“THE PROCESS IS THE END. FOR IT IS THE PROCESS THAT IS GLORIFYING TO GOD.” --Oswald Chambers

"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here are some Christmas pictures. Most of them are of Henry and Myron, but let's face it-they are at the stage where just about everything they do is cute!

Hmm, present or chips? That's a tough one!



Myron really was SUPER EXCITED to get a long sleeve shirt with lots of buttons! (a dress shirt and tie)


Let the wars begin!


I could do a whole other slide show on the process of these photos! But I won't.
Here are just a few of the best ones.




This is one of his funny faces.


The doll is taller than me!




Blazing Saddles

Grings



This is our new dog, Grings. We got her a couple of weeks ago from the animal shelter. I wanted a dog that was already house trained!! She has been for the most part, just a couple accidents here and there when we aren't paying a lot of attention.
She is a seven year old female Amercian Staffordshire Terrier. She has been pretty tolerant of all the kids. Just like all our other dogs, she lets the kids know when she has had enough. She is a little nervous/hyper sometimes, but the kids are in love with her. Hailey went with me to go looking and she is the one who helped pick her out. I am not super happy that she sleeps on the couch, but oh well, at least she doesn't shed a lot!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

foundations

How often do you think about the foundation of your house or business or church or fill in the blank? We often do not think about it. Why? Because typically you cannot see it and if you were not there when it was put in place you would have to go to a lot of work to do the research to inspect it and make sure it is solid and not flawed or corrupted in any way. Those of you who understand construction understand that a big piece of the equation is that your structure is only as good as the materials you are using. You can be a master craftsman, but if your materials are flawed/corrupted the structure will not stand for the long run. It may just crumble and slowly deteriorate over time or it may come crashing down when the storm comes. If that happens there is always people who are hurt, lives disrupted--even destroyed, and there is always a mess for someone to clean up. The upper parts of the structure can always be changed/fixed but there is only one way to fix a corrupt foundation….you have to start over.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

leadership

I have joined a small group bible study in The Character of a Leader from the BILD material. It is an in depth study of Scripture in which we look at the qualifications of leaders in all areas. Personally it is a very challenging study. I look at the qualifications and feel I am not there and even question if I ever will be. (Kel says maybe that means I am closer than I think)
Recently someone that we meet on a summer mission trip posted these quotes (thanks Rob). How true they are.
"Image is what people think we are: integrity is what we really are." [John Maxwell]
"The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he would never be found out." [Thomas Macauley]
When you are afraid that someone is going to tell a lie, that is understandable but not an excuse to live in fear. But if you are afraid that someone is going to tell the truth than you have a real big problem, in many ways. The question becomes, what are you trying to hide? What don’t you want people to know? What are you living in fear of? One thing is for sure, it is no way to live. It affects everything, the way you live, your health (mental, physical, and spiritual). Fear is a disease from satan and it will eventually destroy you if it is not dealt with. Scripture says the truth will set you free, not just the truth but an ACCEPTANCE of the truth. Only then will you be able to move on, make changes, and do what’s necessary to get back on track.
It is one reason that we often live an “open book” kind of life. For the most part, I will answer any question you ask me point blank. I have tried not to hide from sharing our experiences, our feelings and what we have/are seeing. If I can’t tell you the answer, I will tell you why I don’t think I can answer it and tell you who I think you should ask. It can make people uncomfortable at times but it often makes our lives simpler not having to question ourselves whether or not we should disclose this or that about ourselves. We have never wanted to have people think we are more than we are, that is why we share so much about our struggles. We are just like everyone else and we hope this gives people the courage to be “real” with others. Being vulnerable is a very dangerous thing. It opens you up to some very deep hurts. But I can honestly say it is worth it. To live otherwise can be very lonely. So for myself, I would rather take the risk and put myself out there “live and raw”. Some might say “that’s stupid”, and there are good arguments to that end. But I look at patriarchs like King David and how he put himself completely out there and yet he was a man after God’s own heart. He was honest with himself, God and others. That is real courage and leadership. One I believe is to be modeled.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Agriculture is one of the few things in this world that surpasses culture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the first that crosses all cultures. When I was at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization in Ft. Myers, FL) in the evening I’d be in the library studying and doing research. And one night as I was doing that, it struck me about agriculture crossing all cultures. I began looking at Scripture and I began to realize in the Old and New Testament the Lord uses agriculture to explain spiritual truth. Why? It is the one thing everyone essentially can understand. Food is the great equalizer. If there is no food, it does not matter how much money you have, you are still hungry. The Lord chose to use something as simple as agriculture to reveal Himself to us. It is something that all can understand from the rulers and leaders of the world to the peasant farmer or the homeless. We are the ones who have gone and made things more complicated. Just look who Christ chose for ministry, to start and lead the Church under the power of the Holy Spirit. He chose laborers-not the intellectuals. Why? To answer that all you have to do is look at the religious elite of that day, it was often more about them than God, they placed their own qualifications on leaders (that is the very reason they didn’t recognize Christ. He didn’t meet their qualifications). I sometimes wonder if it is any different today, those whom God calls. We just chose not to listen because they do not have the proper pedigree hanging on the wall. You want to know what scares me? I believe there are many in ministry/ leading churches that Jesus is going to say to them “I never knew you”. And in the last days many will follow false doctrines or as it says in Timothy, doctrines of demons. They are already out there and they are growing.
There needs to be an awakening and maybe even a winnowing in the church/mission world and it can only happen by a pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the FATHER’s children.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Emily

The song you are hearing now comes from a friend of ours, Emily Kaillo. She lives here in Willmar with her hubby, three boys and one on the way! (Depending on the speed of your computer, it may take a bit to load, if you play it through, the last song I posted will play then too)
This is an album she has been working on for a while. I met her at a home school co-op we both took our kids to a few years ago. She wrote all the songs-music and lyrics. She produced it in the Twin Cities area (of Minnesota). Her husband Erik sings background along with Jenny and Jeremy Erickson. Jeremy went to bible school with Brian and I about 15 years ago and even sang at our wedding (he has quite a story of his own, www.jeremyerickson.com.). He produced and provided a lot of the instrumentation. Also playing percussion on some of the songs is Kyle Torfin, whom I worked at a bible camp with about 16 years ago in rural northeast North Dakota (Go PRBC!). Another percussionist, Joshua Skogerboe I have met once way back when in passing, and Brian and I went to school also with some relatives of his. (Yes, I seem to be name dropping for some reason, I don’t know why.)
Anyway, I love this album. It is an acoustic/folk, Sara Groves story telling type of feel I think. Real heart lyrics. If you are interested in hearing more/purchasing an album, you can contact me and will give you Emily’s info. I’d post them all if I could! :-)
I had a horrible time choosing which song to post. I read through the lyrics and some of them just seemed to “fit” so well. This is called “ABUNDANT-REDUNDANT”. This is where we are/have been. We don’t want a redundant life, we want Christ’s abundant life

Friday, December 25, 2009

JOY

I finally found the paper where I had the Oswald Chambers quote that I’ve referenced is. I think I have butchered it somewhat in the past, but here it is now:

“What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do.
Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.”—Oswald Chambers

1 Peter 4:12-17 (NIV)
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But REJOICE that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
16 However, IF YOU SUFFER AS A CHRISTIAN, do not be ashamed, but PRAISE GOD that you bear that name.
17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

James 1:2-4 (NIV)
2 Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(the kids are actually memorizing the book of James this year for school. That makes the third year in a room that what we are memorizing is related to what we are going through…maybe I should start looking for something positive to memorize!)

Joy-having it is easier said than done. It is so hard to “count it all joy” in the middle of “it”. But it comes back to perspective. How are you looking at things? Where is your focus? Is it on Christ? You have to ask: are these trials self-inflicted or are they something that is permitted by God to develop faith? Are you doing what God has called you to do, which naturally will bring trials? (Scripture is not talking about the bad choices/consequences type of trials here. It is talking about the trials you get when you are suffering as a Christian, as you obey Christ) But no matter what, it is hard. And it takes discipline to develop perseverance. It is something we are learning and you know what, there is only one way to learn it-that is to go through it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

heart

While preparing for a meeting, I was rereading all the emails from the few months before we left Zambia. There are always so many things you miss the first time.

In one of the encouraging emails, someone wrote: “God does not want (just) your obedience, He wants your heart.”

