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.

Reaching Multiple Generations

I was first exposed to overseas missions in elementary school.  My world grew multiple times over as I listened to stories from all over our globe, read books and absorbed whatever information I could find.  At that age I knew nothing about what it took to send and keep these people overseas, working towards the great commission in the way God had specifically, uniquely and wonderfully called them.  I now know and can see that God was using their lives and stories to impact, influence and change me.AboriginalColoringThese pictures are from a couple of the opportunities we’ve had to share with groups other than adults.  With younger kids I like to do hands on projects and Aboriginal art is a great way to not only let kids play with colors but also to talk about how different cultures tell stories and how God shares his story with us.  For the youth Ryan used technology (reading his Bible from his phone) and asked a lot of questions to keep the students engaged.  RyanAs Ryan and I prepare for Australia, we are not forgetting the multiple generations that will come after us.  The Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  This is still happening and not yet fulfilled.  Maybe it will happen in our lifetime, maybe not.  But I do know that until it will be fulfilled, that there will be opportunities for others to follow and do their part in responding and acting on this beautiful charge from scripture.  Of course, the nations are in many ways coming to us and missions looks very different now but that’s even more of a reason to get involved.  We are thankful to be able to share our story and hopefully encourage and inspire multiple generations.

Just be Still

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.” Exodus 14:14

These words, from the kid’s church verse from last week, are a powerful reminder to me in this season of business.  Ryan and I have gone from place to place, speaking engagement to speaking engagement and this is just the beginning of our busy summer.  We swing from low, exhausted lows to energized, determined highs and back again.  Yes, this is our job but we have to be careful that we don’t start relying too much on our own abilities and forget the underlying foundation of our work.ExodusI’m not good at being still.  I’m not good at resting.  Case in point: As I type these words, I’m actually feeling a little guilty because it’s Sunday afternoon and I should be napping or otherwise really resting but instead I’ve convinced myself that writing a blog entry to maintain my blogging schedule is more important.  And although I am going to finish this,  I’m reminded that I need to remember the words of this verse even more.

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.”  The deeper we get in this process, the more convinced I am that my own words and abilities are severely inadequate.  It’s only by God’s grace, through the Lord fighting for us that we will see everything fall into place, raise the support we need, finish the training we have to complete and make it to Australia.

We have a loving heavenly father engaged in this battle, we have his son Jesus who is also in on this fight and the Holy Spirit is constantly doing battle on our behalf.  We have a whole army fighting for us…now to just be still.

He is Risen!

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Matthew 28:6aIMG_20160326_071058~2We have celebrated this special weekend by watching the sunrise twice.  Saturday from the top of Sandstone Peak which is the tallest mountain in the Santa Monica mountain range.  And then we worshipped this morning on the beach as we listened to the waves crash before us and waited for the sun to peak out over Mugu Rock.  What a way to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  He is risen indeed!IMG_20160327_070733~2

It is indeed, Good Friday

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.09.34 PM

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:

“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Therefore the soldiers did these things.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  John 19:17-30

The Widow’s Offering

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4IMG_20160309_143208~2.jpgRyan and I have the privilege of being blessed by the “widow’s nothing”.  Of course we celebrate, are humbled by and abundantly thankful for the larger gifts that get us more quickly to our milestones but we are humbled in a different way and doubly blessed by the gifts we receive from people who are giving out of their lack.

This is a great reminder for Ryan and I to focus on where are support ultimately comes from.  I find it easy to praise our own support raising strategies when things are going well but get disheartened and turn to God when things aren’t progressing as quickly.  God is currently working and providing for us in amazing ways, however, when we’re handed a ministry gift that we know is given out of a humble faith (however great or small), we pause and praise God an extra measure.

Thank you everyone who has given towards our ministry.  We know that generosity comes in all forms and are especially grateful to those of you who are giving on faith or out of your own “widow’s nothing”.

Art, the Gospel and Welcome to MTW

MTW has a magazine, called Network, that tells stories about their work, the people and the vision.  I’m sure there is more to it but that’s the general gist.  In the Fall/Winter edition, there are two exciting sections.  First of all, our Australian team leader’s wife, Berenice wrote an article about her recent trip to Cuba.  It’s a story of art, artists, the church and the gospel.  Read it for another perspective on the greater Perth team and our art filled world.  Click on the links above or the magazine to read the articles.

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The other exciting section is the introduction of Ryan and I as new members of MTW.  We took the picture that is towards the end of the magazine, after our last training in Atlanta and we’re excited to be working alongside these other men and women. We’re just the new faces in the MTW family but we represent teams working across the globe on mission for the kingdom.  If you want to subscribe to MTW’s Network Magazine- scroll down on MTW’s resources page.  Happy Reading Everyone!

On Distance and Grieving

This week I received the news that two wonderful men of God passed away.  One more recently than the other but I heard news of both less than 24 hours apart.  These men had different spheres of influence, however they are both dearly loved and will be sorely missed.

Earlier this year Ryan’s beloved Grandmother died.  She was a strong woman of God and a prayer warrior.  Although Ryan did return to Wisconsin for her funeral, most of the grieving process was still at a distance.

