June News- Weathering the Changes

On Wednesday the 1st, if you’re on our mailing list, you received our June Newsletter in your inbox and the snail mail ones were mailed out on May 31st.  I almost never send out a newsletter right at the beginning of the month but we have some great news to share.  And no, I’m not pregnant.  I still feel like I need to make this disclaimer every time I talk about “having news to share” with someone.  So I guess the time I write…we have some news to share… and don’t make the disclaimer, you’ll all know the newsletter content already:-)2016 June-online.jpgBut anyway, for those of your who have not read our news already, you can read it by clicking on the picture above or on our website under the About tab.  We share the great and the not so great and there are some cute picture of us too, if I do say so myself.

I will almost always post our newsletters to the blog but if you want to receive them first, let me know and I will add you to our mailing list.  Happy reading!

 

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Let’s Do the Numbers-What will God do next?

We don’t know what God is trying to teach us in this season of slow growth for monthly support or how God is at work right now because we aren’t seeing visible progress.  However, we know though other answers to prayer that God is still orchestrating things to His glory and we are one big step closer to Australia (more on this in our newsletter that was emailed/mailed out today- you can wait until Friday when I’ll post it to the blog or email me to get on the list to see the news first!).

As many of you know, waiting is not my favorite part of life but waiting is a normal, necessary and often fruitful season.  We are currently waiting on many things, our support being one of them.  But even in this season of waiting, we are excited to see what God will do next!australian dollarWe have NOT made our last two support goals from the end of April or the end of May. We were hoping, working and praying towards being at 68% of our support by the end of May but we are currently at 60.9%.  This is up only about $100 a month in pledges since our last update at the beginning of the month.  Our goal from MTW in order to stay on track for our fall departure is the same as before but just more daunting now.  We need to be at 75% by July 1st.  And that requires $1330 in new monthly, quarterly or yearly pledges in order to reach this amount.  This is just 13 families or individuals giving $100 a month, or 26 families or individuals giving $50 a month.  But any amount is beneficial to our ministry, even if you can only afford $20 a month or a yearly gift of $240, this will help us reach our goal.

Can you be a part of helping us reach our July 1st goal?  It’s easy to give by contacting MTW (Mission to the World) or using their online giving site: donations.mtw.org.  We certainly appreciate one-time gifts.  However, if you intend to give monthly, quarterly or yearly, please be sure to let MTW know and your amount will be recorded on our pledge report.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me or contact the donations department at MTW.

Thank you to everyone who has already been giving and advocating for us.  We appreciate all the gifts that have been given and are so thankful for our advocates that have spoken up for us with their friends, at small group meetings and in their churches.  If you want to advocate for us but are unsure of what it is, advocating is as easy as talking about Australia and encouraging others to get involved and learn about our ministry (Why Australia?).

Please keep praying for our support and God’s timing.  We have a new sense of urgency because we now have a timeline for entering Australia.  Please pray with us that we would trust God’s timing and His plan.  Thank you for helping us get to Australia!

An Ecumenical Life and Ministry

Please forgive the acronyms in this post, I’m not explaining them because they don’t really matter for the point I’m trying to make.  I am simply thankful for the Church (capital C- Church) behind us and our heart for Western Australia.  My goal is to highlight how amazing it is to be blessed by each and every one of these congregations and individuals. Even more so, I want people to know that we deeply appreciate everyone who is a part of our sending team no matter what background or denomination you come from, distance yourself from or claim to be now.  The pictures and video in this post are from the wonderful congregations in Pardeeville and Rio who have loved on us and welcomed us this past month.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.46.42 PMGrace Presbyterian Church– Pardeeville’s very own PCA church.

Ryan and I have had an ecumenical ministry from the very beginning.  For those of you not familiar with the term, ecumenical means representing a number of different Christian churches or promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches.  We didn’t plan things to be this way, instead it is just a by-product of our histories and how God has lead us so far in life and ministry.  Whether PCA or AG or any other Bible believing, respecting and preaching church, we appreciate the value you bring to our lives.

