Archive for November, 2010

One More MK Thought

November 27, 2010

A reader from Illinois writes,

“If you are going to write another post, would it be appropriate to share some specifics [or specific examples] of how you as a family [or you as an individual] battle unbelief? As the financial pressures mount or sickness is prolonged or difficulties arise with your living accommodations or finding a place to rent, how do you quiet any fears or challenges to your faith, finding and maintaining a place of inner rest?”

That’s a good question. I believe unbelief is often caused by the gradual discontent which can grow from allowing a difficult trial to blot out God’s abiding mercy. Discontentment often grows from a desire for what we do not have: friends, finances, stable plans, good food, or whatever else we strongly desire. As one Christian man puts it, “seeds of a wounded spirit, when sown underground, grow up into a crop of rebellion.”

On the field, I’ve learned that every thought of discontentment is an opportunity to make a decision – a wise choice that will plant seeds of greater trust in God, or a poor choice that will sow seeds of eventual bitterness. If moments of discontent are left untended to grow and accumulate, they lead to distance from God or worse, unbelief.

So every trial brings us to a crossroads: a point at which we can either allow doubt and sin to creep into our lives, or transform our minds by the renewing of our focus on Christ. If we set our focus on Christ as our treasure, our joy in Him and gratitude to Him will sweep away discontentment and doubts. That is the basis of true – and lasting – happiness.

Grateful for the chance to pick free cranberries on the dunes

Home!

November 26, 2010

First, we want to thank everyone who has been helping us to try to find a rental home in Quebec. Your efforts have been a huge help to us. Secondly, we will still need help finding a home, as of mid-January.

We are excited to see how God is leading us and how He constantly surprises us with gifts from unexpected sources. We felt led to return to the islands for a month of ministry in November. We had no idea at that time how God was lining up people and events that would occur in that month — now, we can look back with immense gratitude at the great number of opportunities for evangelism and at the fantastic meetings we have had. In addition, we see just how very much the children were missing the electric piano that we’d left here with friends during our absence — seems like there is always someone sitting at the piano, and in the evenings, there is wonderful music to be made together. God has supplied funds and friends and His gorgeous creation which have all been sources of support as we log copious hours in ministry.

We return to Bolton-Est (the cabin we were in prior to coming here) next week, and then we return here for a second month (with an excellent rental rate offered to us by our landlord). So we will be on the islands over Christmas, leaving here on the 11th of January, and then (hopefully) settling in for the rest of the winter in the Eastern Townships.

Thank-you for all your love, prayers, help, and notes during this time.

Top Ten Benefits of Being a Missionary Kid

November 20, 2010

Here’s my list of the top ten benefits of being a missionary kid:

10
The blessing of snail mail. One blessing of life on an isolated missions field is the correspondence we receive from friends and family. When you write snail mail back and forth to someone, you get to see a whole different side of that person. There is something distinctly special about finding an envelope in the mailbox with your name on it, and a rare sweetness in reading letters of news and fellowship and encouragement from afar.

9
Inspiration from comrades on the field. One of the benefits of being a missionary kid is the privilege of rubbing shoulders with Christian leaders, and specifically, with Christians who have given their lives to missions. We’ve had the opportunity to see the Hudson Taylors and George Muellers of this world at work, and been challenged and inspired by their examples.

8
Seeing the big picture of God’s church. As we’ve met Christians in different churches, different denominations, and different countries, we have seen the body of Christ in a very different way than when we lived in California. We’ve learned what truths transcend culture, and seen culture affect faith. As an MK, this varied experience of the body of Christ has made me flexible around other (often very different) believers, and given me an awareness of God’s global work that is much larger than the few people I see every Sunday.

7
The true value of the gospel. As we’ve seen the big picture of God’s church, we have also learned the true value of the gospel; what is authentic, valuable, and of eternal consequence. In Christianity’s big picture, Christ has called us to unity as a body. As we observe many different church contexts, we’ve seen Christians divide countless times over important, but secondary truths. These experiences continue to remind me to do the hard things for Christ, getting over my own disagreements with others so that disunity does not distract from the gospel of Christ.

6
Understanding foreigners and strangers. As a homeschooled MK, one of the great benefits of missions is the opportunity to observe and interact with people from different cultures. Last year, before we left the islands, we stayed for several weeks in our trailer, camped next to a youth hostel. In the afternoons, we would play music in the hostel, and once played for four hours with a student from mainland Quebec and a traveling musician from Spain. As MKs, we are learning to bridge differences and to enjoy what is different in others (while maintaining biblical standards of right and wrong). My own experience in learning to show compassion and empathy for everyone, not just those of my own background, continues to fuel my pursuit of medical missions.

