Monday, November 24, 2008

Old Toys

My brother and I pulled out some old toys today. We found airplanes, trucks, tanks, mutilated army men, and so much more. We've been having fun taking pictures of our GI Joes and with the help of photo shop, we let the creative juices flow.

If you've read Joy's most recent blog, I think I caught whatever she had, and now I'm not feeling so good. I hope I get over it pretty soon, I don't like feeling bad.

Other than that, we've kept busy playing with my nephews, working on ministry partnership stuff, and planning our trip to California. Things are starting to come together now, and our schedule is filling up fast. We're planning on taking a truck load of our things down to Joy's mom's house for long term storage. Our newsletter is done (I think), so you should see it sometime after Thanksgiving. We're still at the 30% mark, but our outgoing fund is starting to catch up to our monthly support, which is a real good thing. Like Joy said in her blog, we are doing our part, but it's up to God to supply our needs, and we're trusting that's exactly what He's going to do. As always, thanks for your prayers and support of our ministry!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

70 degrees and...Snow?

That's what they're saying. Today it was 70 degrees, and it rained REALLY hard. Tomorrow will be 40 degrees, with snow showers. That's fine with me, let it get cold right when we're leaving. We have one more church presentation tomorrow morning, and then we'll be heading back to my parent's house in Ohio. We got rear-ended the other day (it was raining really hard that day too), so we need to get back and make a few repairs to the loaner my parents were nice enough to let us drive around. There weren't any casualties...well, I take that back, the car that ran into us wasn't looking too hot, but other than that, we survived. Looking back on it, I have to laugh because Joy wasn't feeling well, so we were on our way to the Urgent Care place so Joy could get checked out, and we were getting ready to turn into the parking lot when we got nailed from behind. So we both ended up signing in to Urgent Care so we could get checked out. It put a damper on our day...we were supposed to take a tour of a local dairy farm, but that obviously didn't happen. God is gracious though, and He takes care of us.

Pray for our time in Ohio, and pray for some upcoming decisions we need to make. During our time here in Maryland, we've sensed a lot of good "potential" but we just don't have the time to develop that potential, so we've been throwing around the idea of coming back here after our trip to California to finish up our support raising. A lot would have to fall into place before we could do that, so we're just asking people to pray about what we should do. Thank God that there were no injuries from our accident (and that our car is still drive-able).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Preacher Man

Check this out! Never thought I'd see myself here! Pretty interesting though. It kind of tells the story of what we've been up to the past 3 weeks. We've been trying to speak at as many churches as we possibly can while we're in the area. So far, it's worked pretty well, I think we've booked most every Sunday morning and evening service available! It's been really fun to share our ministry with all these folks too. I think I'm finally starting to enjoy speaking in front of people...well, at least I feel more comfortable! We've been working hard at meeting with individuals, and setting up appointments in California and Phoenix for our upcoming trip to the left coast. Our monthly support is still hovering around 30%, but our outgoing fund is picking up the pace a little and that is now at almost 18%. We continue to rely on God for our needs in this area, but I must admit that sometimes it's a little hard to do. Surrendering to God is (as we're finding out) a daily process. A famous preacher once said, "When we start comparing ourselves to all the other boats in the water, we tend to lose sight of the shore." His point was that when we take our eyes off God, we forget what it's all about...what's really important.

On our day off yesterday, I took Joy to Cunningham Falls State Park. We ate a picnic lunch and enjoyed walking a couple miles through the woods. Although most of the trees have shed their leaves, a few colors were still found as Fall hangs on by a thread. I have so many memories tied to so many places here...sometimes it's a little overwhelming, but I've really enjoyed being back in Maryland. On Monday we head back to Ohio, and we'll be there for a couple weeks before flying back to Portland.

Pray for the Congolese people; they've been in the news a lot lately.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sticking With African Themes

On our latest day off I treated Joy to a tour of our nation's fine capital, Washington D.C. We visited a couple of museums--our first stop of the trip was the National Museum of African Art & Culture. Because of the HUGEness of the place we decided to stick with congolese artifacts and clothing. We learned a lot of the history and beliefs behind many African people, and got to see firsthand some of the art that makes Congo famous. One artifact in particular stood out to me as I walked around the exhibits. It is a man carved out of wood with holes in his hands and feet, with his arms outstretched as if hanging from a cross (sound familiar?). As I read the comments about the piece, I learned that it was most likely made in a remote tribe over a hundred years ago and indicates their understanding of the redemption story. It went on to explain that many congolese tribes are no stranger to the Gospel, but their interpretation and understanding of what Christ has done for them is skewed. It was fun to see clothing from DRC too, as well as several ceremonial masks and coverings used for special occassions.

