SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not to change the subject...

You just never know what to expect when you're talking to 5-year-olds. I'm sure my Kindergarten teacher friend, Lynn, has a book full of funny kid comments. Sitting in on our local homeschool group classes yesterday, I was privy to some classic kid-comments myself. This was my favorite:

Mr. Johnson was leading 30-minute character classes for three different groups of children between the ages of 5 and 10. I was shadowing Gabe who is part of the 5-6 year-old group. When I walked into the classroom and saw the word "Attentiveness" on the board I had to laugh. I asked Mr. Johnson if he was going to be leading a 30-minute lesson in futility with this age group on that subject. I'm not so sure if he knew exactly what I was getting at but he gave a half-hearted chuckle. After this exchange I'm sure he knew what I meant.

He was talking to the kids about ways that they could show that they were being attentive. That included sitting up straight, not fidgeting, looking at the person who was talking, and responding as the person spoke to show that they were listening.

As he gave the list to the dozen children in the room about half of them were actively demonstrating how NOT to show attentiveness, and I think they were all boys. One little girl was answering every question correctly with her quietly-raised hand while sitting properly in her seat. (I think Grant was daydreaming of getting even with her on the soccer field, which is probably why he fell off of his chair.)

Mr. Johnson asked the children how they should respond to an adult who is talking to them and not even Miss Answer-right was raising her hand. He proceeded to give them ideas,
"You could say, 'Yes sir', or 'Yes maam', or Yes Coach', or 'Yes mom', or 'Yes dad', or maybe 'Yes grandpa', or 'Yes grandma'."
A little girl raised her hand and Mr. Johnson called on her. She added,
"My grandma had a cat....but the dog ate it."
She proved one thing for sure, some subjects are sure to get everyone's attention!

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Lovely Ladies

While Keith and Daniel were half a globe from home and Chet was half a day away playing football, I planned a White Women's Weekend for my daughters/daughters-in-law. What a pleasure it was to spend an evening and a day with such an exceptional group of young women!

It took a bit of doing to make it all possible.
--Joey stayed home with Carson and Keira and gave Jamie the weekend off to be with the girls. Thank you Joey!!
--Keith and David kept Vince and Karissa at Keith's house so that Ellen and Coley could be free and we could use Dana's house for our night out and slumber party. Thank you Keith and David!!
--Lisa's friend Katie had a birthday overnight party allowing Lisa to get a fun night out while I spent the evening with just the adult daughters (Lisa joined us for the baby shower the next day). Thank you Katie!!
--And finally, Clara F. came to the house to care for Gabe while my boys were at the homecoming football game. Thank you Clara!!
It took a lot of cooperation, love, and sacrifice to allow us to have our weekend!

We met at an area restaurant for supper--yeah, no cooking!

After dinner we headed to Dana's house for the evening. We talked, ate M&Ms, had a devotional, and wrote out cards for each woman telling her something positive that we appreciated about her or an attribute that we saw in her. You can see how seriously everyone took it.

It wasn't all serious, though. We played a game, ate more M&Ms, and drank coffee and hot chocolate. Beautiful girls!!

On Saturday, a baby shower was given to first time moms Priscilla and Dana.

Our three expectant mothers, all looking wonderful!

I feel immeasurably blessed to have these six lovely ladies in my life, and to have spent a very special weekend with them all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Love Looks Like

(Note: Keith has now returned from India and I will post a summary from him when he has one, hopefully Sunday night. )

When Keith left for India more than 2 weeks ago this was in our backyard.

Every year our friend Russ delivers a load (this is 12 cords) that Keith and the boys cut up and stack to feed this.

Thus, our home is heated, keeping us alive through the brutal winter months (21st century or not, no we do not have electric or gas back up). Usually, there is a small stack left over from the previous year that gets added to when the next load comes in. Here's what we had left from last year.

And that is all we had when Keith left for India. You may be thinking, "Go to the ant sluggard" and chiding him mentally for not getting the job (or at least part of it) done before leaving. However, your thinking would be amiss.

The wood was scheduled for delivery the first week of July. It came the first week of September. Shortly after the delivery of the wood Keith received an email from one of the missionaries in India with a schedule of preaching/teaching/evangelistic services in which he was to participate (he and Daniel ended up leading a combined 18 hours of services in 4 days). Keith spent every minute of free time (ie not at work) studying and preparing for the trip.

While Keith was taking care of "God's business", God was watching out for Keith's, in several ways. First of all, we had an unseasonably warm 2-week long "Indian Summer" during Keith's absence. We didn't need the heat. Secondly, he raised up a group of family and friends who chose to show their love for us in a very tangible way.

