Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Little Things

We serve a wonderful God that cares about the little things!  

I love teacups!!  There were 2 particular ones that caught my eye and I wanted to add them to collection.  Every time I went to the store, I went and looked at them. One day one of them was on sale, so I put it in my cart. After shopping around for awhile, I put it back. I had the money, but there were other things that were more important.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law asked me to help her give a tea party for the ladies in her Bible studies. I gave one the year I filled in for her and the ladies wanted another. It was Christmas time and so we had a wonderful tea party with all the trimmings. We created wonderful memories that day.

I mentioned before that Japan is a reciprocal gift country, so there is a constant exchange of gifts. If you do something for someone, they do something for you in return. Each of the classes presented me with a thank you gift. Culturally, you do not open them at that time unless they tell you to. They did not. I took the gifts home and sat down with my hubby and children to open them. When I opened one of them, I was stunned. When I started to cry, my hubby looked in the box and his jaw dropped. It was the two tea cups! I asked him if he told anyone. He said that no one asked him for any advice and he didn’t give any.

In Japan, they worships idols. When I taught the Bible study classes, I tried to teach the ladies that God is a real person. He knows our thoughts and our desires. He provides all of our needs. Above all, He loves us. I took this opportunity to write the ladies a lengthy thank you letter. I told them of my desire for the teacups. They didn’t know of it, but God did. I went on to tell them that when I used one of the cups, I would think of them and my God who put it in their hearts to buy them for me. This was not a coincidence. It was a direct message that God doesn’t just care about my needs, but He wants to give me the desires of my heart. It wasn’t the teacups that God cared about, but me! The teacups are a constant reminder of my heavenly Father’s great love and tender affection for me!

There was quite a stir around town as the story spread of the strange foreign woman and her God who cares about teacups! The mother of one of the ladies made me the quilted wall-hanging with tea cups when she heard about it.

I am so thankful that God did not allow me to purchase those cups. If I had purchased those cups with my own resources, I would have missed a tremendous blessing.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” 

~Matthew 7:1

Monday, August 13, 2018

Different Than I Thought

I was one of those kids who always wanted to be a missionary. Always. As long as I can remember. Even my mom says that as soon as I could talk, I started talking about being a missionary. Something about mission work fascinated me, long before I knew Christ personally. Of course, I read all the stories of missionaries like Isobel Kuhn, David Brainard, Amy Carmichael, and my favorite, Bruce Olson. I dreamed (literally!) of foreign lands, jungles, native people groups, and even other languages. I wanted to work with orphans, start an orphanage, and teach the children how to become productive members of their homeland (as opposed to just housing them until they are too old and then their children end up back in the orphanage).

From forever it seems, my call was to the orphans of Mexico; though my yearly mission trips from age 15 on took me to many different places, thanks to my parents' wisdom. I did go to Mexico- twice! There's a little girl there, well, probably older now, whom I will never forget. Yet God closed that door. I was so distraught, not knowing what to do. At 24 years of age, I was supposed to have my life planned out and on track, right? My mom is a very wise woman and told me that God probably had something else in mind, and if I just kept doing what I knew He would be pleased with, He would show me the next step. And so it was. Six months later or so, I met my would-be husband, who was support-raising to go to Georgia, Europe.

Jude, Barbara, Zachary, & Michael

What??? I'd never even heard of that place! The amount of information on the internet is minimal too. I know; I looked it up and researched as much as possible when I first met Michael. It's not a 3rd world country. Not anymore. In fact, living in the capital city of Tbilisi is much like living in a modern city in America. There are few sacrifices that I had to make. The culture is only a little strange. The language; beautiful and challenging. The people, friendly; though very staunchly religious.

The mission field sure looked different than I thought.

Lately, God has been reminding me of this truth again and again as I struggle with first-term issues:THIS IS MY CALLING.

Instead of natives, I am reaching civilized Westernized people. Instead of orphans, it is neighborhood kids with absolutely no manners or training. Instead of jungles, it's a never ending sea of people and buildings. Instead of quickly absorbing the language, I'm stuck diving deep into textbooks: still feeling quite drowned into our second year.

