Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Welcome 2011!!

I can't believe it is already time to say goodbye to the year 2010. It is true, the older you get, the faster time goes by.
I had a good year overall, and am thankful for all the blessings we enjoyed. Here are a few of the highlights.

In February Amy and our grandson Joseph spent most of the month with us here in Tenerife. We enjoyed seeing her after being apart for nearly three years. We had never met Joseph. About half way through her visit Amy developed nausea and stomach upset. We worried that she ate something here in the islands, or that the water made her sick, but it wasn't anything serious, just something that would resolve itself in about nine months!

My mother's day gift in May was a trip to Mozambique, Africa to visit my son, Nathan, and his family. I never would have dreamed that I could take such a trip but my husband insisted. I was encouraged by one of my aunts who also reminded me that I should take measures to pinch pennies and save to make it possible. You can never recapture the days of your grandchildren's youth, and I think I would have regretted missing out on this stage of their lives. It also gave me a greater appreciation for the sacrifice they are making by living in Mozambique under less than perfect circumstances.

Shortly after I came home from Africa Jenny and Hannah flew home to the islands to spend their final summer with us. This was a real treat, as we knew it would be the last opportunity to have them living under our roof. We made great memories, and made plans to celebrate their upcoming marriages in a double ceremony at our home church in New York next July. A few weeks after their return to Fairhaven Baptist College, they were both officially engaged.

October was a difficult month for me as Doug was away in Mozambique--but it was born out of a desire I had for him to see the mission field where his son was laboring, and I had such a great time I wanted him to experience it as well. He had a good time renewing his father/son bond with Nathan, and playing with the grandkids as well. Nathan and Doug enjoyed ministering together and made a good team. We really missed Doug while he was away, but somehow managed but it was the longest month of the year. It gave me a greater appreciation for the single mothers in our church, and made me realize just how much I appreciate having a husband to share my life with.

November brought the addition of a new grandbaby, which brings our total to six. We are thankful for each one-- five boys, one girl--and we trust that number will be multiplied in the future as we see two more daughters marry.

With all the good times, of course there were difficult days, trials, and temptations. I can see the Lord's hand in all of them, as He continues to perfect that which concerneth me and our family. I am eager to see what the new year will bring as we look forward to our trip to the US and our daughters' wedding in July. We hope to visit as many of our supporting churches while we are in the states. Thank the Lord for His watchful care, His mercies, longsuffering, and grace as we begin the year 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let Girls be Girls

Occasionally I listen to the news in Spanish to help increase my vocabulary, etc. Yesterday I was intrigued by a newsclip showing a toy fair for children where they could turn in their "sexist" toys for ones that were gender neutral. It showed little girls handing in doll babies for trucks, and an older woman educating the young girl about why it was sexist for a girl to play with baby dolls, and that she should be playing with toys that both boys and girls can enjoy without the traditional sterotypes that they fear push them into a projected role.

When I look back on my childhood, my mom never had to "teach" me to like to play with dolls. I think it was instinctive of me to want to emulate my mother as I watched her take care of my younger brothers. I loved the role play, and with my cousins we would often play "house" and each one of us would take turns being the mommy, daddy, and the children. Playing cowboys and Indians wasn't my thing, nor playing with guns, swords, or bow and arrows. Maybe you were a woman raised in a household of boys, and didn't have any other options, and I understand--there are some girls who just seem to be tomboys but they usually grow into beautiful ladies eventually.

Society is trying to feminize men as well, and personally, I want my husband to be a man! I appreciate him for trying to understand and appreciate my softer side, but I like his manly qualities.

I think it is a pity that educated "professionals" think that it is their job to eliminate the distinction from the sexes. I embrace my role as a wife and mother, and love my femininity. I love pretty clothes, dressing up, smelling sweet, and everything about being a lady. If you are a woman and that isn't your style, that's fine--but please don't take it away from me or other little girls who still enjoy being a feminine woman!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holding What is Dear

Today I am holding my husband a little tighter and longer in a loving embrace. I realize after 28 years of marriage how much I love the man that God has given me--not that I didn't love him a lot before, but through the busy day to day hustle and bustle, we tend to take each other for granted.

I say this because this week a dear friend of mine lost her husband in a tragic accident. He was one of the best men I know--devoted husband, father of eight, church leader, and valued employee at his workplace. Everything a man should be and so much more.

