Monday, May 30, 2011

Missionary Monday Button

And here is the direct link address:

I have been wanting to do this for awhile... to add a "button" to my Missionary Monday posts to sort of "individualize" them from all of my other posts. 

I thought I would not only create a button for this blog, but make it usable for you other missionary wives as well!  So.... [drumroll, please] if you would like to use the idea of "Missionary Monday" on your own blog and use this button too, just "grab" the link below the pretty picture (or use the direct link address... I'm not sure which one you will need) and feel free to use it on your own blog.  All I ask is that you let me know you are going to start Missionary Mondays as well because I'd *love* to come for a visit!

Friday, May 20, 2011

15th Anniversary

This past Sunday, Simferopol Baptist Church celebrated her 15th year Anniversary with nearly 200 people in attendance.  This day commemorated the first Sunday Missionaries Bob and Judy VanSant came to this city and had their first service in their apartment with 12 deaf people.  Three of those original 12 were in our services on Sunday.

A few years later, a hearing ministry was started out of the deaf church which later became its own church.  Both churches meet in the same building at different times on Sundays and combine for Wednesday evening services.  What a privilege to be a part of this church!
Deaf church
Hearing church

Video above: Hearing church singing "How Great Thou Art" in Russian.  Our God is indeed great!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Missionary Monday: Rearing a Missionary

Recently I was asked for advice on preparing our children to serve on the mission field.  Do you have a child who desires to be a missionary one day?  Do you have children in your Sunday School class who want to be missionaries?

After much prayer and thought, here are some things I thought of that can equip parents with how to rear a little missionary:

1.  Provide your child with regular visiting opportunities to give them courage.  We do this with our own children now.  The Great Commission is not just for adult Christians!  It takes courage for a child to walk up to a complete stranger and hand them an invitation to church.  Start handing out invitations together while they are young and encourage them as they do it.  They will be going out of their comfort zone to do this, so remind them that they are inviting people to a place where that person may, ultimately, hear of salvation for the first time!  We hand out invitations in public places each week, and our children look forward to it because we always buy them a refreshing, cold soda to reward their efforts when they are done.  Make this a time to look forward to.  (And, by the way, people accept invitations from cute, smiley kids.)

2.  Expose them to missionaries.  Does your church have a yearly Missions Conference?  Do missioniaries visit your church throughout the year?  Be sure to approach these missionaries with your child.  You, as the parent, can initiate creative conversations with the missionaries that will benefit your child.

3.  Teach them to make missionaries their heroes.  My pastor was very good at this, and as a child, instead of wanting worldly "movie star" posters on my walls, I had missionary prayer cards taped to my bed.  Encourage your child to get their Bible autographed by each missionary who comes through your church, and ask the missionary to include their life verse with their signature.  This gives children a "reason" to approach a visiting missionary.   

4.  Pray for missionaries together.  Most missionaries have prayer cards available, and they are more than happy to pass them out.  Collect these, put them in a napkin holder, and pray for one missionary family at each meal, rotating them as you go.  Or put them in a small photo album and keep them by your children's bed so that you can pray for one family each night during your bedtime prayers.

5.  Read missionary prayer letters and blogs.  One supporting church makes Xerox copies of each prayer letter they receive each month and makes booklets out of them for each family in the church to take home.  This way each family can read the letters when it is most convenient for them.  In this "techy" world we live in, it is easy to learn about the everyday, day-in day-out lives of missionaries.  I have several missionary friends who blog, whose content is "safe," encouraging, teachable material.  Here are several to get you started:
6.  Host a missionary family in your home.  Missionaries are "life-time" travelers, it seems, with deputation then regular furloughs.  Take advantage of the missionary's need to lay his weary head somewhere and host him and his family.  Then let your children "sit at his feet" and learn as much as they can.  Pray that God would send missionaries to your home that would best represent his field.

7.  Read missionary stories.  For younger children, there are terrific full-color flashcard stories available.  Some of those can be found here.  Many of these stories I heard as a child!  For older children and teenagers, here are a few books to get you started:
8.  Teach your child life skills.  Not every missionary serves in a third-world country where things always have to be "homemade" or "from scratch."  More than likely you do not know where the Lord will send your child one day so prepare them for the most difficult fields, just in case!  You will never regret teaching your daughters:
  • How to sew (modest clothes are hard to find anywhere and... she may use this ability to make baptismal robes or choir uniforms)
  • How to cook from scratch.  Most mission fields do not have "TV dinners," "ready to cook" meals, or even some of the ingredients to make what we may consider basic meals.  Can your daughter make her own biscuits? her own bread? gravy? etc.?
  • How to sing... especially how to harmonize.  It has been extremely helpful that hubby and I can both do this.  We have been able to teach this to others in our church choir, which adds richness and fulness to the quality when several voices can participate.
  • How to play the piano or another instrument.  Again, hubby and I both play the piano (He is the professional; I am not!), and we have both been able to use this ability on countless occasions.  I never regret the time I put into practicing a musical instrument and am already teaching my own children music theory.
  • How to teach.  When I started college, I chose a major in Elementary Education, knowing that I wanted to be a missionary.  As a missionary you will always be teaching, whether it be your own children or in a Sunday School class.
  • Hospitality.  It is extremely important as a missionary to know how to provide a warm welcome to others.  Teach your children to be hospitable.
  • Crafting, scrapbooking, decorating, designing etc... This comes in handy for decorating church bulletin boards, putting together church bulletins, announcements, banquets, etc...  You can also use this knowledge in countless ways for ladies' activities.
9.  Encourage your child's relationship with the Lord.  One of the biggest challenges a missionary will face, especially in the earlier years is loneliness.  Having a close walk with the Lord will eliminate a large portion of this.

