Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mackenzie Grace

Mackenzie Grace Sloan was born early Friday morning at 12:40, on her due date (a girl who knows how to be on time?!).  She weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz. and is 19 inches long.  Mommy and Mackenzie are both home now recovering.

All of the pictures in this post are from the first 20 hours after her birth and are all iPhone pictures.  They are not perfect quality, but are precious nonetheless.  It felt nice to keep things low-key and easy, not worrying about the perfect Kodak moment.

{Below}  Ah... THIS MAN.  He was my strength, and I could not have done it without him by my side.  He is the perfect husband and daddy.  My children and I are unbelievably blessed to have him lead our home and love on us.

{Below}  Thursday evening, when labor was imminent, our children were picked up by friends' parents for sleepovers. They rode to school with their friends the next morning, excited to share the news that their sister was born; however, they had not seen her yet.  Hubby went to their school mid-morning, picked them up (They loved being called out of their classes!), and brought them to the hospital for a visit and lunch with Daddy.  Here they are with a hospital dog that visits patients. 
Nearly everything about Mackenzie's birth was different from my previous four children.  One of those things was the fact that this was my first time to not need an induction after being at least a week overdue. Mackenzie apparently wanted to be part of the 5% of babies actually born on their due date.  So, unfortunately, I was counting on getting my 40 week picture on her due date and missed it altogether. Instead, here is what I have (crooked, imperfectly designed collage) which I think is a great substitution.  I'd rather be holding that baby in my arms than in my tummy anyway!
A huge thank you to hundreds of deserving people who have sent congratulations, bought gifts, flowers, and balloons, brought home-cooked meals, and loved us through this time.  Our family is overwhelmed by the loving response of so many people who are dear to us.  We are undeservedly blessed and oh, so grateful during this Thanksgiving season when we have so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Lesson on Contentment from a Mouse

We never had mice in our home on the mission field... that is, until we started building a house out in the village.  We had no "crawl space" under our house, but those sneaky fellas sure did know how to find their way in!  And you know what?  Desperation taught us how to become expert mice catchers.  Let me tell ya... you'll try anything when you're desperate, and we tried every method we could think of.  Don't be fooled into thinking that cheese is the only way to trap a mouse.  In fact, we found that cheese is not the best method because a mouse can steal a piece of cheese right off of a trap in a millisecond and get away alive, fat, and happy!  The key for us was learning to put something on the trap that the mice had to work at getting off (like peanut butter). But, since I can sense you are shuddering as you read this already, I'll just let you believe me...

It was rather frustrating to be building a home out of all brand-new materials, only to see that mice were finding their way into our home regardless of how much money we had put into it.  Rich or poor, new home or old, everyone in our village had the same problem when the weather turned cold: mice seeking refuge in our homes.

Living as missionaries, sometimes it is so easy to lump all of our problems into one big reasoning:  We have mice (or whatever problem) because we have sacrificed to be missionaries.  Of course, we lived for 6 or 7 years on the mission field before mice started inhabiting our home, but that is besides the point.  It kinda felt good to think we were suffering for Jesus to be on the mission field (i.e. in our case: dealing with mice).

Then... we went on furlough and the whole mice problem went away for awhile.  Oh, I'm sure they were enjoying our home in Ukraine just the same, but we didn't have to see them or deal with them for awhile

By and by we stayed as guests for a few days in a beautiful ranch home.... a glorious home that most of us will only ever dream of living in.  This home had it all... 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 living rooms, formal dining room, swimming pool, fishing pond, acres and acres of land, etc...  And, I won't even try to describe the gorgeous decor! Why, every corner of this house looked like it came right out of the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens!

But guess what?  I was sitting in (one of) the gorgeous living rooms, and... you guessed it... I saw a mouse scurry behind the furniture.  I couldn't believe it!  Right then and there I felt like the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and said to me, "See, Jolene... mice are everywhere in this world!"

And here was my lesson:  Being on the mission field really is no sacrifice.  

Sometimes missionaries fall into the trap of feeling like America is the land of paradise and utopia.  If only I were back in America, I wouldn't have these problems...  But, God showed me that day that my little home in a village in Ukraine was just as much a paradise as any American home, as long as I made it that way.

When I returned to the mission field a few months later, though I despised the mice as much as ever and worked harder than ever to trap them, I had to smile to myself because...

God used a ranch mouse to teach me a valuable lesson in contentment.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Focus on Missions, 10-14

For the introduction to this series, click here.
Here are the next week's installment of Focus on Missions 5-minute segments from the internet radio station KNVBC.  I thought it would be fun to include pictures of the missionaries who were featured during this particular week.

October 14, 2013 - What is Biblical missions? part 3

October 15, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Eric Bohman (Africa/BIMI director), part 1

October 16, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Eric Bohman (Africa/BIMI director), part 2

Eric Bohman family

October 17, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Joel Daku (Kiribati, island nation in the South Pacific Ocean), part 1

October 18, 2013 - Missionary Interview: Joel Daku (Kiribati, island nation in the South Pacific Ocean), part 2

Joel and Brooke Daku

Thanks for listening!