Monday, June 22, 2020

FURLOUGH 2020 Motels On Covid

Part of furlough for a missionary is living out of a suitcase and sleeping in several different places each week.  Sometimes the church has a mission's apartment.  Sometimes we stay with a family.   Sometimes we stay in motels.  Even though so many businesses closed during the COVID restrictions, motels were considered essential and have remained opened.  However, their service has greatly changed.  

One of the things our children look forward to while traveling is the motel breakfasts.   Our first meeting, which was a mission's conference, they thoroughly enjoyed the pancakes, eggs, biscuits and gravy,  yogurt, cereal, bagels, juice and coffee.  But then....COVID happened, and all changed.   



So what does a motel breakfast on COVID restriction look like?  We have noticed a trend - if it is a nicer motel then there will be no breakfast of any kind served.  The middle class motels will serve a sack breakfast with water, granola bar and a fruit.  During our trip out to California, we stayed two nights in New Mexico at the cheapest place we could find, and they were the most generous with juice, 2 granola bars, fruit cup, fruit, muffin and yogurt.  Sad to say, most of the motels have done away with coffee.  After three consecutive days of staying in different motels, none with coffee, I think it must have started showing on our countenances.  We attended a Wednesday night service that was being live-streamed with few attending.  Because of social distancing, we just sat in our seats and greeted people who were close-by.  A  staff member greeted us and offered us bottles of water, but then added the fact that they could bring us coffee, too.  He probably thought we were going to pounce on him.  We were so elated to get a cup of coffee...and it was very good!


We don't know what changes will remain permanent in the hotel industry, but we certainly hope that they bring back their breakfasts and especially the COFFEE!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

IT'S TIME TO MEET

Our Engagement - New Year's Eve at Midnight 1992

One of the things Keith and I pray daily for is godly mates for our children.  Our prayer and desire is to see our children continue to grow in their Christian life after they leave our home and to marry someone who will help them accomplish more for God.

Rachel - A Beautiful Lady Inside and Out

With help from his Grandpa, our son Shane was introduced to Rachel in 2018.  She took several of Dad's classes at West Coast Baptist College and became better acquainted with Shane through FaceTime, texting, and phone calls.  (Shane lives in Ohio, and Rachel was in California.)  After graduating from college, Rachel accepted a position at Hope Children's Home in New Mexico.

Rachel said, "YES!"

Their relationship blossomed into an engagement on Christmas Day 2019.  On our way from Texas to California, we were blessed with a couple of extra days to meet the lady who stole our son's heart.

We are excited to welcome another member to our family.

Rachel King is as sweet as her smile is.  Although we had just a couple of hours together, we enjoyed the time together, and she survived the meeting of the in-laws all alone!  We know she will be a great help meet to Shane, and that together they will accomplish great things for God.

Just like an Oreo - the sweet stuff is in the middle.

Shane and Rachel, 
We love you and pray for God's blessings on your relationship 
as you grow closer to each other through your walk with God.


Mark Your Calendars for September 26!




Saturday, May 2, 2020

FURLOUGH 2020 - April

MONTH 2

What a change the COVID-19 restrictions have made to our furlough.  This has to be a record for the amount of time we have spent at our home church.  But God is taking such good care of us.  We have a great place to stay, friends to be with (at a distance), and great online devotionals and messages to listen to from our home church.  A great blessing to me has been to hear our pastor's wife teach the Ladies Bible Study each week.  Normally, these aren't put on our livestream, so Shae-Lynn and I have really been enjoying hearing Mrs. Kim.

I made this to keep in our Bibles to remember one of my favourite lessons Kim taught.

Yes, we have had cancellations even though we are in Texas where churches are exempt from restrictions.  Pastors are still being very careful and moving with wisdom to avoid the preaching of the Gospel being blamed for any outbreaks.  Several of the churches that cancelled have still sent a love offering, and we thank God greatly for this act of kindness that is helping meet our daily expenses.

Austin stores had mandatory mask-wearing regulations.

Uganda is under strict lockdown until May 5, but we are thankful that they have had no COVID deaths despite the 85 confirmed cases.  The Lord is taking care of His children, and the Christians are learning to trust God in new ways.  Our radio station is being listened to by hundreds of new people as they sit at home with little to do.  Especially in third-world countries, the radio ministry is a HUGE outreach tool.  The Gospel is reaching into thousands of homes through radio broadcasting and is not being thwarted by a virus scare.

Savannah really misses being able to travel so she came up with this.

