Wednesday, December 27, 2006

learn. be. go. serve. ask

As I prepare to travel to Northern Minnesota with my family (2 sisters, 1 brother-in-law, 2 nieces and 2 parents) to celebrate Christmas, I am thinking about the many students and young adults who are attending the Urbana Missions Convention - this year in St. Louis, Missouri. I attended Urbana '96 and '03 and could have gone this year as a representative to talk with participants at the Baptist General Conference International Ministries booth. Both '96 and '03 conventions have had a huge impact on my life - spiritually, and vocationally.

Inspiring multicultural/multilingual worship, indepth Bible study, challenging speakers, stimulating conversations, an abundance of resources, moving testimonies, and fellowship with mission's minded people. There will be tens of thousands of participants attending this conference - Imagine the impact such an event has on the God's kingdom globally!

learn. be. go. serve. ask

Please pray that those who attend (or participate online) will be open to whatever message the Lord has for them during this time. Pray that they would seek Him and follow where He leads. Pray also for the details of the 5 day convention as they meet in a new location this year.

If you're interested in learning more go to their website has a wealth of information and opportunities to follow the events of Urbana 2006. And if God leads - attend in 2009!

The world will be different tomorrow
because of the choices you make today.
It matters what you do with your life!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Photos: Girls Night

As Promised - here are more photos of our Christmas Party.

Party Girl

December is time to celebrate the birth of a Savior among friends.

I've had the unique opportunity to have TCK friends and Global Christians who have grown-up, lived and worked around the world. Again this December we took time to gather for some celebrating. Many of the group could not attend as they were . . . well, in Japan, Germany, China, Turkey, D.C., Iowa (hey, that's another culture, right?), etc. But for those of us who were in town, we always look forward to getting together. (And we do miss those of you who couldn't come - Lisa, Bethany, Suzi, Liz, Matt, Sharon & Jamie, - and others!)

The above photo was taken at the annual MuKappa Alumni Christmas Party - at the Clarks. Many people in this group met during college and have continued to deepen friendships as the years go by.

Girls Night Out - Christmas Cocoa and Conversation. We had about 12 ladies attend and enjoyed catching up on what God's been doing in our lives and anticipating with prayer the amazing things 2007 will bring.

(Photo: Me, Liz, Holly) Liz was in the States for the holidays as a break from her work in Turkey and Holly recently relocated to Minnesota after completing her M.A. in Linguistics, and then trekking thru Alaska. Both of these friends are also former roommates of mine and it was a rare treat to have all 3 of us in the same country let alone one home. (I'm hoping to add other photos of the evening as I figure out the science of uploading photos.)

The end of each evening, for me, was spent in wonder at the blessing God has given me by surrounding me with such amazing brothers and sisters in Christ, who spur one another on, and build one another up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

November Support Report

New Team Members
I'd like to offer a warm welcome to two new churches joining my team!

Bible Baptist in Mauston, WI, and
Faith Baptist in Bayfield, WI

I've been corresponding with them through email, snail mail and by phone and look forward to meeting the church members in person this winter.

With just under 10 months to departure, the addition of these churches and more individual donors brings my monthly support now up to 40%!

Some of you have asked, "40% of what?"
Well, to cover the costs of salary, housing, ministry expenses, insurance, taxes and administrative costs - the budget set is $7,650 - per month. If you, or someone you know, is interested in joining my team visit the Baptist General Conference Website . For online donations click on my name under "Missionary Appointees" or follow the directions on the left of that page for donating using US mail.

Growing Prayer Team
I initially set a goal of finding 35 prayer partners who would commit to praying for me regularly and I guess I totally underestimated what God would do. In fact, just in the month of November, 36 new prayer warriors were added to the list of 13 people who have already committed to praying! So if you do the math with me that's 49 prayer warriors total (Keep in mind, that does not include those who are financial contributors who have also promised prayer support!) So, after praising God for what He's done - I've decided to set a new goal of 100 prayer warriors - and watch God reveal who these people will be.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Why Blog?

So, now that I've joined the thousands of others out in the blogging world, I go through my days making comments like - "I should blog about that" and making list of "future blog topics". (I love making lists!) So today, I've been trying to identify my answers to the question . . .

Why Blog?
  1. For family and friends to stay connect with updates and photos
  2. To give a glimspe of life as a missionary
  3. For educational information about culture, Third Culture Kids, Missions, and other topics that may effect my ministry
  4. List prayer requests, to keep ministry partners informed
  5. Gives potential partners a way to get to know me
  6. I hope, for some of you, it entertaining and perhaps inspiring.
  7. A place to describe what great things God is doing!

