Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

February 15, 2018

We are family!

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Noah, Jacob, Ellie, Me and Jenny Beth, Feb 2012

I’ve often written about expat life and the hardships that come along with this life style. However, this post is not about hardships. It’s about community and how people have circled up to help the kids and me. Ben has been gone for two weeks now, and still has two more to go. He is consultant checking the books of James and Mark in nine languages, while I have stayed here at Ukarumpa with the kids as it was too soon after furlough to put our teens in the hostel and take the little ones out for a village stay.

I haven’t had a chance to feel overwhelmed or lonely or sorry for myself because our community has been here for me. From phone calls checking in, offers of childcare and meals, help with fixing our dog run, to the chief helicopter pilot arranging for Ben to make it back a week early in time for Noah’s play, the feeling of being part of a community has really made these two weeks go by quickly. I am not saying that everything is easy, but I am grateful for all of the little and big things that people do for me. I am a fairly independent person and it’s not easy to accept help. However, in doing so, I remember how much joy it gives me when I am able to help out a friend. And so the circle of giving keeps going here, over and over, time and time again. All of us expats are separated from relatives in our home countries and so part of the thriving happens when we stand in for parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I know that this is a treasure I sometimes take for granted but for today (and hopefully future ones), I am full of gratitude.

Furthermore, I am grateful for the people whose jobs directly impact me and my family. These hardworking  missionaries and Papua New Guineans are running the schools, flying and fixing aircraft, fixing computers, stocking the store, keeping our internet running (oh how wonderful it was to talk to my college aged son yesterday!!) arranging for visas and passport renewals, and countless other jobs. All of these people are here to see the work of Bible translation going on in Papua New Guinea. So thank you from our family, and from the people of the Aitape West for your service.

I can’t finish here without mentioning our partners, friends and family back home. When I think about the host of people who are keenly invested in our work and in the lives of the other missionaries here, it is overwhelming.  You are an important part of the picture, so thank you.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 

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January 29, 2018

Rusty Ole Missionary

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As many of you know, we spent the last six months in Spring Hill, Tennessee, USA,  to help our oldest son transition to life in the U.S. It was a fairly big undertaking, to uproot our family for that period of time, but we haven’t regretted the decision to do this. We feel satisfied that he is doing well with college life and adulthood.

Thoughts on returning to the field after a six month absence…
I realize my experience isn’t unique, in some ways, as many of my fellow missionaries have come and gone from their place of assignment, only to feel the gears inside them noisily turning to adjust to being back. Papua New Guinea is home to our family. We wholeheartedly embraced the land and culture here in 2002, and haven’t looked back. At the same time, we have had trips away, and each time the process of transitioning hits us painfully. It’s a costly venture, this twisting and turning and questioning the space and longing for the stability that seems elusive. All of this has been compounded by dealing with grief of losing one of the most important people in my life, and I’m finding this transition to be the most challenging and painful one so far.

The first week of our return, I hiked up and down my porch stairs hanging up laundry multiple times per day. Although I was grateful to have a covered space to hang out everything, I inwardly groaned because every muscle in my body ached from the exertion. This should tell you how much exercising I did on furlough… little to none!  Added to the physical adjustments, my mind felt like an empty balloon. One of my friends called and was asking me some very simple questions and I couldn’t even answer her. It made us laugh later but was an ‘aha!’ moment… yep. I’m not running on all cylinders as they say.  Then there was that time when I overreacted emotionally… actually it was more than once!

Added to all of that was the great feeling of being back amongst our community. After six months of not living in close proximity to friends, it felt extremely refreshing to see our loved ones again. The youth directors rented two vans for friends and teens to come to the airstrip to greet us, what a feeling to step off the plane and hug so many friends!  The friendships that we have here are deep and comfortable. Ben and I sat in complete gratitude to be back with our small group, knowing that this was a safe place for us to just be ourselves, without having to justify or explain who we are. It felt good to be amongst people who were sincerely interested and invested in us. The years we have spent in that group have paid off a million times over.  Similarly, other close friends have also circled up and welcomed me back, giving me a chance to debrief and process while also sharing their last six months with me.  To say I’m grateful is minimizing the feeling… it’s much more than that.

