Hope Community Evangelical Covenant Church
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
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Mission Updates - Sept 2009
Posts on behalf of the Missionary
Families that Hope supports.
Little Parsonage in the Tundra - September 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
As I (Ruth) usually do before composing a newsletter, I re-read the last one. It struck me most powerfully as I considered the prayer requests. To those, first, I must say a deeply heart-felt Thank you. Thank you for your commitment to pray for us and for the hours of faithful intercession before the Throne. I was having a discussion with Samuel a few weeks ago about how different my life has become in this new role. I do pray....but it is not for hours of intense intercession as I once did back in Texas . Samuel's response was something to this effect. "Mom, you're on the front lines. The people that are praying for us are the ones lobbing the heavy artillery. You are the one in the trenches, fighting hand to hand. You still pray, but your main job is to give a focal point for the prayers of others." We talked about how different it is, not being the prayer support for someone else that we once were. In some ways, it was "easier" to be the supply lines/fire support. Prayer was still work, but you sat in the background, as it were, watching and hearing what God showed you in your prayer closet. Occasionally, you shared something as you felt God leading, but most of the time, it was just this secret place of knowing God prayed through you.
All of this to say how Vital is the role that you play in praying for us. We wouldn't be as peaceful, settled or joyful without knowing that we have a huge army of prayer warriors lifting us up, supporting us, praying, loving, caring, writing letters and emails, calling us and sending us gift packages. Oh, hear how deeply our hearts say "Thank you." The enemy would seek to lie to all of you and tell you that what your part in the Body of Christ is, really isn't significant. He would want to bring defeat and discouragement to you and to blast you with the seeming futility of faithfuness to God in just the quiet lives you lead. But know that in God's eyes, you are deeply valued for who you are, not for what you do. Know that the accolades might not come to your ears now, but there will be a day when all of heaven will acknowledge and affirm the choices you have made to sacrfice for Jesus. For many months now, the words from "Thank You, for Giving to the Lord," by Ray Boltz have meandered through my mind.
"A missionary came to your church. His pictures made you cry. You didn't have much money, but you gave it anyway. Jesus took the gift you gave, and that's why I'm here today."
As crazy as this might sound, it finally is dawning on me that I am that missionary. All my life I heard about missionaries, offerings throughout the year, missions emphasis weeks, and the focus of evangelisim of the lost........but after living here and being blessed by so many people and ministries, it's finally sinking in that "missionary" is the calling God placed and He has brought to fulfillment. What a honor and a responsibility to humbly walk this path. It is by no means easy, but oh, how incredibly rewarding!
So, specifically, let me tell you some answered prayers. We had an elder, Karl, the same one who got lost for 3 days last April, who took Ross seining for fish since we had not been getting many using rod and reel. In about 30 minutes, they had caught 200 fish. There were so many, they were able to be "picky" -- sorting out the old, small, and wounded ones. We still had plenty to bring home and put away for the winter. Later, though Ross did go moose-hunting, he never caught anything. (There is an allotment as to how many can be killed.) This same elder shot a moose that was "just waiting" for him in plain sight and he blessed us with some of the meat. Another friend, Tom Mute from Nome , gave us some moose meat from his first kill. So, the Lord provided for our "moose" this year. Praying to God for His provision takes on a new level of dependency when you realize that subsistence is the lifestlye here. Samuel and I both realized later that even though we were praying for Ross to shoot a moose, both of us had a sensing that God was gong to provide for us through the generosity and love of other people. That He did.
As for the endometrial biopsy, it was normal. Praise God!!! I don't say that lightly. It turns out that when all was said and done that my doctor in Nome said that the lab in Anchorage had mis-typed my report. She was extremely apologetic for all the stress and emotional challenges that I'd gone through worrying about the possibility of cancer when in reality, I had nothing to worry about. Call me naive, but I was just grateful that nothing was wrong. Thankfully, our insurance will cover most of the costs, but I believe I watched God at work again.