He died being a good samaritan--he stopped to help a stranded motorist who had slid off the highway in a snowstorm when another car slid off the road and struck him. He was taken to the hospital unconscious and died 24 hours later. He was surrounded by his family and many dear friends. He leaves a void that will never be filled, but his death has served a greater purpose to make all of us reflect and consider his example.

Life is a vapor--and I hope I will continually be challenged to focus on the things in life that matter most.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessings

Dotting the pie with butter, just like Grandmother Dorothy used to do!
Doug served the drinks--so please forgive us for having the bottle of coke on the table (I realize it isn't good etiquette and it doesn't look very nice on the table ; )

Rebekah learning how to crimp a pie crust

We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving this year, and once again we invited our German missionary friends. I hope they are learning to like American food, because we serve the same traditional Thanksgiving dishes every time. I bought a small turkey, made dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, while Rebekah made the dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and apple pie. We make a great team, because I don't like to peel the potatoes or apples, and I had Leanna do the chopping of celery for the dressing.

Oh, I forgot to mention the gravy! I bought a different brand of boullion, and without tasting (big mistake but I didn't want the calories) it turned out seven times too salty--so I kept having to dilute it. I hate to throw anything away, so I now have a half gallon of watered down gravy in my fridge--I figure I will make chicken and noodle soup with it. Then I realized I had put about six of the same boullion cubes in the dressing mix, so I decided I better taste that too. Good thing--as all you could taste was the salt. At the last minute I had to make a whole new batch of dressing.

Mind you, there is no such thing as Stove Top stuffing from a box here, so fortunately I had more celery and onions so I could start over. I didn't have a lot of bread though, so I was scavenging through the cupboards to see what I could throw in with it. I thought about rice......but then I remembered I had a bag of frozen peas in the this year my dressing had peas in it. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? It really isn't that far out though, because I have a delicious recipe for dressing with yellow and zucchini squash in it.

That is when I started to feel kind of panicky--and as they say, haste makes waste--from then on out I was dropping things, burning myself, pots boiling over, and wondering what kind of meal this was going to be. I have cooked many turkey dinners, and I don't like it when the food isn't going to turn out just right. I like it when people rave over my good food!! My reputation as a cook was on the line.

Everything turned out well enough, because our German friend had three plates of food according to my husband (maybe he was trying to make me feel good). I felt so wiped out afterwards that I told my husband that this year he can cook Christmas dinner! He replied, "Are you serious?" I was serious, but I know between now and Christmas I will recover and decide it would be easier to cook it with Rebekah and Leanna's help than to let my husband loose in the kitchen, but it would definitely be a fun experiment!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lessons Learned from a Shepherd and His Goats

Photo courtesy of:
Yesterday as we took Rebekah to her piano lessons, we were blocked in by a herd of goats traipsing through her teacher's neighborhood in La Orotava--it was quite an amazing sight to behold, as there must have been at least 200 of them. It isn't everyday you see a herd of goats going through a residencial area, and it gave us a thrill to watch their behavior. Perhaps the residents weren't happy to watch them graze on their flower beds, and they left behind a great amount of residue which I am sure they didn't appreciate, but we enjoyed it (since it wasn't in our neighborhood).

We watched as the shepherd and his two dogs guided them up the mountain road, crossing and blocking traffic, as an occasional goat would go off to the other side, trailing behind the group. The shepherd would leave the others and run to corral the straggler. It reminded me of the parable in Luke 15, how the good shepherd would leave the ninety-nine sheep and go seek the one that had gone astray.

Much of my husband's work as a pastor revolves around checking the state of the flock. When someone doesn't come to church, or he hears they are having struggles, he is concerned about their welfare. God has put in his heart a love and genuine concern for the people that he ministers too. Sometimes I am tempted to grow weary of people's lack of faithfulness, or when they go "astray" and return to their destructive behaviors, but my husband always seems to have the patience to go after them, again and again, in efforts to restore them to the fold. Not that he "lords" over the flock, but he desires to see them live an abundant, fruitful life, showing them greener pastures.

How much more, our loving Shepherd, deals kindly with us--caring for us in a way that goes far beyond our comprehension. It brought to mind this great promise from the book of Isaiah 40:

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

By the way, I found the picture on another blog which was taken by a woman who lives in the Canary Islands and photographs her experiences. She takes excellent pictures, if you would like to see them, just click on this link. I love the way she captures the culture here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

Last evening was delightful, just a little departure from the normal routine that came as an unexpected surprise. Doug had to go to downtown Santa Cruz, and rather than sitting at home with the girls like we usually do, I decided we would go with him and walk around the pedestrian mall while he attended to his business.

