Showing posts with label missions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label missions. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Great FRIENDS and PHOTOGRAPHY... a win-win weekend for the Chungs!

Due to some unexpected opportunities to experience the stomach bug over Christmas, SM and I didn’t get to go to Texas to visit some dear friends of mine as we had planned. Thankfully tickets are much cheaper in January, and MLK day gave us an extra day to spend with them! So we hopped on a plane last Saturday and headed to (slightly) warmer weather, sunshine, and lots of smiles!

This family “adopted” me over furlough and gave me a “home away from home” when I needed it on those long months of masters classes, Partnership Development, and seemingly closed doors. I got to watch their girls when their youngest was born, and take pictures in the hospital. They welcomed me into their lives, and stepped past any unforeseen barriers into mine in a way I very much needed. They celebrated the joys and mourned the hardships that came along the way. They celebrated my last masters class (of the semester) being finished and walked around – and around – the neighborhood with me as I processed my desires to teach missionary kids, to connect kids in America with those around the world, and to be married someday.

When I finally made it back to Tanzania, and they realized I no longer had access to an English-speaking church, they started worshipping with me over Skype most Sundays (after church for them, Sunday evenings for me) and praying over me over the miles. I could say, “things are going alright,” and they would say, “So by ‘alright’ you mean that you're not sick at the moment, but half the parents are... that the students are driving you a bit nuts as you come up on Christmas... that you're wishing for some cool rain to make it feel like the holidays... that things are hard but you are making it through?" Yep, pretty much. They read between the lines and got it.
Screenshot of Skype Worship...
SM got to meet them before they moved down to Texas last year, and Joy was in our wedding. But it was high time for SM to actually get to KNOW this family that I adored so much (and talked about even more). Besides, who doesn’t want to take a trip to Texas in the middle of sub-freezing January temperatures in Michigan?

So off we went. We got to spend time with their four girls and I got to remember again just how amazing SM is with kids. He played games with them non-stop! We also went hiking/bouldering one day and saw some of the beautiful countryside in a local state park. And I enjoyed not only being “Aunt Crystal” once again with girls that love me, and a sister to a couple who exemplify Christ beyond their knowledge to all those around them… but also loved spending time taking pictures of the adorable cuteness of their kids as long as they would let me (which, by the way, was a LOT!). Here are just a couple of the pictures I captured along our trip.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


One of the biggest lessons God has had to teach me over, and over, and over again throughout my life (and that I have often utterly failed at) has been how to rest in Him. No, this doesn’t mean doing nothing. But this does mean not striving for His love that He’s already given, not trying to earn what I’ve already got. And it also means not filling my schedule, my life with so much “good” that I miss out on what He’s got for me that is “best.”

It was about the time in college when I got mono at Urbana 2003. How I got it, I have no idea (and no, I wasn't kissing anyone!) But how I made it WORSE? That I know. I ran on adrenaline… kept going to classes, pushing myself to do one… more… thing. Because that’s what I was supposed to do, right? I knew how to overcome, and there wasn’t much that could slow me down. 

But God could.

And He did.

And my trying to push through this exhaustion made the illness last for over six months.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. - Ps 23:2-3

God used this time to show me things in His Word I’d been too busy to notice before. In fact, I’d been too busy, in general. Sleepless nights, restlessness, and darkened days when all I wanted to do was sleep (my poor roommate! It’s amazing we’re still friends) gave me lots of time to think, and pray, and read, and learn. And the more I struggled to “do” – reschedule my next three years of classes at Hope, start a Spanish minor (I’d need that for missions, right?)… the more God chuckled, lovingly and knowingly, and allowed my plans to fail. Over and over. As did my energy levels. And my understanding of what living for God meant. I was too busy trying to be everything for Him that I missed the fact that He was already everything I needed. So I slowly (and oh so painfully) learned to slow down. To rest. I took time off classes, and read the Narnia series for the first time - all the way through - just to make myself stay in one place and rest. I started asking God at the beginning of the day to lead and guide my time, my directions. And He did. And often, it looked like slowing down, like listening more and doing less. It looked nothing like what I thought I was supposed to be doing for Him.

