I will add that two of the questions are so interesting that I'm hoping to compile several responses to them and put them all into a separate post later on. Stay posted!
Today, meet Lou Ann Keiser, a wonderful contributor here at the BMW blog. She blogs at In the Way, and her favorite post on missions at her blog is "Do You Know Your Missionaries? Eight Ideas." Hop on over there for some great eight ideas! :)
1. How many children do you have? What ages? Two, both married and parents of our grandsons. Becky is almost 31, and David is almost 28. Both of our kids teach in Christian schools. Becky is an elementary school teacher, and David and his wife teach on college level. David and his family serve in Puerto Rico.
2. Do you homeschool? Name your favorite curriculum that you use (whether just one subject, or an all-in-one): I homeschooled 16 years and lived to tell about it! Actually, I loved it about 95% of days. We used Bob Jones University Press materials back when they were heavy books and notebooks, and I made up the tests. There are pros and cons to any curriculum. I felt that their pros were in teaching thinking skills and the link (especially in high school) between history and literature. Brilliant! The cons were in math and science, but thankfully, the texts we used have been revamped, now.
3. Country of service: Spain, Basque region
4. How long have you been there? Thirty years.
5. What do you do there? We are church planters and all that goes with that. My husband and another missionary started our church in 1994. It’s the Iglesia Bautista Bíblica del Puerto in Rentería, Guipúzcoa.
6. Are you learning a language? How is it going? Are you discouraged? You never quit learning, but thankfully, the hard part is over, and we feel very much at home in Spanish.
7. Success: Have you had any encouragement in ministry recently? Can you tell me two or three things that have encouraged you? I am encouraged every week by a new believer in our church. I have weekly Bible studies with her one-on-one. Every time, she makes a statement that is so profoundly grateful to God in a specific way. She blesses me!
8. Challenges: What is your greatest challenge in ministry? What other difficulties wear you down? Our greatest challenge is the spiritual apathy of the people. Most here in this region do not believe in God. It is hard to start sharing the gospel with people who don’t believe God exists and believe even less that the Bible is God’s Word. Probably the second most difficult thing is the party mentality. People live for pleasure. The third would be that most new believers come with lots of baggage, specifically addictions (smoking, drugs, drinking, porn, immorality, gambling, etc.). We deal with a lot of things like that.
9. How is your life similar to life in America? Well . . . we have electricity, sleep on comfortable beds, have normal appliances, and there’s a roof over our heads. We speak mostly in English at home. The differences are many more than the similarities. When they call this the “Old World” and the States the “New World,” they’re not kidding!
10. What are some special benefits you or your family experience from where you’re ministering? (or from being missionaries) We feel very strongly that it was a benefit for our children to grow up with a broad worldview. They spoke two languages naturally, and they learned French as well. They got to travel to France—we live close to France—many times and got to be with people from many different nationalities. I believe it was important for them to grow up with a ministry background. They did everything with us, together as a family. Another positive is the beauty of the villages and countryside here. When the sun actually comes out, there’s no place more green or beautiful than the Basque Country. We love the history here, and the feeling of hundreds-of-years-old roots.
11. What are some positives and negatives of your culture (that you’re ministering to)? Positives: The people are friendly and helpful. Even when we were struggling with the language, the people helped us in all kinds of ways. They didn’t mind that we couldn’t talk well. Between sign language, drawings, and our limited language, they struggled to help. You don’t find that everywhere! Another positive is the Basque culture. It is thousands of years old, and it’s preserved. They have their own music, folk dances, food (yummmm!), customs, architecture, language, and sports. It is unique and wonderful. We minister to many different culture groups in our church. We feel it adds a richness to the body. Negatives: sin.
12. What sins might a missionary be especially tempted with that another Christian in the U.S. might not? I think temptations are worldwide. Sin is more open here; that’s all.
13. What books have you been reading? Do you have any book recommendations? I read a huge variety of books. At present, I’m reading Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman. For book recommendations, please see my blog. I have a tab at the top with many honest book reviews and recommendations. There’s another tab for Bible study reviews.
14. How can we pray for your people or culture in a general way? Pray for open hearts.
15. How can we pray for your family specifically? Godly wisdom and physical strength.