Along with the joy of seeing loved ones again comes the challenges of community. There is the question of when to speak up in love or when to stay silent. I am sure it’s the same anywhere, but perhaps more intense here in a small community where we have people from many cultures and denominational backgrounds.

Before I left the U.S., a friend gave me ‘Of Mess and Moxie,” by Jen Hatmaker, and yesterday I read this timely advice from Hatmaker

We listen sincerely, we don’t just reload while someone else’s mouth is moving. Dialogue is easily spooked, so you must be vigilant against fear, dismissal, manipulation and apathy—true enemies of safe dialogue.  You’ll feel it at first, deep down, the urge to rebut, rebuke, refute. It will be a cold rock in your gut, tempting you to correct or disagree, or to be offended and center yourself in that person’s story. But that instinct can be overcome, and the results of someone feeling heard and respected are immediate and palpable. It takes a fairly high level of humility, empathy, and courage to keep a space open and healthy. It’s a developed skill that takes practice. To me, that is what love looks and feels like. (p. 81)

My biggest problem is that I want to add something, anything to make a person feel better when she’s pouring out her heart to me. But as my training in debriefing has taught me, the best way to help someone is to listen and not put myself into her story. I struggle especially with my older kids in this area because I want to fix them so badly. I realize that they need my love and empathy more than my fear that something bad will happen if I don’t say the right thing. That’s what I’m rusty on, and where I’m wanting to grease my squeaky gears so that I can be the kind of friend and mother who offers safety and love.

And so we press on…

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14

May 14, 2017

A New Kind of Transition

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(above) Noah, Joe and Jacob after the school play “Almost, Maine!”

Transition is this wildly unpredictable Thing that happens constantly to us. In our 20 years of marriage, we’ve lived in over 10 different locations in three different countries. We travel between our village home and Ukarumpa home 3-4 times a year when we are in PNG.  We’ve done the Moving Transition many  times and we usually know what’s coming…

a week of chaos and misery on either end
challenging travel
lots of preparation (food, homeschooling materials, computer updates)
anxiety and stress
heightened emotions
goodbyes and grieving
reverse culture stress

and

anticipation of seeing friends again
a chance to use the transition for good (and reestablish good habits)
purging and try to make a stab at a more simple existence (this has been elusive, but without transitions it would be completely unattainable).

However, we are now at the precipice of a transition we’ve never had before: launching Josiah into his new life as a college student/adult. In the past two years, he has proven that he’s ready for this. He capably makes all of his own decisions and manages his own schedule. He processes hard questions in an emotionally intelligent way. We’ve raised him, and the rest of his life is up to him.

But, as with most transitions, this one comes with plethora of emotions and sometimes they come all at once. At other times, there is just an overwhelming amount of one or another. If I had a picture for my emotions at this point, it would look like a child’s scribble. Lots and lots of colors. No real pattern. No easy answers.

In the past decade, I’ve worked hard to notice my emotions, be authentic and tell the truth to others. However, there is still the stubborn independent part of me who refuses to allow negative emotions to surface or to tell the truth to myself.  One of my best friends has noted that if I say “I’m okay” enough times, it’s an indication that I’m really not. So as this transition for our first child to college begins, I’m admitting to myself that I’m sad.  But alongside the sad comes other emotions: happy, excited, proud. I have moments where I think my heart is going to burst when all five of my children are together, laughing, giving advice to each other and debriefing their days. I know that in a little less than 9 months, we’ll be be back here in PNG with only 4 kids around our table.

Joe’s a grown man, I know that. But there’s a bit of loss that comes with this transition that is more costly than the others we’ve experienced thus far in our missionary career. We’re preparing for all the lasts for a while: last birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, and most of all what I’ll miss is the daily sight of him and being able to know how The Things in his life are going.  I’ll miss making his favorite meals for him and trying to trick him into eating breakfast.

But, most of all, I want to savor the time we’ve got left, and be thankful for the opportunity we have to have a short furlough to get him settled into his passport country.  I’m thankful he’s going to a school that has the degree he feels called to study, and that he has family and friends who will look after him when we can’t be there for him.

