Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recent events, Part 2

Next up in the December line-up of activities was cookie baking.

Grandma Joy and Andrew rolling out the dough.

Mixing up the gingerbread cookie dough.
(I promised not to publish the picture of their faces so they are getting their backsides posted instead:)

Decorating the cookies, a family event.

Laura's traditional Santa scene

We also dipped dried apricots and pretzels, which were equally as yummy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recent events, Part 1

I pulled out a title I've already used since I am so far behind. December has been a busy, fun month. I thought I'd do a couple of recap posts just to get caught up. (Although, January is looking even busier so may be slim, too!)

The first weekend of December I spent in Minnesota. Two college friends and I went to a lovely dinner, best ravioli I've ever eaten, and to Bethel University's Festival of Christmas. It was so well done. They asked everyone not to clap until the end, which just about killed me, I wanted to clap more!

The next day Cindy, her sister Cheryl, Bebe, the dog, and I went to a tree farm and picked out a tree. Here is a recap in pictures...

Searching for the perfect tree

We found a good one! It has a hole on the other side, but it is just the perfect size for the dog to run through while she is looking out the window, so we chose this one.

Takes teamwork to cut it down. Cindy did most of the work, Cheryl helped steady the tree, and I just took pictures!

Now to get it home...

Hope you have all had fun preparing for Christmas, too!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Little Update

Between the Thanksgiving post and the one before it, a lot of traveling has happened. Here is a little update!

My mom, sister and I went to Sioux Falls Seminary for a mentoring workshop. Several of our friends were leaders or participants. It was fun to see them and hear from them. We even sat with a fellow Madisonite!

Then I went to Jamestown where I had a lovely surprise. The pastor who baptized me was there with his wife visiting her mom! It was so good to see Doug and Patty, catch up and play "remember when..." We also had a lovely cup of hot chocolate at a great coffee shop in downtown Jamestown called Babb's.

Then came the visit to Grand Rapids to see Susie and family. Susie and my sister and I grew up together. We call each other's mom, Mom. For years we ate dinner together every Wednesday after piano lessons and before church. We had a great time chatting and playing with her kids. We went to Lake Michigan one day to see one of the lighthouses.

Also, while in Michigan I was reminded of the black squirrels which we do not have in SD or Japan.

After leaving Grand Rapids I headed over to the eastern side of the state where I visited two churches in St. Clair Shores, Bethel and Community. I got to stay for a week between church visits so had many opportunities to hang out with various people from both churches. Thanks, all!

Four of the five ladies who took me out for Mexican food and shopping.

My friend who used to minister in Belgium and who took me out for Panera and shopping and encouragement.

Okay, so this is a little more than a little update! Just wanted to bring you up to speed on the home assignment adventures! Thank you for reading and commenting and praying and encouraging!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day of Thanks

This year I spent Thanksgiving with family and friends in SD. The day started with the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade viewing and running into the kitchen to check on the sweet potatoes during commercial breaks. Then we headed over to our friends' house. These friends and their entire extended family have adopted my family since we don't have any relatives here in South Dakota. A very few times while I was growing up we spent Thanksgiving with relatives, usually it was with the Sims' family.

Here is one of the three tables set up for the 40 guests!

We had lots of fun eating, talking, watching football (American football), bowling, eating and talking some more. Here are three of my little friends who enjoyed the Japanese candy I brought as well as learning how to write their names in Japanese.

It was a great day! I am truly grateful for my family, friends, faith, and so many other things that I won't take time today to list them all.

Of course, being in the US meant I didn't get to spend the day with my mission family. I am grateful for technology and the chance to see and chat with them while they celebrated on the 23rd.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My favorite hymn of all time is "To God Be the Glory." (I do realize many people younger than 25 have no idea what a hymn is, but I love the old hymns as much as the 'new' worship music.:) The hymn is written by Fanny Crosby who wrote over 8000 hymns. Today I was doing a little reading about her and found her first poem. It is pretty amazing for an 8 year old. By the way, Fanny was blind.

O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don't
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot, and I won't!

Just a little something to help you start to get into an attitude of gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thought from St. Ignatius

I am reading a book about Mother Teresa. It is filled with letters that she wrote to and received from her superiors as she was forming and serving as a Missionary of Charity in India. So much of what I have read has made an impact, but here is a recently read quote. This was written in a letter from Archbishop Perier quoting St. Ignatius.

