Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Kids in presentations

(Have you seen the new Facebook page for this blog? Please go "Like" it, if you're on Facebook.)

Ashley had suggested that I take some questions from the comments on this post, so here's another one from there: What are ways you involve kids in your ministry presentations to supporters?

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

A lamp to my feet and a light to my path

Psalm 119:24  Your testimonies are my delight;    they are my counselors.

As missionary moms, we definitely need to fit the reading of God’s Word in to our busy days.  Before we became missionaries, I was “hit or miss” when it came to daily devotions.   Hard to admit, but even early on in our missionary career, it was hard to find the time!  But in the past few years I have sensed my need for feeding on God’s word, really desiring the wisdom and knowledge that comes through reading His word.  It has become so much a part of my daily schedule now, that it is something that I can’t leave out of my day!

I really feel that the past two years we have been in a spiritual battle.  We were worn out from family issues, mission field issues, support issues, and just getting through everyday life - everything was trying to drag us down.  The bright spot in my days became my “quiet time,” spending time with the Lord, listening to His wisdom and guidance, and praying for His will to be done.

Here are some thoughts to remember in order to make reading God’s word a priority. Some of my thoughts are taken from reading, “Life Management for Busy Women” by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth George.

-   *   First things first –We need time in God’s word and in prayer.  If it is not first on your plan for the day, this should be on your schedule to be done at some time during the day!  For myself, I read a small portion in the morning and another portion in the evening, and then have my prayer time.  So far it has been working for me!  The most important thing is to plan to do it and then do it.

-   *   When we daily devote ourselves and our time to God, we are tapping into God’s power and strength for the day.   We want to hear God’s heart, we want to glorify God with our lives and service. 

-    *  We are being equipped for the work and ministry God has for us.   Before going out into the world, we need to be prepared spiritually by being in God’s word.

-     *  Whether we are out and about meeting people, sharing God’s love, helping in practical ways, or perhaps we are home with our children, homeschooling, caring for them, loving them, we need to be spiritually prepared for the day . 

-      *   We need spiritual food as much as or more than physical food.   If we go through the day without eating a meal, we will become physically weak, and the same can be said about going through the day without spiritual nourishment!

-     *     We need to be woman of one book – the Bible.  While enjoying reading Christian fiction and Christian living books, we need to remember to read what honors and glorifies Him, and to put reading the Bible before reading anything else.

-       *  Since we serve our risen Savior, it may mean that there will be demands in our day that are more than others  have to experience.  If we are not not daily nourished by God’s word, we will start to feel like there is not enough of us to go around, and that’s when we start to feel frazzled and frenzied.

-      *  Really read the Word of God!  Dive into it – learn it, memorize it, apply it to your life, and be ready to share it with others!

Psalm 119:11  I have stored up your word in my heart,    that I might not sin against you.

What do you do for your devotions and personal Bible study?  What works for you?  What are you studying and learning right now?

I'm Karen, serving with my family in Odessa, Ukraine.   Please visit my blog at http://tryingtoclearmymuddledthoughts.blogspot.com/

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Moving Across the World: The Beginning

So, as I thought about what to share with you all today, I couldn't get away from my moving notebook.

I kept grabbing it and jotting down "boys jeans" or checking the "To Buy in the States" page to see that garage sale had anything we needed.  And as I thought more about what to write, I figure, well, we all have to deal with this right?  I mean, we all seem to live in two or more places and moving a family across the world is simply the reality of missionary life.  And frankly, it can be big and scary and hard to even know were to begin!  I remember thinking "I wish I had seen someone do this before!"  So, in hopes of helping someone, you can watch our family move across the world.  And let me just say as we start out, this is what works for our family.  It may or may not work for you.  That's ok.  Take what you think will be helpful and leave the rest.  Really.

And so, here is "Everything I Know About Moving a Family Across the World".  Well, that title is a bit long.  Let's say instead, "Moving Across the World" or MAW for an even shorter title.

I guess the most logical place to start would be from the beginning, hummm?  Before we were deployed (yes, that is the word our mission uses, hehehe), we were living in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with a garage.  We decided early on that there were things we wanted to keep.  You know pieces of family furniture, keepsakes from our childhood and from our boys.  Baby equipment for the next kid.  You get the idea.  For us, what made the most sense was to buy an old storage trailer (we found this beauty on craigslist for about $1400, which from everything we were told, was a steal!)  It's 20 feet long and we keep it next to my parents' barn.

