June Update

Hi from my home in Zambia!  I am so thankful to have been here at home when all the travel restrictions and national lock-downs began a few months ago due to Covid-19.  The nature of my work means I am often travelling, so I am grateful I didn’t get stuck somewhere else like I know many people have.

In the beginning of the pandemic I had to choose if I would stay in Zambia or travel to Canada.  Looking back over the last few months I am so thankful that I remained in Zambia.  God has used my team in a really special way to continue to reach out to the ladies in Zambia and various other locations in Africa.  Wearing face masks became law in most African countries, so it was a great opportunity for many of the ladies to sew face masks and receive income for each mask they sewed.  The masks were then distributed to the most vulnerable in various communities.  Within a few weeks the ladies in Zambia had sewn over 7,000 masks!

Read & see more of what I have been busy with the last few monthsJune Update

October Update

“In the moments of challenge I started to lose sight of God.  He was carrying me, but I couldn’t see it.  These are the times when I am most thankful for everyone who is holding me up through prayer…because now looking back on those days I can see so clearly how God was carrying me through, shaping my character and building my faith…”

Continue reading more of my recent experiences in Malawi, Ghana & West Africa here in my October Newsletter

IMG_1515

Video Update: A glimpse into my life

Hey friends!

It’s now been about 6 years since I first came to Zambia/Africa.  So much has happened over the years both in my life and through the ministries that I have been involved with.

Sometimes living life as a missionary in a foreign country can be viewed as something ‘out of the ordinary’, or ‘some special calling’….but in reality it’s actually not like that.  We are all called by God to know Him and make Him known, no matter if that is in our home country or somewhere on another continent.

My passion is to empower vulnerable and oppressed women around Africa, so that is what I have committed myself to do.
Even though there are many challenges along the way, I have learnt to love accepting God’s invitation to serve and lead here where He has placed me in Africa.

Now…thanks to the help of a friend, I would love to share this video with you, giving a quick glimpse into what my life is like here in Zambia.

Enjoy —

A day in the life of Larissa

 

May News

God has given each of us one life here on earth to live and to make Him known.  Nearly every day I find myself asking the questions, “Am I doing all that God is asking me to do?  And am I loving Him with my whole being, or just limiting Him to work through certain areas of my life?”  My desire is to give my best for Him, and I trust you also desire the same.

God is on the move and I love that even when we keep trying to tell Him we aren’t good enough, He still chooses to use us in amazing ways.
I have found myself still wrestling with the fact that 4 years ago my life began to change in major ways.  My body is always in pain, it is usually quite weak, and I feel like I’m in a constant mental & emotional battle.  It can actually be so exhausting.

However, the amazing thing is that even though I sometimes feel like I’ve lost so much, God still wants to use me to empower others!  Over these past 2 months I’ve experienced God at work through Tabitha in Zambia & around Africa…in the lives of Ester & Imeldah…& in the community of 4Miles.

Read more here in my May newsletter – May 2019

IMG_5978

Leaders from Mozambique & Zambia helping one another during the Skills Trainer course

My best for His glory

Even though we are already a few days into 2019 I still find it very refreshing to look back and take note of what God did in the last year.  So many things to thank Him for, and then to gain renewed vision for the year ahead.

I don’t usually make ‘goals’ or resolutions for the new year, but rather focus on that which Jesus is convicting me about.  My experience has been that convictions are rooted deeper than goals and have much more potential to bring change in my life.  Convictions are backed up by the Holy Spirit, with the potential to transform me from the inside out.
.
One thing I am convicted of this year is to give my utmost for His highest –  my absolute best for His glory.  It’s not about what I can achieve for ‘me’ this year, or how I can become a better person, but rather giving my best in every area of my life for the purpose of Jesus receiving the glory & recognition.
.
There are a number of areas for this to practically be worked out, but one main area I am already putting intentional focus is my mind and thoughts.
.
James Allen said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you.  You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-think on these things.”  
.
That shows me the power of our thoughts, AND that we have the power to control our thoughts and minds.  I don’t want to limit what God can do through my willingness to serve Him just because of a negative & limiting way of thinking.
.
One other main area of practical application for me is in Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.”
.
I’ve had a lot of pain over the last couple years, which has definitely provoked me to look deeper at the meaning of my life.  There has been a continual battle inside my heart and mind, wrestling with the reality that this may be part of my story for the remainder of my time on earth.  At times I have been discouraged and questioned how I am supposed to continue working when I’m chronically fatigued with pain and weakness.  It’s been taking me a long time to learn, but at least I’m slowly learning to give thanks in my weakness – because whatever little I have to bring to God He then takes and multiplies it!
.
So as I aim to give my best for His glory in this year, I will literally have the choice each day between joyfully serving God with whatever I have, or forgetting everything He has already done for me and giving into feelings of discouragement and defeat.
I am convicted to follow the example of Jesus and set my face like a flint – remaining steadfast on the path He has me on.
.
May you also be encouraged to give your best for His glory throughout 2019.
.
“O you redeemed ones, on whose behalf this strong resolve was made – you who have been bought by the precious blood of this steadfast, resolute Redeemer – come and think awhile of Him, that your hearts may burn within you and that your faces may be set like flints to live and die for Him who lived and died for you!” – C.H. Spurgeon
.
IMG_8149

November Update

“Prostitution, beer drinking, drunkenness, insults, fighting, uneducated children, malnutrition and witchcraft,” answered Rachel when asked to describe her community called 4Miles.  “Everyone is living without hope.  I feel pity for the children here, all with dirty and ragged clothes, and drunk parents.  When someone gets sick they go to the witchdoctors, not realizing that is not where they can find real healing, truth, and everlasting life.”

