"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


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


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


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


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


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


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
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.
I'm after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
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


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


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


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


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”.