Don’t Chicken Out

For the last several weeks we’ve enjoyed calling on the expertise of a retired builder, retired electrician and (of course) a retired appliance repairman.  These are all Aussie mates about our age, and happy to use their skills at no (or almost no) charge for their services. Tony was commenting to them the other day that it’s interesting that even though they’re ‘retired’ they’re still much in demand for the work it took them a career to learn.

“However”, he mused, “it’s not often that anyone calls me up and says, “You’re a retired pastor; I just really need someone to come and preach at me!”

As I’m writing this, I’m so tired I can barely type.  We just got home from a 12-hour day in Brisbane, about an hour north, where we go once a month to minister to and be ministered by a group of Japanese at their monthly worship.

Today Tony was inundated with new opportunities that have him on a high.  Just to be able to ‘use his expertise’ is so rewarding, we thank God for the continued opportunities.

On that note, I just have to share with you a little blurb I read about Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken, as it was originally known.  I’ll be bad and copy this because (as I mentioned) I’m too tired to type. But ‘have a think’ about this man and his life, will you? …….and maybe think about how it applies to our lives.  The Facebook article doesn’t mention it, but he and his family were devout Congregationalists.  He was born in 1898 and died in 1989 a billionaire.

At age 5 his Father died.

At age 16 he quit school.

At age 17 he had already lost four jobs.

At age 18 he got married.

Between 18 and 22, he worked as a railroad conductor but failed. He joined the army and washed out there. He applied for law school but was rejected. He became an insurance salesman but failed again. At age 19 he became a father. At age 20 his wife left him and took their baby daughter. He became a cook and dishwasher in a small cafe. He failed in an attempt to kidnap his own daughter, and eventually he convinced his wife to return home. At age 65 he retired. On the 1st day of retirement he received a cheque from the Government for $105, and felt that the Government was saying that he couldn’t provide for himself. He decided to commit suicide because life just wasn’t worth living anymore because he had failed so much. He sat under a tree writing his will, but instead, he wrote what he would like to have accomplished with his life. This made him realize there was much more that he hadn’t done. There was one thing he could do better than anyone he knew: he could cook.

Using his government check, he borrowed $87 against it and bought some chicken, frying it up using his own recipe. Then he went door to door selling it to his neighbors there in Kentucky. Remember at age 65, he was ready to commit suicide; but at 88 Colonel Sanders, was a billionaire.

Moral of the story: Attitude. It’s never too late to start all over. MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR ATTITUDE. NEVER GIVE UP NO MATTER HOW HARD IT GETS. You have what it takes to be successful. Go for it and make a difference. No guts no glory. It’s never too old to dream.

And to put a “faith spin” on it, let me close with that verse in Philippians 1:6: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

Maybe chicken’s not what God is thinking about in our lives as we move into retirement (or maybe it is….who knows?), but we can rest assured that something has been placed deep within us. And as long as we’re still breathing, that something hasn’t been finished yet.

Got the message? Get to work!

Marsha

Lunch Guest

Good Morning All,

Hope your week has been good; ours certainly was.  Gradually we’re sorting ourselves out in our new digs.  I guess it’s appropriate that the office space we’ve set up and where I’m now typing away on this week’s blog has become known as the “Op Center”, while Tony’s claimed territory in the spare bedroom, decorated with animal skins and African spears is now officially the “Man Cave”.

Last week I mentioned what a little girl had said in a book called “Heaven in My Hands”, a precious account written by a 1930s American school teacher. ……… This week I’ll leave you with a question.

A few days ago, I was delighted to receive a carefully crafted hand made invitation from my daughter’s mother in law, who also is my friend.  They were inviting us to a Sunday afternoon dinner spread for the purpose of saying “goodbye” to their house of more than 20 years.  With your prayers, they’ll be moving locally into another place soon, now that they’re empty nesters.

We had a lovely time, enjoying all the friends who gathered after church for a lovely meal. Even though we were experiencing the second cyclone of the season, we were still able to sit outside (under cover), put a snag (sausage) on the barbie and enjoy the cool damp breezes as we ate.  Such is a Gold Coast winter!