As we walked past McDonalds, we noticed they were setting up music stands and chairs in the plaza, so I knew there was going to be some sort of concert. We continued our window shopping, and went back to McDonalds for a cup of coffee. Much to our delight, they were handing out programs for the concert which was starting in just a few minutes. It was a beautiful, cool evening and we drank our coffee listening to Mozart being performed by the Santa Cruz Municipal Band. They are professional musicians, and it was a wonderful home school opportunity--the kind of music appreciation class you dream about, because I rarely take the time to seek out such field trips but this one just fell into my lap so to speak, and the best thing of all it was free.

Leanna read a story about Mozart this year, so now she can put a tune to his work. It happened to be his "Turkish March," and this morning she was humming the tune as she started her school.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Doug's Trip to Mozambique

Last May I was able to visit my son and his family in Mozambique, and it left such an impression on me that I really thought my husband should visit too. Doug was able to spend 18 days with Nathan, and help him in the ministry there. They were able to pass out many John and Romans in the tribal language, and Doug preached in the Sunday services.
Doug couldn't get over how open and friendly the people were and they gladly took the scripture portions and gospel literature. The men and women would come out of their houses and ask for a copy. Nathan said that in some of the homes it would be one of the few books they would own as they are so poor. Rarely would anyone ever turn one down.
The children are so precious and would practically knock Doug over as they pressed in to get a gospel tract or book of John and Romans. Nathan has about 60 children coming to Sunday School, and could really use some more teachers to help him out. Soon he will need a bigger building as they don't all fit inside.
The icing on the cake, of course, was being able to spend some time with Nathan, Emily and the grandkids. It had been nearly four years since we had seen them, and it was good to have some father/son outings and bond with the grandkids. We are so thankful for the opportunity to have gone, and it really makes us appreciate the work they are doing there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Changing Your Outlook

I often find myself battling negativity. I tell my husband that I am wired that way. I have to bring my thoughts into captivity, as the apostle Paul said. I call myself a "realist" and my husband on the other hand, is an optimist. He always sees the best in people, whereas I readily see their faults and want to protect myself from being hurt. He looks on the bright side, but I see the clouds and prepare for rain.

I am tempted to think that optimists have their head buried in the sand. There are so many problems, trials, and disappointments in life, this is reality. But if we dwell on them, we become depressed. The apostle Paul admonished us:
Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4: 8

Some would say that my husband and I balance each other out. I point out possible problems, concerns, dangers, etc. and he listens to my advice. He reminds me that there is always hope, something to be thankful for in every situation, and to have faith that God will work out everything in the end.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is it a Waste of Time and Money?

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading the book Hope Has Wings, the Mission Aviation Fellowhip Story by Stuart King. I am fascinated by missionary stories, mostly because it helps me put things into perspective as I serve the Lord here on the mission field.

Mr. King tells of their pioneer efforts in many African countries--and the hardships they faced building airstrips, dealing with the governments, etc. One country they made a great impact in was in Sudan---the largest country in Africa, geographically. After spending years developing the air strips, constructing medical clinics, missionary housing, etc., civil war forced them to leave the country. Could you imagine investing so much time, energy, and money and then have to leave it all behind? Several years later he returned, only to find their mission station had been decimated--there wasn't even a brick left.

The Sudan government asked them to come back, and so they returned again, spending another seven years rebuilding what had been destroyed--but guess what? Once again civil war broke out, and forced them to leave. Mr. King questioned why, and was it a wasted effort?

One never knows why, and how the hand of God was moving and directing in all of this. It is difficult to put a price tag on missions. Sometimes what we humanly see as a "waste" of money, energy, or resources has a different purpose in God's economy. What price can you put on all the lives and souls of men that were helped physically and spiritually during the time they were allowed to operate within the country?

God operates on an entirely different economy than we do, and the monetary unit is called "faith." I often get discouraged when I look at our bank statement and see all the money we lose changing our dollar into Euros, and the foreign transaction fees we have to pay, not to mention the higher prices we pay for housing and goods here in the Canary Islands. In man's economy, it wouldn't make sense to take such losses.

