Love Locks

This is the last Sunday in February, Valentine’s Day is behind us, but I just wanted to say something about LUV……..

I’ve been thinking lately about “Love Locks”.  You know, that thing couples do now instead of carving their initials in a tree since they’re probably all about the environment and don’t carry pocket knives much anymore. In order to make a lasting pledge to each other, these days young folks fasten a padlock with their initials on it to some permanent structure, like a bridge. The most famous would have to be “Pont Neuf” in the City of Lights and Love, Paris.  Years ago, Tony and I left one there, as well as one for each of the kids and their spouses, hoping that some day they could come and acknowledge them and perhaps relocate them with the keys we gave them.

But alas, the City of Paris beat us to it. In 2015, about 3 years after we were there, the bridge authorities estimated the total accumulated weight of the locks came to about 45 tons… way too much for the oldest bridge in Paris, which dates back to the early 1600’s. The trucks and the hacksaws backed up and our ‘luv’ was gone……

Sigh. However, it seems that the lovers haven’t given up, with evidence of new “Love Lock Places” sprouting up all over the city.  I’m thinking maybe they should consider something a little more substantial than a bridge next time, although Pont Neuf is filling up…..again.

A few months ago, we were talking about this with a friend, and he mentioned that a few ‘love locks’ had started appearing on the back fence of our church!  My eyes welled up with the sweet thought of young lovers, seeking some sort of verification of their love at, of all places in this highly secular land we live in, a church!

I raced out to see them, but alas, my friend, who is also a pragmatist, hung his head and when questioned, admitted to cutting them off.  “We don’t want that kind of thing to get out of hand”, he mumbled.

Yeah, that was sad, but understandable, I suppose. But then the conversation turned to other examples of young couples in love, and I remembered a story that is truly nothing BUT sad.

Many years ago in Japan, actually right after we’d arrived…….…… two promising intelligent university students had fallen deeply in love.  They had hoped to be married, but knew there would be a problem. Apparently the girl was of Royal blood and the boy was just a commoner.  At the time (1970’s), about 80% of all marriages in Japan were carefully arranged by parents using professional matchmakers. The figure today is still around 50%, by the way.

Finally the couple, after waiting for years and coming to no resolution, vowed to just run away and consummate their love anyway.  They rented a room in a Japanese inn about 2 hours from Tokyo, deep in the mountains and far away from prying eyes.

Ironically, or maybe Providentially, we have our Baptist camp nearby, Amagi Sanso.  You might want to google it to get an idea of what a beautiful landscape it’s set in.

After the couple arrived at the inn, they realized that anything physical would just trivialize their love, so reluctantly they decided that if they couldn’t be together in life, they would at least die together.  They bought the drugs and went for one last walk together.

Happening upon our camp, they noticed a small spring at the entrance.  Years ago someone had built rocks around it and attached a cup for travelers to have a drink of the pure water.  On a stone nearby, the verse was carved, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14).

That night, before they went to sleep forever, the girl wrote in her diary about the spring they had found, and how they had stood for a long time, just wondering about it.  “What could it have meant, spring of water to eternal life?” she wrote.

Remembering that story made me wish I had another life to give to the Japanese. Whether it’s the back fence of the church or the fountain in front of the camp, people are searching for the truth, reaching always towards an unknown (at least to them) Savior.  I pray that people will be called who can keep telling them the mystery of the cross and I hope even more the Lord will keep sending you and me out for the harvest.

Romans 10:14,  “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?”

Have a good Week! Marsha

Bittersweet

Over the years as I’ve tried to plan out the rest of my life, I don’t think I ever pictured myself sitting flat in the gutter in our local tourist night spot. But there I was,  sitting beside our grandson while he held his head between his knees.

It all started with a birthday promise.

When Isaac turned 7 a few weeks ago, we gave him a necktie (and found out that what he really wanted a whole grown up suit). Along with the tie was a promise that, having now reached the age of perfection, he would be given the treat of a night out to a fancy sit down restaurant.  We were all excited.

Well, this part of Australia is currently in the middle of a newsworthy heat wave, so the necktie didn’t happen on either of the men, but we were all dressed ‘smart’ and were in pretty high spirits as we pulled out from his house.