Since starting the mapcluster (the map on the right sidebar with the red dots) in October I've had 251 visitors to this blog from 10 different countries. Amazing!

I hope you come back often to see what God's doing in my life. If you have suggestions to add to the blog topics list, ideas for photos, or questions about my ministry or life - please let me know by making a comment.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Fabulous Hosts

As I reflect on the last month's travels, I wanted to share with you some photos of the amazing people who made my stay in Iowa and South Dakota such a blessing.

Jamie and Sharon - Iowa - I love staying in the Steen Bed and Breakfast, with its complimentary deep discussions about missions, eating Whitey's ice cream (even when its cold enough to wear hats and gloves) and getting the insider scoop on Hawkeye Game Day. Sharon was my roomate for 2 years in college and 3 years post college, so I love taking any chance I get to visit!

Dale and Karen Klingberg - South Dakota

Alongside the amazing conversations, laughter and "at home" feeling I will remember the refreshing breakfast view at your home - looking out to the view of snow covered ground, white barns and a huddle of cute kittens by the sliding glass door.

Thank you for sharing your gift of hospitality with me! I look forward to driving your way again!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Photos of Prayer First Luncheon

I just received photos from the Ridgewood Church of Minnetonka, Prayer First Luncheon, held Nov. 12, so I thought I'd share them with you. They are not in order but you'll get the idea if you start with the last one and scroll up. For the original post which gives more description of the day click here.

Elaine Evan - from the Ridgewood Church Mission Leadership Team

Here I am talking about my call to missions and vision for ministry.

We had soup was served for lunch - I believe this is a photo of Judy doing the serving.

Here I am waiting for the program to start. Just out of the picture are the fun people I got to talk with during the meal.
Ok, so, this photo should have been first. On the far left holding the bowl of soup, is Elaine Jahnke the Grandmother of Andrew, Aaron, and Nathan who I taught in Japan for 2 years. It was so fun to see her again!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Inertia

in·er·tia, in-ur-shuh(-nĂ»rsh)n. ,1. The tendency of a body to resist acceleration; the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force. 2. Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change.

I have a case of post Thanksgiving Inertia. I'm finding I'm resisting action. After a month of traveling to various locations, speaking in churches, meeting amazing people, and sharing my passion for Third Culture Kid Ministry, I had 3 days of Thanksgiving relaxation. Ok, well, if you count the 2 - 10 hour days spent in the car, it was really 5 days of relaxation.

Ingredients for a relaxing Thanksgiving:
lots of delicious food,
relatives who get along,
sports on TV,
a machine to do the dishes,
a challenging puzzle, and
great post-turkey day sales with manageable crowds.
For a little variety, add in a good novel, movie, concert, or craft project.
For a little spice, add in discussions of family history with different versions from various family members.

The only thing missing was the traditional pumpkin pie - but considering we had every other imaginable food there - I hardly noticed. We did notice and missed greatly the family members who couldn't be there.

Now that my schedule has gone from ultra high movement before Thanksgiving, to slllooowww, if any movement, during Thanksgiving, I'm now trying to overcome the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest.

My mind has been working though, I have been reflecting on the fact that if my target date of being in Japan in Sept. 2007, is reached - this was my last Thanksgiving in the states. Perhaps next year I'll be celebrating the American holiday with missionaries in Japan - eating a Turkey purchased from an army/navel base, and relishing in the un-Japanese way of eating - letting all of my food touch on the plate.

As I consider the fact that my target date is only 10 months away - I've thought of a long "to do" list for the month of December. I don't have many church visits planned for this month, so I'll be in my office gearing up for January and the rest of winter. Mailing, calling, organizing, following-up, and writing letters are some items on my to do list.
As is "get a digital camera" that way I can more effectively add photos to the blog. (For all of you visual learners out there - I apologize for my lack of photos!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Down South

I survived a 10 hour car ride - got some crocheting and reading done along the way, very thankful that I didn't have to drive on this trip. (I've done my share of that this month!) We stopped in Iowa for lunch at "Billy Buzzard's Flying Carp Cafe", Yum-O!

Now we're in Derby, Kansas enjoying a relaxing time with Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Tomorrow is Turkey Day and Christmas all rolled into one. Should be fun!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Place to Grow

Sun Prairie Baptist Church, Salem, SD –
Thank you for the warm welcome and amazing hospitality. Dale and Karen, Pastor Mark, Tom and Mary, Mildred, the meal on Saturday night was a fun time to get to know you. I found out (from Tom) there's a difference between those who farm and those who work for the government, and Mildred you play a great game of 20 questions! It was a blessing to enter as a welcome stranger, connect through life stories, love of God, and laughter, and leave with a sense of friendship developing. Dale and Karen - thank you for hosting me with the relaxed 'at home' feeling.

