Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mom, Dad, Look What I’m Doing

It has always fascinated me, the need children have for their parents to SEE what they are doing.  The little backward glances, to see if Mommy saw that cool high jump out of the swing to the persistent, “MOM, DAD… me dive, tumble, ……. “and you can fill in the blank.  It gets less verbal and sleeve tugging as the years slip into mature teens.  Yet there are still those eyes that meet yours across the court, when a goal is made.  Do I still as a middle aged woman desire my parents to SEE what I am doing and the world I am living in?  Do I still want their approval and affirmation?  Eyes catching mine and them trying to understand what is going on in my world?


And so what a delight this last month, that after living in a foreign land for 5 years, they came.  My Mom and Dad.  My Uncle and Aunt.  They saw.  They tasted and felt.  They touched.  They met many of my friends.  They walked where I shop.  It is not an easy walk.  There are piles of garbage and bad smells, smoke, intense heat, extreme poverty and too much to absorb in one pass.  They sat on our incredible tropical beaches and walked on our favorite lake road walk.  They saw glimpses of needs and mission and vision and dreams.  They sat in our hot, more than hot, pretty much non existent, air conditioned cars.  They came to the school and saw a dress rehearsal band concert.  They saw my children thriving. My husband was bombarded with deep cultural questions by them.  My children filled their overflowing senses with more:  music, songs, driving, a fully catered meal complete with outside dining, candles, flowers, music and so much thought.

And so now they understand.  Now they SEE.  A land and a life that words and pictures cannot fully express.

And now there is a deep part of me, that is so so so satisfied.  Knowing that MY Mom and Dad came, and looked, and noticed and saw what I and my family are doing.

It was a gift.  It was sacred. 4 nights and 5 days.  It was full of memories and goodness that cannot be measured.  But our eyes met, across my table, across my living room, across the car and our eyes understood.  Our eyes met again as they got swept away in the cue of people being cleared through security at the airport and it was ENOUGH.

Thank you Mom and Dad for still looking at your girl. 


About the time that I was working on this blog my parents sent an email.  Them reacting to what they saw.  It was meaningful to me and I have their permission to share it with you:


“”While everything is still relatively fresh in my mind……and before the routine of life here in Travelers Rest cause things to blur… is a listing (in no particular order) of sights, sounds, tastes, feelings and emotions of our Sentani visit.

>The constant swarms and “buzzing” of motor bikes and scooters, particularly in the City……coming at all angles and from al directions……with often little regard to safety.

>The comfort and safe location of your spacious and light-filled home which has most of the conveniences of Western living.

>The awesome boat ride and time spent with the family at the lovely middle beach and picnic there…..felt like we were on a private island paradise…..quite magical!





>The hap-hazard and illogical way things are done in Papua, often with no sense of logic or efficiency (e.g. road improvements between Sentani and the beach).  Only two traffic lights in town …..and one not working).

>The high standard of the facilities and faculty at Hillcrest International School ……which would exceed that of many schools in the USA.

>The missionary community at large……the dedication and commitment…..and strong support for each other, across denominational boundaries.  Very impressive and God-honoring.

>The inter-faith service…..enthusiasm and passion of those ministering…..meeting your friends and the final song about “taking Christ to the Nations”…..very appropriate and emotionally moving.

>Seeing our wonderful grandsons on their home turf…..and being able to observe their different personalities, characteristics and gifts.  Aubrey:  passion for music, maturity, great driver, willing helper, cool, collect and calm.  Andrew….so talented in every way (amazing that a 16 year old could pull off a candle light dinner for 10 with such class and style).  Jacob:  lovely to see him so happy, singing round the house, alive in the moment and thriving in his school experience.  Nathaniel:  not wanting to miss a thing, very quiet but absorbing it all, respectful and endearing.





>The native welcome dance around the camp fire arranged by Darron, and meeting Eric and Gary and their wives and family.


.>Having a greater appreciation, understanding and respect for the work Daron is doing among the indigenous people and visiting the clinic where Ruth works.  Meeting Fiona and Dr. Di and visiting Dr. Di’s home with barnyard, goat pens and experimental garden projects.



>The “blackboard” listing all the things that we would do and experience…..WHICH WE DID!

