30 March 2009

An Answer to Prayer?

Our absence from the blog has been due to a teacher's favorite thing... spring break! But before we get to the good part (pictures!), let me tell you about the blessing in disguise that was our spring break.I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about sick kids. She has three little boys, and I think they have run the gamut of childhood illnesses in just their first few years of life. It's a big difference from our kids. We have been blessed with two seemingly illness-resistant children (at least the more serious stuff). I was telling her one of my worries was my kids getting really sick for the first time when we are in Kenya, in unfamiliar territory. Well, Faith did get really sick last week, and I am relieved that gap has now been bridged somewhat.

She started complaining of some tummy troubles two weeks ago, but nothing seemed to come of it. A week later, on Sunday, we headed down to Death Valley National Park for Jim's spring break. Monday she wasn't feeling good-- to the point of screaming about her tummy pain. We took her to urgent care near the park, but didn't really get any answers. Tuesday, we started to realize what was wrong. She started with the runs (in Kenya, you would say she was "driving") and didn't stop. Thursday we decided to cut our trip short and make the 11 hour sprint back home. This was definitely her worst day, and it made us grateful for the choice we made to head home that day. It is scary to see a seriously dehydrated child: sunken dark eyes, lips so dry they are just flakes, and not much energy to stay awake. She threw up in the car all the way home, but before bed seemed to turn a tiny bit of the corner. We have slowly but surely gotten better.

As funny as it sounds, and as scary as it was for a bit, we are grateful that God tested our mettle last week instead of a year and a half from now. The kids will probably get sick in Kenya with some weird bugs, but we've seen at least a bit of how far a kid can go and come back again. Amidst the circumstances today of coping with a recovering child, I find myself praising God for this experience.

So without further ado, a few photos of our time in the wonderful warm weather!

The park is full of awesome canyons to explore
And we arrived during the wildflower season...
'Manly Beacon'--the geology of this park is incredible
A good moment for Faith...enjoying the view with Daddy
At an overlook
This is from a 5,000 ft elevation viewpoint: you can see the highest and lowest points in the park. Telescope Peak is 11,049 feet, Badwater Basin is -282 feet. Pretty incredible creation!
Another fun canyon
This is what most of Faith's vacation looked like...poor girl
And Joel was in heaven: dirt, dirt and more dirt to dig!

Classic little boy...

19 March 2009

How to Keep in Touch


Last week we received our prayer cards in the mail, all ready to be sent out to our supporters. Faith even answered the door to receive the package...and then was taught about stranger danger by her mommy...but that's another story!

We are beginning to work on our April letter to send in a little while and we will send these prayer cards with it. We'd love you to use them to remember us...put them on your fridge, in your Bible, a place where you can remember to pray for us. We covet your prayers and we know we cannot do this alone.

Beginning our support raising has been quite a learning process, and we know we have a long way to go! We are blessed with a few missionary families in our lives that we are looking forward to sitting down with and learning from. Sometimes, the 15 months (and shrinking!) seems like a long time away, and other times, we know it will come quickly.

If you would like to support us prayerfully or financially, please join our mailing list, and we will send you information.

We plan on sending out quarterly newsletters, and we will supplement that communication with this blog, as well as occasional emails once we are in the field. This blog is the best way to hear our stories, see our pictures, and be a part of our family while we are on this journey. Following the blog (see the right hand side of this page) or saving the address to your favorites will make sure you see our updates and news as soon as possible.

Being sent is an incredibly relationally-dependent process, and we are excited about the relationships that are being strengthened for us during this process, and we look forward to those that have not begun that God has planned for us. Thank you for being a part of this!

13 March 2009

Perspective

I (Heather) started out this week a little grumpy about the time change. It was making my kids grumpy, making me grumpy...we were all a little grumpy. Well, Faith's grumps had a reason, she has been sick, poor thing, but we are coping just fine.

However, this week has turned into so much more. It's turned into a real wrestling with pain for me. A wrestling with perspective and purpose. Saturday I learned of two miscarriages, one of a family in their first year at RVA. Their first year so far from familiar family and friends, having to lay their grief on people they have only recently come to know and love. Two big sisters that were saddened they wouldn't be joined by a new baby in a few months.

Another was a college friend of mine. A woman who as a senior took me under her wing as a freshman, and let me always know my worth as a daughter of God. And three years later, as staff in the foreign language department, and I a senior, pregnant with Faith, she gave me encouragement, love and concern. Everything I needed as I made it to school each day. Their hopes for a second child moved on to another time frame.

