December 22, 2010
A translator’s work is never done…even on the airplane Ben was checking Luke once again. He tells me he has 40 verses a day to check before the next translation workshop.
Josiah has grown in compassion this last year and has been so helpful with his baby siblings. He has a special soft spot for his baby brother Jacob.
Noah is our forever playful one–he finds where the fun is happening and gets right in the middle of it!
Ellie is seven years old already. After a year of praying and wishing, she finally lost her first tooth!
Jenny Beth loves to make us laugh. She also knows what she wants–tonight she would not leave us alone until someone put her sandals on!
Jacob talks in long unintelligible baby talk sentences. He often shouts “daddy!” at random times. (photo by John Nystrom)
December 20, 2010
Miss Alis is a good friend of ours, and she is always happy to babysit!
Yep, I said ‘staycation!’ A lot of people try to get away from our mission center for the holidays. But we have a couple of limiting factors—we can’t really afford to go anywhere this year and travelling with two babies who are still taking 2 naps a day is not really an attractive idea. So I thought I’d share here some of our ideas for making life a little more fun for the school holidays. If you live overseas and ‘entertainment’ options are limited you will understand why it’s good to come up with ideas for school holidays! If you have ideas for our stay-cation, feel free to leave a comment here on this blog!
–go down to the river and have a picnic
–ride bikes around the Upper Oval
–arrange play dates with friends
–watch Christmas movies
–have Wii or table game tournaments
–make a bonfire
–make Christmas cookies/donuts
–have a water party
–camp out under the Christmas Tree
–have ‘date’ nights (for Ben and I) on our porch after the kids are in bed
I have already enjoyed not having to get my three kids out the door by 8 am…of course this means we’ll have a little more commotion and noise during the day, but hopefully if we are proactive about doing fun things it should be a great stay-cation. I will update here with what actually happened during our break…maybe my ideas are a little too unrealistic!
December 7, 2010
So here’s my hypothesis (I am not a researcher, more of a ‘thinking outloud-er’ kind of person!) When I live in my home country, I have various things that help me desensitize myself to the real issues of life. I have a lot of props there that are not available to me in PNG. For instance, if I’ve had a frustrating day with my kids, I can call on the grandparents to come over and babysit while I take a much needed trip to Walmart. There are so many things embedded here, but I’ll point out a few of the perks for us back home in the US: 1) availability of parental units 2) being able to get in a car alone and drive, drive, drive….(here in PNG it is not advisable for women to drive off center or walk at night on their own) 3) Walmart…need I say more? When all these props are gone, I am left with myself, dealing.
When I was newly married, a former missionary told me that I needed to look at the props I had set up in my life. Where did I go when life was hard? Shopping? TV? Talk on the phone with a friend? What kinds of things did I do for fun? He urged me to think about what I would do when these things were ripped from me. I don’t think he said “ripped from me” but that’s the idea I had in my head when he said it.
Being married to Ben is the best and hardest thing in my life. We came from different worlds culturally. We were brought up by different parents. We have different gifts and abilities. But in recent years, it seems that we’ve been able to notice more. About ourselves, and about the other person. I think we’ve been asking more questions and gaining more self-awareness. And this has helped us appreciate those maddening qualities that were so attractive in the first place! The deeper we get, the less props we have to run to, the better our marriage is. The more God is in the middle of it.
We still have our moments where we don’t get along or we say hurtful things to each other. But I think the difference now is that we know where to go. We know what strategies for handling stress work for us together as a couple and individually. Maybe grace and mercy are a little more a part of our lives as well.
December 3, 2010
Last Sunday, I had the privilege to preach on the first Sunday of Advent to my co-workers at our national training center in Ukarumpa. We are doing a series on the gifts given to Jesus by the magi from Matthew 2:9b-11…
And the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
This first message introduced the magi and the star of Bethlehem, and focused on how their gift of myrrh appears again in the Gospels and Revelation to represent suffering. But myrrh also represents a joyful message for us.
