Thursday, July 21, 2016

3... 2... 1... Furlough! "Kermit"




She has been affectionately named Kermit.
Light green in color... and bouncing like a frog, to and fro.
It's our van.

Kermit has tasted adventure.
The sights, sounds, smells... yes, even smells... she has been with us through them all.

We load her up...


We unload her...


Over and over again.
She never complains.

She comforts and rocks us to sleep through the many miles,


Ready to go at a moment's notice,
State after state.


She has shared our laughter,
Our tears,
Our secrets,
And even a sandwich or a french fry every now and then.



She has been a table, a bed, and even a gym.


She is part of our story. We are thankful, because God sent her to us.
You see, one of the struggles missionaries have on furlough is finding good transportation.
Some go through transportation ministries to get their vehicle.
Some have to borrow a vehicle from family and friends.

Kermit? Well, Kermit was purchased at an auction by a trusted friend,
and given to us at cost.
So I guess you could say we adopted Kermit.
She is ours for now.

Pray for Kermit.
She has many miles to endure for the next few months...
Over sixty churches... two countries... from Canada all the way down to Florida, and every state in between.

Pray she stays healthy. Pray she stays safe... because she is carrying precious cargo.
My family.


**************************************************************************

 Adventures in "Woops!"

Gabriel: Where are we?
Me: Virginia.
Gabriel: Do they take American money here?

We traveled all day. Throughout the trip we kept noticing that we had a lot more room in the van than we expected. I even complimented on how we had all traveled light. After nine hours on the road, a mere ten minutes from our destination, I looked back and asked, "Jason, um, where are your suits?" The sheepish grin said it all.



Check Up

One thing that many missionaries do on furlough is get everyone in the family checked at the doctor. Healthcare on many fields is poor, so they take advantage of the opportunity while they are stateside. So far, so good for our family...


Convenience Cooking

I have to admit, this is one part of our American culture that has me giddy! Pop open a can, tear open a packet, mix it all together... and there's a meal! Food in thirty minutes! I have to confess, though, that I am doing most of my cooking in a rice cooker!



**************************************************************

So, have you ever thought about how missionaries find their transportation for furlough?
Missionaries, how have you acquired your vehicle for furlough?
Did you give it a name?
We'd love to hear from you!





Friday, July 15, 2016

How To Deal With Jet-Lagged Babies

If you live more than slightly "across the pond", when you venture back to the states with little ones it is quite the......journey. Before the little ones come along, international travel is still a bear, but a few days later you shake it off and move on. We have had multiple people visit us this summer. We check in with them to see if they are doing ok and they all seem to barely experience the effects of jet lag. One good day of rest and they are "roar-roaring to go". What?!?! I asked my husband, "How do they arrive completely fine and when we stumble of the plane I feel it would be generosity for someone to put me out to pasture?!"

The answer, babies:)

Parents of little ones sitting in a plane seat for 25-40 hours see very little sleep and even after disembarking will struggle to find that sweet normal of a full nights sleep. Also, if you aren't somewhat strategic, in my opinion, this can be a painful process.

So here is my thoughts on dealing with baby jet lag.

1. Don't rush it! When I first embarked on this with babies I was on my normal track to pushing myself back to a normal schedule. But, guess what?! Babies have no such desire. They just want to sleep when they are tired and most likely that will NOT be in the middle of the night:) So you can keep pushing if you want but if you get in your correct schedule and they still aren't you will end up frustrated and getting even less sleep. So my first advice is to relax and give it time. They will adjust!

2. Get up when they do. Most likely that will be. 2 am, 4:20am, and 5:36am and all random times till they reach that sweet spot. But that will most likely be the natural times for you to get up also. However as adults we understand we should lay down and push ourselves to sleep more and get back to normal. They have no such inclinations. So don't fret. Get up, eat breakfast at 2:30am have some calm activities and don't stress. If they will go back to sleep after an hour or two, hurray! If not, press on and catch them again at their next random nap.