Read Rachel’s full story that goes from hopelessness to renewed vision here in my November Update, along with some other exciting news!!

 

Obedience before Understanding

Reflections from the Bryce/Zion Freedom Challenge…

When I signed up to be part of the Prayer Team on the Bryce/Zion Challenge this past June, I didn’t know what God was going to do, but considering it felt like a miracle for me to actually be going, I was very expectant.

Saying Yes
It felt like a big step forward for me to say ‘yes’ to this challenge, as just to physically travel there was something I knew God was going to have to really help me with.

Three years ago I got very sick, and from that time have been on an interesting journey with God, where I have learnt to remain thankful despite 24/7 (and many times unbearable) nerve pain.  My ‘work’ since 2013 has been in Zambia with OM, developing a skills training & discipleship centre for vulnerable and marginalized women.  However, last year the pain from nerve damage became so debilitating and I had to return to Canada for further medical care.

Not Losing Hope
Throughout the past year there were many times when I actually didn’t think I would ever be pain-free enough to be able to walk beyond 5 minutes at a time.  If it wasn’t for Jesus, I really would have lost hope.  When a trial starts to span a few years, there may be moments when we start to shift our eyes onto ourselves and our weaknesses, rather than on God and who He is.
I think that is what was starting to happen with me, but God had a plan…

Throughout different types of involvement with the Freedom Challenge over the last number of years, I have always seen how God is not only using the movement to bring healing and hope to those who are oppressed around the world, but also to each of us who say ‘yes’ to participate in the challenges.  I knew God wanted me in Utah for this challenge, maybe even for a boost forward in my own healing journey…

And Unexpected Invitation…
Being part of the prayer team was so amazing, but after the first few days of the challenge I had the urge to experience God on the hiking trail…but how would that happen??  A few minutes later after having that thought, I somehow found myself in a conversation with one of the hiking guides.  She said to me “so, are you going to join us on the trail tomorrow?” I felt a surge of nervous excitement go through me, but proceeded to remind her that I am on the prayer team and am still recovering from a recent back surgery.  I said I feel God might be asking me to try hiking, but I have not yet walked for more than about 20 minutes at a time, and would really hate to slow the whole team down just because of me.  That didn’t seem to bother her, she was so gracious!

It almost felt surreal.  I had zero fear, just expectation.  My mind was focussed on God and his strength.  I didn’t know how I was physically going to hike the next day, but I knew that taking this step of faith was an act of obedience, and that He would make it happen.

Totally Relying on God
So there I went – I ended up hiking with the beginners group for a total of almost 5 miles!!  This was a miracle!  It was an incredible day, where God proved that if we stay focussed on Him, he will keep showing his power through us.  I realized that if I would have doubted God and let fear control me, I probably would have not made it very far at all.  Each step that I took turned into an act of worship…and It was so rewarding to totally rely on Him to give me the power to keep going beyond what my body was previously capable of.

I am still on the healing journey, but will not forget that day and how I experienced the faithful God walking with me.  During that Freedom Challenge God really blessed me with a deeper understanding of His love for me, plus physically blessed me with a boost forward in my healing.  I am SO thankful I responded to His invitation to go!

Through this journey, especially in the chapters of much challenge, I am reminded to continue walking faithfully together with Him, to be obedient and trust the route He’s taking me on even if I do not fully understand ‘why’…this is when it gets exciting!

For more about the Freedom Challenge, visit www.thefreedomchallenge.com

 

IMG_5231

July Update

It’s that time again….I’ve got enough things that feel worthy of sharing in a newsletter 🙂

In this update I had the privilege of sharing a bit of my story over these last few months, my experience at the recent Freedom Challenge, some updates from Tabitha in Zambia, and my next steps forward!!

Click here to read on – July 2018

Spinal Cord Stimulator Success!

I recently had the privilege of getting a spinal cord stimulator implanted in my spine.
It has been one of the best medical opportunities offered to me this past year…and now at 8 weeks post surgery I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Nerve pain is horrible, and something that I had no idea about until experiencing it myself day and night. At first it was really hard to manage, but was at least still manageable. But over the last 10 months there literally was no type of therapy, medication or basic surgery that could touch it. It was so exhausting both physically and mentally. You don’t want to let yourself be physically controlled by pain, but practically you actually often don’t have a choice.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This past year has been challenging in many different ways. We may not always be able to control our circumstances, but we CAN control our emotions and actions. I have been encouraged by so many others who are going through incredibly difficult life situations, yet they don’t allow circumstances to shake their beliefs and therefore they don’t lose hope.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It is so easy to forget that our lives are a gift from God, and even when we feel pain and discouragement we are privileged just to be alive.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I am so thankful for the grace God showed me by letting me get this surgery done. It is definitely a success in reducing the nerve pain enough to regain a quality of life. My prayer is that it will continue to work well even in the years God still gives me here.
I am thrilled that I was able to start physio last week, and look forward to continuing to recover!

Remote

My fancy remote 😉