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.

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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!



Friday, July 22, 2016

For Those Who Want to Help

As we finish our third week in America today, we are reminded daily of how generous Americans are.  They have opened up their homes to us and fed us.  They have gifted us with a week away for Darron and I.  And very practical things like deodorant and Taco bell sauce!!! : )
Yet, many of you are still asking:, “How can we help?”
We have medical items that are needed.  This is the link.  You can click and purchase whatever you feel led to give. https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/13BG4CELV2KMT/ref=cm_wl_list_o_3   For some reason when people click on this link out is wanting to mail to them.  Our mailing address is: 1052 Mount Pleasant Rd.  Cookeville, TN. 38506.

In more detail these items are needed because this year at our aviation program we intend to target 5 villages (remote and unreached) and along with Indonesian doctors and nurses focus on bringing health to them.  Our goal is to visit each village 9 to 10 times throughout the year providing preventative teaching and clinics. 
Anything you can give will be helpful.  Thank you.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Somewhere Between 700 Trucks and 3 People

Numbers shouldn’t define who we are.  In nursing school we were often talked to about knowing the patient name, not just their room number.  Yet numbers have crept into the very depth of my soul.  We are a family of SIX.  We have FOUR boys.  We have now been missionaries for FIVE years.  We will soon be married for TWENTY years.  Numbers remind us of passing time and changing seasons. 

As only THREE people sat at our dinner table tonight, I thought maybe you would enjoy an update on this summer season we are in. 

Currently our TWO airplanes cannot fly.  Please pray about that.  While this has been discouraging, I have admired what Gary has been doing with his on ground time.  SEVEN HUNDRED PLUS truck loads of gravel have been added to our grass runway so that when it rains it is not so soft and muddy.  Also a drainage ditch is being added.  This has been a huge project to manage and have vision for.  Also Gary has been using the time to go to many meetings regarding our dream and vision to start a medical aviation program.  If God be for us, no ONE can be against us.


ONE of my problems with home school is I tend to delay or put on hold things that can wait.  So June has been crazy full for me.  TWO of the things I will highlight are:  hosting all the area Pastor wives for a day.  Over TWENTY of them came, along with their husbands and children.  For some reason the sky’s decided to gift us with rain all day long.  The blessing: it was cooler.  The frustration:  with SEVENTY plus people here and rain it added to the intensity of our time together.  The children could not play so freely outside and the husbands sat under our carport, avoiding rain splashing in.  Despite the rain I believe all the ladies enjoyed painting.  TWENTY TWO canvas’s left the house and hopefully our love and encouragement went with them.




Another fun June project was teaching FOUR ladies how to suture.  They practiced on chicken breasts.  Most of these ladies will work in remote tribal groups in the near future.

The FIRST born son, Aubrey, took wing from the nest at the end of May and flew to America.  There he is working at a summer camp.  I am quite certain he is learning more than we or he imagined.  Aubrey turns EIGHTEEN in days.  Only ONE year left with this young man living in our home.  I have had him living under our roof for more years than I imagined and for this I am ever grateful.  He is excited about his Senior year in Papua.  Aubrey and Noah have been friends since babies.



Andrew, the SECOND oldest, took wing last Sunday and flew to Jakarta.  There he is hanging out with Pastor Jasper (a friend and a tremendous photographer/videographer).  They went waterfall/volcano chasing.




Our table went from SIX to FIVE to FOUR when Andrew left.  I miss his humor, and cooking with me in the kitchen and more…..  so thankful that both sons are keeping in touch.

Last Friday, husband number ONE ; ), flew away to build the THIRD jungle chapel in ONE month.  Super proud of his determination, heart and goals.  On my birthday this past week (I’m sure I am just TWENTY TWO???!) he took the whole day off and took me to the beach and just spoke my love language all day, by simply being with me. We found the sea glass in less than THIRTY minutes of beach hunting. I’ll see my man in FIVE more days.  YES, I am counting.  Currently in order to call me, he has to walk ONE mile, up a mountain, in order to have signal.  Now that is love.  Darron proudly stood by newly graduated Hermonus, they have spent many hours together in remote places.


Jacob, son number THREE, is now FIVE foot SIX which equals taller than me.  He is also THIRTEEN. Jacob helped Darron on one of the recent church builds.  Darron before departing commented,  “Ï wish Jacob could go with me on this church build, he is such a great help”.  Most days you can find Jacob working in the hanger or somewhere with Pilot/Uncle Gary.  Aviation is creeping into this boys world and heart.  He will give new meaning to my boys “taking wing”.


Nathaniel, the last of the FOUR, is my happy ever flexible, just give him a book……ELEVEN year old guy.  This last semester he pulled off adjusting from home school life to “real” school.  And he plans to keep at it.  He is the last little glimmer of young boyhood in this home and I’m kissing those cheeks while I still can. 


On Wednesday I will have finished THREE months of language school.  They have been a tremendous THREE months.  Growing my language skills.  It has not been without a lot of stress to me, adding FIFTEEN plus hours into a week schedule that was already full.  Yet, I have no regrets.  I understand so many more things about the culture than I did before and can communicate so much clearer.  This week I will teach (in Indonesian) a tremendous program regarding saving babies.  TWO weeks ago it was a painting class.  FOUR weeks ago it was a presentation on HIV/AIDS. SIX weeks ago it was a lecture on malaria, all at least THIRTY minutes long.  WHEW.  Sometimes when I learn language I feel like I’m FORTY FOUR.  Shhh….IMG_20160610_094913IMG_20160610_105521IMG_20160523_134418

In SEVEN days we begin our trip to America.  Nathaniel is counting down the days for us, he started on day EIGHTEEN.  We hope to see HUNDREDS of you, our friends and family and listen to your stories.  We are also excited about all the people who are planning to come visit us this next year in Papua.  There must be at least TWO DOZEN of you.


Hope that gives you a little glimpse into our world.  It’s time to set the breakfast table. Let’s see: today it will be for THREE.  And Just in case you are tempted to think your mode of transportation is too small:  consider this family of FIVE on their motor cycle.  Numbers can give perspective. : )