Fast forward a few years to Tanzania. I’d learned a lot, but the mission field (which is everywhere) is a tough place to accept you can’t do everything. When you’re constantly surrounded by evident needs, and you see amazing people doing incredible things every day to meet just a few of those needs… it’s hard to be ok with going home and just sitting at Jesus’ feet. Or making a good meal from scratch and getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, it’s hard to sit still at all.

And so, that first year overseas, I nearly burned out.

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Mat 11:28-30

It got to the point where sometimes I wished I’d just get so sick that someone would have to send me home (from school, from the field?) so I’d be forced to rest, really rest. Because I didn’t know how to give myself permission to do so. I was fueled by guilt, by trying to match those around me (who apparently had WAAAY more stamina for teaching PLUS everything else than I did). I knew it was too much, but I didn’t know how to stop. I was filling my life with so many good things, that I had no time for rest. And apparently, that was important for sustaining. I was barely surviving, let alone thriving!

I heard God whispering, “Crystal, I called you here to teach. You’re doing that well. It’s ok if you don’t spend your evenings in outreach and Bible Studies and other “ministry.” Your ministry is to these kids… and that is enough.”

So I dropped pretty much… everything. The attempts to connect with after school ministries, the small group Bible Study from church… Everything besides teaching, dancing with middle-schoolers, and living in a tough place… which was enough. For me. I couldn’t handle any more, and, thank goodness, God didn’t expect me to. He didn’t even want me to. I was doing what He put before me- and that was enough. In fact, doing more was disobedience and sin, and it had taken its toll.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. – Mat 6:31-32

I’d trained myself from an early age to fit things into the schedule. Is there time in the day? Then fill it with good. I used to think that sleep was wasteful – that if I could survive without sleep, I could accomplish so much more! I’d long-since dropped that idea before heading overseas, thankfully. But the waking hours were still fair game to fill to the brim. Which was fine… for a day. Maybe a week. But a month? Year upon year? Teaching overseas and cooking from scratch and making sense of life in a different culture and language, moving and living with (amazing) roommates I’d never met before arriving… then spending springs and falls prepping for summer grad classes on a different continent… only to start all over again… I didn’t realize just how much wear and tear it was taking on me. 

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Ps 4:8

I loved it. It wasn’t always easy (following God never is) but it was without a doubt what God called me to – and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But I’d do it differently. I’d take more time to write. To enjoy sitting under a banana tree, or on the front porch taking in the Indian Ocean breeze instead of fretting that the power was out – again – just as we were getting ready to make dinner. To not worry so much about what I wasn’t doing or couldn’t do, but give thanks for the opportunities God gave me in the classroom, in the ministry He had put in front of me. To stop living in a sense of guilt, but to embrace a sense of God’s grace and the Truth that I am enough. Already. That yes, there are huge needs out there, and they need doing. But that I’m not God – and that He is.

That I am enough.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scripture Celebrations Close to Home

When I was in Tanzania and got the chance to go to a Scripture dedication, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it pretty much was. Nothing can compare to being with a group of people in person who have never had the Scriptures in their own language before get them for the first time. Or watching as they see the Jesus Film in their own language and huge transformations take place.

So when I got invited to a Scripture Celebration at Wycliffe USA today, I was both excited (mostly to see my dear friends the Bitikofers, who were on my team in Tanzania,) and a little hesitant that the event itself might be a letdown. I was pleasantly surprised, however. While it definitely wasn’t quite the same as being with a language group in Tanzania, it was still an amazing example and celebration of 27 Scripture Projects that have been completed and dedicated in their local communities throughout the world over the past six months. (I was excited to take pictures of a few of them, since I have friends working (or from) many of these countries!
This New Testament translation had to be written in two versions, since the language group lives across a country border and the people have learned to write their language in two very different scripts!
What a blessing to see some of the things I’ve been involved in coming to fruition – and to see how great God is using ordinary little people like myself and my teammates to bring about transformations in hearts and communities around the world, in ways we could never do ourselves.

