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

An Unbearable Event

G’day Y’all (How’s that for colliding culture?),

Nothing spiritual today, unless of course you want to stretch the meaning waaay out.

I’m giving you notice that we won’t be sending out a blog next week, and here’s the reason why. I apologize to the many that already know this story; it must have made a big impression on us, maybe because the ‘impression’ didn’t end up on our bodies!

Back in August of 1969……yes, that was almost 48 years ago…….we were on the third day of our honeymoon.

Things were going along well.  We had a whopping $60 to stretch over, well, as long as it would stretch, but I think I remember we had a week off from work and school.  We felt rich but understood of course our budget necessitated us camping, and for free if possible.

Heading into Yellowstone Park, our spirits sank as we found more and more campgrounds filled to the overflow.

……and then we found a secluded one, and wait, what’s this?? EMPTY campsites!!  Some even had smoldering embers, as if some sort of rapture had happened.

“Golly Gee”, we thought (remember we’re 19 and 21), “How lucky can we be?”

Because it was our honeymoon, we set up the tent down a long meandering trail, well away from any other site.  I made dinner over the fire (perfect little wife).

Then the Texan arrived.  He angled his shiny big metal camping caravan into the slot nearest us, even though there were 20 other empty ones! (Texans!)

Soon he sauntered over with a big “Howdy” about the time the ranger arrived.

“I just want to tell you”, the ranger began, “there’s a marauding bear in the area. I’m not closing the campground, but you need to be aware and take precautions.”

While I was looking for the nearest tree to climb, the Texan thrust out his chest, tucked his thumbs in his suspenders, and said, “No Problem!”  and Tony, himself a fellow Texan as well as a guy with an image to protect, thrust out his chest as far as it could go and said in a voice just a little bit too loud, “Yeah! No problem. We’ll be fine.”

All the while both of us were looking at the Texan’s big METAL caravan and comparing it to our little canvas tent, loaned to us by his parents who had no doubt used it on the Great Cattle Drive of ’1876.

As I choked down my hamburger practically standing on the fire and looking suspiciously at every shadow, my husband, whilst chewing, cocked his head and casually spoke those words every new bride wants to hear, “Wanna sleep in the car?”

I could have kissed him on the lips. In fact, I think I did.

So, under cover of darkness, we scurried up the trail and wedged ourselves into his 1964 Falcon convertible. Looking back I wonder why we thought we’d be any safer there.

His last words to me before we fell into an awkward sleep were “I’m so glad you’re with me because if I were with the guys I’d have to be brave!”

Well, the next morning, according to plan, we jumped out early to run to the tent and ‘wake up’ so the Texan wouldn’t notice what ninnies we were.

But where was the tent?  Oh! There it is over there… and over there… and back there. You guessed it, the aforementioned bear had gone INSIDE, apparently dislodged the center tent pole, and the whole thing crashed down on him, motivating him to make several new doors before exiting.

Just as we were taking all this in, the Texan came out and in shocked pitch exclaimed “What Happened to YEW??”

Leaning back on his heels, Tony looked for a piece of straw to chew and said casually, “Oh, we had a bear in the tent”

The Texan sucked in his breath, his eyes popped out a bit, and he asked in a low commiserating tone, “Are YEW alright?”

“Yeah, no problem”……..

And now 48 years later, this tale, shared over the local radio station, won us a “Why I need a second chance at a honeymoon” CRUISE! For the next 9 days, we’ll be braving the high seas out of Brisbane, stopping off at a few islands along the way to allow the locals to try and fleece us. I’ve stocked up on every seasick pill I can find, and Tony is taking the laptop so he can (hopefully) FINISH his doctoral thesis and get it submitted before Christmas. Best news is, everything is included (even tips!), so this honeymoon won’t even cost us $60!

The epilogue to the first honeymoon was that my new husband, who would become an ambulance EMT within the next few years, somehow produced an ACE bandage (who takes this on a honeymoon??) and we spent the rest of the week with a pitifully trussed tent pole and ‘mountain views’ in three directions!  Magic.

