Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Position for Stan

This morning it was announced that Stan will begin working with the Church Partnerships Department at SIM USA.  With his experience both as a missionary and a pastor as well as his passion and commitment to seeing churches involved in the Great Commission, this seems to be an ideal place for him to serve. Stan will be cultivating relationships within the Charlotte area. There are many churches, including several mega-churches, in this city that are not well acquainted with the work of SIM USA around the world, and the mission would like to see this change.

There are two other kinds of churches where Stan will develop relationships.   He will be the point person to interact with churches that currently support missionaries and ministries or who have an interest in Japan. He will also be connected with at least one church and possibly others that are sending African American Gospel Choirs to Japan and possibly other parts of Asia. It is a joy to see God bringing Stan’s experiences together through this ministry assignment.

Over the next few months Stan will be working to get up to speed on a variety of resources SIM has available for churches as well as become familiar with new software. Pray that he will be able to smoothly transition into this new role.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thankfully most of them are well-adjusted people!

This past week I attended the intensive in-classroom part of my Member Care class Clinical Applications in Missionary Care.   Here is how the prof described the class:

This course is designed to increase your understanding of various ways to use clinical care and knowledge from the mental health professions in member care. You will consider ethics, professional relationships, influence of untreated pathology on the community, and various personal, interpersonal, and systemic dynamics. You will explore biblical, spiritual, and psychological underpinnings, as well as types of clinical resources, referral procedure, and collaboration with clinical service providers.

The place of psychological consultation as a model for clinical care will be discussed. A focus will be on recognition of need, and procedures for referral and follow-up for those needing and/or receiving clinical help. Knowledge of available approaches and resources will be considered.

Sounds a bit overwhelming, doesn't it! Sitting through the lists of mental disturbances and disorders along with personality disorders was overwhelming. We hope and pray that our screening process catches a lot of these issues that could cause havoc on a mission field...  But there are problems that develop due to life-stages, sin, stress and trauma that can also cause difficulty in missionaries and affect their families and coworkers.

I wish there were easy answers that would help us all know how to address each situation that comes up. I will work with my colleagues to address each one individually, following recommended protocols. Yet there are many variables we have to take into account.

Occasionally I have to remind myself that most missionaries are well-adjusted, amazingly resilient people who are effectively addressing challenges in a healthy way.

As an example, I am very impressed with  our South Sudan team right now. On this blog post, Portable Homes are some reflections and a request for prayer for this team as they head to a Spiritual Life Conference later this week. Gatherings like this are a place where God helps to encourage and renew missionaries.  If you're a praying person, please keep this team in your prayers this week.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Enjoying the New

Last week I began experiencing life in a new office and a new role.  It was good, interesting, and certainly not routine. I had two sets of staff meetings and began the process of exploring how Member Care is done here at SIM USA.  I look forward to the days ahead as my staff teach me how they do what they do, and together we explore and dream big dreams for what we can improve and include in our ministry to the SIM USA missionaries we serve. One thing that we already know is that our staff will need to expand in order to more effectively care for the 700+ long-term overseas missionaries on our list.

Half-way through last week was the first SIMStart Candidate screening program for 2014. There were around 35 people here exploring overseas and missions ministries. Included in that number were three people who God has been leading to join in the ministry of Member Care from the US office.

Mark is finishing up his term as a Navy Chaplain in a few months, and along with his wife Stephanie will be joining our staff as a Pastoral Care Couple.  Haley (next to me) will bring her counseling training to our team. We took this photo the final day of SIMStart, when they were officially informed that they were invited to join SIM USA's staff.

Pray for the three of them as they move through the process of taking online coursework prior to attending SIMGO, the 2-week candidate orientation program in mid-March. Haley already lives in the Charlotte area, but Mark and Stephanie will be relocating here with their three children later in the year.


I am half-way through my one-week intensive class in the Masters in Member Care program here at CIU. We've been looking at Clinical Applications in Missionary Care. I won't go into the subject matter here, but suffice it to say that some of the topics have been quite exhausting. I've enjoyed staying with friends this week rather than a hotel like in previous years. I'll drive back to Charlotte after class on Friday.

Meanwhile, back at our new house, the walls are being painted, our refrigerator, washer and dryer have all been delivered and installed, and our new mattresses arrive on Friday. Stan had some help last Saturday moving furniture to our place from the home of an SIM medical doctor who headed to Zambia yesterday for a two year + term of service. We'll start moving boxes over this weekend. What will we find when we start opening those boxes that were packed six and a half months ago? It should be interesting! We haven't set a date to start sleeping over there, but it will be sometime in the next two weeks.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

One Word for 2014

Several of the blogs I follow are trumping the  One Word 2014 alternative to making New Years resolutions. While I didn't have a chance to do the "gifts from Jesus" this year, I have been contemplating what one word God might have me use as a focus for personal growth this year.  Here's what I've come up with:


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

There are many new things ahead. I start tomorrow at SIM USA with a full-time position (what? I have to be there at a certain time? every day? -- really, I'm cool with this but it will be a change). There are many things to learn, and many, many names to remember.  I'm not fearful or discouraged, but challenged and encouraged as I look to this. There will be times in the job I'll need courage.  Especially when I make my first trip to Africa... (not scheduled, mind you, but it WILL happen!)

But I need courage as we move into a new community, choose a church to settle into, and begin to seek out friends.  It is hard for introvert me to be willing to reach out of my comfort zone to connect with others--but I need this. We need to do this as a couple as well. We need to begin to belong. 

We need courage to help our sons move out of a rut and onto another phase of growing up. We need courage to continue to believe in God's transforming power when we see so little change in them. 

I appreciate that the promise is that the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.  So I choose to embrace courage in obedience to Him this year.

A permanent address!

We first saw the home on December 4.  We closed on December 31. Kudos to our wonderful Realtor, Linda Davis, and our  loan officer at Movement Mortgage, Johnatan Romero and his staff who helped us process this in three weeks. As we walked out of the lawyers office yesterday after signing the documents, we had a chance to talk about the faith that both of these people bring into their places of work. As a matter of fact, Movement Mortgage is based on values of God, family, community and business.Watching some of their video online made us think we were watching ministry reports from one of the churches we attend.

On Monday, December 30, we did our final walk through the house with our daughter who was heading back to the west coast a few hours later. We were excited to show her the home the Lord has led us to buy.  But today, when we walked in with a few chairs, ladders and cleaning supplies, it felt different.

It is OURS.

I realize that for many people, buying and selling homes is not particularly significant. But I grew up as a "nomad," moving every few years and never having a permanent address.  My parents moved to Tennessee after we were in Japan and for nearly 20 years we were able to use their address for that purpose.

We had always thought that we would relocate to southern California when we returned to the US from Japan, and had given up any hope of ever affording a home there.  So when the Lord directed us to Charlotte, NC for this new assignment, and we saw the prices of real estate in the area of our mission office, it was the first time we felt there was a possibility of having our own place.  We have a 15 year mortgage, and hope to be able to shorten the time to pay it off--so it can fully be our own!

We will take our time moving over the next four weeks.  We are thinking about getting some painting done before things are moved in. We have purchased some appliances that start arriving next week, mattresses that come the week after, and will start bringing in furniture we're collecting from here and there. I will be gone for a week mid-month, and by that weekend we hope to have everything from our garage over at the house. We'll do some cleaning with the goal of  being fully out of our rental home by the 25th.

Even as we think of settling in, we realize that the relationships we make with the neighbors around us have the potential to be long-lasting.  If you're a praying person, remember us as we settle in--not just with our stuff, but with our heart, soul and strength. Remember my anchor passage for this season?

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:3 & 4