In the quiet moments when I start to feel sad, I want to focus on these words of David:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

These nine words are what keep me from being a perpetual martyr. I don’t need to feel sorry for myself, because God is GOOD. He will sustain us through this next transition, as He has done through every single other one. He’s got Joe, as He’s often reminded me. He’s our counselor, comforter and friend, and as we mourn, He will lift us up.

He is Good.

He’s got this.

September 6, 2016

Vulnerability and Telling the Truth

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I used to have a hard time telling the truth, especially if it had the potential to cause someone to be unhappy with me.  I couldn’t reconcile the command to “speak the truth” with the “in love” part. So often in Christian circles the “love” part is emphasized but we don’t call each other out because we want to avoid shame to the other person or to ourselves.  I have also seen many people hurt by immovable idealists.  What I mean is people who think they are telling the truth but really are dogmatic in their own beliefs and unwilling to hear other points of view. The tension of living cross culturally is that you are always going to run into someone who makes different choices. It’s the lack of grace that makes people feel like they’ve been thrown into the gutter. I’ve been thrown into the gutter and I know I’ve been guilty of throwing others in. That’s the hard thing about being human…we will hurt each other. But if we can’t talk about it, there’s no way to move forward.

I began boundaries training with my friend Kay many years ago, and it started with me approaching strangers politely asking for more cream in my coffee, or asking for something in the store that wasn’t on the shelf. This progressed to me saying that I had to think about an invitation or request before saying “yes” or “no” to them.  It meant listening to the Holy Spirit (and to my heart instead of denying my thoughts and feelings as I was conditioned to do) and facing my paralyzing fear of disappointing people. I had to keep asking myself “what if I say ‘no’ to …….?” what could happen? (For example: she could get mad. I might lose a friend. I won’t die. I might be able to say ‘no’ more easily next time.) And “am I responsible for ………’s response?” (nope!) I had to remind myself that I have value (and so does the other person) and to say “yes” when I really mean “no” is a way of devaluing myself (or my family). Often I find that the fallout extends to my husband and kids as well as myself.

What I learned was that I needed to accept the consequences of telling the truth and practice it, even if it meant that it cost me something. No longer would I be angry at someone for asking me for a favor. Because it was my responsibility to respond appropriately. I can’t say the gut wrenching feelings ended with me learning to speak truthfully/honestly, but I think they have subsided some as I’ve put what Kay taught me into practice.

Telling the truth means that there will be personal consequences. Here’s where the vulnerability comes in. It’s a risk to tell the truth. Someone won’t like what I said. We might have completely different ideas of what is “respectful” behavior or even what is normal. Or, sometimes I get it wrong by the story I told myself about what happened. Sometimes I confront on my own strength without seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Sometimes the thing I said gets blown out of proportion and the thing I was hoping to convey gets lost in the conflict. Another result is that I’ve said my peace and there is no response or worse, a hostile one. At that point, I can choose to stop engaging with the crazy. I usually conclude in the end that I’m glad I said something because it’s worth it not to allow myself to be victimized. My previous efforts to be ‘nice’ damaged me because I lived in a constant state of fear of making people unhappy. In his book, ‘When Panic Attacks’, David Burns writes, “If you show me a hundred people who are anxious, I’ll show you a hundred of the nicest people you ever met!”

One of my friends tells the truth unapologetically. She has no problem approaching others to find out what really happened, and I think she’s really good at diffusing a situation that could get ugly. The reason I find safety in our friendship (and others like it) is that I know she’s going to tell me the truth every time. We don’t have to agree on everything but we both know each other’s hearts so we can assume good intentions right from the start.

It took time to build up our friendship and trust each other. She would never put me above her family or relationship with her husband and nor would she expect me to do that for her. We both have other close friends and freely expect each other to spend time with them. When I’m with her, it’s common for her to share with me what she’s studying in the Scriptures. Her desire to grow spiritually is infectious.  Also, she makes me laugh. I don’t have time for emotional games or drama in friendships, because I am stretched with all that I’m called to do here (wife, mother, teammate, etc.) I have several friendships here like this, where there are no ‘shoulds’ or guilt trips and for that I’m really thankful!

