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.)


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:

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!


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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Red Party Punch Recipe

Missionaries can often be found planning parties for baby showers, wedding showers, their own children's birthday parties, etc. For quite some time, I have been on the hunt for a good punch recipe which does not require many special ingredients so that it can be made on the field. With the need to plan a high school graduation reception for our daughter, I was happy to find an easy punch recipe that everyone enjoyed. I tweaked the recipe a bit from the original recipe I found online so that is the version I will share here. It reminds me of red Hawaiian punch to give you an idea of the flavor of the finished product.

Just a stock photo. :)

Better to allow the ingredients to chill a few hours before mixing. 

8 cups orange juice (2 liters)
8 cups pineapple juice (2 liters)
2 cups grapefruit juice or grapefruit lemon juice blend
1/2 liter of Grenadine
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries (optional: we did not use the cherries)
1 (2 liter) bottle Sprite

Combine the ingredients into an 8.5 or larger punch bowl. Stir lightly and serve!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Her Story Quotes by Shari

Psalm 78 is a song of remembrance of the many times God in His mercy chose to have compassion on the Israelites instead of bringing down His judgement which was rightly deserved. Verse 38 says, “But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:  yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.”  

As Christians it is easy for us to judge others whether we mean to or not. I can always tell when I’m in a “judgy” mood, and I hate that it controls how I feel and think. I remember hearing a preacher say once, “We always judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.” I’d take it a step further and say, "We often judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by our expectations." This is completely unfair. One of the pastors I used to serve under taught me an invaluable truth one time when I was in the wrong. As I stood there bracing myself for the telling off I knew I deserved, he said, “Oh, that’s okay. I always judge on the 90% and not the 10%.” His mercy surprised me. It surprised me mostly because if the roles were reversed I might not have been as merciful and so, therefore, it never crossed my mind that I might be shown mercy. The mercy he showed me that day effected me in several ways. Not only was a weight lifted off me because he wasn’t upset, it also made me want to do my best to live up to the 90%. It also challenged me to show more compassion to others. Since that time I have always tried to live by the rule “Judge on the ninety percent not the ten.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Loving the Small Stuff

Everyday Life isn't full of momentous triumphs or floods of tangible blessings. But there is no doubt everyday is flooded with more blessings and beautiful moments then we deserve. Throughout everyday there is difficulties. Plans rarely go as planned. There are plenty of things that tempt us to complain. The devil would love to steal our joy and draw our focus to the small things that plague us. A small fox can truly spoil the vine BUT ,also as powerful, small blessings can encourage beyond measure.

Today was nothing special but just another day full of many small blessings. Just another day when I felt blessed to be a child of the Lord and in His service. We are blessed to have a friend visiting us from our home church. It has been a great time of fellowship, fun and service. Today we ventured out to the zoo.

We all enjoyed seeing the animals as the raindrops fell intermittently. We met with friends and laughed and played.

The kids enjoyed seeing the zoo for the first time. I feel happy every time I get to experience my child discovering something new and the joy it brings. Then we introduced our friend to one of our favorite restaurants. We ate as much as we could handle and carried tired babies to the car. We counted our blessing to have a car on such a rainy day far from home.

On a day like this white clothes on a 1 yr old boy isn't the wisest choice. As I soak his tiny once white clothes, now covered in sand, dirt and Mexican food I count my blessings the Lord has blessed me with a small boy who runs, throws, yells and growls. For I know I am blessed to raise such a little boy for the Lord.
As the sun begins to set and this little tired boy has fallen to sleep, Daddy decides we VERY much needed a dessert. The clock was ticking on the amount of electricity we thought we had, so all hands were needed. Little hands and big gathered in the kitchen as we raced to get our treat done in time.
Daddy also decided we should make the cookies green for our little princess who loves all manner of color. They sadly turned out looking more like spinach flavored cookies than the bright green we imagined. On spontaneous moments like this I'm thankful for family and friends. A spouse who is loving and true, friends who sacrifice and travel great distances to be a part of your life and a beautiful child whose only goal in life is to do everything with you.
She joyfully awaited her creation to come out before bed time came. Leave it to a child to show you how to find joy in anything.
The cookies are done. The babies have fallen asleep and all is quiet in our home. Just another normal day. Nothing extraordinary has crossed my path. Just this extraordinaryly blessed life the Lord has given me. Today I choose to love the and take joy in all the small blessings He sends.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chunky Homemade Peanut Butter