We are in the process of helping Ross. His food allergies have continued to be a challenge. Some foods he can eat again after not eating them for the last 7 years. Those are apples, oranges, banans, beef. Some allergies have stayed the same --- wheat, eggs, dairy. Some have been added that were not a problem before. Those are soy, peanuts, oats, barley, amaranth. So, for grains, that leaves hime able to eat rice, corn, millet, buckwheat. We just ordered a potato-based milk powder so I sincerely hope that will add some delight to something as basic and essential as eating. For a wife who always loved to cook, (once I learned how) and a husband who enjoys eating -- even though he doesn't look like it, this "in sickness and in health" has been one of the more trying places of our marriage. Please pray for Ross. Please pray that he will not be overcome with the emotional side of all these new diagnoses. Also, please pray that healing will come to his body or that God's grace will be sufficient for both and all of us. Ross is also undergoing a regimen to try to repair the "Leaky-gut syndrome" that he was diagnosed with which is the cause of all of this.
School is going well for Leah. Again, thank you for your prayers. She is making friends and most recently, she has become a cheerleader. Since she's short and small, she's the one on the shoulders of the girls. Her sense of balance is really good. We laugh at how karate helped her to develop balance and to learn to use her body, like a kata, only this time it's a cheerleading routine. She's even helped some of the older girls learn how to kick better, since it's basically a snap kick.
Rachel Joy has stepped into high school. As such, she puts in about 8 -9 hours a day in school. She is diligently applying herself and thrills to taking on more challenges and overcoming them. She is planning menus and will soon be learning how to budget. She is sewing clothing, quilt tops, and helping to encourage Leah in her sewing as well. Photography continues to be a joy to her as she delights in God's creation. She's told me before, "Mom, I feel like a little kid, whenever I pray. I'm always saying, "Daddy, did you see that? Look at this. Wow!, that's so cool, You make the sunset. It's so pretty." (I let her know how thrilled I was with her communication and that is what the girls in this village need to see and hear....that God isn't stuffy.) Of course, she's doing all of the "regular subjects" as well. She seems to have gotten over the hump in math and is also enjoying science.
Isaac has been auditing a Ground Aviation Course for high school students. He had to be given special permission. It is something that has truly motivated him in his studies and he, too, puts in about 8 hours of school a day. The nice thing with homeschooling, is that they can pretty much choose their own schedule. Since they are mainly on independent study this year, Isaac is usually up early in the morning and Rachel Joy functions much better later in the day and is a night-owl, working away at her subjects.
Samuel has been given the opportunity to take a College Writing class in addition to his high school classes. .He has also joined volleyball again this year. He commented that he is now the tallest team member -- at 5'10''. He is doing well in school and is so much more relaxed this year.
We are all amazed at the changes that God has brought to our lives in just one year. Rachel Joy was telling me, "Mom, last summer was awful.I couldn't believe how depressed I was. I had never gone through anything like that in my life. I felt so bad with all those construction people seeing me that way. I never want to go through anything like that again. It was terrible!" Her words pretty much echoed how we all felt at various times last year. Samuel and I commented how we both felt this "urgency" that we wanted to love people but we also wanted them to think about the condition of their soul. This year, we are all "settled in" and just living our lives, loving the people and leaving the "changing" to God. It is far more restful. Thank you for your prayers for us all this time. We are so very different from a year ago.
During all the challenges of first moving here, adjusting to all the many changes, I would feel the impression, "Ruth, it won't always be like this." To consider the joy, acceptance and the blossoming of the hearts and lives of our children, it is wonderful to see how God has proven Himself faithful to His promise. As a mother, the most heart-wrenching times of the first year were seeing my children struggle emotionally and spiritually.
Most recently the oldest elder in the village passed away. She was 96. Ross was asked to give the opening prayer, as one of the relatives was a pastor and the family wanted him to do the funeral service.
We are so very excited as a couple approached Ross and said they want to get married, after being together for 20 years! Please pray that this shift will continue as there are many couples here who have never gotten married.