We didn't know when exactly we were going to be moving because of funding, but we knew we were leaving.  And we knew that all our junk would not fit in the trailer or come with us.  So, about 8 months before we actually left, I started purging, sorting through our house room by room.  I worked with a couple of thoughts in my mind

1.  Do we love this item?
2.  Could we buy something similar in Costa Rica?
3.  Is it worth it's weight?

If we love something, we kept it.  If we love it and it's worth it's weight, we bring it.  If we love it and it can't come, it stays in the trailer.

If it's not something we love, worth it's weight or we could buy something similar in Costa Rica, we get rid of it.  Maybe we give it to someone who could use it, or we sell it on Craigslist, or we give it to Salvation Army.  But we move it on out!

Now the "is it worth it's weight?" question.  Sigh.  This is probably different for every family.  For use there are somethings that just make life a little brighter. You know, when your whole world is different and you can't read the label for the soap, it's nice to be able to reach for a familiar thing.

 For me, it's my own linens.  And since linens in Costa Rica are terrible, it makes sense to bring them.  I also have a thing for glass jars.  I have a few packed for this next move.  Yes, they are heavy, but I know I am not going to find these particular jars there.  For me it's worth it.  It's going to be different for everyone.

So there you have The Beginning of MAW.  Stay tuned for more thoughts and ideas on this crazy process of being a nomad.

What was/is your thought process on what what things should go and what should stay?  Any tips for making the process easier in the beginning?

Want more MAW?  Check these out
Moving Across the World:  Toys 
Moving Across the World:  Buying and Acquiring 
Moving Across the World: Packing 
Moving Across the World: The Big Day(s)
Moving Across the World:  Helpful This and Thats

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Being a Barnabus

While reading through To Live is Christ by Beth Moore, I not only became more familiar with Paul, but also with his friend Barnabas. Barnabas' name means "son of encouragement or consolation". Paul comes across as a rough and tumble kind of man, so it seems almost odd to see him become good friends with someone such as Barnabas. Paul doesn't seem to be the type of person who needs encouragement, but he did, and God sent Barnabas into his life.
You know the story of Paul, but what struck me in this study is how the disciples didn’t accept him until Barnabus came in and encouraged them to welcome him. Turns out Paul did need him. I don’t blame the disciples, I’d be skeptical, too. Paul was on his way with written orders to take Christians as prisoners and kill them if necessary. Even Annanias was a bit hesitant. How often does someone get saved, and we say, “I’ll believe it when I see it last for more than a few days.” Shame on us. We ought to do as Barnabus did, and encourage others to welcome them into the family!
Courage is the root word for encourage. It takes courage to be an encouragement. Sometimes it’s easier to sit back and do nothing. 
How often do we need a good friend and God sends a Barnabas into our life? Awhile back I needed some encouragement and God sent a Barnabas to me. I have several friends who I am able to depend on in the good times, as well as the bad times. Friends who let me know they're praying for me, who share Scripture with me, who just lend a listening ear (which that alone is important because those who know me know I like to talk...a lot).
Sometimes it's so easy to just tell someone "I'll be praying for you". But do we follow through with that promise? Samuel said, "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you..." (I Samuel 12:23)
I have a friend who is going through a difficult time. I've been trying to think of ways that I can be an encouragement. Here are a few, maybe you can add more in the comments.
  • Promise to pray for them, and then be sure to take time to pray for them.
  • Share Scripture with them (even if you don't know what they're going through, there are many verses you can still share).
  • Listen...I always tell my daughter God gave us two ears so we can listen twice as much as we talk.
  • Send them a card reminding them that you are praying for you them (again, please be sure you are praying for them).
  • If you can afford it, send them some flowers, or go pick some wildflowers. What a nice reminder that they are special to you.
  • Lastly, don't share their burdens as "prayer requests" to others, unless the individual has specifically asked you to. Some times "sharing prayer request" is just another word for gossiping.