We’ll be back the 13th so look for us again on the 18th and have a blessed Christmas season!!  Your homework assignment is to think of a time when God gave you a chuckle inducing blessing.

Merry Christmas,

Marsha

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope, if you’re an American,  you’re able to crawl out from your caloric induced stupor and are able to read this today!

We’ve also had a ‘thankful’ week, but not so much yummy food since we had that a couple of weeks ago.

I guess maybe we’re thankful this week because we seemed to be put face to face with the refugee issue, which, in the pain of knowing, has called us to re-examine why we’re indeed thankful.

I’m pretty sure growing up on top of a mountain in Colorado more or less sequestered in my Christian home, I had what might be called an idyllic childhood.  Of course there was the issue of our near poverty (or so it seemed to me when I looked at my peers), exacerbated by my mother’s long battle and death with cancer. But as I look back, I realize that all in all I was a much loved, happy, and SECURE child.  I married well into an exciting and Godly family who, again, were not that wealthy in ‘things’ but overflowing with love and general ‘thankfulness’ for every day they had.

On Wednesday and Thursday this last week, we spent time with the authors of “The Insanity of God”, whose book and movie chronicles their walk on the wild side ministering to and being ministered by refugees and martyrs in the Islamic world of Northeast Africa and beyond.  To hear their tales of sacrifice and belief, it makes me shudder.

Then, on Friday night, which was literally Thanksgiving day in America, we were humbled to be invited to the home of these Pakistan Refugees that we blogged about recently.

Over a delicious meal, which they had ‘toned down’ for our spice tolerance, we heard more stories of sacrifice.  Clement, the dad who has cancer, while too weak to join us at the table and eat, told us stories of God’s protection and providence, all the while chronicling the suffering they’d experienced at the hands of Islam.  As he showed us his machete scars and bullet wounds, he reminisced, with tears in his eyes, being forced to take his family of 8, abandoning his earthly possessions and knowing he’d never be back, to head for a safer place.

Unfortunately even Bangkok, where they went, was not safe, as one of their daughters was hit by a car (they’re not sure if it was intentional or accidental) but has almost lost her arm as a result.

Now, as you know, they came to visit their eldest daughter who is on a student visa here in Australia when he found a reputable doctor who gave the diagnosis of leukemia.

While some of you have given money, after dinner they mentioned casually that he missed an appointment because they couldn’t pay.  I was thankful that we had some money to give them, but explained that that was all we have.

Not to be deterred, they thanked us profusely and said they are very hopeful that they will be able to get a visa soon that will allow him to get some proper treatment.

However, if any of you feel led to give, please send a check to Acct 811, (Tony Woods) Entrust Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 6882, Richmond Va 23230.  We’ll know it’s for them since no one else puts money in our account! ha.

As we drove home last night, Tony and I tried to imagine what it would be like to GIVE UP a place, just because you wanted to live……..peacefully.

We can’t imagine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I too “Left” Colorado, and I “Left” the States……but I didn’t have to.  I didn’t run in the dark of night with the clothes on my back, knowing I’d never return. And as you know, we are able to ‘return’ often, and I haven’t had to watch my loved ones tortured or killed for the sake of their faith.

We heard a sermon recently where an Egyptian pastor was quoted.

“If I’m persecuted and survive, I’m thankful for the encouragement I can give other Christians.  And if I die, I get the prize, so either way I’m happy”

I think Paul said something similar in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

I don’t suffer at all here.  My neighbors may be ‘cool and unresponsive’ when we say we’re Christians, but they don’t throw rocks.  And judging from the amount of American candy I dished out on Halloween night, I think we have definitely softened the ground and proved that we can be of some value………but still I wonder……Am I true to Christ and his Cause enough to make a difference here in this beachy beautiful place?

Our “Insanity of God” friends said to themselves many years ago, after their Bible study people were all massacred and their teenaged son died of an asthma attack, “Is Jesus really worth it?”

That’s when our mission board, sensing their pain and confusion, sent them into working with the already persecuted church where they could find thru the testimonies of those who have gone before us, not only is it ‘worth it’  it’s the reason why we’re here on earth, to Preach, Live and Die for Christ and His people.

