Saturday, November 26, 2016

Emergency Trip to the USA

It isn't the kind of call a grandparent likes to get.  

 "Mom, Stephen needs brain surgery."
I was shocked. My daughter went on to explain how they had noticed that their 18 month old son had a severe curve in his spinal column, so they took him to see their pediatrician, who immediately referred them to see a pediatric orthopedic specialist. The diagnose was that Stephen had scoliosis, a 40 degree curvature. There was talk of possible treatments, but first an MRI was ordered to see if there were any underlying issues that was causing the scoliosis.
The results of the MRI revealed that Stephen had a condition known as Chiari Malformation, and syringomyelia. I had never heard of it, so I googled it. The specialist sent them to a neurosurgeon, and surgery was scheduled immediately.

When my daughter told me the news, I knew in my heart that I had to go help, and do what I could to be present at this difficult time in my married daughter's life. They have three children all under the age of four.

We had just flown back to the Canary Islands six weeks ago after being in the USA for the summer, helping Rebekah to get settled into college. I had just started my new English classes, so it wasn't the best time to leave, but in my heart I wanted to be there. It was the right thing to do. It doesn't matter how much it costs or if it is a convenient time.

Being a missionary, you often have to make decisions that are difficult--you can't be there for every event--I have missed the birth of several grandchildren,family reunions, weddings, funerals... and when my parents have had surgeries or sicknesses--as much as I would like to be with them I can't always be present physically.

Stephen had surgery on October 24th, and was released from the hospital just two days later. The surgeon said it was a success, but time will tell how much of the scoliosis will be resolved from the surgery, and most likely he will need to wear some sort of brace in the future.

I am thankful for the few weeks I had with my daughter's family. I was able to bond with the grandkids, which I hadn't been able to do this summer as I was helping my mother in Ohio. If you don't spend time with them, they won't even know you and it becomes increasingly difficult as they get older to gain their hearts.
As an added bonus, I was also able to visit my daughter's family that live in Michigan. Hannah gave birth to a  beautiful baby girl while I was in the states. What an unexpected blessing to be able to hold a newborn baby once again, and be a help to my daughter when she was released from the hospital. She too has three children under the age of four.

Last but not least, I was able to see Rebekah for a very brief visit at her college in Chesterton, Indiana. She is doing very well, and seems to like her new "home" away from home.
Once again I am back in Tenerife, eager to get back in the normal routine--but I am so thankful for the opportunity the Lord gave me to spend with my older children in the US.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Home Sweet Home Again

It is good to be back in the Canary Islands, to our beloved home of Tenerife. We had a whirlwind of a summer in the United States. The highlight was having all six of our children and most of our grandchildren together in Rochester, NY for Rebekah's high school graduation. It was also an enjoyable time to reconnect with friends from our home church, and visit many of our supporting churches.
At the end of August we helped Rebekah get settled into her dormitory at Fairhaven Baptist College in Chesterton, Indiana. She seems to be doing really well and is keeping busy with her studies, part-time campus job, and ministries.
We were happy to see our church members once again, and when we landed at the airport here in Tenerife, they were all there to greet us even though our plane didn't arrive until midnight.
Leanna is starting her freshman year of high school, and with Rebekah gone I am now Leanna's Algebra tutor when she needs help with homework. It has been a few years since I took college Algebra so I am taking the course with her. It is a good time of mother/daughter bonding.....most of the time!
I have started teaching English once again, part time at the London School of English here in Candelaria. I really enjoy teaching and it is a challenge to keep up with all the grammar rules while making it interesting to the students. It stimulates my creativity and I try to make learning English fun for all of my students, whether they be five years old or fifty.
Doug is busy with his church work in San Isidro, and also his ministry in the Tenerife prison system. On Saturday we had a baptism in the Atlantic Ocean, with two of our members following the Lord in believer's baptism. What a glorious day we had!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Back in the USA

We recently traveled back to the United States for a three month mini-furlough and what a whirlwind it has been. We arrived in New York City and the transition back into our native culture began! There are many things that a missionary has to take care of the first few weeks it can be a bit overwhelming.
Doug hasn't been in the US for five years, and he had forgotten how things work such as paying for gas at the pump, and all the differences in technology. He is not a tech geek, and the less he has to do with computers,smart phones, and GPS the better. He is truly an old fashioned, flip phone kind of guy.
Rebekah graduated from high school, and we had a great time with all six of our children being together for the event.
Doug has been able to visit many of our supporting churches, and will continue to do so throughout the summer until we return to the Canary Islands in September. We appreciate all the work that Randy and Heidi Geiger are doing to take our place in our church on the island of Tenerife in our absence.
Here are some recent photos.

