Monday, April 23, 2007

eScripts - monthly news and prayer update

Here's the latest monthly update we emailed:

The last two weeks of March, we had a great visit from Sean and Cathy Marston from New Zealand. Sean is basically “the” candidate department for SIM NZ, as well as speaking for SIM as the “Champion” for youth and young adult ministries. Cathy works for Pioneers mission, and together they co-lead (with other ministers) a home church in Auckland. They seem very much to have their fingers on the pulse of the twenty-something generation and the phenom of global youth culture.

Cathy and Sean led our “first since 2000 only SIM-Liberia (not combined with our region)” Spiritual Life Conference (a team retreat of sorts). Cathy led the spiritual teaching on the “Bread Covenant” and Sean helped us look a little at ourselves as a field. We actually had 9 SIM missionaries, plus 2 teenagers (Max Sacra and Tim Goodnow) plus 2 guys from Germany who are working with ELWA and ECUL from another mission. One day, our 3 staff joined us and on Saturday, their families. It was really a great time together: getting to know each other better, sharing our ideas, thinking more about how we live out our faith in this setting as well as in our private walk with God. One very special time for us was having the team pray for us.

Sean is SIM’s “Champion for Youth and Young Adults” which means he is meant to be a resource person and a hub for interaction about youth ministry and also recruiting young adult missionaries. During the week before our SLC, he met with us and our partners to talk about youth culture and encourage new approaches to youth ministry. It seems like he stirred up some energy in that area. We also talked about being a good field for young adult missionaries, as Liberia has always been popular for short term missions because of all the different ministry possibilities and because English (at least a form of it!) is spoken here. The themes of mentoring and community seemed to keep coming out as what young adults are looking for in a ministry situation.

In the aftermath of Sean and Cathy’s visit (after we picked ourselves up off the floor where we fell in complete exhaustion), we’re trying to move forward in a few key areas. Having so many new missionaries here has mandated that we finally have a cultural orientation program. We know that some information and discussion will help them understand the culture more and deal with their adjustment. I’ve had materials gathered and ideas simmering in my head for awhile, and I just had to get them together and make a plan, so we’re launching that next week. Also, we are looking at our list of “personnel needs” – our ideas about what we’d like missionaries to do – so we can make them more accessible from the SIM website. I want people to be able to “see themselves” as they look at the ways we need people to serve here.

Pray for our new people as they get involved in ministry and make the adjustment to living and working in a cross-cultural situation – some (Tom and Melanie Goodnow, Chris and Andrea Lambert) will only be here a few more months and we know they will feel like they are just becoming effective when it is time to leave. They are having an impact even now: pray that they will be able to see that and be encouraged. Gary and Tammy Dunseath, our new long term missionaries, have finally arrived. Pray especially for Gary as he develops relationships with ECUL leaders and figures out how he can be involved with their ministry.

Thanks for reading, and for praying. I guess you can see our role here continues to change. Never a dull moment when God is leading the way!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Jared

Jared celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday! That means we have two teens now. Rick was im-ing with Max and said TEEN stands for "tempermental emotional eccentric noodlehead". Jared liked that.
So here are some well-known and maybe little known facts about Jared:
1) He was born the day after Debbie's mom's birthday. I tried very hard to get him to be born on mom's birthday -- I moved furniture and vacuumed all morning. And I did have a false start early in the day, but it cooled down until late in the evening. Guess I should have started trying the day before.
2) Jared had red hair when he was born. And it stuck straight up. His cousin Hannah was born 3 weeks later and she has wild curly hair. They are so alike it's scary, and they get along great when they get to be together.
3) When Jared was 3, he cut his head and his dad had to stitch it. We had to lay on him to hold him down. When he was 4 he stuck a lego in his nose and we had to go to dad in the ER to get it out- in the car, he cried (maybe wailed is a better word) he didn't want to go to ELWA ONE (the hospital's radio call name that he heard on dad's handheld radio), but it was no big deal once we got there. When he was 10, he got a cut under his eye when he was swimming. We went to the ER and Dr. Brown sewed it up. Jared didn't flinch.
4) Jared loves to sing (or hum, or whistle). I like to say he has a song in his heart. He especially likes show music, but also SKA and classical. He prefers music with real instruments (unlike his bro Max who likes electronic music).
5) Jared plays the trumpet. He's actually sounding very nice on it these days.
6) For several years, we called him Jared Bear. He probably won't like that I told you that.
7) Jared has lived 10 out of his 13 years in Africa.

8) Jared wants to be an architect or a structures engineer. He finds many interesting ways to prepare for this career (this structure is made of dixie cups and playing cards -who needs toys?). Really, sometimes he amazes us with what he tries to conceptualize.
9) Jared must be about to grow, because his appetite lately has about doubled. He's going to be bigger than his mom very soon!
10) Jared never runs out of questions. Sometimes I tell him that I am very flattered that he thinks I might know the answer to his question, but I am actually not that smart. And I tell him to ask his dad, cuz he's that smart.
11) I was going to stop at 10 but I thought of one more. Jared is really great with younger kids, between the ages of 2 and 5, and they somehow seem to gravitate to him as well. He's got quite a collection of little buddies: Felix, 5 and Isaac Kauffeldt, 4 who they ride to school with in the morning; Daniel, 2 and Nathan Goodnow, 4 our new neighbors; and Hadassah, almost 3 and Jedidiah Dunseath, 5. Even Sis Bindu's grandson T-boy, 5, is always talking about coming to visit Jared.
So that's our Jared at age 13. He's a great kid and we enjoy him very much! I hope you feel like you know him a little better yourself now.

Monday, April 09, 2007

qualitative vs. quantitative

Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, with Sean and Cathy Marston here for our Spiritual Life Conference (like a retreat). I’ll write more about that another time. Also, Max was here for 2 weeks – it was so short! Unfortunately, his suitcase never came from Senegal on the way here, so we had to go out and get a bunch of new clothes for him and worst of all, sew name labels on them. Just about my most abhorred job (worse than putting dishes away).

But today, actually, I want to tell a little marriage story. We had to use one of our SIM vehicles –the Nissan Pathfinder - over the weekend because of its bigger cargo capacity. When Rick and I used it on Saturday, (I was riding) I said it sounded funny, and it was riding strange. It sounded like transmission noise. On Sunday, it had been raining when it was time to go to church, and since it was parked in our driveway, I decided to take it rather than walk through the puddles and mud. As I pulled out of the driveway, I said to the kids– this car needs a new clutch. It just felt mushy and didn’t drive quite right. But I was sure it was the clutch. So I told Rick -- mmm, maybe it’s starting to slip, was the response. He then drove it to the airport Sunday evening to pick up our latest new missionaries. And when he came home, he said yep, it needed a new clutch, adding you can tell because “you can see on the tachometer how the rpms jump up when you engage the clutch and then drop down, even though you are accelerating, so so that means the clutch is slipping.” Guess that is a male/female thing – that mushy, not engaged feeling was enough reason to get it to the shop as far as I was concerned, but some concrete, measurable evidence was what Rick needed to be convinced. Well, I’m glad the evidence was available, so we can get it fixed before someone gets stranded. Time and time again over the years we have seen God take care of us with car business, so that no one ends up in a really awful accident or other circumstance. It’s one of the little ways we know He is watching over us.

There’s been much more to write about, just haven’t gotten to it. I’ll try again later this week.

PS 3 days later: Rick declares the Pathfinder undriveable after he can hardly pull out into traffic. It's in the shop now.