Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

Tonight I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree, in a living room shared with twelve people. (4 of whom are my own children) It's been an amazing Thanksgiving weekend, full of anything but traditions.  It's hard to think about all that we "missed out" on back home this year, but God has blessed us with so much this weekend.

Thursday we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by "family," with all of the traditional fixin's, and a few more that we don't normally have--like sweet potato pie and orange/cranberry sauce.  But it's truly just not the same when you're eating in a cafeteria...

Friday we didn't do ANY shopping! Instead, we took a 2 hour bus ride to Washington D.C. for a cross-cultural activity. Some of our goals were to engage internationals in conversation, observe cross-cultural parenting, listen for 10 different foreign languages, prayer-walk, and share our faith with at least one person. We started out at the Capitol building where we interacted with people from Korea, China, Pakistan, India, the Dominican Republic and the Bronx! (Oh, sorry. They just sounded like they were from a different country!) It was amazing how open they were to talk to us. All we did was show an interest in them, their language and culture! We even had one lady from China ask to take a picture of our family! I guess she wanted to share with her friends back home what a "typical" American family of 6 looks like! And I'll never forget trying to figure out how to buy tickets in the subway, while looking for a bathroom to change a poopy diaper...panic, if you know what I mean. And who should come to our rescue? An Amish man, of course!

On Saturday we took a trip to Virginia Beach. I can honestly say that I've never dreamed of swimming in the ocean for Thanksgiving...but it was unusually warm here, and why not? I realize that for some people 70 degrees still isn't warm enough, but we're from Idaho! It was a beautiful day for the beach!

Tonight after Sunday evening worship, which resembled church from North Africa, we came back to our quad and set up our tree. Again, it was not our typical family tradition. There was no trip to the mountains, in the snow, to cut down a tree this year. Just a trip to Walmart...nothing says "Merry Christmas" like the "Made in China" tag. But it was a joy to share this special moment of setting up the tree with "grandparents" and "uncles."

There's a strange mix of emotions within me tonight. I don't know when I'll get to spend a "traditional" Thanksgiving at home again. For that matter, I don't even know where home is...But I do know that as long as I am with my husband and children, I am home. I mourn the old traditions some. (Or maybe I just miss "home cooking," recliners, and loved ones.) But I also look forward to the new traditions and amazing experiences that God has before us in the next stage of this great adventure! Afterall, it's all about Him and His family, not the house I'm in, or the food that I'm eating.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lottie Moon

"What we want is not power, but simply combination in order to elicit the largest possible giving."
Lottie Moon
Tungchow, China
Sept. 15, 1887

We had a wonderful visit from Lottie Moon yesterday! Interesting, isn't it? Especially if you knew that she passed away on Christmas Eve, 1912. Well, we had a wonderful monologue depicting the life and ministry of Lottie Moon.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, I was well aware of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but now I know so much more about this great woman of the faith. For one thing, she was not a woman of great stature! In fact, we have a few life-size photos of her around campus, so we thought we'd share just how tall she is compared to the kids.

Matthew is preparing to go to the nations!

I always knew that we took up a special offering this time of year for missions, but now I realize just how important that offering is. The first Christmas offering was taken up in 1918, six years after her death. Sadly, at the time of her death, there were 273 missionaries on the field and the Foreign mission board was in debt! Lottie Moon had a vision of how a combined effort could make a greater impact for the sake of the lost, and we now take up a Christmas Offering in her name to help provide for our international missionaries around the world. As you can imagine, that's a subject near and dear to me. I challenge you to read more about her life at IMB Connecting, and then pray about how you can support international missions!

Friday, November 18, 2011


We recently had the chance for a little other words, we escaped! We went climbing at Manchester Bridge near the James River in Richmond. Basically, we climbed on the pilings from a Civil War railroad bridge! Ryan and Ellie even had their first real climbing experience!