Sun Prairie's motto is "A Place to Grow" and it was great to see a country church surrounded by cornfields and pasture, which is growing in number of members and in depth of faith. Thank you for giving me so much time to share about my ministry in Japan. Your questions about Japan, religion, and my ministry kept me on my toes - but I love talking about those topics and was thrilled that you wanted to know more.

Marcia and Tim - Thank you for opening your home to me on Sunday afternoon. It was fascinating for this city gal to learn about Angus and Hereford Ranching. I'll have to write another blog about the experience. TJ, great job on the Christmas lights! JD, Sorry about the Viking's loss!

Ramsey Baptist Church
Pastor Al and wife Linda - Thank you for dinner on Sunday evening. I enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the joys and challenges that face rural churches. Phineas, you win the prize for cutest Boston terrier I know!

For those of you were praying for my health - Sunday, my throat was scratchy but my voice didn't go out until about 10 pm on Sunday night! Technology also cooperated with us as the PowerPoint presentation and DVD worked smoothly. Monday was my drive back to MN - with clear roads and a day of quietness for my throat. With Thanksgiving approaching, I'm looking forward to a few days of hanging out with relatives.

Friday, November 17, 2006

On the Road again

While I've enjoyed being in Minnesota for awhile and participating in the Jr. High youth group at my church, it is time to be heading out on the road again this weekend. Heading West to Salem, South Dakota visiting Sun Prairie Baptist Church (Nov. 19) where I'll be speaking during Sunday school and the morning service. It will be a time for the church to get to know me and hear about my ministry in preparation for their decision on whether or not to partner with my ministry.

Sunday evening, I'll be traveling a few miles down the road to visit with the pastor of Ramsey Baptist Church, Montrose, SD to get to know more about one of my newest supporting churches.

The weather looks like it will cooperate - please pray that my health does. I've had a sore throat for a few days and I know this weekend will involve quite a bit of talking.

Prayer First Team

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend Ridgewood Church in Minnetonka, MN. Although I was only scheduled to be at the mission's luncheon, I attended Sunday school and church too. Although I don't fit in the "Boomer" age group I ignored age division guidelines and attended the class with some friends. They were participating in the Nooma DVD series and that day's topic was "RICH". Following the innovative video, we discussed different interpretations of the phrase, "God Bless America". It was a fascinating conversation about contentment, stewardship, intentional generosity and awareness of the fact that we are blessed to be a blessing.

During the service it amazed me how each church has its own style and flavor of worship. I'm finding I enjoy getting to know churches through participating in worship with them.

The Prayer First luncheon was a fun time visiting with various church members, some former missionaries, some school teachers, some relatives of college friends. Ridgewood's purpose of the luncheon was to encourage individuals to become prayer partners with a specific missionary the church supports. The speaker was Rob Boyd, a former missionary to Latin America. He spoke on "How to pray for your Missionaries". Which can be summed up in three points . . .
1. Get to know them
2. Get to know their culture
3. Let them get to know you.

Then, as the newest Ridgewood missionary, I helped them get to know me by sharing about my call to missions and vision for ministry among third culture Kids/missionary kids in Japan. It was encouraging to get a message on Monday morning informing me that 20 people signed up for my prayer team! I'm so excited for our building relationship! Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Extreme Makeovers - Tech style

My computer had a doctor visit this week.

It started with a few black outs and then some white screens which were not very pretty. I did what every intelligent computer user does - Turn it off and then on again in hopes that the problem will just disappear. For about a minute, the problem was gone. When it happened again, I called for reinforcements, first to the BGC computer specialist and then to computer company itself. It was then determined that my computer was selected for a free makeover (thank God for warranties!). The Dell technician arrived at my doorstep yesterday - dismantled my laptop, unscrewed every screw possible, replaced the motherboard and then screwed it back together all in less than 45 minutes.

The post-op recovery took longer than the operation itself as I had to reinstall a program hurt in the process. I found it a bit frustrating when the program I used to connect to the internet was down - and when I called the tech guy he said - you have to be connected to the internet to reinstall the program. I got a bit creative, went to a local cafe with WIFI, downloaded the program and now - I’m happy to say I’m back online and the programs are running smoothly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Third Culture Kid Articles

Last month I was introduced to these articles from The Santiago Times about Third Culture Kids and I want to share them with you.

by Heather Domnick



Written by an adult TCK, these articles describe her life as a TCK, the history of the term TCK, and various aspects of life as a TCK as well as ways to support TCKs. Check it out by clicking on the article titles.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Welcome to the Team

I just received news that Ramsey Baptist Church, in Montrose, South Dakota, is joining my support team. That means my monthly financial suppport is now at 36%! Praise God!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A Few of my Favorite Things

Ministry Partner Discovery (MPD) definitely has its ups and downs.
Today, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite things about Ministry Partner Discovery.

