Thursday, October 20, 2011

In His Time

For many North Americans one of the major cultural adjustments that has to be made is the switch from being time-oriented to event-oriented. One of my professors from Fuller, Sherwood Lingenfelter, gave some helpful pointers as to how these differences can play out in a book he co-authored called Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships. Below is a brief summary of what it looks like to be time vs. event-oriented.

Value Continuums in Society 
Time                                     - Events
Crisis orientation               - Non-crisis oriented
Dichotomy                         - Wholistic
Object as goal                    - Person as goal
Vulnerability as weakness - Vulnerability as strength
Prestige achieved              - Prestige ascribed
Brief Descriptions of Each Value:
* Time: structured around specific hours and minutes. 
* Events: life's activities are structured around a social environment, and the relational event.
* Crisis orientation: behaviour of preparation and prevention.
* Non-crisis oriented: behaviour based on dealing with issues as they arise. 
* Dichotomy: views the world in segmented parts. 
* Wholistic: views the world as an integrated whole. 
* Object as goal: completion of the task is vital. 
* People as goal: relationships are foremost in importance. 
* Vulnerability as weakness: transparency of character is seen as weakness (western). 
* Vulnerability as strength: transparency of character is seen as strength. 
* Prestige achieved: through effort and accomplishment. 
* Prestige ascribed: through criteria set by the culture. 

This being said, we as a family are slowly, and sometimes painfully, figuring out what this means in regards to getting settled here in Mexico. Very few things occur within the time frame we regard as "optimal." For instance, we are still without a place to call home. We had reported in our previous newsletter that we had found a place, and we did, but after our prospective landlady kept pushing our move in date back and some of the details weren't working out, we felt it best to look for another place. This was a difficult (because it meant being back at square one) and yet peace-filled decision. Now we find ourselves possibly at the brink of renting a new place (so please be praying!), but again the time frame of working through the rental process is hardly expedient! 

I (and I believe Kevin as well) pictured ourselves moving to Mexico City, taking about a month to get settled in and then diving into life and ministry. But the truth is the process has been far more "messy" than we anticipated. As our "settling in time" has streched on and on, life has snuck up on us and we have had to jump in whether we were "ready" or not. Lingenfelter talks about the time-oriented culture as seeing the world as a dichotomy, or segmented parts. I have found that to mean that I see my settling in to Mexico (finding a house, car, moving, setting up house, learning our new neighborhood etc.) as one part of my life, and when complete I can move onto the next, establishing relationships, engaging in ministry, figuring out life here, etc. But having all my ducks in a row before proceeding has presented itself to be much more complicated and stressful than I ever imagined. So now I am working on seeing the world more wholistically or in a more integrated fashion. I am trying to trust rather than stress as we take on responsibilities and commitments without first really knowing what our life will look like.

Some of the "life" events that have been set into motion within the last few weeks are:

* Kevin was able to participate in a Latin American Theological conference here in Mexico City and make many great connections.

* On Sunday Kevin will be leaving for Phoenix. He will be there for a full week to receive further training for his position as facilitator for the Work Styles Prefences within the Spearhead program.

* On October 12th Eliana turned 2! We will be having a shared party for her in the beginning of November with her favorite friend Ana who will be turning 3. Below is a photo of Eliana at her birthday breakfast.

* Eliana started school! We decided to enroll Eliana in a small preschool a couple mornings/week to give her an intentional chance to interact with other kids and learn Spanish. Her friend Ana also attends the same preschool. 

* Spanish class -- Kevin and I are both being tutored once a week (each) in Spanish.

* Spearhead commitments -- Although these are still relatively few at the moment, we are each involved in various aspects of the program and life is filling up quickly!

All in all we feel very blesed and we are thankful for the tremendous amount of support we have received from our Mexican friends and family. They have helped immensely, we both agree we can't possibly imagine doing it without them. Little by little we are learning to live to the beat of a different drum, and trust God for his timing rather than making it happen in our own.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gone Fishing

On Monday we joined Gary and Jann, the missionary couple we are living with, on a day trip up to the mountains surrounding Mexico City. Gary loves fishing and, since Eliana and Kevin had never fished before, he was eager to treat them to their first fishing experience! A great time was had by all.

Gary let Eliana choose the bait -- she was a litle apprehensive!

Eliana's first fishing experience

Kevin's first fish!

Miss Jann kept Eliana well entertained :)

She's got one!

