Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pregnancy Moment # 243 "I am a wonderful Christian!!"

So, being pregnant has opened up my eyes to many things, but humility was not one I was expecting. A woman’s body does miraculous things during pregnancy; it requires more blood, more oxygen, more nutrients, and more brain power to develop a little human being. If you have known anyone while they were pregnant, you might have noticed her troubles recalling small details (and sometimes not so small). I like to call this “pregnancy brain.” Luckily for me, my husband has caught on to a lot of my sign language and my grunts, and picked up when I forgot something. Except a few weeks ago.…
We were speaking to a class in Murfreesboro, TN and we were excited to be on the road again.  During each presentation, we share a little about our personal testimonies. Kevin finished his side, and I stood up tall (or short rather) and proud to share my experience. Several weeks prior, thanks in part to my growing child pressing on my lungs, my voice began to quiver when I tried to speak loudly; but today, I was determined to not let it distract me. Without getting into too much detail about what we share during our presentation, one the greatest influences in my life was my grandmother. She was my mentor who taught me to cook, clean and sew. She was a wonderful person and it was she who taught me to love Christ.
As I continued speaking, I noticed some smirks, some inquisitive looks and one family dropped their jaws. All I could think was maybe they never had such a loving grandmother. After we were done, the same family who dropped their jaw sped out of the room. I was afraid maybe I brought up a painful memory, until Kevin leaned over to me and whispered sarcastically, “So… you’re a wonderful Christian?” Wait-WHAT?!?! I immediately gave him the evil eye pregnat wives give their husbands when they are denied a craving and he started to laugh. “What are you talking about” I asked.
Well….turns out my mind was speaking about my grandmother and the wonderful person she was and how I found a love for Christ because of her. My mouth, however, said how my grandmother taught me everything I know, and I am a wonderful Christian. Oops.
Needless to say, the remaining people in the room, Kevin and I all had a good laugh at my expense. I am thoroughly embarrassed! I can’t believe something so silly came out of my mouth. Being pregnant has its teachable moments, this one was no exception. By the way, if anyone from that particular class is reading this, PLEASE understand that I have a little more humility than that! Sometimes! J

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Places You’ll Go…and the People You’ll Meet

