Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
DeLaynie has been placed at the mildest end of the autism spectrum. (Autism spectrum disorder is different from autism proper, in case you're planning on checking out on Wikipedia. You should know, however, than none of the medical sites' descriptions of children with this disorder remotely fit DeLaynie.) The medical staff doesn't want to send her to a place where another language is spoken for a portion of the day because they're afraid that will confuse her as she tries to learn English. I guess New York City, Los Angeles, and most of Texas are out of the question, then, huh?
Now, before you get all worried and spiritually burdened, you should know that I'm doing just fine. Really. People here at the training center don't seem to believe me. But at this point, it's helpful to know that we are called to serve in the United States. We had been looking at countries all over the planet, hoping to find a fit somewhere other than here, but this definitely narrows the options.
For us, staying is a sacrifice. It's the sacrifice that we've been called to lay down at the feet of Jesus, and it will be.
Don't get it in your head that I'm being super-spiritual about the situation. I really want to go, and I'm plenty unhappy that we aren't. But we aren't. We know that God's sovereignty doesn't have a glitch in it. We know that His goodness is abundant. We know that He is our portion and our good. For now, He's going to be our portion and our good in this country. We're hoping that when DeLaynie has progressed to an age appropriate level, we may return to the possibility of overseas ministry.
We should mention that we're hoping to go west (young man), where churches are dramatically less numerous than they are in the southeast. Plus, I would love to get some seminary under my pink, rhinestone-laden belt, and I really like Golden Gate, a seminary made up of five campuses spread out over the west.
For now, we have no firm plans. The next step is to see Edwin's brother, and then we head to Alabama, where we have a furnished mission house waiting on us, by the grace of God and His provision. We will serve where needed, and follow the path that God will, most assuredly, make straight under our feet, as He has to this point.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We heard about pastors who spent decades in prison, being led to believe that their wives had divorced them and their children denied them. We heard about women beaten by their fathers for denouncing their faith of Islam in order to turn to Jesus. We heard about the Christians who were forced to keep their house churches secret for fear of having their children taken from them or imprisonment in reeducation camps, but who vowed to wake up an hour earlier everyday to pray for their brothers and sisters in other countries when they discovered that there were others enduring persecution more severe than they. They persevered through pain, imprisonment, and, worst of all, the suffering of their own, precious children.
As we walked to lunch, we talked about the faith of these saints. We discussed the ways that it differs from North American Christianity, and how there really should be another name for their faith, or for ours. We shouldn't have the privilege to go by the same name that they carry with such joy and perseverance. We, who complain when there aren't enough programs for our children or when the pews are too hard, cannot possibly be put in the same category as they, can we?
Then we asked the question, "Who are we to go to them?" Is this really the Christianity that we want to export to other countries? Is this the faith that we pray for the unbelieving to discover, the me-centered desire for God to serve us?
Of course, it's better that we go. It's better for them to hear than to endure Hell, even if the idea of church has been mutilated in the minds of the sent-out ones. Let's get one thing straight: I love the church of the United States. I love that you can find a church almost anywhere. I love that there are believers all over this great country. I love that we are free to worship. But are we using that freedom, or are we abusing it? Do we really get to know God for who He is as we sit on our padded seats, silently grumbling about the preacher going to long? And even as we sit, our brothers and sisters in other countries are desperately hoping and praying that someone in their congregation could get their hands on a Bible. Is our Christianity the family that God had allowed His Son to die for?
I'm wrestling with these questions tonight. I hope we continue to wrestle. If there's anything that this country needs, it's to learn that North American Christianity may be the least punished, but we may also be the least free. For freedom only exists when it's exercised.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
DeLaynie has discovered the monkey bars. At first, she was tentative about it, but now
she loves it.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I mentioned in this post that there is a quilting quad here on campus. In it, there are a myriad of sewing machines, a team of quilting women, and an array of fabric that could dizzy almost anyone. They have these really cute bags (purses/totes) hanging up that look tempting, but I just didn't have it in me to give it a go. The stress of the week, however, has changed my mind. I went to the quilting quad today.
I haven't finished my bag yet. I do have an idea of what the finished product is going to look like, though. I'm pretty proud of my choice in fabric. After that, it was all downhill. I can't sew in a straight line. I'm good with it. It isn't going to be Vera Bradley, but it will hold stuff. My goal is that I'll be able to put things in it without those things falling through the bottom. We'll see how that goes.
