Ongs in Malawi

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Getting ready for the Rainbow House

Posted on January 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Mixture of emotions


We'll be moving to Morling College in a week.


This is both exciting yet sad for us.

We're excited to finally be going on this 'last leg' of the journey in preparation for our move to Africa in 2012.

I (Jo) am excited about what the next 12-18 months hold. 

I'm excited about welcoming our 3rd child into the world a few months after we move to college.

I'm excited about making our new place 'home'.




But on the other hand, it is very sad to be moving out of our own place into a rental property we have yet to set foot in. All I know through spying through the windows is that it has 'sunny' yellow doors, 'ruby' red carpet, 'emerald' green lino floors, and no air-con... I have named it our 'Rainbow House', which I think is rather appropriate and is a reminder that God keeps his promises. In the midst of packing and all the emotions that involves, I have to constantly remind myself that we had asked God for this move and he has provided for us amazingly and for that we are thankful!

A glimpse of our new place


A move with a difference

I'm finding this move to be very different to any other move we've made in the past.

This time, we're moving into a place that we have only seen through the windows. We didn't do the walk around and pick it out of a list of properties. We trusted in God to provide and he has! Gosh, I can only imagine how Abraham must've felt!!

We're not moving into something bigger and better. Like our last move from a small smelly rental place into our own spacious townhouse.

This time, we're packing with the mindset of moving long term to Africa in the not too distant future. Which has meant major culling of some long-kept keepsakes, eg. sugar flowers from our wedding cake which went into the bin this morning.


Lasts

This month has also been a month of lasts - a lot of it for Teaghan who said goodbye to her beloved preschool and swimming teacher and tomorrow to the cat she has known since she was born. We catch glimpses of how she must be feeling in the midst of packing and throwing away. The other day, she told us pleadingly: "I don't want to give away my princess bike...". We reassured her that her princes bike is going with us to the new house!

Teaghy with her swim teacher Teresa


Moonbie's last birthday with us


This part of our mission journey also marked the end of my business The Cupcake Gallery. Which I'm happy about on one hand, to not have to 'work' to meet deadlines anymore and be able to focus on all the changes happening in our family next year. But at the same time it was a little emotional to pack away all my cake things, which included binning a lot of the display cupcakes that have sat on my shelf since the business started 3 years ago. If you are interested, here is the last post on my cake blog.


Timely encouragement from God's word

God sent me a very timely encouragement in my devotions on the night I wrote the above blog and feeling a little sad about giving up the business. Here's a snippet (from Lord, I Give You This Day by Kay Arthur):


"As we think about our goals and dreams for the coming year, let's remember that someday everything on earth will be destroyed. Every record of human accomplishment, every impressive monument, everything made with human hands will be dissolved by fire:


But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. (2 Peter 3:10-11)


Only that which was done by the Spirit of God will abide. These will become our treasures in heaven - the things we have done by the Spirit in accordance with the Word of God and for God's glory.


Oh the eyes of our understanding would be open so that we would not give our time and energies to accumulating earthly treasures!........."


What a great encouragement and timely reminder as we pack up our possessions and achievements from this house that my focus is not to be on the things of this earth! Even as we head towards missions, it is a great reminder also that our works on the mission field is not what counts, but our obedience to God and devotion to Him in bringing him glory.


When I stop and think about all that we've giving up, it can seem a little overwhelming... but because the journey ahead is so exciting with God leading the way, surprisingly these things don't seem like 'sacrifices' at all. They weren't ours to keep in the first place. God lent them to us for a while and it's time for him to take those things back and upgrade them for something better he has in mind! What a wonderful way to live!!


'Rainbow House' - bring it on!!! :)


Where will we be in 2011?

Posted on August 24, 2010 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

It's been a little while since our last post by Pete. So what's been happening?


MEDICALS

We are now at the medical/dental/psych part of the application process. Then comes the big D. The doctrinal assessment, which unfortunately does not allow wives to cheat off knowledgeable husbands :)

So my teeth are cleared, after a filling, a root canal treatment and three wisdom tooth extractions!

Teaghan's 20 little teeth are all good.

The boys have yet to get their teeth checked... we thought we'd wait a while before getting Lucas' checked, since he only has a grand total of 8 teeth at present.


LETTERS

Since breaking the news to Pete's parents, we have received two letters from his Dad, basically voicing his concerns about our decision which is totally consistent with a Chinese parent who does not understand the impact of the Cross on theirs and our lives. Pete received a letter when we went to Ethiopia in 2001. So we'd appreciate continual prayers for that.


NEXT YEAR

Well, after putting in the application to study at SMBC next year, we just found out that there are NO accomodation available for next year. Not even the teeny 2 bedroom unit we thought we'd get at least. Sooo that's thrown a spanner in the works... We'd like to live close to college so I can undertake some part-time studies.


We will not be able to afford to pay for the mortgage of our current place without renting it out. So staying put is out. SIM recommends that we do not sell up, so that we have a place to come back to in the future.