It was also certainly a pleasure to take part in a celebration where I could actually understand the Scriptures being read - though half the fun of not understanding what's being said during a Scripture dedication is knowing that the words I don't "get" speak to the hearts of so many who haven't "gotten" God's Word before this time. With over 100 English translations of the Bible available, we are beyond rich in our ability to read and comprehend the story of God's grace, if we choose!

One of the interesting aspects of a people group making choices about the book they are translating and dedicating is the unique design and colors they choose to use for the published book. Oftentimes Christians in highly Muslim areas will choose a green cover with a gold border, which is the clearly accepted style for any "holy book" in that region. Another group that lived in the arid desert chose a brown color for the cover of theirs, to show the dry, desolate area that they live in... but made sure the outside of the pages were colored with a rich water-blue to show the contrast of God's ever-flowing, never-running-out Living water that was there's to drink of in God's Word. What a clear picture of God's salvation!

Despite being close-to-(American)-home in Orlando, I had to smile as I heard the chosen song that the recently-translated Bibles (and flags, and individuals representing each country) marched into with. It was a Swahili worship tune that I've sung so often in the past, both with my kids church in Michigan and more often in churches across Tanzania!

And despite having been in the States for about 9 months now, I was still nearly in tears (as I often am) worshiping in English, my own heart language, with a sea of others as we will someday all do around the throne. So many beautiful ways that my heart was captured today, and so thankful for the things I’ve been able to be a part of!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"So, there's this guy..."

I can’t tell you how many conversations and emails have started with these same words over the last year. But before I get to that, let me give you a bit of context for the story.

Once upon a time (about three years ago), I came home on furlough from Tanzania hoping and praying to go back. I’d been teaching at an international school, and was excited to fill a different need at a two-room school-house of sorts where 8 families were working with 9 language groups and needed a second teacher for their kids. (Things have changed a bit since then, but that was the idea!) I came home struggling with the beginnings of asthma from all the dust in Dar, to the point where a grad professor told me that if I went home and discovered I had TB, I should let her know and she’d extend my due dates for papers. Yep, I was coughing. A lot. I was pretty sure I knew what I was supposed to do (in going back to Musoma), but I had my doubts. I doubted as I went to NC and had plans for meetings with small groups and churches fall apart. And then I watched as God provided amazing communities for me to connect with anyway. I doubted as I got home after being on 4 continents in two months, and decided I could NEVER.MOVE. AGAIN. (haha… right.) I doubted as I tried to take 3 masters classes, substitute part time, AND raise support to go back… and didn’t see much of the support-raising thing happening! But the desire to go back was still strong in my heart, and I kept praying, and kept seeing little and big encouragements along the way that gave me hope. A family down the street that “adopted” me and encouraged me on my journey. An amazing connection with a family that was from Holland, MI that was headed to the same place as me in Musoma. Kids giving their missions’ box money to me to support me, and the chance to connect with kids at GraceSpring Church about missions. Watching said kids get excited and pray regularly for the language groups I’d soon (hopefully) be serving in Tanzania.

Throughout this time, we moved my “leave” date back a couple of times. Email conversations with my missions travel agent sounded something like, “Could we please change my ticket date again? I'd like to change it from the imaginary date of March 3 to another make-believe date of April 25... I don't care what airline you put me on for now since it's all going to change again anyway!"

Right. I’m sure they appreciated that. But then, I wasn’t overly thrilled at the situation either. I’d moved my leave date back three months already. And then about that time, my supervisor in America gave me an ultimatum. I had something like 5 weeks to raise the final $900/month I required to meet my budget, or I wouldn’t be able to get back to Tanzania in time for language school and starting to teach when they really needed me.