3. Push little by little. While mine, generally go 5 hours before nap, during jet lag it maybe 2 hrs- 7 hours. If they are totally un-pleasant don't turn it into marine re-con training, let them sleep. My husband recently said, "SEALS don't need speciality training. Put them on a flight and jet lag with babies and they will be set!". Sure feels true. However, if they are distracted and can make it closer to their normal nap time, awesome! Make it as close to a normal bed time as you can but don't be too dissapointed if it's only an hour or two later then the day before. Progress is progress!

4. Don't plan a rigorous schedule the minute you get home. Babies are super unpredictable during jet lag. And as much as we may want to visit Chuck E cheese, the park, the zoo, McDonald's and the state fair the first day it would be glutton for punishment. Give them time to take in everything slowly and it will Pay off with happy babies who can actually enjoy these activities.

5. Snuggle with them. Sometimes little ones who wake up early will drift back to dream land if we just snuggle with them a little as their sleep is interrupted by the dreaded jet lag.

6. Use the time to adjust to American Time. I don't know about you but where we live church doesn't start at 7pm and go to 9. We are never out past 7! Therefore my kids are in bed by 7. It can be extremely frustrating to try to keep your children on the same time schedule when Americans don't operate like that. So I find this is a great time to scoot that bed time back to what will be convenient for your visit and see if they will sleep in a later too and get all their zzzzzzzz's in, in a convenient time.

Rest assured in probably a week or so your sweet babies will be back to normal and so will you. Don't stress, take the time to get much needed rest and enjoy every moment of your travels. Eat your favorite American ice cream at 3:45, watch the newest Disney movie as you do and snuggle up to that warm mattress and sleep when you can with your tiny bundle of energy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

3... 2... 1... Furlough! "Going Forth... Going Fourth"



Maybe to some it's just another day.

Maybe to some it's just a cookout with family or a day off work.


Maybe to some it's irritation from the neighbors who stay up late making noise and interrupting sleep.


Somehow this year, on our first furlough, those late night neighbors making racket didn't seem to bother me like it did before we went to the field. Somehow it just seemed our family cookout was more that just some chicken on a plate.


Just another day? No. A hundred times... no.


Let me help you see July 4th through a missionary's eyes.


Independence Day

Even though we are called to a country 10,000 miles away...
There's still something special about those Stars and Stripes.
That song still makes me stand at attention and cover my heart as tears well up in my eyes.
That bird still takes my breath away.
Fireworks are still more than just entertainment.

A celebration.
     A reminder.
          My country.

I am thankful God made this country the land of my nativity, so that I would be blessed with the tools... The opportunity... The freedom to reach another country for His glory.
Happy Independence Day, my beloved homeland.

Late night sparklers... while in our pajamas!

The first fireworks we have seen in four years.


On Display

A large portion of our time on furlough is spent on the road. It's enough to drive one crazy.


Of course, our family has learned to make the most of road trips.

When we arrive at our destination, we have a system of unloading the things we need and getting things set up. Everyone grabs a bag and their Bible, and then heads in the church.


We love our supporting church families. We love sharing with them the things God has been doing on the field. We love watching their excitement as they see the video and the pictures.

One of our favorite parts is our display table. (For security reasons, certain portions of the following pictures have been edited.)

We chose the items for our display table very strategically. We wanted a little of something for everyone, from child to adult and male and female.

The Banner:

We designed the banner to show pictures of the different areas of service in the ministry on our field. We ordered the banner from Post Up Stand. We ordered the 33"x40" Narrow Base model. We love it. It's the perfect size for putting on tables or sitting on floors if the table is too small. We have been pleased with its quality as well as how simple it is to put up and take down.



We covered the table with a blanket made on our field. We added many "hands-on" items for children to be able to touch. One of our favorites is the yak. Our family has affectionately named him "Kitty." Small children love to pet Kitty. While they are giving Kitty some love, it gives us a chance to talk with the children.


We also have interesting items that show something special about the culture of our people. The brass "hospitality cup" is just such an item. The people in the villages of our country use that pot to serve water to their guests. Everyone drinks from the same pot, but don't worry. They don't put their mouths on it. They pour it into their mouths from above their heads. I am happy to say that after much practice, and many wet shirts, I have finally learned to drink from this pot.

