Tuesday, March 24, 2009


London is expensive.

And far less entertaining when you are sleep deprived.

And let’s not forget expensive. We used our personal money, so it didn’t cut into our missions budget, but still- SHOCKING.

Most of what we did- seeing Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye & the River Thames, gazing at architecture, listening to accents, eavesdropping, taking pictures- that was all free.

Two passes on the Underground (subway), one museum, storage of our carry-ons for one day, and some carrots and pineapple from a grocery store cost roughly the equivalent of $100.

In all reality, $100 isn’t bad for a trip for 2 to London.


By the way, "Bag of Nails" is the name of a restaurant. Mmmm, Mmmm, good...

Friday, March 13, 2009

For those of you who don’t know, we made it out 2 days late due to Josh getting a fever. No worries- it all worked out- but it was a bit stressful for a time.

So, as soon as we got to the airport, we found out a couple of our bags were overweight. The dear fellow behind the counter let it slide. Crisis averted.

As we are checking in, they called my maiden name over the loudspeaker. I barely recognized it; hyper-focus, you know. Anyway, once I realized they had already found something wrong with our checked baggage, I was a little concerned. I saw our giant container of powdered Gatorade and wanted to panic!!! I went and talked to them. Some rule about aerosol, so we lost our Lysol. Exhale. Crisis averted- again.

With 4 flights and 5 airports, it was looking like it could be a long couple of days.

Minneapolis to Chicago was fine. We didn’t get to sit together, but figured we’d save our complaining for our 8- and 11-hour flights.

Then came British Air. Ahhh…beautiful.

I had never traveled on BA. They put all American Airlines to shame. Sorry, but it’s true.

Not only do the employees have charming accents (Bonus points!), but we were bumped up a class. Now, they have like 4 classes, and we were second from the lowest…but heck, we weren’t the bottom! I had never had this happen before! The excitement oozed (I think I confused the businessmen sitting behind us with my enjoyment). I think this proves Natalie and I really are related!

We had a real meal, beverages in real glasses, a newspaper, foot rests, personal TVs with a broad selection of movies, and free alcohol (wasted on us, as we don’t drink, but the possibility was still there…)

To top that all off, we found out one of the flight attendants was off to climb Mt. Everest. Beat that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This

This morning, before we signed the final copy of our will, the following song came on the radio, and I couldn’t help but cry. I guess preparing to move away from almost everything I have ever known has made me a little emotional. How does it speak to you?

“You’re Gonna Miss This”
Trace Adkins

She was staring out that window, of that SUV
Complaining, saying "I can't wait to turn 18
She said I'll make my own money, and I'll make my own rules"
Mamma put the car in park out there in front of the school
Then she kissed her head and said "I was just like you"

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a godd look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this

Before she knows it she's a brand new bride
In a one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It's a nice place”
She says “It'll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”


Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
Dog's barkin', phone's ringin'
One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
She keeps apologizin'
He says "They don't bother me.
I've got 2 babies of my own.
One's 36, one's 23."
Huh, it's hard to believe, but ...

Sometimes I feel like all I hear is people rushing to the next thing. They can't wait until the weekend, a vacation, until they find the right person to marry, until they have kids, until they graduate or retire or have more money or lose 10 lbs or the kids aren't in diapers or they buy a bigger house...until they go to Africa...
We are letting life pass us by. Well, at least I have been.

Not to be morbid, but what if we die today? In some cultures, that concern is a reality. Maybe our relative safety has spoiled us to the point we are ungrateful and always wanting more. What if Jesus comes back in 10 minutes? Will he be pleased with the priorities I have, reflected in how I spend my time?

Preparing to move to a place even moderately more risky than home has made me think: if I died today, could I really say I have made the best use of my time? No. I am not afraid of the process of death or my destination, but rather that there is so much work yet to do for the Kingdom.

To be perfectly honest, I am currently in the process of learning to accept God's timing, not just in death, but in life. I am not there yet, in case that wasn't obvious.