"My only wish and desire, the one thing I humbly crave to have is the grace to love God, to love Him alone. Beyond that I ask for nothing more."

Oh to live with such a desire!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


As I have traveled around the upper midwest the past two months I have met many new people, shared numerous times about ministry in Japan, and stayed with a variety of people, some I have stayed with before and others were first timers. Overall, it has been a great home assignment so far.

A week ago I went to Minnesota and stayed with long-time friends. What a blessing those 6 days were!
I stayed with fellow missionaries...

Barb and I tried to buy out all of the tall-sized pants and jeans at Shopko.

I stayed with a college roommate...

We did a lot of fun things including a corn maze...
and breakfast with another roommate...

I also had dinner with another roommate...

She is also in ministry so we had a good time of sharing and encouragement.
Six of us lived together senior year so I have lots of college roommates!

And yesterday I got to visit with a best buddy from high school, junior high, elementary, well, since forever, right here in Madison.

I was reminded how blessed I am with such wonderful friends. Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, October 30, 2009

the harvest is ready

I have been traveling through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota for the past couple of months. I have watched the fields turn from green to brown as the beans, corn, and sunflowers matured and dried in preparation for harvest.

Everything was looking so good. Then the rains came. In October. The crops don't need as much rain as we've gotten this October. We've had a few days of no rain, in a row, so the farmers have been scrambling to get the soy beans harvested. Then the rain started again today.

As I was driving back from Iowa last night in the rain past all of the unharvested fields I thought of the well-known verses from Matthew. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."

I was thinking of all the things that can hinder the harvest, rain, broken tractors, snow, etc. There are also things that hinder the harvest that Jesus was talking about in Matthew. The main hinderance Jesus talked about was the lack of workers. I am sure we can think of many other hinderances, culture, prejudices, religion, etc.

There are outside influences the enemy uses to hinder us. There are also lies he tells us to keep us from participating in the harvest. "You are not called." "You don't know enough to talk about the Bible." "You are too busy." And so on.

There is another hinderance, comfort. It is uncomfortable to participate in the harvest. Farmers who harvest crops work long hours during the harvest season. Being a harvester for Jesus is uncomfortable.

What is hindering us from being harvesters?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Least Favorite Part of the Job

Part of being a missionary is asking for support. I do not know one missionary who likes this part of the job. But, two weeks ago I went to a conference put on by a ministry that helps make it a little bit easier.

Steer, Inc. is a ministry that partners ranchers and farmers with missionaries. I actually have several people who support me through this program. It is great to see people who desire to share God's Word around the world finding ways to make it happen. If you want to know more about this innovative program check it out here.

While at the conference I got to get together with fellow NAB missionaries (Lance and Debra Rundus), see people from supporting churches, and meet missionaries from other organizations.

We also got to hear some inspirational speakers, Kim Meeder (who I wrote about in this post), Mark Mittelberg, Brian Wechsler who is a representative from Village Missions, and Josh McDowell, who I did not get to hear since I had to leave early.

So, in the midst of thinking about the least favorite part of my job I got to be part of one of my favorite parts of my job, hanging out with other missionaries!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just a thought

I guess I need to keep my computer connected to me at all times. (My mom thinks it is connected to me!) I keep having good ideas for a blog post and then I forget by the time I get a chance to write!

Well, here is one I remember.

On Tuesday I went with my parents to Sioux Falls to listen to my dad speak-he did a great job. I had not signed up for the seminars so while they had lunch and seminars, I went to Bagel Boy for lunch.

As I sat eating my sandwich, which was delicious, and reading my book, I also noticed a group of women having lunch together. It started out with two ladies sitting at a small round table really only big enough for about 3 people. In about 10 minutes' time there were six ladies sitting together talking and laughing and sharing time as they lunched. I didn't really pay attention to what they were saying even though they were loud enough to be heard throughout the restaurant.

Then I noticed another table of women. Three ladies sitting at a table large enough to hold at least 6 people. They were just eating their sandwiches and looking at that spot on the middle of the table where you look when you aren't quite sure what to talk about.

Two tables of women lunching together. Yet what a difference in how they spent their time together! Just something I noticed and found interesting...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A fun week

Last Thursday my Japanese friend came to visit. We have been having a fun week discovering South Dakota. We also made a little trip into North Dakota for a church visit. Noriko has taken about 1000 pictures! I don't have quite that many, of course, since I was driving.

The first day we took a walk around Madison. We stopped in the church where Dad was working on the computer.

