Two Great Reads

Two books we've been enjoying reading are these:

I strongly recommend both!

Missionary Stress

Every year at least 5,000 missionaries leave the field unnecessarily because of excessive stress involving personal, family, social, and ministry-related problems. Those remaining on the field face life stressors at least 2-3 times those experienced by individuals at home in the United States.

The Holmes-Rahe Scale is one way health professionals measure stress in people's lives. The basic idea is that a certain number of life events can build up the level of our stress until it gets dangerous. In the original study, they found that if you reached a level of 200 on the scale in a year, the cumulative stress would have consequences for some time to come.

In 1999, Drs Lois and Larry Dodds (of Heartstream Resources) were studying the levels of stress on the mission field, using a modified version of the Holmes-Rahe Scale. They wanted to find out what the typical missionary went through.

The news wasn't good. The typical missionary had not just peaking levels above 300, they had sustained levels over 300 year after year. The Dodds found that the average missionary's stress levels for the first year are typically around 800-900, and the sustained stress levels of a cross cultural worker stays around 600.

When stress levels reach above a 200, doctors will advise patients to make life changes- drink a glass of wine, exercise, sleep more, that kind of thing. The goal is to keep stress levels below 200, since anything over that can result in some incredibly negative effects, especially over the long term.

We've been proactively dealing with stress by
-Exercising daily.
-Having daily family devotions.
-Maintaining healthy diets.
-Trying to be strategic with our ministry.
-And building margin into our schedules.

We find encouragement in knowing that you are praying for us and encouraging us.

Following God's call to the Philippines, to caring for James and Jerard, has been worth the stress. Yet, even hardened soldiers on the battle field need restoration and time out of the battle.

My Holmes-Rae score has typically been over 400 points a year. Some years it has been 600. And we've been on the mission field 7 years with no furlough yet due to the adoption of James.
It's time now for me to speak honestly of this.

I've been dealing with depression and am in need of getting back to the states. Shame has kept me quiet on this subject, but I need to bring it to the open now.
Our mission organization has been working with us to keep us on the field due to the ongoing adoption but it has now been decided that I will return to the states in July as planned with Mikayla and Kirsten to get some counseling. The plan is I will return to the Philippines in September for a couple weeks for James' adoption court hearing, return to the states for a couple months, then return to the Philippines for a couple weeks in December to bring Kirsten and Ben back to the states. Kurt will stay here with James while final travel papers are completed so James can come to the states. We hope to be all together as a family again in the states February or March of 2014.

Pray for us during all this transition we are facing.

Crocodile Burgers

Kurt, Ben and Kirsten recently stopped at Crocodile Park to try crocodile burgers. They said they tasted okay but McDonald's hamburgers still rank as better choices!

Then to finish the meal, Kurt ordered durian ice cream made from crocodile eggs. He is the only member of the family who likes durian (which has a taste of rotten garlic and onion). He said the ice cream was not to bad.

Adoption Update

We had a court hearing today for James' adoption. Basically the paperwork submitted was authenticated and approved today. We have another hearing September 24th to hopefully finalize the adoption.

Why God has us on what seems to be the long road or slow track for this adoption process we do not know but we do know this....

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; He holds our lot. The lines have fallen for us in pleasant places; we have a beautiful inheritance. We will bless the Lord who gives us counsel; in the night also His heart instructs us. We have set the Lord always before us and we will not be shaken. He is at our right hand. Our hearts are glad in His leading and our whole being rejoices. In Him we dwell secure. (based on Psalm 16)

And like Fanny Crosby so beautifully penned.....
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav'nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

We are disappointed the adoption was not completed today but we trust Him and His soveriegn guidance. Pray with us for the adoption to be completed His way and for His glory. Thanks.

What Makes A Good Missionary?

This question rolls around in my mind.
What makes a good missionary?
To many times, missionaries, (and most Christians), try to justify their value by what they do. But as His child, my value is in Him, not in what I do.

I think God just wants us to be; to seek Him first in all things, whether we are missionaries overseas writing software, planting churches, translating scripture, teaching, administrating; or at home raising children, loving our spouse, reaching out to our neighbors, volunteering in church activities, teaching Sunday school, etc. My primary goal is to seek His glory.

As I read Acts 14 about Paul and Barnabas I am struck by four things that stand out -
1)boldness; "The quality that really makes a difference in the
Christian's life is the quality of fearlessness--the declaration
of the truth in the face of opposition. Having a tremendous commitment to boldness, Paul didn't know how to live any
other way. In 1 Thessalonians 2:2 he says, "But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know,
we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel."
Even after they had been beaten up and were treated
shamefully, they were still bold. Paul could never be daunted; there just was not any way to stop him." (quote from John MacArthur)

2)humility; God was everything to Paul. Paul didn't want any glory, and neither does any successful servant of God. His mandate in Matthew 6:33 is my life guide - to seek HIM first.

3)persistence; one example of this in our own life was in the caring for Jerard. Anyone with a special needs child will understand the weight of care there can be and the abundant joy that go hand in hand. We persevered in caring for him and getting him physical therapy, etc. He was a blessing to us, a special visitor from heaven.

And we are exercising persistence in the adoption of James. Things can move slow, so it seems, here, yet there is great peace in knowing that my Abba has all things planned. The key to persistence is maximizing every opportunity. Behind every obstacle is an opportunity. Persistence means using every opportunity. In Colossians 4:5, Paul said we're to be faithfully "redeeming the time."

and 4)commitment. I'm sure Paul and Barnabas were weary and tired from their travels, yet they kept pressing on.
We, too, keep pressing on. We are weary and more than ready for a furlough/home assignment of at least a year back in our home country reconnecting with friends and family. But we press on in His timing, in parenting for His glory, in our work, in the adoption of James, in every area of life God shows us. The main goal for me, for Kurt and I, is to hear "well done good and faithful servant".

Christians who are obedient to fulfill God's Word make successful missionaries, whether they travel far from their homes or not. Each of us should have the goal to emulate Christ.

Paul came to the end of his life saying, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).
This is my hope; this is the hope of every successful missionary: to finish the course, the keep the faith, to one day hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."