David, Dana's husband, organized an effort to come to our house after work one day last week and attack the wood pile. I offered to feed the crew and the result is the closest thing I've experienced to an old-fashioned barn raising.

I spent most of the day making muffins, baking bread, and cooking beef roast with onions and carrots. The first vehicle pulled into our driveway at about 4:50 but I never saw the workers, they went straight to the woodpile. I continued cooking and setting out dishes with the help of some of the wives who added more food.

At about 6:00 I took a break to see the work in progress. I was blown away and moved to tears by what I saw.
David, the mastermind of the operation

Jerry (rear), the chainsaw wonder

The cut logs were loaded onto a truck and driven about 75 yards to the barn for stacking. Bryce was in his own little heaven as he was given the job of driving the truck.

Marty (green shirt below) was a walking miracle among us. Just 13 days before this picture was taken he lost control of his motorcycle, hit a semi, and laid the bike down on the highway--wearing jeans and a t-shirt (and a helmet) and going 65 mph. He is definitely still in recovery mode from deep bruises, scrapes, abrasions, and a puncture wound; but, he joined the crew, and even threw a few logs...amazing.

The chainsaws shut down at 7:00 when it got too dark to see. I had supper ready but no one came in. I headed out at about 7:20 to see what was going on and found the entire crew gathered in the dim light by the barn still passing and stacking.

It doesn't look like much here, but those 20 workers (and 10 additional wives and small children) downed 12 pounds of roast beef, 4 pounds of carrots, 12 pounds of potatoes, 3 quarts of applesauce, 3 loaves of homemade wheat bread, 55 cranberry walnut muffins, a pan of oatmeal bread, 2 pints of apple butter, a pan of pumpkin bars, and a pan of blueberry cobbler.

The tears came to my eyes more than once during the evening. Love can be overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

India Trip Part 7

This is Ellen~

I just received this from Daniel, he typed it at about 1 pm their time, or 3 am our time. They're looking forward to coming home--not too much longer before they can get to the airport now.

what else should we have expected but more of the unexpected. there wasn't anything we could do. the way the Delhi airport is set up, we had to get from our arrival at 10:50 through a mile (?) long hallway to the main terminal area, get through some checkpoints before we could get to the baggage claim. by that point it was already too late to get our boarding passes, because the American Airlines counter closed at 11:15 for our 12:30 departure. frustrating. I kept repeating 1 Thessalonians 5 in my head over and over. God blessed us though, because an Indian immigrant to the US 20 years ago, was in the same situation as we were, and with his language skills, it was all arranged for Air India to get us a hotel room 5 minutes away, the cab service and everything. what a blessing! versus sleeping on some bench in the airport. we are getting our meals for free today, and at 9pm we head back to the airport and everything is just delayed 24 hours. strange that we experienced exactly a 24 hour delay at the start of our trip too.

I have to look at it as an opportunity to trust God, to find my joy in Him, and not to rely so heavily on my own plans and expectations.

we're stuck in the hotel until 9pm, so I'm hoping to read a bunch, maybe use the gym, pray, and reflect on the trip.

I can hardly wait to have him back! It's been such a good thing to be in a busy household full of distractions and diversions so I haven't had to watch the clock tick!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

India Trip Part 6

I believe this will be the final post before the men return. As expected we heard very little from them during their final leg of their trip. I received a few texts that give a small picture of how they were interpreting their surroundings:

Sunday night:
Laying down near the end of the earth.

Monday morning:
Last travel day today. About 10 hours of driving ahead in between service stops. Looking forward to tonight back at Saripalli home in bed.

Monday evening:
We're currently in the 4th lane of a 2 lane road. By far the craziest driving experience of my life--far worse than Manhattan and more dangerous than anything with all the thousands of humans along the way. Spaghetti supper awaits with Gaynor and family if we make it.

Monday night at 11 pm:
Made it. Able to sit down to table for supper. Looking so forward to bed.

Received earlier today, Tuesday evening in India:
Am on the plane in Hyderabad. Halleluia. I have enjoyed this immensely and have no regrets about the effort. Heading for 5:20 am arrival time in Chicago, IL USA

Ellen and I watched the clock throughout the day and commented on where they were and how soon they would be here. Kind of like counting your chickens before they are hatched I'm afraid. The phone rang at 2:30 pm (1:00 am India time) when the plane should have been flying westward over the western edge of India with Keith and Daniel in their seats. It was Keith, not in his seat. His first words were, "I have bad news". Thankfully it wasn't catastrophic news, just bad. They were not able to board for reasons that Keith was not willing to divulge during his one-minute call. He mentioned something about "rules in India" and "closing the gate" and "not making sense". Lord willing, they will be on the next flight (24 hour delay) and there can be a full post of the more significant aspects of the trip by this weekend.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