I am thinking more on that one. We’ve always hit on the need to obey; we answered the call to obey, etc. But what about this? What of our hearts? How has God gotten our hearts these past few years? He has my true confidence and true faith and all those things we associate with the “head” knowledge of God. Where is He in my heart? How do I judge/measure that? Not in an “emotional” way, but a real way.
{I have really enjoyed the Word Search software we got awhile back. It makes seeing different versions of the same verse so much easier! (The italics below are my emphasis) }

Hosea 6:6
(KJV)
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
(ASV)
For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.
(MSG)
I'm after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.
(NLT)
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
(NASB)
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

If you truly believe with all your heart what your head tells you (the knowledge), is that it? If so, He has my heart many times over. He has proved Himself as just about every one of His names in both the Old and New Testament, to us, personally. I am basically a melancholy type of person, so I don’t have the emotional “high”. It takes quite a bit for m
e to have a “mountain top experience” (unfortunately those walks through the valley seem more on the par-maybe ‘cuz you learn a lot more from them?!) We all know “love isn’t a feeling”. Brian has my love and my heart; but it has gone beyond the “crush-feeling” of love. That is the commitment. The kids have my love and my heart, even if I don’t “feel” like I love them sometimes. The commitment, the responsibility, the reality, yes-even the BURDEN, is that part of giving God your heart too?

How do we make the adjustment in thinking and processing even, of taking the obedience (doing what we were called to do and say), to the heart? How does that look different? Does it? Have we already done it?

Monday, December 21, 2009

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I am working on a resume and cover letter to submit for a consulting position in an area that I am well versed in, dairy farming. The opportunity came through a contact that we have in Zambia. It is an interesting opportunity and one I pray that happens. Of course there are a lot of things that could come into play that would prevent this from coming to fruition. I may get a rejection on my resume or they may decide to not do the project for economic reasons. Right now I am just grateful for the offer to put my name in the ring. I really appreciate Steve for thinking of me and contacting me about this. So I ask you to please pray for this opportunity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

While digging through pictures and papers to prepare for our first open house we found the following letters we had tucked away so nothing would happen to them.

The first is from Rueben, a village elder just down the road from us. For those of you who had been at Kazemba, his place was right on the Kabulshishi turn off.
The second is from Alex, the deputy headman of the area we were in.

We want you to know that with these letters and even our newsletter, we aren't out to pat ourselves on the back. We have always felt a deep responsibility to be good stewards of our time and resources, and your resources as well. As such, it is only appropriate that we report to you the things that we did. We also felt it would be neat for you to read these letters that were written, really to you. They wanted to express their appreciation to us, but also to you, for sending us to them.

(You may need to click on the photo to enlarge it to be able to read)



Thursday, December 17, 2009

another help

Trying to think how this phrase goes, anybody remember?

"You can fool some of the people some of the time,
you can even fool most of the people, most of the time,
but you can never fool all of the people, all of the time."

Is that how it goes??

Shoot-now this one is in my head too. I gotta finish it so I can get it out...

"Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me"

This is the phrase Bush messed up...then he threw it something like, "you can't fool a fool again"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

help...

Okay you computer savvy people, I need some help. I have a friend who recorded an album locally. She gave me permission to post a song on here. I need to upload the song somewhere that I can get an mp3 url so I can post it to my playlist. Any ideas where to get that url?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 2009

Well, if I did this right, this should be a link to our December 2009 Newsletter/Ministry Report. I tried it with Adobe this time. If you have troubles getting it, let me know.

Everyone (on our mailing lists) is getting it a newsletter in the mail this time. If you normally get it on email, you’ll get it in the mail too. There is a picture on the back that we in essence are using as a new prayer card. After reading, we’d appreciate it if you cut out and kept praying for us.

If you are a regular supporter/usually get a newsletter, but don’t get one in the mail, it means I don’t have your address; so give me a shout and I will send you one.

If you are not on any of our mailing lists, and would like a hard copy, please email me that as well and I will get one out to you.

There are lots of pictures on this report. The only difference between the online version and the hard copy is the pages-there are 5 online because I couldn’t figure out how to do the back page as one, so to avoid hassles, I just left it as two.

There is of course a link on the left side in the newsletter section now as well for later viewing :-)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A FEW THINGS WE LEARNED

We learned SOME of the right questions to ask. But in saying that, even if we had asked the “right” questions, we knew that we knew that we knew we were supposed to be in Zambia at this project. It is where God called us, but not for the reasons we thought.
We learned (from a professional well driller/water engineer), that Coke DOES NOT have anything in it to find water.
We learned that agencies and churches need to have the back of the missionary in the field. They need to get the WHOLE story before decisions are made. The missionary needs to know that they are not alone. All too often the missionary is hung out to dry. From the stories we have heard, it is often unjustly so, not always, but often. There seems to be a trend of nationals calling the agencies or churches of missionaries to complain and try to get the missionary in trouble or kicked out of the country. Most of the time it is because of jealousy on the national’s part; they want something of the missionaries’ (thank you materialism). It might be a business or ministry that the missionary has or it just might be “stuff” such as a vehicle or a house or food. It is sad but true. The nationals are not immune to the temptations of the flesh. I have often seen that Westerners give an almost saintly attribute to the national when the truth is they are human just like us.
There is a trend taking place in the mission world today of handing off of all mission work to the nationals. (There is a problem right there-what does “missions” mean anymore?) Now that is not all bad but it can also be very dangerous depending on the culture and what is considered acceptable in that culture (i.e. stealing, lying, etc.) I was very impressed with the IMB and how they do missions. They have a very specific mission. They realize that they cannot and should not be all things to all people. Their focus is on church planting, discipleship, and leadership training. And from what I saw, they do a good job of it. They understand the culture and work within it. They do not pastor a specific church necessarily; they oversee a number of churches and the nationals that pastor them. Or they specifically work in the area of discipleship and leadership training. They are there to assist the national leader. They may also have a specific mission focus like river ministry or something else. I really liked the fact that they go to where the people are. They live remote and they do ministry in the local languages. Is it hard work? You bet. Is it effective? Absolutely. They are fulfilling their vision and focus.
There are other ministries that focus on well drilling. They do their ministry through the local church to help assist them to reach out to their local community to bring much needed clean water and to share the Living Water of Christ.
I believe that there is no one way to do missions, there are many and it all depends on the culture that you are working, and the vision of your ministry. That will determine what the most effective way to do missions is (for you/where you are). Too often many Westerners will come in with a Western mindset on how things will work or not, how they can be set up, what it should look like, how it will run etc.
I often think back on our time in Zambia and our ministry. Our ministry was often just helping the local villagers with their “problems” whatever they might be. At times it was very annoying but it was also very fulfilling. It was being able to show the love of Christ in tangible ways; not necessarily giving but helping. We did quite a bit for the project, but when I think back, I think about the local villagers and those relationships. I liked being able to “feel” like I was doing “ministry” just being there and living life. I miss that feeling; I miss feeling like what I am doing is making a difference to someone.
This I wrote some time ago and it still holds true today:
Our FATHER did not call us to Zambia to fail. HE promises to give us everything we NEED. I rest in that fact. HE keeps HIS promises, HE is faithful, and HIS WORD is TRUTH! I’ve got the creator of heaven and earth on my side, how awesome is that! I gladly lay my life as well as my wife and children on the alter as a living sacrifice to my GOD and my KING, I am the priest of my family, it is what GOD requires of me and I take that responsibility very seriously.
I do not believe that we failed. I believe we fulfilled God's purpose for us; it was just a different one than we thought we were called to.
Kelly and I have often wondered: did we go through everything we went through and learned all that we have in the last couple of years to wind up going someplace else (some other ministry in some other country) or could it be that we are going to just come back to Minnesota and farm (or do something else)? It is a BIG question. We want to be able to use what we have learned, but where? Doing what? I have to admit, I am kind of over the fact that I get to have much say in what we will do next (whether or I really want to do it or not). If God calls us somewhere, the answer is already yes. And honestly, I am a little gun shy about going back into missions. In time that may change but I am looking at the here and now and it makes me nervous. There is a lot I would just as soon forget about but maybe I shouldn’t. There was a purpose for it. And I cannot get away from the fact that I left part of my heart in Africa. But at the same time I love farming. I enjoyed helping with harvest this year. And if we went through everything to just end up back here again, I guess I will have to be okay with that, whether I “feel” like it or not. One of my gifts is farming. Not to boast but just to state one of my gifts. At the same time I also learned that my FATHER has gifted me in many other ways. One of the more unpopular ones is that I will say what needs to be said when it is not popular/ or not what people want to hear; but it is what they need to hear. It is not the best for making a lot of close friends-but the ones I have are true friends. I see that what I was taught by my parents has equipped me to do many things.
I guess I just want God to use me to the fullest wherever/ whatever that is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BITTERNESS, PART TWO