Jesus offers the myrrh of JOY,
experienced through God’s PRESENCE,
in his GRACE and MERCY for SIN,
that OVERCOMES suffering and death.
The audio file can be heard by clicking the sermon title here: Myrrh of Joy. Or right click to download and save the link to your computer.
The powerpoint presentation is also available here: Myrrh of Joy (powerpoint)
In the sermon, I refer to a recent explanation of the star of Bethlehem (by Rick Larson) that uses the math of planetary motion in computer software (Starry Night) to plot the view of the night sky at any time in history from any place on earth. Above is the view from Jerusalem looking south to Bethlehem on a December evening in 2 BC when Jupiter stopped moving throughout the field of fixed stars directly over Bethlehem. Rick Larson’s explanation can be seen on his website here or on his DVD “The Star of Bethlehem,” and the picture above as well as those in the powerpoint are taken from this website.
This is not sensationalism or unbelieving historicism, yet it is both sensational and historical. This represents the best in both exegetical and scientific research that takes the Biblical evidence seriously and uses the latest astronomical tools to find a demonstrable explanation for what the Bible describes. Far from being only a natural explanation for a Biblical miracle, the natural and predictable movement of stars that God put into place since the creation of all things tells a story of the birth of a new Jewish king at the precise time that Jesus was born and the magi traveled from the east.
Thus, the myrrh of Jesus’ suffering is also the myrrh of joy, a plan and a message that God wrote in the stars “in the beginning.”
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:20)
December 1, 2010
“Life is change.
Growth is optional.
It has taken me a couple of weeks to pull myself together since getting back from the village…I thought I would write a few thoughts on transition.
Our lives are full of change–going and coming from our village to Ukarumpa for several reasons: 1) our children’s education (there is a great school here in Ukarumpa, and we take materials and lesson plans to the village to home school) and 2) Ben teaches Greek and Biblical exegesis here. He can also do preparation and checking in Ukarumpa with less distractions.
Transition is disorienting, and takes an unknown period of time, depending on where I’m transitioning from and what I’m transitioning to. Sometimes I can transition over to a new place or a new idea in a matter of minutes. Other times it takes weeks or months because I’m grieving the loss of something I left behind. I remember when I first learned about being pregnant with twins…seeing that I hadn’t planned on having any more children, this was a biggie. It took a few months of grieving and dying to self for me to realize that God was doing something GOOD for me. I remember sitting one night listening to a worship song and for the first time feeling both of the babies move at the same time—it felt to me at the time that they were responding to the music and to worship, and it was hugely comforting. (photo above: our family’s first trip in the new Kodiak airplane!)
Coming back from the village this time was really disorienting. I spent a few days trying to figure out where I was, even waking up wondering where I was. My life here in Ukarumpa is different from the one I have in the village. There, I am more isolated from the outside world. I never have to grocery shop because I’ve packed food for the entire trip. There is really no where to go, except to wander around the little hamlet in the jungle while people stare at us. In our early years here, I struggled with anxiety and depression every time we went out there, even to the point of having anxiety attacks. It was devastating to me to realize that this was not going to be the utopia I had imagined. I mean, we were going to live in a jungle and bring God’s Word to people who hadn’t ever had it in their own language! I suppose I had never voiced it, but I thought I would see people grateful that we had come, opening up their hearts to us and sharing their lives and ultimately being changed for the gospel. In the years that followed, I realized that Ben has had a lot more influence in these areas, with people coming to him for advice and prayer. In short, I never thought I could live there with any measure of contentment…at times the grieving was difficult to bear, even though I tried to put on the ‘good missionary’ face for others. But then…a few years later, I had learned to live with the slow, quiet pace of life and have even begun to appreciate it! I think sometimes when there is a huge life change—including culture stress and living conditions—it just takes longer for me to figure out who I am in that context. Missionary women, I think, often have a special burden to bear and often end up slipping through the cracks.