April 12, 2013
TEXAS: I write from Janelle’s dorm in Texas. With two daughters graduating the same day in May, I came instead to see some of Janelle’s life for Homecoming/Parents’ Weekend. I was initially a little surprised by her invitation to sleep in her dorm room — can you use “sleep” and “dorm” in the same sentence? But it has worked great for meeting her friends and I slept really well last night. It helps me stay on Oregon time — go to bed two hours later by the clock, and get up two hours later.
I bought the ticket long before I broke my ankle and am grateful that it has healed enough to make the trip. I can now walk on it some, but appreciated wheel-chair assistance at airports and help with my bags. I am glad I could come. Janelle rewarded my arrival with a big hug and began introductions to friends.
LEADERSHIP: After a recent coaching appointment with a missionary, Cory said, “That conversation made my day.” The missionary served as team leader over other new missionaries in his country of service, but felt frustrated by a lack of support for his leadership. “Maybe I’m just not cut out for it,” he said.
Cory asked, “How do you see your role as team leader?”
Missionary: “To get the job done. I make decisions and they are supposed to follow.”
Cory: “But how do you get them to buy into the process?”
They explored characteristics of other effective leaders, but the missionary still seemed stuck.
Cory asked, “Scripturally, how do you see your role?”
A pause. “Oh. I hadn’t even considered that.” Looking at Jesus example and how Paul worked to develop others, he realized that leadership is not just about getting the job done, but developing people.
Besides coaching missionaries, Cory helps CMI with administrative details and tries to stay on top of the two classes he teaches for Northwest Christian University. He drives up early Tuesday morning for his afternoon and evening classes. He spends the night with his cousin and returns sometime Wednesday, depending on his appointments.
LEANING on GOD:
Joni Erickson Tada, a quadriplegic, wrote that she hopes she can take her wheelchair to heaven. She wants to stand on resurrected legs next to Jesus and say, “Do you see that wheelchair over there? Well, you were right. When you put me in it, it was a lot of trouble. But the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. I do not think I would ever have known the glory of your grace were it not for the weakness of that wheelchair.”
Has anything good come from my broken ankle? I’ve learned Cory makes a pretty good omelet. And there’s more than one way to load the dish washer. Hopefully I’ve learned a little more patience and ability to give up control. I’ve leaned on God in new ways. I appreciate Jesus willingness to suffer pain and limit His strength when He didn’t have to.
As of this week, I could walk on it enough to sweep my kitchen. Cory is glad for me. “Some people might get used to care-giving role and don’t want to give it up,” he said. “Just so you know, I’m not one of those people.” He quickly added, “I don’t mind helping and will do what I need to…you know what I mean.” Really, Cory has been great and I love him more for his good care of me.
Last Friday his mercy muscles got another workout when he took my dad to the hospital after a fall and stayed there over nine hours, through broken-hip surgery. Cory took his computer along and said he actually got a lot done while waiting. My dad was moved Wednesday to another care facility for further mending and rehab before coming home.
On the Schedule:
Ap. 11-14: Janice in Texas
Ap. 19-20: Cory to Mission Care Connexion, Portland. http://www.missionconnexion.com/connexion-events/214-care-connexion
Ap. 28: Turner Christian Church 6:00 pm
Ap. 29: Perpsectives Class, Cory teaches in Salem
May 2-4: Cory to Texas for Janelle’s graduation
May 4: Janice to Salem for Alicia’s graduation
May 4-6: Cory and Janelle take her stuff to Kansas, check out apartments
May 14-28: Cory, Janelle, and Alicia to Ukraine
Early June: Janice and Janelle drive to Kansas, where she’ll work for Garmin. We are looking for a good car for her.
# # #
March 13, 2013
MISSIONS SEMINAR: Saturday, March 16, we participate in a missions seminar in Turner, OR from 9:00 – 4:00. The speakers will highlight what their churches are doing in regards to missions, while missionaries will lead discussion groups. The registration fee includes lunch. For more information or to register.
HOME: We moved near my parents, now 88, supposedly to help them out — as a way to try to pay them back for their many years of love and support. I think we’re just digging ourselves deeper in debt. My mom feeds our cat and dog when we’re away. After I broke my ankle a month ago, my mom brings us homemade cookies, soup and bread.
It takes longer to heal than it did to break it, but God is near. Cory’s mercy muscles have gotten a workout, but he’s done well! I also appreciate many kind words of support, prayers, get-well cards, meals from our Bible study group, and my niece who came to babysit me while Cory went to a working retreat with CMI. I still have to keep my foot up most of the time, but am getting around a little more.
OUR GIRLS: Alicia now works part time for a home for developmentally disabled with a girl with autism and is looking toward graduation from Corban in May. She plans to use her spring break to get in 50 hours of volunteer work still needed and expects to do some of that at the local Gospel Mission.
Janelle is spending her spring break working on her senior project, along with two other electrical engineer students in her group. I expect to visit her in April, assuming I can travel then, for parent’s weekend so I can meet friends and see her life there in Texas. Cory plans to attend her graduation in May while I go to Alicia’s, since both graduate the same day.
DEVOTIONAL: Later this month, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. CMF put together a devotional guide that helps answer the “so what?” question of Easter. What difference does it make? For us? For the world?
Cory and I contributed along with many others. View or download a copy.
I include below excerpts from one:
While ministering in a Muslim country ravaged by war, I have had ample opportunity to reflect on the world’s definition of success. Even well-meaning Christians applaud the bravery of soldiers who serve here, yet they question the “wisdom” of our family’s calling to be salt and light in this desolate place.
Certainly, our decision is counter-cultural. The tendency of American Christians is to seek out comfort and security and minimize the stress and danger in our lives. Yet, didn’t Jesus say, “He who would come after me, let him take up his cross and die?”
We daily live with the threat of suicide bombings and kidnappings and regularly seek the Lord about whether or not the risk has become too great. When friends and acquaintances
are killed, we ask, “Lord, would you have us to go or to stay?” Initially, we gave in to fear, but now we accept this risk as part of our call to suffer for Christ.
We long for our Muslim friends to see Jesus in us. If we run from the dangers that they also face, what kind of witness will we be? God doesn’t call very many of us to bear witness in a war zone, but He clearly calls all believers to obedience. Comfort and security are no guarantee of happiness. But obedience, despite the cost, brings great joy.
Heather, CMF marketplace minister to Asia
Pray for this family and many others who serve in difficult places!
# # #
February 18 2013
HOME: I wished I could rewind the clock, but such things are not possible. Much of our snow melted, then it froze and snowed some more. I went for a walk with Cory, slid on snow-covered ice, and broke my ankle. Being somewhat far from our home at the time, I’m glad I wasn’t alone! That was Feb. 7. The doctor invited me back four days later for surgery to re-attach ligaments and add plate, pins and screws to my tibia.
During our early years in Ukraine, my aunt said she prayed that each day would be a little easier. Likewise, with no instant healing in sight, I get to lean on God for each day. This was not part of my plan, but I’m praying God will use it for good.
