Thursday, December 20, 2012

We're Back!

A lot has happened since our last update. I hope and pray that as I begin to give you a detailed look into our lives on the field that you will see how helpless we are and how mighty God is.

Leaving the U.S. was the craziest few hours of my life. Between security checks, making sure that all my kiddos were on the plane, time changes, weird air-line food, and an odd selection of in-flight movies, we landed in Tanzania. Most of you know me to be pretty emotional. Well, I did not disappoint on this excursion. When the pilot announced that we had arrived in Tanzania, the flood-gates opened. I mean if you had been through the whirl-wind that God had just brought us through, you would have cried too!

Entering Tanzania was even more crazy than leaving the U.S. We were met with Kiswahili, machine guns, and tremendous heat. I remember trying to fill out immigration papers with a military officer speaking unbelievably fast swahili in my ear and thinking, " Can I please board the plane and head anywhere but here?" The best part of transition into a foreign country is you can express these feelings in your native tongue and everyone around you just smiles. But, you feel so much better. Trust me, I have done it several times since we have been in Tanzania and I am sure that I will do it several times more while I am here.

Once we had taken our lives into our own hands in Tanzanian traffic and vehicles, tried a variety of Tanzanian dishes, shopped at the market, and learned how to greet everyone, we headed off to language school. This took place in Iringa. The bus ride to Iringa was an experience that I can compare to nothing. See, my whole life I have been terrified of roller coasters. I got on one once when I was younger and was scared to death and vowed that I would never ride one again. But, God must have a wonderful sense of humor because He put me on a bus that made space mountain look like It's a small world. ( If you have been to Disney then you will understand this comparison) I have never wanted to kiss the ground before but I came very close after that trip. 

Language school was the time to exhale. We had been on the go for so long, once we arrived at school, this is where our family finally got to grasp what had just happened to our lives. We had one day to rest before school started for everyone except the twins. Eden and Evan had the hardest time transitioning at school. We arrived on Saturday and had to leave them with a Tanzanian nanny on Monday morning. Their first nanny spoke no English whatsoever. It was very hard on them but then God brought us Mercy, literally and figuratively. She was truly an Angel and we still miss her to this day. Patrick and I worked very hard to learn the language while our older four worked hard to learn math, English, spelling and Swahili. They had a wonderful tutor and we were thankful for God providing her. During language school we also had a Tanzanian home-stay. It was the hardest week of my life and I am a mother of 6 kids! God was preparing me for life ahead so I am glad that I got over myself and I persevered and did the work. It was great training, especially in Swahili, and I think that my first week in Musoma has gone so well because of my home-stay. All I can say, is that I have never been around women who work so hard and have such great attitudes. It has been a great lesson for me to learn, hard work is a blessing not a curse. Well, after 4 months language school ended. We then boarded one of three buses and headed home.

We arrived in Musoma last Wednesday. It is truly a beautiful place and our teammates are beyond precious. I have spent so much time this week praising God for such plentiful provisions.For example:  When we were leaving the states I told Jesus how much I hated leaving this one special bush in my yard. It was passed down to me by my precious grandmother, who is turning 100 next month, so this bush was old. We planted it in the hopes that I would get to see it bloom for many years to come. I know it sounds silly but I hated leaving this plant for new homeowners. Well, let me tell you friend, Jesus hears every utterance you make, because when we pulled up into our driveway what do you think was waiting on me? That exact bush! It was sitting there all big, fat, and full of blooms! Are you tearing up, because I sure did?! He didn't bring my family through all of this to harm us and make us miserable but to prosper us. I told you that you would see just how weak our family is but how truly mighty God is! So, this is a quick update on our lives. All I can tell you is that we have cried, laughed, packed, unpacked, faced all kinds of fears and learned more and more how truly magnificent God is. We are so looking forward to beginning Kingdom work here in Musoma. I can tell you that there is plenty to do, so come and join us! There is a place for you in the nations and we are praying that each of you find that place and fill it so Jesus can come back and take us home. Can I get an Amen!

So, pray for the bible-less, pray for the ones that have the Bible but are without a Shepherd to teach them and train them, pray for those serving, and pray that God will give more people courage to step out on faith, there is truly no better way to live!

Until we see each other again face to face, know that we are enjoying the plant and looking forward to the Harvest.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Follow The Leader

"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."  John 12:26

With 17 days left before we leave the United States, I fear that I have made a huge mistake - I have run out of time. So many people to hug, so many yet to be shared meals, so many last minute glimpses of places that remind me of home, so much packing...

How should I order my last few days?
I love to look to the scriptures to help me prioritize. In the book of John we see Jesus display what is a priority as he finishes his earthly ministry.
*A meal v.2
*Worship  v.3
*Recognizing that the enemy is very near but defeated v.4
*Understanding that our purpose is to be a vessel for God’s glory and it requires sacrifice v.27-28


I will make time for every precious friend or family member that needs a moment of my time.