Wednesday, my father-in-law, who is an elementary school principal, had a student die. She was a special-needs student, and was able to be with her parents when she passed. But Dad has been taking care of a school full of students that are understanding she will never go through the halls again. And the parents are mourning with empty arms.

This morning I received an email that a former MOPS mom passed away. She is leaving a husband and four children, the youngest a little girl smaller than Faith. A huge gaping hole to be healed. A quiet life suddenly and tragically disrupted.

I'm sure you all have had weeks like this. You hug your kids a little tighter, appreciate your spouse more, your own life... but can't help aching with the hurt that surrounds you. So our Father in heaven is rejoicing this week, his children being home. Yet we still miss and ache for what has gone missing from this earth, what we are to be parted with for a little while longer.

We can only find true peace in Him: 'For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us...And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.' (Rom 8:18 & 28)

I spent a lot of time today in the car, and while the kids were content, I thought about what we are planning on doing for the next few years. We get many comments from others about their fear for us as we go to the mission field, and I have struggled with that fear too. In December, after we were accepted as missionaries, I dealt with a lot of sleepless nights over this. I was plagued by visions of something happening to part of our family, and the seemingly insurmountable grief that would follow. This consumed me for some time, until I made my husband and friends aware of it. They were able to pray over me and allow me peace by sharing my burden, and encouraging me to place it in the Lord's hands.

I was talking to a wise missionary friend I have here, and probably sounding overwhelmed by the stories of car-jacking, robbery, injustice, and even martyrdom, that were told to us at candidate week. She said to me "but Heather, that stuff can happen anywhere." And while some of those things may be more commonplace in Kenya, and other African countries, God's hand is on ALL of it, and I am no more protected here that I will be in Africa. He is just as present here as he will be with us there.

So this week reminded me of her thoughts: that this worldly tragedy can happen anywhere. God will use suffering to glorify himself, even if it doesn't make sense to us. God's hand is on my life, your life, Jim's life, and Faith and Joel's lives. And the lives of those that went home to Him this week. That is what I need to trust.

May my heart be just like Job's...'"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.' (1:21-22)

09 March 2009

You Get What You Ask For...

This Sunday I (Jim) shared in Sunday school class a little bit about spiritual gifts... And because it has direct applications to Kenya and RVA, I thought maybe I'd share a quick anecdote. Some of you know that while Heather and I have been here in Woodland Park for just about 5 years now, we were still attending church in Colorado Springs where we were involved with the college ministry there until just recently. Most of you can probably imagine how incompatible the lives of toddlers and college students are... I'm amazed we were able to juggle the two for so long, but we eventually decided that it was time to move on. We joined the Woodland Park Community Church here in town just about a year ago, but due to our transition, I particularly was feeling unconnected from the church body.

I believe that as we serve and use our spiritual gifts, God facilitates growth in our spiritual walks. Unfortunately, my life had become fairly stagnant in this area and I wrestled with this for some time. Finally, I prayed one Saturday afternoon that God would reveal a place I could serve within our new church setting... I only realized a little later on how dangerous that prayer was!

The next day at small group we were discussing what subject to cover the following semester... and at the conclusion of the conversation, I was asked to partner with our small group leader in leading the study... talk about an answer to prayer! But that wasn't all. The following Sunday, our Sunday school teacher approached me and said, "I've been praying about someone who could fill in teaching our class when Rick and I are out of town, and God's really impressed your name on my heart." I seem to be a person that grows best in my spiritual walk when I'm challenged to teach others. Recognizing that, I prayed a simple prayer and suddenly opportunities began coming out of the woodwork! Isn't God amazing? My challenge to you is this: Are you using your gifts and talents to serve the body? If not, maybe you should ask God to reveal to you where you can serve Him... both locally and abroad - just be ready! And let us know how it turns out!

03 March 2009

Celebration of Life!

On a very family-oriented note, we celebrated Joel's birth this past Sunday, March 1st. We have been so blessed since he was born into our family two years ago. He was a little under the weather, but we truly had a wonderful time with him on Sunday afternoon.

He got some great new hats for the summer,
Had fun trying to figure out his new pillow,









And got to use his new bubbles outside. It was a gorgeous day!













After a yummy taco dinner (gotta raise him like his daddy!) we had dessert...
What else should a little Africa-bound boy have, but safari cake!












And lastly...I guess when you're two, you don't need a fork anymore. Zebra, anyone?
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