Monday, March 20, 2017

I Doubt

I've been putting off this blog post for 2 months now, it's time to click publish:

2 years ago I "crash landed" in Waxhaw, NC. I've been here in the South for just as long as I've been in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea?

Too often I think, if I've been here that long, why do I still question and doubt?

I doubt:

-God, is this what you've called me to?

-Am I supposed to use medication;* do I have to?

-Is God worth the fight, is Christianity what I want to be a part of?

-Do you love me?
--Does anyone love me?
---How could they?

-Can I love other people with your love?
-Have I made any progress?

-Will I be in this fight for right thinking forever?
-When will my energy return?
--What if it never does?

-What if I'm never capable of full-time work ever again?

Spiraling, spiraling.


The ultimate truth that dissolves each and every doubt is this: yes, I am loved. God loves me. I mean, He actively loves me and delights in me. Can you believe that?

Sometimes I doubt, but always God has the victory! and because no matter what I think or believe the truth is that I am His, I walk in victory too! When I recall that truth, then I have no doubt.

Yes, today, this is what I've called you to, God says. Walk with me- Abide; Be present. FIve years ago, this was the first word, my first step out of anxiety: Abide! One translation of the Hebrew for abide means to journey with. 

One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time, exist with God. Matthew six tells us to leave worry to God and trust Him

God is so worthy of the fight for personal health. And yes, He's worthy of the fight for the freedom of everyone everywhere spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Christianity isn't perfect because it is made up of humans. Still, yes, I want to be a "little Christ" and pursue Him with my brothers and sisters.

I am beyond thankful for the ultimate coping tool: Alignment. Letting God bring me into alignment under Himself

This side of heaven there will be suffering, sadness, and fear, but there is also hope, joy, and grace in Christ's love. And the more I take hold of that the happier I am. 

*The Medication Question is worthy of a whole other blog post. I want to de-stigmatize the use of psychiatric medication in the Christian culture. That being said, I strongly believe medication needs to be paired with mental/emotional therapy and lifestyle choices that work toward the goal of health. Health-care is not a simple issue, but the analogy of physical health helps me cope with the fact that I use medication to help mellow my anxiety. If my leg was broken, I would do something to help it repair. My thinking and reactions are broken. Lifestyle changes, therapy and meds. offer a some repair while I look forward to ultimate healing in eternity.*

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To Colorado, California, Wisconsin

On the way to California, I took advantage of a 9 hour layover and stopped off at my friend's school in Loveland Colorado. What incredible fun! Thank you friend for letting me share my heart with your and your co-workers' students! 
teaching in Loveland, Colorado
How are we going to reach Bible-less people?

In California I protected the first week, spending time with only my family. How sweet it was to connect with them in the flesh.
cousin with juice

Niece and brother-in-law keeping their bees
Niece and Brother-in-law keeping their bees
Selfie with parents
Me and my parents
The next two weeks were filled with: church missions' board meetings; dinner, lunch, coffee, walks, and hangouts with numerous friends and partners; sharing with a Sunday School class; and  a weekend away in my friends' home. 

Selfie with a family or friends
Fun Visit!

Selfie with Prayer Warrior Friend
Amazing Prayer Warrior and Friend
Thank you for your prayers! God gave me immense peace, joy, and enthusiasm for each conversation. He built my passion for our work and for my partners.  

I returned to the Carolinas* for one week and took off again for a last-minute trip to Chicago.

From there, I headed up to Watertown, Wisconsin to celebrate my friends' 30 years of marriage. 
Celebrating 30 Years
My friends taking pics before they renew their vows

I enjoyed a week with them and their kids, including my friend and her family. God was so good giving me meaningful time to catch up with her and another close friend! Plus I was able to briefly connect with 2 churches.
Friends at 'The Creek'
Rediscovering 'The Creek' from my childhood with my friend and her son

To top off the last-minute trip, God set a divine appointment. I went to photograph a gorgeous sunset and bumped into a woman from my Wisconsin church.

Bless my Aunt who picked up and hosted me for my first and final nights and her friend who took me back to the airport.
Yes, we are related

While both trips were full of visits, I did not get to see everyone that I wanted to. To you I say, I'm sorry. Let's talk, text, email, skype, Instagram, or Facebook.   

What's Next?
From the Carolinas:

  1. Inviting individuals and churches to financial partnership.
  2. Attending Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) in July/August
  3. Lord-willing, working with the ICC team in August (when 100% of my budget is met- I can't wait!)
Want to know more? Email me! Want to partner with me? Follow link
*I live in South Carolina and work in North Carolina

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How Jaars Influenced My Work

I ran into someone working in the equivalent to the Jaars PR department. She asked me to write a brief story about how Jaars helped me do the work I did in PNG. I thought I might as well post it:

When I was preparing to go to Papua New Guinea in 2012, I assumed that I would teach using fewer supplies than I do in the US. However, I spied a stash of quality markers in the background of some photos my principal sent. So I asked her what kind of supplies I could expect. As far as consumables were concerned, almost everything I was used to having in a US classroom would be in my PNG classroom.

This is because the organized men and women of the jaars purchasing and shipping department know how to skillfully get supplies such as markers, stickers, microscope slides, and dozens of other consumables from the US to PNG. Which makes teaching the kids of missionaries, translators, and Papua New Guinean’s possible. Of course the consumables that are available in-country we purchase in-country. 

Besides shipping the supplies to PNG, JAARS-trained pilots bring supplies from the capitol to our center. Some materials come via land transport from the port city of Lae. Either way, JAARS plays a vital role in supplying our school.

I taught in PNG in 2013 and 2014.

