Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas and Portland

We spent Christmas in South Dakota at my grandparent's home, leaving the day after Jesiah's 3rd birthday party. Two sets of aunts and uncles came so we got to see quite a few relatives. We enjoyed playing some games and being entertained by the kids. Here's my dad's family with him, my great aunt Ann, my grandparents, aunt Libby, and aunt Karen. Here's my uncle Mike and their dog Homer, my new foster cousin, Ariel, and aunt Libby. Here's uncle John and aunt Karen (my cousin Chris couldn't come so that was a bummer!).

If my daddy were a's how he'd look. :) John and my dad switched hats for a funny picture.

The drive back wasn't very fun on the ice, but the sunset was gorgeous!
A few days later we opened Christmas presents which is fun with 2 kids who love to rip wrapping paper! We celebrated our friend Lindsey's birthday after arriving back to Miles City. She was feeling sad about turning 25, crazy girl!

Tomorrow, Gretchen and I leave for Portland, OR for a week long conference with Wycliffe Bible Translators called Total It Up. Our team is currently seeking out options for translation training for our ministry in Vanuatu so we are checking into some things with Wycliffe/SIL. Lord-willing, we can get some training at the Australia SIL center called Equip. This workshop presents an opportunity to meet some translators, have some questions answered, learn more about training, and to network with some translators from Papua New Guinea (who will be facilitating some of the workshop). Please pray for health for us (Jesiah, Houghton, and I are sick) and for Houghton as he braves the kids alone for a full week! Also pray for safety on the roads and over the mountain passes on the long drive to Portland from here. Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December small groups

December is here and churches were difficult to schedule with for the month so we went to plan "B," small groups. Indeed it should have been plan "A!" We have a few more home groups to schedule from our home church but we are already going to several a week and they are so much more fun than full church presentations. Not only do we get to stay in one spot for longer than a few days (here in Miles City, MT), we get to know people at our sending church better and build deeper relationships here. Also, the time is more informal and relational and we get to answer more basic questions about missions and give better understanding about the kind of "home team" we are hoping to have backing us and how people can be involved that way. Keep checking back as I'll continue to add pictures as we go along of the different home groups we share at in the coming weeks. Nothing beats a cup of tea, a Vanuatu video, time to chat, and dessert with other Christians!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Buffalo and FSB

Buffalo, Montana the town isn't much to see, but the people are friendly and down-to-earth. Most Montanan's we told we were going to Buffalo had to ask where it was. Well, here's why - visually. :)The old church, however, is still open and draws around 50 people every Sunday! Not bad for a ghost town! The highlight though (other than meeting some of the other Buffalo families) was getting to stay with my friends Ryan and Jessica and getting to know their 5 kids better. I attended Bible school with Ryan and Jessica and she and I share a birthday; hers just one year after mine. Abe, Hannah, Joel, Faith, and new little Jared are sweet, fun kids that I really enjoyed hanging out with. Jesiah and Gwen had fun playing with everyone. Jessica cooked us amazing from-scratch meals (and even shared her recipes - thanks, Jessica!). I got to attempt to teach Abe a bit about piano. He was a quick study but I'm not sure I was such a great teacher. Hopefully he keeps his interest in it up at least!

After church and lunch, we drove "home" to Miles City, stayed the night, and drove Monday to LaGrange, WY back to Frontier School of the Bible. We got there just in time to put up our display and run to chapel for the introduction of all the missionaries for Missions Conference. What an amazing opportunity to be able to participate in! The week was jam-packed from early morning to late night with formal and informal times to share with students. I was asked to teach the Sr. girls class on the topic of singleness. I had some breakout sessions to share that same topic with other girls and some breakout times and informal times to talk about missions and the work in Vanuatu.

I also got to hang out with a dorm group for their weekly (late!) night devotions and shared about God's leading in my life toward missions. Thanks for the invite, girls! Here's that group to the right - Courtney, Emma, Raquel, Karissa, Janelle, Lelia, Torie, Larissa in back and Chantel and Rachel in front.

Another fun opportunity was with some of the juniors who were required to interview some of the missionaries for a missions class project. Here is one of those groups - Chandra, Sarah, and Cara.

