"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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It has been a most excellent time at the missionary care seminar. Several others decided to come at the last minute. One of the families has 4 girls as well so the kids are having a great time. We go to another house about 5 km away from 8-12 and leave the kids with some of the local ladies to watch. A lot of what we are learning is just a refresher from MTI but it has been almost 2 yrs since we were there. In the last month we had been looking through our manual essentially seeing where we came up short in our training. One of the things we have heard and learned first hand is that one of the greatest needs in the mission field is missionary care. There are a few mission agencies that are actively addressing the need but not many. One of the biggest things we have learned is you can not expect your church or mission agency to care for you, you must do what is necessary to care for yourself. That is one area that we failed in, we expected to be cared for and we should not have. We are NOT leaving because of burnout even though we have been in burnout for a while me (Brian) especially. Our/my mistake was we did not take the necessary actions to combat it. There was always more on the list to do and more other stuff that we saw that was more of a priority to get done, but everything was a priority (which means nothing was). So what did we try to do….we tried to do everything and that was wrong. We knew better but we allowed the pressures to get to us to get things done. I have to take the responsibility/blame for that, I did not say “no” soon enough when I knew I should. So now what? We learn from our mistakes and go forward. We trust the Lord to provide for ALL our needs. And we do what is necessary to heal up. This is just one of the many reasons why we must leave-one of the lessons we learned.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

need a little help

Need a little info from someone out there---

we are flying British Airways. We land in Chicago before going on to Minneapolis. Can someone please tell me how customs works there? Are they good to work with? Do they have someone to take the bags right away? I think some of the summer teams this year flew back this way?

Continued prayers are welcome! We are so busy on this side of the ocean, we don't have time to do anything on that side. So pray for Ben as he is trying to help as he can. We don't know where we are going to live. We can stay with parents for a bit, but it would be best for all if that didn't have to be for too long. We don't have a vehicle anymore, so will need to find another big van. And of course, no job/income as of yet.

But we know God is in control and we are continuing to see and hear confirmations left and right about the journey we are on. God is good-all the time! God is Faithful! God is GOD!

Monday, September 21, 2009

more to come

I know you all are waiting to hear more news from this side of the ocean! I see in my analyticals that over 525 different people checked out our blog this last month-some of you check often! Most days well over 75 visits. Thank you for your continued support and prayers for us as we travel on the next step of our journey!

Really, more will be coming, but right now we are way busy! We have a few posts written in notebooks, they just need to be typed. Maybe I will have time to type on the way to Victoria Falls this weekend.

We leave Zambia on October 6th, arriving in Minneapolis on October 7th.
It was an interesting morning (a few weeks ago now). Two brothers of the local headman came to see me. The one I helped a few weeks back with some clothes for his girlfriend and new born baby, he wanted to check and see if it was okay to come in the afternoon so everyone can greet properly and the other brother had an interesting “problem”. He was looking to buy some ammunition for a shotgun he has. I started asking him questions about what kind of shotgun it was, 12ga, 20ga, 410. He didn’t understand what I meant. Then they offered to bring the gun to me so I can see it and determine what it is and if I can “help”. What was strange is I was told that there was no one else who had a gun in the area, obviously that was not entirely true. Why did they come to me? Because that is what they do; we have been the go to people around here. And I am known as the gun guy. I have several and I am known to carry one. Do they stay away from me because of them? Obviously not.
I went out and did a little target practicing with the pistol the other evening; it helps me to relieve tension. I had just sold the pistol so I wanted to shoot it a little more before it went. Kelly came out and I gave her a lesson in shooting, then Cybil and Mariah came for their turn as well. They had been on me for a while to teach them to shoot. I need to do more of that. I think Cybil would like to hunt but I am not sure she has the patience or she would be to busy reading that a deer would walk right in front of her and she would never know. Kelly wants to know just for her own protection, I cannot blame her. The other night was a perfect example. It was a little before 1 am. We are sleeping and I wake up to the dogs going crazy and someone outside yelling. So I get up grab my pistol which I keep next to the bed and go outside. Someone is standing out by the garden taunting the dogs. Why? Because he was drunk. Now I do not know if this guy is a silly drunk, a stupid drunk, or a mean drunk. I knew he was 1 out of the 3 for sure, but I didn’t know about the other 2. And I am not going to take any chances. I yell at him to get going and that he doesn’t belong here. He decides to move on. I just sat and listened to him for the next ½ hr singing and yelling as he went down the road. It sounded like he came from the other side of the river and walked through the campus. I know he came down the road from the shop side, not the entrance side, Needless to say I never went back to bed. Why? Because you just don’t know.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