I am going through Voices of the Faithful (the first one). I heard about this from Lori, who had been given it as a gift. Beth Moore got the project going and Kim P. Davis compiled the devotions written by International Mission Board missionaries from around the world. There are two volumes now. Our friend Suzie has a day in each volume and her hubby Kevin is in the second volume. It is a daily devotional, but I do a handful of days at a time because I love reading the stories.
Each month has a theme. I am now in the month of April, where the theme is God’s Grace. Beth Moore writes an introduction to each chapter. As usual, she has a way with words and describing things. In this section she is specifically talking about Bitterness, but I also think it is an excellent way of talking about Burnout as well.
In this section Beth Moore asks the reader to consider the differences between “us” and “them” for a minute (in the intro she makes the point that “they” are just like “us”, but in this next way, she wants us to see a difference). “Us” being the reader, a layperson in “church speak”-not on a church staff or missionary by vocation. “Them” would then of course be those who are, whether here in the States or not I would say. She says:

“While many of “us” may have given our lives, our futures and our plans to God, all of “them” have. So?

“So, the deeper the emotional exposure to God, the deeper the wound can plunge when a servant sustains a hurt. A person who offers God little more than a few hours on Sunday and a blessing over a meal doesn’t have the same potential for devastation toward God when something terrible happens. And Satan knows it. For this reason, we can be confident that Satan picks on “them” even more than “us.” He knows they’ve fully exposed themselves. They are out on a limb so far with God that if someone cuts it off, they have nothing left. Satan does everything he can to convince them after all they’ve done for God, he has been unfaithful to them. Satan actually has no power to cut the limb, but the sound of the saw in our spiritual ears can be enough to make us jump.”

“…The King James Version of Hebrews 12:15 says, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” The profound implication is this: God will always offer the grace we need in any tribulation or tragedy not to become bitter; but if we miss it or refuse it, bitterness can become so deeply rooted that many are defiled.

“Make no mistake. Satan is constantly on the lookout for what he can do to one that can affect many. The more deeply exposed the believer is to God, the more deeply the enemy tries to plant bitterness because he knows how many might eat from its poison fruit.”

“…whether you’re an “us” or “them”, far more is going on around you than meets the eye. A war is raging in the heavenlies. Glory is at stake. You will not miss the test. None of us will. But will you miss the grace when the test comes?”

“One day we’ll understand, and until then, we must trust. Keep exposing yourself. Keep offering God your all. Go as far out on the limb as you can. Christ is the Branch that no one can cut out from under you.”

--Voices of the Faithful, Beth Moore, pp. 109-111

So yes, Burnout and bitterness happens all over. No, it doesn’t only happen in the mission field. It happens right here in the US too, right down the street from your friends and family. I think one of the other differences is that when you are on the field, your family, your friends and your church body AREN’T there (physically) to encourage you along. They can encourage you through phone and email, but it just isn’t the same. When your work is your whole life, you can’t shut it off at the end of the day, week, whatever and switch to another gear. Because everywhere you go, you see your work.
So how do you get over the bitterness? It is a daily choice I guess. There is no magic pill. You do not decide today and tomorrow it is all better. I can’t really tell you how we did it/do it/are doing it. I wish I could. It just sort of happens, over time. I know there have literally been hundreds of people praying for us, specifically about this situation for us and we’ve prayed ourselves. I hate to make it sound cliché, but it’s true-you just do (get over it). Not on your own but by surrendering to the Holy Spirit that lives in you and allowing the fruits of the Spirit to manifest in your life. And yes it is still and always will be a daily choice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

“Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you…” Hebrews 12:15 (Living Bible)

Over the course of the last three months, numerous people have gently reminded/encouraged us not to become bitter over the way certain things happened and have turned out. I think for the most part we can safely say that we are no longer bitter. That “bile” feeling doesn’t rise up from the gut when we think of certain people or events. While talking to another mission agency the other day I shared about what happened leading up to our leaving. I did specifically say I didn’t think we are bitter any longer and he commented that he didn’t hear any bitterness in my voice, so that is good.
I will very readily admit that Satan was having his way with us for those first few days. We were literally just barely surviving and there were lots of things spewing from our mouths (right FB friends?!)
What we instead feel is mostly sadness. Sadness on different fronts-sad that we aren’t there and are missing our friends. Sadness at the struggles our kids have and that they are sad and missing Zambia. Sadness that things happened the way they did, when they really didn’t have to. Sadness that some people refuse to see...various things. There is still a lot of disbelief and disappointment. Again, there is a strong belief in common sense-to get from point A to point B the straight line is the easiest path.
We still think about things and would appreciate certain answers. But let’s face it, they won’t satisfy. There are a few people we’d like to talk to about why they did things a certain way. But then other times we wonder why? What’s the point? It won’t change anything. There is just not the same heaviness-it’s different now.
There is heaviness there…yet a relief. We can watch and see how things are playing out, but know they aren’t our responsibility any longer.
There is heaviness…for lost relationships.
There is heaviness…for those who want to do something; but can’t or won’t (for any number of reasons, including and especially fear).
There is heaviness…for our own friends and family. We’ve all changed.
The heaviness is a sorrow. A sorrow as we share in Christ’s sufferings and sorrows. But thankfully, wonderfully, Christ is also the lifter of our heads.

(FYI-yes, we are talking to different kinds of people/places. Anyone who contacts us or gives us information on someone to contact, we are willing to talk to about any kind of opportunities that might be out there. We now have contacts all over the world that also put out our name as someone to talk to when they hear of an opportunity. We really don’t know where God wants us next, so we are open to whatever or wherever that may be. The answer to the call is still going to be “YES”. )

Sunday, December 6, 2009

our last days

As we are going through and sorting things and processing, we will put up some posts that were written and never posted. Some we never got time to type, but looking back are very “prophetic”. Some were started and never finished. Hopefully we are able to be a little more disconnected and not let emotions dictate (too much-we still want to be real). They were written before, edited now, but not too much. We’ll try to let you know ahead of time when it was written.

This was written in the last month or so.