I’m not a very good sitter — which is how I got in this mess, but I’m using some of my time to edit Five Loaves and Two Bowls of Borscht to get it ready for reprinting and for release on Kindle. I’ve had request for such, since some mission organizations still use the accompanying Bible study guide.
Our wonderful Bible study group sent some meals home with Cory Thursday, after swapping stories about “husband care” during illness. The next morning, the gal who e-mails out the prayer requests added this note: “Please be careful carrying Janice to kitchen to cook your dinner.” Actually, Cory has been great and I’m glad he can mostly work from home via the internet.
CORY leaves Friday for Spain for a working retreat with CMI (Coaching Mission International.) CMI does not have a centrally-located office; they usually hold staff meetings using Skype. Nevertheless, they like to meet for once a year for a week for a working/training retreat. Every other year they like to hold it out of the United States, as some of the staff live overseas. I went last year, when they met in Colorado, and I got to meet most of Cory’s co-workers.
I think Cory hoped my ankle break would provide adequate reason to stay home, but my niece agreed to come and stay with me while he’s gone.
Except for next week, he still teaches a missions class on Tuesday afternoons at NCU (Nortwest Christian University). I asked him how it’s going, and he replied, “Time will tell, to see if any of them do anything with it.” He’s more interested in application than filling the brain. On March 12, he adds a four-hour Anthropology class on Tuesday evening. He plans to use films, popcorn and discussion to help keep their attention for that long.
GIRLS: Alicia was hoping for a part-time job that might turn into a full-time job after she graduates in May. She was thrilled to get hired by an outfit opening a new home for the developmentally disabled. She was not so thrilled to work more hours than full-time these last two weeks, but they promised to cut back on her schedule as they hire more staff and got them trained. She hasn’t had time to tell me much about it, other than she works with a 16-year-old autistic girl and has some nice co-workers.
Janelle found out that she will be working in the aviation department at Garmin after she graduates. She’s happy about that, since she already has contacts in that department: the gal who gave her a tour and another former LETU student. She also knows some other LeTourneau students who will have internships there this summer.
# # #
January 28, 2013
MISSION CONNEXION resulted in lasting impressions. I don’t know how many thousands that auditorium holds, but I understand traffic was backed up for two miles the first night, when Ravi Zacharius spoke. Parking-lot attendants turned many people away, saying there was no more room. We sat with an overflow crowd in the chapel, with several hundred.
The conference theme, “No Reserves…No Retreats…No Regrets,” came from words written in the Bible of William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate. In 1904, William became a follower of Jesus and felt called to minister to Muslims in China. Criticized for this, he wrote in his Bible: “No reserves.” While studying at Yale, he formed groups for prayer and Bible study; by his senior year, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students attended such groups. He urged fellow students toward missionary service. He turned down prestigious job offers after graduation and wrote in his Bible: “No retreats.” He set sail for China in December 1912 and stopped in Egypt to learn Arabic. One month later he died of spinal meningitis. Prior to his death, he wrote: “No regrets.”
A longer account of Bordon’s remarkable life can be found here.
Ravi Zacharius showed how young Daniel impacted the Babylonian empire by living that kind of life: one with no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets. Daniel began in Babylon by disciplining his appetites, drawing the line in such a way so he would not get pulled into compromise with worldly values.To influence our culture we must be willing to take a stand and be different.
Brad Buser worked 20 years with an unreached tribe in Papua New Guinea. Brad was a surfer in Southern California when a friend invited him to youth group. The leader was some skinny, dorky old man (probably 40!) who didn’t buddy up to the kids, but simply taught the Bible. Brad couldn’t understand why over 800 hundred kids came to listen but went back anyway. That “dorky” youth leader told the kids that if you become a Christian, your life is no longer your own and challenged them to missions. Brad gave his life to Christ and to Christ’s commission. He went with his wife to the Iteri people. This video describes their work. Brad says that all the easy people groups have been reached. We need people willing to go to hard places, places without any Christians.
Libby Little worked in Afghanistan for over 30 years with her late husband, an eye doctor who was killed in 2010, along with other medical workers. She says that when she heard the conference theme she didn’t feel qualified, since she had many reserves and wanted to retreat many times…but she had no regrets. She and her husband first agreed to go to Afghanistan for two years in 1976. With the Russian invasion, it looked to her like a good time to retreat, but her husband was asked to help with an eye clinic. They stayed. She didn’t plan to stay 30 years, but simply said “Yes” to God one step at a time.
Neighboring women and children took refuge in their basement when bombs flew. In fear and trembling, she kept saying, “Jesus, Jesus” while holding her child. Another woman heard that word and a warm peace filled her. She wanted to know about this Jesus, became a Christian, and now ministers to other Muslim women. God uses the willing, even in their weakness and fear.
This article tells more of the Libby’s inspiring story.
Libby closed with some lines from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
“Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his door, crossed his legs and blew out a beautiful grey ring of smoke that sailed up into the air.
‘Very pretty!’ said Gandolf, ‘But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share an adventure that I am arranging, and it is very difficult to find anyone.’”
Before Libby spoke, a former Muslim told how she was on her way to becoming a rich and famous singer in her country when her father gave her to his friend, a Muslim who came from Canada looking for a wife. At age 16, she left her friends and family to work in her husband’s restaurant in Canada. She felt very, very lonely. On the bus one day, she met a Christian woman who could speak French, taught music and became a life-line. Then her husband went bankrupt and they moved to another part of Canada where she knew no one. One night, he came home drunk to their cold, bare apartment. He wanted to take the rug she slept on and beat her badly, breaking many bones. Her family would not take her back home, so she called that Christian woman and went to stay with her. She became a Christian, remarried and now ministers with her husband in her home country. She challenged us to be like that Christian woman who reached out to a lonely 16 year old foreigner.
David Watson led a leadership workshop on discipleship that Cory attended before the main convention started. I was quite impressed by David’s shorter workshop I went to later. David went to Northern India to work with a people group known for killing missionaries and Christians. He left India discouraged after several national co-workers got killed. He studied his Bible and returned with a new strategy. In the last 15 years, 5 million people in this people group have been baptized and churches continue to multiply.
What happened? David started slowly this time, looking for a “man of peace,” someone interested in spiritual truth. He started “Discovery Bible studies,” preferably led by these seekers of truth, not by outsiders or experts. The leaders ask two main questions: what does this passage say and what does it say should I do. David says that many churches and Christians substitute knowledge for obedience. As these seekers simply obeyed what they read, they decided to follow Christ and began sharing what they learned with others.
Mission Connexion had over 125 workshops this year. The Mission Connexion website includes more information about this conference, photos, an order form for recordings, and information about upcoming events.
CORY preached three times Sunday at a church in Eugene to launch their week-long missions focus.I talked to the elementary and junior high Sunday school classes. I took the train home Monday, but Cory stayed to continue with missions-week and teach his Tuesday missions class at NCU. He plans to come home tomorrow, after his class.