  • Seeing grandparents introduced to the term Third Culture Kid for the first time - talk about their new understanding of their grandchildren who are living overseas.
  • Young adults who are exploring future careers - thinking about majoring in education and wanting to learn more about teaching overseas.
  • Church leaders who are gaining a deeper understanding of missionary care, involving the whole family and not just the adults, and thinking about ways to enhance their current missionary care.
  • Talking with military veterans who have stories of their time in Japan during and after WWII. Encounters often include some Japanese phrase or song they remember.
  • Young children who are excited to learn about what life is like for kids on the other side of the globe - learning a Japanese word, playing a Japanese game, trying to use chopsticks and asking questions like - "If only 1% of Japan is Christian what do the other 99% believe?" And "If their moms and dads aren't Christian who is going to tell them about Jesus?"
  • Parents - especially mothers - who can empathize with the challenge facing missionary families regarding the limited educational options on the mission field.
  • People who after hearing my presentation say, “Wow – I never imagined that this was a needed ministry overseas, but I can now see how valuable it must be to the families. Thank you for sharing.”
  • Getting a phone call from a church or individual saying, "We want to join your team!"
  • Meeting strangers and feeling joy at realizing, this is the start of a long-term friendship.
  • Walking into a home and seeing a prayer map. Hearing excitement about praying for missionaries and teaching children about missions. A recent comment I heard, "I just bought a world map for our family and we're going to put pictures and newsletters of the missionaries we support up on it and put string connecting the picture to the city where they are working."

As the journey of partner discovery continues, I look forward to sharing the joys with you.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Midwestern Tour Update

Back in Minnesota - As I am enjoying being home and getting out of the car, I thought you might like to hear an update.

My eleven day Midwestern Tour took me from Minnesota to Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, travelling over 1700 miles. Along the way, I was able to meet some amazing people passionate about missions! On the weekends, I had the opportunity to share my vision for ministry among TCKs in Japan to churches in Polk, NE and Galesburg, IL. During the week I was able to meet with one missions leader, three pastors, one individual, and gave ministry information to yet another church. The one day of the trip when I was not traveling or meeting with a potential ministry partner I had a very effective "office day" making phone calls and writing emails. Of all the places I visited, First Baptist Church, of Polk, NE was the only current ministry partner. I candidated at Bethel Baptist Church in Galesburg where they will be voting soon about a potential partnership. The other churches are in various stages of considering partnership with my ministry. Please pray with me that the Lord's will be done with Bethel Baptist's decision, and with the other churches with whom I had contact during this week.

Praise - While I was in Iowa City, I received news that First Baptist Church in Benson, MN has voted to team with me as a ministry partner!

When I wasn't at a church, meeting with potential partners, or doing office work, I enjoyed exploring the community, trying unique local restaurants, and learning something new about each place I visited. In Nebraska, I was able to visit the first town I lived in (Cambridge), learned a bit about rural life (Polk/Stromsburg), and explored Omaha - including the Old Market and the Bohemian Cafe. In Iowa, I visited with my friends Sharon and Jamie Steen in Iowa City, enjoyed a trip to Whitey's (Who says Ice Cream is a seasonal treat?!) and experienced Game Day, although they tell me the crowds weren't as big as for other games, it was a lesson in the art of tailgating by the Hawkeye fans. (Might as well be a professional team for Iowa!)

Thank you to my hosts and the churches that offered their gift of time. Thank you also to those who've been praying for this journey. The weather was fabulous the whole way and travel was safe! My next trip is to Ridgewood Church in Minnetonka on the 12th.

(Sorry - due to dead camera batteries there are no photos for this entry)

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Chickens and Cattle and Pigs, Oh My!

Nebraska has more farm animals than people. According to a Nebraska Visitor's guide - for every human being there are 4 cows, 2 pigs & 8 chickens residing in the state at any given moment! I think cows in the photo are glaring as a result of a comment I made about how they smelled. (I wish this were a scratch-n-sniff photo, so you could have the full experience!)

Living Single in a Couples World

Let's face it, we live in a couples centered society. But the reality is - there are more singles in the world than there are married people. It is especially challenging to be single in church where it seems so much of life is geared toward couples with children. I am content in my singleness but I think singles too often look at married people and think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when in reality each side of the fence has its green spots AND its weeds.

Recently my sister, Jennifer, pointed me to a sermon by Pastor Paul Brushaber and his wife at Christ Community Church in Rochester, MN, entitled -"Live High Efficiency: How to Live Single in a Couples World". I checked out their website and just finished listening to the sermon. I highly recommend that you listen to it. All people - married and single - need to be reminded of the truths in the message based on 1 Corinthians 7.