Is it for naught? Is it really "wasted" money and effort? If you ask all the people who have been helped by the efforts of missionaries worldwide, I think it would become clear that yes, it is worth it, and nothing is ever in vain when it comes to getting out the Gospel to a world that needs to hear the good news.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

American Arrogance

Don't get me wrong, I love my country and am very blessed to be called an American. When we came to the islands, I thought everyone would be in love with the states as well. Much to my surprise, the United States was not the center of the world, and really, not as important to Europeans as I thought it would be.

We have had visitors from the states, and it always tickles me to hear their comments. They make remarks about the style of dress, the fact that men carry "purses," the food, and mannerisms of the people. They tend to think the Europeans are rude and unfriendly. Sometimes I have even groaned in my spirit to hear American teens laughing in the markets as they make fun of certain styles, and not realizing it they offend the vendors. It is as if everything we do in the United States is the "right" way to do things, and we Americans can't understand why they do it differently.

It took me some time to realize that my Spanish friends probably were tired of me telling them "that in the states" we do it this way, or "en los estados unidos......." as I would continually be making comparisons as to how things were much better or ran smoother in our country. It was so boorish of me. Of course we were just expressing ourselves and sharing what we love about our country, but I found that I had to be careful not to sound prideful.

There might be a good reason for why they do things differently. Here is just one example. In one of my driving lessons I was complaining about the way the traffic signals were so confusing to me as an American. My Spanish driving instructor pointed out something to me one day as he explained why the driving system in Spain is so different than in the US. He said that Europe is very old, and that the US is very young, relatively speaking. When they built the roads in Europe, they weren't able to adapt them to the motor vehicle very well. Spaces in Europe are small, and it makes for many challenges when trying to put in roads when old buildings were in place long before the automobile came around. In contrast, the United States is such a wide open country that they were able to design roads and plan them accordingly with more forethought. It made me realize that the way they do things in Europe have evolved over a period of thousands of years, whereas in the states people immigrated with fresh ideas and with open minds that bred creativity.

As Americans we need to appreciate their culture and be careful not to make them feel defensive or inferior just because we think the "American Way" is the better way.

Being Transparent

As a missionary wife, I use this blog to communicate from my perspective the life that we experience here on the mission field. So many times, missionaries only share the side of life that they want people to see, giving a misleading idea of what it is truly like to live and serve in a foreign country.

I have written before about the "romance" of missions. It seems like such a glorious task, and it is--to share the gospel to the regions beyond. It is a high calling. With it comes tremendous responsibility, as we represent our Lord as ambassadors for Christ. Lately I have been struggling with an onslaught of negative emotions--loneliness, isolation, disappointment, hopelessness, feeling forgotten, fears of the future, etc. and I was wondering what was wrong with me. I realized that more than ever before I needed God to intervene on my behalf, and I sought His help and strength to get me through the trial I was experiencing. He answered and brought healing and peace to my mind, as I claimed His promises from His word.

Currently I am reading a book written by a dear missionary friend of mine who has been in Italy for nearly 30 years. They have been faithful to a field that is certainly a difficult place to start a "Baptist" church, or any type of evangelical church for that matter. They really don't understand the differences between any religion that isn't Catholic. To them we are all a cult but hopefully that is changing as they become exposed to various cultures. I appreciate her honesty and transparency as she shares from the heart the trials that every missionary goes through as they endeavor to learn the language, the culture, and the rejection they experience from people who are basically indifferent or closed to Biblical Christianity. It brought comfort to know that she too had the same trials and conflicts that I have been experiencing.

In many ways the Canary Islands are similar to Italy in that they share the European culture and mindset. Years of tradition, and humanistic teaching among the younger generation has produced apathy--and we see much of that in the United States as well, but not to the same degree. In the states there is at least a flicker of light shining--Christian radio stations broadcast freely, there is a remnant of gospel preaching churches, and we are still the greatest missionary sending country in the world.

Pray for your missionaries as they labor in the field. A dear friend of mine recently told me that I was on her heart--and for good reason. She didn't know of the deep trials that I had been going through, but God did. I am convinced that the prayers of the saints carry us through when sometimes we feel powerless to utter anything but the simpliest of prayers, but those are the kind God hears.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hope Has Wings

Recently one of my Spanish friends gave me a book in English, Hope Has Wings, The Mission Aviation Fellowship Story by Stuart King. I find it fascinating, not only because it tells of the challenges faced by the missionaries living in developing countries who pioneered aviation missions in Africa and around the world, but because my own daughter Hannah is engaged to a missionary pilot, David Helzerman, and soon it will be their way of life too.