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Grief takes on many forms and everyone feels their grief differently.  For me, being able to grieve with people, to share in the raw emotion and to exhaust the tears is freeing and allows me to get to those deeper places more quickly.  However, when I grieve at a distance those layers peel back more slowly in moments of memory and valleys of sadness.

Grief is also different when you know that person is a believer in Jesus Christ and that for them death is a glorious reunion with Christ.  It doesn’t remove the sadness, it doesn’t remove the pain but it is a reminder of the truth of the gospel and what as a Christian we should be striving for, storing up our treasures where it actually matters.

For many reasons, the song Christ is Risen by Matt Maher has been playing in my mind these past few days.  As Christians we know who the victor is, we can celebrate Christ’s victory over death and what that means for us eternally.  For us here on earth- “Blessed are those who mourn.”  But for those in Christ who die- “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.”  The heavens rejoiced as they welcomed home these saints.

Christ is Risen- Matt Maher

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely You’ve bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven’s will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold You down
In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead
He’s alive! He’s alive!

The Last Bible Study

5 years in the making and last night was the final Bible Study*.  We studied Revelation 22 which is the final chapter when working through the Bible chronologically.  We also compared and contrasted aspects of Genesis with Revelation and shared memories and favorites from over the years.

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I’m thankful for this study because it showed me my husband’s faithfulness and commitment.  It also gave me a picture of his leadership style and was one of the avenues available to me in order to make new friends within Ryan’s community.  A lot has changed in 5 years, people have moved away and new people (me!) have come into the group.  A few couples have gotten married and there are multiple kids (not mine:-).  I’m so glad that I got to be a part of the celebration last night and now we get to look forward to what’s next.  Who knows, but maybe there will be an opportunity in Australia for Ryan to teach through the Bible again:-)

*Summer of 2010, Ryan began in Genesis 1:1.  The Bible study took place at a local church and eventually grew and evolved into a study in our friend’s home.  The study always included dinner which at the beginning was a lot of Little Caesar’s pizza and then a generous friend took over the cooking and provided delicious meals (some of which I’m sure will make themselves into our family meal rotation now that we won’t be getting them on a regular basis).  5 years of teaching and studying God’s word.  It’s an awesome accomplishment!

Selling PNG and Other Onobasulu Changes

The Onobasulu Bible Translation program is once again going through some changes.  Progress is being made with the Bible Translation and Literacy among other important steps for the greater Onobasulu community.  But there are challenges to face and hurdles to overcome.  These cover the gamut from logistics to finances and even emotions as these changes impact all parts of the greater Onobasulu community.

Beverly's House

The main factor at the forefront right now is the decision for the main ex-pat Bible translator, Beverly, to change her assignment and work from Texas, this means selling her home and car in PNG.  Anne also works on the translation away from PNG, so now the two main expat Bible Translators will be primarily living and working in their home countries, the USA and the Netherlands.  There will still be a home in the village, the Walagu Lodge, but Beverly will (pending the sale) no longer have her Ukarumpa house.  Please be in prayer for Beverly because selling her home is a huge emotional step and it means saying good-bye to a big part of her PNG life.  Please pray that both the house and the car sell quickly and that she has the time and energy to clean out her house and take the things she needs to back to the US and store what needs to be stored in PNG.

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This is Beverly in her car, in front of her house, filled with the Onobasulu co-workers.  You can see Joseph’s pink jacket in the back.  Beverly loves pink (did you notice the pink house!?) and the Onobasulu guys also have an affinity for pink.  It definitely makes Joseph easy to spot in a crowd.

Because Beverly will no longer be in PNG full-time, the Onobasulu program will have to rely even more heavily on the Onobasulu people themselves.  This is a very good thing but it also means the translators need more training in order to prepare themselves for the work.  Beverly is currently in PNG helping Wabele, Joseph, Yobe and Jack get through another important training course.  This course will give them key knowledge in order to do more of the translation work on their own.  They of course know the Onobasulu language but Bible translation requires knowledge of Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics and many other difficult concepts.  These four men have been attending these courses for years now, slowly learning and working along the way.  However, this was an extra course that they had not planned on attending for awhile so they are currently underfunded and need another 90% of their costs.  If you feel led to give please donate at Wycliffe.org, every little bit helps.  This money will go directly to fund the national Onobasulu translators and help them become more prepared for the huge task of Bible translation.

Most importantly please pray for the Onobasulu program.  Please pray for Beverly as she is transitioning to a home assignment.  Please pray for the Onobasulu translators: Wabele, Jack, Yobe and Joseph.  And the Onobasulu literacy guys: Hauwo and Jeffery.  Please pray for their families.  Pray also that God would raise up another generation to help them translate and continue the literacy program for the Onobasulu people.  Please pray for a smooth transition and for God to provide people on the ground in PNG to help with communication and some logistical challenges with having no full-time expat co-workers in PNG.  And finally please pray that God would continue to be glorified through the Onobasulu language and that people would come to know Him because of this life changing work.