We also had a photo album of our first term made through Shutterfly. (We waited until Shutterfly had their "free book" offer. It saved quite a bit of money. They do that offer two or three times a year.) People of all ages love browsing through that book.


For music lovers, we try to always have a musical instrument on the table. Just a note of caution: if you choose an instrument that requires putting your mouth on it to play it, also bring a method of sanitizing it.

The knife on the display is a huge hit with boys and men! Just be sure that if you use a knife of some sort that it is kept toward the back away from little hands, keep it unsharpened, and remove it if you are away from the table or if the table is out of sight.

We designed our prayer cards, and then had them printed through Got Print. The quality is wonderful, and the cost just could not be beaten.

We also have a display item that has the language of the people. In our case, it's a calendar. We chose the calendar because our country has its own calendar that differs from the international calendar. The calendar has more pictures of the country and the people. We have used a small New Testament before.

Suggestions for display tables:


Make it interactive.
You want people to get involved, even if it is only for five minutes.


Make it fun for all ages.
You just never know how that one encounter will touch the hearts of little ones as well as the full grown ones.

Use items that give and opportunity for you to talk with the people about the item.
Missions is an amazing partnership between goer and sender. You want as much opportunity to nurture those relationships as possible. Communication makes it personal instead of distant.

Pictures, pictures, pictures...
Lamentations 3:51 "Mine eye affecteth mine heart..."


Friday, July 1, 2016

Are You Ready?



Over the last two months, I’ve been shocked to learn of many deaths. They were caused by murders, accidents, sudden sicknesses, long illnesses, and heart attacks. 

All were Christians. 

All were missionaries.

Are you ready?

Oh, I know. No one wants to even think of his own death. We all want to live long lives with many happy days ahead. (Me, too!)

But we don’t have that guarantee.

Are you ready?

There’s an old saying that a missionary needs to be ready to preach, pray or die at any time. I think we’re usually ready to preach (to women and children, mind you), and to pray, but I'm not sure we're ready to die. I almost envy the person who has time to prepare. (I’m talking about the person who has an incurable illness and knows he has a year at best, several months at the least.) He gets his house in order, writes some amazing letters, and he tries to make happy final memories each day.

We feel we’re immortal . . . 

and we’re not prepared.

Indeed, we are immortal until God says our work is done. But, we don’t usually get advance notice of when that time will be. When do we get to depart and to be with Christ?* We really don’t know. 

I come from a family of long-lived people. Some smoked, some had cancer, and some worked in coal mines. But, it’s amazing; most of them lived well into their eighties or nineties. Will I have that privilege? I have no idea.

And neither do you.

I’m not trying to be morbid, you understand. I want to be ready. I know you do, too. And, truthfully, I love the idea of going in the Rapture. Swoosh! With the Lord. Yes!!!

Even if you’re twenty-five or thirty, you want your life to make a difference. You wouldn’t be a missionary if you didn’t love souls and have a vision for the lost. You want to train women and children. You want to leave a legacy for the generations to come. 