The day we left the bible college really sucked. We had something precious stolen from us by a national the kids thought was their friend/elder/pastor/someone they could trust. So not only did we have to hold our children as they wept the tears of sorrow and saying goodbye to their friends, we had to help them mourn an unexpected loss. Cybil had a tough time and bawled and bawled, fairly rare for her. The students were visibly uncomfortable as they knew what happened too and who did it. We pulled out of the college, in the bus, by ourselves (we drove ourselves to Lusaka and just left it at the airport in the morning) and Myron starts singing, “I will follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus…” Out of the mouths of babes!
To recap the day, we had loaded the bus the day before. We drove down to the main campus and parked and began saying goodbyes, starting with the ladies. The kids there had made cards and flowers for our children, it was sweet. We had a few gifts to give so Brian took care of that while Kelly started the process of goodbyes. Carol (Lackson’s wife) was having a hard time. Brian said she came up to him, said thank you and just started weeping. Kelly wasn’t there at that time, but as we started the goodbye hugs Carol was still crying. We later found out from our missionary friends that it is VERY RARE for Zambian women to cry like that, so we should hang on to it as it was very special.
We walked around the campus and said goodbye to a few of the workers, to Alex the Deputy Headman and a few others. There was a group of pastors there at the time and we were looking for George. We found one group, but he wasn’t with them. There was a Pastor Henry (not the one from the bible school) in that group. What an amazing bunch of guys. Brian has met many of them each year as they came for training and helping at the school. They were very disappointed to hear that we were leaving, but when we began telling them why, they immediately understood. And then they prayed. How awesome-the tears flowed and the prayers went to heaven. Isn’t it just great how the Spirit moves people on what to pray and how to encourage, just at the time you need it? He is Good.
We continue looking for George and finally found him. The students took a break in class and came out to say goodbye. That is when we found out about the theft. Someone else offered to take care of that issue for us so we left believing it would be taken care of. Sadly, it never was. (And that is where I have to ask, isn't tolerating sin a sin itself?)
We stayed at the good ol’ Zebra lodge. We had gotten Paul and Lori a room, but since they didn’t come in, the lodge offered to apply it to the meal charge so we weren’t out any money anyway. Had a good meal, went to bed and hopped on the bus in the morning. We stopped at a friend’s house and exchanged some money and got a few boxes of luggage from them to take back.
The airport wasn’t too horrible, but we did have a few problems. We had 23 bags/boxes, we started with 22. One chest was too heavy, which we knew, but the BA agent assured us it would be okay. Not so. Brian stayed back to rewrap it while Kelly continued through with the kids. We hadn’t eaten so we thought we could get a bite upstairs but they were closed. That was okay because we had to head down through security to the plane as soon as we made it up. Brian caught up to us finally and we waited only about 15 minutes to then get on the plane.
That flight was 10 hours. It went pretty good. The travel agent had booked us in the bulkhead so Henry had a seat to sit in! It was a nice option for the few minutes at a time he would do it. He was teething that week and spent a lot of time on the airplane nursing. Thankfully he wasn’t completely weaned yet. The flights were uneventful. No puke, no big poops, lots of sleeping. We got a taxi in London and went to a really nice hotel. We had planned to let the kids swim, but we just didn’t make it. Henry was still crabby. They had a really nice buffet so we ate and everyone had hot baths. All went to bed and we were up the next morning for our next flight. We checked on all of our luggage and supposedly it was all there. One piece did make a detour to Manchester, England before getting to Minnesota though. This next flight was 8 hours, not too bad but Henry was a lot crabbier and the plane was a lot fuller.
We arrived in Chicago and began the process of collecting 23 bags, 6 of them oversized. We had 12 carts of luggage to go through customs. Luckily the customs people were great and didn’t ask anything and let us pass through. American Airlines was right there to take all of our luggage and we rushed through to the complete other side of the airport in 2 groups and made it there with about 15 minutes to spare. Everyone (but Kelly) was asleep before takeoff. We arrived in Minneapolis to Kelly’s mom and sis-in-law, Brian’s folks and bro and girlfriend. An hour later we had all the luggage loaded and given an address to send the missing bag to.
We stayed at Brian’s other brothers where we finally crashed. We finished the journey the next day and unloaded at the farm. We saw Kelly’s folks that night. The following week was MEA and break for Wheaton, so we had family around on both sides.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Love & Hate

…or for those who prefer, LIKE AND DISLIKE

Since we did a post of the loves and hates after we had been in Zambia for a bit, it is only fair to do one on the adjusting back. It won’t of course be exhaustive because there are too many and they could go on and on. Some are silly, some are annoying, and some of course are really frustrating!

-I love taking a hot bath, just about completely submerged, without having to heat water for an hour. I love hanging out with my closest friends and laughing.
-I love the leadership of our home church and receiving the support from them that we need. From our time at MTI, they unfortunately seem to be the exception, not the norm.
-I love being able to connect so quickly with other missionaries.
-I love hearing that people read our blog and check it every day and appreciate that we are so real.
-I love going to the store at a moment’s notice, if I want to. I do have to break out of the habit though of getting myself a treat just because I made it to town. Paradox-ally, I hate being able to run to the store at a moment’s notice!
-I hate that my children have been hurt. I hate that they have to learn these tough lessons about God and life at such a young age; but I do love that they have a more complete view of God. I hate the conflicting and confusing emotions that they are going through and don’t know how to deal with—and the behaviors as a result. But I also love that they WANT to go back to Africa because for the most part it was a good experience for all. I love that they have a heart for other cultures. I love that we all learned that our Father has gifted us in ways that we never knew.
-I hate not knowing what I want to do with my life (I have always pretty much known). But there is also a nervous excitement about what might be next.
-I hate not knowing how “I” am going to provide for my family, I LOVE seeing how my FATHER is taking care of us at every turn. I love seeing the body of Christ doing what it was made to do.
-I love all the new friends we have gained all over the world and I love that we have the technology to stay in touch with them.
-I love seeing that GOD is at work everywhere and I hate it when I see Christ’s name tarnished by sinful children (me included in that).
-I love knowing that my Father has more in store for me and my family. That HE has used us and will continue.
-I hate having to go through the hard, ugly stuff of life to gain the growth that I desire.
-I loved the climate of Zambia; I really hate bitter cold weather.
-I love being able to eat an excellent piece of beef. I really did not like the beef in Zambia.
-I love being able to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. But I hate that I cannot buy the really good fireworks here that we used to celebrate the holidays with over there.
-I hate that I don’t feel completely comfortable or confident in this culture (I don’t feel like I really fit in, on the inside), I loved that I felt comfortable and confident in the Zambian culture and I feel like I have lost some of that somehow coming back here. I don’t fully understand it and it is hard to explain but other ex-pats and missionaries will probably understand what I am trying to say. I know part of it is just still being in transition.
-I loved the diversity of Zambia, yes diversity. It was one of the most diverse places I have ever been. There was western European, eastern European, Middle Eastern, North African, New Zealanders, Aussies, Irish, Chinese, the white Africans and more. And I enjoyed it, it made life interesting.
-I hate not knowing what people know (or more aptly, think they know) and what they think. As shocking as it sometimes is, you do get used to the bluntness and come to enjoy the directness. My sis tells me that is how it is on the East Coast as well. Brian is starting to think he would fit in pretty well out there; he and his Jersey friend get a long pretty well.
-I hate having to lose my naïve-ness, but maybe I should have long ago. We are both easily trusting-we see the best in people, that they will do the right thing. I always say to myself, “I gotta think they would see and…” I guess I am just a Garage Logician at heart! Now I say that, but then I have to add, “Well, I would think they would, but I have a really hard time believing they will…”
-I hate that I am more suspicious of people and their loyalties. When we look at our close friends, we see it is God, Family, and Country-priorities, in that order. Where do work and friends fit in? Friends are mostly in with Family, and we have always been quick to put people in our Family category, apparently much too quickly. So when we get hurt by them, it feels more like a betrayal. Our expectations are probably off. Work is in that category, but definitely below friends.
-I hate that I am losing trust in people-that is the hardest part. We don’t want to not easily trust others-how do we turn that off?
-I hate feeling like the Lone Ranger. This next part I won’t go so far as to say I hate, but it is very disheartening and discouraging to have conversations with people who agree with you on any matter of issues and encourage you—in private. But then when it is time to take a stand, they go into hiding and don’t stand with you; heck most of them won’t even acknowledge you.
-I love that despite my LOVE and HATES, they are only temporary. I LOVE that my Father LOVES me-always has, always will. He’s moved mountains for me, provided the cattle on a thousand hills and sent His Son-to die. For me, little old insignificant, unworthy me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

sooooo--what's next????

I really wish I had an answer to that. But I do not, at least not yet. It is not like I have not been praying about it, it is about all I think about any more. It is so hard to wait on the Lord. I know I need a job, but what? There are any number of things that I can do. One I cannot/do not want to do is sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day. I think I would probably go nuts. It just is not me. A lot of heavy lifting just does not work much anymore either; I hurt my back in Zambia and it just is not as strong as it once was. I do like physical labor and I have done sales (cattle that is). For the most part I have a lot of skills; I just may not be an expert in any one area. It is the old analogy, jack of all trades, master of none. I have been asked “what do you want to do?” and the truth is I do not know. I can see myself doing any number of things and at times nothing. I am really praying for direction right now and I ask that you would pray that for me as well. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or offers please let me know I would greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

compromise-when is it a sin?

