Category Archives: Travel

Kristin Returning to Zambia

“A new commandment I (Jesus) give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV).

Just before we left Zambia 10 months ago, one of our national workers pleaded with me to ask our church in Minneapolis to send another short-term team to train Zambians in basic home health care. I passed along the request, and the response was, “Sure!…You’ll be on the team, right?” In some ways, it seemed like a no-brainer. I have lived in Zambia, hosted this kind of team in Zambia twice, and am a nurse. But in other ways, I saw some significant obstacles – two in particular…their names were Charlie and Sam.

And yet, God made it clear that I should go. Derek willingly (with a healthy amount of fear and trepidation!) volunteered to be stay-at-home Dad for the 12 days of the trip. So, from August 1-13, I will join a wonderful team from Bethlehem Baptist Church to teach about 150 Zambians how to practically love others in their homes, churches, and communities through home health care skills. The specific skill I will teach is “nutrition & hydration in a low-resource area.”

I have not been on a short-term team for 18 years, so this will be a different role for me. Derek and I tangibly feel the need for prayer! Charlie is still trying to figure out how he can come along, and Sam can work his lower lip like nobody’s business when he thinks about me being gone. We have seen God work and supply strength and grace through your prayers before, and we are trusting that God will show up powerfully again. 

These words from Alexander Strauch in his book, Love or Die, sum up the verses from John 13 and also my desire for this trip. “Our Lord was not an abstract theologian who sat in a classroom pontificating on the high virtues of love. Instead, Jesus ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). He healed the sick, fed the multitudes, and preached the gospel to the poor. He exhausted himself in acts of kindness and deeds of compassion for the benefit of the needy. In ever way, he lived and modeled a life of love.” Pray that God would use me (and the team) to model lives of love for the sake of the gospel in Zambia. 

Bethlehem Baptist Church – Zambia Team 2018

Zambia Trip Support Needs

We are praying that the Lord will provide some additional funds to help Kristin with her Zambia trip expenses this August. If you would like to contribute to this trip, please click here and give a one-time gift. In the “Comments” box, write “Zambia Trip.” Thank you so much!

A Quick Family Update

We will give more of an update in our next newsletter about Derek’s continued work and ministry in leadership at ACTION USA and the upcoming trips that he will be making this Fall. But in short, he has stayed very busy this past Spring with travel out to the Seattle office and various projects and administrative work, which he has enjoyed. 

Meanwhile, Charlie and Sam continue to be active and talkative and enjoy that Summer is in full swing in MN. They are excited to go camping for the first time this summer!

PDF Version of our Newsletter

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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!

I Spy

Well, although we have been quiet, we have not been bored. We did, indeed, make it back to Zambia on May 13th. All of our luggage stayed in Dubai for another scorching 24 hours, but we were glad to be reunited with all of our stuff just the day after we arrived. Thank you for your prayers for safe travel! The boys did exceptionally well, and God really did a great work through children’s melatonin. Hallelujah!

It has been fun to be back and see life through Charlie’s eyes. His awareness and ability to communicate has helped us see everything with fresh perspective. Why are we in Zambia? How come we have to go on 3 airplanes to get to Zambia? Why are the children of my aunties and uncles in America called “cousins,” but in Zambia they are just my friends? Etc…

Yesterday, Charlie and I (Kristin) went to the grocery store, and we played a favorite car game – I Spy. But this time, I added a new twist – we could only spy things that are special about Zambia, not things that we would see in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Here were a few fun things that made it in the game yesterday:

  • Dirt…everywhere
  • Garbage
  • Piles of sand, gravel, and dirt to make cement
  • Pyramids of watermelons waiting to be sold
  • Wall fences lining the roads and surrounding houses
  • Red flowers on top of huge, tall trees
  • Palm trees
  • Big checkered speed “humps”
  • A huge dump truck carrying gravel
  • A man standing in the street at the traffic light selling talk time (minutes for cell phones)
  • Chickens in the back of a pickup truck waiting to be sold (and eaten!)
  • Big bags of Zambian charcoal on the side of the road
  • Ladies carrying buckets of water on their heads
  • A tall crane

Everyday life in Zambia looks very different from what we know in America. But driving anywhere here is an exciting experience, and, as Charlie likes to say when we drive, “Just sit back and enjoy the show!”

 

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!

Fall 2016 Newsletter

Greetings from a very hot and dusty Zambia!