We also went to Shonda's for delicious grilled salmon and veggies from the garden.

The next day we were off on a trip to Ashley, ND. On the way we stopped to take in the sights along the way, like DeSmet to see Laura Ingalls' homestead.

When we arrived in Ashley we went to the Schauer's for dinner and had fun playing with the children.

From North Dakota we headed to the most famous South Dakota site. It was much colder than we thought it would be so we had to buy sweatshirts! We both liked the pink one.

We also stopped by Crazy Horse and drove through the Badlands.

On Monday we had lunch in Hill City at Alpine Inn which was recommended by several people. While there we saw Monte and Marian, friends from Madison. In the evening we arrived back in Rapid City for dinner and ate a a Happy Days style diner where we saw more friends from Madison!

It has been so fun to have Noriko here! I will miss her when she goes home tomorrow! It has been good to speak Japanese together, too:)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How weekends are spent

While on home assignment the word schedule is used for Sunday church visits. After that, there is no schedule! Every week, every day is different. This is good. This is challenging. This is.

So, here is a little of what has happened the past three weekends:

A visit to Brandon Baptist Church where the morning music was put on by these guys...

The following weekend was Labor Day weekend, a Monday holiday in the U.S. It is also the weekend of Life Light, a huge Christian concert outdoors with bands from all around the U.S. and Canada playing music from almost every genre. Here is what it looks like from about halfway back from the main stage:

That weekend my college roommate, Cindy, came to visit-it was very bright!

It was also my birthday weekend. We started with breakfast at the Sims' house.

A little ladder ball in the afternoon.

And family dinner in the evening.

Last weekend was spent in Herreid, SD being encouraged by the church there. We also had an afternoon/evening of food and fellowship with area churches. One of the games was to put on extra large work gloves and open Hershey's kisses. This is what it looked like...

That was followed by pastors vs. youth volleyball...

So, although my Sunday schedule is full, it is a lot of fun, too!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time to think

The last full week of August I spent in Palmer Lake, Colorado at Mission Training International. Before leaving from Japan I got on the internet looking for retreats for missionaries, knowing that I needed some down time after three years of ministry and if it got to include hanging out with missionaries then that would be an added bonus. The retreat I found that fit with my schedule was 'debriefing and renewal' at mti. How absolutely like God to lead me to exactly what I needed! Oh, how I appreciated that week. It was worth every penny, even more!

I met missionaries who have been serving all over the world. Families with babies and young children, families with teenagers, empty nesters, second careers, singles, missionaries in all stages of ministry. What a blessing to hear stories, be challenged by stories, laugh, cry and pray together.

Each morning we met with our small group. We talked about stress, ministry, leaving the field, returning to the field, hanging out with God, hanging out with friends, and everything in between.

Afternoons were spent individually with our group leaders for a 45-minute session. Then we were free to nap, spend time with God, hang out with our new friends, walk, hike, go to coffee shops, etc.

I was so encouraged by the missionaries I met. We had great times of fellowship. Our favorite spot to go was Serrano's Coffee Shop in Monument. While there we talked about every topic under the sun and shared our hearts for our adopted countries, struggled together about what the future holds, and got to know the gals working-one of my new friends even taught them how to make an iced coffee drink she likes, now they can add that to their menu! We also spent time playing speed scrabble and apples to apples as well as went bowling.

God graciously met me there. We had wonderful times of fellowship together. He reminded me of His love, grace, and delight. I am thankful for the time I had to think there in Colorado. I am thankful for the ministry of mti and our leaders who love to share God through there service to missionaries. What a blessing the week was!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One More Post

I just realized it is the last day of August and I haven't posted much this month, so I am trying to get one more in!

This month has been full of travels, fun with relatives, lots of car time, meeting missionaries from around the world, and even a little airport time. My last post contained lots of pictures from travels and got me to Colorado. So, here is an update of what has been going on since I arrived in Colorado.

I hung out with my aunt, uncle and cousins for about a week, learning a bit about how to live in chaos:) With 5 kids from 20 to 6, how can life not be just a bit chaotic?! We had some good conversations, relaxing times in the backyard and took in a minor league game. Abby, 6, used my camera for a while. Here is the perspective of a baseball game from a 6 year old!

Random people we don't know...

We do know these people...

Trying to get a self-picture of her missing tooth...

We had a lot of fun!

Next time will be about my missionary-filled week.

(Ah, I just realized that because my computer is still set for Japan time, this is going to be a September post!:)