As Shiloh celebrated his 18th birthday, the scales tipped to the majority of our children being adults.  Shae-Lynn and Shiloh are quite disappointed that they aren't able to get their learner's permits this month, as was planned, since all the license places are closed.

An ice cream cake for Shiloh's 18th birthday

This week we made the decision to stick to our furlough schedule and travel to California.  We are praying that restrictions will be lifted, and even if we aren't able to attend regular services, that Keith will at least be able to livestream with the churches.   The Lord provided us a place to base out of, and we are anxious to see our son Stanley.

Pray with us for this nation and for the world.  
Pray for Christians to be bold and take a stand for what is right.  
Pray for lost souls to turn to Christ.
Our God is more powerful than a virus or the politicians who desire to hurt our nation.
Trust in the Lord!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

FURLOUGH 2020 - March

It's Furlough Time!

2020

COVID-19 FURLOUGH!


That means I might be able to start blogging again - fast wifi and extra time with everything shut down.   

Since it has been a long time since I have been on the blog, 
I will be doing some flashbacks just to keep a record of events.  
I print my blog into books, as my kids love to look through them and reminisce.

But before a flashback...let's look at the current month - March 2020.

On March 2, we left Uganda -- which was a big deal for Shae-Lynn and Shiloh as they will not be returning with us in 2021.  

Siblings waiting for the first flight
As we had our last Cafe Java's meal (our favourite restaurant in Uganda), the manager, who knows us so very well, brought out a going-away dessert for us to enjoy.  

Manager's gift to us
What a great start for our journey - a sweet blessing for us.  We are very thankful that we got through airports before all the panic and that we had no delays.  Our third flight was nearly empty, so we were able to get a little bit of sleep.  Our first week was full of shopping (new clothes are a necessity after intense Ugandan sun and life), acquiring a rental van (thank you BMTM), unpacking and repacking (one suitcase each to live out of), and greeting family and friends.

After just one week back in the States, we left the house at 4:30 in the morning to avoid
 the I-35 Austin-Temple-Waco traffic.  

American roads - so wide and smooth
Our first night on the road we spent with longtime friends of the Stensaas families and had a great time catching up on the years.  The next day we reached Illinois for our first meeting which was a great missions conference.  

The cold weather has caused our consumption of coffee to double
By the end of the week, Covid-19 restrictions were starting to get tighter, so our next meeting was home church with the pastor's family, then a cancelled meeting, and so on.  We have come from Uganda, Africa - where many people fear to even visit - to arrive in an America that we don't recognize.  

We had just entered a restaurant for lunch when they shut down dine-in
People are walking around with masks.  Roads are void of traffic  Store shelves are empty.  
The stores that are open restrict the number of customers and remind you to stay 6 feet away from each other.  Restaurants are drive-through only.  

Returning to America is always a culture shock, but this is culture shock on a different level.  We are sincerely praying for the world, as everyone has been affected in some way by this virus.  The furlough road we had planned now has detours, but God is still in control.  We will trust Him.  


Please keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

COLLEGE MKs

It's that time of year - Back to School.  Of course, my kids hear that phrase several times a day.

"Put the puppies back in their pen.  Let's get back to school."  

"Throw the dead rat over the wall, and let's get back to school."

But for many missionaries, there are some of our children who are too far away to hear those words from our lips.  They have completed their schooling at home and are now in a different country facing the "Back to School" frenzy all alone.  These are the MK (missionary kid) college students.  Some are very blessed to have their parents able to take them shopping for new clothes and school supplies before dropping them off at their dorm and catching the next flight back to the mission field. But there are so many others facing college alone.

I can vividly remember our first child leaving for college.  Of all days, it happened on Mother's Day.  After church, we hugged Shane, cried, hugged him again, and watched him walk out the door with his dad to drive three hours to the airport to fly 21 hours to the States to start a whole new life.  I cried for hours.  Then I cried through his Freshman year every time he would face a "bump" in his college road.  His first bad grade.  His first car accident.  His multiple times of being called into the Pastor's office.  Just because our children grow up with American parents doesn't ensure an easy field-to-America transition.  There are "100 Do Not's" for them to learn as well as "100 Do's." (How much easier it would if these were written down and the same for each kid!)  We as parents do our best to prepare them, but times have changed since we were in college.  Living in a foreign country, we can be as ignorant as our children in new American customs.

So what can be done?

Stanley, the oldest of the three we have in college

Pray.  Pray for the parents.  Pray for the students.  This new step in life isn't easy for either one.