Definitely read the book, you’ll be blessed.

And have a happy ‘gap’ between now and Christmas.

I noticed last night that Tony has drug the Christmas decorations out of the garage…….it’s in the air, even though the air is HOT here!

Love you and appreciate you all.  To God be the Glory!

Marsha

Pray It Forward

Hi there again,

So true to my word, just 5 weeks late, I’m going to tell you a ‘missionary story’ that I heard during our retirement week back in Richmond, Virginia.

Our speaker for the week was excellent.  He’s a pastor somewhere in the south and may be a bit famous.  But I liked him because he really ‘got’ us missionaries.

That may be because he was born to parents who were missionaries. He himself grew up on the field and perhaps because he was the last child in the family, in an era where those children were often left to their own devices, one of his pastimes seemed to be to look thru the missionary directory (colloquially known as the ‘funny book’ because of everyone’s bad pictures). I’m guessing that at that time there would have been 1000 or so missionaries, listed alphabetically, including those who had retired.  He made us laugh when he said for years he searched the family globe over and over trying to find the country called “Emeritus”!

But I think the thing that most resonated with me was that he was part of a legacy; his parents had given their lives to go out in the 50’s and then they seamlessly folded their children into that vision.

And what a vision they had.  Let’s see if I can remember it right…

It seems that sometime around 1977, after 20+ years on the field in other South American countries, his parents decided it was time to go to Belize.  It was on the eve of the country’s independence, and there hadn’t been a lot of evangelical presence there since the days of English Puritan settlement in the 1600’s, so the time was right.

As they arrived and settled in, they made their way to the city offices to ‘declare’ themselves to the government.

But there was a problem.

It seemed that in order to have the right to operate as a missionary, your ‘organization’ must be registered, and this, it was explained, should have been done years before, as it usually took several years to be approved.

Knowing that they were the very first Southern Baptists to ever set foot in the country, they almost lost their nerve, but somehow they believed that God was in control, so instead of panicking,  they hurried back to their temporary quarters to pray and wait for something to happen.

That’s when a clerk tapped on their door and said, “Are you SOUTHERN Baptists?”

“Yes Yes!” they gave an affirmative nod, praying that they hadn’t accidentally implicated themselves for a bad result.

“Oh!”  The clerk beamed.  “We just discovered that theThe Southern Baptist Mission of the USA  has indeed been registered here since the 1800’s!”

After a quick jaw drop, they ran with their advantage, praying that it wasn’t a mistake, and quickly got all the stamps and permissions granted.  Within days they were off to work.  Finally, a few weeks later when they dared,  they were able to connect with the clerk and the mystery unfolded.

Apparently in the late 1800’s many Chinese nationals immigrated to Belize (known then as “British Honduras”) to find work.  One of them (out of literally hundreds) had been led to Christ while still a young man in China.

That one young man wanted to start a Bible Study but was told that it had to be registered……..so he made the necessary arrangements to do so.  As he cast around in his mind as to what to register it as, he vaguely remembered that the missionary who had introduced the Gospel to him years before had been a Southern Baptist from America, so that’s what he used on the registration.  It’s unclear to this day both who the missionary was and whether he even knew this guy had become a Christian………… but he had, and God knew that.

Almost 100 years later the door was still swinging open to us, Southern Baptists, continents away……….coincidence?  hmmm

Jeremiah 29:11………God Knows!!

Let’s remember today that we’re still a part of “the plans” that God has for us.  Plans to give us “a hope, and a future”.

Have a happy Thanksgiving if you’re ‘over there’ Eat a couple of extra bites for us.

Marsha

Eating With Long Spoons

Good Morning, Hope yours is as good as ours.

Some of you, in your experience, may have come across the Allegory of the Long Spoons.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

“The allegory of the long spoons is a parable that shows the difference between heaven and hell by means of people forced to eat with long spoons. It is attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, as well as other sources.