The Lord opened the door for our family to get away to Port Alsworth, AK for a Ministry Family Retreat hosted by Arctic Barnabas Ministries. It was incredibly refreshing to all of us. The Lord challenged us to "go deeper", to become more aware of what is happening in our hearts and to be honest with ourselves.
For me, God is doing a deep healing in areas of my life that personally I wouldn't have thought that He would want to change. He has been prodding me to discover what I like to do....apart from the "spiritually" obvious things. When I first met Ross, he asked me, "What do you like to do?" My response was, "I like to eat and I like to sleep." We chuckled, but I was serious. So, for the last 3 months I have been really pondering what do I like to do? As a result of going deeper, the Lord has shown me some deep-seeded lies. Because I grew up in a Christian home, I knew the commandments. To consider God was to think of Him as holy, awesome, incredibly powerful, etc. and as such to put anything or anyone above Him, would be to "make an idol." As a little girl, I remember getting a tiny plastic green frog with a "lit up" tummy and how I really, really, really liked it. The more I liked it, the more I'd look at it. At some point, I remember being devastated."I can't like this anymore. I have made this an idol. I have liked it so much I must have starting worshiping it." I got rid of it. I look back and recall how my sweet father would talk that oftentimes when people get rich or become famous at something, that they become prideful, turn their backs on God and make money, fame, etc. their idol. As a young child, I heard the verse about it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven. I thought about that tiny needle and how hard it was to just thread the thing at times, it would be utterly impossible to get a man through it. (At that time, I did not know that a "needle" was a low opening in a wall, in which the camel would have to get on its knees, with no burdens on its back, to scoot through to the other side. It was a picture of humility.)
All that to say that as I have been allowing the Holy Spirit to search my heart, He has been showing me that I have been afraid of doing anything really well -- whether singing or writing, or publishing because, what if I become "noticed" and my heart becomes prideful and God takes away my idol? It has subtlely been there that something would happen if I ever loved someone too much. How sad and distorted the lies of the enemy to bring destruction to every area of our lives.
There are always so many facets to reasons why we react the way we do. Not only was I afraid of "making an idol" but I was afraid of being ungrateful. You see, also as a Preacher's Kid, often we had no choice in what we were given. I know that our clothing was given to us. In my case, I usually got my sister's hand-me-downs. It honestly didn't matter if I liked the clothes --- that was how God chose to provide and Daddy always prayed "Lord, we are so much more fortunate than so many other people in the world." My father grew up as an orphan and in his mnd, "we always had too much." I felt so guilty about what I had, that after awhile I just accepted, and "likes" and "preferences" were synonomous in my mind with selfishness. I mean, God provided so He must want me to have this, whether I like it or not. Didn't He get really upset when the children of Israel complained?
Consequently, I became one who could not say "no", if something was offered. I mean, what if I offend you or hurt your feelings? What if this time that I say "no," you never offer me anything else again? What if God wanted me to have it, and I missed out by saying no? What if I appear ungrateful? or what if I appear too selfish or too demanding if you ask me what I want and I really tell you? (Even as I write all this,....how in the world does honesty fit into all that muddled mess?)
Then, there was the anger that I carried as a young child from the brokennes of sexual abuse (perpetrator outside and not related to our family). Back then, there was only silence and I learned all the wrong coping mechanisms. There was such rage in my heart that anything "creative" became a place where I wanted to destroy. I have this vague recolllection of me with a fat black crayon scribbling over all the colored pictures, tight-fisted and angry.
There were the words that "you have no artistic ability", probably when I was as young as 1st or 2nd grade. For some, words just bounce. For me, words were truly life and death. I learned to write poetry everytime in school when we were supposed to draw a picture. I learned to avoid activities that made me feel inferior, insecure or threatened. I was too much of a perfectionist and too afraid of shame and failure.I became a loner, independent and a lost, rebellious child.
