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

Snakes in the Attic

Good Morning.

As most of you know, we immigrated to Australia about 18 years ago (while keeping our American citizenship as well). I can’t believe it’s been that long, but then we haven’t really lived in Australia all that time, since for the last 8 years, our missionary work has taken us to Thailand and then back to Japan. But now, at last, we’re “home” … well, at least our Australia home; and we’re loving all the adventures and challenges of settling in.

Well, most of them, anyway. You’ve probably all seen those nature documentaries that outline in gory detail all the things “Down Under” that if given the chance will bite you, sting you or squeeze the life out of you. And I have to say, within a few miles of where I sit, lie the natural habitats of just about every poisonous snake known to man, spiders that are the stuff of nightmares, and at the beach we can enjoy box jellyfish that can kill from just yards away, tiny irukandji jellyfish that like to get up close and personal, and the blue octopus whose sting is painless, but deadly within an hour or so. Our Aussie friends’ reply? “Aw, she’ll be right, Mate! The sharks or the crocs have eaten most of those already!”

But let me assure you that we don’t cower in terror around here, mostly because those things don’t want to be around us any more than we want to be around them. I’m told that the deadly brown snake seen on several occasions in our back yard is just a timid soul, who would never think of biting me, unless of course I offend him. When I point out that if I were to step on him in the dark, he would most assuredly be offended, Aussies just laugh and say, “She’ll be right, Mate!”

I could almost accept that attitude … until we discovered a python in our attic.

Let me clarify.  It’s the house our son Nathan rents from us.  It’s a two-story house with a roof and attic commiserate with something that size.  I have almost never really gone up there since we don’t have storage needs, and besides, it’s hot up there!

However, Nathan was recently installing solar electricity and doing some replacement of the down lights in the living room. You can imagine his SURPRISE when he popped his head up thru the rafters and found himself looking at two eyes, equally startled at seeing him.

A hasty retreat on both parties was affected and we’re happy to say, life goes on.  As I’m sure you remember, Pythons squeeze but seldom bite.

Actually, they (whoever “they” are) say they have pretty good evidence that there is at least one Carpet Python in one of every three attics in Queensland (the semi tropical, humid place we live).

I may have shared with you the story of a church member who was visiting a friend one evening. As they sat around the kitchen table, my friend remarked casually, “You know there’s a snake on your fridge, right?”

“Oh yeah,” the man replied. “That’s Wally. He likes to come down every so often and enjoy the heat from the top of the fridge.”

When Nathan asked if he should call someone to remove the Python in his attic, he was told, “Why would you do that, Mate? Who’s gonna keep the mice down then?”

And so instead of being afraid, Nathan and the family are searching now for an appropriate name for the houseguest. Any suggestions? We’ve all checked to see that there are no obvious entrances to the living space and Nathan won’t be going up there very often. We all hope the snake can go about his ‘business’ without disturbing my grand babies.

I guess I’m saying that in God’s big beautiful world, there are some perceived “dramas’ that just need to be left alone.  We’ve had to deal with our own “personal Python” the last few months, as we’ve struggled to sell one house and buy the one we plan to retire in. If you keep up with the blog, I’m sure you’ve heard just about all you want to hear about it.

I can’t count the times when everything seemed to fall apart, and we felt the all-too-familiar squeeze of worry and frustration coming on. Last week, it got so debilitating that Tony and I decided to get in the car and drive north (something we can do, since we’re retired!). Finding a place in the beach town of Hervey Bay, we committed ourselves to less Facebook, less fretting, more prayer and more quiet time.

That was really working well, until the bank called to say that they now needed our passports and permanent residence visas immediately or else the whole deal might fall apart. After we called them and reminded them we’re CITIZENS and don’t need or have visas, we threw everything into the back of the car and raced home, all the while imagining “scenarios of doom” that began again to slowly choke the life out of us.

Long story short, everything worked out fine, and barring any more unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be moving into our new home next Tuesday. We’re “over the moon” as the Aussies say, thrilled that this ordeal is nearly over.

But even as I brush off the dust and make lists and dream of renovations with Tony, I can’t help but think, how much of my scenarios of doom and “what iffing” never came about? How much easier would my life had been if I had refused to let the python wrap itself around my neck? Jesus said something about that, didn’t He? “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26)

Why indeed. Thank you for bearing with me through all this. I promise to do better. Let’s pray together, shall we? Let’s determine to let go of the real or imagined creepy things in our lives and let God take care of them. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find ourselves with less mice in the attic as a result!

She’ll be right, Mate,

Marsha

Surrounded By Love

Pulling the freshly washed clothes from the dryer today, I was alarmed to find my Fitbit in a pocket.