5
Learning to be content in plenty and in want. His grace is made perfect in our weakness. Like the Apostle Paul, missions life has taught us to be happy with less, or to enjoy the blessings of abundance. For us, lean times are a family adventure. We enjoy making food stretch, looking for good deals, and finding our satisfaction in each other rather than in possessions. This last fall, in Vermont, God provided numerous pairs of shoes and coats through the watchful eye of an older RV park staff member in charge of the dumpster/recycle bin. And when we are content with little, having abundance is even more of a blessing.

4
Learning to be grateful for everything. One of the big benefits of MK life is the opportunity to learn gratitude for every little blessing of life. For me, gratitude is a lifesaver: a steady habit that keeps me content and that keeps my heart right before God. Not only have we been without many times, and learned to be grateful for every used book, gift of food, letter, or item of clothing people send, but we’ve also had the opportunity to see and hear from those who have very little themselves. Their stories make me grateful for what I have, and grateful to God who sustains us all.

3
Creativity. As many of you know firsthand, life on a shoestring budget is a lesson in creativity. 🙂 With the high cost of living, we’ve learned to make substitutions in recipes, do without where necessary, and look for alternate ways of finding food (like picking over 10 pounds of cranberries off the miles of these island sand dunes). For the guys, MK life has taught us creativity in developing location-independent cottage industries that we can take with us year round. And when it comes to the outdoors, you don’t have to have a fabulous location or equipment to have fun – we always enjoy a bike ride on cobbled-together bikes or a rip roaring beachwalk/swim in the icy waters of the Gulf (all winter).

2
Home is where the heart is. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. For me, moving from home to home and place to place has made me value my family. We’ve taken the time to think about our busy schedules and make them line up with one another so positive family time happens. For example, when Ems is cooking, we’ll often play a game or music around the kitchen table so she can feel like she is part of the experience. Home is about enjoying one another’s company, encouraging each other to be our best, and finding our home wherever we park for the night, or the winter.

1
Fostering family togetherness. The number one benefit of being an MK is the team spirit and togetherness of our family in a world of families fractured by educational, entertainment, and friendship choices. In the absence of friends to spend time with, we’ve become each other’s best friends. We talk to each other, exploring each others’ feelings, fears, dreams. We’ve spent hours around the dinner table, making difficult decisions about faith, finances, and the future. And remember the one-car trial? There’s a benefit to one car – with only two places to be (in the home or in the car) we spend more time around each other. :)Hardship can be a trial or a bonding experience. For us, MK life has been an incomparable blessing.

Young Adams in QC

The 10 Toughest Sacrifices of the Missionary Kid

November 17, 2010

Every missionary kid faces sacrifice. Here’s our top ten:

10
Growing up without relatives nearby. Our grandfather and assorted aunts and uncles live over 3900 miles away. . . too far for a day trip. 🙂 For some of you in similar situations, this distance isn’t missions related; for us, it was something we gave up when we traveled across the country to Quebec. We’re grateful for letters and phone calls that bring us closer to family.

9
A one-car family with a houseful of young adults. Life gets a little interesting with only one vehicle for errands, family responsibilities, and ministry needs. This is especially so if a ministry trip takes the vehicle to northern Quebec for a couple of weeks. . . 🙂

8
Inability to attend conferences or other inspirational events because of time or distance. Much of the year we are either on the road, when our schedule rarely lines up with conferences, or far north in Quebec, where the drive is impractical. We enjoy every opportunity to soak up inspirational teaching and fellowship, but often must settle for DVDs or CDs instead of attending live events.

7
Long-term fellowship and growth in a likeminded church. The fellowship and sharpening of believers along the traveling circuit is an invaluable encouragement, but . . .

6
No pets. We love dogs and cats, goats and chickens, and horses, but so far, our rental situation has prohibited animals.

5
No library in our language. This is probably hardest on my youngest sister, who loves to read. In California, every library day was an event, where excitement ran high as we checked out huge stacks of books. There was a small one-room French library in our first year here, but government regulations closed this to the general public and we have not had a library in Quebec since that time.

4
High cost of living. Ems does a great job of planning meals, costing out recipes, and shopping with Papa, but even after years of experience, the grocery bill can be a bit shocking. Think of living on these islands and buying cheese for $11 a pound, milk for $8 a gallon, or chicken for $9 a pound . . . . (she patiently waits for sales and still comes in under-budget almost every time!). In the summertime, we enjoy lower prices, but our tiny trailer fridge prevents shopping in bulk.

