Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - Teach Them Diligently

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Christ Centered Relationship

Tony and I have been focusing on our marriage as we prepare to head overseas into long term missions work.  While God has closed the door to a closed country and opened two possible places we are taking a hard look at our marriage and the way we relate to one another.  We have been working with a counselor about this and I can only see good fruit coming from this desire to work on our marriage.  

We also had the opportunity to go to a marriage seminar via video cast.  One of the speakers was a Pastor that I had just learned about when I posted a challenging quote in a message to a friend of mine. 

Some of us (followers of Christ) need to suffer just to realize we are for real. " - Francis Chan

God always seems to prepare me for what he is going to teach me by making me jump forward then back up.

I don't know how much I thought about what that quote meant before I stuck it into my friends message.  For me it was just about the fact that Tony and I feel called to do hard things.  To give up hard things, to live a life that isn't easy but yet has great rewards.  From that message my friend said so have you read his book.  "Ah, no."  I didn't even know this guy had a book, in fact I had no idea who this guy was at all - he could have lived in the 1400's for all I knew.  So I got his book Crazy Love out of the Library and haven't even read it yet.  Though I plan to.

As an aside before you go thinking I'm all spiritual, I struggle with being a Godly women daily, I struggle with waking up early enough to read my Bible and pray.  But I do know when I commit that time to God my daily return is much better because I start my day focused on Christ and putting my day before him.  When I am rushed and neglect my relationship with God my day does not start out the way it needs to start out. 

Back to the marriage seminar and Francis Chan - He challenged everyone with living a married life that is focused on Christ and on our devotion to Christ.  With the mind of our marriages to God's mission because our time on earth really is just a vapor.  We are not promised any time at all on this earth and our time here is to be devoted to Him.  He used 1 Cor 7:29-35.  Which he says may be an odd portion of the BIble to use about marriage but the point here is to be "undistracted in our devotion to the Lord."   

I'm pretty distracted much of the time.  I think there are times I get distracted by the idea that I have a right to fight about something.  Did Christ do that?  Fight for no reason with no purpose behind it?  Hmm, no.  

One of my heros of the faith - Hudson Tyler once said that "Satan will do anything he can do to distract you from the word of God - even if that is rearranging the drapes."  I that quote is so true!  Hudson Tyler was a man that took on the nature, culture of the Chinese to witness to inner China - the only thing he brought with him was his Bible, matches and a candle.  He dressed as they did and ate what they would eat.  

During the marriage seminar while I agreed with Francis I also questioned some of what he said - questioned the reality of a marriage that does not have pointless arguments about who's turn it is to do such and such.  Selfish arguments to be sure - but as sinful people we are bound to have these kind of issues aren't we?  Is this guy for real?  What does his wife look like - is she stuffing all this down?  

So I thought I would check out who this Francis Chan is and I found some sermons on marriage that he did.
Christ Centered Relationship Part 1  Part one reminded me a lot of what he said at the marriage seminar
Christ Centered Relationship Part 2  Part Two Francis' wife Lisa speaks on submission this really answered my questions about her.  
Christ Centered Relationship Part 3  Part Two Francis talks to the men about being the like Christ to their wife. 

So many thoughts are rolling around in my head after listening to these messages.  Maybe not the same ones that might roll around in yours once you are done listening.  

This isn't a strange thought to me - as I already realized that my marriage is the best representation of Christ and the Church that many unbelievers will see, but I think I have boughten into the idea that a great marriage depends on how my husband and I feel about each other.  A great marriage is going to develop out of me putting Christ in the forefront of my own mind.  Then  the devotion my husband and I have toward the mission of Christ on earth will spur us to show the world what that relationship looks like to others by being an example and out of that will pour a love and devotion to each other that is entirely based on Christ's love for His Church and our mission on this earth to that end. 

Defiantly not something that can be done if Christ is not truly the focus of your marriage relationship.  Or not truly the focus of your own personal devotion.

Wesley Turns 7

Feb. 15, 2010
Wesley is completely into Star Wars the Clone Wars and we put Rex the clone trooper onto his cake.  Okay so a close approximation of Rex's helmet.  I'm not much of an artist but I try.  Wesley has never been very demanding with his birthdays which is good because I have neither the desire nor the income to spend a lot of money on elaborate parties.  He knew exactly who he wanted to invite and no one else. He was also great one only one of the kids he invited ended up being able to attend.  He is a great blessing and teaches me every day!  If you click on the title above you will be taken to some more photos of our birthday celebration. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Our Second Tot Book
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!