>All the efforts to make our living accommodation as comfortable as possible…..nice bedrooms, dedicated bathroom.

>Meeting your “helps” : wonderful cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing.

>The third world squalor: dirt, poverty, smells, lack of hygiene at the market.  But also seeing the smiling faces of the “wheel-barrow”guy who normally helps….and the girl at the vegetable stand where you usually go.



>The stark contrast between places of great beauty – The Lake country, mountains, ocean beaches, etc. and the squalor, rubble, unfinished projects and garbage.  Can’t be too critical as we see some of the same things in South Carolina. IMG_20161008_170133

>Coping with the heat and humidity…..especially outside the house.  Being blessed with very little rain.



>No buys or sickness.  The internet “hot spots” via your phones.

>The impoverished neighborhood and small dark home where the “3 girls” live. 

>The “live” hymn music filling the house from Daron’s playing on the piano.

>The lovely meals, drinks and tasty morsels that we constantly enjoyed.

>The opportunity to have our clothes washed and ironed after 10 days of travel.

>Evening candle-light supper at the school.

>Attending band practice at the school.  Seeing Aubrey in action and chatting with the Band director.



>Learning about how the various tribal laws still carry so much weight and often supersede government laws.

>Lots of love, laughs, and sharing with the family.  Three generations of us from 3 continents living together for a few days.

Wow!  When I review this list, and there are probably some things I've missed, I can’t believe that you managed to pack so much for us into the 4 nights and 5 days we were with you.  We wouldn’t have missed it for the world….neither would Sonia and Allan. 

Thank you so much again for all the planning, preparation, and effort you put into this (and all this, in the midst of your busy lives).  It was so much appreciated, an amazing experience , with unforgettable memories!!

Love, Dad and Mom”


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Caught Between Two Worlds, Called to ONE

He didn't ask to be brought up in a Western culture despite his Indonesian Passport, yet he was.  Attending Western level schools, eating Western food, Ryan by age sixteen is fully immersed.  A blessing most would say.  Ryan's father obtained his masters and doctorate in the  Philippines, during much of this time.  Abruptly his world changed, as Ryan's parents felt called back to their passport country to be "missionaries" in Papua.  Apprehensive, somewhat reluctant, and uncertain Ryan follows his parents to Papua.

I clearly remember the first time I met Ryan, this past August.  His story captivating me.  He was playing the clarinet for special music in church.  Beaming a beautiful smile that radiated peace.
We talked after church.  Perfect English, despite the Asian skin coloring.  Over a Mexican, Western lunch in our home, this sixteen year old boy shares his journey of the last two months.  Being placed into an Indonesian classroom, where he is forced to learn a language he has never had to understand, and deal with academic rhythms that make no sense.  Moving into a home, that fell way below the standards of what he is used to.  Being immersed in a culture that is so far removed from anything he has ever known.  Caught.  I found this boy, Ryan, caught between two worlds.  The world he grew up in and his passport world.
That afternoon as my boys and my student missionary girls, chittered and chattered around, to and over Ryan, I asked him a question.  "Ryan, are you overwhelmed?"  I'll never forget his answer.  "No, this is magical".  At last, he had stepped back into a world that was familiar to him.
Our friendship has developed over the last few months.


Many Sabbaths Ryan will join our crew as we fellowship over yummy food and outdoor excursions.  Ryan continues to radiate peace, even though he will admit that this has been difficult.  I recently asked Ryan what he intends to do upon graduating in a year and a half.  His response filled my heart with joy and pride.  "Aunt Ruth, I want to return to Indonesia and serve as a missionary."  Heart stopper!  I couldn't have paid him to have given a better answer.  Yet money, glamor and ease of life didn't grant this future goal.  Something and Someone much deeper is at work in Ryan's heart. 
So my question to you is: "Would you be willing to sponsor Ryan to attend the Christian International School that my own boys are attending?"  He needs to be back in a Western level school; however, he desires to continue to live here in Papua with his parents.  Ryan has half of his junior year and his senior year left.  The tuition is $2825.00 per semester.  Ryan's parents are getting a very meager missionary wage here, with no subsidy for this school.  Thank you for prayerfully considering sponsoring Ryan, so that he can be released from caught to be fully called.


