Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pictures of Missions

Confession...

I struggled. I was trying to prepare my weekly post for this week, and it just wasn't coming together. I was pressed for time. I was stressed. Then God put on my heart to ask a friend if God had put something on her heart to share on the blog. Sure enough, God had! She had such a passion and desire to share something God had taught her recently and was just waiting for Him to open the door.

What she shared touched my heart, and I hope it touches yours, too.

Missions doesn't always look like what we imagine. No, it's way better.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing

 Recently, several fellow missionary ladies have been talking about what they would request if they could request certain items to be sent to them at Christmas time. One of the most often mentioned items was for Hidden Valley Ranch packets. We too love Ranch dressing but over the years we have returned to the States for furlough and as our taste buds have changed, so has our love for packets of Hidden Valley Ranch. We now prefer the homemade recipe to the packets!
We just made this recipe up ourselves and, as a result, don't measure things out to the teaspoon. It is really important to have the right ingredients and then you can flavor it to your preference after that.



Ingredients

Mayonnaise (approx 2 cups)

Celery salt

Black pepper

Chopped dried green onion 

Milk


Directions:

Mix all but milk together initially with a wire whisk in a metal bowl. Once combined, add milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. Taste and add more ingredients until you get the flavor right. I know that sounds basic but it is really that easy! The biggest challenge is not using too much celery salt so go easy at first with that ingredient. The more black pepper the better - trust me!
Store in closed container in fridge for several days.

Now, not all missionaries have celery salt available to them so the next time you send a missionary a care package, throw in a bottle or two of celery salt from the dollar store! ;)






The Grass Is Greener on the Other Side of the Ocean

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We all tend to think that everyone else has it easier and better than we have. We've noticed this sentiment in some of our church members.
  • One young man says he wants to start a church (a noble idea), but not here in the village. He's going to plant a church in __ (some village near a city several hours away--that doesn't speak his mother tongue.) Why not a village closer to home that speaks Tsonga? Because there's such a need there, or it would just be better in some way.
  • Another young man decides to take a similar job with similar pay (to the current one) in another city. Why not stay close to his family, his village, and his home church? Oh, that job will be better somehow.
  • Another young man says that an internship with a church in the city will better prepare him for rural ministry than the local Bible college started specifically to prepare men for rural ministry. Why? The city has so many more attractions, including preaching in English, etc.
  • Young ladies think that getting a cleaning job in the city would be better than staying home and mothering their children.
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The grass is always greener on the other side. Change and newness help to make a different position seem better, and sometimes there is some truth to that. Sometimes the other situation genuinely is better.

I remember going back to America for a quick visit in 2011 during America's summertime. The grass was so green, the flowers so colorful! I kept exclaiming, "It's so beautiful! It's so beautiful!" Africa has a beauty of its own, but it is rugged, wild, and untamed; in the parts filled with bush grass and thorny overgrowth, you really have to search for the beauty.
Searching for a bird's nest
Searching for a bird's nest
Beauty in thorns
Beauty in thorns
This temptation comes often to missionaries. Perhaps it comes to everyone in the ministry, but I can only speak for the missionary. I got to thinking about this because of a recent Facebook discussion in which a BMW asked whether being a missionary wife was essentially the same thing as being a pastor's wife (just in a different field--which obviously makes it totally different! But you get the idea of the question.)

Most BMW responders quickly and confidently pointed out the extra difficulties a missionary wife faces in ministry that a pastor's wife in America wouldn't. But one BMW noted that ministry was actually easier for her in many respects as a missionary wife than it had been as a pastor's wife. She mentioned the squabbles, criticisms, and cliques that she experienced in her American ministry; in contrast to the complete acceptance and love she experienced from the nationals in her host country.

In a difficult or disappointing stretch in ministry, which may occur more frequently than the encouraging times, a missionary may hear of friends ministering in America and think about how easy their ministry would be if they were there. If only I were there, my church would be bigger, better, more like Christ! I would be more appreciated, more respected, and the flock would actually follow my (husband's) advice. We wouldn't have to deal with all this ___ (immorality, apathy, drunkenness, laziness, etc.)

Missionaries can also fall into the foolish trap of comparing fields. If only we were in Missionary Z's field, our ministry would be more successful. They have it much easier because of... It is so much harder to serve here due to the burned-over territory from the prosperity gospel, or the idolatry, or the animism, or the atheism, or whatever, than it would be to serve in their country.

But remember that you don't have the whole picture! Perhaps they also wish to trade places because of their own silent trials.

Yes, some of that thinking may be valid, fair, and true. A few missionaries have shown no qualms in saying they "could never do what you do." I even included a question on this topic on my get-to-know-ya missionary questionnaire for the BMW blog: what makes your field difficult? (Because we all think that our field is the hardest for some reason, and some of those reasons are legitimate.)

But it's not good; it's not lovely; it's not of good report; it's not praise

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As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach--holidays when many missionaries, especially newbies, are homesick, this grass-is-greener syndrome may pop up. But let's just call it what it is. It's discontent. It's a failure to praise God "in everything." It is bitterness against God for putting you in a place so removed from the comforts of home and then apparently not making you successful there. It's pride, because you compare your successes and failures with another's and can only be content with your situation if you look the best at the end of the comparison.