In this newsletter, we give an update on some ministry things and that we will be on Home Assignment soon – we leave Zambia on December 7th! Click here to see out latest newsletter.

Thank you so much for you love and support!

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Sam trying to stay cool 

Mountains. Oceans. Seafood. Oh my!

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Ahhhhhhh (long, dreamy sigh). Cape Town.

Oceans.

Mountains.

White sand.

Spectacular beaches.

Seals playing in the waves as we enjoyed our morning coffee from our balcony.

Endless, amazing, cheap seafood.

Penguins hanging out on the beach.

What is there not to love?!

Thanks to a gift from a friend, along with the [strong] encouragement to go on a vacation outside of Zambia (aww, shucks!), we got to experience the incredible Jewel of Africa. It is truly a world class city. And we were continually blown away  by the incredible beauty e.very.where.

In all the activities we did, we never felt too far from home. Whether we were at the Cape of Good Hope (the Southwestern-most tip of Africa, near where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet) or on top of Table Mountain or visiting the penguins or going for a boat ride to see 70,000 seals (and the occasional whale!), we ran into Midwesterners. Some came for safari, others had family that lived there, and others were, like us, taking a vacation from ministry to see sights and get refreshed.

The only negative about this trip was that it has ruined us for any future vacation in Zambia! If direct flights from Lusaka to Cape Town become more reliable and inexpensive, you can guess what we might be saving our money for!

In the words of some Lusaka friends that we ran into in Cape Town, “We are back in Lusaka. No beach, no mountains, no electricity.” Haha! Yep. But somehow, coming back to our little corner of Lusaka felt more like home than it ever has. God has called us here, and this is home…For His Name.

Enjoy some of our pics! And if you ever get the chance…

Boy, I Feel Like a Parent Today

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So, for over three years now, we have been the proud parents of one, and now two, boys. As I reflect over these last three years, I think two things stand out to me most.

First, I never expected parenting and having kids to be be filled with so many highs and lows. And much of the time, the lows coming right after really fun highs.

For instance, we’re all sitting around and playing with the boys, and Charlie says some tender, loving, cute thing about our family or Sam – a parenting high. Not more than 10 seconds later, Charlie is hitting Sam, and chaos ensues with Sam screaming, then Charlie getting disciplined, which leads to Charlie screaming, which leads to Sam screaming more because Charlie is screaming. So, all of the sudden, this lovely picture-perfect family moment is followed by a parenting and child low.

The second thing that we have really found out is that we are so tired. This goes without saying, as we think about it now, but it was easy as a couple without kids to look at friends that had kids and wonder why they were so tired all the time. I mean, come on, I know raising kids is hard, but is it really that tiring? I feel like you’re being a little dramatic. Well, we found out that it is really that tiring, and, no, they weren’t being dramatic. Then, add something like living cross-culutrally and in a developing country, and it’s down right exhausting.

But as I mentioned in my last blog, the boys did so well on the flight back to Zambia, really minus one incident. And this one incident illustrates the highs, followed by the really low lows of parenting –

We were about to land in London on our flights from Minneapolis to Philidelphia and then to London. Charlie and Sam had both done really well, and they both actually slept quite a bit, especially for the second half of the flight. At this point, as I looked down on a peaceful, sleeping Charlie, I thought, “Wow, we made it through the first leg, and it went really well! We must really be getting the hang of this international travel with children stuff.” There was my high as a parent. I should have expected a low coming…

Just then, with about 45 minutes before we were to land in London, Sam started to inconsolably scream, and then the flight crew turned on the lights to serve a quick breakfast, and Charlie was forced awake so fast that he really freaked out. It was probably the most we’ve ever seen him lose control with crying and violent coughing until he threw up. (Thankfully, we had a change of clothes for him.) So, as all this was happening, one of the flight attendants was holding a screaming Sam as other flight attendants tried to help us console Charlie and get him cleaned up. It was quite a scene with everyone in the plane looking forward or backward in our direction. I’m sure, for some people, we will also be the story they tell their friends about being on an international flight with children. But 10 minutes before we landed, both boys calmed down and landed like nothing had happened. However, it took Kristin and I a while to get un-traumatized by the whole thing (and, I think, the rest of the passengers).

So, there you have it, a case study in parenting highs and lows. Or maybe a case study in pride comes before a fall. I learned that, with international travel with children, it’s not over until it’s really over, and you are at your destination.