Yield: About one jar of chunky peanut butter


4 cups (1 lb.) roasted, unsalted peanuts - divided
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. canola or peanut oil (Optional - it makes the peanut butter much easier to spread after it has been refrigerated)


1. Blend 3 cups of the peanuts in a food processor for up to 10 minutes, until the peanut butter is very creamy and well-blended.
2. Roughly chop the remaining one cup of peanuts.
3. Mix in the one cup of roughly chopped peanuts, oil, honey, and salt. Adjust to taste.


Note: If you prefer creamy peanut butter you can process all four cups of the peanuts in the food processor. The amount of honey are salt are adjustable, so feel free to add more or less to change the sweetness or saltiness of the peanut butter.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Disruptive Faith {Guest Post}

In Romans 12:3 the Bible tells us that “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Faith is something that everybody has and uses every day. We, by faith, expect that the sun will rise each morning and set each evening. By faith, we expect that the bridge we are driving over will hold us up. By faith we submit to the doctor’s orders when we are sick. By faith, we go to school and learn, expecting that our efforts will result in a good living later in life. By faith we go to work every week, expecting a pay cheque at the end of the month. So we all use faith on a daily basis. This faith is a confidence or expectation of an immediate or future outcome, based either upon previous experience (the sun has never not risen, and so we have no reason to doubt that it will tomorrow), or upon our knowledge of the character and ability of the person in whom we are trusting (as in the case of the doctor, teacher or employer). Therefore, all that is needed for a person to have faith is at least one of two things: past experience, and/or knowledge of a trustworthy person.

When we come to now deal with faith in God and His Word, it is no different. We need to have either past experience of seeing how God or God’s Word has worked in our life or another’s (and here we see the importance of sharing our personal testimony of salvation with others), or we need to have personal knowledge of the trustworthy character of God and His abilities.

Of course, the best definition of faith as it pertains to religion is God’s own definition, found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith is the spiritual eye by which we can see beyond the visible, physical and temporal to the invisible, spiritual and eternal reality, which is God Himself. And so, by this definition we learn that faith is not the ultimate goal, it is the means by which we may attain to the ultimate goal, which is to know God firstly as our Saviour, and after that as our Father and Lord.

Now that we have seen what faith is and what its purpose is, we can come to the subject of its nature, which is really what this blog post is about. Faith—true faith in God and His Word—is disruptive. It is inconvenient. To many it is perturbing.

The first and most common disruption that we see nowadays is when an unsaved person becomes offended by the faith of a saved person. John 3:19-20 says: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Probably all of us who are saved have at least one friend or family member who has gotten angry at us or become agitated just because we mention Jesus, God or church. Maybe even you were like this yourself before you trusted Christ. Unbelievers are often offended by a Christian’s faith because it disrupts their lives—it confronts them with their own lack of faith and holiness. They can no longer do some of their sinful habits or think sinful thoughts or speak sinful words or worship their idols without having their conscience pricked. Their so-called inner peace has been disturbed. Now there is conflict. And sometimes this inner conflict can even be manifested outwardly through expressions of anger and resentment. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said in Matt.10:34-36: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”

Some unbelievers aren’t necessarily offended by the Gospel or the faith of a believer, but they are perturbed by the many paradoxes in the Bible. They cannot understand living through dying, receiving through giving, exaltation through humility, strength through weakness, freedom through servitude, gaining through loss etc. Actually, these paradoxes are perturbing even for believers oftentimes.