For those of you who aren't able to listen to the MP3 format here are the main principles and application points from the sermon.

3 Principles:
  1. Two of the greatest New Testament Leaders were single - Jesus and Paul.
  2. Certain situations make marriage a bad choice.
  3. Marriage creates divided loyalties and complicates life.
6 Applications:
  1. Singleness is not a stage before marriage but a legitamently chosen lifestyle.
  2. Singleness is not a time of aloneness but a chance for great friendships with both sexes.
  3. Singleness is a chance to be more kingdom focused.
  4. Marriage will never complete you, only heaven will.
  5. Singleness offers a good chance to become a good potential partner in marriage. (Better to be single, wishing you were married than married and wishing you were single.)
  6. Singleness is not related to spiritual maturity, rather personal choice or God's will.
The church needs to validate the fact that God has a place for everyone in His Kingdom. It needs to be a place were singles find respect and are encouraged to use their gifts for the expansion of his kingdom.
Listen to the sermon and let me know your reaction.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blessings along the Way

One of the blessings on my travels has been the generous people who open up their home to me. I find the hospitality of strangers soon becomes the stuff of great friendships. Wilma and Roger Burke were my hosts Oct. 28-31. Roger is the pastor one of my partner churches, First Baptist Church in Polk, NE. (Roger has retired 3 times, is still involved in full-time ministry and helps with some local farming, his schedule wears me out!) The church visit on Sunday the 29th, was lovely and the time spent with the Burke's went by so fast! I learned a bit about rural culture - like knowing how to read a car's license plate to figure out what county the car is from, so as to determine if you should wave. (not waving to someone you should know - can be detrimental to ones ministry!) And it's not just any wave!

My Lonely Planet guide book has a segment on "HOW TO WAVE". "On two- lane roads, you'll be expected to wave to oncoming traffic. Don't go 'coastal' and extend your whole arm up. Just keep one hand (only) on the top of the steering wheel at all times, and raise your fingers up, spring-like (but not too fast) as the oncoming car (more likely a truck) approaches. They'll do the same. And harmony shall spread like wind through wheat."

This non-verbal form of communication is a great cultural bridge. In rural Minnesota, I've learned to wave with the same hand position as above but only raising one or two fingers, the full four finger wave is reserved for close friends! (Makes me wonder how many kinds of waves are out there and how many times I've miss-communicated!)

What the Lonely Planet guide book doesn't tell you is that the best place to get a hot meal in Stromsburg, NE, (outside of Wilma's house) is the Senior Citizen's Center. Reservations must be made in advance, and the menu changes daily, but it is a set menu. On Tuesday, while Roger went to help his daughter harvest corn, I was Wilma's guest at the Senior Citizen's Center. Located along southside of the village square, the meal consisted of 2 pieces of fried Chicken, garlic bread, baked potato, green beans, and milk. For dessert they served homemade apple pie, and ice cream! Yum-o! All for the great bargin of $3. It's also a great place to grasp a bit of the local news, and town history!

A big thank you goes out to the folks of Polk for your warm welcome Sunday, to Stromsburg's pleasant reception, and to the Burke's for your generous hospitality!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cambridge House Photo

Here it is - the house I lived in when I was a baby. To compare this photo to what it looked like when I was little you'll have to read my "Down Memory Lane" Oct. 26th blog.

Discovering My Birthplace

I visited Cambridge, Nebraska, yesterday. My treasure hunt to find the house I lived in from 0-2 years old was successful. (I'll try to post photos soon for you to compare the past with the present.) I was also able to visit the Cambridge Bed and Breakfast. The B & B owner gave me a tour of the house our family doctor used to live in. Crazy to think that the house I played hide-and-seek in is now listed on the national register of historic places! I didn't meet anyone in town who remembered me as a kid - but I enjoyed my time spent at Shirley K's Coffee Shop soaking up the small town atmosphere, where people "Sit long and talk much."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Roadside Marvels

I enjoy getting out of the car frequently on long drives and if I can combine the stop with something unique in the area - well - bonus! Today I saw an angel, and a spike.

The Memorial sculpture known as "The Black Angel" was made in memory of Ruth Anne Dodge. (Wife of General Grenville Dodge the guy who Lincoln appointed to be the engineer of the Union Pacific railroad) It represents a dream she had of an angel on the prow of a boat offering the water of life (She died shortly after seeing this vision.) The sculture is by Daniel Chester French - the same sculptor who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. .