Now for some time, our family slogan has been, “Make Good Choices”.  I think it came from the old movie, “Freaky Friday”, but it’s served us well as our kids have come through the tumultuous pre-teen, teenage, and are now within sight of their middle-aged years. We can say with a certain amount of pride, an extra dose of humility and a full cup of gratitude to God that our kids have turned out even better than we might have expected.

But alas, this ‘choice’ thing may have been where the whole plot last week began to digress.

There are very few ‘family friendly’ restaurants in Australia, apart from the fast food chains.  We wanted somewhere where he could order off a menu and sit politely till the food arrived. Believe me, given Isaac’s high energy level, we felt that this would be an ambitious goal to achieve.

We got suggestions from friends, searched the internet, and finally decided that a tram ride into the heart of Surfers Paradise to a place called “Pancakes in Paradise” would be just the ticket for all three of us.

Arriving in Surfers, we parked the car in a shady lane and strolled with grace and style to the tram.  Riding two stops we alighted into the hub of tinsel town (imagine Honolulu’s Waikiki district) and, gaping up at the 80 story buildings festooned with neon lights, we entered the restaurant.

If you don’t count the first choice of a pancake restaurant, the second choice of “menu” may have been when things began to cascade.

After carefully, and quite maturely I thought, perusing the menu, Isaac moved away from the ‘Death by Chocolate’ choice and announced that he’d have the short stack. He read his selection out carefully to the attentive waitress, who then asked if he wanted powdered sugar, butter, ice cream OR whipped cream. Beaming from ear to ear, he answered, “Yes!”. My heart swelled to see the little bit of American in him coming out.

Tony wanted the ribs, but a withering look from me convinced him otherwise. Thru secret hand signals, raised eyebrows and  whispered Japanese, I reminded him that we might want to hold off on the expensive choice, just in case our 7-year-old charge got out of hand, forcing us to leave the restaurant prematurely.  He nodded with a sigh and settled for a hamburger.  Of course for myself, being both cheap and not too hungry, I opted to get what Isaac got.

We sipped our included ‘soft drink’ options while we waited.  I had wanted coffee, but of course that wasn’t included, so I settled for diet coke while Isaac opted for the real deal. What is that, 12 Tablespoons of Sugar?

When our meals came, we held hands and prayed earnestly and then loaded on the syrup even though they offered only one kind. What kind of ‘pancake house’ was this anyway?

Everything went well.

Then we exited the restaurant, with maybe just a bit of enhanced exuberance on Isaac’s part, we all leaped and skipped along the sidewalk, dashing here and there looking for a suitable souvenir for his little brothers, who had been left behind, not having met the “7-year-old” requirement.

Even Isaac had the discernment to know that his brothers probably had no use for clip-on Koalas or a t-shirt that said  “……and all I got was this t-shirt”.

Then we found what was possibly choice # 3:  a Candy Store!

After much deliberation he settled on a ‘Violet Crumble”.  A big one.

For you northerners, a Violet Crumble is honeycomb (aerated corn syrup?),  maybe an English or Australian invention, really yummy.  Of course it’s covered in a thick layer of chocolate.  Isaac graciously offered me a bite…and I took a BIG one.

By now, with the sugar high in full swing, we started walking back to the tram. Too late I began to see what was happening and kindly suggested that Isaac give me the rest of the candy bar for “safe keeping”.

It’s just that I was starting to get a disturbing mental image of Parental Wrath when we delivered the spinning top back home.

But boy was I wrong.

Like a spring gradually winding down, Isaac slowed his pace, came to a complete stop, then slumped to the sidewalk. I think the music even stopped.

“Quick! Get up silly! What’s wrong?” I cajoled.

One look into his glazed eyes told the tale……….SUGAR!

I ducked into a nearby convenience store and bought a bottle of water, and asked for a bag….. just thinking ahead.