As we chatted away happily, I thought of the little story about the kindergartners who were catching up on a Monday morning in class. They were all bubbling about who went where for dinner after the previous day’s church services. It seemed that everyone had enjoyed a great time of fun and food. Then a little boy broke in and said, “I wonder who invited Jesus home for lunch?”

Thought provoking isn’t it?

I would hope that it would have been us to have the Master home for a carefully prepared feast…… but I wonder.

And as I sit here watching the rain on a cool Sunday evening, I can’t help but imagine friends and family back in America, just starting the day.

Who are you having for lunch?

Blessings, talk to you next week!

Marsha

His Sheep Am I

Tony and I usually read from a devotional book in the mornings after breakfast.  Our mainstay is Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”, but lately it’s grown to three books, and it’s one of the better moments of our day.

I know, I can hear you suggesting that we try reading the Bible, but the perfect plan is that we’ll do that solo at some other time in the day…….no comment at this point.

Anyway, in all the sorting and unpacking, I came across a little book called, “Heaven in my Hand”.  Inside the worn cover was a handwritten letter to me from my lovely grandmother, long since departed.  She was a kindergarten teacher in her last years after being widowed and raising 4 wonderful boys singlehandedly during the Depression and WWII.  She had a lot of wisdom, and this is what she wrote to me:

“All children can be so very cantankerous at times, but many beautiful and wonderful things are there too.  You have this quality of being able to draw out the fine things and help them to grow……”

What a blessing to leave me with that ‘commission’.  I only I hope I followed it as a teacher and a mother…and now a grandmother!

The book consists of daily vignettes the author/teacher experienced with her students.  We sigh or chuckle as we read them, and I’ll probably be sharing another one or two insights with you in the future.

The one this morning was about a little girl, the cherubic kind with her hair falling in ringlets and big wondering eyes. She was new to the school and a bit shy and timid, but still doing her best to participate and fit in.

One day she was found outside the Kindergarten boundary, wandering around with a dazed look on her face .

A passing teacher saw her plight and came, knelt down and drew her into her arms.  The little girl crumpled in relief and rested her head on the teacher’s shoulder with a sigh.

“Oh you poor dear”, the teacher consoled. “Are you lost?”  A teary nod assured this.

“Can you tell me your teachers name?”  the teacher continued, surprised to see her little face crumple in angst.

“No!” she cried, “because I haven’t named her yet”!

So cute, so innocent, so much what we are feeling about retirement.

It’s been 7 months and we STILL don’t have a ‘name’ to describe how we’re doing!  What IS this thing called ‘freedom”?  Everyone says we’re going to love it, but frankly, it’s a pretty big deal.

Perhaps because we had our entire life basically under one employer…….with one calling…..one pretty well established set of mates… a pretty predictable set of things we needed to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  Maybe this is why we can’t seem to give a name to how we feel or what we plan to do.

And so we continue to walk forward. Oswald did touch on the subject this last week when he more or less said, “Stop trying to come up with a plan and start giving it over to God alone”.  Matthew 6:33 and all that.

How many times do I need to hear that?

On a ‘normal’ note, we’re happy to have had a full weekend as you across the Pond are opening this up on your Sunday morning.  This blog is going out late because we’ve been at a new Bible study where we were asked to come and talk about Japan. It was refreshing, to say the least.

The house gets more ‘settled in’ every week. The carpenter says he’ll be done with the little renovations that have been going on for two months now. (Imagine the picture: mountains of rubble inside and outside the house, and a fine coast of sheetrock dust over every thing and everybody).

Notes from last week, Nathan’s got his insurance sorted after losing his car to the floods, just in time for his lovely wife to come down with Shingles………and the land issue that we were hoping to get the council to sign off on suffered enough erosion to keep this drama in the works for another however long …….BUT…..we’re all still in Love with God and each other, so in a sense, we’re ‘living the dream’!

Here’s the words from an old hymn we sang this evening.  it touched my soul and I hope it will yours, always good to remember “His Sheep am I”.