Eliana's first fish

She's a little nervous!


After fishing we went to a restaurant where they prepare the fish you caught for you (delicious!). Eliana had a quesadilla, notice her interesting technique for eating quesadillas inside first. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Reflections on Ministry

Mostly this blog is about news updates from our family, however while reading this morning, I thought I'd put some of my reflections of my scripture reading here regarding ministry.

One the one hand Jesus tells his disciples to go out and those who do not welcome them in, dust their feet off and leave.  I read about this the other day.  Then, however we have the parable of the fig tree, where the owner seeks fruit from a specific tree that has not given any for 3 years.  He asks the gardner if he should cut it down so as to better occupy the land with a fruit-producing tree.  The gardner suggests waiting one more year and putting more effort into this specific tree.

There is ground to be sown in ministry, sometimes it is difficult and dusty ground.  There are times where ministry will not be received, and Jesus tells us it is ok to look onward and dust off our feet.  This is a tough concept in ministry, because it seems like one is giving up on a person or location.  In a similar situation Jesus lets the rich young ruler walk away.  There are always people to visit and places to plant.

I read today, however, this parable about the unfruitful fig tree.  It seems very clearly that it discusses how in ministry, one might look at fruitlessness and instead of walking away try to pour into it a little more.  And if it doesn't grow fruit, then I guess it is acceptable at the time to cut your losses.

Working with people, as ministry is a relational vocation, emotions cloud the clarity of these scriptures.  In fact, the scriptures cloud their own clarity in a seeming contradiction.  This is where wisdom must be exercised in ministry.  Knowing when to dig in deeper, water, nourish and spend the extra effort, and when to brush the dust off your feet or let somebody walk away.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We made it!

It’s just after nine in the morning and music fills our house. It’s coming from the street where they are setting up the weekly tiangui (an outdoor market -- similar to a farmer’s market, but much more extensive). Fortunately the music is a calm ballad, I am sure that by mid-day it will be something much more lively and celebratory as tonight all of Mexico is preparing to celebrate their independence with the “grito.” Besides shopping for our fruits and vegetables today, we hope to find something festive for Eliana to wear. Four years ago Kevin and I were in Mexico for the first time together. We celebrated by going to a party held by one of our Mexican family’s churches, then we went to one of the city’s main squares to join the ENORMOUS outdoor party and chant the grito of “Viva Mexico!” and “Viva los heroes!” (along with several others). This year we plan to join our family for a celebration at a church around 7, but then we’ll probably call it an evening after that. 
Tomorrow will be our one week anniversary in Mexico. God’s hand has definitely been guiding us, (and at times carrying us!) through this whole process. When we arrived at the airport in San Jose on Thursday morning (amazingly fitting all of our luggage 13 suitcases, 6 carry ons, stroller and carseat into two station wagons), two airport workers instantly appeared to help when they realized the extent of our luggage. Below is a photo of Eliana climbing on top of our mountain of luggage that pretty much took up 3/4 of my mother-in-law's front room!

 Our flight left at 7:20 am, so we had to be at the airport around 5. When I pulled Eliana out of bed at 4:30 I expected some crabbiness, but instead she sweetly laid her head on my shoulder and said "Hi mommy! I want to go to Meximo." I had put together a little back pack full of surprises for Eliana to open on the plane, and when she saw it she instantly loved  her "pack-pack." Here she is at the airport terminal showing it off. In the second photo she is eating grapes (if you wonder what the weird green thing in her mouth is!).

When we arrived in Mexico we were prepared to have to open up every suitcase because we knew we were bringing more than you are allowed on a tourist visa. We planned to declare the items that were over and above the ones allowed and expected to pay duties on them. After we had gathered all of our luggage (four carts full plus) we wheeled ourselves (with some help from some friendly people) to the "declare" line. The woman at the front asked us if we were moving to Mexico and we explained we were here to get our FM3 residence visa. She then asked us if all of our things were for personal use. When we explained that they were, she directed us to run our suitcases through the x-ray machine and push the button that would flash red if we needed to be inspected and green if we could pass through. That alone was a miracle, perhaps there was a chance we wouldn't have to have every bag opened! After all of our stuff passed through the x-ray machine, we pressed the button and it was green! We were amazed and beyond thankful for the way God answered our prayers. I honestly didn't expect anything so easy. So thank you all who joined us in praying for our journey through customs! At the end of the day all we had to pay for was our extra baggage, which also ended up being a lower amount than expected. WOW!