Geneva, Rebeca, and Larissa, invited me to the (one) cafe for milkshakes one afternoon so we wore our coats, shivered, and drank some amazing milkshakes. Larissa and Rebeca are really seriously pursuing missions so it was fun to hang out with them several hours over the course of the week and hear about places they've served and their passion for the lost around the world.

So many other girls I could name - I was so edified by you and blessed by your devotion to Christ, your humble service to Him, and your love for the nations and desire that "every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9) would know Him. Thanks for the honor of having fellowship with you and being able to share with you.

It was also awesome to hear from other missionaries there - all other than us were reps with their organization, not full-time overseas missionaries, but they had much experience and knowledge to share with us. Neil Anderson of Wycliffe, who was a translator for 30 years in Papua New Guinea (and is still consulting on the translation work with the people group there) was the main speaker in daily chapels. What incredible, inspiring stories of God working through him and his team and the tribe as they lived among the people and sought to translate in a culturally appropriate way with scriptural metaphors and such in the heart language of the people. One especially memorable story Neil told was of their translation of John 3:16. After working for weeks to find the correct word for "love," the verse was translated and read to the people. Their response was to stroke their throats and say "we are dying of the deliciousness of these words." Wow, when have I ever responded so passionately to that same Gospel? It was also fun to talk when there was time with Gary and Judy Anderson (no relation to Neil), who are reps with Wycliffe. My parents are long-time friends with the Andersons so I grew up hearing stories of their work in Indonesia. Pictured here are all the missionary reps as well as Will and Shanna, (far left) who are staff at FSB and did a fantastic job of organizing the conference. Houghton isn't pictured here but most of the others are.

I also got to enjoy a full week with my friends John and Andrea and their kids Michael, Trevor, and Ella. They housed me as a stranger back in September when we presented at LaGrange Bible Church and in chapel at FSB. This time I got to come back as a friend! I enjoyed getting to know them better and to have a bit of time with the kids playing Pictionary. Thanks for the fun and the fellowship, guys! :)

Thanks for your prayers as we have been on deputation. It is rather amazing with all the travel we've done that we haven't had any accidents or hit any (living) deer. On the way back from FSB, I did hit an enormous already dead deer but I was able to at least straddle it and so only scraped the bottom of my car. Thankfully, although some things are bent, it seems to be fine otherwise. We had to avoid other dead and living deer on that same road later, but got home safe and sound (I just have a really smelly car now). I won't include any pictures of that... :)

Thanksgiving was a nice time to avoid all work and not turn on the computer! My parents, Houghton, Gretchen and the kids, and Houghton's mom and I all hung out at my parents', ate yummy food, and us girls played some games. Pretty amazing to think of the length of the list of what I have to be thankful for - wow.
Another nice thing is that my grandparents came to visit last night so we enjoyed a bit of time with them. We'll spend Christmas at their place in South Dakota for a few days, Lord-willing .

We spent this last Sunday at Grace Bible, our home sending church and went out to Coalwood again Sunday night. Starting this week, we are spending the next month sharing at small group Bible studies from Grace Bible, Lord-willing. We are excited for the opportunity to have more informal time and to be able to better get to know people from our home church. Having a church of 500 (that I've been away from for the most part for 10 or so years) means there are loads of people I've never met. We are blessed to be in one place for longer than a few days too!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oct./Nov. Newsletter

Please click on the image to magnify and read my Oct/Nov. newsletter.

Out in the Wilderness

The end of October I got to visit one of my alma mater's, Montana Wilderness School of the Bible. Joe, who with his wife Bev and their family was on staff there when I was a student from 97-98, now pastors a church in Fort Benton just NE of Great Falls, MT. Community Bible Church there welcomed us in to present about Vanuatu and God's leading on Sunday morning. Joe and Bev let us stay in their lovely home and Bev fed us an incredible meal after church. We also enjoyed fellowshiping with Greg and Cheryl from their church over the meal. Here are Cheryl and Greg on the left and Bev and Joe on the right. Emily, Joe & Bev's daughter, also lives in Fort Benton so we got to see her and meet her husband Peter at church, which was fun.