After the Africa museum we decided to walk down to the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. I've seen these a few times, but we also stopped along the new World War II memorial, which was quite astounding.

After that, we headed back towards the museums and took a good long look in the Natural History Museum. And, although most exhibits pushed an evolutionary beginning, it was incredible to know that our God made each and every animal in a unique and fascinating way! Our time here was again, spent mostly touring the African sections, where we saw some old acquaintances and met some new ones. Africa is a wildly diverse land, sustaining some of the driest and wettest lands on earth. Its people are just as diverse. As we think and pray about the people we are called to serve, we are getting more and more excited and sometimes we selfishly wish we could just skip all this support raising and training and language learning, and just head to Africa where we are desperately needed. We realize that God has his timing, and is using this process to shape us for the experiences that lay ahead of us. We have no idea where God is going to take us in the next 5 years, but it's going to be a great time!

We are still working hard at ministry partnership, and we're cresting the 30% mark as I write this entry. I can't help but think of the Little Engine That Could--slow but sure. We're meeting some truly incredible and gifted brothers and sisters, who are going to be great assets in the years to come. I'm glad for that, and glad that God chooses to use his people in such mighty ways. Pray for His leading and direction in the coming weeks and months, as we decide how long we should stay in each of these areas. Pray with us for the people of DRC; hundreds of thousands have fled the fighting and civil war that has erupted again in the East. Pray for the wisdom of MAF staff who are currently working in that area, that they would know best how to serve these people.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Bombs Burst in Air

After the Aquarium, we drove a couple miles up to Fort McHenry where the Star-Spangled Banner was written. We didn't have a whole lot of time to explore and look around, but it was pretty interesting what we did find. There were still a few original cannons there as well as several original buildings and bunkers. This was the first time I had been here in a long time, even though I grew up here. I kind of like history so it's always fun for me to visit places like this that played such a key role in our own American History.

At the end of the day, I also had the privilege of changing the flag from the one we have today with 50 stars and 13 stripes, to one of the original American flags with 13 stars and stripes. It was a fun day!

Take a Day OFF!

That's exactly what we did on Thursday after the conference ended. I took Joy down to the inner harbor in downtown Baltimore. We took a tour through the Baltimore National Aquarium. Now, I've been here many many times before, but this time was a little different...we found ourselves paying particular attention to all the "African" displays. Here's what we found: it's not actually the crocodiles and alligators in the rivers that will gobble you up, it's actually the hippos. They're fiercely territorial and have two HUGE teeth that can do a lot of damage. They often strike without warning--good thing I'll be flying!

This cute little guy is a poison dart frog, about the size of a nickel. But, don't be fooled by his size, this frog packs enough punch to knock out 10 grown men, and they're found in central African rain forests. Locals actually catch the frogs and use their poison to dip the tips of their arrows in when they go hunting, making their chances of actually catching something much greater.

This guy to the left is an Africa bullfrog, once again only found in the central African wetlands. In contrast to the dart frog, this one is the size of a softball and eats unattended children and anything else that moves!

And of course, you have the beautiful colorful reef fish thing that lives everywhere but Africa!

Lots to share

Ok, well, I have lots of pictures and lots to tell you, so I think I'm just going to break everything down into several different entries.

First up, the Wakefield missions conference has come and gone, and we got to share with a lot of people our passion and heart for missions, as well as what MAF is doing to accomplish the work of Christ around the world. It's been so good to be back where I grew up and see so many old friends and familiar faces. It's been a while and I have a lot of catching up to do. Each night we got a whole hour to share what we will be doing with MAF in Africa, and answer all the questions that go along with that. It's particularly meaningful to my church family here because they have been supporting my cause for over six years now, helping to pay for my training at Moody, and now through MAF. They have been a big part of my life and decision to become a missionary, and we're thrilled to have them serve with us in DRC!

We're now at 27% of our monthly support, and 14% of our outgoing fund. Give God the glory due His name!