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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Where are we? What's happening with us?

It's been a while since we've posted, so here's a quick update on where we've been and where we are. 
Josh attended a week long leadership training course at JAARS in Waxhaw, North Carolina. During that week, Kate and I experienced many "firsts". It was her first time to ever be away from Josh overnight. The first night was very hard for her and there were many tears (from both of us) throughout the week. Every day she would ask about where daddy was, even if she knew the answer. Eventually the cries for daddy only came when she was getting in trouble for something she had done, which is usually when the tears came from this momma too! Another first was a trip to the urgent care for Kate due to an ear infection, which also explained some of the tears. She had her first round of antibiotics, which thankfully she enjoyed the taste of and gladly took her medicine over the course of ten days. That sickness passed through everyone in our house. I was the last one on the home front to get sick- sore throat, cough, congestion. We were hoping Josh would be able to avoid it. 

He returned home on a Saturday, and his sister arrived on the following Tuesday. Wednesday they started their road trip back to Washington state. A week later Kate and I would fly to Seattle. During the week Josh and Jenn were on the road, Josh got sick with a sinus infection that turned into pink eye somewhere in Oregon. Thankfully, his sister was with him, they still had a good time, and so far Jenn has been healthy. 

This was the first time for me to fly alone with Kate. I'm pregnant, traveling with a 3 year old, a car seat, stroller, and 2 backpacks. I'm sure it was a sight to see. Kate was amazing! She sat in her stroller and enjoyed the ride. She loves planes. She watched about 10 minutes of 30 different movies, had some snacks, and took a nap. I even got to read- yes, you read that correctly! 

We left Texas and its 80 degree weather and arrived on a sunny day in Seattle. 

Two days later it snowed! 



We had a wonderful time in Texas. It was so encouraging to reconnect with so many of you. We had the opportunity to share about our Wycliffe ministry and felt refreshed. We're looking forward to a time of "nesting" before our little one arrives late March.

One part of settling in has been meeting with midwives for my pre-natal care. Our last few weeks in Texas I took my glucose tolerance test. I failed both the initial test and the re-test. Now I have to closely monitor my diet (no Dr. Pepper and no flour tortillas) and check my blood 4-5 times daily until the baby is born and maybe even a little after. I *thought* that would be it, just monitoring diet. However, my doctor put me on a low dose of diabetes medicine to help get my fasting numbers lower. I *thought* that would be it. Then my Washington midwife referred me to the "Maternal Fetal Medicine" clinic where I will go 2-3 times a week for 2 different types of test (a non-stress test and a fluid test) plus my regular pre-natal appointments, as well as one appointment with a diabetes counselor. The clinic is about 45 minutes away from where we live. Those who know me know I always try to find the "bright side" of situations. 

So here are a couple: 
-This is temporary. The baby's due date is around 6 weeks from now. 
-The fluid test is actually an ultrasound, so we get to see our baby once a week until her arrival. 
-God is reminding me daily of the sacrifices parents make for their children's well-being and how He sacrificed everything for His children's eternal well-being. 

Will you pray for us? 
-Will you pray that I will find joy in forfeiting self for the well-being of the baby? 
-Pray that we will have peace and confidence that the Lord will meet all of our needs, both physically and financially. 
-Pray for that the remainder of the pregnancy will be healthy and the delivery will be healthy with no complications. 
-Ultimately pray that the Lord would receive the maximum amount of glory from our lives. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thoughts of 2016

I am always amazed at how many different emotions with great extremes and depths an individual can experience at one time. It's possible that pregnant women can relate more to the toddlers in their lives than at any other time in history because both are experiencing big emotions.

As I reflect on the past year while looking through photos I am reminded first of God's complete faithfulness to my family during some really great highs and some really low lows. The year began with a pregnancy and it ended with a pregnancy. It feels strange looking back and thinking I've been pregnant twice in one year. I'm grateful, but I can't help but grieve with those who long for pregnancies but for various reasons that longing has not yet been fulfilled. My story is different. I know what the devastation of one loss feels like. I only understand in part and can never fully understand the depth of loss of those who have experienced multiple losses, those who try and try and are still waiting, or those families who have precious memories of holding their little ones. I whisper thanks for each kick or movement. I'm treasuring up in my heart the moments Kate kisses her sister in my tummy. We are a family of 5, although you may only see 4 of us in front of you. 