We are now staying in the home of a Free Methodist missionary couple we knew from our time in Mexico before. We are thankful for a roomy, comfortable place to stay and a car to borrow. Our time has mostly been made up of looking for a place to live. We have found one that we really like, and the landlady is a believer. We are hoping that this one will work out, it was actually the first place we looked explored. We will meet her on the 20th in person (she lives in another state) and hopefully be able to confirm the house as ours. Please join us in praying that if this is the place God wants us that everything will fall into place.

Thanks again for joining us on this journey through your prayers, encouragement, friendship, and support. Many blessings from our family to yours.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Directions

First and foremost I want to thank everyone for lifting us up in prayer regarding our visa appointment. In just the right timing our paperwork came through and it seemed as if everything was on track and our appointment was fine. However, God has thrown us a curve ball in regards to our plans for Spain, one that we were surprised, and are excited that it has come our way. If you are interested below I have posted our most recent newsletter that explains it all.

One thing I know, following Jesus is never boring! About four weeks ago everything seemed to be in line for us to deploy to Spain this fall. Our long-awaited letter of invitation from Spain was in place, and we were ready to apply for our visas. However, when Kevin traveled to Miami for work mid-June, God threw us a curve ball in the form of an invitation from LAM president, Steve Johnson. Kevin’s work the last few months has been to assist in a program called Work Design. As the mission is taking stock of its components, Spearhead began to rise to the top as one of the most important assets that it has to offer. Steve began to feel that in order to strengthen the Spearhead program, and eventually replicate it, it would be best for it to go through the Work Design process. In its most basic form Work Design will help to refine the Spearhead program and implement a five year plan, as well as identify and address current issues in Latin American missions in order to better train future missionaries. So, because Kevin has experience with facilitating the Work Design process, as well as strong ties to the Spearhead program in Mexico, it was felt he would be the best person for the job. 

When Steve invited Kevin to head up this initiative we were both surprised by the timing of it, after all we have been dreaming of, praying for, and preparing ourselves for Spain. But as we prayed and considered all that God has been teaching us in the past few years, about contentment, change, living in the moment and trust, we felt more and more that perhaps this was the step that He was nudging us toward.  

So…in early September we will be heading to Mexico! Once we made the decision, God has continued to fill our hearts with peace and excitement for this new adventure ahead. It is unexpected, to be sure, but before we even leave for the field we are learning that the only thing that doesn’t change is the One we follow, and it is to his voice we always want to be attune. 

So that's the scoop! We are excited to continue on this journey and see what God has in store for us. As of now, our assignment to Mexico should last 2-3 years. When the Work Design process is completed we are still hoping to move to Spain to implement the Spearhead program in a new locale.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Thin Can God Stretch Us?

The title of this blog is not so encouraging.  Let me first say that until an hour ago, things were progressing towards Spain fairly nicely.  Still some support to ardently work towards, and some documents seem to be trickling in at the 11th hour, but I must admit I was thinking to myself, "Finally!  We're so close."  Yet sometimes so close can not be close enough.

This entire missions process has been two steps forward and one step back.  It is incredible.  We went to make our consular appointments today to find out that the first available ones are not until July!  Some of the statute of limitation on our documents end in late June!  So here's where we need some prayers for God to move or great favor.  Please be praying for:

A.  God to open up some appointments during mid-June.  We'll be checking every day multiple times a day for an answer on this.
B.  That if an appointment does not open up that somebody at the S.F. consulate would find favor and take pity on us and put our documents through anyways.

On a happy, but maybe "not-quite-good-enough" note, our first available appointment had been in late July.  Then there was an opening in early July.  Still not good enough for what we need, but somebody canceled and that opened up some opportunities for us, which we promptly snagged.

Please be joining us in prayer as we could use it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hot & Dry, Hot & Humid

This week God has answered a financial prayer for us, covering our present needs before moving to Spain.  We've committed ourselves since coming back from Mexico to getting to Spain as quickly as possible.  This has meant passing up some pretty amazing opportunities, opportunities that would have severely tardied our departure for Spain.  Our organization has generously thrown work my (Kevin) way in the areas of networking and recruitment, which has helped to sustain us.  Now they've come up with a pre-field offer that is even more generous.

We were asked to move to Miami until we move to Spain.  There I would be asked to help coordinate the restructure of recruitment and mobilization and help to put things in place for a new team to carry LAM forward on that front.  It is something I've been passionate about and spoken into (often without solicitation) for the last 3 years.  I feel very honored to have been asked.  But Miami was just not going to be feasible.

