One thing I really enjoy about being on the mission field is the opportunity to do diverse tasks that step me out of my comfort zone. Over the years here I've run a mission guest house, supervised staff, help organize after-school sports for elementary kids, led Bible studies, hosted many get togethers at our house, assisted organizing women's retreats, taught creative writing and music appreciation to middle schoolers, and as of this school year, I am teaching New Testament Survey to tenth graders.
I'm thankful for this opportunity to teach these 10th graders about God's Word and His love for them. This survey course is covering the completeness and organization of the Bible , Inter-Testament time, the genre and authorship of the 27 books of the NT, Messianic prophecies fulfilled in the NT, the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, the Apostles and the Early Church, Paul's Ministry, and, the Last Days.
My prayerful goal is to teach all this within the context of making God's word real and applicable to our daily lives.
Matthew 22: 37- 40 is the theme verse for our class. And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)
This ties in with the school's overall value of Love At The Core based on 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8.
My prayer is that not only each student in my class will set their minds on things above, where Christ is (Col. 3:2) and will keep their eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of their faith (Heb. 12:2), but that each of us as Christians will do the same.
Are you a teacher? Interested in teaching overseas for a year or two? Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkz8vhEy1SM
Hi....no, I haven't fallen off the grid or anything. Ben and I landed July 30 in Davao and it feels like I've been busy ever since.
Ben, Mikayla, and I left Davao the beginning of June and spent 8 weeks in the USA. Mikayla is staying in the USA and brought her cat with her.
Ben, Mikayla, Kirsten, and I had a great summer in the USA.
It was so healing and refreshing to be with family and friends again,
to shop easy, to not be hot and sweaty all the time.
Ben learned to drive
And so did Mikayla!
We have three young adult drivers in our family, now!
Kirsten already had a car but Mikayla needed one. My sister offered her a car at an incredible deal so we flew out to Boston in June and drove the car back to Michigan.
Mikayla and Kirsten are in the USA now living with their Grandpa. Both are working, and college will be starting up in September for them.
We toured Boston with my sisters in June,
went to a family reunion in Wisconsin in July,
and had time with friends and family. There are to many pictures to share but here are a few....
It was hard to say "see you later" to the girls.
This is a tough time of parenting in my life as my young adults are 'leaving the nest' to journey into adulthood.
It's harder, too, I feel, because of being half a world away from them.
But Ben and I boarded our plan and headed back to Davao.
It was nice to spend time in the USA but because we don't have James' immigration visa yet, we need to spend at least one more year in the Philippines while we wait for the US government to issue his visa for him to travel to the USA.
In the meantime, Kurt and I have been spending time in the USA to help our daughters transition from the Philippine culture to the USA culture. It's a huge shift - 3rd world to 1st world. I spent 5 months in the USA in 2016. Kurt spent 2 months earlier this year, and Ben and I spent 2 months over the summer.
For Ben, it was his first time back to the USA since he was 7 years old. He loved all the opportunities he had to fly drones, shoot guns, learn to weld, drive tractor and lawn mower and four wheeler, and see places like Boston, Ludington, Wisconsin.
It was also fun for him to shop and find clothing his size. He's not a big guy but he's tall. And it's hard to find clothes that fit tall bodies here in the Philippines!
It's amazing to me how many families I've run in to where one parent is in one part of the world, the other parent another. Military families face that often. And it seems prevalent in the mission community as well. Philippines largest export is its people. There are many "overseas foriegn workers" (OFW) here because many people obtain nursing degrees, move to the USA or Europe, get better pay as a nurse there and send money back to their family in the Philippines.
The taxi ride from the airport to our rental house reminded me again how much I have to be thankful for. I love this country and the people here. There are so many needs. The poverty is everywhere. But so are blessings, friends, deep faith in God's provision, and so much more that is hard to put into words.
It was good to see Kurt and James again. I've been catching up giving James hugs, kisses, and tickles.
Ben and James started back to school August 2nd. It was with mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension that James started school, and drudgery on Ben's part, except for sports and friends. Ben is a starter on the boys volleyball team.