Campfire evening with the Pardeeville United Methodist Church

Ryan and I grew up in denominations that some might say are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as theology and how that plays out in services as well as ministry.  For our first two years of marriage we attended a church from a different denomination, not because we were looking for neutral ground but instead because that was where Ryan was working and it was a solid, Bible teaching church that is also very involved in our local community.  But that didn’t stop us from making strong connections with other churches from different denominations in the area.  And as we continue in this process we find ourselves gaining supporters individually and as churches who are a wide variety of wonderful, Christ proclaiming, prayer warrior, Christians.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.47.28 PMRyan preaching at Rio Assembly of God– The church where he grew up!

We look forward to continuing life and ministry in this way.  We recognize that there are reasons for some of the divisions between denominations but we also recognize that we have something to learn from everyone who believes in the gospel proclaimed in the Bible.  It’s wonderful to know that the gospel is greater than these man made distinctions and we will continue to proclaim God’s truth and welcome anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of what God is doing in Australia to join us.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 9.58.16 PM.pngPardeeville Wesleyan Bible Church

In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Footsteps

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 4.31.08 PM“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs….”  These words along with the rest of the Laura Ingalls series filled my childhood.  I read all her original books, the books about her daughter Rose and her mother Caroline as well as others based on the lives of people who had been special to Laura.  I also had the Little House Cookbook, the scrapbook I Remember Laura as well as read many more of the wonderful books that chronicled the non-fiction and fantasy of her life in early America.Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 4.21.33 PM.pngAs I read through the series as a child, I never once thought that I would be visiting some of the places where she lived.  So when Ryan suggested a trip to Pepin while in Wisconsin, I jumped at the chance.  I even re-read Little House in the Big Woods in preparation so that everything would be fresh in my mind.  And after a wonderful few days visiting friends and family in the Twin Cities, Ryan and I took a longer way back to Pardeeville along the Mississippi.  This enabled us to stop by the place where a replica cabin stands on the land where Laura was born and had her earliest memories.  Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 4.21.07 PM.pngBut the highlight for me was walking along the shores of Lake Pepin, picking up pebbles just like Laura would have when her family visited the town together.  I only kept two, pictured above with my copy of the book.  However, Laura shares that she filled her entire pocket with pebbles each prettier than the last so much so that her pocket ripped out of her dress when her Pa put her in the wagon to head back home.

I loved my time on Lake Pepin and am so thankful for these beautiful days to pause and enjoy the places we find ourselves near.

The Flogging Parson

Facebook reminded me today that I posted a newsletter 3 years ago with some of the history of Christianity in Australia.  3 years ago today, Ryan and I were dating but waiting to see what God would do.  So I just kept moving towards Australia, trusting that this was part of God’s road for us.  Now I want those of you who didn’t get the opportunity then or maybe forgot this information to hear a little about who the flogging parson is and what he has to do with the history of Christianity in Australian.  The original newsletter can still be found here under the About tab on our website but here is a slightly updated version that you hopefully find insightful and interesting:

Let’s compare and contrast Christianity in the US and in Australia. America is often referred to as a Christian nation. We were founded on Christian principles and you can find statistics stating that 75% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. But identifying yourself as a Christian and being a follower of Christ are two very different things.

Australia on the other hand was founded as a penal colony. A good amount of its people brought over as convicts were protestant and catholic. This remnant of history is still a part of the fabric of Australia today. There were missionaries and clergy on the transportation ships as well. And just to be clear, as far as I can tell, the missionaries and clergy were not convicts themselves.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.27.09 PM.pngIn this collection of clergy one name stands out, Samuel Marsden. He was an English Anglican well known for his pioneering literacy and community development work among the Maori who had come as sailors and visitors to New South Wales. Sounds like a great guy, right? Except, he is more famously hailed as “The Flogging Parson”. His hatred of the Irish Catholics led to his most severe punishments in which those receiving the lashes were flogged so brutally that their “haunches turned to jelly”. He was of course not the only one who ordered beatings as a form of punishment for the early colony, so to have his savageness so clearly recorded in history shows you just how harsh he was. If you were a Maori, you might have loved this man but there was no grace if you happened to be Irish Catholic.

Today, there are statistics that would lead us to believe that Australia became a Christian nation on the heels of the early protestant and catholic convicts. However, the reality is quite different. Christianity is received with skepticism and often outright hostility. More recent statistics for Australia say that only about 7% of its people would claim to be churchgoing Christians.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.27.21 PMNevertheless, God’s fingerprints are evident and certain places in the city have visible reminders of Christianity. For example, this sculpture of Jesus with the scripture Luke 23:44-46. Even so, there is still a compelling need for the light of the gospel to be proclaimed.