 I sometimes have to remind myself that I had always wanted to be a missionary, and that this is where God has sent me; my God and His plan has not changed. I can't speak the language (sufficiently). I'm not teaching Sunday school. I'm not playing music in church. We don't even have a "regular" church!!! We learn from several different local churches, led by national pastors, because we want to see how to "make church work" i.e. get it set up and running, in this culture. I'm not out of the house much, so I get little contact with the locals. I'm sending my oldest son to pre-school this fall, so I'm not even homeschooling. I'm not doing anything, really, that I would consider missionary/ministry work.

So, maybe I romanticized the foreign field a little? Or, maybe the mission field just looks different than we tend to see on church power point presentations? One thing I know: this is where God has called both me and my husband, and He has been preparing me since childhood. My children are my mission field. My language textbook is my ministry. My God is still the same God. My calling- yes, still the same. It just looks different than I thought.

So what is my ministry? My ministry is staying refreshed in God's Word, supporting my husband, loving my children, keeping house, and spending HOURS in language. I get bored learning language, I do it so much! Thankfully, God gave me a young lady to disciple whose first language is English, like me, which gives me some sense of "doing something." In the next article I write, I want to share what else God has allowed me to do so I don't go crazy not doing the ministry things that I've done my whole life. Regardless though, fellow missionary; whether your ministry looks conventional or not, whether you feel like a "real" missionary or not, please remember:

Remember God. Remember His calling. Know that you are right where He wants you. Don't give up, for "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." -Galatians 6:9 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Missionary Quotes - Judson

Making Him Known

Like many of you, there have been several behaviors that I have witnessed from Christians that
has surprised me and even saddened me. One of those is the deeming who is entitled to the knowledge of our Lord  Jesus.  Those are pretty strong words but bear with me. Since the time of announcing our calling to become missionaries to Native Americans, we have had people advise us we can't consider ourselves missionaries because we aren't on foreign soil. "America has been evangelized"  they say. We've also been told " Missionaries need to be overseas where people haven't had the opportunities to hear the Gospel  that Americans have had." American Christians like to pat ourselves on the back, don't we?! I don't know of any one place in the world that can say  they no longer need missionaries, because everyone has heard the Gospel. 

Ephesians 2:11-12 

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Recently our family held our annual back to school event where our ministry gave school supplies to not only Native American children but also children who are homeless and children of migrant workers.  God blessed us to serve over 200 children.  Included with school supplies we offered Bibles and tracts. What a blessing when 199 accepted them! But our biggest surprise came when 2 teenagers came to our table and my husband offered them Bibles. "What's a Bible?." they asked . My husband responded that it is God's Word. Still confused they asked their mother if they could have one and she said yes. This wasn't a matter of not knowing the English language, it was a matter of not knowing the Hope God gives us.  If America is evangelized, how is it we have people who do not know what a Bible is? I cried when later in the evening my husband told me of this encounter he had. How precious are the Words of our God? They are lifesaving, a balm for my soul, my Hope.  So how sad is it that someone doesn't even know it exists?

As Christians we must never become complacent that everyone we pass on the street whether on American or foreign soil, has heard what Jesus did for us.  Making Him known is our job. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Homemade Tortellini and Ravioli - With Video

Tortellini and Ravioli

I LOVE homemade pasta! Especially tortellini and ravioli!

The Filling 
There are so many options when it comes to ravioli and tortellini filling! 
For my video I made a spinach and three cheese filling (mozzarella, parmesan , and powdered milk cheese (link below)).
Pasta filling really isn’t something you measure out, you just sorta put in what sounds and tastes good. 
Sometimes I make a sausage and spinach filling, or  sausage and tomato, or sausage and cheese. 
If you’re going to do meat in your filling, make sure it is cooked all the way before filling your pasta with it.

(Check out my video on making cheese from powdered milk!)

The Dough 
10 ounces of plain/white flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
3 tablespoons water 
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 large eggs 
(If your eggs are small, use 3) 

Knead dough until smooth, chill for 30 minutes to an hour. 
Divide dough into four sections. Roll each section as thin as possible. Using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, cut out circles.
(Check out my video on making homemade pasta)

Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of your circle. 
Fold in half. 
Put your finger in the center and fold the two ends around your finger. 

Place a teaspoon (or tablespoon depending on how big your circles are) of filling in the center of the circle. 
Using your finger, paint the edges of the circle with water. 
Place another circle on top of the filling. 
Press down on the sides and seal. 

Boil your tortellini or ravioli until it’s done. I can’t give you an exact time, because the time depends on how thick/thin your pasta is. 