After lunch, we zipped through Great Falls and on to where Montana Wilderness School of the Bible (MWSB is nestled, well, in the wilderness, an hour or so from Helena and an hour or so from Great Falls! At MWSB, we met a "new" (to me anyway, they've been there 4 years now) staff family, Kevin and Pat. Kevin and Pat housed the Richards and I stayed with John and Terry, who are the directors of the school and who were hugely impactful in my life especially when I attended there. Here are Terry and John to the right. We spoke for evening chapel to the students and had several hours after chapel to further interact with students (and some of the staff) who had questions about missions or our testimonies, about Vanuatu, and about discerning God's will and making decisions. What an awesome time to be able to encourage college students to pray about and pursue missions! I really enjoyed the girls I got to talk to and new relationships grown from that time. I'm praying for you girls for wisdom as you seek to glorify God with your lives and in the steps taken after Bible school! I had some nice times to catch up with John and Terry and to get to know some of the other staff as well. I talked briefly with Adam, son of Joe & Bev, and his wife Brooke for a bit at MWSB as well as they are on staff there now.

The scenery there was, as always, incredible and it was as always, hard to leave a place that has been over the years such a haven of rest and growth and of encouraging fellowship. God has truly blessed me in allowing me to have a relationship with MWSB and the staff, students, and alumni from there.

The only stinky thing about the whole weekend was that Gretchen and Gweny weren't able to come. A day before we were to leave, Gweny started running high fevers and not doing well. Gretchen and Houghton decided to have her stay back with Gweny to give her a chance to get well. Houghton, Jesiah and I traveled without them then. Jesiah enjoyed playing with toys at Bev's house, seeing Aaron again (who we visited in Ronan in August but he's now going to school in Great Falls so we got to stop in and see him twice on the trip, as well as to run in to his mom and brother who were visiting), and playing with the great boy toys at Kevin and Pat's. Kevin and Pat had 3 boys (of their 7 kids) home when we were there and they were fantastic entertainers for Jesiah. Here are Pat & Kevin, Rob, Ben, and Josh (and Jesiah behind the nurf gun on Ben's lap). He was VERY sad to leave there. :)

This last weekend we were in western North Dakota presenting at our first church in that state. Pastor Dave and his wife Renee were out of town so asked Houghton to fill the pulpit and we were able to share about Vanuatu there. We met some incredible people and aside from the insane wind gusts threatening to blow us off the road on the way home, were blessed at Beach Evangelical Church. Houghton's parents had us over to celebrate his and his dad's birthdays after we drove back so we got some great grub and came the rest of the way home late Sunday night. Houghton turned 28 Saturday.

Friday we leave for Buffalo, MT to visit with my friends Jessica and Ryan, who graduated with me from MWSB. They have 5 kids now so I'm excited to meet the newest, Jared and better get to know the other 4. After presenting in the church in Buffalo, we'll head down to Frontier School of the Bible again to present during their missions conference for the week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A seemingly silly, but big need for prayer

Back in June when I was listing all the friends I'd be leaving behind in Idaho when I moved to Montana, I listed my 2 cats as being among what would be left behind. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a new owner or new owners for them. At the last minute I decided to bring them to Montana to try to find someone here who could take them. So far, that has seemed an impossible task. My parents are very self-sacrificing, but my mom doesn't like animals. Still, they've had to bear the burden of taking care of them since I'm full-time on the road. Also, my sister is allergic and now that the cats have been here awhile, the build-up effect is enough that she is unable to come over here for longer than a few minutes. Definitely not the best of situations. Although I've put the word out in the community and at church, I've been unable to find someone to take them. Obviously, I'd love to keep them but I no longer have my own house and I can't take them overseas with me. Could you help me by praying with me for someone who could take either both or at least one and/or talking to friends to find someone who would enjoy having a cat or two? Below is some information about them.

Cara is about 4 years old and is fixed and is caught up on her shots for the next 2 1/2 years. She is a tortoiseshell and is very long and thin. She's very friendly but does NOT do well with small kids. She likes to be in the same room with people all the time and loves to explore. She would be best with a single person, a couple, or a family with older, calm kids. She is mostly indoor but likes to go outside too.