No sir. He drank some water, but would not be budged from the middle of the sidewalk!  We drug him to one side and positioned him against a planter.  Resting a few minutes he started to rally, but then after only a few steps slumped down again.  Tony tried carrying him piggy back, but when both of us starting talking about the consequences of him throwing up down the back of Tony’s shirt, he got quickly dropped back onto the sidewalk.

Finally it was decided that Tony would walk ahead to the tram to get the car and bring it around.  It would take at least 30 minutes, but Isaac agreed it was the best plan.

While we waited, I had time to tell him a tale of my own youth when I found a box of chocolates hidden in my sister’s closet.  I was pretty sure she wouldn’t mind as I furtively yet gleefully ate thru the entire box.

I never had the chance to know how she would react, largely because I never told her. I did learn a valuable lesson, and while I didn’t experience the nausea that Isaac was feeling, I got the thrill of experiencing what later would be referred to by many as “The Missionary Two-step”!  Wow, unforgettable…..

Failing to see the humor in my well-learned lesson, Isaac continued to groan, “Mae (my grandma name), WHY did you let me eat so much sugar?”

I searched my mind for an appropriate answer and found none.

I did try however, to get him to remember how much fun we’d had up to now, all the while repositioning the plastic bag for quick access if necessary.

After about 30 minutes (me in a dress) sitting cross legged on the sidewalk, we got a phone call.

The tram was a relatively new experience for both of us, and somehow Tony had missed his stop and was now miles away from the goal.

I held the phone to my chest and asked Isaac, “Mate, can you walk to the tram now?  Gigi’s (Tony’s Japanese ‘grandpa name’), made a mistake and can’t bring the car for another hour”.

He nodded weakly and I gave Tony the instructions to meet us at the car.

Helping him up to a standing position, we both wobbled forward.  Remember I’d had exactly the same menu and wasn’t feeling too hot myself.  We caught the tram, got off at the right stop and made it to the car.

After a few minutes waiting at the car, Tony joined us and by then Isaac was recovering enough for us to laugh all the way home.

“Mae! Gigi!” he called our from the inky depths of the back seat.  “We had a really good time, but please don’t ever let me make such BAD choices again!”

This led to what we hope was a teaching moment for us all.

Sermonette: It may seem like a good idea at the time. It may be SWEET, but there are consequences.

We got home well after bedtime, and Isaac’s first words to his dad upon arriving were, ”I’m never having sugar again!”

We wondered what he might have been thinking the next morning, but wisely chose to relish in our “Grandparent of the Year” award and stay away awhile.

Memory verse (from Proverbs 18:17): “The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines.”

Refugee Update

The other day we paid a visit to our ‘refugees’ that I’ve been talking about the last 6 months.  Each visit we feel like we’re more blessed than they are.

And this visit was no exception.  We were greeted at the door by wife Shagufta, but there was no one sitting on the bed or laying on the couch!

As we were taking off our shoes and looking around, in walked the sick Dad, Clement!  He was beaming from ear to ear.

We have visited a few times since I blogged about them last November but I still wasn’t prepared for the difference.

“God, He so good to us!” Shagufta bubbled as Clement arranged himself on the couch, wearing his comfortable looking Pakistani shalwar kameez.

It seems that they were able to get a “Bridging Visa” which sorta awards them some privileges as Australian Permanent residents until such time the government can decide if they’re able to let them in permanently.  The Bridging Visa thankfully allows them some medical advantages in the socialized medicine system.  i.e. he can now see the doctors for free, even though he still has to pay for his Chemo, etc. (apparently expensive, I would imagine).

But the best news is that his ‘cancer count’, whatever that means, was initially over 4000 and now it’s down to only 140!  They are dancing for joy.

Clement says he’s feeling better than he has for years.  He was even able to walk to a nearby park where he sat for 2 hours and just enjoyed the fresh air. I think that shows the true effects of ‘cabin fever’ when you’re thankful to sit out in the searing heat.  Then I remember they’ve spent the last several years being unwanted refugees in steamy Bangkok.

Shagufta told us of a case worker who recently asked her gently what she planned to do if her husband died.  To which she shouted back, “I am God’s child!  My plan is nothing but to trust in Him!  People all over the world are praying, I don’t need to plan for the worst.”