Compromise is a word that is also an action. It is viewed in many ways, good and bad, sometimes at the same time (paradox). Sometimes it is sin. The question is where is the line?
Too often I see many people compromising in a variety of areas (that especially includes the “church”). We often use the word tolerance. Now that word can stir up a number of emotions in people. Some see it as some sort of “enlightenment”. The other side sees it as a form of treason. Then there is everywhere in-between. The question is: when does it become sin? I personally often see compromise in a negative sense. In many areas scripture is clear but when you look closer there are many places where it is rather a large gray area. The problem is not everyone’s gray area is the same size. And often peripheral issues are seen as primary issues or vice-versa. Some take a gray area in Scripture and make it black and white for themselves.
One of the many compromises I see is ignoring sin. Truth be told, I have little respect for someone who is unwilling to deal with blatant sin, whether in himself or those under him. I see it at all levels, from the leader to the guy sitting in the cubicle, to the laborer in the field. It is very sad to see. I have a tendency to expect the best and the most of people, and sadly I have been very disappointed at times. That can be very difficult to get over depending on how “close” I am to the situation. Tolerating sin is sin.
So how do we judge whether it is sin or not? Is each situation just supposed to be different for each person? That just doesn’t seem quite right. If we believe that the Bible is our handbook for life, what does that tell you? Where is that checklist??? There are some things that are very obvious to me. Things I am not willing to lose my integrity over. One of the things our instructor at MTI last week observed is that we both fiercely desire integrity and justice.
Maybe we are still seeking worldly approval. Maybe we just want a line in the sand to be reassured we are on the right side of the line. But maybe my line is different from yours? Where are the concretes in the bible?

Exodus 20:1-17 (TLB)
1 Then God issued this edict:
2 "I am Jehovah your God who liberated you from your slavery in Egypt.
3 "You may worship no other god than me.
4 "You shall not make yourselves any idols: no images of animals, birds, or fish. 5 You must never bow or worship it in any way; for I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god! "And when I punish people for their sins, the punishment continues upon the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who hate me; 6 but I lavish my love upon thousands of those who love me and obey my commandments.
7 "You shall not use the name of Jehovah your God irreverently, nor use it to swear to a falsehood. You will not escape punishment if you do.
8 "Remember to observe the Sabbath as a holy day. 9 Six days a week are for your daily duties and your regular work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God. On that day you are to do no work of any kind, nor shall your son, daughter, or slaves—whether men or women—or your cattle or your house guests. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heaven, earth, and sea, and everything in them, and rested the seventh day; so he blessed the Sabbath day and set it aside for rest.
12 "Honor your father and mother, that you may have a long, good life in the land the Lord your God will give you.
13 "You must not murder.
14 "You must not commit adultery.
15 "You must not steal.
16 "You must not lie.
17 "You must not be envious of your neighbor’s house, or want to sleep with his wife, or want to own his slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else he has."

What happens when 2, 3, 4 (or more) of these are all “culturally” acceptable? Does culture supersede the Bible or is sin still sin? Do we learn “tolerance” and let them going on sinning?
In Africa and most third world cultures, lying is definitely not a big deal, even the Pastors do it! They just call it saving face. Do we compromise on our own integrity and allow them to continue doing it around us as long as things (whatever they are) get done? Is a half truth still a lie? Is that the cost of doing “business” in Africa (whatever that business may be)? We were once told that by someone in reference to their accounting-they just expected their books to always be a little off. And the treasurer of that group told us, “I just have to be within 90%.” WHAT?! You expect it—and you allow it, so guess what? It’s going to happen.
We knew one guy who was a compulsive liar. His truth was whatever it needed to be at the time so he avoided any trouble. The problem is when you lie so much, you don’t know the truth anymore.
Now don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of national friends, and yes, they lied to me. Many were just the “little white lies”, but there were others that had to have thought I was the biggest idiot in the world if they honestly thought I wouldn’t know they were lying (heck there are many Westerners who did the same thing). Some lied to try to get me to get after someone else. Some lied because they were ashamed (they needed some thing but didn’t want to come right out and ask me), others lied just because they wanted something. So we do have to learn to live and function within that type of a culture. One of the easiest ways unfortunately is just to expect that there is always a whole lot more behind anything you are told, than just what you are being told. But I believe we still need to hold them accountable to those lies when we catch them in it. When we see it, we need to call it out. A stern lecture won’t do much good though. We do it in the culturally acceptable way through another party to help them save face-it really won’t be accepted otherwise. And this is just one of the many issues that you have to reconcile within yourself, with Christ, when you live in another culture. Well, truthfully it isn’t any better here in the States. We are all living in another culture-because this world is not our home. We are to be a part of the kingdom culture. We all have to have that line we won’t cross-where no other person or ministry or any “good” thing-that place where we won’t allow our integrity in Christ to be compromised.

Actions speak louder than words, and the personal life of the messenger determines the volume and clarity of the message.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

GOOD WEEK FOR THE KIDS (MORE MTI THOUGHTS)

There were a total of 18 kids at MTI for the week of DAR (Debriefing and Renewal), from three families. Each of our kids was able to have a few new friends besides their siblings!
They kids all expressed some anger and resentment. Let’s face it they are loyal to mom and dad. They don’t like that we have been hurt. When the little kids say it, you know they don’t really understand, but they love mom and dad. We know now that we need to MODEL our own forgiveness for them. Maybe do some hands on/tangible examples of letting the kids “give” their own hurts to God.
But through the week and their teachers, we were able to have a better idea about how each kid was processing.
Cybil really misses Zambia and her 12 big brothers.
Mariah tells that she is still in the chaos stage-mad, sad, frustrated and angry all at the same time and doesn’t know what to do about it. Add in an 11 year old going through the hormones of a 14 year old and things are pretty chaotic for her. She just doesn’t know what to do with her feelings and how to process them-and they often come out in talking back and disobeying. She is still holding on to the fact that we may go back some day. While anything is possible, it obviously won’t be to the same place or people. You can especially pray for her. She feels things deeply, but doesn’t express them very well.
Greta and Hailey are on the border of the age where they will be really not be overly affected and remember much of it all. Greta is still pretty shy. She has been crying pretty easily and Hailey has asked to cuddle more than usually.
Joe seems to be Joe. He seems more comfortable here-just wasn’t ever overly comfortable around a lot of Africans. I think that is/was the adoption fear-maybe he thought we would leave him there? His adjustment back here was a lot easier than it was going over.
Myron (and Henry) probably won’t remember much except what they are told. They do very much feel what is going on around them though. Henry has been happy again after a month or so of being crabby. Myron is so much more talkative now, and he too has been looking for more cuddles.
If nothing else, the week was one without a high level of stress-no worries about cooking, cleaning, messes, plans, school. We rested, we all let our guard down and we felt pretty “normal”.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I adjusted the Ginny Owens song so that it doesn't automatically play. If you want to hear it, just go down the left side and press play.

We are working on a December newsletter to put out in the next two weeks with pictures and somewhat of a report.

We are also going to be picking a date or two to have an open house and reporting time.

We have many posts in the rough draft to first final draft stage. Most of our writing goes through two to three drafts before we post them. Now that Thanksgiving week is over they will be coming!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

giving thanks

We have so much to give thanks to our FATHER for. Some may look at us and say what? How can you say that? You are home from the mission field after only a year and you were planning on it being there maybe forever. Yes, that is true but we made some incredible relationships in that year. We were able to live out the love of Christ by ministering to many people and being ministered to by many. We are thankful that we were counted worthy to be called to serve our Lord in Zambia. Was it easy? NO! Was it worth it? YES! We give thanks not just for the good (that is easy) but also for the bad. I am sure there are some that right now are saying “WHAT? Give thanks for the bad?” Yes, giving thanks for the bad. I have begun trying to look at things from a different perspective. Picture a painting or tapestry or a cross-stitch that is not finished. In that work of art is your life in Christ; your faith lived out-the good, the bad and the ugly. Now when you look at the back side of the piece of work it does not look like much. In fact it might be kind of ugly. But remember you are only looking at one side of it. You have to turn it over to see how all the experiences of your life (good, bad, ugly) blended together to make a beautiful picture. At times it can be very difficult to do that but the reality is the MASTER is creating a masterpiece and it takes a life time.
In John chapter 15 it talks about being pruned to produce more fruit. There is a form of pruning called shock pruning. It is when you dig down to the roots and cut them and then you put fertilizer around them to get the vine to produce more fruit. I look at it this way: the bad and ugly stuff of life is the manure/fertilizer that can produce abundant fruit. That is what I see but it is also what I desire for my life and my family’s. So in that I can give thanks. Thanks for the bad because it can and will produce good abundant fruit that is pleasing to my FATHER.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the kids