Serve these with your favorite sauce! 

🇵🇬 Amber Wells 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Ask the Old Gals

I remember the incidents but not the details. Many years ago, there were two critical times when someone from our home country asked questions about our part of Spain. Whom did they ask? A young missionary. It was puzzling. Why didn't they ask the veterans? If they really wanted the whole picture, why didn't they ask the pioneer missionary? Why didn't they ask the guy with the most experience? We all make this mistake sometimes. We ask the handy person instead of the one with years of wisdom.

In Titus 2, we read that older women are supposed to teach younger women. Many of you are doing that: mentoring and teaching. But, younger women have a responsibility, too. They're supposed to be sitting at their elder's feet, eagerly learning.

What does this have to do with missionary women? Young missionary women need to be asking questions and learning from the older ones.

I know there's a generation gap, especially a technological gap. (We came to the field 34 years ago with a typewriter.) But, in the years we've been here, we've learned some things. We know what works and what doesn't. We've tried films, concerts, evangelistic meetings, invitational flyers, gospel tracts, and street meetings. In this particular part of Spain, two methods have done better than all the rest combined. (By that, I mean actually reaching souls and adding to the church.) Has anyone ever asked my husband for advice? Not that I know of. Has anyone ever asked me how best to reach women? Not one.

Two or three missionaries preparing to come to Spain wrote to me about homeschooling. One asked another question, too. But, the nitty gritty questions aren't being asked of the veteran ladies. Why not?

If you're a younger missionary woman (not in age necessarily, but in years on the field—say, less than six years), it's wise to get with an older woman on your field and learn from her. What do you ask? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Tips for cultural integration. This will mean different things on each field. How can you best accept and become part of the culture? Dos and don'ts. Lessons she has learned. Things to look for. For example, on our field, nearly every holiday is for a saint or Virgin Mary. Even seemingly innocent cultural activities (concerts, folk dancing, etc.) might be done to honor a saint or the Virgin—one of the more than 900 named Virgins in Spain. Over the years, I have learned to go to see these activities when they are only folk displays and not in a religious context. A newbie might easily go just to see—and unwittingly find herself in a group that's honoring an image. I know I did this many years ago out of ignorance. I could go on and on, but cultural integration includes: dress, family customs, cooking and meal presentation, table manners, proper social habits, visitation in people's homes, and a myriad of other topics. Learn from those who know. Ask the old gals.
  2. Tips for communicating the gospel. As you know, you're not communicating the gospel message effectively if it's not in wording that your people can understand. Most people groups have a religious background and they've been taught the lingo. Don't just assume the person means the same thing by the same term. To use an example from Spain: in the Roman Catholic Church, when they talk about "receiving Christ," they mean the part of the mass when they receive (eat) the wafer (according to their doctrine, the body of Jesus). "Have you received Christ?" gets the answer, "Every week." The idea of a personal heart relationship isn't part of that conversation. Ask the veteran how she witnesses to people on your field. It will save you years of learning.
  3. Tips for spiritual growth. Ask the older missionary how she does her devotions, how she prays, how she keeps up with Bible study. Ask her and learn. You might even do a study together, or you could ask her for accountability. You can borrow her books and notes.
  4. Tips for the practical things of life. How does she cook? What does she know about area schools? How does she manage to cut back on spending? Where does she buy clothes, cloth, gadgets, and food? How does she keep her family safe and healthy? How did she get her driver's license? Should you get a dog? How does she make friends in the community? Ask her. Believe me, she knows.

The Bible is clear about the relationship older women are to have with younger women. This passage begins with aged men. (I include that verse, because it says, The aged women likewise--the same as the men--and then adds advice for older women.) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:2-5).

If you're an older missionary woman, are you sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, and in patience? Are you holy in your behavior? You're not a false accuser, not given to much wine, rather you're a teacher of good things? Are you mentoring younger women?

If you're a younger missionary woman, are you learning from the older women on your field? Are you learning to be sober, to love your husband, to love your children, to be discreet, chaste, a keeper at home, good, and obedient to your own husband? The older women on your field, though not perfect, will be able to help you. You will learn valuable life and ministry skills from them. No one will understand you better. They will encourage you to keep going. After all, they did!

Mentor and be mentored. You'll be richer for it.

God bless you, young and old, along this fabulous missionary journey!

by Lou Ann Keiser, 34 years in Basque Spain