10.  Teach your child to serve.  Look for opportunities in your church or community to do things for others.  Does your bus ministry need workers?  Can you visit a nursing home together and encourage the elderly who are lonely?  [This is often an overlooked mission field.  The elderly have one foot in eternity, so to speak... is their destination heaven?] Could a young, overwhelmed mother use help with some housework?  Even though this post is mostly about girls, there are multitudes of things boys can do too, such as mow lawns without pay "just because."  (And, Mom, you can reward him with an ice cream!)  Daughters can give baked goods as gifts.  [Read this post about sharing banana bread on the mission field.]

11.  Teach your child to be a servant.  Missionaries must be gracious servants!  On the mission field, people will not know or understand what you "gave up" to become a missionary.  So, "get over it" and get to work!  Spend your lifetime serving others.
    • People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
* NOTE:  Missionaries who read this blog (and I know there are many of you!): Please feel free to add your own comments to this post.  I look forward to your input!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Missionary Monday - Welcome to my Village, part 2

If you missed Part 1, go here.

When we first moved to our village about a year and a half ago, gossip went around amongst the village people as to why we would choose to live in their village.  After all, very little comforts are available out here, so what possible reason could Americans have for wanting to live here?  It was finally decided that we must be spies and work with the CIA.  Funny, I know, but that is the word that spread like wild fire.  Praise the Lord for the water that the Lord gave us to share with our neighbors.  More than anything else, our water has helped us be accepted by the village people. (You can read our water story here.)  And you know, isn't it just like our Lord to do something like this.....  Now that we have been here a year and a half, running water has finally made it to our village and people are beginning to "tap" into it.  However, the Lord let us be the only ones with running water until now, allowing our family the opportunity to share our water and find acceptance with the people.  (And, now that they are slowly getting their own water, they are still coming for ours, saying it tastes better. {smile}!)

In this post, I wanted to share with you some pictures of the homes in our little "no name" village.  Now, keep in mind that in order to not raise the people's suspicions again that we are CIA, I had to be careful about walking around with a camera in my hand, taking pictures of their homes out here.  Hopefully that explains why the pictures are not the best of quality. 
Many of the homes are unfinished, like the one pictured above.  This unfinished home is actually located on the property next to ours and our children have "taken over" this structure to be their clubhouse.  Some of their most prized possessions on earth are hidden in there (such as their bottle cap collection)!
 Outhouses are the norm in a village where running water is just becoming available.
 This is how the people use and store their water.  A "water truck" comes around every so often and fills their tanks, but the water comes from a pond and could have little tadpoles swimming in it!  The people use this water for watering their gardens, cleaning their homes, etc... The water they get from us is what they use for drinking. 
Another unfinished home
This rusty, metal "trailer" (above) just cracks us up.  We call it "Norman's House."  We got the name idea from a Focus on the Family book entitled A Man Called Norman that I read to my children earlier this year.
This house (above) is what we call the "two-toned house."  Apparently the husband and wife had a disagreement about which bricks to use and what type of roof they wanted. {smile}  I am sincerely kidding... the people here are very resourceful and will use anything they have to get the job done.
When this house (above) started being built last year, all gossip about us subsided and all attention was shifted here... the first house they had ever seen being built out of wood.

That is our house (above) with the rust-colored roof (and the children's "clubhouse" is to the left)
Ever resourceful, someone used the supporting "legs" of their water tank to build an outhouse!
Such a quaint little village!  I love living out here where life is simple and I can go to my neighbors to buy fresh eggs whenever I need them.

Thanks for coming on part 2 of my tour!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Make a memory with your children
Spend some time to show you care
Toys and trinkets can't replace
Those precious moments that you share.

I love you, Davey, Nate, Brianna, and Micah! It is a privilege to be your Mother. It is humbling every time I hear you call me "Mommy." I pray that I will always be the Mommy that you deserve, my sweet ones.

Today, as we walked through the mud, in the rain, down our dirt road.... my giddy little 4-year old Brianna was pointing out all of the pretty flowers... May you never be distracted by the mud and miss the flowers all around you, my sweet children!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Missionary Monday - Out of the Mouth of Babes

Above: 6-year old Nate with his 4-year old sister, Brianna

This week, my 6-year old son decided to write a letter to his "video teacher," Miss Wieler. My children are homeschooled, using a program (A Beka Book) out of Pensacola, Florida. They watch their teachers, but have never met them.

Nate's letter touched my heart. As a six-year old, he has an amazing grasp of what it means to be a missionary, and I wanted to share his thoughts with you here (complete with his very own misspellings.... just remember he is only six!)
Above: Front side of Nate's letter

Dear Miss Wieler
abeka book
frome: Nate
to: Miss Wieler
We are missonarys to the Ukrane. Uk-ra-ne. Well as we were saying, the Ukraine is a contry faraway where the king, well the President said, in Russa - no more Bibls, go to my Church, and speak my language. we use to speak Ukranin our languige now russin. He was not our President but he took over our country. We use to be our own country, but he took over our country. Please pray for us as we help them get saved. Well, I have one more thing to say, when we pass out traks some pepol say I dont want one. And there is bere (beer) and they smoke. We work at a orfinige. Wher there Moms and Dads dont take care of them.

Above: Back side of Nate's letterNate heard me teaching a couple of children's classes while we were back in America for furlough recently. Little did I realize my very own son was grasping the reason the Lord laid Ukraine on our hearts as the mission field where He wanted us to serve. What a privileged little boy Nate is, to live right where the action is happening and understand the significance of a person's need for Christ in their life.

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing my children the privilege of being missionary children.