And that, as they say, was that. At least in my mind. I’d spent 9 months working hard trying to raise support and seeing almost nothing change. There was no way that I’d make it now. Maybe God was saying it was time to get a job in the States and stay here for a while. My mom can attest to the many drenching tears I shed on the couch the day I received the news, and the super-fast “walk” (she’d call it a jog) we took around the neighborhood a few times to help me de-stress. And through this time, I started to see God changing my heart. I was forced to open my eyes to new possibilities and what God might be doing in my life. I realized that helping kids at GraceSpring connect with missionary kids and life around the world had become just as dear to me as teaching kids overseas. I loved having opportunities to help kids see what they could be doing TODAY – not 25 years from now when they had a steady paycheck – to impact the Kingdom around the world. And then three weeks (or whatever the dates were) later, I sat at Panera watching text after text and email after email come in on the final date that my funds were due, all from people asking if they could still contribute to my ministry. At the beginning of the day, I was well-below what I needed. And by the end of the day, I had more than the minimum required! I was going!

…about which time I realized, I wasn’t sure I even WANTED to go back. (These are the things you can’t say, but oh so feel… I had spent so much time talking to people over the past year about how it seemed God was calling me back to Tanzania, and how I was needed there, that I hadn’t had time to let myself entertain any doubts myself. But when the support all came in, I suddenly realized that all the “funny” stories I’d shared about tarantulas on walls and jumping spiders, malaria and language issues were oh so much more funny when sitting in someone’s air-conditioned living room sipping on icy lemonade. It was a totally different story to live it, in hot, interesting but sometimes miserable places.
I think it was actually harder to go back to Tanzania the second time, in large part because I was “starting over” in a new place with a new community… so I didn’t have a support network to go back to. I didn’t know all the good things about the new place, but I did know about the hard stuff, the stresses, the exhaustion and sickness and spiders and everything else that I was sure were there waiting for me. I saw all of the negative, and none of the good. And I made my trips to Meijer to stock up on supplies, packed my suitcases, and prepared to go anyway.

(More to come... don't worry! It's hard to compact a three-year story into one blog post.
So just go get a drink, sit back down, and click here to learn more about "this guy"...)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Musoma Miracles

I may not be living in the Land of Tanz these days, but many of my heart’s prayers (and so many dear friends) are still very much there. In Tanzania, a good bit of our lives were focused on survival, on the work that we were doing at the office, or on the support work we’d gone there to do (eg. teaching missionary kids). But in-between and in the midst of these things, we became the lucky recipients of great Tanzanian friendships with neighbors, coworkers, and employees at our houses and in our communities. Many families and individuals have done this well, much better than this introverted, lacking-Swahili-skills girl ever did. One teammate in particular shared an amazing story recently that I wanted to pass along.

On January 25, she posted:

"We're so excited! This past Tuesday our outdoor worker (the one who keeps our yard from looking like a jungle and also takes care of our dogs) announced, "My wife and I have been talking about you and we have decided that wherever you worship, we want to worship from now on!" We were stunned because Karume is Muslim but he was very serious about what he said and today he and his wife and new little baby joined us for Karume's very first Christian church service! Please be praying for him as he learns more about the Savior!"

In a place where everyone is "born" Christian or Muslim - and these are more often than not mixed together with traditional beliefs or visits to the witch doctor - any change is a huge deal... and this announcement shows 1. Just how much God is working through my friends to shine His light in very real ways, and 2. Just how much God works in hearts in ways we wouldn't necessarily expect.

Then today, I read:

"Some of you might remember my excitement over Karume, our outside worker who made the decision to start worshiping with our family each Sunday. Since that time he and his family have experienced a miracle. After searching and praying for his missing son (missing for over 2 weeks) the boy was found this past Friday!! Ends up he was abducted and taken to a town quite a distance from his village but somehow managed to escape, PRAISE GOD. Karume can't stop talking about the way God protected his son and everyone in church got to hear all about it this morning. Eleven-year-old Wambura is in the center of this picture - pray for him as he is still really shaken up by this whole thing."

This last post really got to me - not only because Karume was someone I saw around Musomaland on a semi-regular basis, and because I know that abductions do happen - but also because I recently finished reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: Tears of the Giraffe and had read about something similar happening in Botswana... but in a fictional tale. This, on the other hand, is very real. I'm smiling from ear to ear, though nothing like Wambura's parents - and I am just so thankful for this happy ending - and beginning - for this very special family!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Always Changing

Things at the learning center—and on the mission field—are constantly changing. It’s a hard reality of life here—the friendships we gain grow quickly and deeply, but the frequent hellos and goodbyes tear at your heart just that much more.