In hell the people are unable to lift food to their mouths using such unwieldy cutlery, and are starving. In heaven, the diners feed one another across the table and are sated. The story can encourage people to be kind to each other. There are various interpretations of the fable including its use in sermons and in advice to lonely people.”

Last night we had a meal of long spoons, otherwise known as “Thanksgiving”.  It’s long been a tradition in our Woods’ American/Australian family to have a thanksgiving meal sometime in the spring (here in Australia).  The first one we hosted years ago caught the attention of the in-laws and their families and that’s been the way we do it ever since, often adding a straggler here and there.  Two of our almost ‘boys’ who spent their teens running in and out of our house came with their families from 1000 miles away.

As it turned out, this huge day promised sunburns for all, as it coincided with the “birthday party of the century” held for my 5 and 1 yr old grand boys.

Fortunately, sunburns weren’t a problem, but it was a stinkin’ hot summer day, complete with a sudden storm bringing buckets of rain and nerve wracking lightening. That may explain why only 80 or so showed up instead of the 100+ that were expected.

But it was a raging success anyway, and the added deluge made the slip and slide in the back yard even more of an adventure with everyone, including adults, taking part, albeit sometimes unexpectedly, because of the steep sloppy yard.

A couple of hours later the rain had passed and in the cool of the evening, all bathed and relaxed, the family gathered around a beautiful table literally groaning with food.

Looking around, I realized that we ALL were experiencing some degree of what I’ll call “Long Spoon Syndrome”.

Someone brought the perfect newborn baby to display to all those who’d prayed for this to happen for years.  At the other end of the table was the couple that had just moved their last child out of the house.  This week our daughter and hubby are moving away to Brisbane.  Sure, it’s only an hour away, but it’s his first move ever from his hometown and home church. Someone else was fighting a flu bug and had to leave, holding to the hope of a plate of food later.  We could hear a baby monitor going off somewhere promising another couple a sleepless night, and I’ll have to say I was seriously rethinking my youth after 2 days in front of a hot stove!

What I’m trying to say is that at that table almost everyone was unable, for whatever reason (be it happy or sad), to be completely whole………..

And yet, as we sat around the table and shared of our love and thanks, feeding each other with admiration and humor…… well, it just seemed like heaven to me.

So on that heartfelt note, this one last time I’m going to mention America and the week we’ve all experienced.  Some of you are rejoicing, some of you are petitioning for a ‘do over’.

But I wonder, would it be possible to now focus on ‘feeding’ others with love and respect?  I personally am elated that there might be a chance now to get it back to better, but who really knows? Now that so many of you got out to the polIs, (thank you) I DO think that we have to continue to reach out and take care of each other, even if they’re not ‘our kind’ (and I’m preaching to myself here!!)

PS:  Speaking of that, the refugees that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago did get a little bit of money from your response to this blog. (check our blog archives if you want to know) Thank you and don’t stop.  And of course it goes without saying, they need a miracle, but I was tickled last night during our celebration when the wife called in her struggling English to invite US to dinner at their place sometime in the near future.  Isn’t that sweet?

Long spoons in action………..

Have a ‘sated’ week!

Marsha

Tuesday Blues

Good morning all,

My son posed an interesting question based on a sermon he’d just heard.

“Mom,” he said with his best Sunday school grin, “I’ve been reading in Acts 16. How do you think the guard helped Paul and Silas get out of jail?”

“Well he didn’t …. Did he? I mean, there was an earthquake that opened the doors. But even then they didn’t escape. The guard ended up taking them  home, and well, I don’t get it!”

“No Mom, Of course God was in charge of the escape, but the guard made it easier because he put them in a cell TOGETHER! They sang, they prayed, and when the chance came, they stayed put, which led to their release the next day.”

I guess he’s learned something in his job as a policeman.

As we move into Election week in America, I’m going through a range of emotions, none of them all that great. The Australians on the other hand (and I’m guessing the rest of the world) are FASCINATED with the American Election.  Why?  I’m not sure, except that American politics, at the end of the day, affects so many people everywhere. I have to say, my Aussie friends here admit that have no idea of all that’s going on, the same as me. But still, it’s a worry.

