Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nazarene Family Reunion aka General Assembly

In about a month there is going to be a large family reunion of sorts in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The family reunion is also called General Assembly and Conventions for the Church of the Nazarene.  There will be representatives there from many different countries and speaking many different languages.  We gather together every four years.  There will be times of worship, teaching, preaching, business, and meetings.  But there will also be great times of fellowship.

I have been thinking a lot about fellowship lately.  Mostly when we fellowship we tend towards fellowshipping with people we know, or people that look like us, or talk like us or have the same views as us.  We are unsure about what to talk about when fellowshipping with people who are different from us.  There is awkward small talk, it is not comfortable.  It is just easier to catch up with old friends and talk about the good memories. 

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us that are attending General Assembly stepped outside of our comfort zone and tried to make friends with someone you don’t know?  We are all excited about seeing old friends, college buddies, and people we went to church with.  But also be intentional about making friends of people who are not from your Country or Region.   Make friends with someone from a country you have never been to and maybe never even heard of.  For those of you attending the whole event there are lots of meal times, consider going to lunch or dinner with your new friend.   If you see someone sitting by themselves at a restaurant around the convention center ask if you can join their table and find out more about them.  Talk about all the things that are the same and different in your countries, talk about similarities and differences in your churches. 

Many people who are there have saved for four years to be able to come.  Some have never been to the US before.  Some have never been on a plane before coming to General Assembly.  No matter how well traveled or where they are from we can all learn from each other.  All of us have testimonies of how God has provided for us, protected us, …

We can encourage and enrich each other by sharing our stories of God’s faithfulness.  That is part of what General Assembly is all about.  If we say we are a Global Church then we have to get to know our brothers and sisters across the aisle, across the border and across the ocean.



I have been so enriched by being a part of the Global Nazarene family.  You can be too.  We will all have nametags on, so go up and introduce yourself and find out more where others are from.  You never know you may walk away from that time with a new friend that you can look forward to seeing next time we gather together again. 

Until next time, remember pouring cinnamon on the ground is a good way to keep away the ants. (sometimes it happens by accident when you drop the cinnamon container and is shatters on the floor by the trash can)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April

What a difference a day makes..
Last Sunday was a wonderful day of celebration with the Toekomsrus Church of the Nazarene.  They finally have their own Church Building after 43 years of meetings in schools, borrowed halls and a garage.  It was day filled with singing, dedication of the building, celebration, honoring those who worked so hard to make the church what it has become and casting a vision for the future.  You can see the story and some videos and pictures here.  We also had a wonderful time of fellowship over lunch following the service. 
But Sunday evening our joy turned to worry and by Monday afternoon our worries turned to sorrow.   On Sunday I was 7 weeks pregnant.  We had begun talking about the new baby and how our lives would change.  We had nick named the baby Peanut.  We were teaching Peter to say big brother.   On Sunday evening I began to bleed a little.  I was worried but knew that some bleeding was normal.  We already had the 8 week appointment schedule for the following day.   During the night the bleeding and cramping got worse and my worry grew.   During the night Peter also spiked a fever and was clearly not well.  So as soon as the clinic opened Monday morning we took him to find he had tonsillitis.  After we filled his prescriptions we headed back home to love on our little boy and wait for our appointment.  I continued to have bleeding and see-sawed between knowing I was losing the baby and hoping for a miracle.  Finally it was time for the appointment.  We met with the doctor, talked some about the symptoms and then went in for the exam.  The doctor found the baby quickly but as much as she tried she could not find a heartbeat.  Our fears were realized. 
We had tried for a year to get pregnant with Peter and again another year with Peanut.  We had ridden the emotional roller coaster ride of getting the monthly visitor and false hopes when said visitor is a few days late.  So when the pregnancy test we took in early April was positive we were relieved.  We could get off of the trying to get pregnant ride and get on the pregnancy ride.   But life had a different plan.   Now we wait three months and then we try again.  But a positive pregnancy test will no longer spell relief it will bring with it’s own roller coaster of emotions and fears.   I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and so getting pregnant is a challenge and I have a greater risk for miscarriage.  We knew this was a possibility but there is no way to prepare for the reality of it happening.  
We decided to call the little we lost April, since we found out we were pregnant and that we had lost the pregnancy in April.  We also decided she was a girl.  While we know that she will never know pain or fear or sadness for which we can be grateful, we also mourn because we will never hear April laugh or see her smile.  We will not get to watch her grow older with Peter.  Nor will we get to identify the ways that she was more like mom or dad.  We will not get to see the stubborn way she would have looked at us when we told her something she didn’t like or the feel of her arms around us for a hug.  As someone told us, she will forever be a part of our family.  The month of April will forever mean something different for our family. 