This past year we traveled across the globe experiencing new places and adventures together as a family. We spent a few days in an interior village in Papua, explored Melbourne, Australia, and traversed through Washington state along the Pacific coast, through the Redwoods to the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest all the way to the great state of Texas. We've seen oceans, trees, mountains, plains, deserts, and people that reflect the hand of a unique Creator. Humans try to recreate nature, but the Creator *speaks* them into existence. 

So while 2016 was a roller-coaster of a year, my heart echoes thanksgiving heading into 2017. 
Here's why: 






Saturday, December 17, 2016

Reverse Culture Shock

“Reverse culture shock is experienced when returning to a place that one expects to be home but actually is no longer, is far more subtle, and therefore, more difficult to manage than outbound shock precisely because it is unexpected and unanticipated,” says Dean Foster, founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions, a firm that specialises in intercultural training and coaching worldwide. 

Oh, America, you're wonderful. 
Oh, America, you can be overwhelming. 

We've been back in our passport country since the end of July, and we're still adjusting to different things. Some are small and some are big. Here are some quick examples of reverse culture shock that we've experienced. They are in no particular order. 

1. Washington malls and fairs

A can for garbage and a can for recycling. This personally caused me great anxiety each time I had to decide what category my trash fell into. I stood there silently debating which can my cup would go into. Finally, I admitted defeat and just threw the garbage into the closest can and ran away as quick as I could, fearful that someone may be monitoring the cans for correct placement and issuing fines for those incorrect. Even writing about this causes my heart to race a little faster... 

2. Credit Card Chip Readers 

Many stores will now have this lovely (confusing) machine. It once was just swipe your credit card, but now it may be a "chip reader". The day after we landed we went to Wal-Mart. We got a few items that we needed and some that we had missed while we were in Indonesia. The cashier rang up our things and then it was time to pay. We had been in America less than 24 hours. 

The conversation/experience went like this :

Cashier: Does your card have a chip?

Us: Yes
Cashier: Insert your card into the machine...

Us: Ummmm... okay, like this?

Cashier: Yes, like that and leave it in. 

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! (Not a nice beep, but a pull your card out or this will explode sound!) 

Us: (Yank the card out of the machine without reading the card reader's instruction that said "Do not remove")

Cashier: Leave your card in. 

Us: (Insert card again)

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! 

Us: (Pull card out)

Cashier: Leave. Your. Card. In. The. Machine. 

Us: (Puts card back in- again) 

Machine: Beep! Beep! Beep! 

Us: (stand quietly) Sorry, we literally just got back in the country yesterday and this is new to us. 

Cashier: Ok. 

Guy Behind Us: It's okay, it's still new to us too! 

3. Airplanes and Backpacks:


We've spent a fair amount of time on an airplane. Kate seems quite comfortable on them and probably enjoys the endless supply of snacks and unlimited screen time that comes with just surviving the flight. The other day we took a wrong turn in a familiar area that quickly became unfamiliar due to road construction (also causing stress!). The wrong turn routed us into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Kate had been napping and happened to wake up during this wrong turn. It may have been her parents questioning one another as to which exit to take or maybe she just sensed airplanes being near. Thank the Lord for internet on your phone (also something new to us), and thank the Lord for Google maps (also new to us, last time everyone used GPS stuck to their windshields). On our way out of the airport, Kate began to cry saying she wanted to go to the airport and get on a plane. When we explained that we weren't going flying today, she was really upset. 

The previous week to our adventure through DFW airport, Kate announced that she did *not* want to go to church. I asked her why she didn't want to go to church to play with her friends. 

She replied," I want to go to church in Sentani." 

Sentani is our home in Indonesia. 
Sentani is the only home that Kate knows. 
Sentani is where all her friends, aunts and uncles are. 
Sentani doesn't have cold weather. 

I hugged that little one, who's heart is in two places at one time, and simply said," Me too." 

The next day Kate packed her backpack and announced that she was going on a trip and would be back soon. I asked her where she was going, told her I loved her, and reminded her to be careful. She informed me she was going to Sentani. Be safe! It was a very quick trip and she returned in time for dinner. 

4. Socks and Shoes:

 Wearing socks and shoes is normal for me and Josh, but not for Kate. In Sentani, we wear sandals all the time. Slip on shoes that do not lace up. Shoes that are easy to remove when you arrive at a friend's house before you enter or before you play on the play mat in the church nursery. In America, it's cold! It's not just *getting* the socks and shoes on my 3 year old, but it's encouraging her to *keep* them on. It's not unusual to go on a short ride in the van to open the door and see shoes and socks scattered on the floor in front of her seat. 