We spent a lot of time in Jeremiah 29:11, between smiles and hugs……….

And then this morning Tony preached in the little community church where we go once a month. I heard a song I’d never heard before, probably a camp chorus of some kind.  I thought the words were so apropos.

“Leave it there, Take your burdens to the Lord and leave it there

If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there”

Please continue to pray as Clement and Shagufta continue to trust in God, thanking Him every day for your prayers…………

All the best to all of you,

Marsha

It’s Hot

Well folks, we’re sitting here locked in a heat wave of Biblical proportions. I often chuckle as I walk by my ‘indoor-outdoor” thermometer.  It hasn’t been too hot today, and being Sunday we’ve been indoors a lot for two services, so we’re not miserable.   But as I’m walking by the thermometer tonight, it says, “inside 86 degrees, outside 93 degrees, 70% humidity”.  If you imagine Mid-August in the northern hemisphere, you can relate.

Years ago, we used to play cassette tapes by Garrison Keilor to our kids when they were growing up in Japan.  The stories somehow struck a chord in us, and we so wanted our kids to have some of that same American Heritage to look back on somehow.

I’ll never forget one tape where he talked about the hot Minnesota summers in his fictional town of “Lake Woebegone”.  Garrison was able, thru his story telling, to keep us in stitches as he told about he and his sister throwing rotten tomatoes at each other in the garden, or walking to school buffeted by screaming blizzards, encouraged by the comfort of knowing he had a ‘snow home’ close to the school where a kindly couple would take him in if it was too dangerous to walk back home.  These stories resonated with Tony and me because we had experienced similar things growing up.

Alas, our children today can only regale you with tales of eating weird things like squid for breakfast, and then meeting the challenge of making their way to school by bus and train, all in Japanese. Interesting perhaps, but definitely not an American life.

These last few weeks, I’ve often thought of the elderly couple in Garrison’s story, who took a hot August night skinny dip in the lake. If I remember right, I think their name was Lindefest.   Apparently, because they were Lutherans, they felt it would be morally wrong go to sleep without at least a sheet over them. …….so one night it was so unbearable they took off for the lake…….

Tonight as we’ll lay in our sweat-soaked sheets groaning and rueing the day we moved to this country that loves nature more than conveniences, I’ll think about the Lindfests…….and be glad I’m a Baptist!

Marsha

PS,  You may be looking for a spiritual application to this observation.  I’m afraid all I can come up with is Ecclesiastes 4:11, “… if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” Oh well, not every analogy is perfect!

Takin Care of Business

Good Morning Wonderful Friends,

I really enjoyed the ‘group hug’ I received from lots of you this past week. Honestly, I didn’t realize so many were taking notice of my weekly blabberings! So it looks like I’ll continue sending out something for awhile………..bear with me as I search my riddled brain.

We’ve had a nice day attending two churches, one of which was a special challenge for Tony. Awhile back, he had preached in English for our “home” church at Reedy Creek, and as it turned out, someone from the Japanese church was attending that day and insisted that Tony bring the same message for them, in Japanese. The problem was, this was a special message made specifically with the home folks in mind. To switch it over to Japanese was like renovating a house as opposed to building one from scratch. He did okay, though, and now feels like celebrating!

Speaking of renovations, they’re STILL continuing at our place, having started last October with a plan to finish by Christmas. But there were a couple of minor issues, like a settling foundation, borderline-acceptable electricity hookups, and oh yeah, asbestos in the attic.  I think the end is in sight though, and we’ll soon be ready for house guests again. Y’all come!

So while I’m sitting on the construction site that will someday be my deck overlooking the view of the floodplain below, let me tell you a cute story about my Grandson Isaac.  He started the 2nd grade this week and is, what can I say, almost perfect. (It’s late summer here, remember?  Last Thursday was Australia Day, America’s equivalent to Labor day.)

Anyway, during the long summer break, in the spirit of the three boys getting stuck into doing chores, Isaac was given his list.

As he read thru his new responsibilities, he noticed that one of his jobs would be to bring in the trash bins from the curb every Friday morning.