In God’s green pastures feeding, by his cool waters lie;

Soft in the evening walk my Lord and I.

All the sheep of his pasture fare so wondrously fine,

His sheep am I.

CHORUS:

Waters cool (on the mountain),

Pastures green (in the valley),

In the evening walk my Lord and I.

Dark the night (on the mountain),

Rough the way (in the valley),

Step by step, my Lord and I.

Forever Friends

A few weeks ago I talked about a couple of missionaries who were honored at church for their 25 years of faithful service in Papua New Guinea.

I was thinking about them as I opened yet another box from Japan (Yep, still moving in after a month in our new house). Right on top was a huge poster from our retirement party. I’ll try to include a picture of it, so you can see that is says, “Happy Retirement, Tony, Marsha and Shinkichi”.

How fitting that this wonderful Japanese friend retired at the same time as us and we were able to have a combined celebration! Even looking at it now, the memories keep flooding back. Let me tell you about Shinkichi:

He was born into a practicing Buddhist family in 1955, an only child

He flourished in everything he did, sports, academics and social life……until he scored low on his high school entrance exam. This eliminated him from any of the prestigious ‘public’ schools and left him only two options: a low level private school or a mission school.

Shinkichi applied and was accepted into a United Church boys school (in this case a very evangelistic institution). On the first day, he was issued a Bible, a hymnal, a chapel schedule and was ‘encouraged’ to attend a local church at least once or twice a month.

Shinkichi complied, and in the process discovered that he rather liked the music and messages he heard at church. And he REALLY liked the sweet young thing who attended from the United Church’s corresponding girls school.

Days turned into months and then years and a band of new Christians grew into good friends at Sendai Baptist Church.  Before they all knew it, Shinkichi and Kumiko were in love and graduating into college.  Five years later, Shinkichi married Kumiko.

Now enter Tony & Marsha, fresh out of language school and sent to Sendai Baptist, complete with two little boys and about a half a cup of Japanese words.

Kumiko and Shinkichi stepped alongside and made it part of their ministry to help us with ours. If it was a youth trip, they were there. English classes?  Front and center. Critiquing Tony’s Japanese sermons? Shinkichi didn’t hold back. The language barrier was there between us, but over the years we all found ways to get around, over, under and through the challenges, often with hilarious  and sometimes embarrassing results. Tony once preached a whole sermon about the Pharisees having too much tail (“shippo-sugi”) when he meant to say they were legalists (“rippo-shugi”).

Ah but then there was the time in San Francisco when they were helping us corral 17 giggly college girls to a homestay program.  Shinkichi and Kumiko ordered one of the famous crab sandwiches and got instead “club” sandwiches … and a reminder that in English knowing the difference between “L” and “R” can be very important.

Eventually Shinkichi and Kumiko contributed a couple of kids to the mix. A girl they named “Yuu” (meaning “gentle, which she is) was the first, followed by “Tsu” (short for “Tsubasa”, from the eagle’s wings in Isaiah 40:31.

They taught us to ski and we taught them to roast hotdogs in our fireplace. We talked silly stuff and church stuff.  Shinkichi flew to our side when our son Trevor was dying in the states.  Then lovely Kumiko got sick and died.  We are still crying and missing her even though it’s been 5 years.

But Shinkichi never stopped.  He still works tirelessly at the church we built together.  He is always on the road with the Japan Baptist Convention and even more now that he’s turned 60, the mandatory retirement for most companies in Japan. He says that now he’s free to do even more ministry in his spare time.

All this is to say, Shinkichi and Kumiko were God’s gift to us, helping us and guiding through the journey in ways we could never have gone on our on. I can’t even imagine how lost and lonely and ineffective we’d have been without their encouragement and at times, their intervention. Of course there were others, but none as fun and helpful as these true soul mates.   I pray daily that our new missionaries will be able to find lifelong friends like these.

Tony and I are looking forward to our own “Happy Retirement” now. As I look at this picture, taken near where we spent the last 4 years working near Sendai’s tsunami zone, I can stop and pray a prayer of thanks for co-laborers like Shinkichi and Kumiko.