*If you are interested in sponsoring Ryan, please message or email me and I will give you further information. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Delight for Dr. Di

What a privilege it has been to be mentored these last 5 years by Doctor Dianne Mathews.  Affectionately known as Dr. Di…..with no pun intended.



She is an incredible teacher and full of grace to us nurses.  I’m never afraid of how she will respond to decisions I make, though I don’t treat her kindness flippantly.  Her life is a story worth telling.  And it will take me several blogs to do so.  For now, I thought I would tease you with the things that delight Dr. Di.  For even though she enjoys patient care and gains much satisfaction from it, her real love is teaching AND puttering around with plants and animals and rocket stoves.  Her blue eyes come fully alive, when she knows that there is a project involving dirt, teaching and community development.

Just two weeks ago Dr. Di taught students from our seminary how to build a rocket stove.  The purpose of these stoves is to use way less fuel (wood) and create almost no smoke.  In many of the interior villages, smoke, from cooking fires inside the huts, is causing long term lung/health issues.  These rocket stoves are virtually free to make, using local clay, grass and water, with a banana stalk for a mold.  Everyone had so much fun mixing the red dirt into clay with their feet.  There was singing and joking as the clay balls were slapped down into shape, laying up the chimney of the stove. Dr. Di was in her element.  Teaching and then watching to see if her students understood by demonstrating back to her what she had just demonstrated.  It was inspiring to watch her joy and it was contagious.


If you swing by Dr. Di’s house on any given day, you will want to go see her aquaponic gardens.  Using PVC pipe, and drip irrigation….a simple pump, feeds the plants from the fish in the pool below.  With this method, Dr. Di has been able to grow many fun salad greens and items that the rest of us simply day dream about.  Also she has developed another aquatic garden, designed to fit in any standard small Indonesian yard.  It also uses the fish/pump/irrigation method but this time on a gravel bed.  Her goal is to provide ways that the local people can have gardens plus protein and to teach that they can do this with very little land.



Also on Dr. Di’s property are goats, plump healthy chickens and many healthy plants that contain whole proteins.  All of this is set up to be an example of local farming.  Using local materials and feed, but bringing in more productive lines of chickens and goats.  Dr. Di’s farm is a model and a live example for people to come see and be inspired by.



Dr. Di’s other passion is teaching her seminary students.  She loves when she can see the “light bulb” ahhh haaa   moments in their faces (when they saw the rocket stove fire up and flames shoot out the top, for instance). 

Some people may not understand this woman who is extremely diverse in her area of passions and gifting.  But thousands have been blessed by her knowledge and love for the Lord.  God has granted Dr. Di with a sharp mind and keen diagnostic skills.  Her 20 years of service here in Papua have not been in vain.   What a delight she is.  I have no doubt that the Lord takes great joy in the life of Dr. Di. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016


I’ve almost found my groove for this school year…….but honestly, I’m still wading through adjustments.  The biggest adjustment is that Jacob is in school half time.  This has been a giant step for him and delightfully positive.  We would not have taken that leap without the wonderful encouragement of Jacob’s special education teacher.  She has faithfully walked with us these past 3 years.  Even when Mrs. Kolb could not be here for three-fourths of last school year, she still encouraged me weekly with her supporting emails.  God brought her and her husband back last school year in March.  Roger, her husband, had recovered from an extensive skin cancer surgery on his foot.  Abruptly, last Friday, the Kolb’s flew back to America because a tumor was discovered in Roger’s brain.  We are believing that God will do EXCEEDINGLY MORE than we ask for Roger and bring healing to him once again.  Please join us in praying for him.  Many many students are affected by their departure, along with all the work and responsibility that Roger carried in the IT department with MAF.

Jacob being in school half time is fueling my desire to get my nurse practitioner degree.  This has been my hearts desire for the past 10 years.  It has about reached a burning burst of energy.  Yet, I am praying to not run ahead of God and wait for the green flag from Him.  More prayer requests!!!!  There are specific things that need to happen before I can move forward.  Exceedingly More than I ask……is how I believe God will answer.