The third kind of disruption in an unbeliever’s life can be seen in the example of Moses. Moses was born in Egypt, but he was not an Egyptian. He was an Hebrew, a descendant of Abraham. God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants, but Moses was not in Canaan. He was in Egypt. He was born at a time when for fear of the Hebrews out-populating the Egyptians, the Pharaoh had commanded that all male babies be killed, but when Moses was born, his mother hid him 3 months and then sent him down the Nile in a basket, to be found by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised from the time he was weaned in the courts of Pharaoh. He was treated and lived like a prince. He daily conversed with royalty, and knew no want. He was living a life of luxury in the most powerful, wealthy family in the known world. He knew nothing else. And he could have very easily kept on living in the lap of luxury and die an old, fat man. But for some reason unbeknownst to himself, when Moses was grown, “he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens” (Ex.2:11). And he had a spiritual awakening that Hebrews 11:24-26 attributes to faith:  “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” All of a sudden his life of luxury and ease was disrupted by the belief that he wasn’t where he should be and he wasn’t who he could be. He was a prince in Egypt, but he could be a child of God in the Land of Promise. He had the wealth of Egypt, but he could have the greater riches of the reproach of Christ and eternal rewards. Faith worked a spiritual awakening in Moses’ life, and faith still works that way today. Maybe faith is working like this in your heart today. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not where I should be, and I’m not who I could be.” Maybe you, like Moses, are thinking, “I could be a child of God on my way to heaven,” or maybe you’re thinking, “I have material things here, but I want the eternal riches that are in Christ.” Maybe your heart is saying today, “I know God from a distance, but I want to know Him personally as my Father.” If you are thinking like Moses did, that is God trying to do a work of faith in your heart. Harden not your heart, dear reader, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor.6:2)
The fourth way that faith disrupts the life and thoughts of an unsaved person can be seen in the example of the rich, young ruler in Matt. 19:16-22: “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” The rich, young ruler was a religious man, a devout man, an orthodox Jew. He was not one to go to Temple only on the holy days. He went to synagogue every time the doors were open. He kept the 10 commandments and all the ceremonial laws as well. He told Jesus that he had kept all these laws from a child until now, and Jesus did not contradict him. This young ruler was confident that he had always done the right thing for the right reasons--  and yet-- look at what he asked Jesus: “What lack I yet?” God had given this man a measure of faith, and that faith brought him to the disturbing realisation that keeping the law and doing good works were not enough to secure eternal life. There was still something lacking. This measure of faith that he had, disquieted his heart and he had no peace or assurance about where he would spend eternity. Sadly, when Jesus told him how he could find that peace and eternal security, he “went away sorrowful,” because he chose to place his measure of faith in his good works and his riches, instead of in Christ. But that need not be true in your case, dear reader. If the measure of faith that God has given you is telling you today that despite your best efforts to live a good life, there is still something missing, you can choose to accept Jesus’ advice and leave your old ways behind and follow Him. You can find peace and eternal life in Christ today.

Faith does not only disrupt or disturb the lives of unbelievers, though. Faith is not only at work to bring people to salvation, but after that, also works in our sanctification, suffering, self-discipline, sacrifice and service. I John 5:4-5 talks about faith being that which overcomes the world: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” So, faith works in the life of a Christian, weaning her from the world and preparing her for heaven. That’s sanctification. How does it do that? As faith’s eye enables us to see more and more of the beauty of the invisible God’s holiness, all that is unholy and worldy gradually loses its lustre in our eyes. As our faith grows and matures, so does our love and appreciation for all things holy and heavenly. And as our love for the holy grows, so does our disdain for all that is unholy and worldly, until we will no longer tolerate ungodliness or worldliness in our own lives either, and we are sanctified. (This thought was borrowed from A.W. Tozer)

The second way that faith disrupts the Christian is by creating a sense of discomfort in this world, and causes us to look for another world. This is what happened in the life of Abraham when faith began to operate. Heb.11:8-10 says: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” What does that look like in the life of a modern-day believer? It looks like a person who is always talking about the Lord and about heaven, and is always busily laying up treasures there (Matt.6:19-21).