I'm really enjoying teaching 10th grade Bible, a survey of the New Testament. I enjoy the study and preparation, I love my class of 19 tenth graders. They are so engaged, eager, and willing to learn. They ask great questions and have done well, overall, on their memory work and reflection papers. Hopefully soon I could post pictures of the class and me teaching. I just need to get my husband to come with me to class some morning!! But here are some of the materials I am using.
I'll tell more of what's been happening here in my next blog!
I have not written the following blog. I give full credit to Kelly Flanagan. Below are excerpts of his most recent blog.
I've been listening to many around me who deal with anxiety recently.
I think it's a good reminder to all of us to practice "not for the next 30 minutes" and cast our cares on our loving Abba, and just sway with His leading....(1 Peter 5:7)
What Anxiety Steals from Us (and How to Steal It Back)
My pockets are empty, and it’s disconcerting.
We’re at a church picnic in a local city park. The sun is shining and it conspires with summer foliage and a gentle breeze to dapple the grass in dancing light and shadow. The children do their dance, bouncing and playing amongst it all. But thunderstorms are predicted and I’ve left my iPhone at home and I have no way to check on the ever-shifting summer forecast.
I mindlessly reach for it several times. I touch only lint.
Finally, during a lull in conversation, I ask someone with a phone if it is going to rain. And then she does something that undoes me. She doesn’t reach for her phone. Instead, she looks toward the sunny skies in the west, looks back at me with a smile, and says, “Not for the next thirty minutes.”
Not for the next thirty minutes.
She’s not just giving me the answer to my question, she’s giving me the answer to my season. What I mean is, I’ve got a busy autumn coming—more blogging, a new podcast, speaking engagements around the country—much of it new and uncertain, all of it demanding in the way only new and uncertain things can be.
And I’ve been focused on those storms coming.
Meanwhile, while I keep checking my mental radar, this thirty minutes of life—these dog days of summer ...—are quickly slipping past.
This is what anxiety does to us.
It robs us of the sunny moments.
We go through stretches of life in which everything is basically okay.....
In other words, life may not be perfect, but it is probably as good as it gets.
We are given respites in life—thirty minutes here and there of sunlight and dancing shadows, thirty minutes to play a little bit, thirty minutes to rest and recover from the hardships of being human—but our anxiety turns even those respites into rigor. It robs us of our rest. It focuses us not on this thirty minutes; rather, it brings the storms that aren’t yet upon us into the present moment, until there are no present moments left to enjoy......, Sure, a busy autumn is coming, but…
Not for the next thirty minutes.
...“Did you know a reed’s only job is to sway?”
I know we human beings are here to do a lot more than sway. But maybe sometimes...our only job is to sway. To stand still in one place and to simply be. To let ourselves be nudged around by the winds of time. To be gently moved by it all.
(to rest in His loving care and mercy)
...And I will do so by repeating this mantra on every breath, “Don’t miss this thirty minutes.”
This isn’t an idea; it’s a practice.
(I would interject that this is the practice of casting our cares on Him as it states in 1 Peter 5:7)...
And like any practice, if we are faithful to it, it can bend our life to its shape. If we are faithful to it, for just a little while, we may discover the freedom to simply sway. (to rest in Him)
And then, as we sway, we will begin to trust
when the storms come, as they likely will, they will bend us, but they will not break us, and eventually they too will pass,
for another thirty minutes or so,
and then we will be free, once again,to simply sway.
Mikayla now has her driver's license.
She has a job (several of them) as well!
And she has a great car from an aunt!
Transitioning from this life Ben and I have lived here in the States for the past 8 weeks to a life lived overseas can be extraordinarily challenging.
We are leaving a first world life of comfort and efficiency, surrounded by family, friends, things and places we love and find familiar to third world issues in the Philippines. We also have friends, things and places we love and find familiar there. "Home" is not one place for us.
For me, as a mom, this is an especially hard transition to leave my two daughters here in the states while I journey back to Davao. They are journeying in young adulthood, college, and work life. They'd both love for a parent to be here with them.
Talking with other missionary moms, I know this situation is not unique to me. It is heart breaking and hard on many levels.
Pray James' immigration paperwork comes through soon so we can travel as a family and all be together next summer.
These words sing in my head, and though my emotions are very sad, there is a deeper peace resting in His leading....
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.