Irina loved coloring all the alphabet letters and cutting and pasting.  She can't wait for us to do the Hungry Little Caterpillar next.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Irina is loving these tot books from 

Below is the first tot book we did Irina is very artsy and loves anything to do with color, paint, glue and paper!
Lucy helped with some of the coloring in the coconut tree book.

Heart to Heart/ Valentine and the Color Wheel

For a Valentine Craft I borrowed an idea for a local art teacher and combined learning about the color wheel with making some Valentines.   The kids then opted to give away theirs away for their AWANA Heart to Heart for the Young at Heart collection at Church.  
The Valentines were given to some older Widows and an older couple in our church to let them know we love them.  The kids had a lot of fun as you can see from the photos below.  
Lucy also learned how to eat some water color paints as well.

My Sample for the Kids

The kids hard at work

Scissors In the Hands of a Two and Four Year Old!

The story goes that Lucy - the two year old decided to cut Irina's hair the four year old.  Somehow the two year old also cut her own hair in the back as well.  Then the four year old hid her hair on the other side of the bed.  But it was all Lucy's idea mind you.  Hmm  Here is what happens when a two year old and a four year old get their hands on some scissors...

Below How short can you go here and there?

Since we are talking about Hair here is a before photo of Wesley and his Mop.

To fix the Preschool Beauty Shop cuts we had to go short, PIXIE short...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Stories from Africa: Rural South Africa - Bucket Bath 101

Disclaimer: A Bucket wash really depends on each individual person.
Supplies: Bucket, shampoo, soap in soap container, wash cloth or scrub, cup and towel.

1.  If your a girl waring a skirt, which comes off over the head is very handy!  Also removing any undergarments before going to the "shower" makes changing in a wet and sandy "shower" a lot easier.

2.  Remove clothing

3.  Use wash cloth and/or cup to get all wet, make sure your hair is soaked.

4.  Wash hair - don't use too much shampoo.

5.  Wash your body.

6.  Splash water over body to remove soap doing hair first, be extra careful to not get any soap in the water.

7.  Leave a small amount of water to rinse sand out of the shower shoes.

8.  Get dressed by standing on shower shoes, slip on skirt and top put other clothes on in a dryer location.

This was our shower on the Rural outreach and you can see our tent in the right corner. 

Stories from Africa: The Long Drop -

Rural Out houses are called Long Drops:

I think because they are built up out of cement first of all they don't smell as bad as I would have thought.

Our Long Drop - Men's on left behind green curtain and women's on right 

When we arrived I didn't have a problem with the long drops but the longer we stayed the more the bugs started to get to me.   When we first arrived the cockroaches stayed in their corners - Danree would shine her light at them and yell, "I hate you, I hate you."  We all got a good laugh from her bathroom antics but I didn't really have a problem until the one night when this big cockroach ran down the wall and under my right thigh.  I was trying to hurry and then the cockroach ran back out.  After that my thoughts of the Long Drop were slowly changing to dread.  I once shared at our nightly meetings how if it was my Long Drop I would paint it white, put up curtains and I would kill the bugs.  I would use lime or lye instead of the bugs and maggots.

My Long Drop

Now in our food trailer I saw this can of bug spray but no one had used it.  I wasn't sure why and I thought of using it many times.  Our last night there I decided that I wanted to kill the bugs.  At first I wasn't sure if the Pastors wife would want me to use it and so I wasn't sure if I should use it and then apologies or if I should ask permission first.  Then as we approached the Long Drop I realized that the Pastor's family was in the peanut garden picking peanuts so Wesley who was so excited about killing the cockroaches ran up and said - we are going to kill the Cockroaches.  I then asked permission - saying "We have a can of bug spray can I kill the bugs?"  She smiled and gave me a big green light to kill them.  So we went to the Long drop and set about to kill the cockroaches.

The next morning I approached the Long Drop with a bit of glee and when I saw the three big cockroaches dead on the ground I was quite happy.  I had Jaco get rid of them for me and I happily used the bug free Long Drop - wondering why I hadn't used that spray the first night.  
Wesley and Irina both used the Long Drop without problems. 

Stories from South Africa - Living in Rural South Africa

Driving out to our rural outreach location was interesting - the view was awesome rolling hills, banana and orange trees - (The fruit in South Africa is awesome)!  Some of the bananas were covered in a plastic bag - I am not sure why.  The community we went to live in was rural yet not too rural.  Our goal for this outreach was to live in tents, cook over a fire, start up some ministry in the town and have a chicken experience.

 I like to say it was a bit of The Apprentice - having our own initiative  to start ministry,  Surviver since we had to cook over a fire, use a long drop (outhouse) and take bucket baths, and the Amazing Race - because this whole experience in SA was kind of like this.  The only difference was we couldn't kick anyone off.  I am sure some of my teammates wouldn't have minded kicking me off a time or two.