Thirdly, faith is extremely disruptive to our lives and minds when it requires that we suffer or endure trials. Nobody enjoys these things, and so even the dreaded thought of suffering disquiets our heart. Sometimes we must suffer for our faith as did Daniel and his 3 friends, the prophets and the martyrs. Other times we must endure trials to grow our faith, like young David, when he was a shepherd boy. He had to fight off a lion and a bear in order to grow his faith enough to later face Goliath (I Sam.17:37).

Faith also makes itself inconvenient by requiring self-discipline and sacrifice. Heb.12:1-2 says: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The writer of Hebrews uses a strong metaphor here to describe the life of faith. He describes the born-again believer as a runner in a marathon, as shown by the word, “patience.” The Christian life is no sprint, it’s a marathon, and the Bible’s advice for believers who want to win the prize for finishing the race well, must “lay aside” every hindrance and the sin that holds them back. That little word, “and” is so interesting here, because it indicates that there are weights and there are sins. The weights can be, but are not necessarily sins. The life of faith is a call to sacrifice; to remove from our lives and our thoughts every thing-- whether it is sinful or not—that is hindering our spiritual growth or our ability to serve the Lord.  It could be a sin, a habit, a leisure activity that consumes too much of our time, a job that prevents us from going to church…it could even be a person, a friend that discourages you from being the Christian you should be. When we are called to lay aside things that give us pleasure or things that give us security, then faith becomes very disruptive to our minds and lives, doesn’t it? The flesh doesn’t want us to sacrifice our time, our money, our pleasures, in order to serve God, even when those sacrifices don’t really cause us any hardship. Much less do we want to sacrifice something, endure something, when it hurts us or makes things difficult. But that is the life that faith calls us to. It calls us to less sleep so that we can stay up all night in prayer. It calls us to less rest on the weekend so that we can hand out tracts on Saturday mornings. It calls us to dressing modestly and femininely, even though it may mean we are not fashionable. It calls us to consistent church attendance, even when we have a cold, or a headache, or our period, or we’re depressed. It calls us to a life of abstinence from alcohol, drugs, and pre- or extra-marital sexual relationships. It calls us to refuse that invitation to a family picnic on Sunday afternoon so that we can be in church on Sunday evening. It calls us to tithing, giving to missions and to the church building fund. It calls us sometimes (as it did in my family’s life), to leaving home and country to serve in another one. Sometimes it calls us to giving our children and grandchildren to God for the ministry. For some, the life of faith is a call to celibacy. The list could go on, but in short, the life of faith is a life of sacrifice, self-denial, and self-discipline. And we ought not to shy away from it, for there are many athletes who willingly sacrifice all these things for a reward that will perish with them. Shouldn’t we be willing to sacrifice for a reward that is eternal?

Finally, faith makes itself particularly disruptive and inconvenient in the area of service. Without a doubt, the best example of this in the Bible must be the Good Samaritan: “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Here we have a man who, through no fault of his own is robbed and beaten and left for dead on the road. “By chance,” (but was it really by chance?), a priest came that way. But this opportunity to minister to another’s needs came at an inconvenient time for him, and he kept walking. Then along came a Levite, but he had better things to do also. Then a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey (ie. He also was busy with other things) came and had compassion on the injured man. He took care of his wounds, and even spent his own money to ensure that the stranger was well cared for.

Two of the men in this story did not have an ounce of true faith, even though one was a priest!! Faith is disruptive and inconvenient at times. The opportunity for service or ministry perhaps won’t come at a convenient time, but a person of faith will allow God to interrupt her life, her day, her schedule, her plans, with opportunities to serve Him and others, just like the Good Samaritan did.