On another note, as we count our blessings, the last 2 days brought a cyclone to the Gold Coast the likes of which hasn’t been seen in almost 30 years.  I’m happy to say our new house stood firm although we watched all day as the flood plain out back came closer and closer. But thankfully it stopped short of the house.

Son Nathan wasn’t as fortunate. While he worked tirelessly as a policeman last night helping people through the floods, the police station was flooded and his car took a swim. A total write off, but he’s safe, so we’re happy and grateful.

Oh, and when Nathan got home, he found that during the night as Kylie and the boys huddled together in bed, part of the ceiling in his house collapsed from water that had leaked into the attic. But again, everyone’s safe, Praise the Lord!

Love ya, remember to keep dry!

Marsha

Happy Retirement

Remembering

Good morning all,

I hope this is the dawn of a wonderful day wherever you are in the world.  I notice that this is Memorial Day in America, and I pray that it’s the best ever.

“Intercession” is a word that’s come into my mind lately, and I want to share something with you related to that. As I’m sure you know, this is a word we don’t hear very much outside of church circles, and I think there’s a message in that; but I’ll save that for another day. Basically, intercession means to bring the needs and hurts of other people before God. It’s something that should be a part of everyone’s prayer life, but I have to confess it’s something I sometimes “overlook” in my desperation to deal with my own problems.

The Holy Spirit’s been working on me lately about that.

About two months ago, a friend’s son died at 15. He was born with a heart problem and it finally caught up with him, no matter how we all prayed. Not long after that, another child on a prayer chain I watch, died at the tender age of 6 because a doctor (in America!) misdiagnosed his leukemia as ‘growing pains’

As I was grieving for the poor grieving parents, I had a flashback to something that happened to me about 24 years ago when our son Trevor died.

The whole time Trevor was sick (leukemia) people would come up real close and say, “You know, my child died.” This delivered with a knowing smile and a pat on the shoulder.

Call it my own selfish grief at work, but I so wanted to slap them! I mean, how could YOUR grief possibly compare to mine? Don’t you see that it’s MY child that’s dying? I know this sounds harsh, but right now, quite honestly, I don’t CARE about your troubles and can’t see how they relate to me!

Well, I didn’t actually say those things, but the thoughts were there, I’m ashamed to admit.

Then Trevor died and our hearts were well and truly broken.  We continued along as best we could, then gathered up the pieces, along with Trevor’s ashes, and returned to Japan, the place he so desperately wanted to go the whole time he was sick.

The first evening we arrived home, the phone rang. It was an old acquaintance of mine welcoming us home. She greeted with her usual enthusiasm, which in the mood I was in found me tapping my foot.

Then she continued, “My only son died the day he was born.”

But this time something happened. I didn’t want to slap her over the phone. I didn’t say all those things I’d been thinking when other well-wishers would share something like that with me. Instead, I was surprised and shocked to hear myself saying,

“Oh! That’s so terrible!  I am so so sorry that you didn’t have 16 wonderful years with your son……..”

We talked for a few minutes and maybe shed a tear or two and when I hung up the phone I knew I was going to be OK because I was beginning to heal.

Recently I read an article by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a great theologian and a product of the Holocaust. This is what he said:

“Suffering that causes you to notice the suffering of others. There’s peace in that.”

Thankfully, Tony and I aren’t suffering right now. The kids and grandkids seem to enjoy our company, work on the house is moving forward and we’re finding new ways to minister every day as we discover the joy of retirement. Life is good.

But we’ve been there. And I suspect we’ll visit that valley again before the Lord takes us home. And while suffering is not a pastime I would ever choose, I have to recognize that it makes the work of intercession easier. Just knowing that we all have our hurts and we all have the opportunity to look to our Healer for help. There’s peace in that.

Please take a minute this busy and (I hope) happy weekend to intercede for someone. If no one comes to mind, then pray for the parents of these two precious children I mentioned. We want to remember that God IS in control, even when life seems determined to destroy me. Pray for peace, and when possible, for understanding. And above all for the joy that can only come from His embrace.