proper goodbyes

We did a few of our “proper” goodbyes today and yesterday. Last night we went up to see the Headwoman and her deputy. The kids had drawn her some pictures and we also gave her a photo of the family from the Fall Festival. We gave her a BK Dairy jacket and a container of strawberries. Oh did she love those!! We told her soon David could get her a few plants that she could put up by her house and let them spread. For Alex (her deputy) we gave a BK Dairy hat and a flannel jacket. We had a nice talk and she shared how she enjoyed that we had fellowshipped with them (ate their food, learned some of their language, fit in with the village well, helped the nationals get things in Lusaka), but she understood that there were times for everything and this is part of life, that we are part of the family but now must leave.
Then this morning we went to see Chief Bunda Bunda. He was very glad that we came. He explained it is tradition that when you come into a chiefdom, you come to greet and then when it is time to leave you say the proper goodbye. He wanted to know why we wanted to leave. We told him we didn’t! But it was what we had to do. He wanted to know when we would be coming back-we are most welcome in his Chiefdom and he will miss us. The kids also drew him pictures, we gave him a large snap from the Fall Festival of our family, and he also got a BK Dairy coat. I had some various spices that we brought for the ladies who cook for him, some sugar and some sweets-chocolate chips. He was very glad we came. We got a family picture with him in his ceremonial chair. It’s on my camera phone though, so I will need to do some photo-shopping to get us all on the same page. He wants a copy of that picture too. Before we left Brian also got to pray over the Chief, he thought that was pretty cool.

sad news

Have a little bit of sad news today.
We woke up this morning to a dead puppy. We really don’t know what happened, but Caleb was dead on the porch this morning. He had shown no signs of sickness so we aren’t sure what happened. It didn’t look like he had gotten into any rat poison either. We are thinking during the night he went out and got bit by a snake. Whatever it was killed him very fast. What a bummer. Another couple had just been out to see him because they were interested in taking him. The kids have handled it well. We hadn’t had him for that long so that might be a factor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

While going through clothes, we found all the Park Center Pirates t-shirts Brian's brother brought over on his Christmas trip. There were 13 so enough for the guys to have an alternate soccer jersey in case the other team had the same color as their school ones. We then found a Minnesota Vikings one for Lucas, the goalie.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I had a mole burnt off on Monday. I have had this raised mole on the inside of my elbow for quite sometime. I just happened to notice it was a different color a few weeks ago and it looked suspicious. Lori has had quite a few removed so I had her look at it and she said yup, get it checked out. So we went in Monday to have it looked at. We had brought Hailey to the ER on Sunday because she was having stomach pain and fever that had been going on and off for 5 days. We found out Monday morning it was a raging urinary tract infection. The doctor looked at my mole and said she’d take it off, make an appointment. Lori was next and she needed hers taken off, but the dr. wanted a specialist to do it due to its location. She called to get Lori in and asked if he’d do mine too, so we got appointments for that night.
He took one look and said my mole was fine, actually more of a wart-thing. So he would just burn it off, not cut out. I went to the treatment room to wait. He came a few minutes later and gave a shot of something like novacane, but stronger! I didn’t feel a thing about a second after he injected it. Then the nurse comes and tells me about something she is going to put on my leg. It was like a big brown square paddle thing that she put a bunch of Vaseline on. Then she put it on my leg and wrapped it up with a towel. I had no idea what she was doing. She explained it was so I wouldn’t get big shocks. What?! Apparently they were basically burning the mole with electricity. It took all of 3 minutes to do and I just have a burn mark on my elbow that will heal in a few days. Very weird. Total cost-less than $100.
Hailey is doing much better. She really hates the medicine, but the doctor said it really was a bad infection and wants lab work on Monday just to be sure she is okay. All her labs and dr. visits related to this illness for one month-$65 visitor fee. And yes, they did the standard malaria test that is included in every visit.
The doctors here answer their own phones, set up appointments for you themselves and even call you from the waiting room! Quite a different experience. I suppose they have to do it that way to keep the prices down