Speaking of Lincoln - The Spike Monument (just down the road from the angel) marks the spot where Abraham Lincoln visited Council Bluffs, Iowa, Aug. 15 1859. From this site, Lincoln viewed and selected the Eastern Terminus of the first transcontinental railroad built on the United States. It is located at a scenic overlook of Council bluffs. (Sorry the photo doesn't show the view of the city below.)

Free advice for travelers - take advantage of the Visitor's Centers! The people who work/volunteer here are full ideas for interesting places to see and how to get there.

Did you know there is a Carhenge (a whimsical recreation of Stonehenge fashioned from American-made automobiles) in Nebraska? Unfortunately Alliance, Nebraska, isn't near my driving route this week - but they do have a website-

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Down Memory Lane

The Twins -
When I was little, people called my sister and I "the twins". Although we are not identical, people had a hard time putting the right name to the right person. Can you tell who is who? Any guesses?

Cambridge, NE- This picture was taken on the front steps of our house in Cambridge. My Grandma and Grandpa Harms are holding Lisa and I (6 months), and Jennifer (2.5 yrs) is showing off her amazing tricycle skills. I'm surprised Jennifer sat still long enough for someone to take a picture! The treasure hunt to find the house in the picture is one of my tasks when I visit Cambridge. No one seems to remember the address, so I have a list of landmarks to go by . . . I wonder if it has changed much in 30 years.

The Midwestern Tour

Today started my Midwestern Tour.

In the next month I will be traveling by car across Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota and Kansas with a few stops in Minnesota (mainly for doing laundry and repacking). On Sundays, I'll be speaking at churches and during the week, the plan is to visit as many churches in the area as possible.

Here are the Sunday Stops:

Oct. 29 - First Baptist Church - Polk, Nebraska
Nov. 5 - Bethel Baptist Church - Galesburg, Illinois
Nov. 12 - Ridgewood Church (Luncheon) - Minnetonka, Minnesota
Nov. 19 - Sun Prairie Baptist Church, Salem, South Dakota
(If you live in the area of these churches - consider this your invitation to join me!)

Then I get the role of back seat driver and ride with my family to Witchita, Kansas, for Thanksgiving (Nov. 23).

One of the most intriguing parts of this jouney is a planned stop in Cambridge, Nebraska. My birthplace and home until I was 2 years old. I don't remember much about the town (actually, life before 8 years old is all kinda fuzzy - due to a bike accident) but I'm hoping to connect to people who remember me and my family. You know, all those people who had thrill of babysitting my older sister, Jennifer, my twin sister, Lisa, and I while we were all still in diapers!

Thank you to many of you who are praying for me and the connections made during this tour! I'll try to add regular updates so you can join me in this journey!

from Des Moines (meaning 'of the monks'), Iowa

Next Stops - Omaha, Lincoln, Stromsburg, Polk, and Cambridge.

Monday, October 9, 2006

What if?

What would happen if you were to leave a few teenagers in a room that contained some Japanese clothes?

They'd try them on!

October 7-8 at Bethany Baptist Church - We enjoyed the Celebration of Cultures Weekend. What a joy to see youth from Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, US and South Korea try on various kimonos, yukattas, farming outfits, and festival wear. They continued to wear the outfits even as we went into the sanctuary for worship.

The following morning, I had the honor of facilitating a panel discussion with Third Culture Kids (TCKs) for the adult and youth Sunday School hour. There was an MK from Indonesia, MK and diplomat Kid (Dipkid) from Ethiopia, and 2 Pastor's Kids from Ghana and England. It was a blessing to have 4 TCKs share about the benefits and challenges growing up in a culture that is different from their passport culture. Katie, Peter, Percy and Kylie - Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share of your experience!

What amazed me about this morning was that there were atleast 9 other TCKs (or Adult TCKs) in the church body who also would have been wonderful for the panel. What a blessing to have so many people with a multicultural upbringing in a church whose vision is to be a cross-cultural witness of the diversity and unity in the body of Christ!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Belly Button Theology

Each of us was created to be dependent—on God and on one another. We are wired for community. Literally. Each of us has a belly button. Some are outies, some are innies, some are pierced. But we all carry this unmistakable sign that shows we were at one time physically connected to our mothers. Life begins for every human in utter dependence on another. But as we grow, our culture slowly sucks us into believing that we will truly be liberated only when we no longer need to depend on someone else.

As I discover new ministry partners, I am discovering a new understanding of God and my relationship in community. The above excerpt is from Rick McKinley’s book, Jesus in the Margins, which introduced me to the belly button analogy and challenged me not to shy away from the ‘Messy Blessing of Community’. I’m learning that as Christ-followers, community is (or should be) essential to our how we interact with the world.