I will guard my time with the Lord each day and maintain a spirit of worship because I have so much to say “thank-you” for and God is Enough to warrant my continued praise.

I will stand firm against the enemy.  Knowing that his presence is a great reminder of what has been defeated and will not be a part of my eternity.

I will look forward to the days ahead, knowing that I must follow Him  and that He is right there beside me through every anxious turn, teaching me how to be an instrument for God’s glory.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

21 days 'til we're leavin' on a jetplane...

3 weeks from today we fly out (July 18th). The past few weeks have been rough. As soon as we bought the plane tickets, everyone started getting sick. We had to cancel dinner dates, could not teach VBS, and even just this past Sunday, had to struggle through the morning service since we were the only speakers. But maybe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I keep saying that, hoping it will come true.

We are now under the gun to get everything packed. At this point, it looks like we may have room for school curriculum and toiletries. Who needs clothes? or books? or toys?

Just how many deodorants do we need?

Please continue to pray for our health. We realize there is a spiritual battle going on here. Also, pray that we would have good quality time with God everyday despite the sickness and the busy-ness of packing.

We love all of you. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Eph 6:12 NASB

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A passport in the hand is worth two in the bush...

Yes, the United States government has determined that we are who we say we are (and they liked all the photos - no small feat). We currently have all eight passports in our hands! Just one more piece of the puzzle falling into place.

Thank you for your prayers! We are so grateful.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  John 8:36

You are fully free-completely free, free indeed, when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make you happy in a thousand years. Or we could say, you are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you no regrets forever.
                                                                                                                     -Dr. John Piper-

We all want to be free, but are we truly free? The father of this world, the horrible liar that he is, daily tries everything in his power to re-shackle me to my roots. My words, my actions, my thoughts commit an allegiance to my previous enslavement. Where does this come from? Does it just happen or is it the core of who I am? I cannot deny that I was a child of darkness. Born into sin, I therefore find myself returning to do the desires of my father. Freedom seems out of my grasp. With that feeling of hopelessness, he has achieved the ultimate murder. He has single-handedly severed my cord of redemption, or has he?
As I am falling into the hands of destruction, the eagle appears. He swoops in with unexpected grace. The eagle bears me on wings of new strength that will not grow weary or tired. I am raised in the unconditional love, power,and splendor of the King. 
                                                                                           Isaiah 40:31

I am rescued. I am FREE. 

He then transplants my roots beside streams of living water. I now grow the branches that bear the fruit of my Risen Lord and King. I am His treasure and He is mine. My prayer to be a creation worthy of my Creator has now been given the ability and opportunity to accompany my desire to be beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.

I was made for more than the roaring lion wants me to believe. I am a doll in the eyes of my daddy. My feet we made to go to and fro on this earth that He created for my pleasure. My voice was made to fall on the ears of my Savior. My hands were made to take hold of those that are lost and bring them home to the banquet table. My ears were made to hear the praises of every nation, every language, every tongue. I was made extraordinary and so were you. Can you hear your invitation into the Glorious? Don’t we all long for a forever of mercy, grace, love, and no regrets?

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners."   Isaiah 61:1

I must go, I must tell, I must help others be set FREE.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fuddrucker's Farewell

Okay, so we are still here. But we wanted a chance to get together with family and friends before we go. Since we are targeted to leave in July, we were worried the summer months would be hard to plan an event, because everyone takes vacation at different times. So we had an early goodbye party this past weekend and got to spend lots of time talking and eating with our loved ones and dearest friends (a big thank you to my parents who watched the younger ones so Kellee and I could talk).

We also had a Silent Cake Auction. People bid ridiculous amounts of money. We are so blessed to have such great friends. We raised over $1100 toward our one time expenses (plane tickets, language school, orientation, etc).

A simple "thank you" is never enough.

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Phl 4:19

Monday, April 2, 2012

Drop your nets...

"As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him." Mark 1:16-20 NASB

When we got back from training in Waxhaw, our first question was, "How long do I stay at Milliken?" I guess in all honesty I envisioned working for as long as I could in order to save more for going -and maybe to also delay the day where I really go "all in" -- 100%. No looking back. There was still the safety net of a "guaranteed" paycheck as we readied to go. But I had a divided heart. Trying to go to work and do the same old routine when we were prepared to go was a struggle. Kellee said I should just “drop my nets.”

She was quick (real quick by the way) to point me to the disciples’ callings. Their day started out the way it always had. They were doing life as usual, and then Jesus entered and nothing was the same. They walked away from all they had ever known when they encountered Jesus. Mark’s Gospel even adds the detail that James and John left their dad in the boat with the hired help. In the boat. They just left. No spreadsheets. No checking if all the details were covered. No trip home to stock up. I can imagine the hurt and misunderstanding their father must have felt as well. Not just emotionally, but financially as they left the fishing business too. Sometimes following is messy and hard. Sometimes it doesn't make sense by all of our human reasoning and judgment.

But there comes a time when Jesus calls, and some leave all.

