Monday, July 24, 2006

We arrived late at night, so my first morning to awake in-country was unusual. I had not seen the terrain, or any sights by the light of day. The sun rose early... 5:15 or so. I awoke to the sounds of donkeys braying, and roosters crowing. I literally felt as if I was on a farm.

I walked to the window and was overwhelmed at the sight. From my second story window, I could see that we were surrounded by mountains. We were nestled in a valley, and the village had sprung to life at this very early hour. The dirt street was laden with donkeys carrying huge capacities of mint, straw, and many other goods. The men who were tending them rode sidesaddle, and were clad in old clothing which looked as if it had been discarded years before.

These same streets were lined with buses, trucks, cars, and mopeds. Men were everywhere, women were unseen. Shop keepers were hosing down the dusty road and walks so that patrons would not stir up a haze as they came in. Storefronts were tiny and dirty. Signs in Arabic cried out to my deaf ears. The only one I could figure out was "Coca-Cola."

The beauty and sorrow overwhelmed me simultaneously. This land was not my land. I did not recognize anything about it. I felt very far away from home.

We assembled as a team at our missionaries home. The first thing on our agenda was to drive then hike up into the mountain above our host city to have a special service for BJ.

The Lord had provided safe passage for his remains. They had been divided into small containers provided by Deanna's mother, and parceled out to our different backpacks in the hope that if they were discovered in one place they would be safe in another. God blinded the the eyes of the guards to these small packages which held such valuable cargo.

We drove as far as we could up a mountain dirt road. No guard rails, just a sheer drop as we ascended. When we got as far as we could drive, all 19 of us plus our missionary hosts, and another 6 summer missionaries from another team started the trek up to the chosen final resting place.

It was beautiful! Pine trees above, and a view of several mountain villages below, with our host city in the distance. Minarets from the area mosques were in clear sight from this panoramic view. Shade from the pines and a gentle breeze eased the heat of the day.

We gathered in this small natural amphitheater, and entered into a time of worship. After offering praises to our King, one by one, all 27 of us spoke a few words, read scripture which was meaningful to us personally, and then each layed a large river boulder into a small pile. (this can be seen on the Awe Star website if you go to trip updates, then view the NA2006 trip pictures)

I went first. I spoke about Beej's Christ centered desperation to see the lost come to Christ, his call to North Africa, and related Scripture. Then I layed the first stone, and poured out his remains onto it. The breeze kicked up, but left his ash alone. Each person then added to this, and completed this mountain rest.

Here, where the Lord is working and moving in and among these villages, we believe the Lord ordained for his remains to be.

Yes, we shed many tears. We heard many wonderful affirmations from this body of Christ. BJ would have been embarrassed, but we his family were very thankful for the selfless participation of each team member.

This is how we began our journey in North Africa.

On our final day in country, our host took us back to the site, along with BJ's best friend from his last trip to Peru, DJ. The site was thought secure, and figured to go undisturbed, but that was not the case.

In this land, riches are thought to be found in the mountains. If one suddenly becomes successful in life, all believe he has found wealth in the mountains. One such searching soul was looking for the same under this pile of stone.

I trust he found the wealth my son had in life. I trust he is on a path that leads to Christ. Truly, what was buried beneath the stones in this Carn was a treasure, but it is stored in heaven.

Graciously, though a wind and uncommon rain storm had besieged the land the night before, his ash still rested on the bottom stone. As the family watched, and through my blurry eyes, I rebuilt the pile, much more secure, and with the tender care I wish I could once again embrace him with.

A sentry stands above this land. Keeping watch over the work of the Lord. Promising Truth that is being sought through bondage.



At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have missed hearing from you for so long. The picture you painted of BJ's ceremony created a stillness inside of me. Thank you for sharing. Stacy

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Aunt Maralyn & Uncle Ray said...

Wow! What a picture you painted in my mind with your words. I would love to have been there to experience it with you.
You are loved much by your California family and we are so thankful for God's protection over all of you on your trip.
I wish I could sit down with you and hear it all first hand.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What an amazing picture you painted for us this morning, it was as though we were with you, even if only in prayer and thought. God's grace is always sufficent and his protection is always available. Praise Him that He provided a way for you to take Bj's remains into NA and to also pour them out where others would be moved and touched.
May our Lord continue to bless you and give you strength.

As I read this mornings entry tears were also shed for the memory of your percious Bj and for you as a family.

In His Love

At 1:53 PM, Blogger natenamy said...

Brent, Deanna, Lauren, and Whit--

Thanks for sharing a little about your trip. I am SO glad that you were able to have that special ceremony for Beej and leave a part of him in the place where he longed to go! I pray that the lives that you touched while you were there will continue to be touched by our Savior and that He will lead them to the eternal treasure that Beej was so passionate about. We love you and are glad that you are "home".

Just wanted to give you an update and thank you for your prayers on behalf of my family.
I recently heard that my mom, sister, and brother were able to board one of the boats leaving to Cyprus and have been evacuated from Lebanon. They are unsure how long they will stay there. If the situation continues to worsen, they will have to find a more permanent home away from home... hopefully with Nate and I here in Indiana. My dad remains in Lebanon to care for my Teta. He said that saying goodbye to my mom, sister, and brother was very hard, but rests in the comfort that he knows that our Heavenly Father is looking after them. Please continue to pray for his safety and for all of the families that have been devastated by the loss of loved ones and their homes on both sides of the fence because of this.
Your prayers have been felt both by Nate and I and by my parents who totally credit my mom, sister, and brother's safe evacuation to His sovereign plan... it would have been impossible otherwise. We are blessed by all of you.

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choked up by the tears and awed by the visions in my head, I praise God for all that He has done for you and yours, all that He continues to do, and all that He did and is still doing through Bj.

May God continue to use you mightly, and may all that happened in NA continue to flourish and grow by the power of Christ.

In Christ's love always~

Linda Anderson

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you, Brent, for sharing your emotional experience with all of us. Praises to our God for the safe journey of BJ's ashes which allowed him to "be" in that place as he so desired, even if it wasn't quite what he had in mind.Also, praises that all are back safe & sound.

Update on my friend's brother-in-law Ty: he is home! He will be undergoing lots and lots of therapy, every day, to help his body and his mind. His short-term memory is very affected. Every day they review the name of their baby which is due beginning of September. Thanks for all your continued prayers. His family is just happy he is alive, but Ty is struggling with his inabilities. Praises to our loving Father.


At 4:55 PM, Blogger LisaTeegarden said...

Would love to have been up on that mountain with you's. How miraculous that his 'remains' remained through it all. God is SO Good to us all. Praying for the NA team during the let down and readjust time. Praying that the seeds that were sown with Blossom and Flourish with the Lord's direction. LOVE YOU'S, Lisa

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Lattany said...

Your post comes at a time when death is all too real in my mind, having just said goodbye to our baby Corbin. The sorrow and joy, peace and greif that you describe is inspiring, as you seek to honor God in this season of your life.

Fairfax, VA, USA

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Higgins Family,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful,emotional experience.

God Bless all of you.

Kathy H.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Praying in Pink said...


Silent tears.

Tender love.


At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessed and touched once again by God's spirit through you. Praise the Lord for His tender care.

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