3
Location-dependent educational opportunities and limited work options: Educational opportunities include everything from obtaining a driver’s license to getting regular music lessons and participating in music exams. Until last year, we were prevented from working in Quebec because we did not have Canadian citizenship. Since then, we (the children) have obtained dual citizenship, but still can’t work in Quebec until we settle into a house for a sufficient length of time.

2
Faith support and missions service with limited salary. Having very little salary significantly affects our lifestyle. For the kids, we’ve learned to be content without the latest and greatest, to reuse and remake items around the house, to find great deals at Goodwill stores en route to Quebec, and to form our identity out of who we are as a family, not from what we own.

1
A permanent place to call home. Sometimes it’s hard to be living year round out of a trailer or a rental home; to never have a home to go out from or come back to.

MK Thoughts: Family Prep Before Heading to the Field

November 12, 2010

When my parents were newly married, they attended the Urbana ’87 Missions Conference. Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Africa and speaker at that conference, asked the question ‘What will motivate us to world mission?’, and answered, “I believe the answer is having the mind of Christ.” A foundation of spiritual strength is critical to motivation to go, direction on the field, and perseverance through the highs and lows of cross-cultural missions.

There was intentional preparation in our home for hard times ahead prior to entering missions life. Two areas of preparation come to mind: 1. the development of spiritual disciplines, and 2. the cultivation of buy-in from each family member so that we left home as a solid team.

How did we foster spiritual strength before we went to the field? First, we became proactive about our faith. Realizing that we would often be without the blessing (and it is such a blessing!) of likeminded Christian fellowship, we cultivated an unshakable core of family discipleship, fellowship, and spiritual feeding that would sustain us on the field. Another step they took was to firmly implant spiritual habits into the soil of our young lives: daily Bible reading and memorization are just two examples out of a list of habits they expected of us. They knew that once we got out of the comfort zone of our California home, it would be easy to let daily disciplines slip in the hustle and bustle of a busy schedule and in the constantly changing environment in which we found ourselves. And loss of grounding in God would surely contribute to spiritual drought, discontent, burnout, and missions failure.

From the perspective of an MK, one of the best things that my parents ever did was to make sure that I bought in to the family team. In the missions context, kids often mean the difference between missions success and missions failure. My parents knew this, and took proactive steps to get us on board as a family team long before we sold our home and moved across the country. They made sure that our primary loyalty was to our family, that we found our best friends at home, and that we viewed living in a different culture and sacrifice as a family adventure, not as a task.

Teamwork: stairs we built in 2005 for the island community.

One final thought – you friends have all been a big support, and continue to motivate us to the cause of missions in Quebec. Every mail shipment from CA arrives to whoops of excitement as we gather around and look for the letters that bring news and encouragement and inspiration from afar. And to you young men who write, your notes are an invaluable support as I serve Christ alongside you all.

Keep the faith, run the race, and cultivate a passion for God that motivates you to serve Him wherever He calls.

CTA

MK Life

November 11, 2010

It’s my birthday week, and my parents have asked me as the oldest child in our family to write a few posts about the missions experience from an MK’s perspective. I was sixteen when we left home. I’ve seen a lot of missions work in six years, and I’ve learned a great deal. Would I want to do it over again? Without a question. Though the life of an MK is not without challenges, I am very grateful for the experience it has been and continues to be.

In the next few days, I’ll share a few thoughts about “MK life.” I’d love to know what you would like to hear about, so drop me a line if you’d like.

Island Colour — Very Yellow

November 7, 2010

Housing?

November 7, 2010

Here’s something specific to pray about: we are looking for a furnished rental house as of the second week of December. We are still on the Magdalens. By God’s wonderful grace, we are staying in the rental house we stayed in for five years. So very many memories are linked to this wonderful house for all of us, and especially for the youngest (who spent half of her life in this home).

We hope to settle somewhere in the Eastern Townships in December, but we are having a difficult time finding a home that is not rented over the Christmas holiday. I am meeting many interesting French people in the course of this search.

French language acquisition continues to be Todd’s highest priority in our scheduling, though with phone calls, emails, and visiting over the last three days, the reality is that other things have crowded out some of his study.

Back on the Islands

November 5, 2010

We’ve returned here for a month of ministry and continued French study. The French study on our own (listening to CDs, learning grammar and vocabulary, writing simple sentences) is progressing well, but our ability to verbally express ourselves in French is still very poor. We are grateful for good friends on the mainland and here on the islands who are patient with us and who encourage us to keep on trying.