Last term two families on our team returned to their home countries of America and New Zealand. Others in our community went to Australia and America on furloughs with plans to return. Recently, with the announcement of another family returning to the States soon, one of our students cried,

"Why does everyone we love have to leave?"

I feel it too! Couldn't resist taking a picture
with this shirt I found at the local market...
it describes our lives to a T!

Even my classroom changes a lot from month to month—and from day to day! Depending on parent volunteers at the learning center, I might have an American 3-year-old joining in, or a second-language 5-year-old Dutch student whose Swahili far surpasses mine (hmm... make that third language!?). My students here in Musoma come from New Zealand, America, Australia, and the Netherlands. We learn more about each country and culture all the time. We’ve been known to count in English, Swahili, Dutch, Spanish, German, and French for morning routines, and have to translate between American/British/Australian/New Zealand English (and vowel sounds!) on a regular basis.

I explain terms like “porch,” "gym," and “Easter Bunny” while my students familiarly use terms like amoeba and bilharzia, monitor lizard and dengue flour, know the potential issues with drinking (or touching) unclean water, and can quickly write the steps to how to get to Australia from Tanzania for their second grade sequential writing assignment. We read ABC books not just about super-heroes, but about countries where our parents come from. We celebrate not only Christmas but Australia Day, ANZAC Day, American Thanksgiving, the Queen’s Birthday, the other Queen’s Birthday, and have both Christian and Muslim holidays off from school according to the Tanzanian holiday schedule.

Lately I’ve been musing (a bit miserably, I'll admit); “Nobody ever told me I’d have to leave family twice!” (I knew I was leaving family, friends, etc when I came... I just didn't realize how hard it would be to leave here when heading back!) I do know how transition works, so the statement might not be exactly true! But on the flip side, as I am now the one preparing to go, I realize just how much God has provided “family” for me here in Tanzania – dear friends that I can go laugh or cry with at a moment’s notice, call early in the morning about a break-in, or commiserate over the abundance of malaria cases or lack of electricity as of late. Just as I’ve turned to Mark 10:29 for comfort so many times while missing family events in America, I now turn again to this Scripture for comfort as I leave the amazing family I’ve gained here, trusting God has great plans for me in whatever - and wherever - is next!

"I tell you the Truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age... and in the age to come, eternal life."
- Mark 10:29-31

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Best Friendemic

Just a few of the people who bring smiles to my heart around the world...
and whose pictures just happened to be handy on my computer.
I have this problem.  You see, I have too many amazing friends.  I’ve been assured that this is normal for my lifestyle – you know, one where I out of necessity develop close relationships in a variety of cities, states, and countries around the world.  But, at the same time, it makes conversations difficult at times.

Last night, my roommate was told “you can’t have that many best friends!”  Well, maybe not best friends, but she’s a lot like me.  Once you’ve lived overseas, moved a few times, and have lived in various places, especially as a single, it gets to be a bit complicated.  I remember arriving in Kalamazoo last year on furlough and realizing that, at that moment, I had amazing friends in cities all over the world, but not a single close friend that I could call to go to dinner.  (A couple of friends from Kalamazoo were away, but still.  It was lonely.) 

I’m not saying that I need more friends – nor that I don’t want any more.  It’s just a weird phenomenon.  And, it’s typical, from what I read.  In the book Third Culture Kids, it talks about how many kids who have grown up overseas have a FB friend list a mile long and how they realize at some point that they just can’t keep up with them all like they want to.  It’s sad – missing out on the lives of those with whom you’ve grown close.  And it’s amazing – realizing that you’ve gotten to meet and be a small part of this many amazing people’s lives!  It’s hard, to continue to get close when you know it’ll end in goodbye.  And it’s easy – to fall into close relationships quickly when you’re surrounded by stressful difficulties and need to lean on one another for everything from medicine to bug spray to food to a place to go and cry on someone’s shoulder. 