Over the past 8 months or so, we have had the opportunity to meet many new people and make many new friends - with a surprising number from Africa! We try to take every opportunity to spend time with these natives of this massive continent, to talk about their lives, their adventures, their reasons for being in the States, and what some of our soon-to-be-cultural challenges will look like.
Tasha was roughly 7 weeks pregnant and had a feeling that she needed to see a doctor. We were on the road, so we used our insurance reference page and went with the first doctor on the list. When he came into our room, he spoke with a wonderfully thick Nigerian accent (Only appropriate seeing as how he came from there). He looked over the baby and found everything well except some low hormone levels that a supplement took care of. He also took the time to talk to us about his experiences in Africa. He has been very blessed to have a good education and was from a family who could afford his education. He was even more blessed to have the opportunity to practice in the United States. He is now one of our supporters.
The next person we met was from Sierra Leone. He was a pilot (therefore a nut and formed an instant connection with Kevin) and loved sharing his adventurous world travels. He told us of one trip through Africa and a lunch at a “chicken” stand. As he began eating, he noticed the bird was larger and chewier than normal, and it had some extra tendons he wasn’t used to seeing. It didn’t take long to deduce what he was eating! Soon after, he returned to the “chicken stand” and asked for a plate of “vulture.” The cook/owner/chef paled immediately and said they did not serve vulture.  Our friend, being the humorous man he is, continued to badger (they eat that too) the cook, adamantly requesting vulture again! Eventually, the two had a laugh and he was served his mystery meat. His lesson to us was to just realize that when meat runs low, eating any meat found, such as monkey, vulture, or snake, is not out of the question!
The third person we met was a sweet man from Zambia who was in the States enrolled in a Master’s Program at a university in Illinois. He was very excited for the opportunity to further his education and career, but he had to leave his family half way around the world. He was also working a part-time job to come up with the money to bring his family to stay with him. While he is away, no one is available to take care of his family so having them to come live with him at school would better their opportunities for living. We spent a lot of time in prayer and he was very excited to meet someone who was going to serve in his home continent.  He also provided a lot of insight into the spiritual condition of the Congo/ Zambia area. He is now one of our prayer warriors.
There have been several others and after learning their stories, we asked how we could help positively impact their home. Their responses were all the same and not at all what we expected.
                We were told tale after tale, describing how much of Africa was built on war. Life is all about the age old rule “an eye for an eye.” When anger prevails, it becomes tribe against tribe. When money is involved, it becomes militia against civilian. When natural resources are the livelihood, it becomes government against citizens. It all ends the same; too many empty bellies are being ignored.  Voodoo and witchcraft have become the cure for the all too common epidemic, and the sacrifice of animals and people must be made. War is normal, and children are abducted and forced to fight.
As missionaries began to enter into the picture, natives were told of a God who so loved them, He sacrificed His only Son so we could ALL be saved. The concepts of love like a child and sacrifices were graspable, but why did Jesus not punish those who crucified Him. Where were the 12 legions of Angels seeking vengeance? They were all taught “an eye for an eye.” Why did God’s powerful Son not seek retribution from those who “wronged” Him?
                Something so simple we teach our children but it is something so difficult to grasp for an entire culture. Forgiveness is powerful. People who have been horrifically scarred are suffering from mental and emotional anguish to the point they cannot function physically. Praise God for the necessary help we provide the many ministries who fly with us, and praise Him even more for the encouraging results! The power of Jesus and the Comforter He promised teaches them to forgive the past, with results so extreme it can only be from the Creator. Who is going to demonstrate and proclaim forgiveness? We are-the body of Christ.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On the Road Again....again....again....

One of most rewarding parts of being Pre-Field Missionaries is “Ministry Partnership”- seeking those friends, family, and churches that God is directing to provide to the missionaries vital prayer and financial support necessary for successful ministry with MAF. We have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and sharing in fellowship with these individuals and churches. This week, March 3rd – March 11th we have been on the road again, to do more relationship building, seeking out those partners that God has in store for our ministry team.
Here is our rough itinerary:
Saturday, March 3rd
                Left home and drove to a friend’s house in Cookeville, TN
Sunday, March 4th
                Spoke at a combined small group’s class at Collegeside
                Ate lunch with some partners
                Visited Collegeside for evening service
                Ate dinner with some partners
                Drove to Smyrna, TN to a friend’s home
Monday, March 5th
Day off! Sort of…spent the day catching up on thank you cards, contacting prayer partners, reviewing our schedule, etc.
Ate dinner with some partners
Tuesday, March 6th Kevin attended the Tennessee Mid-South Aviation Seminar, which consists of continuing education sessions to renew the Inspection Authorization (advanced aviation maintenance license).
                Tasha spent the day working on our presentation, PowerPoint, thank you cards, etc.
                Had coffee with one of our partners
Wednesday, March 7th
Early morning meeting for Kevin in Brentwood, then travel to Nashville at 9:30 for the remainder of the Tennessee Mid-South Aviation Conference.
Tasha spent the day working on our presentation, PowerPoint, thank you cards, blog updates, packing, etc.
                Drove to Lobelville, TN for evening service
                Drove to Waverly, TN to spend the evening with family
Thursday, March 8th
                Spend the morning with family, then drive to Nashville for a meeting.
                Evening will be spent with partners.
                Driving back to Smyrna, TN
Friday, March 9th
                Morning is still open.
                Evening will be spent with partners.
Saturday, March 10th
                Day is still open.
Sunday, March 11th
                Speaking at a Sunday School Class in Murphreesboro.
                Travel to Cookeville to spend some more time with the folks at Collegeside.
                Head home.

We really enjoy spending time on the road, it is a lot of work, time and effort, but it is also very rewarding and fun developing and nurturing our friendships. We are so thankful for the friends we have!