Category Archives: Missions

Update: From the Land of Snow, Ice Cream, Lattes, and More

We are finally emerging from the “Great Holiday Silence” to say, “Hi!”

img_4042We have been back in the States for seven weeks now. We survived the busyness of Christmas as we traveled to and fro between MN and WI. But the “busyness” consisted of seeing family and friends, eating delicious food, sipping lattes, discovering the strange concept of “winter,” playing with new toys and old pianos, loading up on ice cream and Christmas cookies, driving on wonderful roads, and more. So, in other words, we haven’t been roughing it.

Since Christmas, we have spent some time resting and seeing more wonderful people, including a quick trip to see our former director in Zambia and his family, Tim and Andrea Hilty. Our “tour” of visiting supporting churches kicked off last weekend in Janesville, WI, and now this coming weekend will find us in Marshfield, WI. Thanks to my parents for watching Charlie and Sam, so we can actually interact with people at these churches! Apart from the churches, we have been able to speak at a small group from our church in Minneapolis (Bethlehem), and tonight we speak on “ministering among the poor” at a missions fellowship through Bethlehem.

And next week, we head to California to see friends, former teammates, and supporters, who we have not seen for a very long time! It has been so great to connect with so many people in the short time that we have been back.

A couple prayer requests:

-While back, we are trying to raise money to buy a second vehicle. As most missionaries have discovered in Zambia, it’s really hard to live as a family, where roads are rough and transportation is poor, with just one vehicle. The truck we are purchasing is not as expensive as our other vehicle, but we are still hoping to raise about $6,000 for that. Click here to donate and put “truck” in the “Comments About This Donation” box. Thanks!

-Also, God has been so gracious to raise and sustain our monthly support over the last six years of being in Zambia – we praise him for that! But circumstances change for people, and prices change in Zambia, and we are finding ourselves a little short monthly. Would you pray that God would raise that through new ministry partners? Click here to donate.

-Lastly, pray that God would give us all the rest that we need while we are back. Charlie is homesick for Zambia, his dog, his aunties and uncles, and the sun. We want to help our little “third culture kid” to enjoy his time in America well and find joy wherever we are.

Thank you!!! We hope to see many of you in the next couple months before we return to Zambia!

Summer 2016 Newsletter

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Hi everyone, here is our latest newsletter for Summer 2016! In this newsletter, we cover:

  • Thank you for praying and giving!
  • CROSS Project general update
  • CROSS Project Marriage Seminar update
  • CROSS Project Hospice Seminar with Bethlehem Baptist Church coming up in August
  • Thankful for Community Schools
  • Family Update
  • Latest Prayer Requests
  • Some Charlie Quotes

You can access it here or here, if you need to view it in a lower resolution.

Encouraged by Our Visitors

In Romans 1:11-12, Paul, says to the church in Rome that, “…I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

When people come and visit us, they usually remark on what a challenge it must be to host people for a couple of weeks at a time and they appreciate that we are willing to host them. Yes, hosting has become more challenging with two little kids, but just as Paul talks about in Romans 1:11-12, we are so encouraged by our time with people that come to visit us and stay with us!

Over the last three months, we have had the joy of hosting Wade and Annette Hetrick, from my home church in Appleton, WI (Wade is the pastor there), for a week in Zambia and then a week in Cape Town, South Africa; Kristin’s parents, Terry and Connie Carlson from Burnsville, MN, for a few weeks; and then last week, Nelson and Linda Reed from the Seattle, WA area. Nelson was ACTION’s International Director for nine years up until this last March and is still our Africa Regional Coordinator for ACTION. All of these three couples have encouraged us so much and have been a huge help with the boys! Charlie and Sam have loved every minute of play time with their Meme and Gpa, Nana and Papa, and “Grandma-Auntie” and “Grandpa-Uncle” (those were the names that Charlie came up with for them).

