Friday, October 21, 2016

English & Country Swing

English & Country Swing


Have you ever looked back for a few moments and just pondered in great bewilderment how in the world you ended up who you are or where you are?  I am finding this a regular occurrence as God leads me through this crazy life.  Last night I sang E-I-E-I-O with a bunch of Georgian kids (I was the horse) and then watched them do country western swing in my living room.  This would be followed much later by Luke’s midnight crew of boys who practices Parkour in the same living room (we broke a lamp last night).

There’s a back-story here:  one that I can take no credit for either spiritually or physically. 

As summer closed out Katie, Luke, Maddy, and Anabelle began generating some dreams involving friends and food and English lessons and Country Western Swing Dancing… all together in our living room.  After much prayer and preparation they pulled the trigger and launched a Tuesday/Thursday night English-Dance Extravaganza at the McClain home.  Each night Katie prepares (pretty much from scratch) an English lesson tailored to these kids.  She mixes in so much joy and color and singing and laughing that my guess is (although I’m slightly biased) these are the most fun English lessons on the planet.  Then we break down the tables, clear the floor and Luke, Maddy, and Anabelle (who have become professional swing dancers) coach and instruct the kids in Country Western Swing for the rest of the night. 

And the Lord has been opening up spiritual doors left and right through this.  Who would have guessed?!?

I recently interviewed these famous English/Dance instructors… and you can read their responses (and see some pics) on the blog…

So what’s been the most enjoyable part of this little venture?
Katie:  The challenge of getting ready for it and thinking through how to help them learn.  It’s really fun to see them laugh and enjoy their learning [Brodie’s note:  Education in the villages is really struggling and generally it is extremely dull and lifeless].
Luke:  I love the dance time, how the kids are excited about it, how they get into it, and even make up their own moves.
Maddy:  I love using my social gifts [Brodie:  And, O, does this one have some social gifts…].
Anabelle: I love dancing with my friends.

What has been the most challenging part?
Katie: Time.
Luke: Getting my table to stay on track in English classes [Each of our kids leads a table].
Maddy:  Loving people in the right way, for example, boys.  And not being critical of girls.
Anabelle:  Not being proud of how much I know.

What has surprised you?
Katie:  Who has been faithful and who God has been working on, we’ve seen  a lot of new faces from some new villages.
Luke: Those kids that stopped coming.
Anabelle:  How fast the kids caught on to country swing.

How has God worked on you through this?
Katie:  God is increasingly showing me that these kids need to feel love when they come into my home.  And what a privilege it is to represent God to them.
Luke:  God has drawn me closer to a few specific friends which then opened the doors for Bible reading. God has really taught me social courage.
Maddy:  God has shown me some key things I was missing out on in my friendships, specifically really talking with them and pursuing spiritual relationships with them and not just trying to fit in.
Anabelle:  God has really grown my relationships with these friends.

What are some prayer requests as you move forward with this?
Katie:  That the teacher relationship in class will spill over into life and they will see something different in us and that God will make them hungry for time with us which will ultimately, hopefully will lead to salvation.
Luke:  Some of the specific kids who are being bad or hard, and some of the boys’ faithfulness [Brodie: we started off with way more boys than girls and now that is reversed].
Maddy:  My heart guarded towards boys and trust in the Lord for how the relationships go.
Anabelle:  Not showing off or being proud and also loving the girls.

Anything else you want to say?
Katie:  These kids are so needy, not just financially and educationally, but especially in how much they hunger for even the slightest bit of praise and attention
Luke:  No.
Maddy:  It’s made our lives much busier and been challenging, but through these challenges God is really helping us and being around these kids so much I learn from the Lord who to spend time with and really see how the Spirit is leading in relationships.  It’s cool to see how God took a dream we had and really started it and now we have so many new relationships.
Anabelle:   It’s been cool to see who God’s brought nearer to us through these lessons.


As always thank you for the prayers and support you graciously bestow on us.  In every new English phrase, dance move, and spiritual conversation you get to have a piece.  What an amazing God!

To Him be all glory,

Brodie (on behalf of the McClains)




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In a Remote Village...