Like I mentioned above, we've passed on attempting some amazing career opportunities because we know that God has called us to the field.  Being in Miami would not be so bad, but our support-base and contacts are on the West Coast.  We still have support work to do.  It is not all just document procurement for us these days.  With the dollar to euro ratio slipping into a wider chasm in value, the support-raising is all the more important.

Thankfully, while our family cannot move to Miami, our president asked me to come up with a counter proposal, which he has accepted.  This proposal will allow me to work from home for more than half of the month.  It will also require me to travel to Miami each month for a week to 10 days.  That is a lot, and our family will miss each other greatly, but we know that God has indeed been answering our prayers (and my frustrations).

Chico is over 100 degrees in the summer, sometimes reaching 110 or higher.  But it is dry.  Miami is "cooler" in general - about 95 degrees or so, but with a humidity that is what I would call unGodly making it feel like 110 degrees or more.  It is going to be a hot summer (it is pretty hot, though dry, in Spain as well).  What is warming of the soul is to see how God provides.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Advance Dance - It is a 3-Step

We've been learning the Advance Dance in this process for missions.  It is a three-step dance.

First you go forward two steps, and lift your hands in joy.

Then you take a step backwards and fall down to your knees.

And the music stops for a moment.

Then it begins again and you begin two steps forward, one step back.

Our letter from the Spanish gov't came!!!!  We are very excited that our inviting organization was granted permission to invite us.  The government completed the letter and we have that piece in hand.  (2 steps forward)


The name did not match the passport.  (1 step back)  So we have to resend it.

The music stopped, we sent in the corrections, and the record starts to play again.

On the support note, we can continuously praise God.  Little by little we're gaining on our support goal.  We only have about 16% left!  The support dance = step, step, little step, little step, step, step, big step...pause.  This dance has been a long, but quite rewarding process for us.

Thanks for watching us dance and for encouraging us when the music is playing and especially when the music seems to have quieted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Career, Family = God's Gifts

So much to do, yet what do I do?  I write a blog.

Career and Family = Gifts from God.

At a marriage conference we went to a month ago, one of the things that they began the sessions off with is that one's spouse is God's gift to you.  Sometimes that can be hard to see...but then that is when we begin focusing on the tough parts of relationship.  Leah indeed is God's gift to me.  Read on and you'll see.  And thankfully I'm God's gift to her.

The idea of God's gift has then translated into other aspects of my life.  I have MANY interests.  What I am mostly interested in is learning about new things.  I like the theory, but I like it applicable.  Nonetheless I have trouble narrowing the field of interest.  I am interested in personal study of:  theology, ministry, cross-cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, social work, behavioral psychology/organizational leadership, mobilization and marketing, spirituality, biblical studies, family studies, human geography, library and information science...the list will never stop.  If you think think that all those things hurt your eyes, think about Leah's ears every day when she hears..."Oh, I am interested in that.  Maybe I should get a master's or even PhD in that."  She probably hears that 2-3 times a day.  Yet she is still around.  She's God's gift to me.

Sometimes my scattered interests lead me into existential problems.  Who am I?  What is my purpose?  How do I specialize myself with soooo many interests.  As a result I try to also be a student of myself.  I've had to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder test a few times for various seminaries and organizations that I've worked for.  Currently I am an Input, Ideation, Intellect, Learner, and Belief.  This means lots of time inputting information (study) and output (teaching/disseminating info).  In reading the descriptions of these things, the should do's are "take time to study" and "find outlets to give your information".

So as a missionary who will be an internship director as well as giving courses and training, what do I get to do?  Study and keep current on pertinent information (which seems like everything), and then advise and facilitate learners letting them input information and disseminate it to me.  Awesome.  God's gift to me.

Then, to go along with this career that I'm on, I have a wife who has wanted to be a missionary since she was like a fetus.  God only contained her for 9 months until she broke in on the world and has been a missionary to people around her ever since.  And our daughter, who is a pretty flexible traveler and handles new situations pretty well.  My family is a missionary family.  God's gift to me.

What is cool about all this, is that I get to be God's gift to my wife, my career, my family too.  I think having these realizations mean I must be more consciously thankful for the gifts I receive and more consciously aware of whether I am truly being a gift myself or just a selfish receiver.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We just recently listened to an Adventures In Odyssey episode about the underground railroad.  It was a great historical episode of runaway slaves finding their way up to Canada.  Some died, some made it.  It was a good teaching.