We arrived to Pastor James's court yard and were shown where we could set up our tents.

When we were preparing to leave for the Rural outreach we were given some advice:
1.  Your kids will be dirty get used to it.
2.  Don't let your kids play in the sand - as there are worms in the sand.
3. Cover your kids in misquote repellent before dusk.
4.  Your kids will be dirty get used to it. 

When we arrived the first thing little Lucy did was make her happy sound and lay down in the sand and start playing.  We quickly realized that it wasn't going to be possible to keep it out of it.  Irina also loved the sand - thankfully no worms.

The second thing Lucy did was poop in her diaper and then reach her hands into her diaper and spread it all over her.  We had just arrived were still figuring out where everything was located and we hadn't collected any water yet.  The bathroom consisted of a "long drop"  another name for an outhouse and the shower was accomplished with a bucket.  So I stripped her, cleaned her with wet wipes and dressed her again.  All in all it was a good initiation of our time in this rural community.

We then set out to set up our tents.  We were a mixed group of people.  There was Jonathan a young man of South African Afrikaans decent who had just turned 18 the month before.  Danree who I say is from the Brooklyn of South Africa - Cape Town who was from Indian decent.  Jaco our team leader also South African Afrikaans decent.  Then Faith our co-leader from Hong Kong China, Maria from Ohio, Tony and I from South Dakota and our three kids.  Maggie from Sweden and Donghyuk from South Korea.
Our Rural Outreach Team

We were given two tents with the idea that the children could sleep in one tent and Tony and I could sleep in the other.  We quickly realized that the African nights were too dark and there wasn't any possibility of a night light in a tent.  Also the malaria pills that we were giving our children caused some interesting nightmares.   We then thought maybe Wesley and Tony could sleep in one tent and I and the girls in another.   Wesley wanted to be in the bigger tent so it ended up with me and the kids in one tent and Tony by himself in the other tent.  I quickly put a ca-bash to that and so all five of us slept in the big tent.  It worked out, I wasn't going to be with all the kids all by myself.

So that began our 17 days of tent living.  Finding room for our stuff - trying to keep it from the edge so that the night dew wouldn't seep in, the biggest problem was the sand - every two days I would put all our stuff into the pack and play and sweep the entire tent out.  I was always amazed at the amount of sand that accumulated.

Ministry was a mixture of things.  We did some dramas for the grammar school, did an AIDS/HIV talk for the local high school.  Did house visits and prayed with people.  Played with the local children and a few of us did the sermon for the church services.   We were also able to go to a local school for the disabled after I got to know one of their Deaf students Jeffery.  It was a struggle to understand each other with my American Sign Language and the South African sign language being very different.  They did use the same finger spelling and not British finger spelling so we were able to use that a bit.  We found creative ways to communicate but at times it was quite a struggle.  The program we did at the disabled school was by far one that I remember the most and they really enjoyed it.
Me in the middle of the Deaf Education Classroom, Jeffery is on the far left with the red under-shirt.

One women I won't ever forget - was covered in sores.  It was pretty clear that she had AIDS - We were able to talk to her and pray with her.  I really felt God impress on me to share with her the story of Hagar and how God saw her.  That God loved her and saw her and wanted to know her even more.  I won't ever forget that women for me she really impressed on me how much God loves us all and wants to meet us where we are at.  That his love is all covering and there is nothing He doesn't know and through it all He loves us.

Struggles of the Rural outreach were many.  It was challenging to live in a small tent for 17 days and Tony and I had our share of arguments and frustrations as we balanced doing ministry and children.  Our team was very helpful and shared the load of watching the children so that Tony and I could do some ministry together.  We had some personality conflicts that I won't ever forget, but through it all we were brother and sisters in Christ and in that we grew and God used us to encourage the church and the community.

I was very impressed with the big night sky of rural South Africa it was amazing to see the other stars in all their glory!

In a future post I'll share the challenges of the Long Drop and Bucket showers. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Irina writes her numbers for the first time

Irina was very proud of her numbers.  We have been working on the numbers for a few weeks now, with a big break while we took a trip out of town.   I told her to write all the numbers and didn't really expect that she would do this well.  We also worked on the first five of the clock letters.  Letters a, c, d, g, and qu.  She didn't do so well on qu but the a, c, d, and g letters went really well.  We are using Cursive First for our handwriting program and are enjoying it very much.  The salt box is a great way to practice writing letters - in the back ground of a few of the photos you can see Lucy playing in the salt box.