In a remote village somewhere in the Republic of Georgia…

On his 15th birthday Zura walked into the forest and cried out to a God he wasn’t even sure was there.  He begged that God for help.  It had been 15 years of pain.  His father had abandoned him as a young boy.  His abusive step-father forced him and his mom to flee and after two failed marriages his mom would be leaving him behind for Spain to try and earn some money.  He wouldn’t see her again for another 5 years.  He was lost, he was hurting, and he was angry. 

He cried out to God.  And God answered. 

The Lord sent some believers into Zura’s life who invited him to a summer camp on the shore of the Black Sea and shortly after his 17th birthday Zura learned what it meant to repent and truly believe in Jesus Christ.  He left the Black Sea a new person, and for the first time in his life he was able to experience forgiveness and peace and true joy. 

He cried out to God.  And God answered.  In God’s perfect time and by His perfect design he plucked a young man out of a remote village somewhere in the Republic of Georgia.  God transferred this young man from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son. 

When I first met Zura I would not have guessed his background.  His joy, his service and his love for others was apparent from our first meetings in his broken English.  We had been on the ground in Georgia only a few months but it wasn’t long before we invited Zura into our home regularly and eventually to have him share a room with Luke as a member of our family. 

The Lord would use us (according to Zura) to show him what a family actually was.  All he had known was pain and brokenness.  But for a brief time God gave him the experience of living with 5 believers, who though far from perfection, are living together under the blood of Jesus. 

And the Lord would use Zura in our lives not only as a beacon of hope but also as an incredibly key part in moving us to the west and landing us in the village of Didi Tchkoni.  Without Zura we would not be here in our village.

He cried out to God.  And God answered.  God answered Zura’s prayers and God answered our prayers though this young man. 


A few weeks ago Zura got married to a young lady who loves Jesus (more on her at a different time).  Luke was the best man (and the photographer), Maddy was the maid of honor and Katie and Anabelle took care of all the flowers, decorations & bride beautifying.  Zura asked me to officiate the wedding, and I did it in Georgian.  Honestly, it was terrible, for my part.  Terrible… in the best of ways.  I had practiced and practiced my script and my delivery was about as good as I could do but it was really terrible Georgian nonetheless.  It was, however, a small step for me and in the end nobody cared.  We weren’t there for my Georgian language ability.  We were there to commit this couple to the Lord, and that we did, and we had a blast doing it.

And they got married on the shore of the Black Sea.  Fitting.


Thank you for crying out to God on our behalf!  He has answered and is answering your prayers.  Please keep crying out on behalf of Zura & Mari, our family, and the whole republic as well! 









Friday, March 4, 2016

Three Days Short

She was three days short of her 41st birthday.

Over a thousand people showed up on the 7th day (Georgian tradition, the ‘crying day’) to say good-bye, to weep, and to hug her husband and two little girls who are mourning, as those who have no hope. 

Katie & I were a part of that thousand – here’s the back-story:

One of our sub-goals here in the village is to create some work for our neighbors.  Upon our arrival the first thing we noticed was men, standing around, drinking and smoking themselves to death.  For some of them this might be a trap they never get loose from, but we’ve found that many would rather work, and yet truly lack any kind of real opportunity (outside of relocating to Tbilisi).  So, in the spirit of loving our neighbors and laying a foundation for long-term relationships and gospel opportunities, we’ve started pursuing ways that we can help through more than a handout.  And Kakha is our first attempt. 

Kakha - front row
At a Christmas party last December we launched the start-your-own-business idea to our construction workers and Kakha returned a month later with a business plan.  So we began investing in ‘Kakha’s Cow & Pig Farm’.  A month into it and we’ve got a few cows, a few piglets, and more work than Kakha knows what to do with.  Every day he’s up early and down late and pretty excited about it.  We’ve been able to have some really good conversations about what God would want in a business and even been able to pray about some things (picture your three-year-old praying… that’s me in the Georgian tongue).  It was through Kakha’s farm that we became part of the thousand on ‘crying day’.

We were on the hunt for some really good sows to get this bacon business off the ground and through a relative of a relative (I think everyone one in this region is related) we landed at Dato’s house and beheld some of the largest swine I had seen in Georgia.  We chose the three plumpest piglets and packed them into the Prado.  But if you know anything about village life, then you know that we were NOT ‘on our way’ home.  There would be no exit until we sat with the family and enjoyed food and friendship (Georgian village hospitality has no equal in America).  Traditionally the men sit while the table is run by the ladies and for this meal Dato’s wife was running point.  Smiley and kind, an incredibly gracious host, she kept our plates full the whole ‘supra’. 