But back to Paul and Silas.  I guess we could say that they weren’t having the best of days either. And in light of events that got them thrown into jail, their future was anything but certain.

But what did they do? They praised God! They sang their way thru the night.  They supported each other, rather than waste a lot of time “what-if-ing”. They had access to a lot of the same Scripture as we have, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the same verses came up:

Daniel 2:20-21,  “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…”

and in Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all.”

Let’s pray together this next week, shall we? Wherever we happen to be on the planet, we can lift our prayers together, believing that God WILL be at the election, and He has a plan for us, and for America. And He promises us that He will give us grace to ‘get thru it’ and beyond. Just like Paul and Silas, we’ve got to ‘stick together’ to face whatever lies ahead.

……And be sure to vote… Amen?

And even though I want to be impartial, I saw a cute note somewhere this week I wanted to pass along……”Remember this week is the election: Republicans on Tuesday Nov 8th and Democrats on the 9th!  hahaha

God Bless,

Marsha

Lasagna Without Borders

I believe last week I promised you a ‘missionary story’.  I was thinking I’d drag up some old tome from years gone by, but it looks like the Lord had different plans.

Isn’t it funny that way? I always knew “retirement” didn’t really mean “retirement” in the ministry sense, but this past week was a gentle reminder.

Wednesday I opened my Facebook page.  Someone has likened Facebook to sitting on your front porch in a small town.  Everyone greets you and shares some trivial bit of information like what the dog did or who’s doing what and whether that’s ok with everyone.  Honestly, I’ll be glad when the election is over so we can stop blaming everyone for everything ….. but I’m digressing.

I was thrilled to notice that I had a private message.  So few people actually talk to me as I sit on my front porch, it’s nice to attract someone’s attention……..but not always.

The message went something like this:

“We know some wonderful Christians who got tired of the Muslims trying to murder them so they decided to flee from their home (in one of those countries) to Bangkok and try to get the UN to notice them and give them some peace. We had the pleasure of knowing them and working in the church with them, but unfortunately, the UN has stopped feeling sorry for Christians so they can’t seem to get ‘refugee status’.  They are all (family of 7 ) living in a one room rental and praising God for a modicum of peace from persecution. Because of their illegal status, they can’t work, except for the church, for free, but the Lord has sustained them for several years now, even though there continue to be attempts on their lives.

Then Dad got sick.

After visiting a myriad of ‘free’ doctors and getting either an IV or a pill and being told he was fine, they decided to come to Australia and visit their oldest daughter who’s a student here.  No sooner than they arrived, he became quite ill, and upon visiting a ‘real’ doctor has been diagnosed with advanced Multiple Myeloma.

They have no money, no insurance and no visa, not to mention no car and next to no English.”

Then my friend continued with this request,  ”Can you please do what you can do?”

So naturally I made them a Lasagna.

OK, don’t laugh.  I’m American, and when in crisis, we have to eat, wouldn’t you agree?

Today we went to see them, and without a doubt, we were the blessed ones.

Dad sat miserably on the couch, smiling, but obviously in pain.  We tried to keep our visit short, but they (Mom and Daughter) just kept praising the Lord for his miraculous timing.  Daughter has a simple apartment for the three of them and possibly another family, I’m not sure because at that point I was sinking in the garbled English. We were able to confirm that the other 5 kids, age 12-22 are still alone in Bangkok, taking care of each other as best they can.

But amidst all this, the Mom managed to say, “Every day here we eat, we sleep, we praise God and let Him decide what to do about the medical stuff.”

From our eyes, it looks like they will need a fortune to be treated.  Every doctor’s visit cost $350.  Remember my doctor/hospital dramas last week?  Very similar.  But on top of all that, they’re now looking at chemo. When and if it starts, it will be astronomical.  They BELIEVE that they will get the treatment, but all we could do was shake our heads in disbelief and PRAY.

And so I’m asking for your help this morning.