I'd also like to share some verses with you that I use in times when I'm discouraged or to share with others in their time of need.
  • Psalm 9:10 "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not    
    forsaken them that seek thee."
  • Psalm 18:6 "In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears."
  • Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."
  • Psalm 30:5b "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
  • Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
  • Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
  • Psalm 61:2 "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
  • Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times; ye people pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
  • Psalm 86:5 "For thou, LORD, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
  • Psalm 119:71 "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn they statutes."
  • Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them."
  • Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope."
These are just a few from the Psalms, most written by David, a man of God. I love how God showed the weaknesses of His people, it reminds me that I’m not alone. David was a man after God's own heart, but there were times when he was discouraged. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:4 "Who [God] comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Sometimes God puts us through trials, so we may be able to comfort (and encourage!) others down the road who will go through the same thing. God is good!

There is good news for those discouraged! I Corinthians 10:13 says "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it."

I once saw this quote on a friend's facebook status: "Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." It's now one of my favorite quotes. I pray that each of us will be a Barnabas to someone today.

How has someone been an encouragement to you lately?  And how have you been an encouragement to someone else?

*Written by Jen Bauer, missionary wife and mum in the Northern Territory of Australia.  She also blogs at Be Thou Exalted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Materialism

Since I haven't gotten any questions, I'll ask another of my own: How do you deal with materialism in your children? It seems like MKs should do really well in this area, but I don't know. Mine are too little to tell. I have been questioning since this last trip to America. A certain child of ours keeps talking about wanting to live in America some day: "So that I have this and have that, and buy this and...." I've seen this in the children of immigrants to America, too; they didn't grow up with the materialism, so it just overwhelms them and eats them up with they do come across it.

This is kind of moving beyond the Tuesday Topic, and into devotional, but I loved this recent post by Ann Voskamp. These quotes...!
American dreams are about having much and God dreams are about giving much. 
American dreams are about this need to become a someone. God dreams are about becoming bread for anyone in need because they love SomeOne.
(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Building Memorial Altars

I'm certain that visas are the bane of every missionary's existence. It was for me until I got permanent residency. Getting the visa is a story that shows God's provision and sovereignty in our lives. Oh, was God faithful.

In the Bible, Joshua built a memorial altar to remember how God helped Israel cross the Jordan River. Throughout our lives, we should build little memorial altars to remember what God has done in our lives. Remembering how He provided my visa, and later our permanent residence visas, is one of our memorial altars.
Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you'll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, 'What are these stones to you?' you'll say, 'The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.' Joshua 4:5-7 (The Message)

It was quite an adventure to get my visa. We applied for it after we got married, and we were thrilled to get an email a few weeks later saying that it had been issued and it was going to be posted to... my previous address? This was not address we had asked them to send it to. OK, so it wasn't a big deal because we still had to go back to my previous residence before leaving for the UK. When we got the visa 2 days before we were to fly to the UK, we quickly discovered that the UK Consulate General had issued the wrong visa!

My husband rang the London visa office early in the morning on the day that we were to leave for the UK. It was decided that, while it's a valid visa, we still needed to get it fixed.

We were quickly off to Chicago after rushing around to finish our last-minute packing. We hired a car to drive to Chicago and get to the British Consulate General. Once we arrived, the security guard informed us that the office had just closed, that they don't take visa appointments directly, and they only help British citizens. By this time we were praying for a miracle! I cried... we stepped aside and prayed. The security guard decided he could contact someone he knew in the office who could pull a few strings. Before we knew it, we were in the elevator to 'lucky' floor 13, we got to speak with our entry clearance officer, and explained to him why the visa they had given me wouldn't work. After checking on some policies, the entry clearance officer decided that, yes it was the wrong visa and issued me a new one. Praise the Lord!!

Once we got back downstairs, we became more aware of God's hand in our situation. The security guard explained to us that if any of the other guards had been on duty, they wouldn’t have called up to pull strings under any circumstances. This particular security guard only worked on Wednesdays (when we were there), and after that week, he switched to nights. Wow! God definitely knew how this would all work out. Even the security guard commented on how God must have been looking out for us.

One of our prayers has been that others would be able to see God working in our lives… even those who don’t believe… and that prayer got answered this time. In a big way!

This is one of my memorial altars. What memorial altars are you building in your life?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart, chapter 2

I've decided to do a series of blog posts on Calm My Anxious Heart. The first one is here. If you own the book, I'd love to have you reading along with me.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 

The second chapter is about being content in our circumstances. What I read in the first chapter helped me with my worries about the trip we just made. Now we have some big changes ahead of us, and I know continuing to mull over this book will comfort me in that.