I am super excited about a NEW dream that has emerged just since last Saturday.  I was sitting in church and noticed a girl with a large wound on her elbow.  My mind wandered to an email that our doctor had sent out, regarding a seminary she is working with starting a clinic because of all the health needs.  At our school next door we have over 300 students on that campus daily.  When we chatted with the dorm parents, they enthusiastically agreed that medical help was much needed.  Wanting to go through the proper channels and inspire local leadership, this will take time and be a process.  However, the idea of providing input to medical needs locally is thrilling.  Soon we will begin the ground work of setting up a clinic.  Exceedingly more than we ask……..

Our “girls” are settling in so well.  We are very proud of them.  They are growing in their confidence to spread their wings and do things more and more on their own.  We have developed a pattern each week of our interactions together.  So on Wednesday, and Friday nights our table is full with youthful chatter.  Along with all day Saturday too.  On Sunday afternoons they usually come over to bake and/or do laundry.  I’m sure as time goes along, we will make more adjustments.  I am believing that God will use these girls exceedingly more than we ask…..

I can only imagine what and where God is taking each of you, my friends.  I know that we ALL cry out at times for just a touch of grace from above.  It’s hard sometimes to imagine that God is ready to lavish Exceedingly More than we ask……but this is what I have been pondering on all this last week.  I know it’s true.  Let me know what you are asking for and how God answers.  It will be EXCEEDINGLY MORE!




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tools of Insight

I didn’t know it would be so easy to get medical equipment for our up and coming medical aviation program.

All I did was ask, link needs to Amazon and my blog, and YOU gave.  Thank you. 

Much work is being done to set this program all in motion.  Please know that your gift of faith and love will bless many many in need.  I can’t wait to tell you stories about how God will use these tools of insight to bring accurate diagnosis and healing.

Please pray for God speed, blessing and open doors as we try to set dreams into motion.  Thank you for responding.

IMG_20160912_172411 (1)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mission Romance

The longer I am a “missionary” the harder I grapple with “Romance”in the field.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I am not dissatisfied with my spouse of 20 years.  But honestly, dating and being romantic, in a third world country is daunting.  It’s not that we haven’t made valiant attempts at it, but drunk men on the road with long knives, a very long tiring drive to a decent restaurant (3 hours round trip), the lack of easy safe places to go, just take it out of us.  We won’t mention (or maybe we will) the hot weather, constant non stop demands and pressures, and the spiritual warfare that is never ending.  UGH!  Romance?!

On our summer trip to America, a church friend asked, “What is the biggest challenge you are facing in the field right now?”  Never good at hiding my honest feelings I blurted, “Romance!”  That got a few passer-by eyebrows raising.  Hopefully it got a few more saints praying!!!!!  ha ha

A few days after that fantastic church conversation, someone gifted Darron and I to a week alone.  Honestly, the accommodations were nice but not exquisite.  There was not an abundance of activities that we would indulge or get distracted with.  It was simply time alone.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of it.  Uninterrupted.  Uncomplicated.  I relished in the fact that I could turn the AC off and open the door in the middle of the July warmth and allow my Papua blood to adjust.  I basked in preparing simple meals with fun, clean, cheap, easy American options.  And a dishwasher.  We hiked trails and more trails and more trails.  We watched a marriage series of DVD’s that was so sharpening to both of us. I drank deep of being alone and being still together.  ROMANCE?  On the scale of romance it would probably rate a 5 or 6 out of a 10.

Positively, I LEARNED something.  That romance and love have different seasons and different ways of expressing itself.  I discovered that it was completely enough to be alone with the one I love.  That we didn’t long for great eateries or parks or shows or entertainment.  We just needed to carve time for each other.  In Papua I longed for places to go and nice things to do.  Yet in reality, when we were In America, we only chose to hike and eat out occasionally.

How does romance look now?  Now that we are back in mission world?   Well, its back to life and pressure and not enough time, but 2 weeks in a row we have carved out several hours in the middle of the day.  Thanks to one of our “”girls” who has offered to manage the younger ones.  Yes, we are completely alone, in our room, with the door shut and the phones off.  Is it highly romantic?  Nope.  But for this season, I now know, that this is exactly how we can have TEN, yes a score of 10, in Mission Romance. 