I did not know at the time that she was suffering so terribly.  I learned at the ‘crying day’ that four years previous a doctor had removed her stomach due to cancer and she had been slowly dying ever since.  It was a road marked with constant pain and discomfort.

A road that ended a week after our ‘supra’, three days short of her 41st birthday. 

I am increasingly thankful that God does not allow me into the private council of His will in these matters.  My lack of knowledge in regards to the salvation of others is a welcome comfort, especially living in a place where there is so much darkness alongside a consistently steady death rate.  I think God knew I couldn’t handle that kind of specific information.  Just the mathematical probability alone in the Samagrelo region leaves me sorrowful, but at least God doesn’t let me know for sure.  And what I do know for sure is the names and faces of the husband and daughters she left behind.  So the mission is still in full effect: to bring hope to those who have none, and tremendously none right now. 

Please pray for this family, and pray that we may have some great inroads to bring the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ into this darkness.

Sorrowful, yet hopeful,

Brodie

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Desperation

The Rental


Our first home in Didi Tchkoni was a rental. 

But to be fair, ‘rental’ is probably misleading (we lived in a ‘rental’ in Burbank, now that was a ‘rental’, you know… electricity, screen doors, sinks, etc…).  This rental was the only structure we found that looked like it would still be standing through the summer of 2014.  There was no plumbing, one electrical wire, a few working doors, and most windows were… there.  The well didn’t work (so no water) and the outhouse was… full, but the house was available and I named the price.  We were thrilled to be moving into the village that the Lord had lead us to and we had already struck a deal for a piece of land nearby to start building on.  We were assured that the government papers would be ready in a week and we could start construction.  So we figured, ‘No problem, we’ll just kind of camp out for a few months until the new place is ready, after all, its summer!   How bad could it be!”

It was bad.  Bad is a relative term, but it was bad. 

The government papers weren’t ready in a week or even in a month or four months.  We started building mid-October, just as the weather turned, in a state of mild desperation.  This is not the ideal time to start outdoor construction in a wet & cold climate but the good news was we had never built a house before, we were working in a different language, and the nearest Home Depot was 10,000km away.  The bad news was...  Winter was coming. 

We were desperate and I’ve found that desperate times are so helpful in my cush life.  They ruin my pretenses of godliness, they thin my belly, and purify my marriage.  They have a way of introducing public humility into my life.  Basically, desperation draws me closer to God (even while I’m barking out Christianized obscenities).  I find that my Father accepts me raw and undone (thanks Jesus!) and maybe even prefers me that way.  And He has unique designs of bringing joy and glory and repentance into those desperate times. 

This Winter in Didi Tchkoni
Winter ended up being that.

Basically, we live in old Russia.  When you think of Russia probably two words come to mind:  ‘cold’ and ‘vodka’.  We’ve found this to be an accurate summary, though we are far from Siberia.  Winters are supposed to be cold and white and freezing.  As I write this there is snow everywhere and my days consist of hauling wood to the wood stove and regular inspection of our pipes to make sure none are freezing (since I installed the pipes this is highly likely).  Turns out this is a normal winter in Didi Tchkoni and our kids love it. 

But here’s the catch.  Last winter we did not have one day of snow. 

Not one. 

We had one single night where the temperature dropped below freezing.  It was amazingly, unusually, beautifully, sovereignly dry and warm.  The cows grazed every single day.  The village was shocked. 
Last Winter in Didi Tchkoni (same driveway as above)

We moved out of the rental and into the guest house on our land January 23rd, 2015 in the dead of winter… in t-shirts.

It was like God was saying, “Brodie, I will take care of you.  That doesn’t mean I will give you government papers when you want them, that doesn’t mean I will give you a waterproof rental house, that doesn’t mean construction will go faster than usual, but it may mean I give the entire Samagrelo Region the warmest winter it’s had in 50 years.  Just when you need it.  Just because I can.”