After all, the point was stress relief, not perfection. Which is good. Stress may be relieved, but perfection is nowhere to be found.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Rabbit trail: So, what do you do with a three year old at 4:15 in the morning? Edwin woke her up by asking if she wanted to go to the playground. She perked up instantly. Unfortunately, it was crazy cold this morning. After a few minutes on the swing, Edwin heard her teeth chattering, and decided to take her to the van and watch a movie on the portable dvd player. They stayed there until one of the buildings on campus was opened, and then they hung out inside and talked to random passers by. That's what you do with a three year old at 4:15 (until 6:45) in the morning.
We had to put her in the papoose (think: giant swaddling blanket) so she wouldn't squirm. It made for a pretty grotesque sight, but it was painless on her.
This test had the purpose of making sure that there isn't anything going on with her actual brain, which may be easy to fix or correct with therapy. The doctor hasn't actually seen the results yet, so we don't know how that test came out. There's also the possibility of an MRI. They don't think anything is really wrong with her brain, but they want to be on the safe side.
Everything is still fuzzy for right now. We're tired, but we're doing fine emotionally. DeLaynie's completely exhausted, as is Ella. Neither of them are aware that anything is wrong, accept for an interesting detour in our family's sleeping patterns. All-in-all, we're okay. Pooped, but okay. There's absolutely nothing pointing to a medical problem with DeLaynie, other than this developmental delay. Someone from the practice will be observing her while she's at school tomorrow, so be praying that DeLaynie shows herself for who she really is. She tends to act differently in school than she does everywhere else, so please pray that she will be able to be the wonderful, sweet-spirited, vivacious child that we know her to be.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Some people think that theology is boring. I find it hard to believe that some Christians think that hearing about how incredibly cool God is a waste of time, even if it is presented in a systematic manner. I think that doctrinal studies get a bad reputation due to the fact that theology ends with "-ogy," making it sound way more complicated and intellectual than needed. We should change it to "Check this God out! studies."
Last week we had our first round of shots. Our sending agency saves a million dollars a year by giving the ridiculous number of shots right here, in our clinic. The nurses are really good at it, too. They have a one parent, one kid rule, so I went in with DeLaynie, not Ella. From what Edwin said, Ella was not too thrilled about two strange women jabbing her with pieces of metal. Who can blame her? One round down, two more to go.
Tomorrow we go to see a developmental specialist to get a full work-up on DeLaynie. This is simply a precaution to make sure that there isn't anything that we've missed that couldn't be treated overseas. No one believes that the doctors will encounter problems, but please be praying that DeLaynie tests ultra-well tomorrow. I'm still praying that God will enable DeLaynie to "connect the dots," and communicate at an age appropriate level. Whatever God decides, though, DeLaynie belongs to Him. It's His decision to make, and the way that He designed her is perfect for His purposes.
And now, without further adieu... Ella, covered in yogurt, feeding herself, with two spoons!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
For whatever reason, I found myself pondering this great question today. It finally dawned on me that trail mix is intended to act as sustenance to fuel heavy exertion. In other words, it doesn't work as a healthy snack. It does, however, function quite well in lieu of a meal while in the middle of the woods. It has lots of protein, some carbs, and a nice little addition of chocolate in the form of M&M's. As far as a small, portable meal goes, it's a winner.
Synopsis: Trail mix does not make one healthy, though proper use of it (which requires actually hiking trails) could eventually have positive effects on the consumer. And now you know.
Friday, May 15, 2009
A friend of mine posted a comment on my last post about the things she's learned since I left. It got me thinking about the things that I may find to be pretty useful when overseas. They have an entire quad (4 family housing) dedicated to quilting here at the missionary training center. I keep meaning to go in there. DeLaynie has two dresses with popped hems. I have a dress that could use some alterations. I figure that I could go in there, and one of the oh-so-talented ladies who volunteer in the quilting quad would show me the ropes. But there's just so much to do!