So to seasoned “Missionary Mary”,who told me that this is how her and her husband have survived many many years here.  To all the other couples here and flung around the world, serving. May your soul be fully satisfied with the one whom God gave you to love.  May your cup overflow with ideas toward each other, in how to be intentional.  And may you grant each other the time (quality time, not falling into bed exhausted time) to be still and know that you both still love each other deeply. Keep praying my dear eye raising church members because Romance in the Mission world is a lot of work!  Thanks for asking good questions. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Messy Mission Mentoring

I’m not sure why the word, “Messy”, keeps coming to mind???!  Other than, that is what missions seems at best.  Messy.  Nothing is clear cut.  Simple.  The way planned.  Or easy.  Well maybe I shouldn’t say, “nothing”.  Yet, messy, best describes how I feel after just finishing week #1 back in the mission land.

Mind you, it is hard enough to land in 3rd world country, Papua, with 5 men/boys pulling me along.  Trying to get them settled, in a routine, unpacked, fed, listened too.  There are groceries to buy and veggies and fruit to soak in bleach water.  Gone are the nicely packaged pre rinsed 3 times, organic power greens, to make that amazing salad in 5 minutes flat.  And where did this mold come from that is lining all the bathroom drawers?  Yikes, one car would not start……  Yes, mind you, all of that was enough to make me think MESSY, MESSY, MESSY…..but we also landed with 3 young adult girls in tow.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am delighted that they are here. It’s my turn to pay back mission mentoring time.  I’ve been reflecting a lot this week on my mission mentor (in between driving to school and buying food and wiping mold and feeding 9 hungry mouths frequently).  Dawn.  Dawn was brave enough to take Michelle and I in for our student mission year.  She also was just returning to the jungle of Palawan, Philippines.  With a husband, and two little girls, one of whom was just 2 months old.  But that jungle living, in a bamboo hut, with no indoor toilet, a 3 hour hike into the jungle, makes my world seem like a dream of ease.  I am so humbled, because, I have never fully paused to appreciate what Dawn did for me that year.

She taught me how to be a gracious woman.  How to live way outside of my comfort zones.  Also, how to learn to like rice and to cook in very humble settings.  She taught me how to make bread over a fire, by steaming it.  Dawn was not a nurse at that time, but she knew so much about tropical diseases.  I could write paragraphs about the things I learned that year.  It was such a formative year in my life.  I am positive that everyone, included Ray and Dawn, gave more to me, than I to them.  And just when I was getting useful, really useful, it was time to go.

There have been more mentors along the way.  I think of Penny and Bryan, when we landed in Bandung.  What do you do without these lifeline people? Bryan you found our language school.  Penny, you fed us for 10 days.  That is a long time.  And Jan, when we arrived here.  You patiently took me shopping and to the market, over and over again, while I tried to navigate life in Papua.  You fed us many amazing meals, while we tried to gather our bearings.  You answered all of our endless questions, along with Bob.  Who built us our beautiful home and tired to impart to Darron his dreams and visions for the work in Papua.

Maybe when I/we arrived to each of you, life was swirling around in full mission spin and it felt messy to you.  However, when I look back, my heart is only full and grateful.  Seeing how all the disjointed puzzle pieces, settled into a beautiful picture.

So I am praying that I can be a loving, nurturing mentor to these girls that God has placed in our lives this year.  That I can pay back a portion of all the gorgeous “not-so messy” mission mentoring that has been given to me.

For one week down we have had to deal with a messy school schedule for the girls (they will be teaching science at the International school).  Now that is all sorted out.  Then we had to wade through the mess of finding them a nice safe home and get it furnished and stocked.  We’ve made great progress, but we are still lacking some furniture.  There is still the messiness of language learning, transportation, cooking and living independently.  But smothered in all this mess is THREE GIRLS, coming and going from our home.  Bringing female delight into;this male world. 

It’s messy mission mentoring time.  I’m looking forward to this year.  It’s going to be as good as that chocolate bar the 4 of us girls shared on the way home from our big MESSY shopping trip, yesterday.  The chocolate was melting in the crazy hot mission mobile, but it sure tastes better with 3 girls to share it with.  Here is to: Mentoring.  Here is to: Missions.  And here is to: Messes!  Let’s do it girls!