life, etc.

I’m sorry for the little blog hiatus. I’ve also had little bits of life hiatus lately. It’s been good.  It’s been restful.

For the first time in three years, I got to spend Christmas, New Year’s Eve, all the family’s January birthdays, and my birthday with my family (and some Atlanta friends, too). I also moved in to a cute apartment in downtown Lincolnton, NC, with my sister. We love our new little place. And now I get to do life with my whole family within 30 minutes of me.

Jessica and me in our new apartment

Jessica and me in our new apartment

My second month home mostly consisted, shamelessly, of watching Netflix, another thing that I haven’t been able to do in 3 years. It was cold that month, so I spent a lot of time inside. My sister also calls me her wifey, since she has a full time job and I get to stay home and keep the house clean. 🙂

God’s been teaching me a lot, too, during this time.  Mainly about his love.  His love is so great, so vast, unending, unfathomable.  I love all this extra time to spend with him and in his word every day.  Sometimes I wish that could just be my profession!

Lincolnton, NC

Lincolnton, NC

I haven’t lived full-time in Lincoln County for almost 15 years (4 years in VA, 7 years Atlanta, 3 years PNG). I am now part of a church in Lincolnton where I am meeting so many new people. I love these new relationships. I’m super excited that I get to spend a weekend with the women of the church on their annual retreat next month. I love hearing how God has worked and is working in this body of believers. And I love that I’m now in that story, if only for a season.

One thing I greatly miss, though, is having daily conversations with people who know my life in Papua New Guinea (PNG). They’re part of my daily life. They get what I’ve experienced and what I’m going through. They get why I miss the things I miss about PNG. I’m so fortunate to have a very close friend from PNG living less than a couple hours away, and we have been able to get together a few times.

In February, I got to be a part of a week-long course called “Connection” at my organization’s headquarters in Orlando. The staff were there for us, to love on us, speak truth into our lives, give us little hints about how to deal with home assignment… but the best part for me was getting to spend that whole week with other people who have lived overseas, who understood what that life looks like, even some of them from PNG as well! It’s like we speak a common language. So refreshing.

PNG group in Orlando

PNG group in Orlando

I want to be better at blogging going forward. I want to communicate with you, since many of you pray for me on a regular basis. I usually just feel like my life is boring. 🙂 So if you have any questions about me, about PNG, about small-town life… or if you want to just give me a topic and see what I come up with… let me know!! Maybe that will give me more ideas for writing.

❤ brandy

Advertisements

brave

This is what has been happening in my life since you last heard from me:

Nov – Dec 9: prepare for going home, pack, say goodbyes, make plans, finish up work

Dec 10-11: the trek home from Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea, to Charlotte, NC… yay family!

10690198_10205525767288125_3760452411885554351_n

Dec 11-20: jet lag takes over my body and I can’t function normally… dizziness, nausea, lack of appetite, weird sleeping patterns

Dec 21-28: sinus infection takes over my body… but praise the Lord for doctors who work on Christmas Eve and prescribe awesome antibiotics (and for nasal rinses… I swear by them)

Dec 24-25: Christmas with my family for the first time since 2011!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Dec 28 – Jan 5: my friend Leah (she lives in PNG with me!) comes to visit me on her way back to PNG (she’s been in the US for 6 months).

SONY DSC

Jan 6: do nothing. rest. catch up on Once Upon a Time.

And today.  My heart is full.  I feel like a person again.  My God is good.  It’s time to do some planning for this year I have at home.  First things first… my word for the year 2015.

Brave.

God taught me a lot of things during the year 2014.  A lot of them he’ll have to remind me of later, since I didn’t write them down and tend to forget things easily.  But one of my favorites and most impactful was how much bravery is involved in living a full life.

Here’s one example: in John 5, we read that Jesus came across a man who had been an invalid for 38 years.  He sat by the pool of Bethesda hoping to be the first one to it after it was stirred each day, because that first one was healed.  But he didn’t have anyone to carry him there and someone else always beat him to it.  This was his life.  It was all he knew.  He had probably forgotten what it was like to walk, if he ever even knew at all.  He was used to his life.