But God, in His mercy drew me to Himself and redeemed me. However, by the time I fully re-committed to Him, these mindsets and beliefs had become so much a part of me, I could easily justify all that "artsy stuff" as "a waste of time" or for someone else. So, I was all prepared to receive a deeply spiritual time at Port Alsworth with ladies from all over various ministries in Alaska . I just "knew" that God had something planned for me. I could sense it. When I got there, the announcment came, "Ladies, we have something really special planned for you. I hesitate to tell you....but, oh, well, I'll go ahead. We are so thrilled that we were able to get this together for all of you. We're going to have a really good time. We're going to be decorating cupcakes!"
(What! No way.. Not an artsy thing. God, You must be wrong. YOU would not want to waste my time on something so frivolous. My daughter will be so good at this but me....*swallow*. Ruth, you can just go and watch. The more I sat, the emotions churned. I wanted to cry, to run, to avoid the feelings of stupidity, of comparison, of embarrassment. They were having fun. I was miserable. I was feeling so lost. This wasn't my gift. Here again, I felt so foolish. I'm not like these other women who are gifted with their hands, who like to create, who enjoy this stuff. I'm the woman who would much rather be listening to God-conversation, "spiritual" stuff, writing or preaching....probably most women here don't even like that. Why do I have to feel "less than woman" again?)
The gnawing frustrations -- but I sat next to another Pastor's wife. She was so open. "I'm not creative. " The difference was she was trying and she was having fun. Do you ever feel like God just "sets you up"? I did. There she was, so joyful, "Oh, the women in my village wouldn't have any interest in this." I asked questions and listened to her answers."They would think it was a waste of time. It does nothing for the family." I knew her village to be one in which church functions were the heart of the women. Almost every night of the week, something "spiritual" was going on. Church service, singspiration, prayer meeting, Bible study. (Silently, I shot a thought to God.....now, You know I could be very comfortable in that village.) But, God let me ponder my sister's words. "Waste of time." Isn't that exactly my argument.
I left that session and I made a decision. I would attempt some of these places that for years I had avoided. So, that afternoon, I grabbed some paper and crayons and sat down to draw a picture. I thought about my mother and her dormant gift for painting that God had given her and she discovered about 10 years ago. She is 82 and is almost blind but to look at her artwork, you would never know. In her words, "the Lord guides my hand." So, I tried and Leah and later Ross let me know that it was good. I'm thinking, "yeah, you (in general) never tell a person the truth, lest you crush them. I remember my Mom said years ago, "you never tell a little child their drawing isn't any good. You say, "oh, how interesting," Thus, for years, I have often wondered if people really tell the truth. But Ross let me know that I had just started drawing and that I was able to transfer from my mind to paper to the person looking at the drawing what I was communicating.
It felt peaceful and relaxing. I also had a sense of accomplishment. So, I dared the next thing. I walked into the room where the ladies were offering sewing tote bags.All the pieces had already been cut out. Only pinning and sewing seams needed to be done. I knew that the time was almost over but I pushed myself to try. I recalled that my mother had tried to teach me sewing but I was frustrated and angered easily and those memories were fraught with tears, inadequacy and failure.
Nevertheless, I sat down to sew. Ranada worked with me, all along, giving me encouraging words, and when it was finished, I shared with the few ladies in the room, the "testimony" that God was working in my life. They were a mixture of compassion, teary eyes and joy. Ranada told me that I had done an excellent job. It made me feel good but more than that, I remembered how I liked the feeling of sewing. One of the ladies was telling me, "Sewing is either something you like, or something you don't." But I beamed a smile, "I like it!"
Back home, only a few days ago, I decorated my kitchen. I pulled out various colorful pieces of glassware that for years have stayed in an antique buffet, and arranged them along the tops of the cabinets. On another wall, I made a cultural motif of Mexican instruments. I added a country flair with items from yesteryear and baskets. It took me a few hours but the affect was great and I enjoyed myself. I was reminded how a number of years ago when I was decorating another one of our homes, my father-in-law was hanging a mirror exactly where I wanted it. After we'd finished, he pulled out his tape measure, and measured distances. "Well, I'd say that was near perfect. Look at that. You've got a really good eye for this." (up until then, I'd never heard anyone say something like that to me.)
