Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Road Again

This post will probably not be pithy, well thought out, or thought provoking, but it is an update none the less. We have moved on since my last verbal goof up, much to the credit of Tasha's patience and kindness, and are now in a very cold, cloudy and waterlogged Paris, TN.

Saturday night we left East TN, and after making a few pit stops and stopping to see a few friends, arrived at my sister-in-law's (and brother's) house. Sunday we got up early and spoke to a missions class at the Otter Creek Church of Christ and then drove to Paris to spend some time with the Sulphur Wells Church of Christ. We spent the better part of two hours sharing the ministry of MAF, then went to dinner with some folks.

Throughout the drive through TN, the moment I hit 70 MPH (and not 1 MPH more), I felt a vibration in the car. Call it a mechanic's intution, but it did not feel like a wheel balance issue. Our host family recomended a local shop and after a quick inspection, they confirmed my suspision that there were some severely worn suspension parts. I'm glad I followed my gut! The car is in the shop now and will be ready for pick up tomorrow.

Monday evening we had another meeting with a wonderful Life Group from Sulphur Wells in our host family's home. We will be here in Paris until Thursday morning visiting with our old friends and making new ones. Then we drive back to Smyrna to spend some time with my brother and sister-in-law until Saturday afternoon, when we will drive back to Paris for a bit more time with Sulphur Wells. Finally, Sunday we will head home, making a stop at the College Side Church of Christ in Cookeville, TN. Our time now is being spent working on updating our mailing list, writing our December news letter, making phone calls, and managing time to update this blog!

I hope this post finds everyone in good health, and we wish you a warm week!
In His Service,
Kevin and Tasha Spann

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life Lessons

The process of Deputation (also known as fundraising) is an awesome time. We use this time to confirm God’s calling to us regarding our ministry with MAF in Africa. God uses this time to show us who He is and to grow our faith in preparation for the time when faith is the only way we will thrive. As a married couple, this season in our lives has a way of forcing us to refine and sharpen our relationship. On a personal level, we are put us in situations where we learn about ourselves (good, bad or indifferent).This morning, nearly all of the above happened.

It seemed that nothing was going right: we could not find our zip drive with our presentation videos on them, the printer would not print our presentation notes, and Tasha was "hogging" the bathroom! We had to get food in the crock pot for a lunch appointment, feed the dogs, and at some point eat breakfast.
The presentation was in less than 30 minutes and neither of us were dressed. As I was ironing my shirt, I began to grumble about how late we were going to be (being early IS one of the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, see for yourself). As I began to brush my teeth, I began to growl. Literally. Then I noticed Tasha was tweaking the PowerPoint presentation, trying to get it just perfect. The growling then grew to a bark that sounded like this: "Tasha! We have to leave in 3 minutes and 35, no 34 seconds, we don’t have our notes printed, we don’t have the car packed, we still need to run by the store and grab a table cloth for the display and your hair isn’t even dried!"

My wife calmly responded almost in a whisper "WE are not going until you calm down and get your head on straight".
To which I responded "What?!? Don’t talk to me like a 5 year old; sometimes I wonder if you try to make us late on purpose just to aggravate me!"
Tasha replied with tears.

The instant I said it, I knew I was grossly out of line. Tasha was completely, totally right. As a husband, my first duty is to Glorify the one who called us (heart, soul, mind and strength) and my second duty is to treat my wife as a sister in Christ, as the companion God has entrusted to me. My actions did none of those.

After apologizing and rebuking myself, Tasha said she didn't need to dry her hair (which by now was mostly dry anyway.... and the power bun looks great on her) and we didn't need to get a tablecloth. As we drove to the church, we prayed together. We walked in 15 minutes later than I wanted to, but the world didn't end, class hadn't started and we had a warm welcome. The moment we walked in I saw some ladies spreading none other than a tablecloth on the very table we were to set our display on. Tasha looked at me, and her look didn't say "I told you so". With all the patience and grace in the world, her look said "God is good, and what a sense of humor He has."

We set up our display and greeted a few folks, and sat down for class. We picked up our Bibles and mine fell open to the passage in 1 Peter, Chapter 3. You know, the verse that talks about how wives should live with purity and reverence and an unfading beauty from the inside which is gentle and quiet so they can win over their unbelieving husband, and how husbands should be considerate as we live with our wives and treat them as the heirs of the same gracious gift of salvation we received.

I am truly grateful for my wife. I would not be who I am without her. I would not be where I am, following a lifelong dream of being a missionary pilot, without her. Several people have asked if she feels the same calling that I do. When work gets busy, and I get too distracted to do our Bible work, she pushes me through. When I got discouraged with the stress of the MAF application and interview process, she encouraged me to fly how I know to, and let God do the rest. When I act like a complete pig, she pulls me back into reality. When we stand together and smile during our presentation, it is because of her that our joy as a family, as a missionary couple, is not an act, but sincere excitement about the journey God is leading us on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Matthew 10

Sorry for the delay in our posts! We have [many] an excellent excuse - unfortunately, you will have to wait for our December newsletter to read all about it! (Insert shameless plug here: if you are not currently signed up to receive our bi-monthly newsletters, please email me with your preference - snail mail or email. Also, include the address to where you would like them sent!)

Today, we had the honor of leading a Bible study on Matthew 10 with a group of our youngest missionary partners - Mrs. McClane's 4th grade class at Knoxville Christian School! How ironic/convenient they are on this incredible section in Matthew where Jesus sent out His twelve apostles to "preach to the lost sheep". It is amazing how God can find a way to renew and refocus our spirits at just the right time! We have recently returned from over a month on the road and will soon depart again on a new adventure during and after the Thanksgiving holiday!  We were in great need of this revitalizing lesson ourselves!

I have read through this section many times but never focusing on the symbolism the author Matthew places in this book. The first thing I noticed was that the chapter really begins with the section before, in Matthew 9: 35-38. Here Jesus sees the harassed and helpless people in the crowd and makes a beautiful statement: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (37-38). This is a great explanation/analogy for the great need of servants to spread God's word and I feel blessed to be called to do this great work in His name!

The section then goes on to describe the many things expected of the apostles: do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey or extra tunic, no sandals or a staff, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons, etc. I know God has asked Kevin and me as missionaries to rely on the people around us for support, but not to the extent of leaving everything behind! This is a humbling section for me! Can I be faithful enough to trust that God will provide everything for me or will I continue in my ways and try to plan, plan, plan?

The final part I wanted to mention is my favorite - Matthew 10:19-20, "When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." At our meetings, Kevin and I are asked to explain why we feel called to missions and how do we know this is where God is calling us. My personal prayer before every meeting is what Matthew 10:19-20 clearly states. I ask God to speak through me so those with me can clearly see the work we are called to is an obvious calling from God. It is very reassuring to know Jesus told his apostles how God will speak through them. I know through faith, God will speak through us as well.