So yeah, what's the point? 

I have found myself saying this in my head more times than I can count. 

What's the point of wearing a jacket outside when you're only going from your house, to the van, to some where else? Is it worth the fight? The answer is- it's cold outside. You need a jacket *even if* you feel like it's warm and comfortable inside. 

Honestly, I'm still struggling with the point of wearing socks and shoes... 

The previous examples were small. The US State Department has some helpful documents explaining deeper reverse culture shock topics that I found that we have also faced and are currently working through, even unknowingly. These resources give helpful insites into what those who have lived overseas experience when they return to their passport countries. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Language School, Adoption and Bunk Beds- What's the link?

We moved to Indonesia in 2008. After completing orientation in Jakarta, we moved to Bandung. Looking back, Bandung had different things to offer than Papua- more malls, restaurants, movie theaters, outlet stores. While we were in language school, some friends told us about this church they were going to. The pastor was from America but all the teaching was done in Indonesian- perfect for an Indonesian language learner. Our friends brought us to church with them and we even joined in their weekly small group meeting. Out of this group we made new friends who introduced us to the place in town to get pork, introduced us to frog at an evening meal, and invited us to a wedding between two small group members. This church and small group stir up great memories for us during a time of hard transition and culture shock. 





Fast forward to 2015-2016. 

Our close friends and neighbors in Papua announce they are adopting a baby from Indonesia. We listen and pray for them on their journey.

We returned to Washington in July 2016. Our next door neighbors call us over to their house one day and begin to tell us a story. He said he had found some bunk beds on Craigslist. He went to pick them up and was chit-chatting with the seller. He asked the seller what he did for work. The seller said he was a writer but had been a pastor at a church overseas. It turns out the seller was the pastor of the church we went to while we were in language school! Our neighbor got his card, and we set up a time to meet for coffee. 

Over coffee we chatted about life and the past and the future. We talked about friends from our small group and he gave us the latest information he had about their well-being. We started talking about the couple who were married during our time in language school. They reminded us of a ministry the couple started called Rumah Ruth (Ruth's House). This ministry reaches out to unwed expectant mothers. They encourage and support the mommas when their is little to no support found within their families. Our pastor friend mentioned that they were working on getting approval to become an option for adoption. *Adoption* that brought the names of our friends in Papua who wanted to adopt. 

New regulations had been established saying that couples interested in adoption could not go to the orphanage or adoption agency and say we want to adopt this child. Now children eligible for adoption had to be notified by the orphanage. At that time our friends were waiting but had no word on adoptable Christian babies (Indonesia does not allow cross religion adoptions). 

We immediately contacted our small group friends in Bandung to get a phone number to put them in touch with our friends in Papua. Boy, oh boy, did the ball begin to roll! Meetings were set up, phone calls were made, and trips were made to Jakarta by both our friends in Papua and from Bandung. Our two sets of friends met and on the same day our friends on the journey of adopting were able to meet the little girl who would forever change their lives and hearts. Our Papua friends left their little one not knowing when they would board the plane as a family of three, but were praying it would be before Christmas. 

God had different plans. 

Our friends from Bandung arranged with the adoption agency for our friends from Papua to take their little girl home the following week! They went to the church we went to in language school for a time of prayer over the new family of three and then the little girl was released into their personal care! They are currently en-route home to Papua as a precious family of three. 


When we think of this story we are incredibly in awe of how God orchestrated every detail beginning 8 years ago in language school. He wove together a perfect tapestry full of different people spanning the globe from Texas, Washington, Indiana, California, Indonesia and used bunk beds from Craigslist to forever change the lives of a three month old baby girl and our two friends in Papua. We have been told that since the connection was made between the adoption agency in Jakarta and Rumah Ruth in Bandung two more babies have found forever homes with a Brazilian family and a French family. 

We praise the Lord that His pays close attention to the needs of His children and uses all things for His honor and glory. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lessons Learned and Mixed In Blessings

Craigslist can be a wonderful resource for items that are for sale, but it can also be a place where others can take advantage of you.

We knew this time around that we would hope to purchase a vehicle during our furlough. I started looking at cars on craigslist months ago. It helped because I began to "learn the ropes" with what we were looking for. Kate started praying for a car in America months before we stepped foot on US soil. We wanted a mini-van with low miles and a clean title for a reasonable price (reasonable like super cheap would be perfect). 