No problem; it was Friday morning, so he raced out the door and struggled them back into their rightful place by the house …………..they were heavy, and he let his Mom know what a HUGE job it had been, while she nodded distractedly.

About an hour later they heard the garbage truck pass by, picking up and emptying the garbage bins that had been set out on the street the night before. Their bins, however, were safely tucked away nice and neat back where they belong, bursting to the brim with garbage and another week to go before the truck would come again!

Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might!”

Have a good week.

Marsha

Confessions of a Shy Person

Some of you may have been wondering how much longer I’m going to carry on with this weekly post.  I’ve even been asked a time or two when I’m going to stop!

For those who’ve followed me for years, first of all let me say “thanks” and then let me say, that now that we’re settling into retired life, I wonder if I have anything more of any import to say. I’m not sailing the wild seas, handing food to refugees, living thru earthquakes, nothing really much anymore…………and I notice that my posts are getting more and more didactic, and not (as my father in law Buddy used to challenge me) “Exciting!!”

Perhaps now may be the time we must both realize that I’m just an unemployed 66 yr old housewife who’s living day to day just like most of you….

Over the holidays I’ve given this more than a little thought, in between our crazy life of ministry, grandkids, renovations and adjustment to retirement.

And this morning I think I saw my answer.

Reading in Genesis (yes, I’m a little behind in the ‘read thru the Bible’ plan) I happened onto what Joseph, in his famous story, had to say to the Pharaoh.  Now before you get up in arms that I’m comparing myself to a significant Bible Character or even worse, God himself, listen to what it says:

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:15-16)

And so, as I think of quieting down, I realize that I do enjoy looking at things in light of the Christian Life, and occasionally I feel that you might be interested too.

You see, I’m really a shy person.  Yeah, you say, I talk all the time, but that’s with people I know, and those of you who know me will be nodding your heads in agreement that what I say usually is of little import.

Who does gets to see deep into what I’m thinking, are really very few. As I grow older, and tired-er, I’m not so sure I myself even get a chance to think about things that matter…….except occasionally in this blog.

Now you’ll want to remember that Joseph had interpreted the Baker’s and the Wine Steward’s dreams TWO full years before when he was finally given the chance to tackle Pharaoh’s dream, and then only by God’s power.  I wonder if he ever sat languishing there in those two years wondering, “Who am I? I’m just a young foreigner with no job and no prospects.”

Somehow, I don’t think so.

All that’s to say, I’d ask you to treat me like Facebook and assuming you’re still following me at all, you can skim thru what I have to say if you have time, otherwise just scroll past.  I still want to say things, and sometimes, hopefully, it’ll be some thought or observation that God has brought to my mind ……

And the Terms and Conditions of this pact is that you must remember that anything I say to you, I’m really just saying to myself.

Don’t forget, my email address is marsha@mywoods.net and I’d love your comments and insights… good or bad?

Always,

Marsha

Re-evaluating Stranger Danger

About 30 years ago……. (wow, where is the time going?), we were traveling as a family in Australia.

Our family back then was a 5 yr old Nathan and 11 yr old Trevor.  Perfect time to see the wilds of Australia on a round about way ‘home’ from Japan for our time of Stateside Assignment.  I remember telling the travel agent of our need to see the outback and him saying, “Mate, 40 miles outside of Sydney IS the outback!” ha.  We were in for the time of our lives.

After driving, camping, scraping dirt off our teeth and chasing sheep for what seemed forever with my wide-eyed boys, we concluded our huge circle by taking in the sights of the Capital of Australia, Canberra. We learned it was placed on purpose in 1908 exactly equidistant (in the outback naturally) between Sydney and Melbourne, both whom believed they should be granted status as the Capitol.

We boiled into town on a cloud of dust about dusk and started looking for a hotel, only to be told that there was a convention in town and there was only ONE room left in the entire city.

“It’s called the ‘Diplomat’ and it’s considered to be a ‘world class’ hotel” snarled the frayed tourist information officer.

“Well” I countered with a huff.  “I’ve seen a LOT of so called ‘world class hotels’ and I’m going to have to see this one before I cough up $49 (or whatever the exorbitant fee was back then).