India Trip Part 5

This email was sent on Thursday night
This will probably be my last contact. Am writing you from Saripalli living room. Wonderful family. Tomorrow we begin the journey to the field for days till the end. Excited about the new experiences that await us. The time in NE India exceeded all expectations.
However, it was not our last contact. I have received a phone call and several texts. I seems very strange to be texting half-way around the world, for 5 cents a text! He said there is no more need for secrecy. Saripalli refers to Indian native/pastor/missionary Joel Saripalli from near Hyderabad. (In our homeschool research we have learned that Hyderabad is a sort of "Christian stronghold" in India--with a 'whopping' 2.9% considered to be Christians and 1/3 of those considered evangelistic.)

Keith and Daniel spent Thursday evening the Saripalli home with Joel, his wife Gaynor, and their four sons. He spoke very highly of them all. We met the Saripallis about 2 1/2 years ago when they were in the US and it seems their gracious spirits are present at home as well as abroad. More from Keith, Friday morning:
Off to Gloyland today and points east till reach ocean.
Sent Friday night:
Laying down to sleep. 11:20 pm. Vijawayda, in "house" on bank of Krishna River where many Durga goddesses from Hindu festival have been disposed in tonight while we were worshipping in bldg adjacent to Pastor Boaz (Christian name) house. What an experience.
I'm not sure if he may have meant "disposed of" but then I'm not too sure what that would really mean either. It's something when something is so foreign that the explanation needs explaining. I hope to hear more.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

India Trip Part 4

Here are a few observations from Daniel on the first leg of their trip. They are now at their second destination and I look forward to hearing news of their travels soon.
It’s been an incredible trip. This first part ...has been amazing. The people are wonderful. The way the classes have gone, we teach for 30-45 minutes, and _____takes notes the whole time because only half the theology class (of 45 students) understands English and the rest speak ____________. Then, when we are done he goes over what was taught in (their language) so the rest of the class can get it, and even the English speaking ones can get another take in their mother language. Can you believe the classes have been some of the best parts of the trip? .....Maybe I am just getting more and more comfortable as a teacher, but really I think it is all just the Lord. He has given me insight in preparing that I could not have manufactured on my own. He has helped me put the classes together just right, and then has given me additional words and points to make once I am actually teaching that I didn’t plan on saying, but fit perfectly into the flow of the message... I took the chapel time this morning for the students of ____________, (grades 6-10)...

Anyway, all this is just to say that the teaching has been a huge blessing, and that’s a surprise because I thought it would be the worst part. I’ve been convicted of my lack of faith, and lack of trusting God, and His design in putting me in this situation, and instead grumbling about “why me, why this burden.” He has provided me with everything I have needed and more in order to do this work, and sometimes He has done it the day before, or the day of, or even in the very moment.

I keep thinking how cool it would be to take some young guys from the church over here to see the campus and the culture and everything involved. it would be such an eyeopener for some people. It’s very similar here to what I experienced in Haiti, except not quite as bad. Haiti is pretty bad. Maybe it will be worse in __________, that’s what _______said anyway, like hardcore slums, but here it isn’t so bad. _____________still has swarms of people, cars, bikes, animals all swarming everywhere. It’s crazy.

We just got back from hanging out with some medical students from the medical university here in _________. They are believers, and were actually at the campus that ________oversees this past weekend for a camp. They are all involved in....a campus parachurch ministry, similar to Campus Crusade, but I think a bit more doctrinally sound. We met them on Sunday, but they went home Monday and your dad wanted to see them some more, so we went in, looked at the hospital and medical center, and then saw their dorms and hung out for a couple hours. It was really fun, good fellowship with these guys, and just a blessing.

I’ve been praying more, reading, meditating, memorizing, studying, preaching, teaching, fellowshipping, singing, praising, thanking, laboring for the Lord to a degree I don’t think I ever have before, and it feels good. I am tired but not worn out. I feel spent in a good way, because I know that it matters. I feel so blessed to be here, and I’m just looking forward to what else the Lord is going to do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

India Trip Part 3

I received this yesterday:
Wow! Another day done. We are back in hotel room at 8pm. Dark at 5pm here. I will list events only with little commentary to give you sense of our experiences.

October 1, Day 1 in India, land about 2pm, picked up at airport by _______ and _______ , 30 minute drive to hotel – mayhem and chaos that takes your breath away, 3 hours of conversation at hotel, prep for preaching/teaching.