All three of these couples were also a help and encouragement to ACTION Zambia (AZ) as well and those we minister to here. Wade and Annette did a one-day marriage seminar for AZ’s Pastoral Leadership Development department. Terry and Connie gave the graduation address to two of the graduating CROSS classes and also did some medical home visits through Faith Tabernacle Church in George compound. Nelson and Linda greatly encouraged us all here on the field and gave us all some soul care!

We are thankful for our recent visitors and for making the trek all the way here to encourage us and minister to us, as well as others! We hope that we were an encouragement to all of them as well.

I Need Thee…Right Now!

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Life in Zambia. There are many adjectives that describe our life here. Adventurous. Crazy. Exhausting. Unique. Fulfilling. Amazing. Frustrating. But the one that describes us the most is needy.

During our first week back, Derek and I were reminded that we found ourselves praying so much more than we did during our time in the States. There is a lot about life here that feels precarious. We feel our helplessness and weakness so much, even in simple things.

I remember sitting in the kitchen, which is on one end of our house, and hearing Sam cry in his bed, which is on the opposite end of the house. My feet were throbbing, as I was still adjusting to walking on our tile floors. The rest of my body was exhausted from the heat, humidity, and jet lag. But whether my feet hurt or my body felt hot and tired, Sam was still hungry. And I found myself instinctively crying out to God for strength to walk across the house and care for Sam.

Derek said that he continually finds himself praying for help to drive and navigate the roads, which are dotted with potholes and pedestrians and all sorts of vehicle situations (slow-moving cars, having to slam on the brakes for cars pulling out onto the road too late, vehicles broken down in the middle of the road, cars with no brake lights, the occasional dangerously fast and reckless vehicles, etc – if you are sensing that driving here feels like being in a video game, you’re absolutely “spot on!”). Driving is a life-endangering experience here, and “praying without ceasing” is an appropriate and instinctive response.

I think God likes it more when we are in Zambia than in the States, because we feel our neediness for Him more here. We call out to God more for help here. We feel desperate and unable to bring about the kind of change we desire. Our joy, our souls, our children’s souls, the eternal happiness of Zambians, our team, and so many more things hang in the balance. So, we pray. And we are so incredibly thankful for your prayers as well, which sustain us to continue on here.

38 Hours, 2 Parents, 1 Toddler, 1 Infant, and 1 Missionary Calling

There are two things about our missionary life that I wish could be different but, alas, are part of our particular calling right now: 1) the “feast or famine” part of getting to spend so much concentrated time with family, friends, church, etc and then being completely without those things when in Zambia and 2) traveling internationally with little ones.

I’m sure my normally healthy blood pressure levels shoot up in the weeks leading up to our long airplane rides, which would test the endurance of even the most patient and sanctified people. Anyone who asks how they can be praying for us as we prepare to leave hears a resounding “Pray for our flights with two little kids!”

So, now that my blood pressure has returned to its pre-travel levels after surviving our 38-hour journey (from when we left our Minnesota house on Saturday until we arrived at our Lusaka house on Monday), I want to share with you God’s grace to us along the way.

As usual, we had more stuff to take back with us than our luggage allowance provided. There was a slight chance that we could benefit from a “humanitarian airfare contract” with the airline we flew with, with which they could wave any extra baggage fees. We prayed for that “slight chance.” And God was gracious! No extra fees for us!

Unfortunately, the ticket agents in London were not as gracious with our extra baggage, and one guy gave us a bill for $750, since the humanitarian airfare contract was not recognized by our second airline. In God’s mercy, we ended up only having to pay $230!

Sam’s infant-in-lap ticket threw all of the ticket agents for a loop, and we spent about 3 hours in Minneapolis and London getting his tickets secured. But in the end, Sam was allowed to travel with us :), and we even got to use those lovely airplane bassinets for both of the 8-hour flights (a welcomed relief from carrying 15 pounds of squirmy cuteness)!