Thank you, Lord for the miraculous winter last year and for the desperation, and especially for the hosts of loved ones that were praying us through it. 

Amos 4:13 For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!

To the Wind-former & Height-treader be all glory,





Friday, January 15, 2016

Backstory

The McClain Backstory

Brodie & Katie McClain are Christians (which means we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior, that is the real Jesus, fully man and fully God, who saved us through His real death on a real cross and really rose from the dead, reconciling us with His loving, holy Father whom we have thoroughly sinned against – we are Christians by grace not by works).  


Brodie & Katie McClain are married (which might someday need its own definition…), and have been fruitful and multiplied into a family of five, now consisting of a Luke (15), a Madelyne (13), and an Anabelle (12) McClain.  These young people are energy and joy and fellowship and a great blessing to their parents. 





The McClain family is now, by the leading of the Lord, living in Didi Tchkoni, a village in a Western region of the Republic of Georgia (which itself is wedged between Russia & Turkey).  We are here to share the good news of Jesus Christ, to look out for orphans, and to just basically help and be a light through any means God avails to us.  




As of December 2015, the house (for us and future orphans) we set out to build in this village is complete, for which we are EXTREMELY thankful and relieved.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Maddy on Adopt-a-Family!


HI America!!! 

It is Madelyne McClain.

I am writing tell you all a little bit about “adopt-a-family” and our Christmas/New Years time. First, I’d like to let you know that each family loved their gifts! We invited the families into the Christmas Café after it had closed, sat them down and served them coffee and cookies. Then we had one of them read a paper that explained (in Georgian) why we moved to Georgia, how God led us, and why they were receiving these gifts. Then the fun started!

Anabelle and Mom and I would bring them there presents one-by-one. One Megrelian man once told us that Megrelians don’t open presents in front of the givers, so it was fun to see them have to open them (since we forced them). The parents didn’t really know about wrapping paper either so they would open their presents extremely slowly and carefully. Then they would either fold up their wrapping paper and ribbons or else wrap their presents back up. 






The kids, on the other hand, would not put their presents down. They would either look at their clothes or, for the boys, go crazy about their new toys. Now, every time I see them they are wearing their new clothes or playing with their new toys. It was also really fun for me to see them experience their first real Christmas. They do have a Christmas but it is only a small supra (feast) and only a few families celebrate. The big holiday here is New Years…

We were invited to celebrate New Years with the family we are buying land from. Even on their biggest holiday it was not much. Each child had been buying firecrackers at the bazaars and stores, and at midnight they all set them off. It wasn’t that big of a firecracker show and we were the only ones on the street doing them. Before the firecrackers they had a tiny little feast. The fun part was that we got to bring a few more fireworks to share with them (my dad went a little crazy what with super cheap prices on bottle rockets). We had a great time, even though it wasn’t quite as big as America’s holidays, and we drew really close to the family that we are buying land from. 



So thank you all so much for all of your support and for all the stuff that you guys sent us for the families. They loved it and we loved to give it. 

Thanks!

Love, Maddy




Friday, February 6, 2015

Luke on Christmas & School & all things cool...


Written January 21st

Umm, hi America. This is Luke McClain and my mom wanted me to write you guys to tell you all how our Christmas vacation is. I say “is”, because we technically haven’t had Christmas yet (because we are waiting till we are in the new house)  and we aren’t doing school yet (also because we are waiting for the new house). So we just call it Christmas vacation. But this is like no vacation the world has seen.

For the first part of our Christmas vacation we did, and a million thanks to all of you guys, a Christmas store. Our store literally lit up the village (until we ran out of AA batteries) and was a place of joyful noise and festivity (when we remembered to bring our speakers and phone). Hahaha, but, jokes aside, it was seriously the light of the village no matter what time of day you drove by. The place was decked out with the cute decorations you guys all sent, put up so beautifully by my gorgeous mom and lovely sisters, so much so that all the ladies thought we were selling them right then and there (I don’t think our village folk knew the concept of decorations. They do now.). The smell of homemade cookies and hot cocoa surrounded you as you walked in, the sound of festive Christmas music drew you in from the street and the two cute server children (Me and Maddie,… I mean, Maddie and Anabelle) completed the deal and made it impossible NOT to come in. On average we got about 60-80 people a day.


