Category Archives: Life

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green

No, I’m not talking about Kermit the Frog or saving the planet. I’m talking about the complex, hard-to-describe, beautiful, sometimes sad life that our kids know. 

It comes under the category of TCK, formerly known as MK…Third Culture Kid or Missionary Kid. 

TCKs have been integrally shaped by 2 or more cultures to the point that they can’t be defined by either one. They are some sort of conglomeration of the cultures. 

Charlie has been missing Zambia a lot lately. And even though we are 7 months into this transitioning-back-to-America business, I pulled out the activities workbook of Looming Transitions by Amy Young to find a fresh platform for talking about this “new” life with Charlie (and Sam). 

And I made some play dough. Then we got to work. 

Yellow play dough is Charlie in Zambia. Let’s talk about Zambia. What did you love? 

Sun, Castro our dog, working with Uncle Charles, my friends, riding my bike…

Blue play dough is Charlie in America. Let’s talk about our life here in America. What do you love?

Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, sleepovers, going on the boat, fishing, school, being able to look out the window at the cars that drive by…

You can mix the yellow and blue together now. What happens?

It makes green!

Mixing the yellow and the blue involves kneading and smashing and squashing. Each person has their own way of mixing the yellow and green together. Sometimes it happens slower for one person than for someone else. 

Sam got right to work mixing them. Charlie was more mindful.

The process of becoming green doesn’t always feel good. That’s the sadness and loneliness you feel sometimes. 

But it makes you into a very special person. 

If you think of it, we appreciate continued prayer as we walk this transitioning road and help our kids navigate the emotions of it all. It ain’t easy bein’ green!

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I Wanted to be the Mother of Africa

Situation 1: When I went to Zambia as a 21-year old to work with street kids, I wanted to be a mom to all of the street kids in Africa.

As soon as I put my shovel to the ground, so to speak, I realized that my expectations were unrealistic and naive. But after over a year of working with a few kids, one of them said to me, “You love very nice.”

Situation 2: 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered outside the Lorraine Motel. He was only 39 years old, and he only saw tiny bits of the change he labored for.

I have listened to some of the MLK50 Conference, put on by The Gospel Coalition, and have been moved – deeply. Convicted. Motivated. Encouraged. Please, please, please do yourself and your fellow man a massive favor by listening to these talks! (Some are still happening today, and all will be made available for free.)

This anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in the midst of increased racial tension is no accident. This journey toward racial reconciliation has been going on a long time.

Putting it together: But what do Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial issues have to do with my desire to be the mother of Africa? I have learned something crucial – it’s one. Step. At. A. Time. One life at a time.

I want to see racial issues figured out today. I want my one act of kindness to my African American neighbor to result in healing and reconciliation of all racial tension. But that is unrealistic and naive. Just like my desire to be a mother to all African street kids.

Should I give up? No. Change happens one life at a time and, firstly, inside of me. And I need to be committed to doing 3 incredibly vital things.

Love. Love others as I love myself. As I love my children and family.

Speak up. To be silent is to oppose. So, speak. And I know that speaking up about racial issues will mean being unpopular. But this issue is in the heart of God.

Be kind. Reconciliation can happen through deeds of kindness.

There are loads of other things that could be said. Pray! Make friends with people who look different than me. Let them shape me. Ask them to tell their stories. Learn. Be humble. Repent. Get to know black history. The list goes on.

But, first, I need to love, speak up, and be kind. Would you join with me in this? It is “a mighty long journey.” But let’s join hands to help see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Adapt (with more pics!)

As we prepared to leave Zambia last summer, we also began processing what our new life and ministry based in the States would look like. There would be changes, yes. And in our last blog, we talked about some of those changes. But how does one prepare for so many changes?

There are many great and very spiritual answers. But I keep coming back to this truth: being a missionary means being adaptable. We had countless opportunities to learn this over our 8 years in Zambia – when things didn’t go how we expected. Or 99.999% of life looked different than we’re used to. Or we were forced to live and cook and minister with less than we thought we needed. And the list goes on.

I remember telling some friends in Zambia just before we left that I was counting on this learned strength – being adaptable – to help get us through all the change. And now that we have been back in the States for 4 1/2 months (only?!), I can say that it has helped tremendously! All that stretching and growth wasn’t for nothing, and I’m confident that this is the tip of the iceberg with how God will use all the ways we were pulled and pushed and molded in Zambia to help both us and others.

Here are some pics of how we have been learning recently to adapt to our new home!

Hugging their snowman (who desperately needs to see a dentist!)

Going to Handel’s Messiah at the Basilica

We are often the only ones at the park, but it’s a great way for the boys to burn that energy!

Celebrating Christmas with our families

Celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday with all my siblings and their spouses!

School Christmas activities

Learning to love playing in cold weather

When life gives you snow, get out the shovel!

Playing with dump trucks and cement mixers in the snow

A great experience for Charlie and me to serve together

Serving the vulnerable with my family through Feed My Starving Children

Charlie’s new favorite discovery – mayonnaise! He and Sam are making their sandwiches…with way too much mayo!

Life as we know it in cold Minnesota – bundle up wherever we go!

Charlie said, “I want everyone to know that we are a Zambian family.” Donning their Zambians scarves and hats.

Change (and a huge thanks!…and photos)

We have now been back in the States for just over 3 months and have had time to process some of our big transition. 6 1/2 years in Zambia – that’s enough time to be changed…not to mention that our family doubled in size during that time, which brings its own kind of trauma change.

