Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Confession

Have you seen the movie “Courageous”? To sum it up without spoiling the movie, it is about five families who deal with the everyday struggles of life and their personal struggles to incorporate Christ in to every aspect of their life, especially their family life. It is an inspirational movie about the Biblical role of a father to his family. I can’t get enough of this movie!

My father died when I was four and my mother did not remarry until I was eighteen and in college. Don’t get me wrong, my mother did a wonderful job raising me considering the circumstances, but I had never had the opportunity to see a daily example of marriage. Before Kevin and I were married, I was worried. Would I become another divorce statistic just because I didn’t know how to act; would I break Kevin’s heart simply because I didn’t understand how a partnership should work; and would I be able to truly be fulfilled in a relationship I never had the opportunity to see or understand? With God, we’ve made our marriage a beautiful friendship. So what is my confession? Now, as we prepare to face our new roles as parents, new fears are coming to light. I have no idea had a family should act! What does a father look like? How are good parents supposed to interact and work together? What will discipline look like in a parental partnership?
Now, I feel like I am placing “pressure” on Kevin to be the role model father to our child, the father I never had. After watching “Courageous” (twice), he felt that one of my goals should be accountability. Hold him accountable to be the father who raises his children to be Godly; hold him accountable to be the Godly example to his child; and most importantly, hold him accountable to be the man God has asked him to be. That feels like a lot of pressure to me!
So, believing I could solve this answer on my own, I bought books – many books. And I have read these “many books.” Unfortunately, I have ignored the one book that could truly help me. To be honest, until I saw the movie “Courageous,” I did not think of the Bible as a parenting book. To be honest, until marital counseling, I never thought of the Bible as a book about marriage either. It is amazing how those ten different Bibles sitting on the shelf will stare us in the face day after day and we still don’t think of the Bible as an encyclopedia of answers.
With our daughters’ arrival approaching (although not soon enough), I have a new goal – to read The Big Book of Parenting Answers written by the Holy Spirit, with commentary by Jesus of Nazareth, and Paul of Tarsus and an introduction by Moses. I will also leave you with a sneak preview as to what you are missing if you haven’t read said book. (I highly recommend it; it’s been on the best seller list for centuries.)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Questions and Answers, Part III

-          I have no problem supporting individuals, but I don’t feel comfortable supporting organizations, what makes your different?

o    The MAF staff (those who serve overseas) all raise an equal amount of support (one level for individuals, a higher one for families). 100% of the funds we raise go to cover staff needs ONLY. All overhead costs (utilities, cost of office supplies, cost of running headquarters etc.) and cost of operating the aircraft come from other sources. These funds that are generously provided for the staff cover basic needs like housing, medical, children’s education, retirement, and cost of living adjustments. We will also receive an adequate salary so that we can pay for any food, clothing, or other needs we might have. Will it cost Kevin and Tasha $7,200 a month to live in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Possibly, most likely even more. Will it cost Jane and John Smith $7,200 a month to live in a country such as Haiti? Not as likely. It is for this reason we use a pooled system for staff financial support. This way the organization can maintain an equal standard of living (within reason) for their staff across the world, without some needing to raise more than others. 

-          What natural disasters will you experience?
o   Considering that the Congo has the 2nd largest rain forest in the world, I am sure we will experience a stampede or two by a pack of rogue monkeys (just teasing, but seriously). While the area is not close enough to the coast to experience tsunamis. There have been a few earthquakes, the EARS, East African Rift System, runs through the Congo. The number of earthquakes has been very few and the number of causalities has remained very low, much much lower than other issues in the DRC such as viral epidemics and poverty. So to sum up, we won’t be experiencing a lot of “natural disasters.”

-          What foods are naturally farmed? Will you farm or teach farming?

o   The DRC is very rich in minerals, and because of the warm climate, many different types of agriculture are produced:  cassava, yams, plantains, manioc, corn, sorghum, peanuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, bananas, pineapples, sugarcane, as well as coffee, palm oil, cocoa, and tea. Here is the problem… Tasha can kill a plastic house plant and Kevin won’t have much time for farming. Although, many of the MAF family’s grow gardens for fun as well as for the fresh produce. As far as farming being taught as a skill, I am sure it is a ministry that is utilized, but I am afraid to say, we will not be ministers in this project. Instead, we will more than likely have to learn from scratch how to keep house plants alive.

-          What happens to our money if you quit?

o   If we have to leave early, the money will continue on until you stop your funding. But let me assure you, we are committed for the long haul. It was a long journey (3 years of active preparation, a lifetime of God preparing us without us knowing it) just to get where we are today! When MAF interviewed us, we went through psychological evaluations, personality testing, intense review, etc. Our lives were under the microscope simply because MAF has been doing this since 1945 and they are aware of the unique challenges faced by each person as missionary. We are aware of the difficulties of our specific region and we are committed to these changes. When Jesus called His apostles to make disciples of all nations, they went, understanding the personal challenges. Granted, we are not one of the Twelve Apostles, but we have made this commitment with God and ourselves. Aside from medical or family emergencies, once we arrive in Africa, we are staying our full term (3 ½ years). Right now, we will do this until God directs us elsewhere. We know things will be difficult and like Jesus missing the passing of his friend Lazarus, we know we will miss many things here in the US (births of nieces/nephews, friend’s marriages, deaths, etc.) But when God asked us to be missionaries, we didn’t say sure, but if something happens, we are going back. Kevin and I have decided that as missionaries, we will not be here for many milestones, but we will be with our family and friends in prayer.

-          Can I send you care packages?

o   As much as we would love to receive care packages, things work a little differently in the Congo, DRC. This country has had a traumatic past and currently lacks ways of enforcing law and order like we know it in the States. Even with the improvements made with their government since it became a "democracy", corruption is still prevalent. (ranked one of the top 5 worst countries for corruption)While a care package might seem like a good thing, one cannot guarantee receipt. If you really would like to send us something while overseas, there are other options. Simply contact us and we can discuss alternate ideas. For example, many friends and family members have already made plans to visit us and we could get you in touch with someone making a visit to deliver a package.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Illness Update

This past week was a low point in our deputation for us. Saturday the 28th, we began packing for a short overnight trip to Cookeville to present the ministry of MAF to a combined Sunday School class. About 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave, I had to "hug the toilet", and felt worse from there.
I finally started to recover on Wednesday the 1st, just in time for Tasha’s beloved dog Maggie to break her left front leg. We rushed her to the vet where the most humane thing to do was put her to rest. That night, in between tears, Tasha came down with the same stomach bug I had.
The following Saturday, the 4th, as we were packing for a week-long trip to Middle Tennessee she began feeling light headed, short of breath and her heart began racing (tachycardia). We took her to the ER, where they admitted her to Cardiovascular CCU with a heart rate sometimes getting to 208 beats per minute.
They were able to get it under control with medication, and fortunately baby girl was un-affected and safe. They did several tests on Tasha; the lab results were all normal, her blood pressure was perfect, her heart is structurally sound and healthy, just beating too fast. After she gives birth, they will do more tests and determine what caused it and how to fix it. We were released and came home yesterday, Feb 5th.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed……..Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4
Praise God for:
Doctors and facilities available to help
Tasha and Baby’s health
Our wonderful family who took care of us, our house, and our pet while we were at the hospital
Even while we were out of commission, our funding continues to increase! We are at 70% of our new goal, or 77% of our old one!
Through a local cat rescue group, we have been able to find a home for our two cats!
Please be in prayer for:
Tasha and Baby’s health
Our morale and energy as we recover from illness, hospital visits, and the loss of our canine family member.