In case you don’t know, a Fitbit is one of those marvelous electronic gadgets that you clip onto your clothes to measure how much you’re exercising.  Lately mine’s been acting up, ‘forgetting to log my progress’ and never sending me the cheerful ‘weekly updates’ that fuel my competitive nature to do better next week.  As “he” (I should give Mr. Fitbit a name) becomes laconic, so do I, and I guess instead of clipping him on my waistband as I usually do, he was thrown in a pocket and forgotten.

As I teased him out of my freshly dried pocket, he was so hot I could barely hold him, and I was thinking, “another gadget bound for the trash. But as I turned him over to look at the view screen, I read the LED message, “Need a Hug?”  I had to laugh at his indefatigable cheer.

Further investigation revealed that during his workout in the dryer, he logged 2.35 miles and 57 flights of stairs.  Maybe after that the question he gave me was a suggestion for his own needs.

…..So that’s sorta how our week has gone. I remember my grandmother saying she felt like she’d been ‘drug thru the wringer’.

Last week I told you I am a chicken.  Now I know why.

While we conscientiously did everything required to the best of our knowledge to purchase this house, calling the bank and the lawyer uncountable times, we continuously received no response……finally Friday afternoon at 4:30 we were told that WE had not proffered the correct paperwork and we would have to extend the settlement date of our purchase for a  ”week or two”.

Keep in mind that we are totally innocent, and have the email backups to prove it, but the bottom line is ‘we ain’t moving soon’.

In Australia they have a phrase called “Spitting the dummy” (dummy” being the common word for a baby’s pacifier).  If any of you have had babies who have used pacifiers, you know what they’re talking about, and well, that’s what we did.

Since we’ve been burdening our friends’ hospitality for the last week and maybe will be back to haunt them again, we extricated ourselves from any and all immediate responsibilities and got in the car and took that road trip we’ve been talking about ever since we arrived here 5 months ago.

Today as I write this, we’re in the little town of Hervey Bay, a personal favorite of ours.  The locals pronounce it “Harvey Bay”, and it’s a lovely northern beach enclave here in Queensland, more tropical and beautiful that even where we live.  Summer holidays are almost over so we’re going to enjoy some down time as summer wanes and temperatures are a bit cooler.

We remind ourselves that no matter how frustrated we are, no matter whose fault it is, it’s not the end of the world. Nothing is really hanging fire, Tony’s doctoral studies are at a lull as we wait for the next approval to come through, our kids and friends are all doing fine, etc.   Hopefully we can show Christ’s mercy and not vengeance that we’ve been put out and thank GOD that we can afford a tank of gas and the time to just get away!

And then, just as a verification of God’s love, we visited the little “Hervey Bay Baptist Church” that we’ve seen from a distance on other trips.  We weren’t expecting much; after all it’s a small town.

People were nice, the pastor preached a good sermon, even causing me to underline a couple of spots in my Bible.

Then the clincher came.  Unbeknownst to them, whoever picked this particular song gave God the ability to send a message straight to my heart.

The song was that old favorite of the 90’s “The Power of His Love”.

In a heartbeat I remembered 20 years ago, driving somewhere in Japan and me bawling out blurry tears as I listened to those words ……… “Hold me close, let your love surround me”…..

You see about 20 years ago we were facing another life changing event, moving lock stock and barrel to Australia.  We had two children whose lives would be changed forever, as would we. If my son could have left the family he would have at that point, feeling his life at 17 was ruined.   I knew as the time to depart grew near, there was no going back and nothing I could do would prepare us.  All we could do was depend on the “Power of His Love”…..

Of course within months, we all knew that we’d been led to the right place and time.  Our kids are now happily married to Aussies, we’ve made lifelong friends and seen God at work over and over.

And so now…. I know you’ve listened to me go on and on for the last year, and for that I’m sorry.

This last week just about ‘did us in’ but it’s my fault for forgetting to remember that over and over God has been there to shelter us in His wings……..

Please do pray for the lawyers, bankers, sellers and buyers to somehow come to the same page tomorrow……or, as I said above, for us to show grace and style while we wait!

Happy trails, Marsha

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Well, those of you who know me may know that I’m a bit of a chicken.

I’ve never skydived.  Never bungee jumped.  I remember about 15 years ago hanging by my hands for a very long before I squeezed my eyes shut and let myself fall about 30 feet into a pile of foam at a science museum.  I’ll have to say that once I let go, it was magic, but…..

I’m a chicken.

So……..you’ll be happy to know we took a HUGE leap this last week and sold the ‘big house’ that we bought over a year ago while we were still in Japan.

You may remember how we deliberated over buying this huge display home, throwing out fleeces to God willy nilly and looking for every sign that it was the right thing to do. We felt that it was, and enjoyed a year of ridiculous high rent income from the home builders (towards the loan, unfortunately, but still) who continued to use it as a display home.