There are certainly many other ways that faith is disruptive. I have highlighted only a few in order that we may realise that real faith in God, in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Bible, is by nature disruptive, perturbing and inconvenient. If your beliefs have not disrupted your life, inconvenienced you, or changed the way you think and live, then your faith is either dead or misplaced. Perhaps you are like Moses. You’ve had an awakening to your spiritual need, but you haven’t yet taken that step to becoming a child of God on her way to heaven. Or maybe you’re like the rich, young ruler. You know that there’s still something lacking, despite your best efforts to please God. If these two scenarios describe you today, dear reader, don’t go away from this blog sorrowful as the young ruler left Jesus’ presence. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, asking Him to cleanse you and make you a new creature, a child of God. Give Him your life right now.

Maybe you’re already saved, but God has been speaking to you about how faith needs to work in your sanctification, suffering, sacrifice and service. Perhaps your faith is small, weak, immature or not growing. May I encourage you to pray that God would increase your faith? Will you resolve to read and study and meditate on God’s Word, and to be at church whenever the doors are open? We usually use the verse “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” in the context of saving faith, and that’s not wrong. But we mustn’t forget that faith for Christian living after we’re saved comes the same way—by hearing the Word of God preached and taught. If you read, study, meditate and listen, God’s Word will grow your faith.

O, how we need faith, dear reader! For without it we cannot see or know the Immortal, Invisible, Only Wise God, neither can we please Him! (Heb.11:6)

Suzy Crocket and her family are missionaries in Romania.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

3... 2... 1... Furlough! "Crying Over Biscuits"

I really tried to prepare.

I read blogs and sought counsel from veteran missionaries.

But I still ended up crying over biscuits.

I felt silly and was totally embarrassed, but what could I do? And I am not alone. Others have cried over toothpaste or shampoo or leftovers at Golden Corral. Some just walked out of the store empty-handed.

It's more real... and more gripping than I ever imagined.

Welcome to the vicious world of
                                reverse culture shock.

Crying Over Biscuits

I always imagined my tears would be over cheddar cheese... beautiful, yummy, yellow cheddar cheese. The precious block of golden treasure! I miss it when we don't have it on our field. We just went through a long shortage of cheddar cheese. Imagine being deprived of its valuable presence! And when we have it, we have an overwhelming selection of... two. That's it. Two choices. White or yellow.

But in the States? There is an entire aisle dedicated to its lovely existence. Shredded, sliced, block, sharp, mild, big bags, little bags... not to mention several brands! The shelves are beautifully glowing like gold fashioned any way you want it! Surely the sight would be so happy that tears would flow. Wonderful, happy tears of gratitude.

My reverse culture shock moment wasn't like this... um... fairy tale.

We had traveled all day, and I was tired. There was a group of our family with us, and the ladies were all going shopping for the week. It was my first time shopping in the grocery section since our return. We decided to go to Walmart. My mother-in-law worked hard dividing the long list up, grouped by location... divide and conquer. It was a great plan.

When we got to Walmart, she handed me a list. As I began looking over my list, I looked up to realize... I was alone... in Walmart. Everyone had gone their separate ways to get their portion of shopping done.

Now, if you know anything about reverse culture shock, this was a set-up for disaster. I was tired. I was alone. And I was in a large, unfamiliar store.

Panic started to set in, and I don't even know why. I tried to relax. After all, it's just shopping, right? So I looked down at my list. Fresh fruits and vegetables were at the top, and I was in that section already.

     I was in that very,
          very large section.
                        There were
                  fruits and veggies

On the field, I had gotten used to shopping at our little closet-sized shops. The entire fruit stand could fit on the average kitchen table. The same kitchen table could showcase every vegetable from our veggie stand. I had gotten used to small stores with few choices. There in Walmart, the selections were endless! Twenty of my usual shops could fit in just that section! I calmed myself by just focusing on my list. Bananas... I buy bananas all the time. I thought, "That's easy. I'll start with bananas."