For how frustrating and tedious our airport experiences were, our 4 flights went almost as smoothly as they could have gone. Charlie was mostly content watching “Little Bear,” sleeping, eating tic tacs, and, of course, figuring out what all the buttons do (it’s a good thing the flight attendants don’t take their call light seriously)! There were occasional tears but no all-out tantrums or meltdowns! That was a huge praise.

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And when we arrived in Lusaka, we were greeted by lots of helping hands, smiling faces, and even a marching band! It felt so good to get to the end of that long and tiresome journey. As a bonus, Charlie slept for 16 hours straight the first night back, and we all have basically had no problems with jet lag so far! Thank you for your prayers!!! God answered above and beyond what was asked for or imagined.

Even as we cherish the memories of our time in the States, we are glad to be back to what is feeling more and more like “home.” Thank you for your continued prayers and support, without which we could not do this work!

CROSS Project/Bethlehem Baptist Hospice Seminar Update

To say that having the folks from Bethlehem Baptist Church (our home and sending church) short-term team here is and has been a blessing, would be an understatement. We have loved having them here and have been SO blessed and encouraged by each of them!!

Their trip is almost done, and they will be flying out tomorrow night. But I wanted to give you an update on the first part of their trip, which consisted of six days of training in basic hospice techniques for six different churches that have gone through the CROSS Project curriculum over the last two years.

81 former CROSS Project students learned about:

  • Hand washing and Sanitation: how to properly dispose of wastes
  • Wound care: very basic without access to any fancy dressings
  • Giving a bed-bath and making an occupied bed
  • Positioning someone in bed and safe transfers/walking
  • Nutrition and hydration: before someone is actively dying
  • Pain management, shortness of breath, and dying process

Based on some of the comments that we heard from many of the students, they found the information to be very applicable to their lives and living situations. Many people in Lusaka’s poor communities as well as outside in the rural areas have to care for the sick and dying due to lack of good health care facilities. But many of them have don’t have the skills and have never been taught how to do this in the most safe, healthy, and helpful way.

These were some of the comments I heard: “We thought we were helping people, but we were only hurting them and ourselves in how we were taking care of them.” “My boss died of a bed sore, because we didn’t move him for over two weeks after he was injured on the job – we didn’t know we were suppose to reposition him.” One lady commented at the hand washing and sanitation station about the difficult situation she and her family are in – “We are seven families against one pit latrine where I live.”

Please pray that God would plant and help people remember what they have learned from these workshops and that God would be glorified as these 81 former students seek to help people physically, share the gospel, and share this important information with others!

Bethlehem has also been blogging about their trip – you can find it here!

Below are some pictures of BBC in action.

 

Running a Marathon at 25 Weeks Pregnant

Backstage crew. Support staff. Fans and spectators. Cheerleaders. Whatever term you want to use, we want to send a big shout out to all of the people who keep us going here. There are people who pray, people who give, people who email, people who text, and people who we don’t even know who do these things. 

We might be getting the recognition for doing the “real” work on the ground in Zambia, but there are lots of people who do things that make it all possible for us to be here. 

As we get closer to the end of this term, we have felt moments of fatigue and weariness with life and ministry and have felt just plain old ready for a break. Like being on mile 24 in a marathon (not that we would actually know anything about that!), our muscles are tired, and our spirits are searching for a glimpse of the finish line. 

This morning, we awoke to an email from ACTION Headquarters that reminded us about all the people who give sacrificially to enable us be here. By God’s grace, people believe that what we are doing in Zambia is worthwhile. Amazing!

As I rolled out of bed (and I literally did roll, with how big this baby belly is getting!), I felt like I had rounded a bend in the road of this marathon, and all of the sudden, I could almost hear people cheering us on: 

We believe in what you’re doing! 

Keep on going! 

Don’t give up!

The weariness and fatigue melted away in a moment. I felt renewed energy and passion for what God has called us to. And I praised God for all of you standing on the sidelines cheering us on. Seriously, we are just a part of what God is doing in Zambia – all of you are a huge part in making this happen. And today, we want to say a big THANK YOU to the many people who have our backs as we finish this term!!! We could not do this without you.