Goodbyes in the African culture are very important so we are taking time (a lot of time) to say goodbye. Mike Impofue (aka watermelon mike) was walking by and stopped to say hello. I had wanted to see him before we left so I could give him a gift. I went and dug up a Moringa tree that I had started from seed, put it in a pail and gave it to him and told him we were leaving. He was upset and what really surprised me was he teared up. He wants to know why we can not just move down the road so we can stay in the area. A lot of his motives are selfish. He is worried who is going to help fix his equipment when it breaks down, who is going to bring mealie meal out here to help feed people, if someone else comes are the going to be nice to him. Mike is in his mid-seventies, he is the first born from his father’s first wife (his father had 4 wives). Mike is the head of the family. He has 2 wives, attends the local Seventh Day Adventest church and he loves the lord. I know there are those who will have a problem with some of what I just wrote. Mike is a brother and I love him dearly and I am going to miss him, but I as I told him we will be together again some day so let us rejoice in that. I told him to plant the tree some where that when he is sitting at his home he can see it and he will remember me and my family.
We have been having many discussions with the kids, as you can imagine. What is probably going to be hard for many people in the states to understand is our children do not want to leave. They want to grow up in the bush of Africa. They absolutely love it here and so do we. That is what is so sad about all of this, but it has given us incredible opportunities to talk to them about when God does not make sense and that we do what our FATHER wants no matter what. We were called here for a purpose and now we have to get out of God’s way for what HE wants to do. Staying would hinder what HE needs to do. It is not that we could not do a lot of good, we could, but it is about obedience to the Father-not what good can “we” accomplish. It is just really hard for the oldest 2 to understand. They want to know why we can not stay or at least just move down the road and build another house so we can stay in the area, it is the same questions a lot of the locals are asking. There are some that I found out were planning on hiring me to help them with there field work prep and planting and now they are very disappointed. I would have really enjoyed that, going out and helping the locals with there farms and showing them hands-on some different ways of doing things but I probably would have enjoyed more having the opportunities to sit with them and have lunch at their homes and just spend time with them. We are now in a strange predicament of having to soothe the hurt feelings, ill will, and even anger towards the school. I just tell them that we must trust God and that He is in control even when we do not understand what is going on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Will of God’ (author unknown)