There is still hope. Progress emerges from an array from situations. Tonight in Wal-Mart I saw a lovely Muslim woman wearing the traditionally accepted clothing for American Muslim women: a long dress and a head scarf. Peeking out from under that scarf, however, was a blue tooth headset! See? There is still hope for me. She found her motivation in a desire to chat. My desire is to improve myself... and feed my family while in another country. That should be at least as powerful, right?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I will be busy. Hopefully, Edwin will enjoy his nap as much as I enjoyed girls' night and the nap that preceded it. Both were his ideas. He's the best husband ever, so I hope that he gets the best rest ever.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
We laughed, most likely excessively. Everything seemed funny, which reflected our desperate need to be away. It wasn't a long trip. Just about ten minutes from this training center to Panera. But it felt like a world away.
Thank you, husbands, for taking care of the little ones and encouraging us to get out and have some time together. We are incredibly grateful for our little stroll down Silly Lane. And thank you, girlie girls, for showing me a good time on the town. I love you both!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I hadn't even checked the comments in a while because I hadn't gotten any in such a long time, and I hadn't written anything new. But I got one! It wasn't a happy one. The commenter completely disagreed with what I thought to be a very simple and direct explanation of the passage, when the context is considered. I deleted it. The comment. Not the post. I stand by what I wrote. Why would I delete someone else's opinion. Because when a lost person stumbles on my blog, the very last thing that I want them to see is a couple of Christians arguing over something so ridiculously trivial as the history of translations (which was the basis of her argument). There are battles worth fighting, but the one represented just wasn't one.
I like a good argument, but the way that the world recognizes Christians is how? How much money they give? How pious they appear? Nope. It's by how they love each other (John 13:35). That doesn't mean that we can't discuss hermeneutical disagreements. But the reason that I keep The Dwelling Place open, despite the long pause between entries, is because I hope and pray that someone will stumble upon it and find the only answer that matters: Jesus.
By the way, I was thrilled to find that someone stumbled upon my blog. It didn't appear to be anyone that I knew, so that's awesome! It means that someone somewhere out there might read it and understand something that hadn't been clear to them before, and that's grace.
How am I using this precious hour, now 43 minutes? Well, I'm blogging for one. Then I have homework to do. It may not seem like it at first thought, but long-term missionary work requires a lot of training. And that's a good thing, because we're learning a lot about life looks like on the field.
Now, I know that there's a clear metaphor in there about the need to share the Gospel with those that haven't heard. I'm not going to go there. It's just too obvious. I'll leave such thoughts to you, dear reader. Now, on to the homework!
Monday, May 11, 2009
DeLaynie sharing her dandelion with Ella. Even though neither of them are looking at the camera or smiling, it's still one of the best pictures of both of them that I've ever taken. Low standards help in acheiving such a goal.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
We'll have a restful afternoon. Last year I read The Bell Jar on Mother's Day. Yes, that's right. I read about a crazy lady all day on Mother's Day. I'm just sentimental like that.
Tomorrow evening we have cultural worship. The culture of the week is Brazil. Last week was African (sub-Saharan), so everything was in Swahili. We ended the service by shaking every one's hand. In the middle of a viral outbreak. Hey, you gotta go with the culture. (We washed our hands thoroughly afterward, and no one got sick. See? Culture isn't so bad!) Tomorrow night the service will be in Portuguese. It's pretty odd not being able to understand what's going on, but it's fun, too. The most "interesting" part is the lack of childcare, something that we're going to have to get used to because it's pretty doubtful that any church we go to will have childcare.
The most important way that we'll celebrate Mother's Day is that we'll talk to our mothers, hopefully with video through Skype. We love you, Mom's!
Friday, May 8, 2009
So, maybe you're wondering, "What does one actually do at missionary training?" Ah, good question. We go to classes and training sessions for the most part. Here are a few highlights from training thus far:
- We had several hours of training on spiritual warfare, and what we're going to be up against in cross-cultural ministry. Satan uses different methods in different people and cultures, so it's important to know how attacks may look. Here's a hint, though: Satan tends to be pretty subtle in our culture, using things like doubt, worry, and temptation into "little sins".
- We've been hitting the highlights of how to plant churches. This is a long, exhausting, and delicate task, so many of the lessons are learned on the field. What we did learn about, though, were various models and general principles that are absolutely necessary. The most important aspect we've heard deals with finding a person of peace, who provides safety and an inlet into the people you are trying to reach.
- We've also learned about staying healthy on the field, and the various diseases that we may face, like malaria. That was a really fun meeting, let me tell you. But it was important to hear. Beyond that, I refuse to share any more in fear of grandparents confiscating their grandchildren.
