Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Another Introduction

I am often asked to introduce myself in the country that I reside. The language is very difficult, so I usually stick to the simple facts. My husband, Tim, and I are missionaries in Japan. We have three adult children. Our two sons are married. Our daughter is a music teacher. All reside in the USA, so we are empty-nesters. We do not have any grandchildren yet. My husband grew up in Japan, so this is home for him. By the time I finish these simple facts, my brain is tired! HA!

Japanese grammar is backwards from English. The verb is always at the end of the sentence. By the time I get to the verb, I often can’t remember what I was trying to say! I keep plugging away at the language. I have also learned to laugh at my mistakes, such as the time I said I bought my son instead of saying that my son would pay the bill. 😂

I have never considered myself a writer. I started to blog years ago as a way to keep family and friends informed with what we are doing. When help was requested for posting at In Her Shoes, I felt like the Lord would have me to volunteer.

On a more personal note of testimony…When my husband and I first married, I didn’t understand why we didn’t go to Japan. As a missionary kid, he knew the culture and the language. It seemed like it must be God’s will for us. My husband assured me that he would never be going back to Japan. One thing I have learned, never say never!

Fast forward several years and three children later, you can imagine my surprise when my husband began talking about going to Japan. Many women can tell of a calling to missions. Although I was willing to serve on the field, I can’t say that I ever experienced a calling of my own. I do believe that my place is with my husband, so his calling is also mine.

Before we moved to the city we are living in now, I asked the Lord to give me a verse that would keep me on the field when the going got tough. He answered that prayer with 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” My life is not about me. It is about the One Who died for me. This verse has had such an impact on me, that I consider it a life verse and talk of it often.

If you would like to learn more about my life in Japan, you can visit me at Life in the 10/40 Window.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Please Let Me Introduce Myself

     As a person who is just starting to be a contributor to the In Her Shoes blog, I was asked to write a blog post introducing myself. This makes me laugh a little, because I don't find myself to be a very interesting person. Oh, there are a few things about me that people may find interesting, like that I was born in Hawaii, because my Dad was stationed at Pearl Harbor, or that I have traveled through all 50 states and moved to Australia from Alaska, or even the fact that my Dad's side of the family is Mormon and my grandmother's father was a polygamist; but, in general, my life is the typical life of a missionary wife and mother.

     Although I was born in Hawaii, I grew up, got married, and had all my children in Ohio. Before going to the mission field, I worked for fifteen years as an interpreter for the deaf. My family and I have served in Vancouver, Canada; New South Wales and Queensland, Australia; and, Lord willing, are here to stay in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. I have been married for thirty-two years this year and have three daughters, one son-in-law, and one grandson. I love life and find enjoyment in nearly every aspect of it...with the exception of the occasional run-in with snakes and spiders.

     Finally, though I do not think it speaks to my IQ, I can sometimes be considered a "klutz" and "a dizzy blonde." My unwitting mishaps provide me, and those around me, with plenty of entertainment. I always like to pass on my funny experiences to help other people lighten their day. One particular incident involves our start into deputation. As a missionary wife, I thought that I needed to have a life verse. Up until this point in my life, I could never pull out just one verse that was of particular importance in my life; but I thought being a missionary now, I must get a life verse. I picked Proverbs 30:5 to fill the gap that I had in my missionary repertoire. It wasn't long before a young girl asked me to sign her Bible, and I decided that now was the best time to start using my new "life verse." I was having problems remembering the reference, and instead, wrote Proverbs 31:6. When I looked at it, and thought that it didn't look right, my thought was, Oh, well, it's fine. It's the "virtuous woman" chapter (can't go wrong there)...I will check it and be sure to get it right next time. Imagine my surprise the next morning, when I decided to check it, and realized that instead of imparting the wisdom of, "Every word of the God is pure; he is a shield unto them who put their trust in him." I had given the following advice: "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts."

     It is my hope that you too can enjoy all of the interesting things that make life special!

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Little Introduction

Michael & Barbara
Zachary & Jude

“Gamarjoba!” A hearty hello from the European country of Georgia! My name is Barbara, and I would like to introduce you to myself, my family and the work we are doing here in this country.

I grew up on a little farm on the backside of nowhere in Eastern Montana, the second of 4 children. I raised goats, joined 4-H, kept up the house in the summer time, and in general, did what any other country kid did. My parents taught us to do the hard things, do them right, and not quit. They taught us to try food we didn’t know if we would like. They taught us to love and honor the Lord and required church attendance. Their faithfulness to go to church (it was an hour and ten minutes away) really showed their dedication to the Lord. All these things gave me an excellent background to ministering in this country.