In the midst of it all God has been with us.  He has comforted us as we mourned, blessed us with friends and family who prayed for us,encouraged us, provided meals for us, and loved and supported us.  He has reminded us of His promises.  He is the God of rejoicing and also of sorrow.  And so we continue to walk with Him and trust in Him for the future. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

GPS...or lack thereof...

We are all gifted and graced at different things.  Said differently we can’t all be good at everything. 

Well one of the things that I am not good at all is directions.  The only sense of direction I have is to get lost.  I also am not the best at telling my left from my right.  Family and friends love to tease me about my ability to get lost even in a place where I have lived for years.  Joe says that if I say to turn right then he turns left (that has only backfired on him a couple of times but still not consistently enough to change the thinking.) Needless to say I heavily rely on GPS and Joe to give me directions. 

Well last week Joe was traveling in Swaziland with two couples that helped to build a church there and he needed the GPS.  Which was fine, since while he was gone I stuck to places I knew how to get to…or so I thought. 

I was driving home from church a place that I have driven and ridden to and from numerous times in the three years that we have lived here.  But there is one spot where I always get confused.  And sure enough I did on this occasion.  I got off an exit too early.  I knew my mistake as soon as I made it but didn’t think going in reverse on the highway was a good idea.   I pulled up the GPS on my phone and put in our home address and started following the new directions home…or so I thought.  For the first little bit as we were driving I had no idea where we were and so didn’t know we were heading in the wrong direction.  Then the GPS on my phone kept shutting down on me.  So I kept having to pull up the directions again and again.  Well at some point in pulling up the directions I pushed 35 Street Name ROAD instead of STREET.  Well unfortunately for me the Road version of my address is near the airport which is 45 minutes away from my house.  I knew at some point that I was heading towards the airport but didn’t quite know how to fix it.  So I went to the airport pulled over and figure out what was going on.  Eventually I arrived home but not before going all the way around the city of Johannesburg to get there. 

Now it is something to tease about.  But at the time it was frustrating because I knew where I was going was wrong but I didn’t know what to do to fix it and the thing I relied on to point me in the right direction pointed me in the opposite direction. 

There are lots of sermon illustrations and teachable moments in that experience.  And I am sure I will use it as such. For now I am thankful that Joe (and the GPS) has returned home. 

Life on the mission field is a lot like life in our passport country some days, other days it is not.  But everyday we are thankful to be doing what we are doing where we are doing it, even when we get lost. 

Other things happening in our lives and ministry:
My parents are with us for the next several weeks helping out with projects and spoiling Peter. 
Next week we have around 80 leaders from all over the field joining us for a training on church planting. 


Until Next time- If you let your toddler help with something once then he will forevermore and always want to help with said activity again. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The 411 on 12 and 1 aka a blog update for December and January :)

NYC Serve Day, Vacation, Christmas, Missionary Retreat, and Beyond

NYC Serve Day was an amazing day where around 400 youth, young adults and youth leaders from all over Africa went out to 9 sites around Johannesburg.  The various teams did children’s outreach, construction, clean up, evangelism, soccer outreach and lots of fellowship and encouragement of local churches.  It was an amazing day and God worked in and through everyone who participated.  Thanks for your prayers!  Please continue to pray that the youth will continue to remember they are Chosen 2 Change and that they can change their cities and villages.  If you are interested here is a link to a highlight video of the event.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot3WMkQ-SlA&feature=youtu.be


The day after the NYC event was over we went with some good friends, and missionaries on another field, on a vacation for a few days.  It was a great time of rest relaxing and fellowship.  The view from our balcony was amazing.  And the time away after a very busy few months was much needed.