Places to rent around the Croydon area (where SMBC is) are too expensive. So that's out.

Staying at Mum's in Bexley is too cramped (we'll all have to squish into my old bedroom/granny flat), so that's out too. 


So now we are considering Morling College - a reputable Baptist Bible college in Ryde. I am still coming round to the idea of Morling... it's a little like the difference between UNSW and USyd, as some of you would understand!


The advantages of Morling:

- Close to church in Dural

- Close to other activities the kids are currently involved in (swimming, playgroup, etc)

- Close to PHCS which means Teaghan might get to go to Prep.

- Close to Pete's parents, which might make them happy and soften the blow of missions.

- Morling has 3 bedroom townhouses, which we have a better chance of getting than at SMBC. Or else, they are pretty sure they can get us a 2 bedroom place. There are currently 10 families who have applied for 6 available 3 bedroom places, but some of these families have only 1 child so we might stand a chance with an extra couple of Onglets.


Sooo... we are considering.


Despite some unhelpful and discouraging rumours we have heard about the teaching at Morling. Pete has looked into it and has found their subjects and lecturers to be comparable to ones at SMBC, so we are happy for Pete to learn more about the Bible there.


Pete plans to lodge his application with Morling soon and see how it goes from there. 


THE CUPCAKE GALLERY

I'm feeling a little sad about giving up my business, which I have worked so hard to get to where it is now. It's been particularly hard seeing friends also start up similar businesses. I wish I had the years ahead of me in Australia to develop the business like they can. The Cupcake Gallery is just at a very good place now, with a good reputation, regular customers, and increasing media exposure. We have decided not to take any orders for next year so we can concentrate of getting ready to leave, but will still be running workshops as that would help us financially. This has gotten me thinking a lot about surrendering. I prefer the term 'surrender' to 'sacrifice'. 'Sacrifice' to me seems to focus more on the giver than the one the sacrifice is being made for. Surrendering to me is more about giving back to God what he gave you, entrusting it into his hands for him to look after until further notice. He may put it on a shelf forever like a proud father displays the trophies of his children, or he may get it down for me again when He sees that the time is right to continue to bless the business as he has over the past 2.5 years. So God *sigh*, here it is. Please take very good care of it for me!


~ Jo




Envy, and the seductiveness of things

Posted on May 20, 2010 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m usually pretty good at articulating what I’m feeling, but for once I’m finding it hard... I’ve been thinking a lot and trying to work out my thoughts and have been finding it hard to arrange them in an orderly manner.

 

I’ve been struggling with the whole issue of money and things. To be exact, I’ve been struggling with the thought of letting go of these as we prepare to go on mission.

 

Instead of trying to express what's in my head, I’ll just share a couple of things God has been teaching me lately.

 

I attended a women’s conference recently (www.equip.org.au) and heard a thought provoking talk on envy. I’m full of envy. The more I struggle with the thought of giving up my things for missions, the more I envy those who have the things I know I will never be able to afford.

 

Envy.

 

The speaker  defined envy as “the pain of another’s good fortune”.

Envy says: “what about me?” and “why them?”. Envy attempts to destroy the happiness of another.

 

If left unchecked, envy can lead to the destruction of relationships as we fail to rejoice with those who do well but rather prefer to offer ‘constructive criticism’ or sometimes silence.

 

Deep down, it is not about resentment against the person but resentment against God. 

“Why did God give them what I wanted instead of me?”

 

Envy focuses on what we do not have, rather than what we do have.

Envy blinds us to what God has blessed us with.


I really liked this quote: “Don’t envy what’s over there because God is doing His work over here.”

 

---------------------

 

God graciously timed this in my devotions recently, just as I’m in the thick of struggling with this whole issue of ‘things’.

 

May 13

Do you realise that the very blessing of the Lord can seduce our affections away from the Giver to the gifts if we do not hold them in an open hand?

The Bible says “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).........Have our hearts become captivated with the seductiveness of “things” rather than with a fervent, sacrificial love for our God and for the furtherance of His kingdom?

Prayer: How I need you, Lord. You have blessed me in so many ways. Let me never lose sight of the Giver in my enjoyment of Your gifts. Show me how best to honour You with all my substance.


As I look around me, I can see all that God has blessed me with. Thank you God.

I think these are important lessons for me to learn now.  Thank you God.


~ Jo


More than a monkey...

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

We lost Teaghan’s toy monkey out of the stroller the other day . We have looked everywhere for Monkey but she was nowhere to be found. I don’t know who was more sad about losing Monkey - me or Teaghan, because it was actually MY monkey that Teaghan took out to the shops with her! It didn’t have any sentimental value attached to it, except that I really liked it and I’ve had it for a few years. For those in the know, it was a Nici monkey).

 

It got me thinking... that when we go on missions, we’re going to be giving up a lot more than a mere toy monkey. A lot lot more. Not only will we be giving up the immediate material things, but also certain future dreams. Or at least, these dreams will have to be put on hold for the next 10 or so years.

