Meditation on Giving Something Up

We’ve been on deputation just over 5 years now – we started full-time deputation in January 2010. Thankfully, partners have pledged almost all our support, so we can begin detailed preparation to leave.

This 5 years has held a lot of good things for us and for our children. They’ve also held some challenges. Our children have become very aware of some of those challenges. Sometimes they express their wish to be at the same church every week, or get involved in school or community programs.

Now we’re adding more challenges: selling books, packing boxes, telling them that this visit with this relative will be the last in a long time. The other day we took apart the bunk bed so we could try selling the frame at a consignment sale. And we’re still facing some of the old challenges with a few more deputation meetings.

With all these things going on, I wasn’t surprised to hear more than one of my children say recently that they wish we didn’t have to do something specific related to going to Taiwan.

It wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last. And I sometimes think the same thing. But the Lord gave us a teaching opportunity, reminding our children that Jesus left heaven to live and die on earth for us. If Jesus did that for us, can anything He asks of us be too much?

Our First Attempt at Chinese Pancakes

When our Taiwanese friends make Chinese pancakes, it looks so easy. And really the recipe is pretty simple. The steps are pretty simple.

Now that I’ve done it, I can say, yeah, it’s so simple… and messy.

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First attempt at kneading didn’t go so well. East meets West, and East is winning.

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Until we realize I started with half the amount of flour. Once we fixed that we had a smooth, thick dough.

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Add the scallions to the dough. Yum.

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Frying the cakes.

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Finished product!

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Yum. We love these things.

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We really love these things.

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And that’s all that’s left.

A penny saved…

On long road trips, we need a break from the van every few hours. Sometimes that’s a rest area, a park, or a playplace. But most often they’re gas stations. Not the best places for kids to run around, but they work.

Looking for coins motivates our kids to move around. That started a long time ago when they’d say they didn’t want to get out of the van, or that there was nothing to do. So now they keep their eyes open all the time. Recently they’ve made out pretty well – finding a few quarters and dimes along with some pennies.

a welcome break from the van

a welcome break from the van

This game lets us see into our children’s hearts, so we often have little counseling sessions. But lately we’ve noticed something we like. Our daughter and the two older of our sons have started pooling their money. They keep counting it up and planning to get something with it. Their first purchase, a week ago, was a container of tic-tacs.

We’re so thankful the Lord lets us travel as a family. It’s not always easy, but we have so many fun times. Even at gas stations.

Old Dead Things

Our children recently developed an interest in archaeology and paleontology. Since we were going to be in western Colorado for a week, I looked online to see if there was anywhere we could find fossils. Not just see them, but collect them. Turns out, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administrates a lot of land in the area we were staying, and allows the personal collection of plant and invertebrate fossils.

I found a couple posts about a place near Douglas Pass where a layer of fossil-bearing shale is exposed by road cuts. So we made plans to go. Most of the trip was straight with a gradual climb. But the last 5 miles or so climbed from about 6,000 feet to around 8,000. Close to the top of the pass, we took a gravel road higher up the mountainside to an area of public land near an FAA communications installation.

 

Road at Douglas Pass

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We found a few fossils, though we hardly knew enough to know what we were finding. A couple were nice finds for us – a small leaf and an insect.

 

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Lots of fossils means lots of things died. And the Bible says death is the penalty for sin. But God is gracious, so we sat there looking for fossils, overlooking a beautiful landscape full of life.

 

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Fossil-hunting was the morning’s outing. In the afternoon we explored part of Coal Canyon. Sure enough, we saw the entrance to an old coal mine. We also saw – unexpectedly – a wild horse.

 

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There’s so much to explore!

 

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Our life – in an elevator

I’m so thankful for my wife, who spends so much of her time on deputation unpacking, repacking, and cleaning up after our family. Since we’re usually in a different church every weekend, that work happens all the time. We’re so grateful to the Lord when He provides a place we can stay for a few weeks between meetings. Sometimes we get to go home between meetings, and that’s wonderful too.