The kids had a really good time a DAR in Colorado. Not just fun but purposefulness. In their classes they went through all the same stuff that dad and mom went through in their class. They emptied their back packs and sorted through their “stuff”. They talked about their hurts, frustrations and anger but also all the good things that that they experienced and the friends that they made and the sadness of missing them. I believe it really helped them to be able to talk about these things with other kids that were going through the same things. The kids had expressed anger in class towards certain people and also God because we had to leave. They really loved it there, they love it here too but it was their home now and it felt like it was taken away from them. And it was; they did not get to have a choice. And there were a couple of things that people did that really hurt them. They learned some very hard lessons, that fellow believers can often be crueler than the non-believer and that we are all imperfect people. We’re all sinners living and working with other sinners. The good news is this has caused conversations about forgiveness and why we forgive. It is not about the person and forgivenss is not for that other person- it is for you and your relationship with the Father. You are only hurting yourself by not forgiving them. The truth is that other person really doesn’t care, but your Father does. He cares about you and your relationship with Him. And it grieves His heart that you were hurt. We have talked about where spiritual growth comes from. It comes from the not-so-good things in life and it is up to you what you are going to do with them. They have to make the choice not to become bitter and resentful. It is not easy but it is very important for each one of them to make the right choice for their own mental, physical and spiritual well being. That is not only for them but for us as well (and you).

few things...

hopefully you like the blue better? I was told the red was a little hard to read. Let me know if this still is tough. It looks okay to me on my little screen.

The song-if for some reason it doesn't play within a few seconds of you going to the home page, scroll down and you should see the playlist on the left hand of the screen. Just press the play arrow. Whenever you come to this page though, it should start. The beginning of the song is pretty soft, so give it 10-15 seconds if you don't hear stuff.

This is a link to the home page of the business of thecouple whose house we are living in. They are having an auction on NOVEMBER 28th at 10 AM. If you go to "view your portraits" the login is auction and the password is auction. There is a sale bill and pictures of what they have. If you are around this next week end, come and have fun at the auction!

We are also working on one final newsletter with a report and pictures of the last year and our ministry in Zambia.

Did I mention we get internet on Tuesday??!! More posting to come! I promise!

what to do on the worst day of your life by brian zahnd

On the last day of our missionary care seminar while still in Zambia, one of the host couples gave us this book. They had just gotten it, but hadn’t even read it yet. They heard it was a very good book and wanted us to have it.
In 1 Samuel 30 we read about King David’s worst day (okay, maybe one of the many?). This is when he came back with his warriors to Ziklag and discovered the city destroyed and the women and children taken.
“…you have begun the journey. You may well have experienced your own Bethlehem beginning… Perhaps you now sense that you are somehow on your way to Jerusalem, the place of destiny, where the purposes of God are fulfilled in your life… But between Bethlehem and Jerusalem there are always Ziklags. Ziklag is unavoidable, not only because there are powers of darkness bent on our destruction, but also because, in a much deeper and more mysterious way, Ziklag is an essential part of our own personal development. Between prophecy and destiny there is always testing and refinement. God’s purpose for allowing you to encounter Ziklag is not to hurt you or ruin you but to develop in you a kingly and gratuitous spirit so that you will be fit to rule and serve when you reach Jerusalem.” (pp.127-128)

Friday, November 20, 2009

behind

We are very far behind in blogging. Sorry! Well, in posting at least. We are starting to write more now that we are feeling just a teeny-tiny bit settled. We got back from Colorado okay and are working to get into a new routine with school and life and…
I am working on getting internet for the house. We are just outside of city limits, so I don’t know how that affects our options just yet. I have a list of places to call in my , so until then we will keep writing and posting as we get to the folks’ homes where we can get online for free! UPDATE!! We are getting internet next Tuesday! YEAH!
Yes, we are in our own house finally. We really appreciate being able to stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s, but we needed to be in our home and start functioning-period, but functioning as a family.
We have been given some furniture, bought some at an auction and are waiting for another auction from the owners of the house. Only have to move the stuff a couple hundred feet that way! We are settling in. If you ask me what it is we need, I don’t know anymore! If you have something you are giving away or looking to sell, let us know.
We sure would appreciate your continued prayers for us, especially about our future direction. We are still open to wherever or whatever God would have us do. The answer to the Call is still YES! Despite the earthly view of what has gone on, we know that eternal purposes were accomplished and we look forward to seeing the fulfillment of those-some day, whether here or there. So please keep praying for us and where God wants to use us next. Maybe that’s here, maybe it’s somewhere on the other side of the world, we just don’t know right now. And what do we need to do in the meantime? Pray for our full restoration. Pray for the kids. It was a good time for them at the DAR program and we all need to continue processing our hurts and healings.

"disclaimer"

A disclaimer-- for you. Well, I guess for our “protection” too.
We met many wonderful people on the mission field. We had some great discussions on missions-mission philosophy, ministry teams, missionary life and so on and so forth.
This blog is about our personal faith walk and things we are learning along the way. So that means we are going to, and have written about missions. PLEASE, try not to read more into our writings than there is. If we say “agency” do not automatically assume we are writing about our former agency. If we are going to reference them, we would say its name or “our agency”. It is just a lot easier to write in general terms than to name this or that group or whatnot. And we don’t need to-we are just writing about what we have seen, heard, or discussed.
There will of course be some out there that would say we shouldn’t be writing anything or questioning about Missions or other cultures even. Everyone wants to think Missions is a pretty picture all wrapped up in a bow. Truth is, it isn’t. We just put these high expectations on it that in a way aren’t even fair. It’s similar to the divorce rates-there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be much difference between the secular world and the “Christian” one.
So please, if you wonder about something, ASK US! You don’t have to be afraid we will judge you for your thoughts or questions. We are being real here and we want you to be real with us. One of the frustrating things to get used to in the States again is the lack of direct talk. We are used to people just being direct and open-it’s like they didn’t have time to go around-they just said it like it is! Hard sometimes, yet in many ways so much easier to deal with! It doesn’t have to be a comment, just send a plain email (link is in our contact info). Or send it as a comment with a note not to publish if you are along the more not-so-computer-savy line. We have to approve all comments before they are published anyways. Having said that though, don’t be afraid to comment-we do publish the ones that disagree with us! We are striving for dialogue here!

missing my puppies

Yup, I am missing my “puppies” Elijah and Eve. Every time I have to wipe the crumbs from the table into my hand and not on the floor, I think of my puppies. And there is just something about having them in the house, around. There for the kids to jump on or whatever at any minute. Someone to look up when you talk and want to know what you’re thinking. Our dogs have always been allowed in all the main areas of our homes, just not the bedrooms. So they were just always around.
So I think of them and miss them. I was especially saddened to hear that they are still up at the house alone and they bark all night. I wasn’t clear on where they were during the day, just around the house I think. Last we also knew, John was still working for the school taking care of the front garden there-easily a two person job to keep up with the watering during the hot dry season, and weeding during the rainy season! I am sure he is giving them love as he can as he got to know them and enjoyed them and they knew him well too. I know he got really worried about them when we went on our 7 night trip before we left Zambia.
With everything else we did and how fast it all went, we didn’t have a lot of time to find them another home. We were hoping another missionary family would take them, but we wanted them to go together so that kind of makes it tough. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that a national family can’t be a good family for them. It’s just that Zambians view dogs very differently than we do. Dogs, like most other animals there, usually have to fend for themselves for food, and being called a dog is about the worst insult someone can dish out. They also have no problems throwing rocks or kicking the dogs.
Lucy (who bought them) has known Elijah and Eve since we got them, they know he pretty well. And Christine’s father raised dogs so I know that they know and understand more than any of the other locals how to treat them. I am not sure why they are still at the house alone. I know there are still things that need guarding up there, and since Lucy and her family are the ones who will be moving into the house, maybe they figured it wasn’t a good idea to move them down to their current house just to have them move back to the house we built. I don’t know. I just remember how sad John said they were when we were gone. There have been American teams there the last month and a few things need to be done to get it comfortable for a family again, so I am sure they just haven’t had time to move up there yet. Once corn is planted I am sure they will get up there as soon as they can. I just hope it won’t be too late. They (E &E) are both getting old and sometimes you hear of dogs just laying down and dying, or getting really ornery. I just remember how they looked when we came back from our trip.
You can pray that once the Mutenekas get moved in everyone will adjust well (the dogs will have different rules-they may not be allowed in the house for example). Pray that their kids won’t be afraid of them (most Zambians are afraid of dogs, especially large healthy ones like ours) and give them lots of love; but yet have the healthy respect for them that is needed to treat them well. There were times our kids pushed the line and the dogs let them know. Just pray it will turn out to be a good fit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

song

If you don't have your speakers on, turn'em on--turn'em up :-)

If you have a sleeping baby in the room and you didn't know there was a song, and your speakers were up, and someone woke up... sorry!