Here are a few suggestions for getting ready for heaven, just in case you're taken by surprise: 
  1. Make sure you have a will. Yes, I know missionaries don’t own much, but we need to make it as easy as possible for those we leave behind. Keep your will up to date (add married kids’ names, acquired property, car, etc.). 
  2. Have a life insurance policy—to cover funeral expenses—and list your closest relative(s) as beneficiary.
  3. Ask the questions you want to ask and say the things you want to say. When you’re with your parents, find out about family history. Write it down for the next generation. Thank your teachers, your family members, your pastor, and anyone else who impacted your life. Tell the people you love that you love them. All the time. You never know when it will be the last.
  4. Write things down. I realize we don’t all enjoy writing and journaling isn’t everyone’s thing. But, I’m talking about meaningful notes on special occasions. Surely, you can write something lovely a few times a year. Keep a copy on your computer. If you’re an older missionary, consider writing a memoir. (It’s on my “to do” list.”) Tell how God answered prayers and blessed you. (Think of the impact Rosalind Goforth, Isobel Kuhn, and Amy Carmichael have had on us.)
  5. Simplify your stuff. I know that some of you are amazing organizers and that you weed out regularly. I applaud you! For the rest of us—yep, I’m in your group—we need to chuck, give away, and simplify. If anything were to happen to me now . . . pity my kids! (It’s on my list before the memoir. Definitely a goal for this summer.)
  6. Love. Love God, your family, your friends, your church, the people on the street. Let people around you know you love them. And, make sure everyone knows you love God.
  7. Laugh. I’m talking about enjoying life. The Bible says, it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion (Ecclesiastes 5:18). I want to be remembered as someone like that.
  8. Talk about your funeral wishes with your closest relatives. Write down your favorite hymns, your personal testimony, biographical details, and whatever else you would want for your own funeral. Where do you want to be buried? On your mission field? In a family graveyard? Make sure someone knows where you keep your computer passwords and where your financial records are. Make sure the right people have a copy of your will. Someone needs to know your social security number. Let those closest to you share your important information. You might even want to have copies made for the keys to your home. (We leave copies with a friend any time we travel.) 

Are you ready?

 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. 
For what is your life? 
It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, 
and then vanisheth away (James 4:14).



* Philippians 1:23

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Guest Post- My Missions Trip

Traveling internationally is quite an adventure! I did not know what to expect of traveling alone and I was slightly nervous; however, I soon found myself enjoying all the little details and watching people from many nationalities.

By the time I finally landed in Nepal I was tired, dirty and could barely feel my feet from how much they were swollen. Going through customs was an adventure in and of itself. There were no instructions of what all I needed to do. I knew I needed to fill out the application, but every time I went up to the desk the man would tell me of something else I needed. I remember thinking, "Why doesn't he give me a list of these things to do and I'll do them all before coming back up there?"

Baggage claim and going through security was chaotic. There was a man rattling off instructions for security, but it was all in Nepali. This was the first real instance of a language barrier for me. Finally, after much confusion, I made it outside of the airport where I would wait for my missionary contact. It was much darker than I was expecting and I was flooded with men asking me if I needed a taxi. Once they realized I was not going to use their services they pushed me behind the crowd of people waiting.

"You have friend coming?" They would ask.

"Yes."

"You wait here." And they would motion for me to step behind the crowds. More than once they told me to move. I remember wondering if April would be able to find me.

It wasn't long until I did see her coming my way. We drug our bags through the puddles and over the rockey parking lot. After a little elbow grease, we got all of it in the car. We made our way to their apartment (on the "wrong" side of the road) and they got to unpack the bag of goodies from family and friends. It wasn't long before I was ready for a good shower and sleep.

 

They have a good view from their apartment. I remember commenting on how nice it was to see the "mountains", and then being corrected that the people call what I was seeing "hills". I very much enjoyed watching the people plant rice. They do almost all of it by hand. In the states we hear how much we take our conveniences for granted, but we don't fully comprehend what that means. Now, after being here for just a short three weeks I see how much I really do take for granted.

The most common question I have been asked is, "What has shocked you the most." I have found this very difficult to answer because I came not knowing what to expect. However, I come from a very busy lifestyle and the slower paced lifestyle here was the most unexpected. The people here go from sun-up to sun-down and then their day is generally done. They do and make almost everything by hand. And, traffic is so bad that going out to do anything very easily could take up most of your day.

 

Recently, my pastor has placed a lot of emphasis on praying for the safety of our missionaries. I have always prayed for their physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. But, after seeing the dangers of simply crossing the road, or even driving through traffic, I understand even more the importance of praying for their physical safety. After seeing and hearing of a spiritual warfare that we don't understand in America, I can see how vital it is to pray for their spiritual safety.

 

For example, we were riding in a taxi and their almost four-year-old daughter asks about a little idol setting on the dash. In America, little Budhas and other religious symbols are often just a decoration, and doesn't mean anything to the person who has it on display. But for this taxi driver, and for the majority of the people here, this really is an idol. Can you imagine being faced with this on a regular basis and your little girl, who continually asks "why this?" and "why that?", asks, "Mommy, look at that elephant (this specific idol had an elephant head) up there, why does he have it up there?" If this were you, how would you respond? Before this trip, I thought I knew how to pray for our missionaries, but in reality, I had no idea what they face. I may still not fully comprehend their needs, but I understand the pressing need to pray for them.