Preparing to leave for a year is unlike anything I've ever done. I have never gone more than 3 months without seeing my family. We will be without access (or have limited access) to most of the things we take for granted: Milk in every corner gas station, TV, pure water, cars, Wal- mart, our favorite foods, family, friends, our church families, our pets, malls, telephone calls, banks, our wedding rings...I could go on and on.
I am intimidated. But more than that, I am so excited.

I am excited to watch God work. I am excited to run to Him, to learn from Him, to grow closer to Him. Of course, I know the requirements of spiritual growth, and they don't always excite me, but it comes with the territory.

I am so excited, if fact, that I have been all too eager to leave behind the present. I have not valued the present as I should have.

In the study of Positive Psychology (currently an emerging subfield in Psychology), "savoring" is how we describe one's experience of enjoying or delighting in something. There are typically considered to be 3 types of personalities when it comes to savoring, all temporally related: those who savor the past, those who savor the present, and those who savor the future. Of course, all of us enjoy things in all three of these ways, but most people hava a definite propensity toward one category. Take, for example, a vacation. If you find the most enjoyment while thinking about it, planning for it, and imagining what it might be like, you tend to savor the future. If you enjoy the vacation itself most, with little thought to the present or the past, you savor the present. If you love to reminisce about the vacation once it is done, by talking about it or looking at photos or souvniers, you savor the past.

I am definitely in the first category. Not surprising, especially given my tendency toward worry (ugh- working on that, too). In fact, I used to look to the future so much that I would spend an entire vacation taking pictures and journaling, only to not savor the actual experience. Sick, I know.

This song reminded me of my tendency to disreguard the present. For some reason, I always seem to think there is something more important to be preparing for, and I don't want to disappoint anyone. Something more important...but in whose eyes? It has been Josh's and my prayer that we would be able to minister to our family and friends even as we prepare to leave for Africa there. Obviously, we believe God has called us to something important there, something important to Him. But, if those around us can't see the work of Christ in our lives, haven't we missed an opportunity just as significant? How many times have I been "too busy"? What is so important?! Even now, as we are trying to squeeze in all the packing and visiting and arrangements, NONE of that is more important than an opportunity to serve the Lord.

Even knowing this, I fail. I mean, like, everyday.

I've pondered this phenomenon a great deal, but even what I have discerned as possible causation hasn't change my behavior to speak of. It is motivated by fear- that I won't get it all done (because apparently my to-do list has become my priority in life), that I will be unprepared and disappoint someone, that I will choose the wrong way to spend my time. It happens when I allow my view of life to become so narrow that I make decisions based on what I see right in front of me, rather than how God might see it.

It happens when I don't trust in God's promises- that He loves me, cares for me, wants the best for my life, and is in control.

Yeah, this is a lot to have come from a country song.

Will and Last Testament

Today, Josh and I signed our Will and Last Testament, an unusual activity for a couple of 23-year-olds with no children, no property, and no significant assets. This caused a startling realization of the risk involved in moving to Africa; it’s not that we haven’t considered them or been aware, rather that they haven’t been our biggest priority. I’ve realized an attitude of balance and complete reliance on God is absolutely crucial. On the one hand, Africa is not all war-torn , all the time. On the other, contrary to what many people say, it is not even close to commensurate to living in north Minneapolis.

I’m not going to lie to you- there is risk involved.

At our local fireworks last July, we had one of those convoluted “coincidences” in which we ran into a long-term missionary to the Philippines who was on furlough. She graciously allowed me to pick her brain, and offered the following wisdom in response to my questions regarding responding to others’ concern about danger:

“The most dangerous place to be is anywhere but God’s will.”

Oh, I was convicted. How many times has my stubborn foolishness caused me to be outside of God’s will? What we are going to do is far less dangerous. God commanded us to go; it wasn’t a suggestion. We are privileged to have the opportunity to obey.

Do not fear for us, or for our safety. Instead, pray.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” –Philippians 4:6

I hope God will use our absence and our work to somehow challenge you. He will certainly be challenging us. We will miss home and our loved ones SO much! For those of you that may miss us at times or fear for us, PLEASE let it draw you nearer to the Lord. If we cannot affect those closest to us on Christ’s behalf, we have not adequately done all we can, both as missionaries and as Christians.