I know you can’t get over here with a lasagna.  That may be a blessing as she clearly had no idea what to do with it.  Thankfully the daughter has been in Australia for a year and has seen such a creature, so we hope somehow they can turn it into a hot meal.

But I’m asking you to PRAY!!!!!  ………and if God reveals some kind of miracle you can share with these folks, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Life’s interesting ain’t it?!?

Marsha

Oh yeah, on another note, “The Insanity of God” is a movie that many of you have already seen. It’s coming to Australia soon, so please pray for prepared and receptive hearts!!  The authors are the friends I mentioned who came by for our retirement service the other day.  It’ll be so good to catch up with them again.

Of Mice and Miracles

Well……it’s been an interesting week to say the least. I know I’ve promised you some stories gleaned after a week with hundreds of fellow retiring missionaries, but I guess you’ll have to wait till things stop happening around here.

We just got back from a great day with our Japanese friends in Brisbane.  The church there is always ‘interesting’, and today was no exception.  It just thrills us to see ‘seekers’ coming week after week wondering about this thing called “Christianity”.  It’s reassuring that there are still pockets around where we can help…

But let me tell you about our unusual week.

It started with the much anticipated visit to a ‘specialist’ doctor.  To you Americans who are afraid of socialized medicine; this is why you have need for fear.  I’ve had a succession of ‘specialist’ appointments built on information passed from one to the next and each has taken over 6-8 weeks to get an appointment. So in other words, this ‘drama’ has been going on for months.   They assure me that if I’m at deaths door, they’ll make a way, but still……

So I got back from 6 weeks in America and went to my next specialist this last Tuesday.  He looked over my scans, oohed and awed with wrinkled brow and ‘referred’ me to another specialist.

“Great” I thought,  “I’m looking at Christmas.”

But no, it was for the next day!  Now I was starting to get nervous! ha

The next day, October 20th, I arrived at the next specialist’s office and after a few more questions, he said, “Go home and get your jammies, we’re checking you in for a ’scope’ this afternoon!”

Now another drama was unfolding.  We have purchased what is known as “gap” insurance which covers “emergencies” (when it’s not expedient to wait in line for months for care). Most middle class Australians have this..  BUT there’s a one-year waiting period before it’s effective, and we arrived in Australia just about 11 months ago, last November.

So began a flurry of phone calls and rushing around, and later, as I had given up the chase and was being wheeled into surgery, wondering if my credit card would cover a hospital stay, the nurse ran up and said, “Just talked to your provider and it seems you signed up on October 20th of last year, so you’re covered!” Did you catch that? One year, To.The.Day and hour.

Thank you Lord for your impeccable timing!

The “problem” they were looking for, and had reasonable proof that I have, is called some big name and is not that uncommon, but is basically where the bowel and bladder have got together and made a new road into territories they don’t respectively belong in!  Too much information?  Sorry about that.   Basically this condition spells a rather major surgery in the future.

I was put to sleep with no dramas and woke up some time later to be greeted with pleasant smiles all around.  Apparently the doctor couldn’t find a thing to confirm his fears; quite the opposite in fact. What it looks like I have is a case of misplaced bacteria who have set up house. The doctor started me with SERIOUS high dose antibiotics and sent me home.  Looking back, the only really traumatic thing about the whole experience was the dry toast and vegemite breakfast with instant coffee I was given!

Isn’t God amazing?

The other “drama” if you can call it that, is a pesky little (and I mean Little) field mouse that seems to out smart us on all counts.  We’ve put out poison, and he won’t touch it.  We debated about a sticky mat but I’d hate to die that way, so after much deliberation we got a simple cartoon type ‘Acme” trap.  For three nights he’s literally licked the platter clean and walked away, fat and sassy, leaving a trap set to go off in a faint breeze. I’d just let him get away with it except for the fact that he always has to leave us a little trail of poop when he goes…….that and the fact that he dug out all the seeds that I had planted in an egg carton hoping to sprout!

So that’s it.  He’s outfoxed us and won us over, so we’ve signed a pact.  We’ll clean up all traces of food all the time, and he’ll stop leaving me little black pellets!!  We’ll see how it goes.