Friday, April 1, 2016

How to Help Hurting People

This is going to be a really short post, but it describes so much of what my husband encounters in the ministry when dealing with people and their problems. He has a gift of building a rapport with others which I admire. This didn't come overnight. In our earlier years in the ministry, we tried to "fix" everyone's problems by identifying the cause and giving them the Biblical prescription on what they were doing wrong.

Over the years, it seems to me that most people already know what they are doing wrong. Just like we know most of our health issues could be resolved if we ate right, exercised more, and lost weight. It is easy to point out people's faults and think to yourself, if only they did/or didn't do this.

They need someone to listen.

They need to feel like someone cares, and by listening to them, they no longer feel like that they have to tackle their problem by themselves, and they get to release some emotions. They get to vent.

By the way, I am not advocating glossing over sin and serious issues that need to be addressed. But before we can help, we need to let them be heard.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The 25 Most Essential Qualities of a Good Teacher

I came across this article on the website and it really gave a lot of good points. You could apply it to a lot of areas in life as well, such as being a good parent, because as parents we are also teachers, and to the ministry as church leaders are teachers as well.

The Most Essential Qualities of a Good Teacher

What are the most valuable qualities of a good teacher? Good teachers are made up of a combination of hundreds of qualities that allow them do their job effectively. There is no denying that all teachers have their own unique blend of these qualities. Each teacher is different, but virtually every good teacher has some combination of these twenty-five most essential qualities. (These qualities make the difference between just being a mediocre teacher, or an outstanding one--Carolee's input.)
1. A good teacher is accountable.
Accountable – Holding yourself to the same expectations and standards as you hold your students. A teacher cannot have double standards. For example, if you do not allow your students to chew gum in your class, then you should not chew gum either.

2. A good teacher is adaptable and flexible.
Adaptable – Making changes to lessons or activities on the fly because of an unforeseen situation or problem. A teacher must be willing to change. If half the class does not understand a particular concept, then you cannot move on and must quickly come up with a better way to teach that concept.

3. A good teacher is caring.
Caring – Going the extra mile to ensure that every student is successful no matter what.
A teacher must figure out the personalities and interest of each student and incorporate components that connect with each individual.

4. A good teacher is compassionate.
Compassionate – Recognizing that your students have problems outside of school, and making the necessary adjustment to help them through those issues.
A teacher must take outside factors into consideration. For example, if a student has just lost a loved one, the teacher should be sensitive to that and adjust accordingly.
5. A good teacher is cooperative.
Cooperative – The ability to work effectively with administrators, other teachers, and parents for the good of your students. A teacher must be able to build cooperative relationships with others around them even if they do not necessarily like them.

6. A good teacher is creative.
Creative – Taking a concept and shaping a lesson that is unique, engaging, and dynamic. A teacher must be able to create lessons that grab their students’ attention and make them want to keep coming back for more.

7. A good teacher is dedicated.
Dedicated – Showing up everyday and spending the necessary time to provide your students with the best education. Teachers often arrive early and stay late. They work parts of weekends and summer to ensure that they are prepared.

8. A good teacher is determined.
Determined – Finding any means necessary to reach all students no matter the challenge. Teachers must be willing to do anything to ensure that all students receive the education they need.

9. A good teacher is empathetic.
Empathetic– Being sensitive to a student’s struggles even though you may not personally be able to relate to them.
A teacher must put themselves in the student’s shoes and see it from their perspective. This approach is often transcending in how to help the child succeed.
10. A good teacher is engaging.
Engaging – The ability to grab the attention of a classroom full of students and to maintain their attention throughout the entirety of class. A teacher must create lessons that are fun, fresh, and energetic. You want your student to walk out of your class each day looking forward to the next.