If you were to take a glimpse of my life in the past five months, you would find me making phone calls to complete strangers and introducing myself to church groups I have never met. Frequent tasks include sending emails and ministry packets to communities of believers I hope are interested in ministry in Japan. Some days are filled with joyful encounters but frequently these tasks take me out of my comfort zone.

That’s when God reminds me that I am part of the body of Christ—that He never intended me to do this alone. I am learning the meaning of authentic community, seeking accountability, counsel, mentorship, and encouragement. I’m learning that admitting my weaknesses deepens my reliance on God and others. It is often messy but this process is teaching me that as Christ-followers we are to serve one another and complement one another’s gifts for the common purpose of representing Christ to our world.

The Great Commission is a group assignment— in which we each have a role to play. My role is as a teacher of Third Culture Kids in Japan, where my task will be to educate, encourage and equip students, as we engage in community. This role supports families in ministry so that they can work among Japanese people to build growing communities of Christ-followers.

But we are not alone in our roles. As I continue to discover new ministry partners, I am blessed by the passion of people who are eager to build God’s kingdom locally and globally, through prayer, finances, time, and talents. Thank you for using your gifts to represent Christ to our world!

Monday, October 2, 2006

Termites Invade School

Recently, Barb and Jeff Chapman, fellow BGC missionaries with children at Kansai Christian School (KCS, my potential future ministry site in Japan) reported, “One of two of the KCS school buildings was condemned due to termite damage. The school board decided to move out of the building immediately into a temporary location owned by Ikoma Bible College (just across the parking lot) as the school board searches for a new place to buy or build. The entire school will have to move to a new location by the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.”

Please pray for a new place not too distant from the present facility, and one that will meet the needs for classrooms, a library and a playground suitable for soccer and basketball.

Support Report

I have gained new support commitments bringing me to 35% of the monthly support needed, through 5 partnering churches, and 26 individuals, with 11 months until departure. Pictured is one of my partnering churches, Mapleridge in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Did you know?

Japan is the size of California but has a population equal to the sum population of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois & Ohio! (127 Million!)

Friday, September 29, 2006

You make me Smile

Driving passed corn fields with the sights of John Deere equipment in the fields proved it is harvest time in Iowa. It's also football season and I was able to visit Iowa City just before the thousands of fans descended on Kinnik Stadium in their team colors. My hosts, Sharon and Jamie, were my cultural tour guides through hawkeye territory. If I forgot were I was, all I had to do was look at all the yellow t-shirts that said "IOWA".

But my real reason to visit Iowa was to share my vision for ministry with a few churches. I had a delightful visit in Iowa City, Eldridge, and then to Illinois.

In Galesburg, a railroad town in Northwest Illinois, the missions team at Bethel Baptist Church interviewed me. It was a joyful evening among people passionate for growing God's kingdom. I am excited to report that I have been invited back to canididate with the congregation November 5!

(Bethel Baptist Church pictured below).

Monday, September 11, 2006


I spoke at First Baptist Church, Benson, MN, yesterday with a sermon titled "Wired for Community". I enjoyed the welcome one can only find in a small town. Benson - Thank you for your hospitality!
(Picture: downtown Benson.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Amarikan Homestay

August 21-29 - I had the blessing of hanging out with Mrs. Kazue Ura and her daughter Sayaka, English students of a fellow missionary in Japan. During their "Amarikan Homestay" we visited museums, a cathedral, state capital building, historical sites, the Mississippi River and of course - the Mall of America! They fearlessly ate many "big" and "sweet" foods. Grilling out or BBQ’s are not common in Japan, so it was fun to introduce Kazue and Sayaka to roasting marshmallows and the gooey mess that follows. (Sayaka stands just outside the photo trying to blow out the fire on her flaming marshmallow.)

When we visited the St.Paul Cathedral, and attended church at Bethany Baptist they seemed to have many heart tugging moments with comments about God and feeling a sense of His presence. Mrs. Kazue attended Sunday school as a child and now studies the Bible in Japan. Sayaka attends Saturday school at Saidaiji Baptist church and although she says she is too old for the program she likes it too much to stop attending. Pray for their continued interest in the gospel.

For me this was a joyful time of meeting my future neighbors (Their home in Japan is very close to where I'll be teaching.) It was a blessing to form friendships so quickly! Their English was much better than my Japanese. But I did practice and found communicating in Japanese a challenge. I felt like I had pulled a muscle in my brain trying to recall Japanese vocabulary and realized how much I have to learn - and how fun it is to use what I do know!

A BIG Thank you goes out to the Eshenaur family and my parents for hosting the Ura's. Thank you also to Jaycelyn, Jane, Kenzy, Janelle & Jason for your tour guide services! Thank you to Stephanie and Aaron for letting the Ura's attend your wedding and reception - they were honored.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Where in the World is Lori?