Linda Dillow starts off chapter 2 by painting a glowing picture of one of the places she lived. I could do that about where we live now. I really do love it. We rent the biggest, most open apartment we've ever lived in before. There's a beautiful place for us to swim just a few minutes away. Our dacha is what one taxi driver called "a piece of heaven." The town is just the perfect size for me: it's not a big city, but it is way more comfortable than a village. We have lovely opportunities for our children at the local music school and a great little children's library.

But then she shared the other side of life there. And we have that, too. Just a few days ago, people came to look at this apartment, because they're considering buying it. The heat in the summer drives me crazy, and I miss the Russian snow in the winter. We've had lots of trouble with someone we tried to help stealing everything that he could possibly sell from our dacha. The water in this town goes off every night, and sometimes we go days at a time without, too. And above all of it, the ministry situation for us here has just been very hard.

So, the question is "mud or stars"? Page 25 says:
How do you categorize your life? Take a moment right now and list the positives and negatives God has allowed in your life. If you prefer, write two paragraphs, but do write down your assignment.
Go ahead and do that. Please share it in the comments if you want to. And then read this:
Two women looked through prison bars
One saw mud, the other saw stars (page 26). 
But then, how do we do it? How do we make that choice between mud and stars? Linda Dillow takes us back to Philippians 4:6-7 and divides it into our part and God's part. We are to pray with thanksgiving and not be anxious. Interestingly, I talked to an unbeliever recently who was "improving her outlook on life" with being thankful and positive thinking. She said it was working. I guess she just doesn't get to the next part.

God's part is in the next verse (Philippians 4:7): He will give us His peace, peace that transcends understanding. Sometimes that first part is very, very hard. Sometimes it helps to physically do something, like Linda getting out of bed, making a list and praying over it. Or, for me, sometimes I just have to stand before God and actually open my hands to Him, as a way of showing that I really do release these worries to Him. But once we have given up our anxiety--or when we keep giving it up--God sends His peace into our hearts.

I love this quote:
My negative thoughts are like impatient toddlers jumping up and down and screaming, 'Look at me, look at me.' Jesus and I take the negative 'toddler thoughts' and send them to time-out so we can focus on the good thoughts. Sometimes they don't obey. They get up out of the chair and once again scream for attention. Then Jesus and I take those thoughts back to the time-out chair, but this time we tie them up! (page 29)
The last bit of this chapter goes on to the next verse in Philippians 4 (verse 8, "Whatsoever is...") and talks about practicing taking these thoughts of ours captive. I've probably already written enough, so I'll stop here for now, though.

Would you like to share your mud and stars lists? And, from the study guide at the back of Calm My Anxious Heart: "Are you in the process of learning to be content in your circumstances? Give a practical example from your life of how you see yourself moving toward contentment."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In Everything Give Thanks

This is a guest post by Carole.

I Thessalonians 5:18
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Each Sunday we learn a verse together as a church. A few weeks ago this verse was on the board. This is one of those verses that I've known (almost) my entire life. But, for some reason I saw this verse as never before. In every thing thanks. I started to wonder; do I thank God for everything, or just the good that comes in my life? Am I thankful for the many sleepless nights I've sat up with my baby, or am I just thankful when she finally sleeps again?

With this verse on my mind and heart I started to look at my life a bit differently. Instead of complaining of no sleep, I can choose to be thankful for the extra moments I get to spend with my sweet baby who is growing up much too quickly. Instead of complaining of dreary weather, I can choose to be thankful for the time spent indoors with my children working on household projects or playing a new game. Instead of missing loved ones back in the States I can choose to be thankful for the modern technology that allows us to continue to be a part of each other's lives.

The list can go on and on. I've lost loved ones since being on the field, but I can be thankful we will see them again. Instead of grieving over friends who are moving away I can be thankful for the wonderful times we've shared together and the way our lives have been enriched by their friendship.

This week I challenge you, let's be thankful in ALL things. In Everything! I determine to be thankful for each and every circumstance that comes my way, whether it be lovely or not. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Travel fears

Please send in your questions! This is all I have queued for now.