She shifted her weight while glaring at me thru slitted eyes and shouted “Next!”

So we took the hotel…sight unseen.

In a few minutes we walked in and were “Gobsmakkered” at how truly first class it was (and still is).   We bathed off the outback and got sufficiently cleaned up in order to suss out the local Baptist church the next day.

The church was an old building (most likely built about the time of the foundation of the city?) and the service was nice.  I’ll never forget seeing a baptism done while the person was tipped backwards in a chair. Talk about Faith!).

Afterwards a couple approached us and asked if we had plans for lunch.  They must have heard our stomachs growling.

And so began a long friendship with Hillas and Rhoda Maclean.

Somewhere in the conversation, we mentioned that we’d spent the night at the Diplomat, and watched as their mouths fell in disbelief.  Then over lunch they mentioned that Hillas was the Head Librarian for the entire Parliament of Australia! It was our turn to be slack jawed in wonder.

We had a lovely lunch, asked countless questions about Australia and even called his brother in New Zealand, where we were headed, to ‘book’ into the guest room at his huge sheep ranch.

Over the years, we popped in and out of Australia to visit, and they always managed to catch up with us somehow, even though Canberra is miles away from Sydney.

Then in 1998 we actually immigrated to Australia. Trevor had left us for heaven by then but Nathan (17) and Nicki (8) were with us, and we were all both excited and yet scared about what we would find.

We moved into our house, and one day found a card in our mailbox. It said, “We will always be your Australian family, don’t ever forget that”,  Hillas, Rhoda and kids.

And we didn’t.

We saw them many times after that; the door was always open, food on the table and a house out in the back yard the we felt they’d organized just for us to stay in!

Time can be cruel however, and a couple of years ago I heard that Rhoda contracted Alzheimer’s. We touched base occasionally but not enough, and as we were grieving our other friend last week, we got news that she too had passed away.

It doesn’t take a lot, except an unselfish heart, to extend yourselves to people.  They did that for us. I can’t write this without tears in my eyes, because they DID that for us, crusty strangers who just wandered into their church. No one knew our hearts or how our paths would unfold, but they ‘took a chance’ on us and invested in the friendship.  It has made us better for the experience.

Think about who you can be ‘family’ for, perhaps even for one like Jesus mentioned, who “…was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me ……… (Matthew 25:35).

Some of you will be reading this before you go to church today. Can you keep an eye out for the ‘stranger’, knowing it might lead to an incredible enrichment of both of your lives?

Tally Ho, Marsha

A Life Well-Lived

Good morning patient friends,

I promised you an explanation for our sudden decision to go to Sydney on Wednesday last week.  It’s about 10 hours drive south of us from the Gold Coast, hence we haven’t been back in the year we’ve been retired. Fortunately this time we flew

If you don’t remember, we came to Australia in 1998 by way of Sydney, working there about 8 years with the Japanese.

But let me tell you why we went.

Years ago, in Sydney, a young man walked into the Japanese church. You could tell by his accented Japanese he wasn’t a native speaker, we thought maybe we detected the sing song lilt in his inflection, characteristic of perhaps a Chinese speaker.  He and his young family began attending.

Soon the story unfolded that he was indeed from Hong Kong, had met his wife in Tokyo, married and thru his work, had been transferred to Australia.

His name was Dany Chan.  As we talked, we mentioned that it was ironic that our very first participant in our youth ministry back in Japan was a guy by the same last name, Chan.  His name was Bob Chan.

The reason, among others, that we never forgot him, even years and years later, was that the word, ‘Chan’ is a term of endearment in Japanese, like “sweety pie”, usually reserved for little girls or close relatives.  We always kidded around with Bob, adding “chan” to his already existing last name “Chan” just to tease him.

Back in Sydney, Dany’s eyes lit up as he exulted, “Oh that’s my brother!”

And so began a wonderful friendship with Dany, Bob’s older brother.

Very soon after meeting Dany, he suggested that Tony would be perfect to help him start a Mandarin speaking church there in Sydney.

“But I don’t speak Mandarin beyond “Hello” “Goodbye” and ‘How much is it?” Tony protested.