HOME: I came home Monday to frozen water pipes. With heat in the pump house and under our house, we’ve eliminated all the easy answers. Cory can’t understand how the pipes buried three feet down could have frozen, but that’s the only option left. Three guys from our Bible study group came out Friday, but didn’t solve the problem. I use a hose from the pump house to fill the tub occasionally and heat water on the stove. It’s a little inconvenient, but my water “fast” helps me count my blessings and remember those less fortunate. Many live without what I take for granted.
Besides trying to solve the water problem, I’ve been editing Five Loaves and Two Bowls of Borscht to get it ready for reprinting and for Kindle. It’s a great reminder of how easy I have it now and how God provides grace and strength in times of difficulty.
Planning to go with Cory this weekend to two more churches, for more mission events. Hoping he can get our water running again after he gets home Wednesday. If not, there’s the garden hose from the pump house — it’s still better than what most people in the world have.
# # #
January 6, 2013
This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
CHRISTMAS HIGHLIGHTS? When we asked this question in our Bible study group, Cory said, “Little things that made me laugh, like our kitten who attacks me when I go to the wood shed. Pulling the girls on an old pick-up hood through the snow with a 4-wheeler was a blast.”
Janelle and Alicia were home for just over two weeks and are now back at their respective schools for a final semester. I enjoyed getting an update in person about their lives and people important to them. And had fun going inner-tubing with them. My sister from Alaska also visited for a week with her three girls.
CORY is now in Eugene and will be based there for two more weeks. He is teaching a missions class at NCU on Tuesdays, but is also the main speaker next week for a church’s missions focus. He stayed with his grandma last night, but will usually stay with other friends, since he needs internet access for early morning and evening appointments. Tomorrow morning, for instance, he’ll meet with a missionary in Hong Kong.
I PLAN to take the train to Eugene Friday and join Cory attending the Missions Connexion in Vancouver, WA Friday evening and Saturday. Sunday, we’ll be at Norkenzie Christian Church, as Cory speaks for their missions emphasis. I’ll take the train back home Monday. This trip will give me a chance to see some friends and have a little break from our ice and snow — a few nights ago, it was 16 below zero. Nevertheless, I like our cozy home and I have projects to work on during Cory’s absence.
Jan. 18-19: Missions Connexion, Vancouver, WA. An excellent conference with great speakers. http://www.missionconnexion.com
Jan. 20 – 27: Missions week at Norkenzie Christian Church, Eugene
Feb. 2: Missions potluck and meeting in Roseburg, OR
Feb. 3: Breakfast, Sunday School and Church at Trent Church, Dexter, OR
Feb. 23-Mar 3: Cory in Spain for conference with Coaching Missions International
March 16: Missons seminar in Turner, OR
May 4: Graduation for Janelle and Alicia
May 14-28: Cory, Janelle and Alicia in Ukraine
Early June: I’ll travel with Janelle to Kansas City, where she will work for Garmin.
# # #
December 20, 2012
December 17, 2012
In honor of the season: family highlights with photos and song.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Cory and I walk this road almost every morning. I love living in the country and am glad we can live near my parents.
Out on the lawn there rose such cat, er
We are grateful for a house and pets Janelle and Alicia can come home to during the summer and other school breaks. They will be home for Christmas.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
We all slept on the lawn for meteor showers in August.
All I Want for Christmas is You
Our garden produced well this year, for high desert, including these carrots who were hugging when harvested
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Cory works mostly from home, using the Internet
for staff meetings and to coach missionaries.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Cory and I returned to Ukraine this fall. I spoke at a couple women’s conferences. Cory then taught 60 men at a pastors’ seminar, and I helped in the kitchen. It was great to see friends again and hear of ministries which continue.
Go Tell it on the Mountain
Alicia went to New Hampshire this summer for an internship at a rehab center. It was a great experience, but she hopes to stay in Oregon after she graduates and work with youth. She enjoys her studies at Corban and moved out of the dorm this year, wanting to cook for herself. God provided a house not far from campus with a wonderful woman.
Seven Swans A Swimming
For the first time in LeTourneau University’s history, a girls’ dorm entered the cardboard boat races. Janelle and friends won no prize, but reached other side. Fortunately, she chose electrical engineering not ship-building as a major. Garmin, the GPS maker in Kansas City, as already snagged her to work for them, starting in June.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flock
Rascal and Mou keep track of us through the sliding glass door, their “big screen TV.” Recalling God’s faithfulness in the past gives us confidence for the new year and whatever it holds. Both Janelle and Alicia graduate in May — faster and cheaper than usual because of community college classes they took in high school. They hope to visit Ukraine before starting work. Cory looks forward to teaching a missions class at Northwest Christian University starting in January. It’s quite a commute for one day a week, but he loves mission education and wants to motivate the next generation. Besides playing house and gardening, I have writing projects waiting for attention. We love our Bible study group and the rich relationships it gives. May His presence give you comfort and joy this season and in the new year.
Cory, Janice, Janelle and Alicia
# # #
November 1, 2012
During my month-long visit to Ukraine, I felt like I had never left it. I could still speak Russian. I saw familiar faces at the market and in our neighborhood. Conversations with friends started up where they left off. When not staying at the Efas Center for conferences, we stayed in our old apartment – available, since Nicholi bought it for his kids, as a place to live when married. I think they rent it out in the summer, but we used familiar dishes, towels, blankets, and spices we left there.
Staying at our apartment, I felt “empty nest” more than I do in Oregon. The girls used to make forts with those cushions. Favorite books once filled those shelves. No one filled their spots at the table. I hope they can visit Ukraine sometime, and members of their youth group do too.
The two women’s conferences averaged about 50 women each – with most from around Crimea, but some came from other parts of Ukraine. Co-workers in Ukraine, June and Annette, organized the conferences to provide encouragement for women in ministry. Attendees’ enthusiastic and appreciative feedback showed it met a need.
I am grateful I could participate. Often, when church planters and pastors talk about “their” ministry in various villages – Sunday schools, camps, medical outreaches – these women carry much of the load. While men often attend pastors conferences and such, little is available for women. I saw women I knew and loved, and I didn’t need to travel all over to visit them. They serve in hard places and difficult circumstances and touch lives I cannot.
Cory had planned to hold a seminar for a smaller group of men – especially those involved in church planting – but organizers in Ukraine thought it best to attach Cory’s seminar to a two-day pastors’ meeting. With sixty men, he could not follow the discussion format he preferred, but I heard it went well anyway. The head for Crimea churches said afterward, “This is just what we needed.”
Cory gave a mini-missions course in about 6 hours of lecture, showing how God’s heart for the nations first shows up in Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham. The quick trip through the Bible led to evangelism among the Gentiles in Acts 15 and the understanding that other cultures don’t need to do church the same way we do. Finally, just as many third-world countries now send out missionaries, Ukraine can too. Besides, there is a need for sensitive outreach to people of other cultures who live in Ukraine.