Again, I can’t reiterate how unfathomable God is.  We, his creatures, are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Me, who the doctor is calling his ‘mystery patient’ and the mouse who is (I imagine) just doing his job, eating and pooping, not really wanting to be a bother……..

I hope you can stop for a minute and feel the wonder of your life and others sometime this week……..as the stories continue.

Blessings, Marsha

Good to be Home

As I’m writing this blog, I’m reaching through my jet lagged fog and beginning to see some light not too far away.

We landed finally after a 16 ½ hour non-stop flight from Dallas to Sydney. I send my apologies to the many friends and family in Texas that got missed this trip.  As I suspected, it was a jog thru the terminal, having just landed from a 4 hour flight from Puerto Rico, and then on to the huge A380 Qantas plane, which is sort of a ‘double decker’ 747 and holds almost 500 souls.  I tried not to think too much about how HUGE it was as we bumped over the Pacific, with nothing between us and certain death except a whole lot of amazing engineering (and of course a whole bunch of guardian angels I’m looking forward to meeting in Heaven one of these days!).

Arrived in Sydney, then a short hop up to our home in the Gold Coast. We felt like zombies, but a shower and a nap worked wonders.

This morning Tony preached at our church in Reedy Creek, talking about our lives both individually and as a church.  He read from Philippians 3:10-11, pointing out that the 4 things Paul really wanted in life are the same we can all aspire to: to know Christ, to know the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings, and to become like Him in death.

He ended with a call for all of us to think about what we really want in life, and especially those of us facing whole new chapters (like retirement). Our church is undergoing some big changes now as well, so he urged everyone to get on board with a clear understanding of what we as a church want, and where we want to go from here.

Judging from the overwhelming response, I think he may have struck a chord.

And so as we face forward, not ignoring our past but putting it into a new perspective, Tony and I are optimistic this morning. The renovations on our house start tomorrow, Nicki’s enjoying her new job as a flight attendant for Qantas, flying regionally all over North Queensland.  I’m sure she’ll have some ‘interesting’ stories to tell.  Nathan and family are doing well and continue to grow and amaze us, celebrating their 10th anniversary this last week as well.

It’s good to be home……..I’ll write more next week!

Marsha

Happy Trails

Good morning everyone!

Well, I’m writing this in an airport.  When you open it, hopefully we’ll have crossed the Caribbean and landed safely in Puerto Rico, and be safely tucked in a motel for a couple of days before officially starting back to Australia.

Watching the news, I realize that most of you are way too busy to read anything at this point, especially since I have very little to say today.   I figure you’re either in the middle of Hurricane Matthew or are rethinking who you’re going to vote for …..(or making plans to come live with us).

This last week, in Costa Rica, we experienced a looming hurricane (missed us) a volcano erupting (changed it’s mind and settled down), terrifying drives, usually lost on mountains trails with a psycho rental car GPS (we prevailed and Tony didn’t misjudge the road edges and send us hurtling down off the un guard railed narrow roads, never to be seen again). This last taxi ride to the airport with the driver speeding crazily while he sang and whistled along to the cucaracha beat almost did us in, but we arrived in half the time with a frozen smile and gnarled hands still clutching our seat belts.

But at the same time, all week I felt like what it must be to be slathered in warm butter.  My soul has been loved.  Yes, retiring was sad, seeing and then leaving friends was hard, but this last week, just seeing God’s amazing creation in the form of scenery, animals and wonderful people did wonders in terms of just making us realize how God has showed us some of His best work.  We found Christian ’Ticos’ (as Costa Ricans are called) at every turn and it was fun to realize our combined relationship. On top of that just hearing that my kids are happy and functioning, have maintained our responsibilities at home and (maybe) are looking for our return, continues to bless us.

And so, when I write next, we’ll have been home a few days, unpacked our carry on bags (which are about to explode with things we picked up along the way as well as very dirty clothes!.) Then on  Sunday we’ll be scrubbed up and be listening to Tony preaching at our favorite church!.

Thanks for traveling with us, it’s been great!

Marsha