11. A good teacher is evolving.
Evolving – A continuous process of year over year improvement and growth.
A teacher must continuously look for ways to improve themselves as well as individual lessons or components of lessons.
12. A good teacher is fearless.
Fearless – Trying a new approach that may be outside the norm and may receive criticism or scrutiny. A teacher must be willing to try anything within the parameters of school policy to reach their students. They must also be ready to defend their approach to criticism.

13. A good teacher is forgiving.
Forgiving – Quickly putting incidents with student, parents, or other teachers behind you so that it does not impact your teaching. Teachers must be able to get past hurtful actions or accusations quickly. They must not hold it against any student or let it impact how they teach in the classroom.

14. A good teacher is generous.
Generous – Volunteering for extra assignments and/or giving money out of your own pocket for classroom needs or individual student needs (within reason or ability).
Teachers do not make enough money, but most teachers are willing to donate time and/or money to help out in areas where a need is recognized.
15. A good teacher has grit.
Grit – The determination to overcome any obstacle in the way of obtaining a long term goal. A teacher must possess the grit necessary to make the personal sacrifices necessary to ensure that every goal is reached every year.

16. A good teacher is inspirational. Inspirational – The ability of a teacher to get their students to buy into, believe in, and to be motivated to become life long learners. A teacher should make a lasting inspirational impact that follows a student throughout their life.

17. A good teacher is joyful.
Joyful – Coming to class each day in a good mood, excited, and enthusiastic about doing your job. If the teacher has a lousy attitude, the students are going to have lousy attitudes. If the teacher is joyful, the students are going to be joyful.

18. A good teacher is kind.
Kind – The ability of a teacher to say and do things that uplifts, motivates, and inspires.
Kindness should be innate in all teachers. A mean spirit will turn students off, but a kind spirit is invaluable.
19. A good teacher is organized.
Organized – The ability to keep things neat and in order allowing teachers to access materials quickly and to make efficient transitions. Organization is a necessary quality for every teacher. Teaching encompasses so much that those who are unorganized will be overwhelmed and swallowed up.

20. A good teacher is passionate.
Passionate – Teaching with enthusiasm and exuberance on a daily basis because you love the content and your students. A passionate teacher connects with their curriculum and their students which maximizes learning.

21. A good teacher is patient.
Patient – The ability to see the whole picture and to understand that the school year is a marathon, not a sprint. A teacher must never give up on a student. They should continuously try new strategies understanding that eventually something will work.

22. A good teacher is resilient.
Resilient – Not allowing adversity to stop you from accomplishing your goals.
A teacher must be resilient in overcoming the many obstacles that will present themselves over the course of a year.
23. A good teacher is resourceful.
Resourceful – Finding a way to make things happen. A teacher must be able to figure out how to get supplies and materials for their classroom when the funding is not available and to reach a student who has no interest in learning.

24. A good teacher is trustworthy.
Trustworthy – The ability to get others around you to believe in you and what you are doing. A teacher must gain the trust of both their students and parents. Any distrust will negatively impact the classroom.

25. A good teacher is vulnerable.
Vulnerable – Allowing your students to gain insight into your life without revealing a lot.
Vulnerability allows students to relate to their teachers as they share in common interests such as sports, television, etc.

Disclaimer: Although I do not personally endorse or agree with all opinions on the website, you can read more articles by this author at:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Synergy and the Church

One of the things I love the most about teaching English as a second language is that it forces me to study. As a teacher, I prepare myself for each lesson so that I can make it more interesting for my students.

One of my favorite classes is at a company where I teach English in the workplace. The vocabulary relates to topics which they need to communicate to their fellow employees and business contacts in a global economy.

One of the articles we are studying contained the words synergy and pro activity which are buzz words in the corporate world . I have to admit that I needed to look up the definition of synergy, but I had a good idea what being proactive involved. I was amazed at how much we could apply these terms to our families and social relationships, especially in the church.

The word synergy comes from the Greek word sunergia, meaning cooperation, and also sunergos, working together. Wow, nothing new here! We've known this for ages. Don't you wish that you were the one to coin this phrase and write the book about it! Just like Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun and the making of many books there is no end. Someone happened to pull the term out of the dictionary and make it popular once again. 