From the day I could talk, I knew I was called to missions. I heard the call to reach orphans and abused in Mexico. My parents, though they knew this would mean I would eventually move a world away, always encouraged this dream. It kept me focused. I learned Spanish, attended teacher training classes, gained experience teaching junior church, and planned vacation Bible schools. When I reached college age, I took online classes at home for a psychology/Christian counselling degree, and continued to teach at church and in the public schools. I took several mission trips, about one a year, starting when I was fifteen. I received Christ and was baptized in July 2015.

The second trip to Mexico (I was then 22), I received the clear message that God had closed the door for me to go to Mexico. Feeling confused and a little disheartened, I talked it over with my mom. She very wisely advised, “God may have given you that vision to keep you focused through high school and college (Lord knows you needed that!) and now He has something special in mind.” So true were the words, for 6 months later I met the wonderful man who is now my husband- on his way to the country of Georgia. A year after meeting, we were married. Yay!

After a honeymoon and about a month break, Michael and I plunged right back into deputation ministry (he had started before we met), to raise funding to go overseas. I learned a LOT about God and faith those first few months. We really had very little, but the Lord provided our needs. We completed our deputation and arrived in Tbilisi (the capitol of) Georgia in May of 2017.

The Lord has blessed us with two children: Jude, turning three shortly, and Zachary, roughly a year and a half. They do keep me on my toes, but they are a great joy and help us so much meeting people in this country. Jude is into all things boy: rocket ships, Spider man (how, I don’t know!), dragons, and Patch the Pirate. Zachary is our lovable, happy, mischievous  and daring child who doesn’t know danger and hates to hear the word no.

Right now, we are digging the trenches in the Lord’s battle. (We are learning the language.) The trenches are deep, and the work is long and hard, but it is necessary before we can engage in the Spiritual warfare in this country. The Georgian language is among the hardest for English speakers to learn, having an immense vocabulary and complicated verb structure. The people here are greatly loyal to their Georgian Orthodox church, and are "good" people, but they are totally lost! They are told not to read the Bible and know more about tradition and superstition than about Christ. We look forward to knowing the language well enough to share the gospel with our friends.

I’m looking forward to sharing with you how God works in and through our family.

Monday, March 5, 2018

How Then Shall We Give?

By way of introduction, my name is Maureen Sullivant and our family has been serving in Thailand since 2008.  After language school, we moved to the city of Phitsanulok, Thailand where my husband Mike has started Song Kwae Baptist Church.  I spend most of my days homeschooling and feeding our four children ages eight through fifteen years old. 

Matthew 6

Missions is giving, right?  Giving of our hearts to Christ to be used however He wishes.  How well do we do in giving of ourselves graciously?  

Matthew 6:1 says, “Take heed that ye do not your alms (mission or charity work) before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

Do we endeavor not to serve to be seen?  It is easy to feel unseen on the mission field at times.  One year, the tourist slogan here where we serve was, “Unseen in Thailand.”  Some days I felt that not even God could see me in Thailand.  What frail faith!  If we are serving Jesus Christ, we will be able to have satisfaction in simply knowing, “Thou God seest me.”  What a self-centered state of affairs my heart is in if I have to be seen to be satisfied.

Verse two tells us not to sound a trumpet to announce our arrival and intentions to serve!  Don’t call everyone to attention so they can watch you do your ‘thing.’  As missionaries, do we not like to constantly sound a trumpet? Let people know what amazing servants of God we know we are?  Reminding people what we’ve sacrificed to be able to serve God on a foreign field?  I know that for myself, I can get to the point where I feel pretty self-righteous and entitled to a little respect.  If not respect, I at least shouldn't have to suffer disrespect, right?  So much for Christlikeness!  I’m sure we can all share a humble sounding hash tag we’ve read on a missionary post that made us cringe a little bit. 

In verse sixteen, Jesus condemns hypocrites who disfigure their faces to pretend to fast.  Jesus says that when we fast, we are to go about our day in such a way so as  not to appear to fast.  In other words, don’t go looking for sympathy, affirmation, or attention.  As missionaries on a foreign field, we are required to fast – to do without for a period of time – in many different areas of our lives.  Time with our families, time in our home churches, time in our home countries, fellowship with people who understand where we are, you name it!  We all have a list that is a little bit different.  How well are we fasting?  Do we go about our lives in such a way that we don’t draw attention to ourselves, or do we already have our reward here on earth?  Our attitude in this area has profound impact on our children as well.

In this passage, Jesus gives us nine guidelines for selfless service.

    1.      Don’t serve to be seen – verse 1
    2.     Store treasure in heaven – verses 1, 20
    3.     Don’t get people’s attention while you are serving – verse 2
    4.     Serve secretly – verse 4
    5.     Pray secretly – verses 5, 6
    6.     Connect with God through prayer – verses 7-15
-       Remember God is the source of fruit 
    7.      Be willing to fast – to do without – cheerfully – verses 16-18
    8.     Don’t try serving two masters – verse 24  
    9.     Don’t worry about the future – verses 25-34
-       God has the future firmly in hand.