Living in community means more opportunities for truth telling and for loving confrontation.

 But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending  life, the real life! ( The Message, Jude 20-21)

May 9, 2016

Bitterness and Rest

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I find it really hard to admit that I’ve been hurt by another human being. I might joke about it or rant, or even numb my feelings (since this is my default for dealing with negative emotions.) Part of it is trying to avoid the shame of what has happened or has been done to me, or the shame that I let someone get close enough to hurt me. (My battle with unholy shame is a story for another day.) I also feel the weight of my ministry calling, and I have a strong belief that the gospel compels me to love my God and my neighbor. The easiest thing for me to do is deny or minimize antagonistic feelings towards another person. The problem is that the hurt turns into bitterness, which then turns into anger. Although I may have numbed the emotions temporarily, they are like an ulcer that grows and poisons my spirit. I know I’ve gotten to this point when any mention or thought of the person results in me obsessively thinking about the impact the other person has had on me or others.

In the past, I’ve prayed about the bitterness and anger that rooted themselves in my heart.. The hardest thing about it is living with the tension of the conflict that I can’t fix. Some conflicts, in my opinion, will not resolve without the Holy Spirit’s intervention…it’s not up to me. I’ve spoken the truth in love, but ended up becoming a target because of that. Even though I’ve prayed, I still have to live with the emotion, day in, day out, month by month. It’s something I continually need to bring before the Lord. I also tend to complain to God, “why did you ask me to tell the truth?” The reply is, “I gave you a heart for justice. I want you to trust Me for the consequences because I’m walking with you.”

At the same time, I’ve been doing a word study on the word rest. All over the Old Testament, I find verses about God giving the Israelites rest from their enemies.

Like here

But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster. 1 Kings 5:4 (MSG)

and here

Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.           1 Kings 8:56 (MSG)

I feel like I am entering a place of rest, too, because what needed to be said was said. And yet, sometimes forgiveness eludes me as much as I have prayed for it. Bitterness impacts me deeply and hinders me from caring for others (my primary job at the moment) and having joy in my daily life. I really like what this article from Psychology Today says,

Consider that if you obsessively ruminate on the righteousness of your anger, your wrath will only become further inflamed. For it exists in the first place to mask your underlying emotional distress by prompting you to focus not on the personal injury you’ve suffered—and certainly not on what you need to do to heal that hurt—but on the one who so wronged you. Besides, you don’t really have any control over the other person.

I read Psalms 55 as part of my ‘Read through the Bible in One Year’ plan, and this jumped out at me,

This isn’t the neighborhood bully
    mocking me—I could take that.
This isn’t a foreign devil spitting
    invective—I could tune that out.
It’s you! We grew up together!
    You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked
    arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation. Psalm 55:12-14 (MSG)

I don’t see much in the way of David forgiving his enemies in this Psalm, but here he acknowledges the depth of friendship that he had with his enemy. It’s easier to overlook the insults and hurtful actions of someone who isn’t a family member, colleague or close friend. I don’t have as much to lose with a stranger.

And here, David mentions the other people hurt by his enemy:

And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends;
his life betrayed his word.
All my life I’ve been charmed by his speech,
never dreaming he’d turn on me.
His words, which were music to my ears,
turned to daggers in my heart. Psalm 55:20-21 (MSG)

Here in the trenches of missionary life, secondary trauma is common. Our relationships go deep, and so we hurt when our friends hurt. We grieve and feel each other’s pain. I will readily admit to obsessing over my friend’s issues even more than my own (and believe me, I know it’s not healthy!!) It means that I have to forgive in a secondary way, even for things that were not done to me directly.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but God’s Word is the spiritual food I needed today, to accept the state of rest I’m in, and to grieve the injustices that I (and my friends) have encountered. After all, Jesus says,

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

March 15, 2016

His Strength is Perfect

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I took this on Saturday on the road to Lae, normally a 3 hour drive away. Impossible to cross? No, thanks to our friend’s all wheel drive car. Difficult? Scary? Yes.