About one week before the store started we brought all the decorations over and decked it out! We would go in the evening and work until 8:00 or 9:00. Our friends would join us, sometimes being helpful sometimes being… well something else. No matter how they were or we were, we all had a good time. Thank God that we started then because two days before the store started our car broke down, like completely. We could not use it at all. Fortunately, Kakha, the man we are buying the land from, had some hook ups and also just happened to keep needing things exactly where we needed things (“Coincidence? I think not” - Incredibles). So we managed all right until our car was ready.


The first day was chaos, about 100,000 people came, I’m positive that many came, but mom says only 100 came (I think she had too much coffee or something). Although they mostly came at the same time we managed well (maybe because half the ladies left when they saw we weren’t selling anything). Probably about half the people that came were kids, so it was CRAZY!!! After the first day though, it wasn’t as extreme. A lot of people came still, but they kinda came in waves. Every single day, without fail, four of our closest friends came, Nika (We call him Obama, cuz’ he really looks like him) whose 11, Giorgi  whose 10, Little Luka (Nika’s brother) whose 6, and Irakli (who we call Kiko) whose 13. They’re all related. Obama’s brother, Bakuri, also came every once and a while.


For the first couple of days we just had beverages and cookies and, surprisingly to me, the main people that came were kids (I thought cafés were for old people). They came and sat down while we took the order (they could chose tea, cocoa, coffee or apple cider along with two cookies of their choice). And then we served them their drinks, while the kids did a bunch of Christmas crafts. We gave everyone who came in a little candy cane with the Gospel story on it.  Whenever customers weren’t around, Mom gave us and our friends cookies or drinks as our “pay”. It was really fun to spend the day with friends working at a café.

Toward the end of December we changed it up a little bit. We started to take down some of the decorations that were hung up and give some of them away. It was really fun to see people get there first Christmas ornaments. Next Christmas we might not be the light of the village, everyone took a bunch of Christmas lights!!! On January 1st we completely took down the store, cleaned up, and handed in the keys. It had been so fun for us and, I believe, a great impact on the village. I can’t wait to see the seeds we sowed sprout up!




Our Christmas vacation wasn’t over yet though! Our house still wasn’t built and we hadn’t had Christmas yet!!!

1st Day of School (kind of)
We wanted to wait till’ we were in the NEW house, so  we spent most of January “chasing Christmas” like Anabelle says. We would agree on a date and get all set for it and then it would, poof!, and disappear!!! The first date was January 1st, then I think it was the 7th, then the 11th, then we were positive it would be the 17th, and then finally, the 24th (of January) we finally celebrated Christmas (notice the two “finally” s)!!! Then the next week we started our New Schedule, which included school L! Even though my Mom is the best teacher ever, it still is a bunch of work. And then one week into our new schedule, I sat down and finished up this email that I started 2 weeks ago!

Three more things, hang in there (this long of an email would kill me, maybe its normal for all you old people, lucky dogs to be able to endure it)!!!

First thing: Thank you all so much times 101000000000000000000000000 (my last lesson in math was on scientific notion, and Dad tells me to apply what I read) for all of the ways you helped us. For your prayer, for your stuff, for your money, and, for those of you who came, your time! We could not do any of this without you guys! Seriously!!!

And second: don’t stop praying!!! We just made it through a stressful and busy time, and sure its calmer, but it’s not over! We can all use prayer, so please keep it up. For us you can pray for three specific things. The first is that the medium-size house will finish up, it is very squishy in a two-room house! The second is that we will love each other, it is very squishy in a two-room house!!

And the third is that our new schedule will work well and not get us stressed out!!!

I also have one or two (or three or maybe four) prayer requests!

The first is that I will have purity, that I’ll look where I’m commanded, think about what I ought, love what I should.

The second is this: that I will have humility. I mean, it’s a struggle even writing this! I want praise, I want “well done”, I want “WOW!”, but I want to want them for the right reasons.

And lastly that I will have courage to share the gospel. I mean, I don’t want to move across the world and have it be all in vain! An extra one is patience. Some Christians live their lives and die and affect a million people but never see it. It might take a while to see our fruit and I want patience to wait as long as God wants.

-Luke
  
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”