Reasons #54-#56 Why I Love My Husband

This is our first full day apart so I figured a round of reasons Why I Love My Husband would be a fitting tribute on the Wednesday that Ryan will totally skip since he took off last night on Tuesday and will land Thursday in Australia.

#54- He’s thoughtful.

I said goodbye to my husband at the airport, hung out with friends to help distract me a bit and then got home to find one of Ryan’s infamous love notes tucked into the corner of our bed where I would be sure to find it.  He made sure that even while we’re apart, I’m not going to forget how much he cares for me and loves me.

image000000#55- His uncomplaining heart.

Ryan isn’t generally a complainer.  He takes things in stride and recognizes that circumstances are often not worth the mental energy that sometimes gets spent griping over them.  He sent me this picture while he was boarding his 15 hour flight and simply said “This is going to be tough”.  I know that he would love more space (and that he would prefer to be sitting next to me- I happily share my space with him) but I also know that he will make the most of whatever situation he finds himself in with a content, uncomplaining heart.

#56- His trust in God’s plan.

Neither of us love the idea of being apart but we both know that Ryan going to Australia was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss.  In general, I’m the first to push back when things aren’t going my way.  However, Ryan is steady and has an amazing sense of peace over life’s circumstances.  I hope that over the years this peace will rub off on me but until then I will take comfort in and wonder at my husband’s ability to trust in God’s great plan.

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!

Why Australia? Individual Calling

Ryan and I both felt drawn towards Australia before we even met each other.  We believe that God was putting these thoughts in our hearts and minds.  But even if you don’t believe in God or a calling, it’s still amazing how this story has unfolded.

It’s now 2015 but back in 2012, multiple months before Ryan and I even met, God started us towards Australia.P1020836

For those of you following my blog, you’ve seen my trips around the world trying to find where I would work after my time in Papua New Guinea.  And then in November 2012, after a trip to Perth I accepted an invitation to join the team already working there.  You can read the post here:  Finding me where?.  There were other countries that fit my skill set better, there were situations that might have been more obvious or comfortable.  But Australia was where I felt I needed to be.

About 4 months before we met (that would also be November 2012), Ryan was praying and wondering if and where he should be working overseas.  The two countries that started coming into his mind…South Africa and Australia.

So when we finally met in February 2013, the wheels were already set in motion.  On our third date, over breakfast in Summerland, I gave Ryan an out.  I told him about Australia, that I was raising support and hoping to move to and work in Perth.  I stated that if this was any type of a problem for him, then we probably shouldn’t go on any more dates.  Over his french toast he just said, “ok”.

I didn’t know what that ok meant but I found out later that he was already thinking about Australia and so my declaration just gave him another nudge in that direction.  He figured at that point, if things went well between us, we would see if Australia was a place for us together.

Fastforward and with many details left out, we are now moving towards Australia together.  This is not just my calling or Ryan’s calling, this is our calling.

Why Australia? A trip to the bathroom.

Although I have no doubt that God could have used something else, if it wasn’t for a little trip to the bathroom, Ryan and I might have been going somewhere else.  Here’s the back story:

I was an anxious wreck during most of our two week trip to Perth last year.  Australia was already in my heart and the thought of having to say goodbye to Australia and start loving another place was difficult to even think about.  But I knew that unless God was calling Ryan to WA (Western Australia) that this wasn’t going to work.  Ryan needed to be sure of his own calling to the Perth area and if he wasn’t then God was directing us elsewhere.  Of course, I would need time to grieve but I would be ok with seeking where God wanted us both, together.  However, that realization didn’t change the fact that I was praying and hoping and truly desired that God would call us to Australia together (God was definitely preparing both of us for Oz even before we met but more on our back story later).

So a week into the trip when Ryan had been having experiences that ranged from enjoying himself (not a bad thing but we were seeking a place for ministry not vacation) to being overwhelmed and dizzy (not physically dizzy but internally like his equilibrium was off), I was very worried about what God was trying to tell us.  The small city where I would have lived as a single was throwing Ryan off completely and downtown Perth was lovely but there was no sense of urgency and call while we were there on the streets.  However, our trip schedule opened up a bit and unsure of what lay ahead we decided to spend a few days (instead of just one) out in the country, in Brookton and the surrounding area.

The first couple of days started out slowly, our contacts weren’t even in town when we arrived so we prayer walked, explored and drove deeper into the country.  Brookton is the middle of a series of small town about an hour and a half outside of Perth along the 120 highway in WA.  These town range in size from a few hundred to a few thousand people.  At this point I was finally seeing some brightness in Ryan.  And frankly it scared me, I didn’t want to even consider living in a small, sleepy town in the country.  But Ryan was excited, he grew up in a small town, went to college in a small town and generally loves the countryside and small communities.