I marvel at the women who have followed their husbands to developing countries where supplies are few, disease rampant, and weather unbearable at times. I complain about the smallest setbacks, like not being able to drive yet here in the Canary Islands, or about my occasional loneliness or homesickness, but then I read about these women who buried their children on the mission field, knowing that only had they been able to receive adequate medical attention their children would have lived.

Sometimes we think that these women were somehow different than we are, perhaps some super human woman that could handle these things better than we can--but in all actuality they had the same struggles with emotions and vulnerabilities as we all do, but through their reliance upon God they somehow managed to see past the sufferings and endure the hardships and challenges that they faced each day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding the Will of God

So many times we are searching for the will of God in our lives, when in reality, it isn't some hidden, mystical process that God is hiding from us. The will of God is revealed in His word. To obey God in what we know to do is right will lead us in the steps we ought to take. It is a light which marks the path that we are to follow. Ever need direction in your life? Just follow the light that you do have from God's word, and He will direct your next step, sometimes in small baby steps, and other times, in big leaps.

So what is the will of God for his children? Obedience to the truth. A really neat study is to take your concordance and look up phrases such as "will of God," willing, etc. The will of God is that we rejoice evermore, give thanks, pray without ceasing, abstain from fornication, that no one would perish but come to salvation in Jesus Christ, etc. So often we are looking for something bigger that we fail to do the small things, and get out of God's will because we are flustered, discontent, unthankful, and it comes out in the way we treat those around us. God is so merciful and loving that He keeps correcting us, pushing us back on the right track, if we will let Him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Things I Miss

I am getting used to my life here in the Canary Islands. I like going out on my bedroom balcony and seeing the blue ocean, and feeling the cool breezes that come with it. However, from time to time I feel nostalgic about the states, and what I miss is the wide open spaces, green grass and trees, and taking drives out in the country. Occasionally I will do a google search and visit those places in my mind. I love pictures of farms, country roads, and big old trees.

I also love the season of Fall, and that is one thing I miss here, the changing of the seasons. I admit, I don't really mind missing out on long winters, but I do love the changing colors of the trees, decorating for Autumn by putting pumpkins and cornstalks on the doorstep, going to the apple orchards in Upstate New York, baking pumpkin bread and pies with my girls and drinking cider.

I miss taking drives with my mother on a Sunday afternoon. She used to come up to my house when we lived in Ohio for Sunday dinner, and we would take a nice drive through the countryside, admiring homes we liked. I would dream about what it would be like to live there. I suppose we all have somewhere we go to in our minds when we reminisce.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Congratulations Hannah and David

Yesterday David took Hannah out for dinner for her 25th birthday. They had secured permission from the college for an off-campus date and with another staff member and his wife as chaperones, went to the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago. They had a nice dinner, and for dessert the wait staff brought out a chocolate box, which contained chocolate sprinkles inside, along with the ring.

Doug and I knew about the little surprise, as David had asked Doug permission before hand. This means we have had two engagements in our family in the past two weeks! Jenny and Michael, along with Hannah and David, were planning a summer wedding in 2011--and since we have to travel such a long way, we decided a double wedding ceremony would be the best for our family considering the circumstances.

We are blessed with the wonderful young men the Lord has brought into our daughters lives, as both feel called to full time ministry. David is a pilot and is currently studying aircraft mechanics to prepare him to be an aviation missionary to Papua New Guinea. Michael is not sure what the Lord has for his life yet, but is leaning towards missions. Most importantly, they are men of high character and we feel confident they will lead our daughters in the ways of the Lord and endeavor to love them as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Keeping Things in Perspective

So often I find myself worrying about things that are of little significance when you consider the world's problems. Just yesterday I was reminded of this very thing when my daughter in law wrote that they couldn't leave the house because of rioting in the streets of Maputo/Matola Mozambique, where they serve as missionaries. My son was going to take his bike out for his daily exercise when a neighbor saw him and warned him, advising him that it would not be safe to go out.

