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Archive for the ‘ministry life’ Category

I’m still searching for the familiar, those places where I know that I’ll find what I’m looking for.  I just wanted cummin.  I use it a lot in my cooking, and had finished off the last of what came over on the boat.  I had checked five different stores.

I gave up looking for it until one day, when I happened upon a Whole Foods.  I’d never been inside one before.  Wow.  Nice store.  I decided to check the spice aisle.  Yes!  I found cummin, and it was on sale.  I let out a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, something familiar.

I’ve taken for granted the value of the familiar.  Finding a spot for the silverware is pretty simple.  Discovering the best place to buy milk is cake.  Uncovering the mystery of how I fit into the fabric of this island is a little more difficult.

A year ago I thought I knew who I was: a homeschooling mom and pastor’s wife heading across the ocean on a great adventure.  I thought that the worship leader, dreamer, artist parts of me were on the verge of finally being set free.  All those palm trees drawn in the margins of my college class notes were finally becoming a reality.  I was going to live on the set of the TV show Lost.

Then you move 2,532.64 miles away from your previous life, and you start to question everything.  Even though there is a Starbucks on almost every corner, this is definitely not the Pac-NW.  Things that you come to count on being there are no longer at your finger tips.  People you used to call in a pinch to help with kiddos or go for a walk with are across the ocean.  Places to release your creatively energy are few and far between.

I need to trust when I hear the LORD quiet my spirit by saying , “Hush my child, you need to become known.”  It is all about becoming known.  I need to get to know my island, and my island needs to get to know me.  Building relationships take time, effort, and patience.

This past weekend Pastor Wayne spoke of caring deeply for people.  He shared a story similar to this one.

An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians
were such giving people. The teacher said, “Jesus taught us that giving gifts is an expression
of our love and friendship for Him and each other. Jesus said, ‘It is more
blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

A couple of days later the boy brought the teacher a
seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a
beautiful shell?” the teacher asked. The youth told her that
there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could
be found.

When he named the place, a certain bay several miles
away, the teacher was speechless. She knew that it would have
taken the young man hours to walk to the bay. Also, he would
have faced many dangers from the jungle and rocky cliffs of the
seacoast along the way. “Why, it’s gorgeous and wonderful,
but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me,”
the teacher joyfully explained.

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of the gift.”

If we care deeply then the walk is part of the gift.  If I care deeply about my family, my friends, my church, this island, then the time it takes to become known is part of the gift.

Dear Lord, please help me use my time wisely, so that I care for what it most important.  Amen

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Our trek to the most remote island chain in the world started almost 12 years ago.  Even though we never really felt compelled to travel here, we jumped at a chance to buy a voucher for two tickets at a garage sale.  We chose a hotel that was being remodeled.  We traveled one month after 9/11.  There was plenty of room to spread out on the beach, and we found really good deals at the market place.  The total trip cost around $1,000, with the tickets included.  We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by how much we were enjoying our surroundings.  About two days into the trip we prayed for God to show us how we would minister in this place.

A couple of years later my husband won a trip to a neighbor island through a sales promotion.  It was beautiful.  The island moved at an even slower pace.  The hotel upgraded our room to an ocean view.  We found the perfect breakfast place, and loved learning the local history.  Sitting on the beach during sunset with our feet in the surf while listening to a band play James Taylor covers was pretty magical.  Again, we prayed how God would have us minister in this place.

Not long after that my husband was invited to teach and train the sound team of a local church here on the island.  They graciously offered me a ticket to join him.  I spent the week reading books, swimming, and taking in the local sites, sounds, and cuisine.  It was a pretty sweet adventure.  We left wondering how God would end up using us on this Island.

Our home state is beautiful.  Our hometown is an hour from the beach and an hour from the mountains.  It didn’t take long to get to Mom and Dad’s, and an even shorter time to get to my in-laws.  Siblings and nieces live close by.  Why would we want to move away from it all?

Our family spent a month here the year before we moved.  By the end of that month we were invited to come join the church for a season.  We loved the people.  We really believed in the church’s core values, and  were encouraged by the emphasis they put on creatively sharing the Gospel.  It still wasn’t an easy decision.  We thought it through.  We knew we had to say yes, or we would regret for the rest of our lives.

It’s been almost a year.  We continue to pray how God wants us to use our gifts here in our new church.  We are still figuring out the balance of ministry life and family life.  It’s a bit more challenging, honestly a lot more challenging, without a support system like we had at home.

There have been moments of greatness, and that keeps us pushing forward.  In a future post I’ll share a timeline of events of this past year.  It’s been a doozie, but one that is full of the evidence of God’s handy work in getting us from there to here.

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Anyone who has spent time here will probably tell you a couple of things. “The Islands are beautiful.”  “Hawaiians are so welcoming.”  “Everything is so expensive.”  “The traffic is horrible.”

We knew all of these things before we moved here.  Our entire family came for a month a year and a half ago.  It was such a blessing.  Even though we lived on the edge of Waikiki we still had a taste of living local, and what it really would take to live here full-time.

My first trip for family grocery shopping left me tears.  I was only 3/4 of the way through the list and I had gone through what typically would have been a month’s food/incidentals budget.  I stood next to Jeff and had to fight off the tears.  How would we make it for the next month?  As always, God provided.  God continues to provide.

We’ve learned how to stretch things, that Costco is really an economical place to shop, and that what before would have been freezer meals are lunch for the next two days.  We don’t eat out very often, but we didn’t do that much before we moved.  (Oh wait, unless it was at the D.Q.  All those from home know which one I’m talking about.)  Simple first world problems, right?

We have also learned that, for now, we will have to drive to where ever we want to go.  That’s just how it’s going to be.  We have beach chairs, the beach bag, towels, and mats packed in the back of the car.  We always bring water bottles and snacks too.  It’s what homeschoolers do wherever they live, so that they are ready for an adventure in the school of the outdoors.  We just know that our gas budget is also doubled since we moved.  The cost of a yearly registration for one car is almost triple what we paid for a two-year registration.  We could ride the bus everywhere, but for this phase of life we are choosing to keep the cars.

It’s all part of life here on the islands.  We moved with our eyes wide open.  It gives us an ever grateful heart for the little things.  It forces an even deeper dependency on God.

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After well over a year, I’m back in the blogisphere.  I’ve been wanting to get back to posting since we decided to make the big move to the islands.  I’m still working out the format.  Should each day be a different topic?

We have experienced so much since moving here.  Ministry life in itself as a topic can fill volumes.  So much can be said about homeschooling.  Uprooting our family from a culture we’ve known our entire lives and transplanting into Polynesia is a topic I never thought I could address.  If you know me then you know I’ll share a little on each and probably a whole lot more.

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