His Strength Is Perfect
I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me?
No great success to show, no glory on my own
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
Hell carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

We can only know the power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength in us begins, where ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
Hell carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect

–Steven Curtis Chapman

Since I revealed my struggle with anxiety and depression a few weeks ago, I have heard verbally and electronically from many other expats that they struggle with similar issues. This morning, I read through an update from a colleague that I had met as a teenager. His life has been full of physical hardship, sickness, loss and grief. He also suffered alongside the people he served as they faced persecution and even the threat of losing their lives for following Jesus. Throughout the email, he emphasized the power of prayer and praised God for the believers who exist now because of the translated Word of God’s transforming power.

How does this relate to me, as I plan for our next village stay? Those who have gone before us in extremely difficult circumstances and yet remained faithful are the encouragement I needed to persevere today. My colleague’s experience challenges me to look to our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace and Everlasting Father. This isn’t something I am able to do on my own. I might as well pack it up and go back to the U.S., where my kids could see their grandparents regularly, I wouldn’t have to hang out my laundry, cook everything from scratch and to deal with the cross cultural and relational stress our family regularly experiences along with this life . No, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength, as the song I quoted above says. [I want to emphasize, too, that God has used the songs and verses I learned as a child innumerable times during my career as a missionary.]

My prayer today is,

Lord, in my weakness show your strength. Use me for your glory and help me to be your instrument in everything I do today.


February 10, 2016

Nothing is wasted…

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Nothing is wasted,” says Brene’ Brown, in her book, ‘Rising Strong.’ Those words marinated in my heart and mind for he past week. Why would they be so important? And, after so many months, why would I take up blogging again?

Regrets:

The girl/teenager/young woman Me was a person who, though unusually resilient, (according to a counselor who knows me well) was an extremely numb people pleaser. Sometimes I cringe thinking about what I was like back then.

The expat life:

I’ve covered topics like transition, culture stress, living in community, parenting and marriage here on this blog. What if I had known earlier what I know now about myself and boundaries? Would I have been able to bypass some of the grief and pain?

Goodbyes:

This one is a hard one. We have extraordinarily deep friendships with our missionary friends and colleagues. I have heard it said that this is not only due to a common purpose and sacrifice, (leaving behind the comforts of our home countries) but it’s also because we live and work in the trenches together. We don’t have our family around in times of crisis or trauma, but we do have our expat friends and colleagues. Also, since we live in community, we do life together easily. The longer we stay overseas, the more of these precious friends are led elsewhere. It is an intense grief that I have talked about here. So, why invest in people if the parting will bring such grief?

And now to the reason I have had a break from blogging. While we were on furlough last year, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. My main symptom was extreme fatigue….until I sat through several hours of testing, and we were surprised by the severity of my depression and anxiety.  While we were overseas, I knew I was not well and so I began doing everything I could to get better….exercise regularly, take vitamin B tablets, cut out sugar (but not coffee!) and practice good boundaries. I saw a doctor who ordered tests for my blood sugar and thyroid, and those checked out fine. What he didn’t know was, both my husband and I were burned out and that resiliency was used up. My furlough doctor described it as ‘air in my tires.’ I began taking medication to help me sleep and also to ‘get the air back in my tires.’ Ben went to every appointment and completely supportive me. By the time we were ready to go back overseas, I was taking meds that I felt good on, and we had strategies in place to ensure that we wouldn’t end up in burnout again. The single thing that haunted me once the meds began to make a difference in my ability to thrive was, why didn’t I pursue this earlier? What if it all started with adrenaline depletion and post partum depression after having the twins five years before?

Fast forward now to today. We arrived back in country, and we poured ourselves into our family and into team building. We navigated some devastating news of friends leaving, worked through some difficult issues in an expat relationship, and helped our kids transition back to life here. I decided to focus on living in the moment.