The song is "If You Want Me To" by Ginny Owens. This came out quite a few years ago, but I just heard it again recently and thought... WOW. That's it, that's where we are at.

Take a few minutes to listen to the words. They are a powerful heart cry. If you want me to Lord...the answer is YES.

And that's where it all began.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WHY?

Why are we in Colorado at DAR (Debriefing and Renewal)? It is a safe place to go and talk about our experiences; a place to get counsel on the “next step”. Some of the missionaries here are going back to the same field, others are going into other fields and others are staying here in the states. Some here have been in the field for many years and there are others that like us have only been in the field for a year. A common thing for missionaries is that you do not deal with “things” (hurts, frustrations, loses, pain, etc.) in the field. Mainly because you are too busy and it takes focused time to do it. So you come here where there are staff that have been there and done that. A lot of the help comes from the other missionaries that are here because just like you they have gone through a world of different experiences-some good, and sadly, quite a few bad. There is one particular couple here that just went through something very similar to what we went through this last year and in particular the last 4 months. And most are trying to deal with the transition of being back and what that means and what it looks like.
One of the exercises we have done is empting out our backpacks. That is all the stuff that we are carrying around with us from our experiences. The good and the bad; sorting through our emotions. One of the analogies that is being used is that of a house. In a house you have a lot of different rooms and some of the rooms you let most people into but there are some that you let few if any into. You may not even go into them yourself for any number of reasons. But the main reason is it is painful. It is the room where you put the stuff that you do not want to deal with. So here (at MTI) you have someone who will walk into that room with you to sort through stuff and help you with throwing out what needs to be thrown out or move stuff into another room. We deal with the lies that the enemy has sold us and we focus on Christ and who HE is and His love. A lot of the comfort comes from just knowing that there is a whole room of people that know and understand right where you are because they have been there or are there right now. The kids have classes as well and their teachers have all been in the field. So they are helping the kids process the transition they are in and what they have gone through in the field.
In military battle terms- When you are in battle and you get wounded, you do a field dressing. And that is fine for the immediate but it is not for the long term. If it is not dealt with properly it gets infected. So when you come off the front lines you need to remove the dirty field dressing and open up the wound and clean it out, maybe cut away the dead and infected tissue and sew it up and bandage it so it will heal completely. There will still be a scar that will fade over time. But if you do not deal with it properly, it will eventually destroy you.
Why are we doing this? Because we want to be health physically, emotionally, and spiritually so we can serve the Lord (wherever) well with all our heart. In the church it is often talked about that we should be more like Christ. Have you ever thought about what that means? How that happens? Do you want to know, really? I believe that to drink from Christ’s cup, to become more like Him, you are going to suffer. Does that mean that life is going to be all bad? NO, but you are going to need to go through some hard things and learn from them. To learn to love your enemies you first must have an enemy. To learn about forgiveness you first must be wronged. To learn about the true joy in the Lord you first must experience deep pain. To learn obedience we first must be asked to do something. To learn true dependence on Christ you must be in deep need. And to be able to minister to others you often must experience the pain to be able to understand. These are the hard lessons of the faith that are not often talked about. Many just want to talk about how we serve a God of love-and we do. But more than that, we serve a God that wants a relationship with us. He is our Father and we are His children. I believe that when our heart aches His heart also aches. Sometimes He must show us our need for Him.
I am so thankful that we came out here for this week. It has been a long time since I have seen any light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

a day of rejoicing and sorrow

Today a man I admire greatly went home. Words are hard to come by. Deronhas been an inspiration to Kelly and I for some time. I know that the FATHER has used him and will continue to use his legacy of faith for a long time to come. I loved Deron’s heart and honesty, his willingness to share his struggles and triumphs. My heart is heavy knowing he is no longer on earth yet my heart is full of joy knowing he is worshiping the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS face to face. How awesome is that. Our heart goes out to Jan and the boys as they are the ones left behind and for the ordeal that they have gone through for what I am sure feels like forever. Our prayer for them is for restoration, total restoration (physically, emotionally, & spiritually). That they will feel the FATHER’S arms around them like they never have before and the beginning of there restoration will begin today. That the family of GOD will come around them and love them (in tangible ways), like in the days of the early church. Not give advice, not say “if you need anything just call”. Rarely, if ever does the person do that. Ask yourself, what would you want done if you where in the same position. That is always a pretty good place to start. First and foremost PRAY and keep praying and keep praying. Healing takes time and we often do not take the time to do or allow others to do it because there is always so much else to do- “more important things” or so we say. Right now their most important thing is to sit in the arms of their Father.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

so...forgiveness continued

Part 3 of our forgiveness thoughts-then it's time for some discussion with you!!

Now that we started thinking about Matthew 18 a little, let's get back to asking forgiveness. Here's an example that may happen way more than we think in our info-savy world.

Brad and Albert are emailing and sharing personal stuff. Comments and questions are asked, statments made so that Brad assumes all communications with Albert are staying strictly confidential. But, Albert shares some of Brad's emails with other people and ends up hurting Brad due to some of the content.

So-two possibles here:

1. Brad goes to Albert in the Matthew 18 way to say that he sinned against him. Should it happen? Probably. Will it? Hard to say, as often when we are hurt we just push it under the rug. Maybe Brad doesn't want to restore the relationship? If Brad is able to let the situation go and not be bitter, maybe he shouldn't bring it up? Or maybe he should because he knows that Albert is in sin and needs encouragement to repent? Or maybe Albert doesn't realize just how bad he hurt Brad? Brad is still responsible to forgive Albert whether Albert thinks he needs forgiveness or not. Because unforgivess often turns to bitterness which hinders Brad's relationship with God.

2. Or, and probably the "better" way-Albert is convicted by the Holy Spirit that what he did was wrong. He repents and seeks God's forgiveness. What now?? Scripturally is he required to ask Brad for forgiveness? We probably would all say yes he should! But where does it say that? What is accomplished by Albert doing that? Does he feel better? Probably. What of Brad's end? What if Brad isn't ready to forgive? He looks like the one with the problem now, not Albert. What then should Albert do? Is there other ways for him to make restitution to Brad? Maybe sometimes the only restitution is an apology??

Does this example help you see where the question is coming from? So, what do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

FORGIVENESS & MATTHEW 18

I want to go back and hit the forgiveness question some more to explain what I mean and give a specific example so you can see where I am heading. But because that example will bring Matthew 18 in, we'll bring that part up first.

In Matthew 18 we see the procedure we should use when (we think) someone has sinned against us.

15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. "

First step-GO to the person individually. Talk to them, let them know how what they are doing is sinful or against your rules or whatever your grievance is.
If you have made it clear why you are coming to them and they will not listen...

Second step- Get a witness or two and GO WITH them to your brother in Christ. What is the key word? WITH. This does not mean that Luke says to Andrew-"talk to Bartholomew, he won't listen to anything I say". The key is WITH so that Batholomew knows that it is Luke that send Andrew to talk about this serious issue. Whose responsibility is it to be sure Andrew does this? Obviously not Bart's, but Luke's. It is Luke's responsibility to make sure it happens correctly as HE is the one who initiated it.

If after an official discussion together andBart still won't listen, then Luke and Andrew...

3rd step- Tell it to the church. Here is a question-who is the church? If it is the common place of worship/fellowship/teaching, what if you don't live in the same area? Who is the church then? The larger sense of a body of believers?
How do you go about this? If Luke meets and talks to Frank who goes to church with Bart, is that good enough? What is Luke's responsibility? Here it doesn't say that Luke necessarily goes WITH the church, but does Luke have any responsibility to be sure Frank does anything? What is Frank doesn't have authority in the church? What if Frank never talks to Bart, let alone anyone else at church? Whose liable then?
When you go tell the church, WHO are you suppose to tell?? Is there still that principle where the church should say, "hey Bart, we ALONG WITH Luke want to talk to you...". The Church still has to know it is being a part of the Matthew 18 proceedings, otherwise Frank is just another witness like in step 2. And again, Luke can not delegate his role out. He can not say I followed Matthew 18 if he is not a part of every step and knows what and when and IF things were discussed, can he? Isn't it still Luke's job to be a part of the process to make sure it happens correctly, let alone happens at all?