“No problems: I’ll translate everything you say”.

Let me remind you, since Dany was from Hong Kong, his native tongue is Cantonese, but his wife that he met in Tokyo, was from Mandarin speaking Taiwan and while sharing the same written language, the two languages use entirely different tones and therefore are not mutually intelligible.

What I’m telling you is that Dany was planning on translating into a language not his own, but of course, Dany never had a problem using this, his second or third language.

And so began several years of Tony preaching, Dany translating, and the church growing.

I have written a few other blogs about the amazing work that went on those years and continues today, and we’re still shaking our heads about how it came to pass.

We moved away from Australia in 2009 and kept up sporadically

And then Dany’s health began to fail in his early 50s.

Even so, he evangelized practically non-stop. Our hearts were bolstered at the funeral to hear about the church and how it’s grown over the years, as well as finding out about his passion for all night volunteer sessions on a suicide hotline, where Dany operated in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and English.

And so continued the funeral, in all four languages.  I can’t remember being so blessed in a long time, just to be reacquainted with a guy who was so sold out to God.  What a saint.

Fortunately Tony was able to share his bit in the funeral mostly in English with just a little bit of Japanese thrown in, leaving the tonal languages to the others!

And then as if our cups hadn’t been filled enough, the Chinese folks that Tony had baptized years ago began to file forward to shake his hand and thank him. Unfortunately, years ago Tony had lost his Bible with all of their names written in, so we had to merely nod and smile, recognizing a face here and there.  Still it was encouraging that they’d been discipled well and were continuing in the faith.

Bob Chan was there as well, for a nice catch up after 38 years! As it turned out, he stayed in the town where we met him, finished his education and now works in the university hospital as a doctor.

And of course the place was filled with the Japanese church people who we DID remember.  This must be what heaven feels like, to see so many old friends.

During one of the eulogies, the verse from Ecclesiastes 7:2 was shared and we all had a good chuckle!

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.”

And I had to think.  We’ve just finished the Christmas season, requisite with all the parties and feasts.  And yet……..Dany’s funeral may have been the highlight of my season, not because he died (as will we all) but because he LIVED!!!

Let’s covenant to make our life, however short (64 years for Dany) count for the kingdom!

Lova ya,

Marsha

Happy New Year from Down Under!

“Akemashite, Omedetou gozaimasu!” as the Japanese say, or loosely translated, “It has opened, Congratulations!”

And indeed it has opened.  2017.  While we had a great day with two services, one in English and another one in Japanese, you were snuggled down sleeping in the deep winter of the Northern Hemisphere (while we sweat down here).

This morning (January 1st) I opened my Bible, following one of those “Through the Bible in a year” guides, and realized that I’ve probably read Genesis about 40 times. Before you’re impressed, you might want to ask me how many times I’ve read Revelation.

Back to the Japanese, they have another saying, “Mikka Bozu” or “Three day Monk”…………It’s a slang expression for the person who makes the commitment to: (fill in the blank, diet, read the Bible, be nice, etc) and then after about 3 days, either gives up or loses interest….

I hope you’ll pray with me that I can stay focused for more than three days as this new year opens up to us.  Life is so wonderful, and we have so much to be thankful for.

God bless you,

Marsha

Stay tuned for next week when I tell you about why we’ll be taking a sudden trip to Sydney.

Choose Your Own Ending

Hello People!

Well, here are, one week before Christmas.

We’re back from our “Honeymoon do over” cruise……what can I say, except to use the Aussie expressions, “magic”!

I did NOT get seasick, I may have got a bit of food poisoning, but that’s because no one stopped me from eating about 5 meals a day! hahaha

But I did hear an interesting story that got me to thinking.

Rather than give you my own “spiritual application”, I’d like to write this like one of those “Pick your own ending” stories that I used to buy for my children. There’s at least two mini-sermons here, so see what you think…

So this guy was sitting on the sundeck with us, basically doing nothing, as seems to be the protocol on these cruises, when somehow we got to talking about the ‘cruise’ life (and how we’re so new to this life skill, we hardly fit in).

The fellow gazed out over the ocean and said, “I remember my first cruise,” then shared his story with us.