Well I thought I found something even better! The ad was a beautiful white Nissan Altima, low mileage at an *incredible* price. I couldn't believe it! I quickly sent them a text message and the response was "Please email my sister I'm selling it for her". So, I sent an email. The response was that the lady was selling the car from out of state because she was being deployed for active military duty next month and needed to sell quickly. She claimed that she would be using Ebay Motors to deliver the car to us. If we weren't happy with the car we had up to 5 days to return the car to her, on her dime. Wow! What a deal! So I said ok, that sounds great! She told me that Ebay Motors would be contacting me with information regarding the shipping of the car. The email arrived and I was reading through it when something quite strange jumped off the screen at me. The preferred payment method was in iTunes giftcards. Who would prefer a payment for a *car* in *iTunes giftcards*?? So I went to my friend Google. "Ebay Motors Payment Method iTunes giftcards", search, links regarding frauds were the top hits. Ebay Motors has examples of fraudulent invoices and backstories similar to this gal- out of state so couldn't see the vehicle and need to sell quickly.  So I immediately wrote her back and didn't say what I *really* wanted to say but handled it the Indonesian way by saving face. I said "After looking over the payment methods, I don't think we will be proceeding with the purchase of your car. Best of luck to you during your deployment." 

That whole experience wiped me out! I seriously should be paid for how many frauds/scams I sniffed out. They all had extremely emotional stories, which seemed to be getting more and more outrageous. Quick deployments or even the death of a mother's son on his brother's birthday...

A quick way to tell if you might be dealing with a scammer on Craigslist is if you call the number listed and you talk to a real person. If it's an automated machine requesting your contact info or for you to leave a message, it's most likely a scam. Honestly, if a deal seems too good to be true, it might be just that. 

We finally found some deals that weren't scams. The best deal for us was a mini-van located near our location. It has automatic everything, but what sold me on this car was the built in DVD player with wireless headphones!! I told Josh "This is the one!" The Lord out did Himself! Yes, the DVD player is amazing, but there's 12 cup holders in this baby! That's right, 12. It's a smooth ride, no dings or dents, and the man selling it sold it to us for $500 less than his asking price. Let's be honest, we know that was the Lord's hand, because it definitely was NOT our negotiating skills! 




So when you see us rollin' in the mini-van wave at us, you could share a ride but BYO Drink for one of the cup holders and enjoy some Peppa Pig with K. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Power's Out... Again

Power outages happen here... a lot. Some times one can go a few weeks and not experience any outages. Other times you have frequent outages lasting a few minutes to hours or even days. It's not too bad when the weather is rainy and "cool", but often it's sunny and hot. You sweat. You lay flat on the cool tile floor, and just hope that the power will return soon. 

I have "rules" for power outages that happen at night or in a store that I try to abide by. 

Rule #1- I stop moving. I just freeze right where I am. I'm not going to run the risk of bumping into someone or something during a power outage at night. Dark is *really* dark when there are no lights. 

Rule #2- Announce to Kate where I am, tell her to stop moving, and reassure her that we're still here. (She hasn't panicked before, so this is rule is a keeper.) We added the stop moving part after during a power outage she took off running full speed ahead in whatever direction she was facing and ran straight into the kitchen cabinets, knocking her over. She's a tough cookie and brushed it off. 

Rule #3- I allow someone else to get the flashlights. At our house Josh has excellent night vision, which allows him to safely, quickly, and confidently make his way to the nearest flashlights. If Josh isn't around and a power outage happens at the store, then I just wait until the store's generator turns on. 

Last month at the grocery store, the electricity went out (not unusual) but the generator had issues re-setting. The gen-set turned on, but then quickly went out again. So I followed rules 1 and 2 and was waiting like rule 3 says to do, but it did not return. So I brought my phone out and clicked on the flashlight, and honestly waited for an employee to come around asking me to leave- where did I think I was??  No employees came to me, so we continued to shop. 

This grocery store is creepy when it's dark. I mean even with electricity there are things that I have to choose to avoid looking at- like the rat that walked across the cross beam above my head, or the moldy tops of the bell peppers, or the fruit flies swarming around the rotting avocados... but with no electricity it's even worse. 




Also, just a heads up, the place to weigh your produce so you know what to pay at the register doesn't work when there's no power. OH and also... the registers don't work either.... sometimes. 