The riots were provoked by rising costs of bread and other basics. The GDP of Mozambique is around $800 verses neighboring South Africa which enjoys nearly $10,000 GDP--a huge difference. They depend on South Africa for goods, and must compete against the South African rand, and their currency the metical is losing value. Seventy percent of all Mozambicans live below the poverty line. The country's infrastructure is sorely lacking, and basic necessities such as medical care are scarce. I read the other day that millions of dollars worth of malaria medicines are donated to poor African countries such as Mozambique, but it never really reaches the needy as it is often sold on the private market. Corruption is rampant and nothing seems to work as one would expect in a more "civil" and developed nation.

When I visited Nathan and Emily back in May, I was so thankful upon returning to the Canary Islands of Spain, where civility and tranquility are the norm. Sure, we have our problems with a 25 percent unemployment rate, but at least they try to do things decently and in order. The poorest of people here have adequate health care, a place to live, and food to eat.

Next time you are tempted to complain, or worry, try to think about how the rest of the world is living, and thank God for all our abundant blessings. My heart aches for the people suffering in these poor countries.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Congratulations Jenny and Michael

We are happy to announce the engagement of our daughter Jennifer to Michael Hunt. The Lord brought their paths together when Jenny felt led to attend Fairhaven Baptist College in Chesterton, Indiana. I will never forget the day when she came to us, just a few months after arriving in the Canary Islands, saying the Lord was pressing her to go there. She had originally planned to stay with us here in Tenerife and work with us in the ministry, but the Lord had other plans.

We are very pleased with Michael, he is a hard working young man with a very strong dedication to the Lord. He feels called to the ministry, especially missions, and I know together he and Jenny will make a good couple. They both share their desire to serve the Lord with their life. Lord willing, we are looking at a July 2011 wedding. We wish them all the best.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Missing the Most Precious Moments

After a long day of home school, cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. I look forward to the evening when I can sit down, read my email, and just do what "I" want to do. My husband often plays a game with the girls, and I am upstairs on the computer. I have it on my lap, since our desktop bit the dust months ago. My kids know that when I am reading or looking at things on the internet, they could probably ask me just about anything and I would say yes as my focus is on what I am reading.

Last night as I was surfing the net, as they say, Leanna came up to my room and said she wanted to lay down on my lap. Leanna is a very affectionate 8 year old. She often kisses me goodnight 10-15 times, hugging me, tucking me in as if I were her child, then only to return again to do it over and over. At first I was a little perturbed....."mommy is using the computer right now".........but she persisted. I tried scooting the computer over to one side so she could "share my lap" with it. Didn't work to well. She seemed disappointed. Then my heart was convicted.

I began having this conversation to myself: "Carolee, the day will come when this child will no longer desire to sit in your lap. If you keep refusing her, she will no longer ask, because she knows that mommy doesn't want to be bothered. She will find other things to do."

I took the computer on put it on the table. I took Leanna and put her across my lap. I realized that I was holding the real treasure--and how quickly I forget to take time just to appreciate what the Lord has given me. She looked up at me with the most beautiful, toothless smile. Nothing could be better than that!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Special Summer Days, 2010

"Driving" Me Crazy

Doug thought it would be a good idea to sign me up for driving school this summer. Jenny and Hannah were home, so they could babysit the younger girls while I was at school taking classes. Spain does not accept driving licenses from the United States, so you have to take a written exam, then pass a road test.

I have been driving since I was 16. My sophomore year in high school I took driver's ed for one sememster, then as soon as I had my 16th birthday I went to the bureau of motor vehicles and took my test. It was a piece of cake. Later on in life I even went on to get my commercial driver's license, which included taking a road test in a school bus and doing several types of obstacle coarses and parking between cones. Nothing I had ever done though compares to the tediousness of studying for Spanish driving school.

I have done nearly 60 computerized tests in Spanish, over and over again. They cover all aspects of driving, including road signs, signals, speeds, priority, etc. They also teach about car maintenance, safety, dangers of alcohol, emergency first aid, and defensive driving. I even have to learn about rules for motorcycles, mopeds, trucks, and bicycles. It is a very comprehensive course.

So, I study, study, study.......memorizing and going over everything. I have spent literally hours cramming facts and figures into my brain. I am still in the process of trying to get my Spanish license. So far this has consumed most of my summer. I am anxious to get this all behind me, and another part of me just wants to give up and say forget it! I really am not looking forward to driving a stick shift on all these mountain roads--it kind of scares me to be honest.