Day 2, Sunday - hotel breakfast; picked up by _______and taken to “campus”; 45 minute drive for about 15 miles with roads and living conditions that are stunningly bad; stop at _______village where church has been planted, enter one of Hindu believers “home” where 7 people live (you would never again complain about anything in your home); arrive at campus; I preach message from John 3 on “Seeing/entering the kingdom of God” to group of about 250; Daniel and I are honored with gifts following service; lunch at _______house; sit down with _______children; give (2) ________college of theology classes; conversations with _____and ______; back to hotel.

Every trip to/from hotel is a somewhat overwhelming experience as you take in your surroundings and the hundreds of activities you see going on during the drive including various stops along the way for miscellaneous supplies and military check points. The effects of the economic blockade are apparent with gas lines and increased tension felt by “campus” people as regular food supplies dwindle and concern grows over availability and prices.

Day 3, Monday – _______picks us up again; conversations understanding the ministries; (2) _______classes; lunch; (2) more classes; tour downtown region including touring marketplace by foot (will take hours to describe the scenes).

Day 4, Tuesday – _______picks us up 7:30; errands along way; coffee and conversation upon arrival; chapel with children from _______, Daniel speaks; final _______classes including presentation of music CD to me and Daniel, farewell; lunch; tour of campus (again hours to describe the homes, agricultural features, animals, facilities, etc.) including meeting _______’s parents 84 and 82 yrs old; on to town with stop to visit pastor of _______, evangelize Hindu family, speaks of his own conversion and the influence of resurrection upon his own change; __________ Medical Services facility visit and visit with medical students who had attended the Sunday services as part of evangelistic crusade; back to hotel about 8pm.

Expecting tomorrow to focus on children ministry. I get to experience your day.

Daniel also sent an email that had quite a few descriptions of what is going on and how he feels God working in and using them this week. Ellen offered to let me post some of it which I will try to do tomorrow.

The men are leaving today for another part of the country and will tour with another missionary before returning home. My understanding is that their situation will not be quite as restrictive and secretive but I'll wait to hear from Keith and let him confirm that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

India Trip Part 2

Here are some excerpts from yesterday's communication.
Time is going incredibly well here.
Overwhelmed with newness.
Not yet adjusted to clock. Trying to stay up later tonight. I think if I can make it to 9pm will be good.
Food has been ok. no digestion issues.

In response to my question about what to post on the blog he said:
I have not looked at your blog yet, but can tell you they have been very specific with instruction not to put anything specific on internet. And after seeing all of the military guns and spies and “intelligence” people evidence just for me and Daniel - I get the local picture very well. More convinced than ever before that America has been richly blessed by our God for our collective worship of Him as a society. The effects of spiritual darkness are so clear here as you take in the “normal” way of life of the non-believing portion of the people.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

India Trip

Keith, along with our son-in-law, Daniel, went to India for a 2-week missions trip last week. I've been updating so many people that I thought it would be easiest to just post the update here for all interested parties to see.

The men were scheduled to leave on Wednesday evening but upon check-in at the airport they were told they could not access this at-risk country (even as tourists) without a visa. Not knowing if they could get a visa or switch their flight plans they pushed ahead asking God to work the nearly impossible. One airline ticket agent told them it would cost $3000 each to make the switch. The visa application states that it should take 1-3 days to get an approved visa.

They spent Wednesday evening driving around Chicago to locate the embassy and find a hotel close to it. They showed up at the embassy at 9 AM with their completed visa applications (with photo thanks to a late night Walgreens). They were given no promises but told to come back before the 6:00 pm closing time. They ended up walking out of the embassy with approved visas at 5:50, made it to the airport with 20 minutes to spare (check in regulation time) and departed at 9:45. The additional cost was $0. They knew the fault was theirs that they didn't have the necessary paperwork completed. They knew the credit was God's that they were delayed by only a day.

I heard from Keith to know that they made it to London (1st leg of the trip). Last night I got an email that confirmed the next 3 legs were successful as well. It took them 30 hours to arrive at their destination (exact locations are being withheld unless I get permission from Keith to post, they are being warned of secrecy for the safety of those with whom they are working).

Here is an excerpt from the email:

Following examination from Indian "intelligence" at ________ airport, were met by _____________outside terminal building.

Evidence of 3rd world surround us--everywhere.

Being cautious/careful, yet friendly as much as possible (example, when guy exchanging USDollars to rupee asks me where I am staying in __________ and what is phone number, I say myob).

Both of us are wide awake (for hours now--it is 4 am). I will be preaching for the main worship service 10 am or so. Will be extremely full Lord's day with as many as 4 separate teaching/preaching sessions with variety of audiences--entire church assembly, children 13-17 years old, theology adult students, and college students 20 years old and higher. Speaking challenges will abound. Looking forward to see how the Spirit works out this day.

Join me in praying for them on this trip. I will keep posting as I learn new information.