Christmas was a lot of fun.  Peter is old enough now to open presents and get excited.  So it was fun to enjoy Christmas with him.  During the week of Christmas we also spent lots of time with our Fr-amily hiking, bowling, braaing, playing games, playing soccer, laughing and just spending time together. 



The first part of January found us at the Missionary Retreat for all the Nazarene Missionaries for the Africa Region.  It was a great time of connecting with old friends and making new ones.  Peter enjoyed playing with all of his Missionary cousins! 

The rest of January was spent preparing for upcoming assemblies, upcoming W&W trips, upcoming trainings, and events and catching up on things after a busy few months. As well as doing all the paperwork and appointments that go along with the VISA Application Process.

In February we will return to the US to apply for our new VISA’s as well as being commissioned by the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene.   For a missionary being commissioned is like being ordained for a pastor.  We are honored to be a part.  Pray for us as we travel.  Peter is a very busy and active 19 month old so holding him in our laps for the long journey will be…fun.  Please pray for an empty seat beside and a sleepy or relaxed boy for the journey.  Pray also that our VISA applications go through without any trouble. 

Life is busy but good.  We are thankful and blessed to be a small part of what God is doing on the Africa South Field. 


Until Next Time Remember:  If your toddler is quiet be afraid be very afraid, it almost never means that they quietly reading a book or put themselves down for a nap!  J

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Long and Short of the Last Two Months

It has been close two months since our last blog and what a busy two months it was. 

Here is the cliff notes version of our lives since we last updated.  The rest of October was spent preparing for the W&W team to Swaziland as well as preparing to be gone from our home and other ministry responsibilities for about a month. In the month of November we were home a total of 8 days spread throughout the month.  We were in three different countries (Swaziland, Lesotho, and South Africa (both Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.).    Once we returned from Port Elizabeth on the 28th of November we focused on getting ready for the NYC Event and the NYC Serve Day.   

The longer version of the past two months.

We had a wonderful two weeks with a W&W team from Venice FL (with team member additions from Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania.)  They were working in a small village in Swaziland.  During the two weeks the team built friendships, helped in building the church, built pews for the church, got to see the well they raised money to provide in action, they did a kids day outreach, as well as doing some site-seeing and shopping.   One of the exciting things is that the well will open many doors for the church to reach out and provide for the surrounding community.  Peter loved all the extra people to play with and snuggle with.  He also enjoyed wandering around the work site and finding all sorts of things to get into.  In this picture he is near the water bucket that he loved to try and play in.  This picture was right before he was told no for the 17,000 time. J 

After the team left we had a day at home and then headed back out to go to Lesotho to show one of the team members what God is doing there.  We had a great time seeing the various ministries that are happening.  They are focusing on two projects right now.  One is chickens for pastors, where local pastors are provided a number of baby chicks that they are trained to take care of and feed.  Then when they have grown they can sell them and have money to buy more chickens as well as provide for their families.  Another project they are really focusing on is starting a couple of Christian schools.  They are working hard to get everything ready and approved for school to start in January. 

After returning from Lesotho we spent a few days at home catching up on lots of things including sleep, laundry and emails.  Then we went to Port Elizabeth and spent a few days enjoying the beach and the city.  On Saturday we attended the Eastern Cape Assembly and on Sunday attending their rally where Beth preached.  It was a blessing to see and hear what God was doing through their ministries as well as enjoy God’s wonderful creation. 

Now we are gearing up for the NYC Event.  Where around 500 youth from all over Africa will come together for 4 days and worship, pray, learn, serve, fellowship and grow together.  Joe and I have been helping to coordinate the NYC Serve day.  On Saturday December 17th all the youth of the event will go out to 10 different sites around the city and Serve.  They will put into action what they have been singing, praying, and learning about.  With the hopes that they will make a lasting impact in the communities they are serving as well as take what they have learned home and serve there. 

Once NYC is done we are going away for a week with some friends.  We are looking forward to a week of relaxing, hiking, swimming, fellowshipping, and being outdoors. 

We hope and pray you each have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Years.  In the midst of all that is going on may you find time to rest, relax and reflect on the many blessings of your life. 


Until next time; When checking for teeth on a toddler make sure there is something else besides your finger to bite or you may lose said finger.