The MAF Blog: Worldwide Pulse

Archive for January, 2012

Daniel’s Bottle Bucket Battle

Posted on: January 31st, 2012 by Nancy Burton  |  Leave a comment

What’s it like raising kids on the mission field? Find out from some of our mom bloggers on our new Monday feature, Moms on a Mission. You can look for more stories like the following, starting on Monday, February 6th.

Raising children in a developing nation is risky, albeit adventurous. I knew that before we came, but it isn’t something one tends to think about until something happens that gives you a startling reminder. Saturday evening Daniel dropped a bottle of Coke and it shattered. A piece of glass bounced off the floor and cut his leg pretty deeply. We could see his bone. Our first thought was to call a missionary we know who is a nurse, only to discover she was gone to the interior and couldn’t be reached. We had no choice but to take him to a clinic here and hope for the best. Traffic was terrible. Sometimes when we are driving here I am reminded of a Discovery Toys Rush Hour game my kids used to have with a bunch of cars and trucks, all facing different directions and practically touching one another, unable to move. Add loud honking, dozens of pedestrians weaving in and out the best they can, shouting, and exhaust fumes and that’s what it looked like Saturday evening.

Daniel had been bleeding a lot and I had him in the back seat with his leg propped up while I held the wound shut; and while we were stuck, his leg just spontaneously stopped bleeding and didn’t bleed again until he was safe in the clinic being examined. Finally a hole just big enough to turn our jeep around opened up and we retraced our steps and went “the back way” to the clinic. There was a nurse outside the clinic who took one look at David carrying Daniel with his bloody feet and took charge, opening doors and escorting us past triage and reception, straight to the exam room. By the time I walked up to the reception desk to let them know Daniel was there and give them our names and address, he had been seen by the doctor, had his wound cleaned, and was waiting for stitches. While they were very careful to use sterile instruments and keep the wound clean, there were definite points of observation that reminded us we weren’t in the U.S.

  • The language barrier––they kept asking us questions in Lingala, then switching to French, and in our stress we had some difficulty thinking in French.
  • The insects on the walls.
  • The stack of grotesquely filthy leg and arm braces in the corner, presumably waiting to be reused.
  • No bright red bio-hazard box––the needles they used to give Lidocaine to Daniel were new and sterile, but once used they just went into the garbage bag with all the other bloody gauze and trash.
  • The mercurochrome––they used lots of it on all of Daniel’s smaller cuts, even on his old bug bites. He has big pink spots all over his legs, front and back. They were so generous with it I started to wonder if we were getting charged by the ounce. Though I remember mercurachrome from my childhood, I’m pretty sure it is not used in the U.S. anymore because it actually contains mercury. Nice.
  • I had 8 stitches in each incision when I had my foot surgery. Daniel’s wound was about the same width, possibly wider, and he got four. We got some steri-strips from a friend to “close the gaps.”
  • No follow-up instructions regarding things like when he can bathe, how long to leave the stitches in, etc. We know we have to keep it clean and dry. We have plenty of missionary friends here who are in the medical field so we’ll have to rely on them for help and guidance.

While God was showing Himself to us––getting us through traffic, getting rapid treatment for Daniel, keeping him from losing too much blood, keeping him amazingly calm––He also showed Himself to Emily that night. As we were leaving the house for the clinic, I asked Emily to get on the internet and tell our friends to pray because Daniel was bleeding a lot and I knew traffic would be bad and I didn’t know what type of care we would get at the clinic. As soon as they heard, a couple on our team, the Freys, dropped everything and came to be with Emily. Instead of finding an anxious daughter when we arrived home, we found Emily, Jocelyn, and Nick watching a movie together. The glass, soda and blood were all cleaned up. They had brought their supper with them and fed Emily and even had a cupcake waiting for Daniel. I am so grateful that in this challenging place God has given us friends whose value can’t be measured. We had other friends who were praying for us, helping us with medical advice, giving us antibiotics from their own supplies because the pharmacies were closed, even offering to come get us and take us to the clinic.

As we were preparing to leave the clinic, Daniel said, “Well, now I can mark that off my bucket list.” We asked him if he seriously had getting hurt and receiving medical treatment in a third world clinic on his bucket list and he said, “Yes, I did.” What kind of ten-year-old has a bucket list? And what kind of ten-year-old has THAT on his list? When I asked Daniel’s big brother those questions his reply was “a cool one!” I tend to agree with both Josh and with another friend who said we need to talk to Daniel about working on a safer bucket list.