Today celebrates St. Patrick who was at one point a runaway slave.  He felt called by God to go back - a free man, yet slave to God - and minister in the lands where he was a slave.  That is pretty crazy.  I don't think that is a call God makes to everybody who was once enslaved, and who could blame Him.  Very few people want to put themselves back in that position.  Yet situations and opportunities have arrisen throughout history where slaves and captives have also been the ones to forgive and evangelize their owners or captors.  I can think of numerous stories from WWII where former POW's have returned to evangelize their jailors.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are an amazing thing.  We're studying about this in our married's Bible Study.  What has come forth in the study that God is principally interested in repairing breaches, both between Himself and humanity and between humans.  What struck me yesterday was how differences between people can still produce good partnerships and cooworkers (particularly in Kingdom work) as long as there is mutual respect and forgiveness.  Alas, there have been so many rifts between Kingdom workers that forgiveness is abated and bitterness is a slow-dying poison.

Today on St. Patrick's Day, I remember a missionary who was sent back to the place that he was a slave.  That is hard reconciliation, yet a powerful witness.  I also remember those stuck in modern day slavery and pray for global abolitionist movements (see Not For Sale by Batstone or Disposable People by Bale).  I also pray that God would heal these slaves, reconcile them to Him and raise up a mass of voices who were once oppressed, now freed, that proclaim reconciliation and forgiveness.

When you see green today, think of the Irish.  But also think of green as the color of liberty and liberty freed for submission to reconcile.  When you see green today, think of missionaries called to be freed people yet slaves of God participating in global reconciliation of the world.  And remember, as you where green today, you yourselves are a missionary of reconciliation to your family, friends, co-workers, the poor and the oppressed around you.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Groundhog Day Movie and Missions Preparation

People routinely say that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different outcome.  Bill Murray personifies this well in the movie Groundhog Day.  Here Bill's character wakes up and finds that his day has repeated itself.  The next morning the same...and the same...and the same.  The first half of the movie watches him attempt to avoid this monotony and break the cycle.  The first half of the movie Bill Murray is insane and getting crazier.  He's impatient, rash, manipulative and destructive.  Bill Murray needed to grow in his character and all he was thinking about was how to escape his situation.  After awhile he gave in, caught on, or whatever, and developed a number of skills as well as his character.  Finally fate decided he'd achieved the character necessary to proceed with life.  He gets the girl and the next morning he wakes up and everything is changed.

Sometimes we feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.  We wake up with the anticipation that the day will get us closer to Spain.  I think I could quite easily have gone insane, waking up with eagerness and anxiety, yet lacking patience.  But thankfully we have community around us that has continued to remind me that this time is for development.  We can develop skills and most importantly, character in our time of waiting.  No longer do I do the same thing every day, expecting a different result.  Rather I wake up with expectation and hope, but mostly with the fact that as I move closer to God in a variety of ways, that my character is growing.  Little by little God reveals more about what is being set up in Spain, and especially what is growing in the foundation of our characters and spirituality.

One thing Bill Murray had was the ability to have time stopped.  Day after day, the same day, he developed skills and knowledge and character.  Once that day broke, he had his skills to carry with him and a developed character that to others looked like an overnight change.  We do not have the luxury of stopping time (quick reference to Evie bringing her two fingers together in the TV show Out of this World).  This means that we have our cultural pressures to avoid this holding pattern and patience period.

One thing we have that Bill Murray didn't have was a supportive international community of family and friends.  Not only do we get to have our character's stretched, we are productive in life.  We might feel the weight of inactivity (yet we are constantly busy) not being rewarded in titles or a salary, but thankfully our family does not see this as an issue and nor do our friends.  It is very encouraging to maintain patience and continue in the calling we feel God has called us to.

That is another thing we have that Bill didn't, knowledge of our purpose.  Ultimately our purpose is to draw closer to God.  He will send us to Spain, we believe.  The reality is, that sometimes God will divert His calling, or at least His revelation of His calling, drastically.  Yet He expects radical obedience and ultimately He expects us to be ever-growing in our characters and spiritual life.

I was listening to "Hosanna" by Hillsong United this morning, sung in Spanish.  What else can I do but praise God and thank Him for the life.  My character again grows closer to Him and I'll continue doing the same thing - giving praise and thanksgiving - but not expect anything different.  The constant approach to life will hopefully provide a constant result - growth of character.