While we obviously pray that God used us to shape Zambia, we know that Zambia has shaped us. We are more understanding of and compassionate toward situations the poor are in. We are less fearful. We know a little of what being a minority means. We have been made stronger through the endurance it takes to live with 12-hour daily power outages, horrendous traffic situations, the inconsistency of food and fuel availability, and so much more. We are more wise about missions and the struggles missionaries face. We know the joy of seeing God bear fruit. We are more understanding of people’s struggles. You get the picture.

Leaving Zambia was not easy. In fact, it was the hardest decision we have made in our marriage. But being back in the States has shown us 2 important things: 1) we still love missions and feel called to strengthening, discipling, and reaching the global Church; and 2) it was the right decision to be based in the States at this time. Some of the situations that had happened in Zambia over the last few years took a greater toll on us than we realized, and we are beginning to feel more refreshed and energized for what God has in store for us.

It really is a major perk that, in leaving Zambia, we get to still be involved in missions with ACTION! Derek will be traveling quite a bit next year to various fields for strengthening, encouraging, teaching, and scouting. We are already praying that God will use our experiences in Zambia to benefit many more around the world. Feel free to pray with us for that!

There is more information about our family and this big change in our recent newsletter, which we would love for you to check out, if you haven’t already. And to add on to the abbreviated “thank you” in our latest newsletter, we really don’t know how to express how full our hearts are with thankfulness. Through the care, prayers, and generosity of so many, we were sent out to Zambia and sustained in ministry there. Unless you have experienced it, it is almost impossible to describe how much missions is a group effort. Although we were the hands that gave comfort to the suffering or the feet that walked with Zambians or the mouths that taught the hope of the gospel, we could not have done it without you!

And even though we are based in the States now, we are in the same situation. Without so many of you continuing to care, pray, and give, we could not continue to serve the nations. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This has been and continues to be such a humbling partnership, and we pray that God returns the blessing many times over. It is a joy to serve the nations with you.

Enjoy some pictures that we couldn’t fit in our newsletter!

A New Year – What Will It Bring?

Now that the Christmas and holiday rush is over, you probably have time to sit down and read all of those Christmas letters that people sent. Unless you are us, as we have not received any mail whatsoever in about 4 weeks. The post office went on strike for the month of December. I wonder if they regretted that decision when they came back to work and stood before Mt. Holiday Mail?! But, I digress.

As we begin a new year, there are millions of situations and decisions we will face. Many we anticipate, and many more we do not. This got me thinking about some of the decisions I have had to make over the last year that I did not anticipate. Here are a few:

  1. As I mentioned already, our mail has not been delivered for over a month. (Thank you to those of you who sent Christmas cards to Zambia! We look forward to reading those, hopefully, in a couple weeks when they are delivered). Since I have the email addresses of some key people in the postal system, I have wondered how often I should continue to email them to ask about the whereabouts of several packages, which people sent in November, especially since they don’t respond to my emails. 🙂
  2. What should we do with our dog between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day? Zambians LOVE fireworks. Our dog does NOT. From 8pm until 2:30am for 7-10 days, there are fireworks, a poor dog going out of his mind, and poor us trying to maintain stability and sanity.
  3. Sam has been growing some pretty cute curls at the nape of his neck along with some crazy flyaways behind his ears. When should I cut his hair for the first time in his life?
  4. Does freshly-picked-from-our-backyard mango salsa pair well with spicy shredded chicken on freshly homemade tortillas? (Yes. the answer is a resounding YES!)
  5. Does my househelper/maid do a good enough job that makes it worth it for me to pay her child’s school fees/day care costs? She is only able to work if she has someone to take care of her daughter, but she cannot afford day care costs.
  6. Should I continue on with my undergraduate studies for my Bachelor of Science?
  7. When am I supposed to start officially home schooling? What curriculum will I use? Am I up for the task?
  8. What will I cook for dinner when our power is off for 8 hours every day? Will I actually turn the oven on when it’s 100 degrees outside and 94 degrees inside?
  9. How hard do we push potty training, when someone has told us in no uncertain terms, “I do not want to. I just want to wear diapers.”
  10. At ACTION’s 40th Anniversary Jubilee in Canada, I asked Wheaton College professor and author, Scott Moreau, a question that I found rolling through my mind several times in 2015 – How do I know what the purpose is of each trial? Is it simply spiritual warfare trying to distract us from the work we are doing? Is it the consequence of sinful actions or attitudes? Is it general sanctification – purging sin and learning to rely on God? Dr. Moreau’s response was profound – pray. Ask God. Press in to him. Get counsel from godly men and women. He lamented that he couldn’t be more helpful. But I do hope and pray that I will press in to God this 2016. There will always be trials. So, may God grant faith to trust him and rely on him more, especially for all the decisions and questions that will arise. And may he do the same for you.

A Toddler’s Perspective on Playing Catch [Video]

In case you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be inside a toddler’s body, here ya go. We put a camera on Charlie’s head and played catch.

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We learned that a simple game of ball-throwing involves a lot of falling down with both catching and throwing. And don’t worry, Charlie did not get hurt in the making of this video. Enjoy!

Introducing Samuel Henry Dearth

We are thrilled to announce the birth of our second born son, Samuel Henry Dearth!! Sam was born on October 30th at 6:28pm CST. He weighed 8lbs 10oz and was 21 3/4 inches long.

Both Sam and Kristin are doing really well, and we praise God for a quick delivery after Kristin was induced yesterday at 2pm. Charlie is also doing well and is interested in this new addition to our family, but he’s not too sure about him yet and is still keeping his distance right now. We were able to get Charlie to give him a little kiss today though. 🙂

Please pray for us as a family during the next three days before Derek needs to go back to Zambia for a little trip from November 4-13. More on the need for this trip in the next couple of days.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers the last few days. God has been so faithful and gracious to us, and we praise Him for this precious little baby!!