Sunday, March 27, 2016

Our Team is Expanding!

This Easter we have a special announcement to make. Our team is growing! Take a look below to hear the whole story. 

Easter Reflection

At lunch on Palm Sunday, Bethany asked a really good question. She said, "if Easter week was really a week, what happened to change public opinion of Jesus? How could he go from the hero entering the city one weekend to being crucified the next?" It is a reasonable question, and one to which, I am sure, many pages of theological literature have been devoted. I can't pretend to answer that (maybe there is a book in there some where even), but one thought came to me that seems relevant to our current cultural climate: Disappointment.

Let me explain. The hope for Messiah at the time of Jesus was incredibly political. People were hoping for political deliverance from Rome. They were focused on their current and difficult circumstances. Over and over, Jesus rebuffs their push to make him a political leader. His message of the Kingdom of Heaven went beyond their desires for present deliverance but had to leave the question in some people's minds, "that's all great, but how do we handle this current political turmoil and strife?" There had to be some tension built up as Jesus continued to do what he was sent to do and not what they people wanted him to do.

I don't pretend to think that this is the whole answer to the question, but it is has some interesting connections to us today. As we have traveled, politics seems to be a consistent topic of conversation. In a twist of life mirroring art (if you can call the 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite art), political candidates seem to say Napoleon's friend Pedro's line "If you vote for me, your wildest dreams will come true." Our politicians must position themselves as a savior or deliverer. It makes me ask the question, "what am I trying to get out of this relationship?"

Jesus poses that question in different words, "Who do you say that I am?" What are we looking for here? What sort of trust, what sort of salvation? I am not trying to argue for a specific candidate or political system, but I do want to pose the question: where do we put our hope? Are we hoping for the right man or woman in the right chair at the right time? If we get the right laws in place, then what?

We need to see the world through eternal eyes and see that our hope is in Christ. Jesus' work on the cross had implications for the Jews living under Roman occupation but wasn't limited to them. It fit into a greater context. Not that we shouldn't be politically engaged...please vote your consicence and think and engage. Just remember that we are all fallen humans trying to live in a fallen world. We have one savior and one salvation, and that is Christ.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Highlights from Ohio

We've been settled in Connecticut for over a week now and are slowly catching our breath from a few busy months of travel. I (Bethany) was especially excited to unpack, organize everything and vacuum out the car!

As we look back on our recent 2 weeks in Ohio, we are so thankful for the visits, memories and special times shared with family, churches, friends and supporters. God has been so good to us and has provided such encouragement through our network of support here in the States. Here are some highlights:

We spent time with Bethany's maternal grandfather, affectionately known as "Grampydear". You can read more about him in this post. We were shocked to learn that after our visit, Grampydear suddenly passed away this week. We will really miss him, but we are also very thankful he did not suffer and lived until 89 with practically no health problems. We are also very thankful to be here when this happened and to be able to attend the funeral with our family.

While in the Youngstown area, we stayed with
Bethany's aunt and uncle, who also live down the road from Bethany's cousin. They have a little Ellie, too, and we had lots of fun having play dates with the "other Ellie". We enjoyed a visit to the children's museum, family dinners and lots of random play time. Bethany's aunt and uncle spoiled us with babysitting and delicious food during our visit.

We visited three supporting churches in Ohio. The one pictured to the right is Evangel Baptist in Boardman, our first stop. We enjoyed being there for a missions Sunday, where we participated in a panel discussion during the service about challenges and "God moments" on the mission field. We also visited Grampydear's church, Champion Presbyterian, in Warren, OH. With each church visit, we were so encouraged to meet people who are faithfully praying for us, as well as sacrificially giving to enable us to serve.

Our third church in Ohio was Stanwood Community Church in Navarre (near Massillon). The pastor of this church is a dear friend of Nate's from college. Not only did we love our time with the church, we also got to spend quality time with our good friends, discussing ministry, growth, family and everything between. The family hosting us generously babysat for Ellie so we could go out that night with our friends for some quality time together. We left Ohio certainly feeling refreshed.
In between all of this, we also go to visit some of Bethany's cousins who live in the Columbus area. Nate (cousin) and Nate (Johnson) used to go ice climbing together in NH and the four of us had a great time catching up, while Ellie jumped on their trampoline and played with their girls' barbies. Ohio was just one encouraging visit after another, and we came away tired but incredibly blessed and grateful.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


A really special part of our recent time in Ohio has been spending time with my "Grampydear". He is 89 years old this year, a World War II veteran and a man with an incredible heart and faith. It was really special to see him and Ellie spend time together for the first time.

Grampy is very healthy for his age (he says he has "no aches and pains"!) but he struggles with his eye sight and hearing. He tends to get quiet in group situations, but when you sit down one-on-one, he loves to laugh and tell stories. We had a really great time asking him about the war and his experience on a naval ship in the pacific. We asked him all about the business he started with his father back in 1949, a took & die company still going today. We heard stories about fishing, family and many things in between. Nate even sneakily recorded some of his stories so we would have them for years to come.

Grampy is an amazing man, and I'm so blessed to have him as a role model in my life. He legacy of faith in our family that he was a part of will always be an incredible blessing to me. Thank you, Grampy!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Our Kangaroos are only at the Zoo

Part of being in the US is getting to share about our wonderful country! We get to tell people about the needs there and also how God is at work..

But one thing never changes...people confuse us with the "land down under". 

This came to the surface this morning when I opened up my news reader to see this photo from CNN. It came from Twitter. Although it is probably just an unfortunate typo, I thought it was pretty funny. "G'day mate, throw another shrimp on the barbie!"