Then I think of my dear Grandma, who if I am not mistaken, waited until she was at least 50 years old to get her driver's license for the very first time. Her example motivates me to keep on trying, and not to quit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why I Have a Facebook Account

People have very strong ideas and opinions about the social networking site Facebook. I opened an account a few years ago because my daughter in law invited me to see some pictures of our grandkids that she had posted on her profile page. That was the only reason I was remotely interested. I hadn't even heard of it until then.

In our own church, people are either really against Facebook, or like to use it as a tool to communicate. I personally like it for the latter reason. I do not post updates every 15 minutes on my status, like "just had a tuna sandwich for lunch," and try to refrain from complaints like "my kids are driving me crazy today." Some people air their dirty laundry on facebook, or give way too much private information--divulging emotions and things they might regret later.

I try to use the status updates sparingly, or to only use it when I think something may be of interest or an encouragement to my "friends" on facebook. In reality, most of them are not my dearest and truest friends, but aquaintances from the past. I also use it as a manner to express my faith, and prayer requests. It is also an easy way to share photographs of our family and ministry.

As missionaries, I know what it is like to feel forgotten by family, friends, and church friends. People don't do it on purpose, but we are just so just so busy and don't take the time to write or call. At least with Facebook I can feel somewhat connected to what is going on back home. That is the main reason I like it--as a communication tool.

Facebook, like anything else on the internet, has to be used with wisdom and discretion. If a "friend" is using obscene language or posting pictures that I find distasteful, I remove them from my contacts. I do not spend my time joining causes, playing games, or adding applications, or chatting online. I try to stick to the basics and spend just a few minutes on it, just as I would if I was reading my email.

If for some reason you don't have Facebook, and are against it, I support you fully with your decision, just as some people choose not to have the internet. My husband, for example, rarely gets on the computer except to do some online banking or email correspondence, and I am thankful for his carefulness in avoiding temptation. I am glad to have a husband who isn't glued to a computer moniter all day.

There may come a day when I will change my mind, and find Facebook offensive and delete my account. Like everything else the world promotes, it tends to get worse and worse as time goes on. For now, I feel I can use it responsibly and glorify God with the purposes I use it for.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Family Photo

The older girls leave Thursday to go back to the states, and I thought we'd better try to get a family picture before they leave. Our friend Maria Jose was at our house today, and we had to get dressed up to go to church, so I took advantage of the opportunity for a short photo session. Here are the results!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Naima's Baptism

Naima is a young college student who has been attending our church services in Santa Cruz for at least a year. She also has been coming over to our house for several months studying the Bible with us, and more recently accepted the Lord as her personal Saviour. She has been asking Doug for some time if she could get baptized, but Doug wanted to make sure that she understood that baptism is not what saves a person, but symbolizes a person's transformation of being placed in Christ through faith in His finished work.

Last Tuesday evening many from our church, and several of Naima's friends from school gathered to witness her baptism. We had a good time, and Naima was very happy about her decision to follow the Lord in believer's baptism.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Portrait of a Virtuous Woman

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31: 10

A virtuous woman in this day is rare and precious. The next verse in the passage goes on to say "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." Verse 27 adds, "She looketh well to the ways of her household...."

The virtuous woman is dedicated to the family God has given her--and her priorities are focused on serving the well being of her family, and yes..... her husband (not a popular message in the 21st century). They are working together as a team, not leading separate lives where her career vs. his becomes a continual conflict.

Interestingly, if you read and consider what the passage is saying, you don't find a woman who is chained or oppressed by a controlling husband either. You find phrases like "she worketh willingly" which denotes that she has made that choice and is happy with it. The element of trust is also there. Her husband trusts her--he doesn't need to dictate every move and decision and it appears he gives her a great deal of freedom in decision making in matters within her realm of the home, because he can trust her! He has delegated some responsibility to her which frees him up so he can pursue other matters which he needs to tend to. She considers a field, and buys it. That means she has some skill in making wise decisions. Every family is different as to what those responsibilities might be; for example, if your husband owns a business you might be called upon to participate in various aspects in which your strengths can be utilized to help him.

I recall in the early days of our marriage my husband didn't like it when I purchased clothing or something for the house without asking his permission first. The main reason was because we were very strapped financially, just starting out, and I am sure he wanted to make sure we could pay our bills! As time went on though, he realized that he could trust me with the money because I wasn't spending it foolishly--I was as dedicated to keeping our family out of debt as he was, and he learned that when I did buy something it was a good deal, and was something the family needed, and he came to appreciate my foresight. Now he doesn't require that I ask him about every little purchase, because he can trust me not to overstep my boundaries.