 

Some of my favorite things you ask? I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with this missionary family. They have been so welcoming, kind, and helpful. I came hoping to be a blessing, but in return I have been the one who was blessed.

 

A couple other favorites. I love the natural food! April has made American dishes, but the flavor is unreal. No preservatives. Fresh produce is exactly that, fresh. They don't spray their crops, they don't enhance their chickens with anything, she has to pasteurize her own milk. With this blessin, however, comes much added work; hence the slower lifestyle. I have also enjoyed seeing and getting to know their church family. This is another matter of prayer. People in America may be faced with some opposition from family after becoming a Christian, but here once they have made this decision they are basically losing not only their family and friends, but even their sense of community.

 

I could keep going, but the greatest thing I have learned is the importance of understanding the culture and lifestyle of the people to which you are ministering. The McTagues have observed the culture, the religion and lifestyle of their people and through this God has enabled them to better reach the people. I can tell you this, I will go back to America with the goal of re-observing the people in my hometown, to better understand them and reach out to them. I can't focus on results, just simply trust God and do what He has commanded, leaving the results up to Him. Another valuable lesson I have learned is the importance of a balanced scheduled. Knowing what God expects for me to accomplish and being ok with not always accomplishing what "I" think or others think I should accomplish.

 

Even if you never get the opportunity to go visit a missionary on their field, take time to get to know them. They are normal people in an land full of the unfamiliar, simply obeying God.

 

Malissa Arsnoe

Malissa, is a faithful Christian at our home church in Nepal. Last year she requested to come visit us this summer. We thoroughly encouraged her to make the visit. While I didn't know her extremely well personally I expected a good visit. But it far exceeded my expectations. It was a wonder visit; full of blessings, encouragement, lots of chats and plenty of I Love Lucy:) I was excited to hear her perspective on visiting Nepal. I hope you will enjoy her Birdseye view of our little country of Nepal.

 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Seeking God {Guest Post}


This month has been a bit of a struggle with what I should write. I have had conflicting feelings on what to write if anything. Mostly I am struggling with feeling inadequate to even do a blog. However, as I was thinking about it, I realized something major. I have not prayed about it. In fact I have not really given much spiritual thought to it. That is where I realized I have gone majorly wrong. How in the world can I encourage others spiritually if I am not listening to God’s leading? Yes, I am following God and yes I love Him but recently I have not been as close to Him as I should be. Of course my inner self has no desire to admit this, but the realization hit me that I have a strong feeling I am not alone. I think we have all had those times when we haven’t drawn as close to God as we should. We have let our personal time with God kind of fall by the wayside, or we do it without much thought. It tends to just be something we do because we know we have to. My responsibility is to live my life for God. After all it is my “reasonable service ”(Romans 12:1).  It is only reasonable that I spend time with God, the one who created me and died for me. Jeremiah 29:13 says: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” So this month’s blog is going to be short for the main reason its time I start seeking God again. Thank you for your understanding. I pray that all of us continue to follow close to God each and every day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

3... 2... 1... Furlough! "Driving Us Crazy"



I know what you are thinking.

I know because I used to think it, too.

You are thinking that learning to drive on the right hand side of the road is the hardest part of driving when we come back from the field for furlough.

It is true that where we live we drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car. But I must tell you, learning to drive on the right side is the easiest part.

Trying to remember American driving culture?

Now that's torture.


Driving Us Crazy

While my reverse culture shock hits overload in the grocery store, Jason's struggle is actually behind the wheel of the car. Unfortunately for him, a major portion of our time on furlough is spent in that seat.




Now we will tell you that there are several things about driving in the States that we love. We love smooth roads and organized traffic, clean streets and traffic lanes.

We love drive thru windows and getting cups with lids and straws... and driving down a road that doesn't sling the drink everywhere!