David, a co-worker in Ukraine who focuses on one of these other cultures, took the final session. He began by donning a religious cap and quoted a passage in Arabic. He explained beliefs of this people group and pointed out that it’s okay if followers of Jesus act out their faith a little differently than those in the audience. He told me later, “I kept an eye on (the head of Crimean churches), and since he was smiling, I figured I was doing okay.”
Meanwhile, I helped in the kitchen, allowing for a great visit with Nicholi’s wife and daughters. Days that followed gave me time with other friends in Feodosia – Tanya, Tatiana, Inna.
I left Oct. 24, traveling out with June’s dad, but Cory stayed longer, attending a board of directors meeting for the Efas Center. While Nicholi has done a good job running the facility, the board provides a covering for accountability and guidance in how profits from the summer are used for ministry. They discussed general principles and suggested projects, but will finalize documents and decisions over e-mail.
Cory’s flight arrived about 11:00 p.m. Tuesday. His plane flew through extended turbulence on the edges of Hurricane Sandy, but they got through with no problems. His work with CMI stacked up, so he’s working on that now.
We are grateful for answered prayer – safety and meaningful contacts. Mom fed our dog and cat – which enthusiastically welcomed us home.
# # #
October 9, 2012
It has been a big gift to be able to return to Ukraine and help with a couple women’s conferences. June invited me last November, when I visited Ukraine right after I attended a seminar about how God uses seasons of difficulty in our lives. That seminar made a big impression on me, and she asked me to speak on the same topic. So I came for two 4-day conferences. June expected 50 women at each, but a few extras brought the total to 53 last week. Some traveled six hours to get here.
I was one of five speakers. The women had many good things to say about all of the speakers, as well as the worship, food, accommodations, gift bags, craft, decorations, and other details. We cried, laughed and worshiped together.
We do it all over again for another group this week, beginning with lunch Wednesday and ending with lunch Saturday. Most of the women in this second group come from villages in Crimea, and June says I will know many of them.
I knew many of the women in this conference too, but I was especially pleased to see three whose husbands went through the training program for church planters. Hearing about their ministries helped me see the truth of 1 Cor. 15:58: “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
One showed me pictures on her camera of men at a rehabilitation center for alcoholics that her husband started. Since he is often gone 3 to 5 days at a time, it was a big gift from God that she could attend this conference, while her husband stayed with their three small children. She told me how the Training Center gave him the motivation for ministry and helped him understand the Gospel better. “Every chance he has, he teaches others the things he learned.”
Another woman gave me a disk with photos and videos from a camp their church held for Ttr children (of mslm families.) Her husband is a pastor, but he also built a rustic campground for Christian camps on a piece of property he bought. Last I heard, a fire burned some buildings with most of their supplies and mattresses. She said they sold their house in a village and used the money to rebuild the camp and bring in electricity. They now live in a rented apartment near the church they serve. She doesn’t regret putting their money into the camp saying, “If we have to, we can always live there. The air is clean and nature is beautiful.”
The camp is used by many different churches all summer, but I was especially interested in hearing about the camp for kids of mslm background. Forty ttr children came, ages 9-13. Of the workers, 8 were ttr. I cried watching the videos of these dark-haired, dark eyed children singing about Jesus, quoting verses, doing Bible skits. A girl in ethnic costume performed an ethnic dance.
I asked this woman later, “What do the parents think?” She said, “I don’t know, but they let the children go.” It was their second ttr camp, even better attended than the last.
We’re using the Efas Center for the conferences, and I’m staying there now. After our arrival, June’s dad, who last visited Ukraine in 2007 with a landscaping team from Oregon, kept telling me, “You must feel so pleased to see how they have done such a good job finishing off the building and running it.” Yes, we are pleased and grateful for Nicholi’s continued oversight. Nicholi says, “I have great helpers.”
There is a plaque with a Bible verse in each room, and the workers are all Christians. When the building serves as a hotel in the summer, they often get opportunities to discuss Christianity with the guests, especially if tending the front desk. Nicholi told of one long conversation with an atheist in the foyer, as many other guests listened in.
I’ve been living on the fourth floor since my arrival, with a balcony view of the Black Sea. Almost every morning and evening, I’ve gone swimming. The weather has been pleasant and the sea has retained warmth from a very hot summer. I love swimming with the colors of sunrise reflecting off ripples in the water — until this morning, that is. Since the temperature dropped to 52, with a wind besides, I didn’t linger long this morning. The water wasn’t bad, but I was glad to have jeans and a jacket when I got out.
CORY flew into Ukraine today, and I just got word that Nicholi met him in Simferopol. He should be here by 6:00 p.m. or so. After the women’s conferences, he will help lead a conference for men. He’ll also meet with the Efas Center board of directors. Among other things, they will discuss the selection of ministry projects to receive funds from summer profits, when the Efas Center is used as a hotel.
PRAYERS & PRAISE:
Grateful for safe travels,
for God’s help with all details of the first woman’s conference,
for those who continue to minister.
Pray for clear minds for speakers at conference
for God to minister to each woman attending.
for church leaders attending the men’s meeting
for the ministries represented.
And may God bless and encourage you!
# # #
September 9, 2012 – Update
When I told our Bible study group, “The girls returned to school this week,” someone said, “Not long ago you said they were coming home.” Summer flew by.
CMI: Cory’s responsibilities have changed some with CMI (Coaching Mission International.) They’ve asked him to oversee their “Bridges” program, which provides coaching for missionaries, for those preparing to go, and those transitioning back home. He also helps teach CMI’s on-line class on coaching cross-culturally. CMI has given him several new people to coach, and CMF (Christian Missionary Fellowship) also sent some missionary recruits his way. More info about CMI and their Bridges program: http://www.coachingmission.com/bridges.htm
Since CMI recently hired an administrative assistant, Cory is happy to pass on that baton and train her to maintain mailing lists, register people for training, and take notes at staff meetings. He’s grateful some people thrive on attention to detail, but he enjoys big-picture tasks better.
ARTICLE: Cory still puts out CMI’s newsletter, and I help edit articles. This excerpt shows the use of coaching in missions:
Growing up in a Chinese family living in Indonesia, Helen was taught not to trust other people. Even now she says, “I don’t like people telling me what to do. Something in my heart doesn’t sit right.” The ability of a coach to help her reach her own conclusions and hear God’s leading attracted her to the coaching model.
She once worked in the corporate world, but sensed she was to move into a ministry position with a non-profit organization. “That was a very difficult decision to make,” she says, “due to my cultural background and the expectations of my family, and I would lose a steady salary. Coaching helped me think through the questions and find answers. Over time, God made very clear His desires for me.”
As part of her ministry, Helen now coaches others. “Coaching has helped me get over the hump of not trusting people. I like to build people up. In the coaching relationship, I must trust you to find answers for your life. We pray together, but I do not have to solve your problems. God and you will solve those. I just listen, ask questions and watch what God does.”
UKRAINE: I leave for Ukraine Sept. 25. June Johnson, the CMF teammate we left behind, invited me to help teach at a couple women’s conferences, held at the Efas Center. I’ll travel in and out of Ukraine with June’s father, who will also participate. Arriving a little early, we have time to get over jetlag and help June with preparations.