It’s weird.  It’s crazy.  It’s life.  My life.  And while there are many times when I’ve asked, “who decided this was a good idea, anyway?” I can honestly say that most days, I’m incredibly thankful for the journey God has put me on.  And more than anything, I am reminded that my home – my real home – is in heaven, where tears and goodbyes will be finished and I’ll get to worship around the throne with my 394 best friends – and a million other amazing people I never got the chance to meet – from all around the world! :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kids Change Things!

I've been working on a website to get kids, youth, (and adults) connected and involved with missions for a while now... kind of my creative energy outlet from studying last term.  The site flowed out of my passion for kids, and my frustration with the idea that kids are too little to make a difference.  In fact, I think we need to empower kids and teens of all ages to make changes in the world through actions and through prayer right NOW.  Not in ten years or when they grow up, but today.

My hope is that kids around the world will be able to share and connect with each other and see how God might be encouraging them to do something for Him.  It's also a place where people of all ages can find ways to get connected with missions and pray for language work going on in Musoma.

"Don't let ANYONE look down on you because you are young, but SET AN EXAMPLE for the BELIEVERS in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."  - 1 Tim 4:12

So... check it out.  Take a look around.  And let me know if you have ideas of how I can make it better.  It's a work in progress for sure, and I'm excited to see if and how God might use it in the future as it continues to develop.
Go to the "Pray for Tanzania" button on the left to learn more about the language project I'll be supporting in Musoma.  Check out some amazing materials (from Wycliffe and other organizations) that I've linked to the Parents and Teachers section for teaching kids about missions.  Try your hand at learning a few new words in Swahili. :)  And learn about the families I'll be working with in Musoma via the link on the right.

Also, if you think this site is worth sharing, would you take a minute to do that?  It could be via FB, your blog, email, word of mouth, or whatever else strikes you.  The goal is to get kids - and adults! - connected, encouraged, and empowered to do the great things God has prepared for them to do!  I appreciate your help in whatever way that might look :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Merry Christmas... in every language!

These are the languages - and the region - that I will be supporting through teaching the children of the missionaries there when I go back... and some of the people I will be living in community with every day.  It really explains the need for translation into mother tongues. 

I am so excited to share this with you!  It came out two years ago at Christmas, but the work is continuing!  Even more amazing is to see that the work started in this video is coming to completion... many of these languages are now getting the entire book of Luke dedicated and made available in their own languages right now.

Pictures of dedications of the book of Luke into different languages... 
all in the last few months!

If you're interested in learning more about these languages and praying for the work going on, click here, then click the "Pray for Africa" link on the left side.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Find a Penny...

11 August 2011   <-- (Here are a few more musings from my first days back... that got lost in the shuffle and never made it online.)

... pick it up ... and all the day you'll have good luck!
I was heading home via the airport the other day (seems like I’ve been doing that a lot lately!).  As I plopped down on one of the oh-so-comfortably-divided airport benches at my gate to wait for my flight, my eye was drawn to something shiny under the seats across from me.  The sight might not have gained your attention, but it definitely caught mine.  Because, you see, I don't think I've seen a coin or spare change lying around on the ground for over two years.

I had to wonder a couple of things.  One, why is it that in all the countries I've been to in the past two years (and others before that), I've never seen change lying around on the ground?  And two, why is this such a common sight in the States?

I've heard of people throwing away pennies simply because "they're not worth anything."  A sad thought, in my mind.  (I was raised by parents who taught me to save my pennies and hit the clearance section first!)  But I did have to ponder why it is that we have such a prevalence of coins lying on the sidewalk when other countries seemingly have none to leave by the wayside, accidental though it might be.  Are we so affluent here in America that we don't need to take time to pick up something worth so little?  Or are we too busy to notice such a "treasure" on the ground?

(Allow me to stretch the topic a bit…) 

Jesus talked about found treasures in the Bible, and the worth they should hold.  He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Mat 13:44).