Basically, our whole life gets packed in our van, unpacked from our van, crammed into an elevator, and moved into and out of hotel rooms, missions houses, and the homes of really hospitable people. Easy? No. Worth it? Definitely.

Elevator

all that stuff (except the shelf) came out of our van to be stacked into this elevator

Smithsonian: Surprise, Disappointment, and Fun

“Is this the day we get to go to the Smithsonian?” “Is this where the Hope Diamond is?” Our children were really excited about this day trip. We had day free and were as close to Washington, D.C. as we were going to be for a long time. They’d been captivated by the Hope Diamond ever since Erin told them about it. They wanted to see it, and this was their chance.Surprise!

Once at the Museum of Natural History, we headed for the minerals hall. We got to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the Hope Diamond. It really is amazing. We also saw a giant sheet of copper ore, massive crystals, and an astonishing array of minerals: fantastical shapes in a rainbow of colors. Our children were ready to move on far before we were.

Arthur loved the huge amethyst geode

Arthur loved the huge amethyst geode

Disappointment

The fossils were really amazing. Very big, very small, and very unusual animals, along with plants preserved in amazingly fine detail. We even looked into a lab to watch scientists working with fossils.

Fossil

We knew that the Museum of Natural History would have a very explicit and repeated evolutionary presentation. So even though I wasn’t surprised, I was struck by what seemed a major problem with scientific integrity: the apparent absence of any acknowledgment that many statements were conclusions rather than fact.

We look at the same bones and fossils and rocks, but come to completely different conclusions because we approach the evidence with a different view of reality. The starting point of the scientists at the Smithsonian is that there’s no God. So understandably (though wrong, according to the Bible), they have to find a way to interpret all the evidence within an evolutionary framework. What’s disappointing is the expensive, well-done, and incredible propaganda.

The starting point for us is that one God exists; He created all things, has revealed Himself in the Bible (where He tells us about His creative activity), and sent His Son to rescue us from sin!

Fun

Our children were getting pretty worn out. Until we reached the children’s interactive room. This was maybe the most fun they had – except for the train ride into and out of the city.

our children enjoy the interactive room

our children enjoy the interactive room

 

Emmett

alligator or crocodile?

 

Bella handles a whale vertebrae

Bella handles a whale vertebrae

 

One wrong turn deserves another…

This past weekend we had an experience that captures one of the challenging facets of deputation. Since we’re traveling to different churches to talk about our calling to Taiwan, we find ourselves in a new place almost every week.

After checking in at our hotel, getting some Wendy’s, and playing at a park, we realized we needed some things from a grocery store. Now in situations like this, a GPS is a very helpful tool. Usually.

Since the GPS already knows we’re in a small town in Tennessee, we just need to tell it to look for grocery stores nearby. There’s one .2 miles away. Great! We should be able to see it from here.

A short drive later, we’re sitting in an empty parking lot, looking at an empty building. Not discouraged, I located the next grocery store, which I’d correctly remembered was .4 miles away from our hotel. As we approach the address, I experience déjà vu. The GPS is telling me to drive to a half-empty parking lot at a large shopping center. The empty half is in front of an empty building, the (former) Food Lion, according to the GPS.

Next stop? There’s a Kroger .7 miles away, and it looks like we’re already headed the right direction.

Oops. This neighborhood doesn’t look like there’s a big grocery store in it. I should have checked the map before I started driving, so now I check it on a side road while someone behind me waits to get to her mailbox. Hmm. Kroger is on the other side of the river, so we have to drive almost 2 miles to a bridge, then almost 2 miles back.

On the beautiful drive to Kroger, we laugh about how hard it is to find the most basic things in a new place, and talk about how glad we are that we’re still doing it in English.

One day (hopefully not too far in the future) we’ll have to do all this in Mandarin Chinese. The bright side is that we’ll get to settle down and not be in a new town every week. We’re really looking forward to learning our neighborhood: knowing where the post office is, where the grocery stores are, and which intersections don’t offer good openings for left turns. We even more excited about getting to know neighbors, vendors, and clerks as we look for opportunities to build relationships and speak the truth.