughter and her husband: – and  they are my great-grandchildren

December 27th – We learned that the family will win a girl.

My great-grandchildren in Los Angeles

Here are some pictures of them.

Thinking on Paper – IMPORTANT.

As in all cities, there are the poor. I’ve been in many homes most Americans would not consider liveable. In fact, I’ve lived in some that didn’t meet the standards of many people.  In fact, I’ve lived in some homes that didn’t meet the standards of many people.
But one thing I have learned: It doesn’t matter as much what you HAVE as it matters WHO you are. Peace and joy do not come from “things” but come from what we have in our spirits.
The “good news” we have from Jesus Christ, makes far more difference in our lives.

THAT is the reason I normally spend more time in Natal and Brazil than I do in the USA. Most of the people who read this are Christians who live in the US. Each one of you are delegated by the Lord to be missionaries here…Including my adult children and grandchildren. (Most of my great-grandchildren are still too young.)

I love Brazil,,yes.    I’ve become a citizen there, yes.    But that isn’t why I live there. Rather, it is because THAT IS WHERE GOD HAS PUT ME.

For comfort? the US is definitely better. The pot holes in the streets, the unexpected speed bumps on streets where neighbors have built them (there is one particular one that if you hit it too fast your head will definitely hit the roof of the car – hard, and you may cause damage to your car  as well as yourself  ) AND many more big differences

My apartment – my “Nest” is tiny – that’s the only word for it! The 2 bedrooms are ok. the 2 bathrooms are small – no bathtubs, only showers. the kitchen is minuscule – only one in it at a time,

Dining  Table is 3 ft diameter circle (small) with 3 chairs. A small sofa, seats 2 and 2 more iron chairs for sitting… over flow of people sit on the floor – which is common.  and you would be amazed at how many we can crowd in:)

We have a small frig, small 4 burner gas stove, very limited counter space, hot water in the showers only – yes, dishes CAN get clean washed in cold water! Done it for years. (Most homes in Brazil do NOT have hot water in the kitchens.)  And we have a small balcony where you can step outside IF the hammock isn’t hanging in the way.

Did I forget something? oh – a washing machine and a dryer and a dishwasher – NONE. 
No washer and dryer and no tank to wash clothes in by hand – that presents some interesting challenges… but we do have clean clothes. You might laugh at some of the things we do, but they work 

If you want to come down and find out, you are wanted and welcome. We have two beds ( which are usually full) room for two or three single mattresses on the floor, and a hotel across the street.

Oh – one other necessary thing we have: wi-fi-
for teaching and studying and writing.
And smart phones. 
And I can’t get away from my cane and those who love me and keep a close eye on me.

I’m laughing – and getting homesick – so I’m quitting.
I hope I get to go back in January, 2019

This is called the City of the Sun..In our apartment the doors and windows are open almost 24/7. and there are miles and miles of dunes – everywhere. IF you want an unforgettable adventure, spend a day on the dunes in a dune buggy. – something one never forgets!

Our apartment is out of sight – right side of photo – about 1 inch beyond the beach, if that makes any sense. This is Ponta Negra Beach, and the dune is called Duna Careca (bald head  ) People used to climb it and slide down, That is now prohibited. Brings down too much sand.

NATAL, RN. Brazil.
Some of you have visited Joe and I here.

–  Voni