Sometimes, I’m amazed at the treasures that we have in front of us that we simply take for granted.  Yes, a penny is a little thing.  Only worth one cent.  But it does have worth.  And as I prepare to go back to Tanzania, I see a correlation between our lack of need for small treasures such as pennies and for larger treasures like God’s Word. 
Did you know that there are over 500 English translations of the Bible available today?  It truly is an amazing thing.  My students at HOPAC will tell you that my favorite website is, and they just might be right.  I like to go online and look up different versions of the same passage of Scripture to better understand what I’m reading.  And I love to model this for my kids.  I love even more to pull up a version of the Bible in a child’s own heart language and have them read it in the language they understand best for the class.  (I can’t think of a better, more powerful way to teach Bible to an English Language Learner in my classroom than having them memorize God’s Word in their own language… instead of trying to get them to grasp deep, meaningful concepts in a language they struggle to understand!)
Because isn’t that really what it’s all about?  Speaking to people in a way that connects to their heart?  The staggering statistic is that in Tanzania alone, there over 120 languages spoken.  These are the languages that speak to people's hearts - the ones their mothers spoke to them when they were born.  While they may know Swahili, or English, or another trade-language, their "heart language" is what will move them the most in discussing ideas and emotions that are most meaningful to them. 

I’ll be the first to say that I struggle sometimes to read my Bible.  It’s not always easy to stay plugged in to His Word.  But when I remember what a treasure it is to hear and see God’s Word in my own language, it makes it a little easier to dive in.  And when I realize just how many people don’t have a single word of Scripture in a language they understand best, it convinces me again that there is still work to be done… and that I have a place in the process!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Here are the kids....

Where is the teacher?

These are most of the families that I will be helping to teach when I get to Musoma, Tanzania in March. Many are from the States, others are from Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands... and all are aiding in getting the Bible into the hands of NINE language groups in the Mara Region of Tanzania (near Lake Victoria).
The Mara Region is in Red above.  Be praying for the work of Bible Translation!
Right now, there is one teacher working at a co-op, 2-room schoolhouse that has been set up there, and parents are filling in to teach the parts she can't cover. However, the hope is to get these parents back to the work they've been trained and called to do - either Bible Translation, literacy, or support work - while their kids continue to get a high-quality education!
Lyndy came by for a visit in MI (from TX!) while on furlough,
and we talked about... guess what?  Teaching! 
I know all my teacher-friends are shocked. :) Can't wait to work with her!

That's where I come in!  By having a second teacher in the school, parents will be able to get back to helping get the Bible into the hands of Tanzanians who need Scripture in a language they truly understand.  I can't do my part, however, without the prayers and financial support of all of you. I am currently at 30% of my needed monthly funds both for heading to Musoma, and for right now here in the States.  If you would like to aid in this process, it would be a huge blessing to me!  I won't be cleared to leave for Musoma until I reach 100% of my funding, but I am also struggling to make ends meet while I'm here studying on furlough and as I prepare to go back.  If you would be willing to commit to joining the team of monthly funding partners TODAY, it would be a HUGE help and blessing!  Even seemingly small monthly amounts really add up!

Ways to Get Involved:
  • Click HERE to join my team. (either as a prayer warrior, monthly supporter, or to give a one-time gift)
  • Email me to let me know ideas for fundraising or how you would like to get involved.
  • Tell your missions director or pastor about me, what I'm doing, and my needs, and get me their contact information so I can follow up.  Or invite me to your next small group to share what God is doing around the world!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Twice is Nice!

A story from the Translation work going on in Musoma, Tanzania... where I hope to go in March to help teach the kids of the missionary translators in that area!  (Written by Misha S.)

Note: To read more stories and learn what God is doing in Bible Translation in the Tanzania and Uganda, go to

Rukia reading Genesis
When Rukia, the Ikizu Bible translator, went to a village to read a chapter of her draft of Genesis aloud to get feedback from community members, several people gathered to listen. They were quite surprised to learn that Scripture was being translated into the Ikizu language, but even more surprised to learn that their language could be written.