Heather L. asks: "As a mom, how do you deal with fears associated with international travel, especially as they concern children? I hear so much about child trafficking and hatred toward Americans, it all makes me a little worried. My husband and I have both visited Nicaragua on mission trips, and plan to take our young children (4 and 2 yr) soon. I was completely excited until we started working on trip details and I realized I would be leaving the safety I feel in the Southern US."

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm back!

We've been back in Ukraine for a week now, after a wonderful, busy, exhausting trip to visit our families and supporters. It was really a great trip; now we just have to settle back into regular life. I am really just basking in being home, though.

Blog news: We're ready to write more! The blog team has been brainstorming together, and we have a posting schedule worked out now. We are planning approximately three posts a week: the Tuesday Topic, plus one devotional and one "practical" post. Some weeks there might be more, some weeks less. I'm excited to see what everyone will come up with to share. Personally, I'm aiming to write once every other week for now; I'll be working through Calm My Anxious Heart, the book that I've already written about before.

Resources page: I'd like to start a resources page, with links to helps for missionary life, like the organization that provided us with a vehicle in the states and others along those lines. If you have ideas for that, please send them to my email (fylliska@gmail.com). Watch for a link to a resources page to appear above.

Helping out: If you would like to be a regular contributor, please write to me. If you had already done that, and I haven't gotten back to you, please forgive me and write again now. Also, please do send in those Tuesday Topic questions! We don't have many yet. Send to my email address above.

How is your summer going so far? What have you been busy with? Do you have any ideas of what you'd like to see on this blog?

Friday, July 13, 2012


Quinn Declan Kamper.

He arrived on June 21st just perfect and without any complications on his part or mine, which was something we prayed a lot for!!  He weighed in at 8 lbs 5 oz (Please oh please, don't ask me what that is in kilos...)
He was 21 inches long and has these amazing grey eyes!

As you can tell, we are all thrilled he's here.  And seriously, what is with this family?  We are all just a little off center.

Now comes the challenging part of getting his passport photo.  Right.  Here's what we have so far.  I do think he has pretty much nailed the "neutral facial expression and both eyes open" requirement for the US State Department. 

Or maybe we should call it more of the "deer in the headlights" look.  Oh well, hopefully it will be what they deem appropriate enough to give this guy his own little blue book so we can head back to Costa Rica in September!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review

Not long ago, my missionary team decided to do a book club and use this book.
Screams in the Desert by Sue Eenigenburg
In case you are wondering, book clubs and missionary life do not co-exist.  We planned a meeting to talk about when we could meet.  Three out of ten of us showed up and in the end we decided that none of us had time to read a book, much less discuss it.  The coffee time was fun though!

But, here I was with this book lying around my house.  It was exactly the kind of book I never read.  Non-fiction.  Give me stories!  I will devour stories!  Give me something that is supposed to improve the way I do laundry, cook, and carry tea at the same time, and I will let it get moldy (Loja, Ecuador is a very wet place).

At some point while we were on the field my soul took a nose dive.  I know I don't have to explain this in depth, you all have been there.  I shared the gospel and received blank looks. I took a language test and failed.  I made a budget and we had two hospital visits in a month.  We faced an upcoming loss of 50% of our support.  Our local church was critical, fellow missionaries were critical, even God's Word had become acid laced criticism.  Have you ever noticed how in those LOW lows, that nothing at all seems to be encouraging?  Not even encouragement?  That was where I was at.

On top of that, my Kindle broke.  Then the Kindle app on my computer broke. Life couldn't get harder.

The only book I had left in my house to read was that book study book that was getting a little mildewed around the edges.  I read for escape.  How could I escape if all I had to read was a book about missionary life?????
Well, if the book is written with humor, encouragement, and God's Word, it might not help you escape your circumstances, but it might just pull your soul from the "depths of despair" (I love Anne of Green Gables, and no one ever said it better) and into walking again in God's love and grace.

Screams in the Desert by Sue Eenigenburg is not going to go down in missionary history as being great Christian literature.  It wasn't written with that purpose.  The language is simple, the word pictures are also simple.  The lessons that Mrs. Eenigenburg pulls from Scripture are not complicated.  She is not CS Lewis.

But she is a mom.  She has lived our lives.  She learned a new language, walked the streets as the only tall white woman, she went shopping in stores that only sold rice and chickens with the head still on.  And she did it all with her young children in tow.