It’s going into winter here.  We’re beginning to ‘rug up’ as they say in Australia.  I just thought I’d managed to put all of my clothes away and then I found a huge box marked “winter clothes”.  I hope I won’t really need to use them, unless I can get Tony to take me skiing!

Love ya,

Marsha

History’s Treasures

Hello Friends,

Well, while the earth kept up its normal  24-hr rotations this week, looking back, it seems like a blur not unlike a passing cyclone. Granted, I’ve spent most of my time this week with my head in a box, but every one I opened rose up to meet me with old familiar scents and sights, many things we haven’t seen in decades, having been in storage one place or another.

I caught Tony tiptoeing down the hall on Wednesday to his lair (Read “office”, “man cave”, whatever you want to call it ) holding an African  peace pipe, a two meter long python skin, and a genuine muzzle loading flintlock left over from the American Civil War and found in the jungles of Liberia. Besides our own treasures from 40 years on the mission field, we’ve also inherited his parent’s “artifacts”, which hasn’t helped in the sorting challenge.

Tiptoeing didn’t help; I can still trace his footsteps in the dust left by a carpenter who promises to have our toilet back in place no later than Tuesday. In the meantime, we’re “camping out” in the guest room downstairs

I think Tony summed it up well as he tries to defend the “hang on to everything” mood he seems to be in.  He says it’s because he hasn’t seen some of this stuff for more than 40 years.  And the things themselves are often chock full of history, like the surprise discovery of his grandmother’s diary from 1915.

“Listen to this,” he reads, while I’m teetering on a ladder trying to hang a picture. “She must have been about 16 or 17, but most of the entries for the whole summer read the same: “Broke ground all day.”

On top of that, the teenager had a job cooking for the farmhands who always seemed to be around. Each day, she carefully itemized all the meals she had prepared (on a wood stove, no doubt). I hope she got paid something for her work!

It gives us pause to wonder about our materialistic and entitled lifestyles…….

We found a bottle of wine buried deep in one box, and can’t imagine how it got there.  It IS from Australia and it IS very very old.  What to do?  Kylie, my daughter-in-love suggests that if we open it we’ll find that it’s either VERY bad or else very good.  Maybe we’ll just leave it for the next generation to wonder.

They say that when they sorted thru Mother Theresa’s things, they found a couple of shoeboxes holding prayer journals……..nothing else.

All of this falderal about getting our ’stuff’ unpacked and organized has so consumed us that we forgot to go watch the grandson play tennis on Monday (negative points for Grandma). We DID manage to host our first Bible Study here at the house and everyone could find a chair, so that’s a start…….still I wonder.

What did Jesus say?  The foxes have holes and the birds have nests……….

I pray for the day when all this earthly junk is ‘dealt with’ and I can get back to being a normal human.  We were reminded in Bible Study, from Philippians 2:13 that we were made for HIS pleasure, and not our own.

I pray that I can get my eyes off my stuff and back on Him soon!

In the meantime, pass the box cutter….

Marsha

True Grit

Micahs Dedication, May 15, 2016

This morning I brushed my teeth with a little extra pumice due to the layer of sheetrock dust that has now settled over the entire house. Renovations are moving ahead, though, and the grit I still feel on my teeth got me to thinking about the book I’m trying to read in my spare minutes.

In a few weeks, we’re hoping to join a “convoy” of cars, pickups and caravans of church friends determined to haul a huge load of clothing, Bibles, this, that, and the other to some aboriginal churches way up in the northern territories. As a way of preparing, I thought I should read up on the famous Bourke and Wills expedition that followed the same route we plan to take. The year was 1860, and they eventually succeeded in becoming the first Europeans to cross the great interior of Australia.

I hope our trip will not be as perilous as theirs.  One of the first such attempts started out with 7 men,(a man named Leichhardt leading) 50 bullocks 270 goats 7 horses and tons of supplies. They ventured far enough north to never be seen or heard of again, their story remaining a mystery even today.  The Bourke and Wills trip was almost as bad. They too started out with tons of supplies, 23 horses and 24 camels. By the time they returned, they were down to 3 men and 1 camel. They had eaten everything from dead livestock to the soles of their shoes and were still starving, exacerbated by scurvy and beri-beri, as if they had been lost at sea.