Rukia began reading and everyone listened very carefully. They were nodding and smiling, following along with the story. She continued reading all the way through the end of the chapter. But as soon as she finished, they suddenly asked her to go back and read the final paragraph again. Rukia immediately thought, “Oh no, what did I mess up in my translation?”
Ikizu speakers listening to their own language being read!!!
After hearing the final paragraph once more, one man in the group leaned back and said, “Thank you, Rukia, for repeating that part of the story. It was just such good Ikizu and so sweet to our ears to hear our language being read that we all wanted to hear it again! We’ve never heard Ikizu being read aloud before!”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Translation and Co-Op in Musoma, Tanzania

 Check out a bit of what is going on in with language development and translation in Musoma, Tanzania... and glimpse the co-op where I'll be teaching (with many more kids on their way!!!).

  Brought to you by my soon-to-be co-teacher, Lyndy Henrickson...  Thanks, Lyndy! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3 September 2011

I stopped by the Family Christian Bookstore today, just to look.  I haven’t been there yet and I’m slowly experiencing all these places anew since I’ve been back.  Today seemed a good day to check this one out.  I’m always amazed that, even though I’ve been back in the States for a month now, I’m still overwhelmed in new surroundings and particularly in stores.  One day this will all become normal… but for now, the site of so much well-made, fun, attractive, and well-stocked merchandise never ceases to overwhelm my senses.

Today, as I walked into the store, I discovered a few things. 

One, a new movie is coming out by the makers of “Fireproof.”  And lots of books and decorative signs and stuff are available for purchase pertaining to this.

Two, evidently they’ve gotten on board with the Free Trade idea and have a variety of bags, clothing, jewelry, scarfs, etc from all over the world.  I wandered through this section and nearly wept.  Not only did this area bring back the memories of things and places and people, things I felt were “normal,” but it also touched me so much to think of people being really impacted by this… and got my brain rolling on how to connect people I know to opportunities like this to sell the things they make.  Yep, Anna, I was thinking of you and all your paper-bead necklaces available for purchase from Uganda!!!

I wandered through the rows of cute plaques and Biblical sayings you can set on a shelf or hang on your wall.  I was overwhelmed not so much at the amount of things for sale (as is my usual reaction to stores these days), but I was instead touched at the thought of so many Biblically-focused decorations and reminders being available all in one place.  I hadn’t seen something like this for two years… and it made me miss places like this where the Word of God is so available and accepted.  If you live near a place like this, give thanks that it's there!  There is no where else around the world (that I've seen) where you'll have access to so much Biblically-focused material than the States.
It also made me think I need to start getting things like this made in the Land of Tanz (it’s just carvings on a piece of wood, after all!)

Then, there was the Bible aisle.  Or, should I saw, aisleS

This shouldn’t have surprised me.  I know they’re there.  I’ve been in this same place numerous times before.  I’ve journaled about the availability of the Word of God in over 500 versions in the English language… and how we have this so accessible and yet hardly use it.  But as I heard a clerk ask someone if they were looking for a study Bible or simply something decorative, it hit me.  Wow.  Not only are there entire sections dedicated to one version of the Bible, and other sections focused on Bible software (which is awesome, btw!), but people have these in their houses.  And maybe, hopefully, are using them.  But, they are available!  In any color combination or decorative type, version or size or shape you could imagine.  

The reality of the accessibility of the Bible in our own language – did I mention we have over 500 versions?  which is awesome!  I love to compare and see another way to express what God was saying in a way that connects and makes more sense to me.  But… the fact that we have this in our own language, in a language we understand… is still startling as I prepare to go back to Musoma.  Which is a place where people are working diligently to get the Word of God into NINE languages that have NEVER HAD IT before.  Many of which were just recently written down. 

These are languages that speak to people’s hearts.  That have a saving message of a Friend, Messiah, Father, Saviour, King, Lover, Warrior just for them.  And that many of them yearn to hear in a language that they truly understand. 

And it makes my role in the scope of Bible Translation just that much more clear.  This place, this role, this job ahead of me has a purpose in the Kingdom.  It’s bigger than anything I can do alone.  And it’s something that I am completely convinced needs doing.

It’s amazing what can come out of a simple trip to the local Christian Bookstore!

"...Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted!"     - Isaiah 12:4