Then when we arrived home here and looked it at it for the first time, we had a sinking feeling, much like the Beverly Hillbillies may have looked at Los Angeles when they arrived.  It just wasn’t ‘us’.  WAAY too posh, way too many things to worry about keeping up, starting with ‘appearances’?  One friend nailed it when he said “so you don’t want to have to “dress” for breakfast?’

While we give credit to God for directing us to buy it, we began to wonder if He had in mind us being able to profit enough to get ourselves into a better situation for retirement?

So we put it up for sale and after a month of wringing our hands, and ‘scenario-ing’ ourselves into idiocy, we sold it for the right price (we hope), enabling us to move on and take possession of the little place that we bought, winning the bid when the Dutch owner heard that our son’s middle name matched his own. (see recent blog)

So now we’ve done it.

Were praying fervently that the buyer brings the money to the settlement tomorrow,  and then……., hopefully, within a few weeks we can move into our new (to us) house and finally settle. One half of our lifetime junk has been in storage for 8 years and the other half, from Japan, we haven’t laid eyes on for almost a year, so you can understand why we wander around with vacant stares.

Tomorrow we also have to vacate paradise here at the furnished apartment that we’ve been living for the last 4+ months.  Tony and I had a last swim this morning.  Alas…..now we’re scrabbling around frantically cleaning high and low hoping to get our bond back……reminds us of college days!

I guess the theme recently is our knowing that God is Faithful.

Sorry for talking in circles; I’m just a little flustered this week, but the great thing is that God keeps bringing me back to terra firma. This morning at church, we sang that old hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, and it nearly made me cry. So true. In the midst of all the excitement and uncertainty, I was reminded today that God is still here, still loving and guiding, and still very much a part of our lives every day.

With the American election looming, our only hope is God………and now he’s directed us into green pastures, as he always promises, even when we wonder if we’re walking in mud.

Praise God and have a great week!  We’ll keep you in our loop.

Marsha

Ode to a Pole

He Is Risen!

As I write this we’ve just gotten home after a 4 service day, beginning with a sunrise service on the beach, followed by 5 baptisms! It doesn’t get any better than this.

The below blog was written a few years ago, so some of you might remember it, but it still says what I feel when I think of the cross and the resurrection.  Hope you have the best Easter ever!

Ode to a Pole

When I was a girl, most of the jokes that were going around in my grade school classrooms involved “Polaks”.  You know the type, “How many Polaks does it take to change a light bulb”……those sorts of jokes. Somehow this was ridiculously funny to a 10 year old.  I’ve found later in life this genre of jokes also masquerades as Aggie jokes, Belgium jokes and even Blonde jokes (Now as a blond, that offends me!). Pretty much anyone who is not in your circle of experience…

Imagine my jaw-dropping surprise when I met my first “Polak”…. who I have later learned are more correctly referred to as “Poles”. It was in 1980.

He came to class in the form of a handsome and composed young priest.  We were newly arrived in Tokyo and Tony and I were about his age but were neither handsome nor composed as we struggled together trying to learn the Japanese language. I don’t remember his name; come to think of it, I probably never heard it, since everyone just referred to him as “Father”.  I don’t know where in Poland he came from but it was apparent that he, like us, had given his life to service and ministry to the Japanese.  We never really spoke, because he and the two nuns who arrived with him spoke almost no English. Believe me, in those early days, our communication in Japanese was relegated to bold sentences like “I like tulips” and “This is a pen!”.

But back to the Poles….

While I continually, from my childhood exposure, expected those three to do something completely zany and without reason (as per the jokes), I began to sense a real ‘presence’ in them. Even though most of us had no common language (the other students had come largely from Europe and South America), there was a level of communication as we sat in small classrooms day after day and struggled with what a Catholic priest back in the 1600s by the name of Francis Xavier had aptly called, “The Devil’s language!”  Anyway, after all this struggle, you pretty well KNEW which of those priests and nuns had a personal relationship with OUR LORD and Savior Jesus Christ and who were just there maybe for the status or possibly the dream of a better world thru the social gospel …….

Finally it was Easter, and the Poles came through.  When we arrived at school that Monday after Easter, the nuns ran to us and then after us, shaking a bottle of perfume on us and shouting gleefully “Ee’s ALIVE!!” with much shouting and ensuing hilarity!  They couldn’t really ‘explain’ what they were doing, but some of the teachers commented that the Poles did this every year to celebrate the fragrance of new life in Christ through His resurrection.

Later that day, after things had settled down and we were having our morning break, the quiet handsome priest spoke a simple one-line sentence. I don’t know what prompted him, but I have never forgotten it.

“All God wants from us is for us to come back to Him”.