Several weeks into the journey 23 of the camels had been unburdened one evening after a long day’s haul. Apparently, they took a quick consensus and decided that this was no fun. By morning most of them were gone, never to be found.  Further down the trail, which was getting more hopeless by the minute, they had to leave one big bull camel, Golah, bogged in a river bed because no one could get him out.  When they returned 3 months later, with only 2 men, they found Golah, totally emaciated, pacing up and down the river bank, still looking for them.  A happy reunion ensued but the poor thing was debilitated, they had to leave him behind yet again. Presumably he died shortly after…….or maybe not, judging from the fact that at last count there are about 600,000 to a million feral camels ranging around the outback, most of whom have never seen a human. To this day, they represent the largest ‘herd’ of such beasts on the planet.

But what I really want to talk about today is ‘The Journey’.

We got to attend our first baby dedication of our grandchild today!  We were overseas for the first two, so we felt especially blessed to be here.

Then, while we were all thinking about the great future of little Micah, we heard a inspiring sermon.  The preacher started out with James 1:2, which I’m sure you all know well:  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness”.

He went on to say that when we become Christians, many of us may think that we’ve “arrived”. Then when we realize that the journey continues, we get discouraged. I remember my dismay when I heard my 93 yr old grandmother saying that sometimes she got discouraged about how she was ‘turning out’……….

Our whole lives are a journey.  Nearly all of Tony’s books reflect that theme, with titles like The Road Rising, Leaving the Trail, On the Road With John, and Looking for a Lamb. The preacher this morning went on to say that, “Grace is not found in the achievement; it’s found in the journey.”

As I already mentioned, we’re in the middle of a long list of ‘little’ renovations that will hopefully pave the way for some “bigger” (read “professional”) jobs that hopefully will result in a bigger, friendlier place in which to spend our sunset years. But I’ll have to say that I’m beginning to long for the ‘achievement’ and wishing for some grace in the journey.  I’m not complaining that I have dirt in my toothbrush, I just told Tony that I feel like I’m camping!  We still don’t see the goal, and may not for some time, but I have to remember the ‘journey’ is the fun part too.

Some of us have had very trying weeks.  I think I can say some of your situations seem inexplicable and even painful……….some of you are suffering in ways that we just can’t comprehend.  Please know that we will be praying for you to have that ability to imagine this is just part of the journey to the goal.

Someone posted on Facebook, “Remember, even the worst day you’ve ever had…..you survived.”  Isn’t that true.

May we all have grace, and maybe whiter teeth with all the dust!

Keep on Truckin,

Marsha

Russian Barbecue

Good morning all,

Happy Mothers Day all you Americans, Japanese and Aussies! Here in Australia, it’s a big deal and I was delighted to have my daughters organize a nice family lunch.  I felt very pampered and came out with a candle and a mug and of course lots of flowers and chocolates, so I should be good for awhile.  Funny how you never stop ‘mothering’ even when you try, but then your kids mature and step up to honor you!

Another thing that was interesting this last week was getting an invite to have a barbecue with some dear Japanese friends here at our church.  They are Itomi, who everyone calls “Lily” even though she herself can’t pronounce it, and refers to herself as ‘Riri’, and Tsutomu, whom everyone with a non-Asian tongue calls “Tom”.  They had just retired to Australia some years ago when Itomi immediately believed and Tony baptized her.  Tom is still ‘thinking’ but he’s more versed in the Bible (which at last count he’s read thru 3 times) than anyone else and they never miss a beat with church activities. Now they have been in Australia about 8 years and Lily’s English is still almost non-existent.  Tom manages to answer the phone.

So……it seems that they were at the park one day a few weeks ago and a mother and small child were in the bathroom with Itomi (Lily).  The mother spoke Japanese to the little girl, so Lily perked up and asked the mother (in Japanese) what was going on.