The grass may truly be greener on the other side of the ocean. And yet it may not. But that's not where you are. And you are commanded to think on praiseworthy things and to praise God in everything--where you are.


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Gleanings from the Fields ~ BMW 366 Day Devotional Book


For those of you who have ordered copies of our new devotional book, please read carefully and send payment as soon as possible.

-Finally I have worked out a price for Gleanings from the Fields. But first, let me explain. I want to be honest and up-front with you all. It was difficult to work out the postage costs, as we have no way of knowing how much the book will weigh. The book I had published a couple of years ago has 215 pages and weighs 180g. But our book has 390 pages. If the book goes over 250g, it jumps up into the next weight category for postage. So I have opted to charge you all at the price for the higher weight category (it only adds US$1). If it turns out that the book is under 250g, that means I will make a $1 profit per book, which, with your permission, I would donate to our church's building fund (reimbursing you all individually would be a headache, and would also incur PayPal fees, so it wouldn't be worth it).
 The price of the book will be as follows:
US$8.50/book sent to all addresses outside of the EU (European Union)
US$7.00/book sent within the EU
US$6.50/book sent within Romania.

This price includes the book itself, protective packaging, postage, and PayPal fees.

I have looked into the costs for those of you who are ordering multiple copies, and it appears that it will be cheapest to send each book individually, as the prices go up exponentially with each new weight category. That means that for those of you who have ordered 60 books (yikes!), you will receive 60 individual packages! If this is inconvenient for you, please spare a thought for me, who gets to write an envelope for every single one of our 918 orders!

It would make my life easier, if you have ordered for several friends and their copies are part of your order, if you have your friends pay you, and then you pay me once.
My PayPal address is: crockets4rmv@yahoo.com.au
Don't forget the .au 
~Suzy Crocket


I personally want to thank Suzy for all the hard work she has put into collecting the devotionals and getting the book published, and Myra for all her hard work in typesetting.  We don't see all the behind the scenes work, but these ladies have sacrificed a lot of time and effort in part of this book.  From the bottom of my heart, Suzy and Myra, thank you!

~Jen


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reaching Children in Sunday School (Part 3): Making a Plan

I love my teenage son. He is amazingly creative minded. He comes up with all kinds of ideas and projects and... actually he comes up with so many ideas it can be totally exhausting! But I love his creativity! He knows what he wants to do, but sometimes he struggles with plotting out a plan that will get him to a goal. With time and experience, he will learn how to make realistic goals and make feasible plans on how to accomplish those goals.


When we work with children we must start by seeing them how God sees them.

Then, when we must set biblical goals... what do we want to accomplish as we work with children?

But as with anything, once we know where we want to go, we have to plot a course to get there. And here is a simple road map:

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Here we are once again talking about Mexican food! We are about to get into holiday recipe posting time but before we do I wanted to share at least one more recipe to put our flour tortilla recipe to use again. This time it's sour cream chicken enchiladas.



Ingredients

16 oz. Sour cream
1/2 pt. whipping cream (I use 20%)
2 Tbsp. Mexican green sauce (I use green Tabasco sauce) *can substitute with jalapeno pepper juice
**2 cans cream of chicken soup

**So, I am interrupting this list of ingredients, as I did with the beef enchiladas, to explain what I do when a recipe calls for cream soups or if I want to make a cheese sauce. I found this recipe years ago when my hubby and I were first married. Now, this enchilada recipe calls for cream of chicken soup. I place two bullion cubes in a small bowl and add approximately one cup of boiling hot water to them, stir them until they dissolve, and stir that broth in to the sauce mixture.

10-12 corn or flour tortillas (I have only used flour tortillas in this recipe)
4 Chicken breasts 
grated cheddar cheese (we most often use Gouda)

Directions

Boil chicken; debone (if necessary) and set aside. Mix sour cream, whipping cream, Mexican green sauce, and cream of chicken soup together in pan. Do not boil, just warm and turn off fire when heated. Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9x13" casserole baking dish. Fill each tortilla with a small amount of chicken and grated cheese then roll up and place them seam down into the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolled tortillas covering them entirely and top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) for approximately 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese has melted evenly. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Vacation? What Vacation?

Ladies, we don't live in a goldfish bowl...I'm afraid it's more like under the microscope.
This quote came from a thought-provoking, humorous discussion I was in recently with other BMWs (Baptist Missionary Women) when a lady shared the criticisms her family received over spending "missions money" unwisely to get away for a day. The irony is that the missionaries were given the day away for free! Many other women shared how they had lost support or been threatened with dropped support because of sharing pictures of a vacation they took while on the field. Honestly, I've not experienced criticisms of misused funds for our personal use before, and I feel sorry for missionaries who have supporters like that. Who needs enemies when you have "friends" like that, right?

Vacation?


It got me to thinking about how I have often struggled with, and never fully adjusted to, the lack of privacy here on the field. But I didn't take into account that we can also be closely watched from American supporters (at times--we would actually like more input and friendship from our supporters--an uplifting kind of friendship!)

How ironic that a lack of privacy would be a culprit on both ends of the matter: It can make you feel like you're dying to get away from the village for a break, but then deliver criticism from across the ocean if you do. (Again, thankfully, I've not experienced this!)

So in the spirit of solidarity with missionary women who have experienced this, I am posting pictures of an amazing vacation we just took to Durban (a coastal city thirteen hours south of us)!