Later I learned a Japanese word, “O- mukae”.  This is the verb which most closely means the “coming/going to collect someone”.  I didn’t understand it until I saw the relief and joy in my children’s faces when I came to “O-mukae” them from their day at Japanese preschool. It’s not to say they hadn’t had a great day at school but just being able to finally let go and rush into the arms of the one who loves them the most……..to be safe and secure and being going home to relax in the security of home……This is a look that says it all.

This Easter, Jesus comes down from the cross to “O-mukai” us.  He’s come for us……..all we have to do is raise our little puny arms, relax and like the priest suggested, “come back to Him”

Enjoy the day,

Marsha

Baptism

Sunrise on the Beach

Gone But Not Lost

Good morning,

As you read this, many of you will be leaving for your Palm Sunday service.

Palm Sunday represents Jesus’ “triumphal” entrance into Jerusalem heralding what would become known to the world as “Holy Week”. Little did anyone know that the ‘triumph’ they expected would play out just a bit differently than they expected.  Jesus knew what the real triumph would be, but His disciples still just couldn’t get it.

For the last 50 days (7+weeks) we have been closely following the saga of a heart surgery gone wrong in the life of a 15 yr old son of two of our friends.

Harrison was a miracle to begin with.  He was not expected because his parents couldn’t conceive.  Then he was born a month early missing something important in his heart in a country that wasn’t his own.  We were working with his mom and dad during the 2000 Sydney Olympics; dad headed up all the evangelistic outreach there, and did such a fine job, he ended up taking on the responsibility again and again in the years to follow

Because Harrison could not sustain life without major surgery, in just 3 days, a permanent resident visa for Australia was miraculously obtained which enabled government coverage for the $80,000 surgery to happen. Thus is something which usually takes 2 years or more, so we all rejoiced at God’s providence.

Everything went smoothly for 15 years, including 2 more surgeries to replace the replacements as Harrison grew.  Finally at age 15, it was determined that one more repair job would set him for adult life.

That was mid January.

The surgery seemed to go well, but then things started going wrong. One thing and then another malfunctioned, and the decision was made to put him into a coma to protect his body as the doctors started to work. Thanks to Facebook, the whole world was able to pray thru each ‘drama’ as every organ had its own issues. Each morning, I would begin my day checking for the latest post, then check again several times during the day

This morning (our Sunday) the report came in and it looked good. The heart was basically working well and now the lungs were responding………but there was some concern about a tiny brain bleed.  By now we were so confident that we hardly gave it more than a brief prayer and went on to church.

At noon, the post read simply, “Harrison is with the Lord”.

Everything within me was screaming WHY!!!!

I made it thru the rest of the service and then we relocated as we often do these days to Japanese church.  I was feeling sad but thought I was handling it OK

Then the songs began.  First, “Blessed be the Name” talking about ‘every blessing He pours out I’ll turn back to praise”……….well, I struggled a little, because of the situation, and then the familiar refrain, “He gives and takes away, and still my heart will choose to say, blessed be the name of the Lord”.

Uhm, this is getting harder, but I soldiered on to the next song.  Wouldn’t you know from somewhere they resurrected that OLD chorus, “Our God is and Awesome God”!

I pride myself for my ability to stay cool and never display emotion but I just couldn’t sing…..

You see, about 24 years ago, we sang that very song at OUR SON’S Funeral!”

Fortunately I held it together till the sermon began and I was able to tune out and into myself (tell me you’ve never done that) and think.

WHY did we play that song at Trevor’s funeral? Apart from the fact that 20+ years ago it was fairly popular and one of Trevor’s favorites……….I think even in our perishing grief we knew in our heart of hearts somewhere that the words ARE true.  God is an awesome God.

Again, I had to remember God’s words in Isaiah 55:8, “My ways are not your ways”.  It’s taken me a long time to begin to realize that truth.

As the tune opened the floodgates of memory, I remembered that at the time, I felt that God had forsaken me. Then I realized that I was feeling that again today, after all, we prayed so hard……… these are GOOD people, leaders in the Christian world…… Why God? Why?

And then I remembered that this is Easter week.  2000+ years ago, Palm Sunday made everybody think they were going to get their way and have what they wanted, a king……. but they hadn’t realized yet that in the end, God is Sovereign.

How must God have felt to see his own Son going for a gruesome and unmerited death?  But He knew the plan………..for His Son and for our sons.

A lot of people still say about us “Oh they lost their son to cancer”.  I always correct them with “He is not Lost”; he’s just separated from us for a little while.

Trevor’s gone.  Now Harrison is gone.  But we want to remember that our Savior also ‘lost his earthly life’ this week so that we all could be reunited according to God’s purpose someday.

Please pray for this family.

Love ya,

Marsha