Check Your Criticism.  There will be A LOT the MK doesn't know.  Do NOT criticize the child or the parents.  If you were to visit his home on the mission field, you would be able to see how competent they are in their normal setting.  MKs aren't dumb; they are just knowledgable in different things than you or your kids are.

Shae-Lynn often does her studies holding this cutey

Make Yourself a Mentor.  If you live near a college MK, make yourself available to them.  They need help getting a driving license, opening a bank account, buying a car, applying for a job, and a host of other things that mom and dad can't be there to help them with.

Share The Style.  You can be stylish without becoming worldly.  However, most third-world countries get first-world countries' clothes that have gone out of style...sometimes way out of style...so missionaries are limited by the selection there is.  Show the MK how to put together a stylish wardrobe that doesn't scream, "My wardrobe came from Grandma's attic!"  Having well-put-together outfits will go a long way to giving the MK confidence.

Stanley is a Junior at West Coast Baptist College

Tip and Treat.  You don't even have to live near a college MK for this one.  Nearly all college students consistently lack two things - money and food.  If I remember correctly, my college budget allowed $5 spending money each week.  Our dorm food could not be bragged about, and I ate just an apple for supper each day since I worked until midnight.  This is still what many college kids face, but many have parents not too far away they can turn to.  So, send a college MK a box of delicious, healthy snack foods, vitamins, and gum, and include some gift cards for restaurants, coffee shops, department stores, and gas stations.

Help the Holidays.  One of the stark revelations that hit me after our son went to college was that when his birthday rolled around, I wasn't there to make him a cake.  Birthdays.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  College MKs feel forgotten or left-out because no one knows it is their birthday, or they have no where to go for the holidays.  Send a birthday card with birthday money or a gift card.  Invite them to join your family for a holiday meal or an outing.

Shiloh working on his college correspondence courses

Consistently Communicate.  Make a point to regularly stay in touch with the MK.  Send a card the first of every month.  Text a "I'm praying for you today" message every Friday with a Bible verse.  Your consistency will remind that MK that they aren't alone.

Encourage and Encourage.  These college MKs need encouragement.  They will be corrected by teachers and employers.  They will be hard on themselves.  Deadlines will slam into them.  Problems will quickly find them.  They need a cheerleading team to encourage them.

In addition to correspondence,
Shiloh and Shae-Lynn also attend our church college

Maybe you will be the one that our MK looks back to one day and says, 

"Because of them . . . because they cared . . . because of their help . . .   
I stuck it out and didn't quit."

Monday, August 6, 2018

REAL LIFE

Life gets really busy.  Life can be overwhelming.

Homeschooling gets pushed back.  Catching up does not make for great school days.

Headaches develop.  Still the cleaning needs done, classes taught, and laundry washed.

Water goes off.  Internet doesn't cooperate.  Then electricity goes off.  A sink decides to leak.

This is real life.

So, when it comes time for lunch and the only green thing on our disposable plates is jalapeños -

PRAISE THE LORD!


Praise the Lord for a really understanding husband that does not complain of my overflowing desk in our bedroom.

Praise the the Lord for children's unconditional love and hugs.

Praise the Lord for one out of three loads of laundry done.

Praise the Lord the macaroni and cheese was on clearance.

PRAISE THE LORD FOR JALAPEÑOS!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

HOW MANY CAN FIT?

Can 16 people fit into an 8 passenger van?

Today I asked the deaf man who attends our church to introduce us to some of his deaf friends so that we could invite them to church.  He took us to town and said he knew that three of them were watching the World Cup on television.  We waited outside the place and soon many people started coming out of the building.  We thought, "Surely these aren't all deaf; he mentioned just three."  But these people came across the street to us, and we were soon surround by 11 deaf.

The lady to the right is a deaf teacher.

What a fun time we had learning their names, what work they do, and where they live.  They wanted to know where our church was, but they kept thinking it was very far away.  I suggested I take some of them and show them where the church was located.  I was unprepared for all of them to join the four that were with me, but all 16 of us took the trip to the church.  After showing them the buildings, they gathered around me as I shared the Gospel with all of them.

This shows 12 people; 4 more are in the front seats!

My heart's desire for years has been to reach out to the deaf, and I am blessed with nine students who faithfully attend class and who are willing to sign with their limited vocabulary.  I have so many more signs to learn.  I am not fluent, but I have asked God to bless my efforts.  Please pray that I can rapidly learn more signs and better understand the deaf and make sure that they understand the Gospel clearly.

The man to the left is the one who attends church.