Right now I'm sharing my story and the story of what Wycliffe does. We call it Partnership Development. After sharing Wycliffe and my story, I ask people to partner with me financially, in prayer, and with encouragement. When the budget Wycliffe has set for me is met through partners giving, I'll continue Partnership Development on the side and work full time in the United States with the Intercultural Communications Course Team as an intern.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moving Right Along

As I prepare an update for February I looked back at the one I sent in November. One of the prayer points is for "the perfect long-term residential situation." God answers every pray. This time it seems to be a "Yes." Thank you, Papa God for letting me use this amazing place. It is a furnished one bedroom loft above the garage. The owners had it built for missionaries to use, thinking, "what would I like to live in?" I can't believe how blessed I am.

1 friend helped me do the deep cleaning at my JAARS space and then 9 friends helped me move. It took them only 20 minutes to pack up their cars! After another 20 minutes of carrying up boxes, they stayed and helped me settle in. Here are some photos from moving day:
Putting some utensils away in the kitchen
Friends putting together a cart in the living-room
Friends unpacking into my bedroom

Incredible view of backyard from kitchen window

 As you can see from the photos, the apartment lets in plenty of light-huzzah!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I came across this photo today when I was organizing some files. Before I finally said my last farewell to this watch  I had to snap a photo of it. For you see this watch is not just an ordinary watch; it is a story.

It begins with a great find with some retail cash a a major retailer in CA. Ultimately I spent about $5 on this watch. My Preschoolers loved it and I just about always wore it. If I forgot it, they asked about it.

Then it traveled with me to Papua New Guinea. There I met new friends in Ukarumpa orientation. Seeing this such bright yellow watch sparked the interest of my new friends' then 6 month old daughter. So I unstrapped it and let her at it. After a few days of class and a 6-month-old tasting and banging, the second hand rattled off the center post.

No worries, it kept my young friend entertained and it still kept time except when the second hand would get caught between the hour and minute hand. Still, not a big deal. Simply unstrap the watch and tap on the table until the second hand was loose in the case again.

I'm not sure when exactly it lost the clear-plastic-cover on the face, but it did. This solved the second-hand dilemma. Now the hour and minute hand were free to keep track of time.

Except when occasionally, something swiped by the yellow face, moving the time around.

Still, it was a bright lovely watch so I wore it to Buka, and Hiovabon in The Autonomous Region of Bougainville. There I had the exciting experience of getting wet when our outrigger canoe took on too much water. There rust began to form around the watch face and winding post. Incredible how salt water will do that.

Meanwhile back in Ukarumpa  my rusting bright yellow watch gave in to cracks pushed by the rust around the winding post. The watch looked like the photo does now. It happened while I was at the teacher's lunch table. A fellow teacher volunteered his son's glue and expertise to put it back together. Within a few days I found my beloved bright yellow watch in my mailbox nearly as good as new (minus a plastic case and second hand).

I enjoyed this watch through the end of October when it went on it's final adventure. I was biking home from a friend's house when I came to a speed bump at the bottom of a hill. I couldn't decide whether to brake of brace and I tried a bit of both. I ended up on the ground in front of the bike. Lucky for me I had a helmet and a family who came to my rescue. I wasn't thinking about my watch at the time, but it gives a new meaning to the phrase "time flying."

After a visit to the clinic and a night of rest, the father and son of that family brought over my damaged bike and a grocery bag containing my helmet and these watch fragments.

And that's when I decided it was time to saw farewell to the bright yellow story.

True story taking place from some time in 2011 through most of 2013

I kept trying to find the time on my empty wrist until my mom sent me a new watch for my birthday in February 2014. Thanks Mom!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Intercultural Communication Course (ICC) October 2015

One of the main ideas of ICC is having a learner’s attitude. I was fortunate to have an excellent teacher in PNG, Wendy, and maintaining a learner’s attitude was easy. Yet, there’s a lot I need to learn about “saving face.”

A facilitator, Bryan, shared a story from his own life in the Philippines. He was walking along in town and tripped. Everyone who saw him, laughed. Initially he thought everyone was laughing at him, but he decided to join in and laugh with them. Without the learner mindset of wondering what is going on in a culture we can completely misunderstand events. Bryan learned from a cultural insider that saving face” is important in Pilipino culture. By laughing, the bystanders were lightening up the situation and ensuring that Bryan wasn’t shamed.

Two of the participants illustrated Bryan’s story in their summary poster:

Joining in and laughing was the right action too. Being a participant observer is another big principle that participants practice at ICC. This means watching and imitating to the best of your ability. Participants get to try out their skills at a public auction.

Another way to honor those we’re interacting with is to offer openness by suspending judgment. This is done by gaining more information before deciding if actions are right or wrong, or maybe even in the gray-zone. I was challenged to “suspend judgment” regarding my southern community. Personally, guns scare me, but they’re an important hobby and right for many people in this area. Is my distaste for guns something that I should really get hung up on or publicize? This is a simple example of being culturally sensitive even to those in my own culture. Of course there are still biblical absolutes. Yet, we have to ask ourselves are those absolutes we hold dearly to, biblical or cultural?

You can also see two other parts of openness hanging on the wall in the background: tolerate ambiguity and think gray or long. The final piece to openness is: assume goodwill.

Learning language also honors those with whom we’re interacting.

We also had fun thinking about some other multi-cultural ways of using the toilet, wearing clothes, greeting one another. How close do we get to each other? So many questions come up and often the answers come through asking and observing.
 Participants practice their Language and Cultural Acquisition skills (LACA) by listening to the nouns and acting out the verbs
Personally, my absolute favorite part of the course is the focus on spiritual vitality! We’ll never be able to share the love of God if we aren’t drenched in his love ourselves. I’m thanking Papa for using ICC to speak his love to me.