 

6 Things We Want Our Supporters (and Potential Supporters) to Know

“It’s like calling a girl I like and not knowing what she’s going to say,” Ryan said as he was psyching himself up to call another church.  Thankfully Ryan has a lovely wife now (if I do say so myself:-) and has no need or desire to call girls but we both still have the responsibility to contact individuals and churches while we continue to support raise.  Each and every one of these phone calls, text messages, emails and Facebook notes require extra thought and prayer.  We never know what the response will be but we will keep working until we reach our goal or until God directs us elsewhere.Ryan.pngSo as we continue this process, here are 6 things we want our current supporters and potential supporters to know.

  1. We wish there was an easier way.  From the beginning Ryan and I have been thankful to have a long list of friends, relatives and acquaintances in our lives who care about us.  We want first and foremost for people to be a part of our ministry through prayer but we also know that if everyone who reads this blog, our newsletters or generally keeps up with us gave $20 a month, we would be more than fully funded.  But we are thankful to everyone who does what they can, whether that is fervent prayer, a smaller donation either monthly or one-time and for those many individuals who are able to and give more than $20 a month or even larger one-time gifts.
  2. Ryan and I do not enjoy asking for money.  Now before anyone jumps on that phrase to remind me that we are “asking people to partner with us” or “asking people to join in our ministry” or any other way of saying it, I understand and we truly view this as a partnership with our supporters.  However, at the end of the day we need money in our account to do our jobs and that funding has to come from somewhere.  We know people have a long list of demands on their budgets so faithfully we will continue to ask.  And prayerfully we will continue to trust that the money will come.
  3. We know that there are benefits to this system.  At this point in the process we get to travel and see people face to face.  Skype is good but there is something about sitting down for a meal or just hanging out.  Also when people join us with interest, prayers and/or finances, we want to keep them informed and keep in touch as personally as possible.  This is one of the reasons I blog, we do Instagram, keep up on Facebook, with newsletters, etc.  We see the benefit in sharing our story with those who are invested in us.  And we also love hearing from you and following your journey.
  4. Don’t be afraid of our phone call or messages.  Please believe that we do enjoy sharing our story.  We would much rather people be up front about their financial situation but that won’t change our desire to share and keep in touch.  Maybe God might even change your heart when you hear more about our ministry:-)  We are thankful for all our relationships and would love to make a time to see you face to face if we’re in the area or catch up by phone or Skype.
  5. We genuinely want you to pray about supporting us (and discuss it with your spouse if that’s applicable to you).  Pray.  Listen to God.  Seek wise counsel.  And if God is telling you not to support us or to support another ministry or give more to your church or whatever it may be, listen.  But if you are hearing from God to support us, pray for us or advocate for us, listen.
  6. No is an acceptable answer.  Or even, not now.  Or even, maybe when things change.  Or even, we don’t know.  Seriously, it’s ok.

Thank you for being a part of our ministry in whatever way you can.  We look forward continuing to share our journey and enjoy having you along with us on this ride.

Reasons #63-#65 Why I Love My Husband

This list is first and foremost for me, a reminder of why I choose to love this crazy, wonderful man each day.  But I share it with you because I want you to get a glimpse of the amazing way he was created as well as the many ways he is gifted.  There is a lot to love about this man.

#63- He honors his parents.

This month we are living with Ryan’s parents, yes we have a couple short trips here and there but a month with the in-laws is enough to make many people groan.  However, I really do enjoy being with Ryan’s family and I especially love getting to see him daily interacting with them in special ways.  He truly loves and honors his parents.Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.06.10 AM#64- His Hands

Ryan often reaches across the center console of the car and his hand finds a place to rest on my knee.  This is an especially comforting gesture on days that we fight.  Ryan has amazing hands.  Hands that make me feel safe and comforted.  His hands that can speak to me with a simple touch, telling me everything is going to be ok.

#65- His cheesy heart.

Being in Wisconsin is always a reminder of how much of Ryan’s childhood shaped him.  Although he grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in a couple other states, he most recently spent over 10 years in California.  So when Ryan introduces himself he often describes himself as a Californian with a cheese for a heart.  This description is a reflection of his humor as well as an apt description of his history that still influences him today.

Check out my April post for more reasons Why I Love My Husband.