On top of that, she did it all with a sense of humor that she passes on through her story telling.  She knows exactly what a mom whose soul has taken a soul-dive needs.  Humor and God's Word.  The balm for soul weariness.

Screams in the Desert is written as a devotional book, and that is how I use it.  Each morning (or whenever I have a moment to sit down) I spend ten minutes reading the short (mostly humorous) story and the scripture that goes along with it.  The guided prayers at the end of the chapters are also beautifully written and often help me when all the words I might have are just... gone.

In my opinion, this book is worth the price just for chapter 18.  "Little shoe in a big city".  But there are 51 other chapters in the book to give you a weekly years worth of encouragement from God and from a woman who knows where we have been and what we might be feeling like.

My one word of warning is to read the book with you favorite Bible translation by your side.  The passages are printed in the book using "The Message".

It's your turn now.  Have you read Screams in the Desert? If so, what did you think of it?  If you had to share a story/experience from your life that would encourage a weary missionary mom's soul, what would it be?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Hobbies

Do you have a hobby? What is it?

It's perfectly fine if you don't have a specific or traditional hobby, of course. For years this question actually made me uncomfortable. I'd usually answer something like, "Um, er... I like to read?" And then I realized that my family is my avocation and vocation, so I started bravely answering that my hobby is raising children. (That's about the same as what I say when people ask what we're growing at our dacha: "We're growing children!") But then, recently I picked up knitting, and now I'm something of a rabid knitter. Anyway, this isn't just an empty question. I was thinking that if we have a lot of readers and/or crafers here, it might be fun to share some of our books and projects with each other sometimes.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

When the old is new again

Since we returned to the field in June of this year, we have had to adjust, or re-adjust to life here. 

Though we live in the same apartment as before, we have to get acclimated again to the living conditions here – dust, noise, and when it rains, a lot of sticky mud.  A new playground was put in near our apartment building, which is nice, but it is quite noisy during the day and into the evening. 

Transportation – much more walking, crowded buses, crazy drivers.  I don’t mind walking more, but the crowded buses in the summer really get to me.  It’s always hotter on the bus, and there are still plenty of people who do not wear deodorant!

Language - Russian and Ukrainian is everywhere, along with dried fish, but that is for another post!  Thankfully we understand most of what is said to us and we usually know how to answer. 

We are currently looking for a new church where we will worship and minister.   This summer we are visiting different churches.  We usually need to decide on Saturday evening where we will go so that on Sunday morning we leave in time to get there.  It will be nice once we make our decision!

Visas and registration.  These are ongoing issues, not just for us, but all foreigners here.   It has made planning beyond August of this year very difficult.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4  ESV

Ideas on how to adjust
-Give your family and yourself room to make mistakes.  We tend to be perfectionists, wanting to appear to know the right thing to do and then doing it.  Admitting that we do not know what to do in a certain situation just means that we are human!  Give each other room to grow and when a mistake happens, be understanding and give each other a hug!

-Take everything to God and lean on Him in prayer.   As ministry workers, we know this, but do we really do this?  I know that I tend to want control, or at the very least, would like to know what is going to happen!  I need to just trust God, that He knows what is best.

-Don’t isolate yourself.   I tend to want to hibernate and keep to myself when I feel my adjustment phase is not going very well.  Sometimes it is better to get around others who understand and  are supportive, as they may be dealing with some adjustments as well.

-Think of someone else who may need encouragement.  This goes with not isolating yourself.  You may find that sharing your struggles encourages someone else who is going through similar adjustments.

-Take care of your needs for rest, good nutrition, exercise.   If you are tired and run-down, the adjustment phase will be harder to get through

-Laugh!  Watch a comedy or play a fun game if all else fails.  Sometimes it is good to laugh at your mistakes, especially those wonderful language errors.   J
There is also hope – this adjustment phase will pass, and we will feel more at home here. 
What are some adjustments or re-adjustments that you have had to make?  What has helped you to get through the adjustment phases?

I'm Karen, serving with my family in Odessa, Ukraine.   Please visit my blog at http://tryingtoclearmymuddledthoughts.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Answered prayer

Remember, we shared prayer requests a month ago? Go back and look what we wrote then. That's this week's topic: How has God answered the things we prayed about last month? Did He give a clear Yes, No, or Maybe? Any special miraculous answers? Please feel free to share new requests, too.

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)