Brene’ Brown also said this in her book ‘Rising Strong.’ (I can relate to this because of being in boarding school self at age six, this is NOT how my family operates)

You were raised in an environment where emotion was minimized, seen as weakness, invalidated, shut down, perceived as wasteful (e.g., crying won’t help), or even punished, then giving yourself permission to feel, recognize, and explore may be a bigger challenge. You might be the first person in your life to grant yourself the permission you need to experience emotion. If you’re worried that giving permission to experience and engage with emotion will turn you into something you’re not or someone you don’t want to become— it won’t. It will, however, give you the opportunity to be your most authentic self. We are wired to be emotional beings. When that part of us is shut down, we’re not whole.

I don’t know the answers to the questions of why I went through so many things as a child, or had to face myself now, instead of early on in my career in missions. But those words from Brene’ reminded me that the broken pieces exist for a reason. I don’t need to go on as if my history is not important to who I’ve become today.

I’ll end with truth from God’s Word:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15New International Version (NIV)A Time for Everything

1 There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot, and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6     a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7     a time to tear and a time to mend,

and a time to speak,

8     a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil?

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; no one can fahom what God has done from beginning to end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for people to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat or drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.  13 know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

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September 3, 2015

Settling back into life in Papua New Guinea

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(above) Ellie and our little friend Eowyn. Our friendships here are close, often the kids are like cousins their little MK friends!

I have given myself a full blogging free month to settle into life back here in Papua New Guinea. Knowing my history with transition, it has been a good thing to just focus on looking after my family and reconnecting with both Papua New Guinean and expat (missionary) friends.

I have been pleasantly surprised when I didn’t find it overly taxing to start cooking everything from scratch again. On the other hand, I underestimated the emotional energy it takes to live in a close (and very diverse cross-cultural) community. I wrote about the ups and downs here and here a back in 2011 and still feel the same things now in 2015.

I wish I was able to spout a good missionary story today, but the reality for me most days is that I’m wading through the mundane: going to market, keeping track of our children and their schedules, reading with the twins, helping with homework when needed, and negotiating meaning when interacting cross-culturally with my neighbors and friends.

Since my life mirrors a lot of missionary moms, I thought I might make a quick note of what goes on in a normal day for me. On some days, we have coffee and play dates, which really help break up the days.

6:30
Make sure Joe and Ellie are up
Go to market.
Make fire in the fireplace for warm water.
Start a load of laundry.

7:00
Wake up twins and Noah
Help twins get breakfast and follow their ‘chore’ charts
Make coffee & eat breakfast

7:30
Take Ellie to school, Joe walks to school

8:30
Take twins to school, Noah walks to school

8:45-12:00
Spend time with God & read
Make bread or bagels or tortillas
Start dinner prep
Do errands
Hang up clothes
Make lunch for house and yard helpers
Check email and respond if needed

12:10
Pick up twins from school
Make lunch for everyone who is here

1:00-2:45
Quiet time for twins and I (reading, etc.) Clean house.

2:45-5:00
Pick up Ellie. Supervise homework, instrument practice, playdates, take down clothes, more cooking, etc.

5:00-11:00
Dinner, kids, and more kids…..

I have had several invitations to do other things outside my home, but since I am team leader with Ben for our project and also mom to five kids, we both agreed that I needed to focus on those two roles for the time being. I am glad for the freedom, for instance, to make food and attend a haus krai (literally a “house cry,” or a wake) last week.

Another thing I’ve been pondering is the fact that everybody told me that our kids would grow up fast, and I believed it. However, the reality of just how fast is hitting home, now that our oldest is in 11th grade and beginning to plan out his future. The ‘letting go’ has already begun, although we’re still really involved in his life…in many ways, he and his siblings (at least the next two older ones) are fairly self sufficient. Their lives are busy and full.

I am really grateful to be back here. Both Ben and I are being very intentional about maintaining our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health, since we both arrived home on furlough in 2014 in burnout mode. It has been wonderful to reconnect with our close friends again.

A dear friend gave this verse to me last week:

You are chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be holy, God’s instrument to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night and day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2: 9, 10 (The Message)

I want to start each day being drenched in the love of God, so that as I go about my daily (mundane) tasks, I will be God’s instrument of grace and love. Whether I’m at the store or market, or passing someone on the street, this is my prayer.