It seems that this RUSSIAN family of four has been living in Japan for several years.  They live in the remote city of Niigata (on the Sea of Japan more or less directly across from Vladivostok, Russia. They were in the Gold Coast here just having a break from the notorious winter of that side of Japan.  The mother speaks plausible Japanese and the father nothing but Russian, as most of his work in online with a company in Russia.  The little girl has been speaking fluent Japanese from the age of three. It took me back to our little Nicki who came from Russia speaking only Russian at that age and then changing like a chameleon to Japanese with almost no effort. The couple’s 11-month-old little “Anastasia” gave us a universal baby smile and seemed to understand the Japanese flying around her.

NO ONE SPOKE ENGLISH.  We had a lovely afternoon, but it must have looked rather curious to see such a mix of Caucasians and Asians whooping it up in sign language (for the Russian dad), American and Russian accented Japanese and only two “real” native Japanese speakers in the lot.

But the most memorable thing was how It made our hearts proud to see Tom and Lily sharing their faith with these folks.  Sure enough, the folks are Russian Orthodox and they shared a bit about that, but I didn’t feel that they were believers, more likely just ‘vaccinated’ with the nation’s state religion.  BUT they were young enough to have missed the Russian communist atheism, and seemed interested in what we had to say about a living faith.

We left with hugs and promises to keep in touch.  I have a feeling Tom and Lily will.

Baby Steps.  Tony’s in the process now of training a few Japanese leaders to stretch themselves and reach out to the lost. And yet here was this precious Japanese retired couple with a faith about as basic as you can get, sharing it with new friends so naturally even though they had only recently met in the park.

Today’s message at church was a call to be united in our efforts to reach the lost.  The congregation honored a couple who had spent 25 years of their lives translating the New Testament for a tribe made up of only100 people, living deep in the jungles of Papua New Guniea………..Why? Because they believed that God loved these people. Now the tribe has grown to over 700, and they just made a decision to translate the Old Testament! They won’t have the benefit of this or any other missionary helpers, but they are determined, and shored up with the certainty that God will provide what they need. Why? because now they know that God loves them.

Pray for them, will you? And for all those who need to FEEL God’s love and watch care, especially on this day when we honor those who best typify it in the world today: our mothers!

Marsha (One feeling-blessed momma)

And oh yes, we continue to dig thru boxes as we move in.  Hopefully the end is in sight?

Treasures

Hi there,

Marsha reporting in from under a pile of boxes somewhere in the deep reaches of our new (to us) house!

Today Tony preached twice on the wisdom that only God can give.  I had to think to myself, “Wisdom is what we most need at this moment”, not because of any earth shattering decisions but rather all those little ones we face as we pick thru mountains of possessions.

He also boasted to anyone who would listen that, “We’ve never had ‘all of our earthly belongings in one place since we packed 24 boxes in his folks’ garage and tore off to missions in Africa……..in 1973!”

I do remember coming home two years later, pregnant with our first child and looking at those 24 boxes and saying to myself, ‘what were we thinking?’ Finally 33 years later, and a total of 47 moves within eight different countries, ALL of our stuff has finally spiraled into one place, here in Australia.

Yesterday two professional movers, along with family and friends unloaded about 5 times as much as those original 24 boxes into our now tiny house and we went to bed with comments that centered around the same theme: “What ARE we thinking?”

So now the great cull begins.  We’d like to believe that we are nothing more than victims of the profession to which we’ve been called, living in lots of different settings complete with unique needs associated with each. But truth be known, maybe we’re actually just a bit greedy.  Somehow it pains us to let go of a child’s favorite cup or that really comfortable pair of jeans, even though now I can only get one leg in them…….. Meanwhile Tony’s on the verge of tears when he thinks of parting with the hat that helped defined his manhood when he took on a water moccasin single-handedly and sewed its skin to the hat brim. I mean … c’mon!

So we’d like you to pray that we can be ruthless as we decide this week what is really important to the care and keeping of this house. What ‘treasures’ should be held precious for the sake of future generations and which ones should be thrown away and forgotten?

Who can forget Jesus’ famous words, “Store not up for yourselves treasures where moss and rust corrupts, but store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20)?