In this whirlwind adventure we call life, I have had the opportunity to visit every continent, except Australia and Antarctica. In all my travels, I’ve found great joy as relationships with strangers developed into friendships, but only once have I considered a country other than the United States home.

After my first trip to Japan 11 years ago, the homesickness I felt for my host family and Japanese church led me to seek out ways to return. After graduating from Bethel College with an Elementary Education degree, an amazing opportunity opened up for me to teach missionary kids (MKs) in Tokyo for the Baptist General Conference (BGC) and to participate in a local Japanese church. Two years of the greatest joy and fulfillment I have ever known, combined with the greatest challenges I have ever faced, to produce growth in my relationship with God. I realized God’s calling on my life to serve as a teacher in Japan for a career but also realized the need to gain stateside experience as a teacher.

After returning to the States, I took a position as a 3rd Grade teacher, at Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove. My heart longed to return to Japan but I also desired to expand my understanding of theology and missions before returning. Therefore, I enrolled in the Intercultural Studies Masters program at Hope International University. While working toward my degree by extension, I took a job as the International Studies Program Coordinator at Bethel University. Where I was responsible for connecting college students with study abroad opportunities around the world and organizing orientation and re-entry programming. In this position, visiting international universities not only added stamps to my passport but introduced me to Christians working to expand God’s kingdom in cultures around the world.

As my graduate program came to an end, I eagerly pursued application to the BGC International Ministries to serve in Japan. The process moved smoothly last year, with a the Missionary Assessment Center in February, an interview early April and the Commissioning service the end of June. This year, I have resigned from my job at Bethel and have started the process of discovering people and churches interested in partnering with my ministry to Third Culture Kids in Japan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is your target date for leaving for Japan?
A: September 2007, or earlier, contingent upon receiving prayer support and 100% of the monthly support. (Currently at 27%)

Q: What will you be doing between now and then?
A: Ministry Partner Discovery – MPD, Discovering people who want to join my ministry team through prayer and finance. It involves meeting with churches and individuals to share my vision for ministry in Japan, and encouraging others in their ministry to Third Culture Kids.

Q: How can I get more information about your ministry in Japan?
A: I have prayer cards, as well as other materials which explain my ministry in more depth. Email me.

So, Where Are You From?

The answer to this question can tell you a lot about a person. But how would you respond if you have lived in a variety of locations, a variety of countries?

Children who spend a significant part of their developmental years outside of their passport culture because of their parents’ work, develop a sense of belonging to both their passport culture and their host culture, while not having a sense of total ownership in either. Elements from both (or multiple) cultures produce a unique blend of cultures, resulting in the third culture. Thus they are commonly referred to as Third Culture Kids or TCKs. These children of business executives, soldiers and sailors, diplomats, and missionaries who live abroad, become “culture-blended” persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole. However, they tend to have difficulty answering the question, “So, where are you from?” Do you want the 3 second or 3 hour explanation?

My ministry in Japan will be to educate TCKs in an international school setting, where I will have the opportunity to equip students with the strategies and tools to adapt cross-culturally as well as encourage multicultural youth in their relationship with God.

HOPE - After 4 Years!

After taking the course, ‘Perspectives on the World Christian Movement’, I was led to Hope International University in Fullerton, California, fall of 2002, and began a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies by extension through the School of Graduate Studies. I studied under the mentorship of Ed Erickson and Frank Doten focusing my studies on culture, history, theology and missions relating to Japan and ministry to Third Culture Kids. Four years later, I’m thrilled to announce graduation took place May 20, 2006!

Surrounded by a Crowd of Witnesses

Commissioned to serve in Japan, during the Baptist General Conference annual meeting, in Denver, Colorado, July 1, 2005, the highlight of the evening for me, was to look around and be encircled by prayer warriors and servants of God, who have held special places in my life.

Photos: BGC Missionaries serving Japanese (above)
(below) Missionaries from Bethany Baptist

(far below) Eric Johnson and Lori

BGC missionaries reaching Japanese, my family, and friends from my home church, Bethany Baptist, as well as many others encouraged me. What a joy it was to reconnect with Eric Johnson, former missionary to Mexico! And look back at the impact of the trip my family took when I was 10 years old, to visit his family in Mexico City. From that day on, missions and the lives of missionary kids intrigued me, and my view of God no longer fit into the box I had built.

Hebrews 12:1 talks of the “huge crowd of witnesses” composed of the people described in Hebrews 11. I believe in each of our lives, are people whose faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us, giving them a place among a modern day “crowd of witness”. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first to struggle with the problems we face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness stirs us to run and win also. What an inspiring heritage we have!

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.