 

I’d always known our plans were to go on missions, but in a strange way I still somehow pictured the next 10-15 years of my life in Sydney. But now that we are making decision steps towards missions, reality is really beginning to sink in.

 

Reality that we’ll soon be moving away from close family and friends.

Reality that Teaghan won’t have her friends to play with in a couple of years time – a lot of friends she’s known since she was born.

Reality that we’ll be moving away to a completely different culture.

Reality that I really won’t be returning back to teach (which I miss!) at Pacific Hills for at least the next 10 years.

Reality that Teaghan won’t be going to prep at Pacific Hills like we’d always thought she would.

Reality that we won’t be able to afford to pay our mortgage once Pete commences full time study at college.

Reality that we will probably be living at college next year.

Reality that we’ll have to find a new home for our cat.

Reality that the much longed for overseas holiday is out of the question.

Reality that we'll probably never be able to save up enough for a bigger house to accomodate our growing family.

 

I think it is a little harder for me to comprehend this change in reality than it is for Pete... because us leaving means to leave behind my life - the friends that I meet with during the week, the things I do with the kids (swimming, library storytime, playgroup etc), that IS my life right now. My life with my kids will change dramatically. But for Pete, he is already prepared to leave work. Work is work. It’s like he’s leaving one work for another but just in a different country. But my weekday life, the kids’ life, will change. Our friends will change, our routines will change, our activities will change.

 

It’s kind of hard to articulate how this new ‘reality’ makes me feel. I’m scared but at the same time, it excites me to think of all the new things we’ll experience and the new people we’ll make friends with.

 

As a friend put it, the hardest stage is this not-quite-there-yet stage. This stage where you anticipate change but isn’t quite there yet to say “Hey this change isn’t bad at all!”.

 

So again, we go in faith. I have faith in God that whatever this new reality holds, it’ll be good. I just can’t wait til we get there so I can fully embrace the new reality, rather than sitting here working up a sweat wondering what it'll all be like... bring it on!

 

~ Jo

Take only a staff...

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

In the previous post, I wrote:

 

"So we're going to *deep breath* step out in faith and pray that if this is indeed God's will for us, then he'll also make a way for us financially, even if we cannot see how at this point. We'll sleep on it, pray on it, and see if the peace is still there as time goes by...."

 

We prayed about it, slept on it, woke and headed off to church this morning.

 

... and were blown away to find that God had already prepared his message of reassurance for us through our new interim pastor Laurie Perdy's sermon on Mark 6:7-13. I was so touched that it made me teary hearing it and even now writing about it.

 

It was a message on ministry.

 

In Mark 6:8-9, Jesus tells his disciples: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic."

 

In ministry, we are to depend ONLY on Jesus and trust him to provide financially. God is 'Jehovah Jireh' meaning God provides. I really loved the quote Laurie shared by Hudson Taylor "God's work done in God's way will never lack the finances to be carried out.".

 

The next subtitle in the sermon outline was "Housing Arrangements". How is that for timely?? given that was one of our major concerns!

 

In v.10, Jesus tells his disciples: "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town...." - God will provide housing when we trust him as we minister. Laurie spoke about how missions is not about us or our comforts. Jesus came to die on the cross... how's that for comfort?!! Ministry is not about OUR own needs and desires. We need to trust God and allow him to be KING. Sacrificial life and ministry is thinking about what God wants and not our own comfort.

 

I was rebuked and humbled, as only a mere 20 hrs ago, I was saying to Pete: "I don't want to live in a moldy college house with paper thin walls!!!" and I've been reluctant to move out of our comfortable townhouse and rent it out since we've only just finally done up our yard after years of wanting to do it. I love spending time out there. We were so excited that we can now finally invite people over to our yard for a BBQ and not have them wade through a jungle and kill their own game!

 

Sometimes I wonder why we struggle so much financially when friends our own age are living so comfortably. It is hard not to compare. Maybe God, in his wisdom, knows that it would be much harder for us to leave it all behind to serve him in missions if we had all the comforts we would like. As Laurie said in his sermon, if we are too comfortable, then maybe we'll forget what we're here for. Sure I'd love to have all the living comforts in the name of 'hospitality' - nice couch for our friends to sit on, great entertainment facilities... but somehow I really doubt that God only uses beautiful houses to be a place of blessing for people. Afterall, I have been blessed and shown the best hospitality in the slums of Ethiopia.

 

We recently experienced what Mum has once shared with me, that often it is not the rich who are the most generous but those who have been in need, like the woman in the Bible who gave all she had - a mere couple of coins - to God. For they know what it is to be in need and be blessed through others. Perhaps what we're going through now is a way of God preparing us to be generous in blessing others as we minister on the mission field.

 

So God, bless what we have, all we have came from you, it is yours to give and yours to take. Blessed be your name. Help us to use whatever we have as a blessing to others.

 

Listen to the sermon here:

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~Jo