Have a great week.  Maybe someday we can see the walls and send some pictures. If you do happen to be in the area, drop by. There should be some really great stuff going to the trash!

Marsha

A Biscuit to Remember

Good morning all,

Today as you’re reading this, Australia is celebrating a three-day weekend commemorating ANZAC day.

You see, in 1915 the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp joined forces and went by the name of “ANZAC”. During WWI, they served together on several fronts, but the most remembered has to be the shared ordeal on the tiny peninsula of Gallipoli, near the famous city of Troy in Turkey. Pinned down and eventually forced to withdraw, Aussies and Kiwis were engaged in fierce battle from April 1915 until January, 1916. More than11,000 Anzac soldiers, all volunteers, died and another 23,500 were injured.  But their memory lives on, and the slogan for the event remains today as “Never Forget”.

Just a few years ago, I believe the last surviving ANZAC soldier died, but today in church, we all stood and faced the ‘setting sun’ to the west while the bugle (or in our case a church member who plays the bagpipes) played.  On our Monday, there’ll be parades, countless dawn services with more bugles blown and prayers said. Churches throughout the nation host family-friendly events in local parks and community centres.

I had to think to myself, there are many times throughout the Old Testament that God told us to “Never Forget” this or that, like when He wanted the Israelites to remember that first time they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, or how about when Queen Esther saved the nation with her bravery, earning herself a holiday called to this day, called “Purim”?  In the New Testament we also never want to forget Gethsemane, (I think there was even a song written to that theme) or anything else that Christ did for us……..

Because it’s the end of summer here, ANZAC day mirrors what we refer to in America as Labor Day, sort of the last hurrah before the dreaded winter sets in.

We’ll have temperatures down into the teens this winter, but of course that’s Centigrade where “0” is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  So seven degrees here translates to about 44. Hardly a winter, but I imagine we’ll still rub our hands and say we can feel the cold!

Oh wait! Not to worry, we have a little wood burning stove tucked into a corner of our NEW HOUSE!  Yes, we finally moved in!! We can’t even believe it ourselves, but we’re finally here!  I’m hoping that I can tack this address on our list of 45+ places we’ve lived and then say, “DONE”!

As I’m writing this (on my lap in the only chair we have), Tony’s happily setting up his all important office.  The other piece of furniture we have is our very own bed! Other than that and a few other things (4 forks) secreted over from our garage where we stored everything 8 years ago, we’re just living in the ‘bare’ and loving it!

Australians have a saying that to be settled ‘all you really need is a bed, an esky (ice chest) and a barbie (BBQ).  They may be right but all of that will end on Thursday when the truck backs up and the fun begins.

So that you’ll have energy to pray for us as we move in……….I’ll leave you with a recipe for the famous “Anzac Biscuits” that we’ll be eating tomorrow.  Years ago, when we and our other Australian missionary friends were evacuated from Tokyo to avoid the nuclear fallout after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, we stayed with some lovely friends for a week and made these cookies.  She loved them and later referred to them as “Zantac” biscuits!  I can guarantee you won’t need any Zantac, but you might need to go to the gym!  Apparently the recipe was made up by Aussie mothers so that the cookies could arrive intact after the 2+ month sea journey from Australia to their fighting boys.  They have NOTHING that will spoil in them (no eggs, milk, etc). Just good eating!

Enjoy

1 cup (150g) plain flour

1 cup (90g) rolled oats

1 cup (85g) desiccated coconut (American coconut is fine)

3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar

125g butter (I think that’s a half cup?)

2 tablespoons golden syrup (Unless you have an import store, you can substitute dark corn syrup or even honey, but they’ll be stickier if you use honey)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

2 tablespoons water


Step One

Preheat the oven to 160°C or 140C fan-forced (350 degrees F). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and brown sugar.

Step Two

Put the butter, golden syrup and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan.    Stir over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.

Step Three

Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Step Four

Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on the trays, about 5cm apart.

Step Five

Press with a fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Step Six

Set aside on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack so it cools completely. Be sure to store airtight.

We’ll be praying that you have a good week,

Marsha