The first seminar, Oct.4-6, will be for about 50 women involved in medical ministry. The second week, Oct 11-13, is for another 50 women in other kinds of ministry: pastors’ wives, Sunday school teachers, etc. June says that many women I know will be there the second week — church planters’ wives and such. I’m looking forward to it!
I plan to speak on two topics: “Using Questions for Ministry” and “Hope in the Valley.”
Questions for Ministry: James 1:19 says we should be quick to hear and slow to speak. The ability to ask good questions can improve ministry and other relationships. It applies to Bible lessons, counseling sessions, or simply getting along family members and other people.
Hope in the Valley: God uses the ups and downs of life for improved character and more effective ministry. Our “call” is not simply a task, but to become more like Jesus and have fellowship with Him. According to Rom. 8:28, God uses even our difficulties for good.
CORY heads to Ukraine Oct. 8 to lead sessions for men on the two week-ends following the women’s meetings. Oct. 18-20 he plans to give a mini-missions course. Crimea’s church overseer will use some of this conference for a business meeting. With all of Crimea’s pastors invited, we expect a good attendance and probably some who have not been to the Efas Center before.
The second weekend, Oct. 25-27, Cory plans to hold a seminar on conflict resolution, “Peacemakers.”
Also on the agenda, Cory plans to meet with the Efas Center board of directors to discuss budget, direction and such. They will review guidelines for use of hotel profits for ministry. With three weeks in Ukraine, he expects to also visit some church planters and ministries.
Sept. 25: Janice leaves for Ukraine
Oct 4-6: Conference for women in medical ministry
Oct. 8: Cory heads to Ukraine
Oct. 11-13: Conference for women in other ministry
Oct. 18-20: Pastor’s meeting and men’s conference: “Mission of the Church”
Oct: 24: Janice heads home
Oct. 25-27: Men’s conference: “Peacemaking”
Oct. 30: Cory heads home
GIRLS: Some people like hearing about Janelle and Alicia more than anything else, so I can’t leave them out. Both are seniors already, because of community college classes they took in high school. They graduate in May. (I can’t believe it either.)
ALICIA, attending Corban in Salem, asked to live off-campus this year, wanting to take on more real-life responsibilities like cooking and grocery shopping — and it’s expensive to live in the dorm. God provided a wonderful place for her, just three miles from school. Not long after Cory attended the Oregon Christian Convention near Salem, a woman he met there called and asked if Alicia still needed a place to stay. She offered a room in her home for minimal cost. Alicia still takes time for friends from her dorm — one is spending this weekend with her. And she makes time for study too, at least she ends her notes with: “I need to do homework now.”
JANELLE left for LeTourneau in Texas wondering what she’d have for Senior Design, a project she will work on all year. She was surprised to be put on the “Baja” team, a group of mostly mechanical engineers who design a car for off-road competition. She is one of three electrical engineering students on the project. She was a little nervous about it — since if the electrical system doesn’t work, nothing works — but feels better about it now. The group is very motivated and some have experience from last year. Their school will compete in April against other schools from around the country. It’s one of the more time-consuming groups — besides designing and building, they need to raise funds. She sent this link with more information. http://renegaderacing1213.wix.com/baja#!home/mainPage
In other news, Hurricane Isaac slipped by giving “ankle-deep rivers in the grass” for her and her roommate to play in.
WHATEVER your life includes, may you sense God’s nearness in it! Now it looks like my computer is going on the blink, so I hope to send this out before it dies! Just yesterday, Cory saw some computers on sale and asked if I needed a new one. I didn’t think so…
# # #
July 23, 2012 – Update
CORY continues to coach via Skype missionaries in different places and national workers in Ukraine. He told me that Igor, a pastor in Ukraine with M.S., had set a goal of raising up other leaders. Igor’s health has gotten worse, but he is so pleased by how other brothers are taking on more responsibility for leading the service, preaching and leading small groups. Members of the congregation gave to help buy an apartment for his family — a huge blessing, since the family had been forced to move often when they rented. He is thrilled that they found a first-floor apartment close to shops.
Next week, Cory will be attending Week of Missions at Winemia as a representative for CMF. It’s a great family camp on the coast north of Lincoln City. For more information or to register: http://www.winema.org/WOM.htm
Cory also assists Coaching Missions International. I loved the story in their most recent newsletter about a pastor in a predominantly Muslim country who changed his leadership style as a result of being coached, and is now passing that on to other leaders.
The BIBLE STUDY GUIDE I wrote a few years ago, Finding Strength for the Journey, is now available as a free download through www.purposepress.net You are welcome to it! Brigada, a resource for missionaries www.brigada.org , recently posted a blurb about it, resulting in 330 downloads. I’m glad to feel I can still have some kind of international influence while tending my garden. We ate our first zucchini and I’m still hoping for tomatoes.
FAMILY: I don’t hear very often from Alicia, working as an intern at Christian rehabilitation center in New Hampshire, but she works from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. and has limited internet access. Her days include work duties alongside the residents — like cleaning or weeding on the farm — classes, a daily Bible study, and evenings devoted to building relationships. She wrote: “We have 14 female residents. Most of them are here for substance abuse/depression/self-harm/eating disorders. I know one girl is here for all four. . . I’ve been starting to see the really sad insides of some of life here…I can see why the long-term mentors are so tired.” It has been a good experience but she looks forward to returning to Oregon Aug. 4.
When I drove past the jail with Janelle, she said, “I was there last summer” (on a project.) Then she came home one day a couple weeks ago and said, “I was chasing ghosts all day at the Mental Health Building.” She was helping my brother look for problems in a computer program. She’s learning a lot in her internship — setting up heating/air conditioning controls and displays on the computer — and even gets paid. Nevertheless, I guess that means I have one daughter who’s been to jail and mental health and another in rehab. She returned to Texas this week to serve as maid of honor in a friend’s wedding. While there, she wrote on Facebook, “Texas definitely thawed me out. Guess winter hasn’t hit here yet.” Another wrote, “Winter? What’s that?” She replied, “It’s like air conditioning, except it’s outside.”
July 29 – Aug. 3: Week of Missions, Camp Winemia
Sept. 25- Oct. 24: Janice in Ukraine, seminars for women
Oct. 8 – 30: Cory in Ukraine, seminars for men
# # #
June 16, 2012 – Update
UKRAINE: Shied, a church planter of mslm background, is now pain free in God’s presence after a battle with cancer. June wrote us on June 3 saying he was in significant pain with a new tumor on his face, difficulty breathing and confined to bed. On June 6, he died. Even in his sickness, he sought to share his faith with others, particularly those of his heritage. At his funeral, more heard about Jesus as the path to God.
In keeping with the local tradition, the funeral was held the day of his death. Nicholi told Cory it was well attended by those in the village and beyond. A brass orchestra played. Many ttr came to the funeral, showing their respect for him. Among those who spoke, one pastor quoted passages from the mslm holy book that refer to Jesus as the Messiah. Many ttr nodded. Others preached. Several told how Shied had influenced them.