Jolie is about 4 1/2 and is fixed and current on shots for the next 2 1/2 years. She is a seal-point Siamese, is very short, and a little chubby. She is a lap cat when all is quiet but hides when things are loud or new. Kids would probably be disappointed with her unless they are quiet a long time because she would be absent until then. She loves to be petted. She is indoor only.

Both have all claws but are used to the routine of having them clipped. They go well together (they snuggle and fight both) but they could be separated if needed. They are well-mannered and don't beg for table food, but only eat their cat food. They never use anything but the litter box, and only scratch on their scratching post.

Thanks for your help. This is something I haven't been able to take care of on my own and I could use some additional prayer partners even for a silly thing like cats. They have been a source of laughter and comfort to me over the 3 years I've owned them. Having someone whom they would love and who would enjoy them would unload a lot of stress from me and from my parents as well.

Psalm 65

What an amazing Creator we serve, who would choose us to be in relationship with Him!

Psalm 65
God's Abundant Favor to Earth and Man.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song
There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God,
And to You the vow will be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all men come.
Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions, You forgive them.
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You
To dwell in Your courts
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Your holy temple.
By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges,
You soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.
You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.
The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NEW stuff

Please check out a new feature on the right column of my blog - our presentation schedule (for the Richards and I). Hopefully it will help as you pray for us as we travel to know where we are going. Also, if we haven't been to your church or your state yet, it gives an idea of where we plan to be in the future, Lord-willing, so you can let us know to schedule a time with you. Finally, it helps show that we haven't been just twiddling our thumbs the last few months! :)

Under the schedule section is a pie chart showing where my current financial support level is. I'll try to update it every month when I get my financial statement from BMW. I'm not really sure how to measure prayer support or encouragement support... :) God has been faithful to give great prayer warriors along the way.

I added a map and counter at the bottom too. Up until now, unless you've left a comment or otherwise contacted me, I didn't know who was reading this blog. If I get my act together in the next few months, I'll start not only e-mailing you newsletter updates, but also links to check updates on the blog. So much data entry and so little time... :)

Minnesota in the Fall

Northern Minnesota was indeed a lovely place to visit in the fall! We shared in Karlstad, MN at David and Jen's church. Jen is the daughter of Houghton's high school pastor, Paul. Paul has 2 daughters we've visited now whose husbands are pastors. David and Jen have 4 very sweet kids: Caleb, Zach (who showed us all his breakdancing moves), Abby, and Grace. Jesiah and Gwen always love it when we can stay somewhere with kids they can play with.

After our presentation in Karlstad, we drove to Deer River and met up with Paul and Carol. Paul, who used to pastor in Fallon, MT, now pastors at Marcell Community Church in a rural retirement community in northern Minnesota. We ate supper with them and were introduced to our host couple - Betty and Harley.

Betty and Harley let us stay in their gorgeous lakefront house and we got to play a bit on Saturday. They had 2 four-wheelers so we all piled on them and checked out the forest trails Harley had leveled out in the 13 acres of forest behind his and others' homes. Gweny missed out on the fun during her nap, but Jesiah loved riding with Houghton and Gretchen. Sunday we presented at the Marcell church and enjoyed a potluck with them, getting to meet mostly retirees who visit on the weekends, but a few families as well. They had a missions emphasis Sunday so it was fun to hear about missionaries they support as a church body and what God is doing in them around the world.

Sunday night we left and stayed with Rick and Jamie, who are planning to go to candidate orientation this January with Biblical Ministries Worldwide, the organization I am affiliated with. They have 6 adopted children so Gweny and Jesiah could "let it all hang out" at their house and it was fun to see all the dynamics. They do a really cool singing and prayer time every night before the kids go to bed so they allowed us to participate. Here is the group singing "Countdown." Jesiah is the one in the Spiderman pajamas jamming out on the left "helping" Rick hold the song words. :)

song time
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We really had neat new relationships started on this trip and are so thankful to our 3 wonderful families who let us crash at their homes and fed us wonderful meals!