It seems that sometime in the late 1950’s, he was a young man just graduated from High School, and with his family, set to sea on a cruise out of Sydney.

Somehow no one had mentioned that a huge typhoon (Hurricane for Americans) was headed their way. Apparently after a day or so of bliss, the storm hit them with a vengeance.

After a couple of days, seasickness was the least of their concerns. The ship’s radio towers as well as several other bits and pieces had been swept away, and they found themselves in the relatively calm waters of the eye of the hurricane. After careful consideration, the captain decided that the only way to avoid further damage would be to remain “in the eye”; so that’s what they did, steering the ship carefully to stay with the storm as it moved slowly across the ocean.

Finally the storm began to give out, and the Captain considered it safe to venture out and head for the nearest port, which happened to be Tasmania.(south of mainland Australia). They arrived exhausted but safe early on a Sunday morning.  No one was expecting them, of course, and being Sunday, the docks were deserted.

Being Aussies, most of the ship’s passengers clambered off and headed for the first pub.  But being the 1950’s, all the stores, including the pubs, were closed on Sundays. So their only option was to wander around town, just glad to be on terra firma.

Walking past a newsstand, the young man saw a paper with the headlines blazing, “900 Feared Dead”  and it gave the name of the ship from which he’d just debarked, now 4 days late at it’s intended destination.

“We’re alive!” he shouted!  and for the next several hours the people went door to door, identifying themselves and asking for food and showers,

Hearing his story an old (aren’t they all?) verse or two from the Bible emerged in my mind.

As so here’s where I offer you my first ‘end of the story choice:

Keep yourselves safe in the ‘eye of the storm’.  What’s that famous Fanny J Crosby song, “He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and shelters me there with His Hand.”

……..as the Captain knew, they’d be safest in the eye………

But then, there’s also the second application:

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel” (loosely translated, Matthew 5:17).

Sure, it may be “safe” hiding in the eye, and I for one would be looking in every direction for calm seas. But another part of me says, “Hey fight those waves! Ride out the storm until you get to safe harbor. There are people out there who need to know you’re alive and well.

Maybe the storms of our lives are meant to be fought. Maybe I need to live boldly in the face of adversity. Face the waves head on and sail ahead to your  “higher calling”. Well, that’s just a small part of me that’s trying to say that, but I think I hear one or two “amens” out there.

So which application did you pick?  Both?  That’s probably the best answer.

Unfortunately, those of you who are going to ‘google’ this interesting story, will have the same problem i had; I just couldn’t find it Maybe because I didn’t catch the year or the name of the boat, or the name of the people who told it for that matter, and with 2000 guests onboard our ship, I never saw them again……alas……..but it did get me thinking.

Our cruise was wonderful, and since as you know, we won it, we felt it was even more wonderful.

We were able to  “hide” in the eye of the boat, (Inside cabin lower decks, what would you expect for free?)  Interestingly enough, God knew it was just what we needed, a completely ’stimulus free environment’. When the lights were out, you didn’t know if it was up or down or day or night, but if you were curious, just flick on the TV camera and see outside the front……we did a LOT of blissful sleeping…….Along with Tony finishing the first draft of his thesis.

But to take the other application, of course, we decided that we would ‘let our light shine’ as well, mentioning at dinner and poolside (as in the above story) that we are Christians.  It was amusing to see the reactions of a table when they knew that Christians were sitting with them! ha. But I’m happy to say everyone rallied and we had some very interesting conversations as a result!

When we arrived home and got off the boat I did suffer a little with withdrawal syndromes, such as me sitting at the table with my hands in my lap wondering when my meal would be served, but all in all we were glad to be back.

And now we’re fully back to normal and in the middle of Christmas! My only complaint is that it’s stinking hot here, but we’re loving that as well,  Caroling, Live Nativity, Looking at Lights, it’s all in shorts and sandals!  What a country!

Tony preaches several times this week, so he’s happy…..I’ll spare you a blog for a week or two because I know you’ll be busy, but am looking forward to the conversation continuing Next Year!!

God Bless us and a Merry Christmas to All!!

Marsha