So, you may never leave this grocery store if the power goes out. You might be stuck in the store with others who are stuck and are shopping by cellphone flashlight fooooorevvvvver.... 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ramadan 2016

Ramadan is the month that is intentionally set aside by Muslims around the world to fast from food, drink and other physical forms of pleasure like smoking and sex. From a Muslim's perspective the month of Ramadan is an opportunity to purify their souls, refocus their attention on Allah, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice. Participation is considered one of the five pillars of the Islam faith.This month is an opportunity to rededicate themselves to worship and faith and to re-evaluate their lives. Forgiveness is both extended and received. The physical effects from the fasting reminds them of those who suffer throughout the year, and not to be wasteful or neglect those who hunger. Fasting during the month of Ramadan requires a total commitment to maintain the fast.

I honestly have mixed feelings about the month of Ramadan. Everything around me slows way down during this month. Work tends to slow down. Offices or stores may be closed. Drivers tend to be more aggressive, and people tend to be a little more on edge. The muezzin gets cranked up to incredible levels and is on all night long with people practicing the "Allah Akbar"(this is probably in proportion to the level of music played on the "Podok Natals" around Christmas time). 

While there are a few things that "bug" me about a month long fast, there are many aspect of it that I have learned to appreciate and admire. Here are a few of these lessons learned from Ramadan. 

1. It's good to be intentional and re-focus our faith. 
Life can be crazy and busy, sometimes at the same time! We can easily fall into a routine that distracts us from communicating and listening to God. Muslims have taught me the importance of intentionally setting aside a time to focus on the importance of God. Through their example our family has added the tradition of Advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus, and this past year I studied Lent, which helped me focus on the importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This intentional focusing helped me keep the main point, the main point- not allowing the busy-ness of the season to distract from the actual reason for the season. 

2. Anticipation is wonderful! 
Recently I was talking with a friend who grew up in Muslim home and converted to Christianity in her 20's. She shared fond memories she had growing up celebrating Ramadan. She mentioned how she missed that feeling of anticipation and excitement knowing that the entire month was leading up to the culmination of the breaking of the fast with a great feast. The anticipation could be compared to kids going to bed on Christmas Eve with an incredible feeling of excitement about the next day. It could be compared to a bride preparing to walk down the aisle to her waiting groom, who is also anticipating his glimpse of his beautiful bride. Anticipation is wonderful! I want my family to anticipate good things in life- learning that waiting for something often only intensifies the significance and value of what you've been waiting for. 

3. Ramadan is hard here. 
Celebrating Ramadan in Papua is more difficult that celebrating Ramadan in Java. I remember in language school being told to respect that others around me were not eating or drinking. We had to discreetly drink quick sips from water bottles on busy streets or eat our lunches in restaurants behind closed curtains. This caution helped those who were fasting, because it developed a sense that everyone around you was fasting so you can continue to persevere. However, it's not like that in Papua. No one has cautioned me to be mindful of chugging water on a hot day in public. Right now I can't think of one food stall that has a curtain over the windows. Last year a neighbor said that this was the most difficult time for her to live in Papua, away from her family. She expressed how in her hometown you could just assume that everyone was fasting, but here she said you automatically assume that the majority of people are not fasting. In that moment I could relate to her in way I have never been able to relate to fasting Muslims in Papua. They are homesick. This is a special month and holiday and they are separated from their loved ones doing a physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding task with little support from the outside community. Her feelings resonated with me to how I feel sometimes around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The distance is truly difficult. This discussion changed my perspective on fasting Muslims in Papua and has challenged me to encourage and support them in their obedience by being aware of my eating and drinking in public. 

4. A simple date can open many doors. 
The daily fast is broken the same way the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with a date and a glass of water. Nothing will open the doors quicker than offering a package of dates to your Muslim neighbors. This small sign is a reminder to them that you are aware of their fasting and it's also a sign of encouragement to press on in their search for communing with God. 

5. Prayer changes things. 
While those around me are fasting, I am praying. I am praying that they would experience God in a real and unique way. I am praying that God would reveal Himself to those who are truly seeking to know Him. I will be following this 30 day prayer guide (http://30daysprayer.com/index.php) to more specifically pray for fasting Muslims around the globe. 

There are more things, but these are just a few. I hope we can continue to learn and glean good things from those around us. 
 
Images by Freepik