I walked over to the bananas. Well, they looked like bananas, but certainly not like the bananas I had shopped for in the last 3 1/2 years. These bananas were huge and smooth and green and pale yellow. My bananas on the field are tiny, dark yellow, and speckled with brown. On the field, I walk up and let the store owner know if I am eating the bananas today or tomorrow. Then she grabs the bananas that meet the need, bags them, and gives me my total. Standing here in Walmart, I found that I had forgotten how to choose good bananas in America. Surely these smooth, beautiful, big bananas couldn't be ready to be eaten! Where were the speckles?!

And the stress level kept rising.

"Nectarines... Maybe nectarines would be good. Do I like nectarines? I can't remember! We don't have nectarines! Peaches... I think we all like peaches. How do I choose peaches? Our peaches are green. These don't look green. I can't remember!"

And the stress level was boiling.

"Time to move on to the freezer foods before I lose it! Hmmm... freezer foods." I scanned over the list. "Frozen biscuits... well, that's a great idea! I always have to make my own biscuits and then freeze them."

So I head to the frozen breakfast food aisle. Frozen pancakes, frozen waffles, frozen ham and cheese biscuits, frozen sausage biscuits... I just wanted frozen biscuits! Plain ole frozen biscuits. Up and down the aisle I went, and stress was welling up in my eyes. I held back the tears. It had been twenty minutes, and I had barely scratched the surface of my list.

Up and down the aisle.... up and down... up and down... NOTHING! No frozen biscuits!

Just at that moment, my mom walked up.

"How is it going?" she asked. And before I knew it, the tears came gushing out. I told her I couldn't find the biscuits. And with every ounce of maternal love in her body, she took control and walked me through each aisle. After a few minutes, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law walked up and discovered the situation. Again, the tears flooded out, and I felt like a fool. I was crying over biscuits!

My mother-in-law admitted she didn't know what I was going through, but that she would be there to help. And she was! She didn't have to understand for her compassion to reach out to my need. Making the simplest decisions became overwhelming to me, and my mind just wanted to shut off. When they saw me struggle, they jumped in without hesitation. Sometimes they just made the decision for me. Sometimes they narrowed the choices down and gave me a chance to try. None of them had studied reverse culture shock, but somehow the Lord just directed them.

We checked out, and the nightmare was over.

Yesterday, I went to the store again. It was a much different experience. I learned from my mistakes. I went when I was feeling energetic and refreshed. I went when I had plenty of time, so I could go slowly and make decisions at my own pace. I went to a store where I used to shop all the time before we went to the field. I was familiar with the store's layout! I took someone with me who keeps me relaxed... my daughter! She walked calmly through every aisle with me.

I still felt overwhelmed at the selection and the number of choices, but I was able to keep the situation in context. After all, it's just a trip to the grocery store!

And the icing on the cake? As we were checking out, the cashier and the bagger were so friendly! They asked us how we were doing and chatted with us. They asked if we needed help getting the groceries to the car. They smiled and said, "Have a great day!"

So I did! And I even bought frozen biscuits and cheddar cheese. Beautiful, wonderful... cheddar cheese.

Gabe Funnies

Me (sitting in church)- Gabriel, don't forget your tithes.
Gabriel grabs a tithing envelope, fills it out, and then begins to stuff his money in it.
Me- Um, Gabe, they don't take rupees here.
Gabe- They don't?!!!

Gabe- Mom, can I use the microwave at this time?
Ben- Gabe... it's America. There is electricity at all times.
Gabe- Oh...

Meeting People

Sometimes on the field, you miss births of new family members. We finally got to meet my cousin's baby girl for the first time. Something tells me she fits into our crazy, silly family just fine.

The Furlough 20

Let the battle of the "Furlough 20" begin!

It is commonly accepted that missionaries put on some weight during furlough. I really don't want to be in that statistic, so it's time to get busy! For one week while we traveled, we had access to a gym. Michaela and I worked out hard for five of the seven days.

Now to get the eating under control...
Sorry, Krispy Kreme. Our relationship has just taken a turn for the worse.
(Maybe we can have an occasional secret weekend rendezvous?)