Another common misconception is that the virtuous woman is somewhat of a martyr--continually serving her husband and her children, and never thinking of herself. But in verse 22 it says that "She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple." It appears that after she helped the poor and needy, and took care of the needs of her household (verses 20 and 21--showing that she wasn't selfish and had her priorities in order) she also made beautiful clothing for herself. She cared about her appearance (although the focus wasn't outward as we see later on in the passage) but she wasn't frumpy either. Appearance does matter--as Christians we need to look our best with what God has given us. If nothing else, our clothing can be clean, in good repair.

Based on the passage, a few adjectives to describe the virutous woman would be strong, honorable, trustworthy, faithful, kind, prudent, frugal, generous, hard working and industrious, insightful, discerning, and full of godly wisdom.

She delivered her linen and goods that she made to the market--she used the God given talents to help her family out financially. It denotes a type of cottage industry, working out of the home, and one her children probably helped her with. Her husband trusted her enough to go out and meet with the merchants--so she wasn't locked in the house and never allowed to interact with the townspeople.

A virtuous woman didn't abuse the privileges her husband gave her, and her motives for what she did were pure. The key is that the virtuous woman feared the Lord above all, and that was the motivation for everything she did in life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Baptism in San Isidro/El Medano

We are thankful for Simona, who told us she wanted to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. She is from Romania, and comes to church with Valentin and Jenni when she isn't working. She is a sweet lady and seems really happy with her new life in Christ. We are thankful for the people that the Lord has brought into our life and ministry.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Being Born Again

Some people are really turned off by the phase "born again" Christian. My dad once attended a "christian" conference of a liberal denomination and the guest speaker made a joke about "born again Christians" and everyone in the room laughed--except my dad. He didn't think it was too funny; having recently accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he realized the significance of what the term meant. My dad got up and left the room, and that afternoon, the conference (good for him!).

There was a time in the 1980's when the phrase "born again" was thrown around very loosely, perhaps it was a term used by new age movements, cults, and "religious" people to describe various experiences they had encountered. I recall people making fun of President Carter when he proclaimed he was a "born again" Christian.

Regardless, Jesus commanded Nicodemus, who was a leader of the Jews, a Pharisee, that he must be born again. John 3:3 tells us "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Jesus went on to explain what it meant to be born again, telling of the first birth, which is the physical birth, and then the second birth, which is a spiritual birth. And he repeated the command in verse seven, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."

If you are reading this post, you are alive physically--but my question to you--have you been born spiritually? You should definitely recall a day when you were born into God's family because a transformation takes place in your heart as you pass from darkness into light. There is no gray area, either you are God's child through the new birth, or you have not entered into his family. It doesn't happen "automatically" because your parents were Christians, or because you go to church, or were baptized, or because you have had some type of religious experience.

I would encourage you to read the Bible for yourself, and make sure you have been born again, because the Bible also talks about a second death....Revelation 21:8. Just as there are two births, a physical and a spiritual, there are two deaths, a physical death and a spiritual death. My question to you dear friend, have you experienced the second birth, so you don't have to face the second death?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Full House

Our house is once again buzzing with activity.....we are so pleased to have Hannah and Jenny home with us during the summer. It is probably quite an adjustment for them to make the change from dorm life, waking up extremely early, and their fast paced life at Fairhaven to the more relaxed atmosphere here at home, but I am thankful they are able to get a little rest and relaxation. They are also a blessing here in our church. Jenny is playing the piano for our services, and they also are a good example to our ladies and young people.

Hannah is spending a lot of time with Rebekah as they work on sewing projects nearly every day. I am thrilled because I don't sew much, but Rebekah enjoys having her sister to help her with all her creations. She (Rebekah) lovingly spent hours making a pair of culottes and a purse for a friend's birthday present.

I am attending driving school every morning so I can get my Spanish driver's license. I have to take a written and practical test, and the practical test is done in a car with standard transmission. Thankfully I used to drive one when we lived in Ohio, but it has been a long time. I am a little afraid of driving on the steep inclines and mountains here, but I imagine I will get the hang of it.

Church is going well, we have had some victories in the past few weeks in the lives of some of our people which is always a blessing. Sunday we are planning a day in the park after church in celebration of our two year anniversary of the church in Los Gladiolos, Santa Cruz.