Can you imagine a man, who you had never met, telling you to do something that you didn’t think was possible?  Jesus told him to get up and walk.  And he got up and walked.  You can imagine that it would take a lot of bravery to believe someone telling you to do something completely foreign, and instantly act in obedience.

That’s what we’re called to do.  Instant obedience.  But sometimes what we’re asked to do isn’t easy.  We don’t know, or remember, how to do it.  It would be much easier for us to just stay put.  Keep doing what we know how to do.

The year 2015 will have a lot of new things in store for me.  Talking about my experiences while in PNG, going back to school (if only for one class), living as an adult in the town I grew up in… the first time I went to PNG, it seemed easy.  I didn’t really struggle with moving my life.  At this moment, it seems like the easy thing to do would be to just stay where I am, not go back.  I think it’s going to take a lot of bravery just to leave my family again.

So that’s my word for this year.  As I seek to bravely trust my God to guide my steps, I pray you are able to do the same.  Be brave enough to trust.  Be brave enough to love.  Be brave enough to show grace.  Be brave enough to act in total, instant obedience.

Be brave!

mango cutting

I noted on facebook that I finally learned the easy way to cut a mango, and I had an overwhelming amount of people demanding that I show them. Thus, this post.

You need a ripe mango, a good knife, and a cutting board. Also be prepared to get that yummy juice all over your hands.

1. The pit in a mango is really weird. It’s flat (about a half inch thick) and runs the length of the mango.  Its width goes the way my finger’s pointing.

SONY DSC

2. With your knife, find the spot about a quarter inch to one side of the center and cut down the length of the mango.  If you hit the pit with your knife, just scoot it out a little and carve around it.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

3. Turn your mango around and repeat.

SONY DSC

4. Now you have three pieces… two good chunks of flesh and one pit.

SONY DSC

5. Holding one half in your hand, cut around the edge of the skin about half an inch in.

SONY DSC

6. Carefully peel back the skin from the flesh.  (Repeat 5 & 6 with the other half)  If it’s proving hard to pull off, it probably means you don’t have a good, PNG mango.  It’s ok to use your knife to help it.

SONY DSC

7. You can try to get little slivers of flesh from the piece with the pit, but to you it might not be worth it.

SONY DSC

8. You can now cut up your mango to be eaten, frozen, or dried. Or you can just chuck it all into a blender with coconut milk and frozen [fresh PNG] pineapple to make yourself a tropical smoothie.

SONY DSC

Yum… I hope this post has made your mango-eating life much easier. 🙂

-brandy

theology of failure

Sometimes God calls us to a task that will fail.

SONY DSCWhat if God never promises success in what he calls us to do? What if sometimes he promises failure?  God did promise failure in the life of Ezekiel…

Ezekiel 1:1-3:15. You should read it – crazy stuff! The way God chose to reveal himself to Ezekiel is far beyond imagination. But this post is not about that. It’s about chapter 3:4-11.  After God revealed himself to Ezekiel, this is what he says…

And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.  For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel — not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand.  Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you.  But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.  Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.  Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead.  Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.”  Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.  And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”

Did you catch that?  God essentially told Ezekiel, “I’m sending you to people who will never listen to what you have to say.  You will fail.”

The speaker at my church last week proposed this as a theology of failure: We need a deep understanding of the need to die to self – die to the need of success, of recognition.  Those things are about you.  They are self-focused.  Your call was not about you – it was only about God and him glorified.

So… if you knew that there would be only failure in your future service to God, would you still be faithful to the call?

