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.

 

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The Warm

It finally feels a little like spring and less like winter.  After speaking at a Wesleyan Church yesterday (more on our ecumenical ministry opportunities later), Ryan and I headed up to the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota).  Since Sunday was beautiful we took advantage of the lovely day and visited Minnehaha Falls. Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 9.25.24 AMWe then walked along the Minnehaha Creek, down to the mighty Mississippi.  Well, it is the Mississippi River but since we could obviously (if you look at the picture) see across it, it isn’t the widest point.  Anyway, it was a beautiful day to be out enjoying the weather and getting to visit with Ryan’s brother.Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 9.25.42 AMAfter our walk, we had a delicious dinner at the 112 Eatery filled with new things to try and enjoy.  And we ended the evening with a fire in the backyard.  This was complete with good conversation, apple pie and ice cream.  It was a wonderfully warm day and now we’re looking forward to another couple of lovely days here in the Twin Cities.Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 9.25.57 AM

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.

 

Our Plans, His Way

As a planning addict, I’ve always been convicted when reading Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”  Seriously, Ryan says that planning is my love language.  And I must admit that a thorough, organized plan is one way to my heart.  But I have to be careful that my own planning or even the desire to have a plan doesn’t overshadow God’s ultimate desires and will for my life, day or even the next hour.Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 8.41.40 AMThis verse doesn’t say, “Don’t plan because God will do what He wants with you anyway.”  Instead it is a gentle reminder that although we work, plan and make choices everyday, we lack ultimate control.  But take comfort because the one who is in control is the loving, personal, creator God of the Bible.

So with this in mind, hear my heart planning our way to Australia in current circumstances.  We hold this with open hands but ask that you would pray with us as we continue to plan and as God establishes our steps.

  • 31 more days in our current support raising and training road trip.  Please pray for hearts to be opened and our support levels to grow.
  • Back to California for a week vacation on Catalina island.  I grew up going to this family camp and Ryan and I are looking forward to a week of rest and refreshment.  Please pray that this time would reboot us for the continued work that needs to be accomplished. 
  • Support raising milestone: 75%.  We have been told that we should be at 75% by the end of June in order to stay on track for our arrival in Australia.  Since we are currently at 60%, this is a big goal to reach.  Please pray for diligence in asking for support and for God to surprise us with how and where the support comes from.
  • A month in Brussels, Belgium for training.  This may sound like a vacation but it’s an important part of the training process and what better place to do cross-cultural training than in a country where neither of us speak the language.  Please pray that this would not be too overwhelming for Ryan and that I would be patient and a good learner despite having been through this training before.
  • University of Western Australia: the latest we could hear about the masters program acceptance is the beginning of July.  Please pray that I would be accepted into the program and that I would be able to apply for and receive scholarships.
  • Travel in Switzerland and Germany.  Since we’re already in Europe for the Belgium training, we contacted friends in the area and will spend some time after the training visiting people and even attending a German wedding.  This is a great opportunity for Ryan to see more of Europe and for me to show him some places where I’ve lived and traveled in the past.  Please pray for safety while we travel and for many fun memories to be made with our European friends and family.
  • Back to California again because I am in a friend’s wedding at the beginning of August and then we have a full month of visiting churches already planned.  Please pray for stamina and for God to continue to reveal what He would have for us.
  • Although we have nothing scheduled past the end of August, this will be a time to work on our visas (student visa for me, spousal visa for Ryan), continue to raise the final support needed and make last preparations for our move.  Please pray for wisdom as there are many decisions that will need to be made along the way.
  • Leaving for Australia after Thanksgiving.  A student visa allows you to enter the country 90 days before the semester starts.  Please pray for God’s timing and clear direction.

We praise God that He has been guiding us and remains faithful. I look back at our newsletter from February 2015 when we shared what 10 things needed to happen before we moved to Australia and it’s wonderful to see how, by God’s grace, we’ve been able to accomplish 6 of the steps already.  Despite the changes which include this new opportunity to study and learn at UWA, we see His hands at work.  And we look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to establish our steps.  Thank you for uniting with us in prayer and being with us on this road to Australia.

Pursuing a Masters in Social Work

“Transcripts received.”  “Can you please scan me a copy of your marriage certificate?”  “Your application is now complete.  If you give me the green light, I will go ahead and submit it.”  These were the last three interactions I had with a liaison from the University of Western Australia.  And after receiving confirmations from the university, I can now say that I have officially applied for a Master Degree in Social Work.Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.25.55 PMWe’re now sharing this with you so that you can join us in prayer.  A masters program for social work in Western Australia can potentially open many doors for us.  This University is in downtown Perth, right in the area where we would love to spend a couple of years.  This is just an hour and 39 minutes from Brookton and Ryan could make trips out there during the week and the Wheatbelt could (hopefully!) be where I do any practical part of the program.  When our eyes were first opened to the scope of problems in the Wheatbelt, Ryan and I both asked the question, “What can we do?”  In seeking to answer this question, this program at UWA came on our radar.  This program can potentially use my background in literacy and education while expanding my skill set to include other practical, tangible ways to help people.  It can also potentially be a building block to help me connect the Yakima youth to the Aboriginal youth.  And so much more.  Please pray specifically with us.  Please pray that I would be accepted to pursue a Masters Degree in Social Work at UWA.  Please pray that our path and timing would become more clear in the next couple of months.  And please pray for our hearts, ok more specifically my heart, as this season of waiting and wandering is particularly difficult.

State Capitol Tour Part 1

It started with a random afternoon free in Sacramento.  Ryan said, “Let’s go see the capitol building.”

And now we’ve toured a few capitols on the west coast and visited a few more on this trip.  We have another couple capitol buildings on the list during this road trip because if we’re in the area, we will at least stop for a capitol selfie.  Can you name these capitols?