The kids love the playgrounds on campus. Here Ryan is playing with BJ Bear, who lives at their school. Each student in his class gets to take a turn bringing BJ home for a week. We were especially thankful for the time that BJ spent with us because he was Ryan's buddy while he recovered from the concussion that he sustained during PE...but that's a whole other story of God's providence!

Matthew is growing fast.  He's already 6 months old! He loves to play on the floor, especially if someone agrees to join him. He enjoys being in his preschool class with the other babies, and even seems to have a budding friendship with a 6 month old girl named Avalyn...

Levi has been enjoying cultural worship. In this picture, he was wearing a hat from Africa to get in the rythm for African worship night! The kids love to dance...and they even sing along in the different languages!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Drinking from a Firehose

"How are you today?"
"I feel like I'm drinking from a firehose."

"How was the simulcast?"
"I feel like I'm drinking from a firehose."

"What did you think of today's session?"
"I feel like I'm drinking from a firehose."

Have you ever watched a fireman as he aims the firehose? It usually takes more than one man to hold the hose. And the amount of water that comes rushing out of the hose is overwhelming. Now try taking a drink from that waterhose...

This week we had sessions on preventing illnesses--like malaria, rabies, Japanese know, just the normal stuff. Oh, and don't forget the shot clinic...which was a bit overwhelming also. Clay and I each had 3 shots this week. The kids each had one (for rabies, which happens to be a bit painful), except for Matthew who received a total of 6 vaccines this week. Although it's difficult to watch the kids receive the shots, I know it's necessary to keep them healthy.

But aside from the physical aspect, God is showering us with his love and goodness.  Last Sunday night we had our first cultural worship service where we praised the Lord through prayer, song, and a sermon in a combination of Spanish, Portuguese, and indigenous dialects from South America. Wow! It was just like drinking from a firehose! God's presence was overwhelming as He assured us all of His desire is to see a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight is the Sub-Saharan Africa worship night, and I can hardly wait!

Please continue to pray for Matthew. His nightly sleep schedule is so irregular. We've had 7-8 hour nights, and then back to 1-3 hour nights. Pray for me during this time as it's hard to focus during the day and to maintain a godly attitude.

Praise God that we didn't receive any news of Levi biting this week at school! But keep praying for him as well!

Pray for our language studies. Clay and I both had a language assessment this week and scored very well. This will help us to bypass some Spanish language study and go on to the Z language sooner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First of November...

Week three of orientation...I know many people are wondering how we are and what we're doing these days. We haven't dropped off the ends of the earth yet, but it feels that way! We have been so busy that when we do have some down time we escape from campus! We went for a drive on Saturday in the rain just because we wanted some down time. This Saturday we are planning on going for a family hike at Belle Isle.

As I mentioned before, we are in "class" from 8am to 3pm, Monday through Friday. We are being challenged to dig deep in the Word and pray effectively. Clay and I are currently working on memorizing Romans 15:20-21 which says, "And thus I aspired to preach the gospel not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation, but as it is written, 'They that had no news of Him shall see, and they who have not heard shall understand.'"

And that is our prayer for the people of Mexico, that we will effectively preach the gospel and that they will see and understand. Please join us in that prayer!

Praise for the week:
Matthew is sleeping much better! We've only been getting up once at night, but please keep praying for us!

Prayer request for the week:
Levi is a biter...ugh! He used to only bite his brother and sister (although that wasn't good, it was manageable and only happened out of frustration), but now he's spending lots of time with other kids at school...and he is biting on a regular basis. Please join me in praying that he will start talking so that he can express himself when he is frustrated. (I'm thankful that the parents of the bite victims have been very understanding.) Also pray that he just STOPS biting!

Funny of the week:
While discussing the story of Zaccheus, the kids were asked what type of tree Zaccheus climbed. They excitedly proclaimed, "A sycamore tree!" And then Ellie added, "Yeah, it's sick more often than other trees."