We absolutely love driving up to a gas station and pumping our own gas... and getting as much as we want! (After a 5 month fuel shortage crisis on our field, we have learned to appreciate this more than ever.)


We have caught on pretty quickly to stopping at stop signs, driving on the right side, and using the turning signal. But what throws us into a tailspin isn't the rules of the road. It's the driving culture. For example, look at this picture.


Don't you see something wrong?

Remember me talking about Americans having a 3 foot imaginary bubble around them? No one likes people to intrude in their bubble. Well, apparently when Americans get in their cars, the bubble suddenly wraps around their vehicles, too. Americans like their space on the road, even at stop lights. We were scooting up really close because that's what we do in Asia. I think we upset a few people. (Sorry!) In our country, if you leave that much space between vehicles, two taxis, seven motorcycles, two scooters, a cow, and a pack of stray dogs will jump in there. When we come to a stop, we get within a few inches of the vehicle in front of us... and occasionally we play bumper cars.

So we now leave more room in front of us. I wish that were the only problem.

When we drive, we are used to threading through traffic, pedestrians, and livestock of all kinds. It is a way of life-- a driving culture. The pedestrians are used to it, too. Even the chickens pay us no mind as we pass by. We have gotten so good at it that we can do donuts and figure eights around pedestrians without us even breaking a sweat.

But in America? Apparently "yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" doesn't mean "dodge pedestrians with skill." Americans do not like parking lot pinball. We, however, approach it with the zeal of a seasoned gladiator preparing for an epic battle. (To the sweet, blonde lady in the Walmart parking lot: We promise you were in no danger, but we are sorry we scared you so badly. On a happier note, you had some pretty awesome disco moves as you were running for your life.)

Sigh...

We have often told our national friends how little Americans use their horns on the road, and how when an American actually uses his horn that it means something bad. In America, we can usually count on one hand how many times we use our horn in a year. On the field, we would have to use every finger and every toe to count our horn's honking just going to the grocery store right down the street.

On the field, the horn means:

I am passing you.
I am here, don't pull out.
Comin' through...
I just feel like honking, because I am bored.

In America:

GO!!!
It's my turn!
What is wrong with you?!!!
... And a few other things I shouldn't type.

Let me interject here that since we have been in the States for one month, people have honked at us... a lot. Prayers appreciated.

Library Love


We have been enjoying having access to an amazing library system again! Yes, we came out of the library with our arms loaded down!


Hints:

For those on the field without access to a good library... you may still have access to many free digital books through your library system in your passport country. We have "checked out" many books through our library's digital library.

For homeschooling families and families with children on deputation or furlough... take advantage of your library for road trips. There are books on CD that you can pop in your CD player in your car. Also, check out books related to the state you will be traveling through. Leave them strategically placed in the car for your kids to find when they are bored. If you are going to stop to do some sightseeing along the way, how great it will be if they found a book (conveniently placed by mom) about it along the way!


College Countdown


It finally happened.

Our oldest son graduated from high school. Our sending church held a graduation celebration for Ben. It was an amazing service with sweet memories.





But along with graduation comes the next step. Ben is college bound! We traveled to see Ben's college for the first time. It was a great experience, but I must admit that the reality is becoming more... real!



We have been asked by many people how we are doing with the upcoming separation. We will be leaving Ben in the States when we return to the field. Honestly, my heart aches just thinking about it. I will be 10,000 miles away from him! If I allowed myself, I could wallow in self-pity for weeks. But isn't this why we have been training and preparing him? Our goal has always been to train our children how to independently glorify God. They cannot do that if we are always there.

Either way, my mommy heart aches, because I know the parting is coming. Our whole family is learning how to grieve the separation but celebrate the victory. Ben is becoming a man, and that's a good thing.

I trust God's grace will be as sufficient on that day as it has always been.

If you think about it, please pray for missionaries all over the world who make this same sacrifice and commitment. It isn't easy, but our sweet Saviour is worth it.

Be a blessing to a college missionary kid. They, too, grieve the separation. Many of them grieve the loss of the place they feel is home. When you love on MKs, don't forget to love on the MKs left behind.