It is typical to hire a flatbed truck to take the coffin to the cemetery after the service near the house. They obtained a truck, but it is the ttr tradition to carry the coffin by hand, and they offered to do so. The cemetery was about two miles away, but Nicholi reported that with many sharing the load and taking turns, both Slavs and ttr, “no one got tired.” Shied’s wife, also a ttr, did not accompany the coffin, following the ttr tradition that women do not go to the grave. This increased her respect among those who felt she had abandoned their faith for Christianity.
Pray for the family and for fruit from seeds planted through Shied’s life and death.
I recently heard the song “Temporary Home.” The last verse tells of an old man in the hospital who whispers, “Don’t cry for me I’ll see you all someday….I can see God’s face”
“This is my temporary Home.
It’s not where I belong,
Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through.
This was just a stop, on the way To where I’m going.
I’m not afraid because I know this was
My temporary home.”
Cory and I are enjoying owning our first home (at the age of 50-some). I appreciate getting to live near my parents and have a garden, dog and cat. But the song reminds me that this too is just a temporary home. I still want to invest in things of eternal value.
While living in the country near parents, it’s a privilege that Cory can work via computer and Skype, coaching missionaries and maintaining contact with Ukraine. He and I plan to return to Ukraine in the fall for some seminars.
I’m also grateful we can provide a home-base for Janelle and Alicia during college breaks. Janelle and Alicia returned home early in May from their respective colleges. Alicia left for New Hampshire in early June for an internship at a Christian rehabilitation center and says it’s going well so far. She’s one of seven interns. Janelle, an electrical engineer major, is working for my engineer brother in town. I’ve appreciated their help with projects, like constructing a rock garden. As Cory and Janelle were rolling big rocks around, he said, “Janelle, ever feel like a dung beetle?”
June 26-July 1: Oregon Christian Convention, Turner, OR
# # #
April 25, 2012 – Update
UKRAINE: With thunderstorms causing flight delays, Cory’s flight got in about two hours late, but he did get back from Ukraine. He’s glad he went, but glad to get home again too!
Cory went to Ukraine primarily to meet with the various members of the Training Center leadership team. I wrote before that a heresy rumor has hindered the Training Center from moving forward in ministry. The TC leadership team has now disbanded, at least in the form it once was.
This turn of events was not what we envisioned, but the Training Center’s impact is still evident. Vision for outreach remains alive in many who went through the training, in the churches they now lead and in churches led by those who served as leaders for the training center. Cory heard encouraging reports about ministries in different parts of Crimea.
- Several asked a CMF teammate in Crimea to come and teach in their churches about Islm and friendship with these neighbors. Such focus was part of our original desire.
- Cory visited Igor Kononchuk’s church in Kerch, which is doing well. Igor’s health is deteriorating from MS, but he is raising up other leaders and there’s an active house church movement going. Several men in this region went through our training.
- He also visited Dima’s church in Sudak. This church had an active outreach in Sudak and surrounding villages, but began experiencing resistance on every side. Last year city officials stopped letting them hold church services in the building they rented and blocked use of any other public area or park. Then one official saw their dramatic presentation of The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe and told them they MUST give it in all area schools. We praise God with them for those open doors and pray for more like them.
- Alexi Antonov operates a rehabilitation center on the west side of Crimea for recovering alcoholics. Six men live in the house, work the garden and study the Bible. All have accepted Christ, including one of mslm background, and they minister in other villages where alcoholism is rampant. Four volunteers take turns living at the house with the men, guiding the process. Though local churches are helping fund the project, but he is praying for some outside sponsors too.
- Igor Gordeyev’s church is working on a new church plant and guys from the rehab center help with the preaching.
- Misha, at Primorski, also has four home groups going in various regions, with non-believers coming.
EFAS CENTER: Nicholi continues to manage the Efas Center, which will still serve as a hotel for tourists in the summer with profits going toward church planting and other outreach in the region. A board of directors will provide oversight for this, with Cory serving as a resource. As before, various Christian groups will also use the building as a retreat and training center. I expect to go over and help June with two women’s seminars in October, and Cory plans to hold seminars for men the following two weeks.
GIRLS: Janelle and Alicia are on their last week of classes, with finals next week. Alicia says she has already taken two of her finals and will finish the rest on Tuesday. It sounds like Janelle has an overwhelming number of projects and papers due this week. I noted her Facebook entries in the wee hours of Monday morning:
(12:57 a.m.) I fractured an op amp by changing a frequency… This lab hates me.
(1:58 a.m.) I love it when things sort of work
(4:10 a.m.) 9 hours in the lab without caffeine or food or beverages.
Both return home on Friday, May 4. Janelle’s friend, Lisa, plans to come visit a couple weeks later. Alicia was accepted for an internship during June and July at a Christian treatment center in New Hampshire for young people with addictions. She expects it will be challenging, but was impressed by what she heard of the program when the director of it came and spoke at her school.
OTHER: I’ve gone back to school too — at least I’m taking a class at the local community college on “Gardening in Klamath County” one evening a week for five weeks. It gives tips on making the best of our short growing season on the high desert. It has been known to frost at any time of the year here. My mom does well with root crops (potatoes, onions and carrots) but I’m hoping for tomatoes.
I never knew I’d have to deal with so much interpersonal conflict in the garden. One handout lists vegetables that like each other and those who do not. Did you know that beans like celery and cucumbers, but can’t stand onions? “Beans and onions are natural enemies, so keep them at opposite sides of the garden.” Cabbages and strawberries don’t like each other. Carrots help beans, but beans don’t reciprocate. It sounds to me like Alicia doesn’t need to go across the country for a counseling internship. She could stay right here and help the vegetables to get along.
CORY heads to Kentucky May 13 for the Kairos missions course, returning home May 23.
# # #
March 27, 2012 – Update
CORY leaves Wednesday (tomorrow) for Ukraine for two weeks. He plans to spend time with members of the Training Center leadership team and a few others, discussing ministry direction and values and initiating some changes in structure.
Even when we lived in Ukraine, Cory never tried to control or micromanage. He saw the work not as “our” ministry, but as an opportunity to walk along local leaders in their ministry — or more precisely, “God’s” ministry. If all we left behind was some sense of vision, he could happily stay out of the picture except for an occasional cheer from the sidelines. Since a major building became part of the ministry, he agreed with CMF’s recommendation that he remain on the board of directors of the Efas Center.
The ministry in Ukraine has been quite a ride so far. We appreciate those who have hung with us in this journey. Many supported this ministry in different ways, and we still value prayers for it.
The Training Center began from discussions with like-minded leaders wanting equip the local church for evangelism and church planting. Men from Eastern Crimea came for training in 1998. A second two-year program started in 2000 for men from all over Crimea. TC leaders set a goal of a church for every town and village of Crimea. They held seminars for churches. A third group went through training. Leaders began getting invitations from other parts of Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. We felt excited for the future. We transformed an unfinished shell into the Efas Center, a facility for training that could also raise money for ministry when operating as a hotel during the summer. We held seminars there; other Christian groups did too. Church leaders came from Belarus for training.