Taking Shape: Surviving God’s Anvil

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by Jason Chatraw  |  1 Comment

In today’s society, standing and class are directly related to how much money you make, power and influence, and job title. Other factors in determining your social status include the car you drive or maybe what neighborhood you live in. There’s this “ladder of success” everyone is climbing, which is measured by how many of these elements you possess.

But when people carry this line of thought over into their relationship with Christ, it’s destined to cause confusion, anxiety, and a feeling of inferiority.

As we begin to grow in our relationship with Christ, we recognize our need to grow and develop. And we often want to use a performance-based scale to determine how much we’ve grown. And that’s where we go wrong.

Our relationship with the Lord isn’t one of measuring growth based on how much we’re doing for Him. This performance-based “ladder of success” we try to apply to our walk with Him falls short on a number of levels. We think, “If I get in this Bible study, or I work in this soup kitchen, or I go on this mission trip … the Lord will know I love Him and it will be obvious I’m growing.”

While doing all of those things are great, they don’t equate to growth.

Malachi 3:2 says, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is a like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”

God is in the business of refinement. He takes what we give Him–all the broken pieces of our hearts and lives–and begins to transform it into something beautiful, something in His image.

Yet we try to rate our growth, which usually produces a feeling of self-condemnation. In actuality, however, our growth isn’t based on what we do; rather, it’s based on how much we’re willing to give over to Him for the refining process.

The iron of God is hot and painful. As He pounds us and shapes us into the man or woman of God He desires for us to become, we toss and turn. We question His tactics and reasons. We grow impatient. We continue to disappoint ourselves.

But if we’re giving ourselves to Him regardless of those misconceived thoughts, God isn’t disappointed. He just wants the opportunity to hold you over the fire and melt away all the impurities that prevent you from knowing Him more deeply and becoming the person He desires you to become.

When we give God full authority to continue this refining process in us, we grow exponentially in Him as our love for Him grows.

Walking with God

Posted on: January 26th, 2012 by Jason Chatraw  |  2 Comments

Theresa RoweTheresa L. Rowe is a personal trainer, fitness instructor, radio and television talk show host and author of Shaped by Faith: 10 Secrets to Strengthening Your Body and Soul (Guideposts, 2009). You can learn more about her unique ministry at ShapedByFaith.com. The following is an excerpt she is sharing with MAF for the Shaped by God campaign this month.

There is something uniquely spiritual about taking an early morning walk—enjoying the great outdoors as we commune with God about our day. Walking in the morning, I often sense that it’s just me and God, discussing the day ahead. From Psalm 5:3 we learn; “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (NIV).

Years ago, I discovered that exercising in the morning awakens and strengthens my body while pouring energy into all of my cells. The first exercise that my cardiologist suggested after surgery was walking. The doctor knew that walking would provide just the right cardiovascular level for my mending heart. The key to rebuilding my endurance was taking it one step at a time—literally, by walking.

Doctors did not originate the idea that walking is beneficial. In Genesis 3, God is walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. As he walks, God wants Adam to commune with Him. So it is that when we walk, we can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and look for Him to commune.

If you would like to combine your physical and spiritual endurance exercises, try walking with God for fifteen minutes each day. You will indeed experience His supernatural strength. Increase your time spent with Him by two minutes per week and the peace that transcends all understanding will embrace you from head to toe.

Regardless of your circumstances or situation, He will see you through—He will help you endure more than anything else on this earth. The benefits of time spent exercising with God are immeasurable. You will start to notice a decrease in your stress and anxiety level, cholesterol, body fat, blood pressure and insulin levels. Most importantly, our hope and faith increase as we allow God to direct our steps each day.
Allowing God to initiate our steps keeps our minds focused on walking straight ahead as we fix our eyes on Him. The book of Proverbs tells us that all of our ways are in full view of the Lord and that the Lord determines our steps. As you pour out your heart to God while walking, He pours out His blessings of peace and direction.

Here is a prayer that I say out loud each morning while spending time with God. You may find it helpful, or you may want to create your own:

Lord Jesus, I ask that You would direct my steps today. I want to walk and move with You all day long. Protect my steps and direction, Lord, as You lead me. Keep my feet from wandering off Your path today. If I wander off Your path, quickly place me back on the path of righteousness. I desire to walk where You want me to walk today, Lord. Amen.”

Once you have taken the first step by consistently walking, you’ll find that your endurance will be elevated. Then, you’ll be ready to take the next step: running. Remember, no matter how slow or fast you run, God keeps pace with you.