September 2, 2015

Does the rain have a father?

by bzephyr

The wisdom and power of God is simply awesome. In Job 38:25-28, the Lord says to Job…

Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

Truly, we are dependent on God who controls the rain and the dew and the miracle of sprouting plants.

We’re in the midst of a drought here in Papua New Guinea, and the need for rain becomes more and more urgent as water tanks become depleted and our local neighbors are running out of food in their gardens. Everything is drying up outside, and the green hillsides and colorful flowers are all turning brown. Please pray to our heavenly Father that he will send rain on this dry and thirsty land.

A few days ago, I started a new hobby. I’m growing sprouts and herbs. In the context of the dry conditions surrounding us, it’s a good reminder of how dependent we are on God for the wonders he performs every day, like the sending of rain, the germination of seeds, and the growth of his wide variety of living creations.

My new sprouter trays

My new sprouter trays

I picked up this little sprouter tray system when we passed through Cairns, Australia, on the way back to PNG in July. Having grown sprouts before in a glass jar, the thing I’m really enjoying about this multi-tiered tray system is that each tray has a small water outlet to allow water to wash over each level of the trays. I think this will prove to be really helpful with growing sprouts, because one tip to keep them from spoiling before they’re ready to eat is to water them frequently. This system makes it easy to do.

I was amazed how fast the alfalfa seeds began to sprout…

Alphalfa sprouting within 24 hours

Alfalfa sprouting within 24 hours

The mung beans were the next to sprout with the soya beans not too far behind…

The soya beans are not too far behind the mung beans

A few soya beans are trying to keep up

The Japanese radish, black mustard, and rocket only show a few signs of sprouting…

Rocket, mustard, and

Rocket, mustard, and Japanese radish

The basil, sunflower, and more rocket are proving to be the slowest to start.

The

Basil, sunflower, and rocket

As I went outside just now to check on one of my herbs, I noticed the ground was wet. It’s not raining outside, but it’s misting. Praise the Lord! Please send some big rains.

May 20, 2015

Common Ground and Gratitude

by mendibpng

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I am not a stranger to grief. In fact, I feel like it’s a regular part of life for a transient overseas worker like me. So as our third furlough wraps up, the cycle of grieving has begun. Along with the grief of saying ‘good bye’ there is the roller coaster of anticipation of returning to our life and ministry in PNG. It can change hourly, even by the minute, these deep and often overwhelming emotions. The kids are feeling it, too. I know our twins and their little MK friends have been talking about the day when they will have to say “good bye” to each other…and then in the next moment, they talk about going “home” to the country they have spent most of their time growing up in.

We have been able to reconnect with dear friends and family (although we did not get everywhere we had hoped!) and had some new unexpected friendships develop during this furlough. For me, especially, coming back to the U.S., feeling like an anomaly/stranger, these old and new friendships were my lifeline. God used these people in my life to help me piece together the broken parts, something I didn’t even know I needed. I’m never keen on being the ‘needy’ one but I found out along the way that as I was willing to open up and share the hard things, people began opening up to me and sharing their hearts. Often there were ‘life giving’ moments where someone has shared something meaningful, and it has stuck with me. Very rarely did someone expect to ‘fix’ me or give me easy answers; rather, I felt heard and cared for. Something I noticed were threads of common ground, even with people who had completely different backgrounds, occupations and circumstances. Work stress, parenting, marriage issues are all things that a lot of people can relate to, whether you are a missionary or not. Following Jesus and loving each other are also threads of commonality amongst believers. There is nothing like the deep spiritual connection we have with one another!

So I am leaving with a sense of deep gratitude for the relationships I’m leaving behind here in the U.S. This is mixed with sadness. Because there’s nothing like seeing someone face to face, even if you are good at communicating over the miles! To me, it’s a little piece of what I’m expecting from heaven…not just walking into Jesus’ arms but being able to see my loved ones anytime and just “be” with them.

To you all who invested in us, knowing that we would only be here for a short while, thank you. I know that it isn’t easy to share a piece of yourself with someone who is going to leave in a few months. For me, even though it grieves me to leave, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn, grow and receive healing through these old and new friendships. Those impactful moments are stored away for those lonely times overseas when I can pull them out of my memory and remember you.

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