Then about three years ago, a church leader in Crimea began his campaign against the Training Center, accusing it of heresy. He sent letters throughout Ukraine, the former Soviet Union, and to Russian immigrants in Europe and United States. Church leaders in Kiev believed the accuser, warned others, and told the Training Center leaders to stop teaching — only to finally decide fairly recently that there was no heresy after all. Most churches within Crimea stubbornly stood up for the Training Center throughout the controversy. Some members of the accuser’s church refused to denounce the Training Center and were excommunicated for it. They began holding their own church services in a separate location — we hear that group is growing and doing well.
Those last three years weren’t part of the plan. Not our plan anyway. We could say Satan is the accuser of the brethren and seeks to disrupt the spread of the Gospel. But the Bible also says we shouldn’t be surprised by trials, which produce perseverance and other good fruit. We still don’t have enough time or perspective to see how God has or will use this setback for good.
The movement that was going lost momentum, but God’s heart has not changed. He still commands to “go and make disciples” and still uses those who are available.
During recent weeks, Cory pointed out to the team (in letters and phone calls) that the goal from the beginning was not to set up an institution, but to work toward a goal: training leaders for evangelism and church planting. No longer seeing movement toward that vision, he no longer sees reason for them to continue receiving salaries. Their salaries used to come from our budget, but now comes from the Efas Center profits. Such discussion can be difficult in person but is even harder from a distance, so Cory is going.
I asked Cory, “What are your prayer requests?” And he replied as follows:
1. “That they won’t hate me.” (And beyond that for God’s perspective on things.)
2. “That I can meet with each member of the leadership team so they talk things through. I’d like to have at least two or three hours with each person.”
3. “I want to encourage them in thinking through their vision and what God has called them to.”
4. “We need to figure out who else should sit on the advisory committee for the Efas Center, to help provide oversight and set up a procedure for deciding which ministries and projects should receive funds from the profits.” Cory has already asked another CMF missionary in Ukraine to be on the board.
5. “For safety, of course. And I need a vehicle or a way to get around and see everyone.” Bus travel is time-consuming. Besides seeing members of the leadership training team, Cory wants to see the official church overseer for Crimea and visit some church planters on the west side of Crimea.
FAMILY: We picked up Alicia Saturday for spring break after she participated in the “Buck Mountain Mud Slinger” a 6.5-mile trail run. Legs and feet wash, but I don’t think her socks will ever be the same. You can see photos and read her parallel to the Christian life at: http://ashiftingshadow.blogspot.com/2012/03/bruising-and-bleeding.html. We’re enjoying having her home for a few days before she flies to Texas tomorrow morning to spend time with Janelle. Janelle is already back in class after her spring break, but they can hang out together in the evenings and weekend and Alicia is taking homework along. Both hope for internships this summer and can use prayer for that. Janelle has some very challenging classes and projects to work on before then, leaving not much time to figure out options.
# # #
March 10, 2012 – Update
Instead of putting prayer requests at the end, I’ll start with them.
Please pray for God’s perspective (wisdom and discernment) for the Training Center leaders in Ukraine and some issues they need to work through. It now seems prudent for Cory to go over there this spring to meet with them. He will likely travel to Ukraine the end of March and stay about two weeks. Cory has frequent contact with many of the leaders using Skype, but it’s not the same as face-to-face contact.
MISSIONS SEMINAR: Cory and I are also preparing for a couple sessions at a missions conference in Turner, OR, March 17 (and can use prayers for that.)
Theme: Mobilizing the Local Church for Mission.
Other speakers: David Giles from CMF, Dr. Bob Chapman and Troy Dean, with Tim Doty moderating.
Who’s invited? Church leaders, mission committees, and anyone else interested in God’s work in the world.
Topics: How various “players” work together for worldwide evangelism
“Missional” churches: thinking and acting more strategically
The local church and missions: Ideas for hands-on involvement
Tools for increasing mission awareness in churches
Today’s plague, AIDS/HIV: How can the church help
How the local church can help fight human trafficking
To register or for more information:
JUNE JOHNSON: We look forward to seeing June on Friday, right before the conference. I know she will be severely jetlagged, but that’s our chance to see her. She’s coming to the U.S. for a brief visit, in order to take a couple nursing tests and renew her visa. New laws in Ukraine surrounding visas and residency permits have significantly increased the number of hoops one needs to jump through. They add up to make it increasingly difficult (and more expensive) for foreigners to stay in the country. Pray for her visa and for a clear mind as she takes exams.
Last weekend, I made a big pot of borscht and took it to a missions luncheon at a church which supports June. They also asked us to give an update on her ministry. Most people, when they eat borscht, say, “Oh, this is a lot better than I was expecting.” There’s more to borscht than beets and cabbage.
WOMEN’S CONFERENCE: Also last weekend, I attended a two-day women’s conference (except for when I popped over to the church for the missions luncheon.) One story that has stayed with me: The speaker said she dreamed she was a child and on stage and someone handed her a very difficult puzzle to put together — small pieces and all of them were black. Before she could succeed with those, someone gave her another set of black puzzle pieces. And then someone gave her more. She couldn’t solve any of them. She felt very frustrated and overwhelmed until she saw Jesus standing in the wings. He asked her to hand over the difficult puzzles and said, “Those are not your puzzles to put together. They belong to other people.” He gave her a very simple puzzle in exchange. It looked too easy, but He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I don’t know about men, but women can take on puzzles that aren’t ours to solve. Give it to Jesus.
CHURCH: In January, Cory and I began leading an adult Sunday school class using the book Radical as a springboard for Bible study and discussion. The book encourages Christians to participate in what God’s wanting to do in the world and has resulted in some great discussions.
Then in February, we started leading a mid-week Bible study in a home. We’re studying Ephesians, but not moving very fast as we consider other scriptures and discuss questions. We love it — the discussion, the open sharing that takes place, heart-felt prayer requests, the friendships that are forming. I often come home feeling so jazzed I have a hard time sleeping.
GIRLS: Janelle got to see Alicia’s dorm and college right before Christmas and wanted Alicia to visit her in Texas too. We cashed in some frequent flier miles and got Alicia a ticket to go during her spring break. She’ll come home for the first half of spring break, then fly to Texas March 28-April 1.) Both girls hope to have internships this summer and could use prayers for the right place: Janelle in electrical engineering and Alicia in counseling/social work.
As far as the other members of the family, I put a bird feeder outside the window to provide some entertainment for our parakeet. Some chickadees finally found it. The cat seemed to think we were setting the table for him too — at least I caught him trying to do chin-ups on the bird feeder. He didn’t get very far. Rascal, our dog, loves our morning walks. When it snowed, I got out the cross-country skis. Rascal kept trying to attack those poky things coming out of the snow, the ski tips. We are starting to think spring with longer days and flowers coming up, but more snow is forecast late next week — about the time we are supposed to head over the mountain for the seminar.