Then one evening we had tea with a friend.  She told us more about the community and was honest about the good things, the bad things and the ugly things.  She explained that these sleepy towns were breeding grounds for substance abuse, alcoholism and domestic violence.  She told us about the high rate of suicide complete with examples, including a man who killed himself on the golf course.  And we started getting a deeper picture of what life was like for people living in these communities.  We left that evening having enjoyed the company but with heavy hearts.

The next day we had some time so we drove just south to a town called Pingelly.  We walked around, found the giant cross and went to a park to pray.  While at the park Ryan used the public toilet and on the inside of the door was this sign:

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At that moment (yes, in the bathroom) Ryan realized that this wasn’t an Aboriginal problem, this wasn’t just a few people with isolated experiences but this was truly something that was impacting the entire community.  A hotline for suicidal farmers broke Ryan’s heart.

Why Australia?  Because we have hope and want to see these communities flourish with that same hope.

The History of Religion- Books and Beliefs (Part Two)

In May I posted Part One of The History of Religion- Books and Beliefs so now here is Part Two.  Originally I had intended it to be just one entry but as History of Religion- Books and Beliefs (Part One) got longer, I realized that it would be best to split up the reviews by books.  I read these two books Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms and Eternity in their Hearts almost simultaneously.  And I think they are more interesting when viewed together but they can also stand on their own.

EternityintheirHearts

I borrowed this book from a friend after our conversation about culture and the gospel.  I had read one of Don Richardson’s books before but Eternity in their Hearts gives a broader look across many different cultures.  Even before I read this book, as a Christian I believe that God has woven himself into the fabric of this world.  “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4 NLT  “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV  I believe the Bible is true.  I believe the Christian faith is reasoned and reasonable and can stand up to scrutiny.

So with this in mind, I was not surprised as I read through Eternity in their Hearts and heard the stories of past and current cultures that have evidence of the one true God and the Christian gospel in their culture despite never having been previously expressed to the Bible or Christian proselytizing.

In the Part One post I had a couple quotes where people claimed that their religion was the oldest or their scripture was the most accurate.  It was these quotes and others similar that hung in my mind as I considered the information in Eternity in their Hearts.  It made my mind work as I considered truth and what truth actually means.  This of course is a bigger question and discussion but this short Youtube video Truth Refocused does a great job of presenting why truth can’t really be relative and to each his own.

I can’t do justice to this book by summarizing the stories, if you’re interested, you will have to read them on your own.  But I can tell you that stories of cultures that cross continents Greek in Europe, Inca in America, Mbaka in Africa and the Chinese in Asia are thought provoking.  And that’s just Chapter 1 which tells about cultures and people who have knowledge about a “Vague God”.  These cultures all have a name for or a belief in a supreme God that has been passed down often with stories that parallel Biblical stories with amazing accuracy.  “The Chinese call him Shang Ti- the Lord in Heaven….In Korea he is known as Hananim- The Great One…Belief in Shang Ti/Hananim predates confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism by an unknown number of centuries.”

Chapter 2 continues to dig deeper and focuses on an area in and around Burma where multiple people groups had hymns were waiting for the “Lost Book”.  All of these groups were waiting for a sacred book and some even had detailed hymns and Biblical stories that were also passed down and continued to whet the people’s appetite for more knowledge that they believed would be found in the “Lost Book”.  “Karen prophets actually taught their people hymns passed down from generation to generation by verbal communication alone…Karen hymns to Y’wa reveal how astonishingly clear the concept of the one true God can be in a folk religion!”

I could continue because this book keeps going through Papua New Guinea and many other places.  It explores many people who had glimpses and even more of the gospel before ever having the Bible or hearing the Gospel, causing them either to look expectantly towards a time when they would hear the truth more fully or in some cases this knowledge just proved to be a platform for understanding the gospel in their culture and context.  It is definitely worth reading but I have a couple warnings. You will need to ignore the heavy use of the exclamation point (which I get because it’s an exciting topic but not enough to merit all the exclamation points used).  Also when the author moved away from his story telling strength, his theories and arguments, while still compelling, can get dense and difficult to wade through.

But despite those warnings, Eternity in their Hearts is an interesting and thought provoking read.  If you like history, religion and culture, this book combines them all.

He is Risen!

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On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.  Luke 24:1-8

Let us celebrate the truth of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  He is risen, indeed!

*Thanks to Phil King for this great picture of the flower covered cross from Ukarumpa’s morning service this year.

The Bread and Wine

IMG_20150402_191240Communion was first taken as a part of a meal.  This was a meal shared among friends, the bread was broken and the wine was poured.  These are simple actions that would have meant nothing except that the next day the man who broke the bread and poured the wine would be crucified and die on a cross.  His actions fulfilled prophecy and took away the sin of the world.  He was the true Passover lamb.  Today is Good Friday and it is only good because we know how the story ends….stay tuned.