Those are just a few things that we've been doing. In addition to these, we're also working on learning Bible study methods that are easy for new believers to replicate. Above all else, we are encouraged to seek after the One who called us to this mission. We are taught that to neglect our personal walks in favor of doing tasks is to neglect the very task we have been hired to complete.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Now she's pretending to be a kitty-cat.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I want to get her a shirt that says "I Live to Boogie," except that dancing isn't her purpose in life. It's just a nice addition to her activity repertoire. Still, I can't wait until she gets into some dance classes when we get to Nicaragua. I don't know what all will be available, but I think she would absolutely adore any dance, I mean musical movement, class.
(*** Addition***) A quad-mate just lent us a cd of Spanish praise music. We have been listening to it in order to immerse ourselves in the beautiful language. DeLaynie got so excited when she first heard it that she giggled and screamed, "I loooooove to dance. Let's dance!" She then began moving musically, though the degree of musicalness is highly debatable. This kid may have a future as a part of a praise team or creative ministry.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The girls have gotten to wear their raincoats today. Ella's is 2t because it's very rainy in Costa Rica for about half of the year, so she'll be wearing it a lot for several months. She looked something similar to a pink penguin as she waddled home from the cafeteria. The stroller was too wet for us to use it, so I made the terrible mistake of letting them walk there and back. It wasn't so bad getting there because Edwin was with us, but getting back home to the quad was much more difficult because he was in a meeting.
It must have taken at least twenty minutes to get from the cafeteria back to our home. It's normally about a 5 minute walk. I have to admit, it was cute watching the girls doddle along. And I do mean doddle, not toddle. We finally made it home, though, and we're semi-dry. Now it's time to find something to do indoors that won't un-do the bath I just gave them. I'm not too optimistic about finding such a task, but it's worth a try.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The whole family was on the seemingly monstrous bed that was created by the two twin beds in our bedroom. (The girls have their own room. We're not bed-sharers, not that there's anything wrong with that. :) We had been dancing, per DeLaynie's instructions: "Shake. Now, jump! Okay. Now... wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. Clap your hands. Good job!" All tuckered out, Mom and Dad requested our favorite game, night-night. This game is highly evolved, and involves us turning out the light (in the middle of the day; DeLaynie's idea), getting under the covers, and pretending to sleep with terribly overstated snoring noises. DeLaynie giggles every time we "play" it, and even requests it on occasion.
Daddy got up to receive the wipes that a quad-mate of ours picked up for us at WalMart. While he was out of the room, along with Ella, DeLaynie gave me a kiss and sighed, as sweetly as I've ever heard it, "I loooove you!" It's not that she's never said it. She has, many times. But this time she was looking right at me. She wasn't repeating anything. She was just telling me how she felt. So, of course I responded with, "I love you, DeLaynie!" and a big hug. Now she has me whipped. It's all down hill from here...
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Our time here is so short, and we really want to learn all that we can. Please pray that these illnesses will stay right where it is, and that the children who already have them will get well quickly so their parents can get back into class, and so they don't have to remain quarantined any longer.
Keep praying, precious warriors. Thanks, as always, for your awesome prayer support!
Her head looks larger than it actually is in this picture. I don't know why, but I think it has to do with perspective. I think I may have fallen asleep that day in photography class.
This tire swing is a new favorite for DeLaynie. I mean, come on! It's a swing that spins. It's the Holy Grail of DeLaynie-ness!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Tonight we had the extraordinary honor to fellowship with the three top dogs of our sending agency, as well as with their wives. (One of whom has breast cancer. Right now, please stop and pray for Leigh Ann. Thank you!) I have to admit something. Please don't tell anyone. It's just between you and me. I wasn't planning on having fun at this fellowship. I figured that it would be an enjoyable experience, and that I'd come home feeling like I'd grown spiritually. Fun... Well, it wasn't in my plans.
The good news is that it was in God's plan. It doesn't matter what you think about the organization, the people behind are real people, trying their very best to do what God wants from them. And they can be pretty funny, too. It was odd listening to such respectable people, who we had just heard discussing the necessity of taking spiritual warfare seriously, and the low standards of most U.S. churches, crack jokes.
Well, all that to say, we had fun eating ice cream with the boss(es). Good times... good times.