“The will of God will never take you, where the grace of God cannot keep you, where the arms of God cannot support you, where the riches of God cannot supply your needs, where the power of God cannot endow you.
The will of God will never take you, where the Spirit of God cannot work through you, where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, where the army of God cannot protect you, where the hands of God cannot mold you.
The will of God will never take you, where the love of God cannot enfold you, where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, where the peace of God cannot calm your fears, where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.
The will of God will never take you, where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears, where the Word of God cannot feed you, where the miracles of God cannot be done for you, where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.”
As you well can expect it has been a tough last week. We have gone through as a family every range of emotion there is. For the first day or so we just cried together with the kids. There have been bouts of anger, hurt, frustration, feelings of betrayal, sorrow, disappointment, fear, and in a strange sense, relief. After the decision was made Satan attacked us from every direction. One of the biggest was a feeling of being a complete failure, that I had failed my church, my family, my friends and supporters and worst of all, my heavenly Father. Kelly and I barely ate or slept for the first 5 days, most every one in the house was feeling physically ill. We were barely surviving. We were ready to pack a few bags and just get on a plane and get back home to our family and friends and not even bother to say goodbye to anyone and just leave everything and walk away. We didn’t know friend for foe any more and we felt utterly alone. During this time I was so thankful to be able to talk to my dad and Mike my pastor. It is not that they said a lot they were just there, they let me know they love me/us and that they were praying and that they would do anything for me. On a side note Mike is a guy who has really truly modeled what it means to be a Sheppard, he always made it clear that he was here for me as a friend first and foremost not some spiritual superior authority that was going to tell me what to do. He respected me enough to allow me to wrestle with God in my own time on my own terms and he didn’t try to interfere with what God was doing in me. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude to him.
On day five we went to see our friends in Chongwe. They invited us over for lunch and to just talk. Well, they invited us over just to love on us for a while. And what a difference that made. That morning before we went we had decided that we wanted to leave well. And in talking with Kevin and Suzie they confirmed how important it is to leave well, to say goodbye to anyone and everyone. And to think Satan almost had won and we almost left. The goodbyes are what the nationals are going to remember. We honored our Father by coming here, we believe we have honored our Father by being here, and we need to make sure we honor our Father in our leaving. If we don’t do that, the rest will not be remembered and the testimony of Jesus Christ will be tarnished.
It is also no coincidence that there is a missionary retreat at the end of the month and it is on burnout. We believe we need to go to that to begin the healing process before we get back to the states. It is no secret that we have been in burnout for a while. We sought out help from those we thought could/should help but did not got any. If you are wondering what burnout is, go back in the archives and read the posts on burnout to help you better understand. Missionary burnout is not all that uncommon; it is just not talked about much if at all. It does not exactly put missions in the best light. People like to see missions as something romantic, then it is a lot easier to sell. But reality/the truth is, it is like every other job out there in a lot of ways except spiritually. Satan puts a big bulls eye on your back. So besides all the politics and p.c. crap you have to deal with, you also have a legion of demons assigned to you to attack you and your family any and every chance they get. (That is why I take issue with calling on a spirit of divination to find water in my backyard). That kind of takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it? That does not mean it can not be fun and exciting. It can and is, it just means it is a lot more than just that.
We wanted to tell some people to have them praying for us but we just couldn’t yet. So we just asked some friends to pray and told them that we could tell them what about. Some of them admitted it was hard. They had to go to the Father and trust the Holy Spirit inside them to intercede on their/our behalf. It is often hard to pray when you know what to pray about. It takes complete dependence and surrender to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to get on your knees when you don’t know what to pray for- you are just to pray. Another hard and wonderful place to be. Right now we/I am as close to complete and total dependence on my FATHER as I have ever been. Many will say “that’s a good place to be”. I want to say “come and sit where I am sitting and tell me that”. Just because it is true does not make it easy.
My FATHER is faithful and true and HE will be my rear guard!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 4, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

Obedience is hard. Obedience is risky. Obedience’s results aren’t guaranteed here on this earth.

We are writing to inform you that we are no longer working with Gospelink at the International Bible College of Zambia.

Along with our home church we are currently in the process of determining the next steps we need to take as a family.

We encourage and welcome communication with you in the coming months. We do not have a return date as of yet. Just as it took much time and preparing to get here, much will need to be done to leave. There is packing, sorting and selling our possessions, selling a vehicle, saying goodbyes.

As this point we do not know where we will go upon our return nor do we know what we will do once we are there. A time of healing is needed for our whole family. We appreciate all of your prayers for wisdom and discernment in these matters.

Gospelink will continue to forward your monthly support to us through the end of December 2009 should you choose to continue sending it until then. We are indebted to you already for your faithful financial support. When we began raising our support to come over here the first thing we asked you to do was pray. We ask you now to pray about continuing that support as we are in the process of transition.

During one of our training sessions, the speaker made three points:

1. God is good.

2. God isn’t safe, but He is faithful.

3. God is God.

We know all to be true. God called us out of the safety of what we have known and held dear, and He has been faithful to us as we have been faithful to Him. We did not miss God’s call. We know we answered His call to obedience and we will continue to answer it. We did not know what the ending to this particular call would look like and we still don’t. Our lives have been changed and continue to be. We hope as you have watched our journey you have been affected as well.

Again, we appreciate you and want you to know you have ministered to in us in ways we can not adequately express. Please keep us in your prayers.

Standing on the Promises of God,

Brian, Kelly Jo, Cybil, Mariah, Greta, Hailey, Joe, Myron, & Henry