Archive for March, 2014

Heading back to Narnia and Having a Baby There

Many of you are aware that Janessa and I will be flying back to Narnia on Saturday to try to get back in the groove again. We are extremely thankful for the time we have been able to spend with family to attempt to sort through the mess of emotions that mom’s death left in us. To be in a position financially to get back to the States with the sort of work that we do being thousands of miles away, yet still be able to spend this sort of time with family is a huge blessing. We count those blessings and understand they are by no means to be taken for granted. Living in a country where many cannot afford the next meal makes these blessings all the more real for us.

While my heart still aches and the pain of watching those I love suffer through this sort of loss is unbearable at times, I know we need to get back in the saddle and ride. Mom would want that and more importantly, it is just a necessary part of moving forward. So we’re still broken, but eager to get back into language study with an eventual move to the village in October. We also will likely have a couple new teammates coming around that time which is super-exciting as well. October gives us a vivid picture and time to look forward to in developing language skills and deepening our understanding of our new community.

Another reality really pushing us to get back is Janessa’s 7 month pregnancy. The baby is use soon and we’d be unable to fly if we don’t head back sooner than later. It has been our commitment from the beginning to have our little guy in Narnia as we feel the facilities and doctors are adequate and we have talked for years about living among the folks we serve and trying our best to live at a similar level they do. We will always and forever have a dollar sign on our forehead but having our baby in Narnia is a personal commitment we talked about years before the pregnancy. We are extremely excited about having our baby in the capital and raising him in the village.

People keep asking me if we’ll be able to live in the village or raise our child there. (This is usually preceded by asking why we don’t just stay in the US to have our child) I get where their question is coming from. Of course we couldn’t answer this question since we’ve never done it before. But Narnians have been doing it for years – having babies, raising them, and seeing them develop into strong men and women. We pray that we can do the same but model a Christ-centered, Christ-exalting family as we go. None of us are ever promised success and, at least in my life, the things God wants for me are typically uncomfortable. The very things that give God the most glory often times are the most challenging. So to that end, we keep obeying Jesus and let the nay sayers talk, watching the chips fall where they may. Man, what would we ever do without the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and a band of people around us who love Jesus? So thankful!

We wouldn’t want to live any other way and I’m thankful to have a wife who is so committed to Jesus, living simply, and loves Narnians so, so much. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more baby news and the progress of our language study. Excited to get back despite the difficult goodbyes to come.

Mom, Eternity, and Moving Forward

As most of you are aware, I lost my mom due to a sudden heart attack on February 18th. Nothing can really prepare you for the death of someone so dear and close, especially when it was as sudden and unexpected as this. We are mortal. Death knocks on every door. This time it was my family. We were fortunate enough to make a return trip to the US and our time with Dad and the rest of my family has been extremely valuable.

I always joke with colleagues, pastors, and other missionaries that eschatology (a Biblical study of last things) has been and still remains my weakest area of Biblical understanding. If you asked anyone from the small church I pastored in St. Paul, they probably do not remember too much teaching on Revelation or a study of last things. It is not that I was trying to intentionally avoid it as much as it was that I never had a real sense of clarity on so many of the events. So much speculation arises and so many well-studied people have disparate views. Interesting, with the death of mom however, heaven, the new heavens and new earth, and the full inauguration of God’s Kingdom are all topics I’ve meditated much upon in these days. Dad and I have sat and talked a lot about mom, where she is, what she is doing, how we should continue to relate to her, what sort of involvement we have now and in the future with her. 45 years with my dad in marriage and 34 years with me on this earth hardly seemed enough and we say goodbye with hope. I have held close to Romans 8 which I preached at mom’s funeral. We are living in the tension of God’s Kingdom being a present reality but not fully realized. One day we will understand the full weight and experience the overwhelming domination and display of God’s glory. We live in that tension and must live in such a way that understds that God’s Kingdom is in our midst and we are celebrating now what will be enjoyed for all eternity. To that end I think about my neighbors in Nepal, social injustice, the poor being forgotten, and what role Ty and Janessa have to play. God himself, Romans 8 quotes, moans and utters over all creation, longing in His prayers for His own reality. What a persevering, loving, Immanuel God we follow.

Eternity is in view. Mom’s death is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I have never cried so intensely with that sort of pain. I also have never seen my father, also my very best friend, mourn with such loss and sadness. It truly brings the phrase “heart-broken” to a fresh, understood experience. We are learning as a family though, that you can recover. You can go on and the intense heart-break does not stay at such a painful level that you cannot live again or move forward. In the midst of such deep pain, I do think about eternity a lot right now and how little most of the cccares of my life have to do with the eternal view. I am also not sitting here singing songs about getting out of this wicked world and floating on the clouds somewhere. That is not my understanding or picture of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. I have a longing in my soul for a new heavens and new earth where God’s glory will cover the earth and His justice will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.

In 2 weeks we will fly back to Narnia, leaving behind a grieving father and sister in a very difficult place in her life. Life moves forward. There is still a Kingdom that must be announced, demonstrated, and enjoyed. Goodbyes are painful, temporary or permanent. But there is really no alternative in these sorts of situations. We move forward, even when it seems forward is an illusion. God’s grace makes sure paths in the jungle. (Psalms 23 and Proverbs 3:3-6 help me as I think of this. Mom was an amazing example of what it meant to follow Jesus. I still am learning to enjoy fellowship with her as I pray to God. and talk with her in prayer. Eternity is in my eyes,,, lived in Kingdom-reality now with neighbors and friends. Thanks for praying and walking with us through the valley.