For today, I am thankful of the opportunity to get to have a rooted community here in Chico.  I am thankful that I've had the opportunity to develop skills while pouring into Latin America Mission and I'm most of all thankful that God has continued to impress upon me the importance of loving my wife and my daughter.  They are my first and foremost ministry and I am actively involved in this career daily.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stubborn Cows & Stuff

I (Kevin) grew up in the suburbs.  Cows were something we smelled driving on I-5 to my grandparents' house, but I can't really even remember hearing a live cow moo in my childhood.  I'm sure I did.  That to say, I don't do big animals.  So in this transition between mission fields we move to the Book Family Farm where they have BIG horses and cows.

Last night we got two more milk cows.  They are a bit stubborn.  Naturally, if you kidnap me, stuff me in a trailer and drive me away from my home for a couple hundred miles, I think I'll be a little stubborn too.  I wouldn't know if I was going to become ground beef or what.  Last night when the cows arrived they had to be milked and while very leery, they were somewhat compliant.  This morning however one was not.  She was stubborn and I had to push on her very poopy behind to try to get her to move into the milking barn.  Not what I expected as a suburban kid.

So am I just suffering for the Lord, waiting to get to the mission field.  I think putting my hand in cow poop is suffering, I hate mess as it is, but this was a lot.  Frankly, though, I did not suffer because I didn't have time to think about it.  What I am doing is being active in the midst of patience.

And in this time of activity, I am able to reflect.  How often am I as stubborn as that cow when God is trying to lead me?  Leah's dad has to milk the cow out so that she doesn't develop an infection.  It is just as much to her benefit as it is for hours.  I'm sure that God is not trying to literally milk me (I would have to have some very strange anatomy for a boy) but I think he is spiritually milking me in these times.

What living at the farm has done, living in Chico has done, is given a space to come to God with greater and greater trust each day that he will empty me of me so that I would not get a spiritual infection.  And he feeds me, just as we do the cows, so that he would fill me.

As I placed my hand on poop, I didn't have time to think this through, but I did when I began to wipe off my hands.  I was once a stubborn heifer, untrusting and yet bloated.  Thankfully the Book Family Farm has helped me to learn how to trust more and empty myself so that I would not get a spiritual infection.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Ever since Kevin and I got married over four years ago we have been journeying on a path of God's calling.  While we have always been certain of the path, we have not always been certain about where it leads. For quite some time both of us have yearned for an "arrival" to a destination. Currently that destination is Spain. More than anything I think that both of us are ready to leave the nomadic life and plant roots somewhere, to have a place of our own, a community to invest in over a long period of time, and to be involved with the ministry we love.

Somehow, however, it seems that the "destination" eludes us. It is always just a little further ahead, but just like the rainbow's end when you "arrive" the destination has moved once more.  Little by little God seems to be revealing that HE alone is our destination and we can reach that destination wherever we are on the road of life. We will always have that longing to "arrive," but the truth is that that longing won't be completely fulfilled until we're in the physical presence of our Creator one day. In the mean time we walk forward, continually convinced that right now God is leading us on the path towards Spain, but he can bring us fulfillment and contentment (e.g. Philippians 4:11-13) wherever we are on that path  as we lift our eyes to him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

On a side note Eliana is growing like crazy, she is definitely not our "little baby" any more. She has about 30 spoken words in her vocabulary (plus some signed), and every day she tries to repeat new ones. Below are a couple of pictures, the first is her Tio Lawrence right before they went back to college, we took him out for milk shakes at Shubert's (contrary to this picture, Eliana only got sips, not the whole milk shake!). The second is the first time I was able to pull all her hair back in "big girl" pig tails. It isn't a great picture, but it's hard to get her to hold still now a days. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back From Spain, Final Countdown

I (Kevin) am back from Spain!  It was a great trip and crucial to our placement in Spain.  I was able to formally meet future key relationships for ministry and legal residency.  At the beginning of this process we were "gearing up."  Now it is time to "countdown."

At the beginning of this process we needed to raise $5518/mo.  We have now gotten close and only need to raise $773/mo!

Ministry Placement:
At the beginning of this process we were headed to Madrid, then Valencia or Sevilla, then Malaga, and now to Granada (with a likely future move to Malaga).  We now have the key relationships in place to be mentored while learning the language and the culture and to begin planning and planting Spearhead - Spain, the practical missions training program.