This week has been a tough one for our community.  A young family’s life has been altered forever.  The father was in a terrible motorcycle accident and lost his leg.  He was in the final stages of training to be a pilot.  So I guess we could call that a failure.  What was it all for?  Will he ever be able to fly again?  (Pray for this family – theleedahls.com)

Jesus lived to the age of 33, only 3 years into his ministry.  Upon his death, he had already lost most of his followers because what he required of them was too much.  Many of his closest friends even deserted him at his death.  So yes, we could call that a failure.  But we already know the outcome of his “failure” – and it is good.

In the last part of God’s call to Ezekiel, he is saying, “Just be filled with me, listen to me, do what I say, and remain faithful, no matter what.”

Matthew 25:21 does not say “Well done good and successful servant.”  It says “Well done good and faithful servant!”

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)

If I knew that there would be only failure in my future service to God, would I still be faithful to the call?

It’s hard in our humanness to not focus on things like success and recognition.  It’s ingrained in our nature.  So how do we remain faithful in life’s failures?  We allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Ezekiel did – “…the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.” (Ezekiel 2:2)  He’s the one who sets us on our feet.  He’s the one who empowers us to go, to do, to remain faithful.

In this journey we call life, expect God to do amazing, awesome, out-of-this-world things.  Expect him to get all the glory.  Expect him to love you – oh, how he loves you – beyond any kind of love you can imagine.  But don’t count on success in everything he’s called you to do.

-brandy

*Parts of this post were taken from a sermon by Rene van den Berg, a member of our community.  I thought it needed to be shared with you, too.

being called

I was asked a series of questions by my church’s missions department, to be used in a future publication to connect with a reader who may have some inkling that s/he is being called to full-time missionary work, but they don’t know what it is or how to define it.  So I thought I’d share my answers here, too…

SONY DSCHow did you know you were being called to missionary work? What happened internally or in your environment that let you know you were being called to ministry?  I think I’ve learned over the last couple years that not everyone on the mission field has been “called” specifically so much as have answered a wide calling of all Christians to join in the work somewhere – they just happened to have chosen to answer that call outside of the “normal world”.  With that being said… in college I was afraid of being called to missions.  I loved going on short-term mission trips, but I was afraid God would ask me to leave everything I knew.  When I moved to Atlanta to work at FBA, I quickly saw I was immersed into a church who loved and supported Missions.  I went on a few mission trips to other countries, but it was a week at JAARS in North Carolina that got me.  I learned that week about Bible Translation and a lot of what’s involved in that – specifically that if Jesus were here, he would speak to everyone in their heart language, so His Word should as well.  I felt a tug in my heart that I’d never felt before – like I belonged in that world.  So after that week I applied, and the rest is history.

What were the signs, or clues, or indicators?  My heart broke when I realized that I had my thinking all wrong: I had this underlying thought that if the Bible was in English or other major languages, that all could have access to it.  And once that thought was shattered, and I realized how much help was needed to get the Bible in every language, I couldn’t help but be a part of making it happen.

As you examined these indicators, what was the final affirmation that it was indeed missions work that you were being called into?  I guess the final indicator would be that I’m actually here, now, in Papua New Guinea.  The doors were wide open, God provided the funding, and there was a great need for someone with my experience here.

Do you have any advice for someone who may be feeling that same spiritual restlessness and is seeking answers?  Ask questions, seek answers, and if you find something that breaks your heart and you can do something about it, do it.  God will provide.  My personality is that I can easily jump into something without asking many questions, so for others it might not seem that easy.  But if you are truly allowing God to guide you and work through you, you’ll be where you’re supposed to be.

If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'” -Isaiah 6:8

amazing aviation

Can I tell you how awesome our Aviation department is? We all rely on them so heavily. My first experience riding in one of our little Kodiaks was the first time I came to Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. I remember that bumpy ride, and I remember the cool and steady pilot who got us through the turbulence and landed safely at my new home.

At the dedication of our 4th Kodiak aircraft

In the last few years, I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who work really hard every day to make sure we have trusty aircraft to get us where we need to go. So I thought I’d write a post letting you know how awesome they are!