Seven Tips for Passport Renewals

Posted on: January 25th, 2012 by John Boyd  |  Leave a comment

My job often takes me abroad, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to experience many countries and cultures. There is one aspect of travel, however, that can frustrate me to no end. And I’m not talking about security check points or flight delays, which can both be mild annoyances at times. No, I’m talking about passports.

I was born in Scotland and carry a U.K. passport, as do my daughters. My wife is South African, and my son is a U.S. citizen. Over the years we’ve become nearly expert at navigating the rules, regulations, and forms required for passport renewal. It can be quite an experience.

As I was scheduling a recent trip, I discovered that my passport had less than 90 days remaining on it. That meant I couldn’t plan any overseas travel until I had renewed my passport. It was yet another addition to the growing list of passport tips I’ve compiled.

Tip #1: Make sure you begin the process of obtaining your passport at least six months in advance. Expediting a passport can be expensive, though in my experience, if something can go wrong, it will when it comes to passport renewal. So, always plan ahead – far ahead – and be prepared to wait longer for the new passport to arrive than you might think.

Tip #2: Create a checklist. Governments can be quite persnickety when it comes to how passport forms are filled out. Make sure you give them everything they ask for, just like they ask for it.

Tip #3: Get your photo right. Each country has varying photo guidelines that accompany the passports they issue. So, take care to make sure your photos are properly formatted. (The U.S. even gives you this helpful guide for photos.)

Tip #4: Check everything thoroughly when you get your passport back. Passport mistakes are not out of the ordinary, and occasionally the passport agency will make an error. One wrong keystroke and you can land on a no-fly list or arrive at the airport and discover your passport is invalid. My birthday was once keyed in wrongly during a passport renewal process and I had to prove my birthdate all over again – even though it wasn’t my mistake. Correct these problems before you head for the airport.

Tip #5: Research requirements for where you are going. Many countries have different policies about entry and exit. New Zealand, for example, requires that you take the equivalent of $1,000 per 30 days you are there. Other countries require certain immunizations. Some countries require visas, while others don’t. Yet some countries do require visas for those staying longer than 30 days. It’s important to investigate these details properly so you don’t have your plans spoiled by inattention to detail.

Tip #6: Make several copies, and upload a digital copy you can access. In countries where crime can be a problem, having your passport stolen is a real possibility. To keep this annoyance from ruining your trip, always take an extra paper copy with you and store it in a separate place from your passport. It’s also helpful to scan a copy and upload it to a website that is accessible online from any computer connected to the Internet.

Tip #7: Create a passport renewal calendar for your family. Since children’s passports require renewal every five years, while adult passports are good for ten years, I keep a calendar with each child’s passport expiration date and back up 180 days (it used to be only 90 until my latest lesson learned) to ensure ample time to get the passport renewed.

The opportunity to see new countries and cultures can be a lot of fun, but you can lessen the stress of foreign travel through proper planning and careful attention to detail.

Soul-Shaping Chores

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by Natalie Holsten  |  4 Comments

I’m the new girl again. After 10 years of living off the coast of Kalimantan, we have moved to the other side of Indonesia, to the province of Papua.

There is a steep learning curve––new stores to learn, new way of driving (the traffic lights go from red to yellow to green . . . still trying to figure that one out), new weather patterns to learn, and new people groups to get to know.

But one thing is back-achingly familiar––the unending and tedious housework that comes with life here, and the exhaustion I feel after a day of said housework.

Just coming back from furlough, my housekeeping muscles are pretty weak. Not that I was a total slob when staying with our parents, but loading the dishwasher and running the vacuum in a climate-controlled and convenience-oriented home is a whole different animal from mopping floors, hand washing dishes, and hanging out laundry in the tropics.

I am thankful for housework. I mean, might as well be thankful for it, since it’s an inevitable, right? And while I don’t love housework, there are definitely some benefits from it––besides the obvious (we eat, have clean clothes, and have fairly-clean floors).

Housework shapes my soul. I find I have more time to think, and to pray. Pushing a mop back and forth across the floor, different people and situations come to mind, and I pray for them. Mindless tasks can become meaningful times of prayer, if I’m intentional about making them so.

Housework gets me outside. Lugging the laundry basket to the backyard, I can look up and see magnificent Cyclops Mountain behind our house. The ritual of hanging up our clean laundry makes for strong arms, and gets me a good dose of vitamin D. And there’s nothing like the smell of clothes fresh off a clothesline––that amazing mix of sunshine and wind.

My housekeeping duties are definitely not fodder for any newsletter (“Dear Supporters, can you believe it? Natalie mopped the floors, again!!!”), but they’re a very real and necessary aspect of life over here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the toilet needs scrubbing.