CORY continues to work from home with CMI (Coaching Missions International.) The night before he was supposed to lead a forum (over Skype) early the next morning, he dreamed he couldn’t figure out how to log on and so they couldn’t meet. He woke up in a panic. Fortunately, he got on and it went on as planned.
He is scheduled to take some training in Kentucky May 13-23 that provides what he needs to lead a mini-missions course. http://www.kairoscourse.org/ Not only has he heard great things about the course, but it is translated into Russian and it’s something he would like to teach in Ukraine. Even though he’ll be gone eleven days, it would take him much longer than that if he had to develop all the materials himself. While he’s back there, he’ll stop in at the CMF (Christian Missionary Fellowship) office.
March 17: Missions conference in Turner
March 18: Cory preaches in Roseburg
March 24-28: Alicia home for Spring break
early April: Cory likely in Ukraine
May 13-22: Kairos mission training in Kentucky
May 23: Cory at CMF office
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
# # #
January 18, 2012 – Update
EBENEZER: Not that Scrooge fellow. Ebenezer was the name Samuel gave a memorial he built saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (2 Samuel 7:12). While wrapping up the old year with family and bringing in the new, we talked about ways we have experienced God’s help and wrote phrases on stones for a rock garden. The exercise gave us inspirational reminders of God’s goodness…except for my brother-in-law’s rock: “If you break this open and find a diamond, I get half.”
We enjoyed having Janelle and Alicia home for their Christmas break. They introduced us to friends using Facebook photos and shared stories of life at college. My sister, brother, nieces, and nephews helped us usher in the New Year with board games and memorial stones. And we went to Crater Lake for snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.
OPEN HOUSE: While in Ukraine, our family celebrated Christmas on Dec. 25, but attended church services for Russian/Ukrainian Christmas on January 7. This year, we honored the Russian holiday with an open house, borscht and bread. Some guys from the church had helped Cory build our pump house, and it seemed like a good time to invite people to see where we lived. At first, I wondered if I’d have a lot of left-over borscht, but 36 people later, I hit bottom. Many said, “This is a lot better than I expected.” We live quite a ways out of town, but it’s closer than going to Ukraine for the cuisine and experience.
NEWS FROM UKRAINE: I enjoyed reading June Johnson’s latest update with news about Christmas outreaches in places familiar to us.
Christmas- Jan. 7th: While we have been blessed by the Shoe Box ministry here in Crimea for many years, this year, like no year before, God opened doors for Christmas evangelism using the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoe Boxes. Between the 6th and the 10th, between one and three events took place each day (that is just in our area – I later heard similar was going in Yalta & Sevastopol). We’ve never been able to hold an outreach at the Feodosia Hospital – this year we did. Outreaches also happened in several local pre-schools, elementary schools, for the poor, orphaned & handicapped children and in several villages. There was standing room only at the Church of Grace (Sergi & Inna’s church) and at the Feodosia, Primorski & Cimisotka Churches – Praise God! If you took part in the Shoe Box ministry, on behalf of ‘the other side’ I want to say thank you!
Besides the Shoe Boxes, the Feodosia youth had prepared two dramas and did showings in several places. Sudak had completed Narnia 2 (second half of the story) and did several showings. And the Cimisotka Church youth (& young at heart) put on their very first Christmas play. I was so proud of all of those folks who went all out to serve and to share.
CORY enjoys his coaching contacts with missionaries and Russian-speaking church planters and counts it a privilege to remain involved in missions this way. He recently talked to man who coaches businessmen in a country closed to traditional missionaries. Coaching has provided a great platform for outreach to the upper-middle class. People in that country are typically suspicious of outsiders, but his expertise has open doors for conversations and meals in homes. Several have come to Christ already and he’s seeing progress toward a church plant.
Two weeks ago, we began leading a Sunday morning class on what it means to follow Jesus or be His disciple. We’re using the book Radical as a launch-pad for discussion and for a look at what the Bible has to say about commitment to Christ. Good turnout and discussion. Some told us this topic has shaken them up. I told Cory, “They only thought they wanted us back. They might want to ship us off to Ukraine again.”
Jan 20-21: Mission ConneXion in Vancouver, WA. Cory and I will be sitting at the CMF booth. At least Cory is committed to being there full time.
Jan. 22: Trent Church, Dexter, OR.
March 17: Missions Seminar, Oregon Christian Convention, Turner, OR
Expecting freezing rain overnight, we decided to cross the mountains today instead of tomorrow, on our way to Vancouver. We left home in heavy snowfall, but it turned to rain long before we arrived in Eugene.
# # #
December 10, 2011 – Christmas Greetings
I’ll be home for Christmas.
When we count our blessings this year, a house may top the list. It’s so nice we still can’t believe it’s really ours. We got a great deal. A manufactured home, it went in quickly. Sagebrush green. We put it on my parents’ property — quiet location except when the coyotes howl.
Lords a leaping.
I laugh when Cory plays tag with the dog, but he says, “No one else will play with me.” When he’s not leaping with Rascal, he works with Coaching Missions International via the internet. Skype works well for staff meetings, appointments with missionaries, and contacts with church planters in Ukraine.
What child is this?
Early in the year, some students at LeTourneau University kept confusing Janelle with another girl in the dorm. When much younger, Janelle couldn’t wait for school to start each fall so she could do math. This summer, she didn’t wait, taking vector calculus and statics. She also did an engineering internship with my brother.
Visions of capacitors danced in their heads.
Janelle takes a heavy class load in electrical engineering and is involved in intramural sports. Facebook helps me know she’s still alive.
- Sleep? Sleep? What’s that?
- Mmm. Love the smell of solder.
- According to this oscilloscope, I am 60Hz, 7 Vpp.
- Good Game G1! That was awesome! Keep it up!
- We’re in tornado watch. Cool.
Hark the herald angels sing. Alicia worked at Camp Harlow this summer. She wrote, “After taking care of kids all summer, I realize how much love and work and selflessness it takes to raise kids.” This picture comes from missions camp, with friends who lived in Indonesia.
All I want for Christmas…
Alicia laughs at a sign in the girls’ dorm at Corban University: “Gone Fishing for Men” and notes that it would be cheaper for those seeking a ring by spring to hire a matchmaker than pay for tuition.
Dashing through the rain.
Notes from Alicia:
- The coffee shop has definitely become home. Going on hour eight of homework today.
- Just because it’s not raining doesn’t mean it won’t. I.e. don’t go to the coffee shop in slippers. You might walk back barefoot.
- God’s goodness doesn’t depend on how we’re feeling. And days aren’t good because they’re easy. They are good because God’s given us another chance to praise Him. Days are easy and hard, not good and bad. Except for Mondays. Even God didn’t say Mondays were good.
Cory and I had a great trip. We first saw friends in Ukraine. In Kenya, we went to a forum for CMF missionaries involved in church planting, and Cory taught pastors planting churches in the Nairobi slum.
We returned right before Thanksgiving and now look forward to having both girls home from college for Christmas.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.