Ongs in Malawi

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So close we can smell the mandasi's

Posted on September 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (2)

It's been a month since we did our last post...

We're going to try to post an update at least once a month now that preparations are hotting up...

What's been happening?

On the SIM application front, we're thanking God that we've moved a few more steps closer to our destination.

  • We've answered 640+ questions each for our psychometric assessments.
  • All 5 of us have been to our GP for our medical assessments.
  • Pete and I have had our mantoux tests to test for exposure to TB.
  • We've decided on pursuing a Youth Ministry Coordinator role for Pete which he's excited about. This role is also somewhat linked to the children's ministry which I can get involved in once our little family has settled into life in our new home.
  • We've enrolled the kids into international schools there. Even though we're not officially appointed yet, we went ahead with enrolments so as not to miss out on a place. We've got their names down at two schools at the moment (the only two British international schools in the town we'll be going to) and will make a final decision a bit later. Teaghan will be going into the British Year 1 (kindy equivalent), and Lucas into Nursery.
What's next?
  • Blood tests for me and all three kids.
  • Psychometric interview (29th September)

... after that we hope to be officially appointed by Nov 2011 so we can start raising support to go! How exciting!!

Teaghan and Lucas will also need Mantoux tests done (which involves a needle and injecting a substance under the skin which they're not allowed to scratch or cover with a bandaid), but they can get this done after we're appointed. Not looking forward to that one!!

Our plans are to leave beginning of July 2012 to give ourselves a couple of months to find a house and car, etc, and then another month to settle in before the kids start school in Sept.

Preparing the kids

Everything seemed so straight forward when we made our initial commitments to God as two singles for Him to use us wherever and whenever. Everything seemed to much more straight forward without kids.

On this side of things, a lot of our preparation are centered around the kids. Preparing the kids (especially Teaghan who does not like change) emotionally to go. Preparing them to move away from people, places, and things that are close to their little hearts. We know that God will look after them and that they will have an amazing time there, but nonetheless there are things we can do now to help make this transition as smooth as possible for them.

We have begun a 'program' to prepare Teaghan and Lucas, which includes lessons on:
  • Our God who loves us and who made us and our family (to help them feel secure in knowing that God and our little family will not change).
  • Parts of our world (moving the another 'country' is a hard concept to explain to under 5s when they hardly know what a country is!)
  • Our emotions (to equip them with words to express their feelings when they go thru all the changes in 2012)
  • God' blessings of friends (that he has given us friends here who we'll miss terribly, but he will also give us new friends in our new home)
  • Moving to another country
  • What is Malawi like?
We're also working on a website/blog for the kids (much like this one), where they can get excited about keeping in touch with their friends and where their friends can learn about what missions is all about as well as about the Malawian culture. We'll be launching this website once we're appointed so watch this space!



Micaiah will still be too young to be affected much, but could you please join us in praying for Teaghan and Lucas that they'll adjust well to the changes ahead? Especially for Teaghan who has already started saying that she'll miss her friends and still gets teary over missing our cat Moonbie who we had to give away 8 months ago to move to college. 

~ Jo

PS. Mandasi's are African doughnuts :)

Oh blessed boobies!

Posted on August 8, 2011 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (8)

Another day in God's School of Faith... 
I learnt a few things today that I know I will draw on in our missions journey in the future.

Micaiah woke this morning after a long almost 13 hr sleep and decided that she didn't want to eat today.
She normally loves her boobies but this morning all she did was scream and scream... uh oh...

By the time she missed her 2nd feed at lunchtime, it had been 18 hrs since she last fed and we started to get worried about her hydration, and so we took her to the emergency department.

The doctors there couldn't find anything wrong with her but were worried that she was still not feeding. By late afternoon, they decided that if she still refused her milk (we tried both breast and bottle), then she'd have to go on a drip, and have an ultrasound taken to check her bladder, followed by drawing a wee sample with a needle, then blood tests. My poor baby!

With Micaiah refusing both breast and bottle, there really was no other way to get her to drink. There was nothing we could do except pray and trust God becausew we know that he loves Micaiah and cares for her. I don't think I have ever felt so helpless when caring for my kids :( It really brought me to my knees in front of God. LESSON 1 - RELY ON GOD

Within 15 mins of asking people to pray that Micaiah would drink, in order to avoid the drip and needles, she drank 50mls from a bottle!! Followed not long after by a breastfeed! 22.5 hrs after her last feed. LESSON 2 - PRAY PRAY PRAY!!

God knows our needs before we even ask him. One of our dear neighbours had given us some pasta bake last night which was meant for dinner for tonight, because she had made too much (thanks Mon!). What a blessing that was when Pete rushed home from emergency to feed Teaghan and Lucas before heading back to hospital in the evening!! God knew we needed that! :) LESSON 3 - GOD KNOWS OUR NEEDS

I'm thankful for these lessons, but sure hope God decides to teach these things another way next time!

20 hrs of not eating....

Finally... happy after a boobie. 22.5 hrs after her last feed!


~ Jo

Far out, that's a LOT of grace!

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been thinking, and we've been talking....

What is MISSION? 
What is a MISSIONARY?

My answer is that 'mission' is simply the act of ministering to those in need of God which we can all do wherever we are, and a 'missionary' is someone who doesn't mind doing 'mission' in another country or cross-cultural context. In our eyes, going on mission is no more 'spiritual' than the faithful pray-er, or the guy who sets up the chairs at church, or the Bible study leaders, or the church caretaker...

A friend recently asked "How can we be supporting you guys in this [mission journey]?"

One thing we would like to ask of people is that we are not elevated in their eyes above those who choose to serve God on home soil. That is one indirect way of supporting us. Why? Because it stops us from becoming proud. It reminds us that it is not by our works that we earn favour with God, that it is purely by his grace. 