And those same disciples who left all got to see Him calm the storm, walk on water, give sight to the blind, and rise from the dead.

They left all and found the ultimate source of everything - Jesus.

So I dropped my nets on March 16th. It was neat to see the people God brought to my path in the final weeks of working at Milliken. People I had worked with over the years who “just happened” to be passing by in the halls. He is good and knew I wanted to see them one last time.

We are “all in” now. I am still trying to figure out my new schedule- what a day is supposed to look like. It would help if we were not moving around all the time.  :-)  We have moved our stuff out of the house while we wait for it to sell so we can focus on the remaining tasks before going. We are pressing on toward a July departure date.

You might be asking if we are going to be okay without the safety net of those “guaranteed” paychecks (okay, I might be asking). He has gently reminded me that all those in the past were a gift from Him and all the future ones will be His grace as well. Nothing happens that hasn't poured through His hands first. He can be trusted to provide because He “works all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Life Of God-Worship

This is my prayer for you as you walk away from a chosen career into what you were purposed to do.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what is on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.
                                                         Those without the Gospel

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

                                                  So, fall back into the arms of grace and soar

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion-do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

                                                             Claim your identity in Christ

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never even seen-don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving.

                                           Receive, with joy, all that He has for you, his Beloved

People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

                                                                                                      Matthew 6:25-33 (the message)

 Know that whatever we face, we face TOGETHER. You are the most wonderful man I have ever met. You are a tree, bearing much fruit, planted by streams of Living Water. I will continue to pray for you as you lead us into this next chapter of our journey.

                                                                                                               Rock-Solid 100%

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beauty in diversity

"Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Genesis 11:9 NASB

So we're finally getting around to updating the blog. As part of the training we just finished in Waxhaw, we got to experience God's beauty in the diversity of His people. Seeing the global church begins to open up aspects of God's character that we had not fully appreciated before. We attended a Korean church each Sunday. The entire service and all signs were in Korean. Talk about lost (literally - we got lost on the way and showed up late the first day). We wandered around poking our heads in doors looking for the kids' rooms. But by week four, we couldn't help but sit in awe of our God. God inhabits the praise of His people regardless of the language. He speaks them all. We sang along to "I Surrender All" in English while they sang in Korean and our great God was hearing it all. It gave us just a glimpse of what it might be like around the throne one day. So awesome.

Paul our translator along with Dan and Kelly
We also had the opportunity to spend three sessions with Paul who is from Kenya. He is here studying at seminary and speaks Kiswahili (the national language of Tanzania). Our partners in learning were Dan and Kelly. They are also headed to Musoma, Tanzania (what a small world). Dan is one of those "wicked smart linguists" we keep telling you about. Kelly is a nurse -and also wicked smart  :-)  We made some great friends in Paul, Dan and Kelly and had a blast starting to learn our new language. It made us all the more eager to get there.

I thought you would enjoy this short video clip of Kellee responding to Paul's directions in Kiswahili. She did a great job. I am so proud of her.

In case you are wondering, he wants her to take the cards for airplane, giraffe, orange and chicken in her right hand, put them in the boat (card) and give them to Dan.

Here are some of the words. See if you can hear them as well.

chukua "take"
kulia "right"
ndege "airplane"
twiga "giraffe"
chungwa "orange"
ku ku "chicken"
masua "boat"
nipatia "give"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Missionary Embrace

14 years ago I married my best friend.

14 years ago with knees shaking, tears streaming, and a quivering voice I managed to repeat Ruth's  pledge to Naomi. A pledge that I was making to Patrick . A pledge that would ring true year after year leading to the 14th year…..

Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people , and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me , and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.

Until now, these words of Ruth had slipped past my lips and fallen on rocky soil. Never tended, never watered, never fertilized. I could not have know that this woman, Ruth, would come back into my life, my home, my marriage in the most significant way. Her life story, written in my heart language, would enter itself into my home and become a familiar friend. She would rest herself on my kitchen table and capture the hearts of the two, who just 14 years earlier, had repeated  her most famous passage. A passage taken from her desperation to follow the one who had changed her life with love and devotion. A story of courage that led to redemption. A life unfit, but covered with grace. So, too, are the lives of the two that are now headed to Africa. Two, that do not deserve to be a part the great plan. A plan so perfect that it can take the lowest of the low and use them to be a vessel of His glory.

Ruth's  pledge to Naomi would again be repeated on my lips to Patrick and take on a new meaning. It would no longer lay among the rocks and thorns but would penetrate, take root, and grow.

So, now, two years after being planted in the heart of my man and repeated over and over as a daily mantra - here we stand moving into our new home for the next five weeks. It hits us both. Patrick stops and asks if he can give me a hug. "This is real? We are really getting to do this?" We both have to stop and take a deep breath.

I am sure that it sounded a lot like the exhale that Ruth made when she chose to leave Orpah and her Moabite family and follow Naomi into the unknown.

May we be so faithful.