Life is meant to be experienced "abundantly." What areas have shrivelled in your life and never developed? What places has God been nudging you but you have thought this is too trivial, a waste of time or you just haven't wanted to go there, so you've stubbornly refused? Even as we were challenged, I encourage you, "Go deeper in God. Go deeper. " Since I always have to "justify" what God is doing in my life, here was one of the key Scripture verses, Bill Lenz, our speaker, gave to us to relate to our becoming more aware of honestly evaluating what is in our hearts. Proverbs 20:5, "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out."
God is ever so faithful to answer our prayers
Even when we don't feel He's there,
He's patiently waitng to comfort and care,
To grant us His wisdom
His power and His life,
To delight over us with singing
To keep us from strife.
He longs to impart
The joy from His heart
But so often we cling to our own
Instead of surrender to the Cross
For a crown
When He returns or when He calls
So, breathe deep of His Spirit
And relax in HIs peace
For He's not anxious or worried
He knows what He's doing
And where He is leading
And He gives us the grace
So, carry on, my friend
And don't be discouraged
For there is a smile on HIs face
Just for you
Your life brings delight
Both day and night
And God is pleased
With what you say
May He fill with joy in believing
That He Alone will sustain you
And carry you through,
No matter what you may be facing
Or what may lie ahead.
Like the saints of old,
May you be bold
As He lifts up your head.
The men in the church have just begun getting together on Tuesday nights for fellowship, encouragement and to talk about the Lord. There is also an interest to include some of the teenage guys. Please pray that this endeavor will be blessed and bring forth men to be healed and discipled. Though Ross has longed to see this for a year, two Sundays ago, the men in the church approached him and said they wanted this.
I am still meeting with the ladies on Monday nights. We have 2 to 4 who usually show up. Currently, the kids and I are leading Sunday School. Samuel has been teaching the lesson and he is so creative. He role-played the story of Jacob and Esau and used Leah as his "kill" from his long day of hunting and his starving. The boys are in charge of music with Samuel on the drum and Isaac on guitar. Rachel Joy helps with the snacks. We hope to plant seeds that will really take root in their hearts.
Two books we would highly recommed: Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan. The first book is all about marriage and I wish I would've read it years ago. I just picked up a copy this summer, even though I'd heard about the book when it first was written. It wasn't published until 2004 so I couldn't have had it when I was first married ---but I wish I would've. I've gained so much understanding about the things that Ross has told me over the years but since I had on my "pink sunglasses and pink hearing aids" I never "got it." This book helped me "get it." Now I know what he means by my "nagging", "tone of voice," "mothering him," Ouch ! etc. I would hear the word "respect" but I didn't get the impact of how important that is to a man and how it is not expressed the same way as "love" is to a woman. We will celebrate 20 years of marriage on June 30th, 2010 . I feel like in a lot of ways that I am "just beginning to understand this man God has given me." Ah, is it true that the older you get, the more you realize you really don't know????
The other book Ross is reading and will likely end up as a book to read for the men's group. It is quite challenging. In one of the illustrations the author describes two DVD's -- One of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, the other a DVD on "How to care for your sewing machine." The author asks, "Which one would you rather watch?", and then asks, " Now which best describes the Christian Life?" Almost without fail, people tend to think the latter. The reality is, that should not be true.
I know this has turned into a rather long newsletter, but there is always so much more to share. Many of the pictures are Rachel Joy's "artistic ability." We are blessed by the love of our dear friends and we are thankful to share our lives with you.
~Peace in the midst of the emotional storms of life here
~Wisdom to know best how to minister
~Discernment with boundaries - personal and family
~Strong immune systems
~Grace, joy and encouragement