And what about Bart? What is his role? First off, he needs to know and understand that Luke is coming at him in this way/that this procedure is taking place. It would be obvious to him if it was being done correctly. So if Bart doesn't know what is going on, something is wrong with the approach. Bart needs to be a part of the discussions if he is to have a chance to even accept the correction and repent. Does it have to be formal or in writing? Not always. In the business world everything is always documented, and when it involves discipline in the workforce, I would say 99.9% of the time there is a verbal warning, then 1 to 2 written warnings that must be signed by both parties so legally the business is covered. Often, we think because we are Christians we don't need to do it that way. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we just need to love and trust each other...sounds great, but we are human also! Perspectives, words/emails, who is doing what...without documentation hurts abound.

If Luke goes through all three steps, and Bart knows about all three steps and he refuses to repent, then we are to let him be as a heathen. The point of this post is not so much about the end result of the proceedings, but the process, so I am going to leave that part for now.

What is your responsibility when you know that no repentance will happen based on what you do? We are at step 2 on a situation. We know that proceeding with step 3 won't change anything this side of the heaven. Are we still required to go on? What is the end goal of this procedure? We've been hurt and stolen from-we called it out, but nothing will erase that hurt. Sure we seek justice, but is that the right reason? Even if not the "right reason", is it all wrong? If Matthew 18 is to restore a brother into a right relationship with God, what do you do when the other person doesn't think they have done anything wrong or worse yet, they just don't care? You know they are not going to accept the correction. Who are you seeking to restore the relationship with? You and them? May never happen. Them and God? It would seem if that is the end goal, you MUST continue on to the end.

How accountable are we to and for our brothers and sisters in Christ? If we know "what's right is right..." but we don't act on it, what good is what's right? Doesn't the song say if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything?
How do we know our responsibilities in each situation of life? Where's the checkoff list??!! If we don't make the decision, but we know it is wrong and go along with it anyway, are we held accountable? Or are our leaders just in for an "extra dose"? We know from Scripture that pastors and other church leaders will be held to a higher standard, but who constitutes the leader? Only the president? What about the VPs, the department heads...

I guess I am running in circles now and really spreading this out. But what are your thoughts? Have you were been involved on either side of Matthew 18, and how did that play out for you?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

forgiveness

So in visiting with friends the other night, this question came up:


Is it BIBLICAL for me to ask my friend for forgiveness when I wrong him?


Not extra-biblical, not it's a really good idea, but where is is SCRIPTURALLY?


Not passing judgement here, just where is it actually in scripture? We know we are suppose to repent with God, but then?

By asking forgiveness, what do we accomplish? Are we shifting the responsibility now to the other person to forgive us or not? To what end? To make us feel better? Not that it isn't often a good idea to ask it, but let's face it-sometimes it's not. Because if the other person can't right then (maybe they just aren't ready), they look like the bad person. Or they say they forgive because that is what they are "suppose" to say, but they may not really mean it.


We are still to seek to restore the relationship, often making restitiution as necessary (not just finacially), but do we seek THEIR forgiveness???

What do you think? And can you back it up???

Thursday, October 22, 2009

whys/why nots

We feel we are needing/wanting/able to share a few of the whys and why nots as to our departure. As is human nature and curiosity, people would like more info and many do deserve it. There are many who would like some answers but are afraid or unsure if they should ask, so they ask others and half-truths are passed as fact.


We seek to do our best NOT to defend ourselves. That is hard. We want justice and the truth to be told. But the Lord continues to tell us, "Be quiet. I was silent in front of my accusers, my Father defended me, and He will defend you." Easier said than done when one day is as a thousand to Him!

So WHY DID WE NOT LEAVE?
-we did not leave because we couldn't adapt to the culture. Regular readers know the opposite to be true. We were able to integrate into the culture and fit in well. We have a wonderful appreciation letter from a village elder and one of the headmen saying how accepted our family was. We had others too, but they were stolen from us on the last day. :-(
-we are not leaving due to the stress and burnout we were in. While a factor in how things played out, those were not the actual causes.
-we did not leave because we WANTED to-but we knew it was something we HAD to do.

WHY DID WE LEAVE?
The SIMPLE explanation is this:
-having lived, breathed, and worked the project for almost a year, we realized that our mission philosophies and visions for the project (agriculutrally, academically, and otherwise) were no longer compatible with the agency's. We let the leadership know this at different times and in different ways throughout the year. WE were seeking some way to stay and work at the project despite this, but could come to no working agreement on how this could happen. So, since this was the agency's project and not ours, we were obviously the ones who need to leave.

That's the simple explanation. Problem is, life isn't simple. That explantion doesn't reveal the whos, the whys and the hows of how things played out to get to the point of leaving. We have written out quite a bit about the feelings, the emotions, the hurts that we went through. Just doing that takes a lot of time and energy and emotion for us right now. How much of it will we post? We don't know yet. This has always been a personal blog about our processing and our faith journey, so we'd like to share much of it. But we don't want it to appear or come across as saying anything it isn't. We all know emails and letters and postings can be intrepted in many different ways. A simple sentence like, "no, we really don't need any more" can be heard in a person's head as sarcastic and critical, or just as a fact. We've had too many instances where someone has read WAY MORE into a statement than it was written in. So we are still working on what we will say or not. It is vital for our own healing that we discuss and process things though.


Now, what does it mean that our philosphies/visions were no longer compatible? Well, without discussing everything just yet (please email us if you would like more particulars), it means that the way some things were being done we didn't see as culturally relevant, or maybe that it would not work where we were (due to elevation, climate, etc)... there were things related to the project, things related to the ministry as a whole, just things that we didn't feel we could keep silent and be a part of. Just some things we could not go along with.

Both we and our agency went into this relationship pretty blind. We'd never been on the mission field; they'd never sent. We didn't know the questions to ask and neither did they. We went on the field without a job description. We were the guinea pigs-the first ones. And we all know what happens to the guinea pigs...

We don't regret going to Zambia in the least. We did not miss what God called us to do; we did what we were called to do. It just didn't look or end the way we thought it would. But how can we say when everything is peaches and cream that God is great and God is soverign--but then when our vision doesn't match His, He's not? Or can we even say "man-we really screwed up God's plan!" Like He doesn't know what's going on? We are, and were, right where God wanted us-dependent on Him, seeking Him, having to trust Him.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

working out the problems

A HUGE THANK YOU to Rob, who showed me how to find the data on my computer that I lost!! I was able to recover all but the info for one program I wanted. But I DID find all my emails!! Thank you Rob!!

Brian's brother Tim is now working on cleaning up the computer, updating everything from the last year and getting it ready to use again. I think he is almost done, so should have the computer up and running by the end of the weekend. THANKS TIM!

We have a large pile of posts that are already written and need to be typed, and also a list of phrases and situations that we need to finish writing about.

Of course it snowed the day after we arrived here. Everyone has been or is currently sick with something-sore throat, fever, cough-the icks. Some it lasts a day, others two or three. Pray for our health. Henry is teething again too. :-( He had a tooth poke through, then was happy for 3 days, but now is chewing away again. Most of the kids are sleeping pretty good, but Mom and Dad still are not.

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR HOUSING SITUATION. We need somewhere to move into and try and get settled. We are still guests in Brian's parent's home and there is always stress. Henry needs to be able to cry some of his night waking out, but we don't feel we can (he is a real screamer at night!) Our stuff is still in bins and boxes, we need to start school, we just need to relax. Pray that we would find somewhere to rent soon. We still don't know where God is going to lead us next and we probably won't know for awhile. We keep trying to remember we've only been home for about a week...

Talking to our pastor, he told us he doesn't expect us to do too much for at least two months. We should be taking time to process, REST, get reoriented and reacclaimated, try to set up a family life/routine. Many who read this blog are in ministry too. You understand any involvement in minstry wipes you out-emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically. And any extended involvement in ministry without any kind of break...just think of the stress on our bodies physically alone.

We appreciate your prayers and continued support. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus to us as you encourage and serve through your financial support, prayers and notes of encouragement. We thank the Lord for you!