Since I am a support worker (that is, someone who works in support of Bible Translation, not directly involved in the translation), I mainly just use Aviation as a means to get to/from our Capitol city of Port Moresby so that I can get to other countries. Flying is the only way to get in and out of Port Moresby.

Don’t worry… before he started the plane, the pilot told me “hands off!”

Recently, though, I worked with Aviation when the Finance department (where I work) had a small crisis. Normally when we need cash on hand, we have a security transport service bring the cash from another city a few hours away. When a local bridge fell down, we couldn’t get anything in or out of Ukarumpa. And we needed cash! So we ordered some from a bank in another city, and I flew to that city to pick it up. It was a sight to see… the security transport brought the cash to the airport, out on the tarmac and into the plane where I then counted it all!

One of our awesome pilots taking a break while waiting on some cargo.

Also while the bridge was down, our store ran out of beef.  We like our beef!  So our Aviation department stepped in and offered to pick some up – they carried 900kg (that’s almost 2,000 lbs!) of beef up to our store.

One of the many, many amazing views the pilots get to see on a regular basis.

There are lots of other things Aviation does besides transport us missionaries. They also do several runs a week for local coffee growers to get their coffee to the rest of the country! They fly to Cairns, Australia, about once a month to pick up things we need not available in country. They are also used whenever we have need of a medevac, to take the patient directly to Cairns.  And they are available for other missions and commercial work throughout the country (which helps to subsidize translation work).

So next time you’re able, say thank you to our Aviation staff! 🙂

Aviation staff hard at work offloading some coffee

One of our great pilots in his office

The controls are crazy! So fun to watch them work.

This might be my favorite photo of all time… taken at the dedication of the 4th Kodiak aircraft.

differences

Something I never thought about before moving to Papua New Guinea: that things I say or experience will mean something entirely different than in America. Here are some examples!  (They’re mostly relating only to Ukarumpa, in PNG)

A plane flying overhead. In America, it’s just another plane and we don’t even give it a second (or first) thought. In Ukarumpa it means something: a new family coming to serve, a translation team heading out to the village or coming in for training, someone on a medevac to Australia, a family going on furlough or leaving forever, hundreds of kilos of coffee to subsidize a translator’s flight, etc.  Here are the Woods getting on the plane to head off to America for furlough…

SONY DSCGoing to the store. In America, it means that we’re going to a couple of the hundreds of stores in town to pick up a few things. In Ukarumpa it’s going to the one store on our center to buy necessities, check out new things they may have gotten in stock (this week: Arizona Green Tea!!!), seeing only one brand of pretty much everything, and connecting with others we don’t see very often.  And making sure it’s open before we go!  Here’s our store…

SONY DSCBuying new clothes.  America: go to Target or the mall and get new clothes for at least $20 for each item.  In Ukarumpa: rent a car, drive to the nearest town, go to the second-hand stores and get excited when you find the perfect skirt for only 50 cents!  Here I am in Kainantu after second-hand shopping with Rachel and Annie…

SONY DSCPizza night!  America: order delivery 30 minutes before you want it and wait around for the delivery guy to show up.  Ukarumpa: go to the market to get veggies at 7:00am, the store to get sauce, cheese and meat, knead the dough, let it rise, cut the veggies, spread out the dough, top it, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.  Yum!

It’s Friday!  America: woohoo!  Ukarumpa: Better get to the store and run any other errands before 4:00pm since nothing will be open until 8:30am Monday morning!  …and woohoo!

The clouds.  America: they’re so far away!  PNG: they’re so close!  (I paid attention last year flying to America: in PNG we passed through the clouds at 10,000 feet.  In America more like 25,000 feet!)

Weight.  America: pounds and ounces.  PNG: I don’t even know how much I weigh in pounds anymore!  Kilos are better, anyway – much smaller number. 🙂

Getting a package.  America: must be something I ordered from Amazon.  Ukarumpa: best-day-ever-somebody-loves-me-I-need-to-go-home-and-open-it-right-now excitement!!!

-brandy 🙂