Visa Procurement:
At the beginning of this process we had no partnership to invite us formally for our visa, nor the required monthly necessary funds for sustainability of our program.  Now we have reached the required funds to seek out our visa and have the inviting organization to serve as our legal reference in Spain.

It has been a very exciting and long process, full of unsurities, anxieties and much testing of our faith.  We are in the final stretch it seems and the various countdowns will begin.  Soon enough we will know when to buy our tickets to move and a daily countdown can begin.  Please be praying for all the final pieces to come together and for us to begin the daily countdown until departure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

¿Qué te pasa en Granada?

What happened with me in Granada one might ask?  Well I write this from Granada, so it is not over yet, but it has been eventful, particularly spiritually.

First, about the country and culture - it has far exceeded my expectations.  I have heard that Spaniards are not quite as service oriented as I might have come to expect if I was in the States.  Maybe that is true, but that has not been my experience on this trip.  Even the Spaniards here have warned me not to take it personally if the bus drivers are terribly mannered.  Yet, they have all been mildly friendly and even helpful.  The ease of getting around has been fantastic as well, a lot easier than I thought.

I have had some upsets and some assurances, which have made for a ping-pongy trip.  I came with expectations of receiving a letter of invitation and carrying that with me to the States so that we can have our visa appointment and get ready for moving.  That is not the case.  I came expecting to work under a certain leader here, but came to find out that things have changed.  I then came to expect working for another component of the very same ministry and THAT has turned out not to materialize!  So I've been forlorn on accounts and frustrated.  By in large I have been confused.  "God, we have been in this process faithfully for 2 1/2 years!  Why is it not all coming together?  The support is coming in, but have we followed the wrong path?"  God let me stew in that question for a good portion of my day yesterday.

God's response has come from some good things.  Unexpectedly a ministry I was interested in a while back does want us and its ability to house the future ministry of Spearhead is incredible.  Unfortunately this can't be set up right away and they are changing their legal status and are unable to provide invitations at this point.  The presiding board member of that ministry is also the head of the ministry that things have changed on us for, BUT he wants to be our inviting organization still.  Yahoo!!!  On top of that, I have had a couple of good conversations with LAM's president who has continually assured me of trying to do everything they can to get us to the field as soon as possible and has also apologized to me about the way things have turned out for us.  We also have swapped stories of many missionaries we've known that have had an even more difficult time getting their placement together.  So thank God for some movement.

Every day has required me to hit my knees while I'm here.  And I've had to do it without Leah, which makes that physical separation all the more difficult.  The hardest part about this trip has been that I miss her and Eliana so much, and I can't share with them the wonderful things I'm learning about Granada and can't come together directly in prayer for our future and where God is taking us.  God has continually affirmed our calling and we will continue in faith.

I just want to thank all of our friends and family who support us in this venture both financially and prayerfully. I can only tell you all that God has been faithful, and I do feel it.  Please be praying for things to continually be moving forward, for the Book-Satterlees to continually be putting it all in God's hands and to be released from our anxiousness.  We are called not to worry about tomorrow, which for most North Americans is impossible.  It is very impossible (as if there could be such a thing) for me without God's provision.  Yet it seems to be a lesson we are learning and poco a poco (little by little) God is providing us with what we need and strengthening our character and our hearts.

So in this beautiful city and this intriguing country I have made friends, come nearly to tears, and rested my nights in peace because God has always ended my nights with a whisper - "I am here."  That is what is happening in Granada this week.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heading to Spain in Less than a Week

Next Monday I (Kevin) get to go to Spain.  I will be attending one day of board meetings with a missions training organization based in Malaga.  I will have the opportunity to meet some theological educators, which will be fun, but also I will have the opportunity to meet with the head of the organization who is going to provide our sponsoring visa paperwork.  Much prayer has gone into this placement and we are excited to get it down.  Following that day I will be heading to Granada, where we will be living.  This will be a time for exploration, to get to know the city, where we might want to live and pray for the people who will touch our lives and whose lives we hope to impact.  I will also get to meet with the man who will serve as our boss during our transition year(s).  Much prayer has gone into this relationship as well.

Please be praying for this time, that all the documentation we need will come through so that we can make our appointment on the 18th of January with the consulate in San Francisco (it is the day after I return from Spain.)  Please pray for Leah and Eliana as they do not get to join me on this trip.