God designed this concept--he knew that Adam needed Eve to work together with him and that together they could be more effective than apart. He designed the family to work as a team unit. God also designed the church to help believers work together to accomplish the Great Commission. We have to work together in unity if we are going to have an effect on this world for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taken from the blog of Wendy Kusumowidagdo, here are four basic components needed for good synergy:

1. Shared vision, values and goals
2. Good leadership and people willing to follow their guidance
3. Trust, respect, and compassion
4. Positive environment

I would like to add that when there is good leadership people will want to follow because they know that they can trust their leader because a good leader has their best interests at heart. Negative synergy would be a lack of unity and shared goals, a divisive, complaining spirit, and unwillingness to submit to authority.

The second term I needed to study was what it meant to be proactive. I had a good idea of the meaning, but I read an article, which was written concerning the workplace, but so much of it could be applied to the Christian life.

In a nutshell, being proactive means not waiting for situations to happen and then react. It involves foresight, preparation, taking the first step, etc.

It means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives--our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values, beliefs, and convictions. We have to take the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.

Look at the word responsibility — “response-ability” — the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.

Reactivity--The Good and Bad
By nature, we are all reactive. A proactive person though has learned to respond to external environment and things beyond their control based on Biblical principles rather than whims and fancies. Let's face it, we all are affected by situations and circumstances--but how we react to them determines whether we will come out as a survivor or be shipwrecked.

Reactive people make decisions based on their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people learn to make the best of it-- whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are driven by a deliberate decision to do what they know is the right thing based on their values, convictions, and the scripture (if they are believers); for example, they go to church whether they feel like it or not because they know it is the right thing to do based on the scriptures and obedience to God is what drives them.

Reactive people are also affected by their social environment, by the “social weather.” When people treat them well, they feel well; when people don’t, they become defensive or protective. Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others. I find this one of the most difficult aspects of being in the ministry. As a pastor's wife, I can not allow myself to quit serving the Lord when people appreciate what I am doing for them, or when they don't. If you are in the ministry, be sure that you will be tested in these areas.

Making it Real 

I hate to admit it, but as a missionary wife I occasionally allow myself to be negatively reactive--and have sometimes felt like giving up and quitting--desiring to get out of the "people helping business" so to speak. We have invested many years of our life trying to help others make wise decisions and yet we see so many setbacks. For example, my husband has been helping a man for months to get off drugs--and after the man left the protected environment of a Christian Center for Men, he was tempted by his old friends to return to drugs. Yet as long as someone is still living, we have to believe there is still hope. This is where we pray and rather than trust our human reasoning, believe that God is still able to work a miracle.

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:15 “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” It is easy to be discouraged when people don't value or appreciate what you do for them. It is easy to feel like quitting the ministry altogether. This is where we must choose to be proactive, not reactive, and continue walking with our eyes fixed on Jesus and His example when his disciples abandoned him in his darkest hour.

Synergy and the Church
Leave a Church the Right Way
We need to be realistic in that God moves people to other churches and places of service for different reasons, and we are here to help people achieve God's will for their lives and sometimes that means moving forward to a different place of ministry. You can leave a church with the pastor's full blessing.

Sometimes it is necessary to leave a church for scriptural reasons, and I know  people who have tried to leave on good terms, but for whatever reasons the pastor or leadership was unable to understand or accept their leaving, which creates negative synergy-- but in an ideal world, we should be able to love one another in spite of our differences for the betterment of the kingdom of God.

On the other hand, sometimes people leave church without communicating with anyone, which hurts. If there is a problem, people should at least have the  courage and courtesy to explain why. Many problems can be resolved with a simple conversation. Churches are made up of imperfect people--the pastor and his family included....and we live in an imperfect world--and there is also an enemy working overtime in the minds of his children. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

The good news is that as believers, we don't have to find the strength within our own selves--but if we take the first step towards obedience, God enables us and empowers us with His Holy Spirit to continue walking, and experience the life of victory. We have to choose to follow after synergy, be proactive in our decisions, and take personal responsibility for those things within our control.