We have always believed that the main thing in the life of a Christian is living a life of obedience to God, in whatever he chooses to call you to do, in response to his love for us. We believe that God doesn't call everyone to serve overseas, but simply places people where they can be best used for his Kingdom. For some, it is here at home, for others it is overseas. It is all about obedience. 

I've been reminded a lot about grace through my quiet times lately. I've been reminded that we serve God out of gratitude of his grace. Nothing we do can ever 'earn' merit with God, except for his grace shown to us through Jesus. Below are some bits from my devotional book ('Holiness Day by Day' by Jerry Bridges) that I found particularly encouraging/humbling/thought-provoking:

"God calls us to serve Him, not because he needs us, but because we need him"

"Having trusted in God alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. we recognise that even our best efforts cannot get us to heaven, but we do think they earn God's blessings in our daily lives."

"It's at the cross where we're most humbled, where we admit to God and ourserlves that absolutely nothing we do can earn or merit our salvation. We bring nothing to our salvation except our sin that made it necessary."

"God treated Christ as we deserved to be treated so that He might treat us as Christ deserved to be treated."

"God's reward is out of all proportion to our service and sacrifice. In the kingdom of heaven, God's reward system is based not on merit but on grace, and grace always gives far more that we have 'earned'"

Grace, grace, grace. It is all about grace.
We are heading overseas in reponse to His awesome grace. To share his awesome grace. It is not about how much we are sacrificing in order to go, but how much God has sacrificed being the reason we go. He will continue to bless us abundantly while we're in Africa, not because we are more deserving as 'missionaries', but because of his  gracious love for us. In the same way, he graciously blesses all of his children whom he loves  - the faithful pray-er, the guy who sets up the chairs at church, the Bible study leaders, the church caretaker... 


How wonderful is it that our Father in heaven does not show favouritism!
How awesome is it that his blessings are not conditionally based on my efforts?? If they were, then I'd be doomed to a blessingless life!


Far out, brussels sprouts. That's a LOT of grace! 


~ Jo

Another step closer

Posted on August 1, 2011 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (1)

IT IS FINISHED

Our Doctrinal Assessments that is. What a relief!

I started mine a month before Micaiah was born thinking that I could finish it before the birth but was I wrong! You generally get a month to do it but I thought I had a rather good reason :) With Micaiah at 3 months of age, I was finally able to gather enough brain cells together for battle and managed to complete it! Pete has also completed his in a quarter of the time it took me :) We are now waiting for them to be 'marked'.


IT HAS BEGUN

After much deliberation and prayer. We have more or less settled on going to Malawi in South East Africa, pending further discussion with SIM. Since my primary role while we're there will be to care for the kids, we are mainly looking at a role for Pete. We have narrowed it down to two 'jobs' that he could get involved in and are in the process of finding out more through emails with missionaries in Malawi as well as SIM.

Things that we have to consider in choosing a 'job' for Pete are:

- It has to be something that suits Pete's skills and passions, either in engineering or in ministry
- Preferably something that I could also get involved in once the kids are more independent


IT IS SAD

Besides the SIM application procress, it feels like much of our preparation revolves around getting the kids ready to go, especially Teaghan.
Thankfully, since Pete and I have known for the past decade that we'll be going overseas on mission, we have always spoken with the kids about it so this is not news to them.

We went to SIMWorld at the end of July and was encouraged to hear from ex-missos on 'families and mission'. It was good to hear that they also had the same doubts about bringing kids on mission:

- How will they cope with the changes?
- Will their faith suffer as a result?
- Will they hate us for taking them there?
- Will they be safe?

What a big call to trust God in this, but what a comfort it is to know that he loves our kids even more than we do and desires the best for them.

At 4, Teaghan is really growing in her emotions. For the first time, she has shown genuine sadness in having to leave her friends. She loves living here at Morling College, especially playing with our next door neighbour Melly who is only 10 days younger. It will be sad when she has to say goodbye.

In preparing the kids, we have begun teaching them about the world and Africa. We also took a fun trip out to the airport. It's rather surreal to think that in 12 months time we'll be there again for real.


School/College holiday project: map of the world


IT IS ALMOST OFFICIAL

From here, it's onto medical assessments and psychometric assessments. Then we hope to be officially appointed before the end of the year, which will then launch us into support-raising until we leave.


~ Jo



It's a girl!

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (1)

It's been a while since we've posted an update. We've been a little preoccupied with a few things!

Pete survived his first lot of assignments at the end of April, with the big driving factor being the coming birth of Baby #3 in early May. With God's help, he managed to take care of a heavily pregnant wife and 2 kids, plus get in his three assignments with the last one handed on the morning of the birth of Baby #3!

Which brings me to our next big news -  Baby #3!

We welcomed a beautiful baby girl Micaiah (Mi-kay-uh) Joy into our lives at 9:15pm on 5th May, weighing in at 3.5kg and 49cm. Teaghan was very excited to have received the baby sister she asked God for, her first words when meeting Micaiah for the first time was: "It's a girl!! God listened to me!!". Lucas is a doting big brother and just loves giving 'Daya' (He calls her Caiah but can't say his 'C's properly) pats and kisses. We have all fallen totally in love with this new little bundle! Micaiah is slowly settling into life on the outside and has been putting a lot of effort into making herself heard above the chaos her brother and sister create (translation: she screams all day and doesn't like to sleep).


In the past month since Micaiah's arrival, Pete has handed in another 2 assignments and is busy preparing for 2 exams and another assigment all happening in the these couple of weeks. We are finding it a struggle to balance the demands of being parents to 3 kids, running a household, and ensuring that Pete has sufficient time to complete college assessment tasks. We are all exhausted and looking forward to college holidays in a couple of weeks' time!

~ Jo