Merry Christmas

What a great Christmas we had! We were able to see a lot of friends and family and host a full house for several days in the midst of packing everything up.

You can't really ask for a better "last christmas in the States (for a while)".

Thanks to everyone here and more, we are currently at 101% of funding! What a great Christmas present.

Our PNG plane tickets arrived in the mail.
We are expecting the shipping company to arrive January 10th, to haul our belongings to Papua New Guinea.

We are moving out January 13.

We have tickets in hand for Waxhaw, North Carolina for 8 weeks of training and then we're leaving for PNG in March.

101% sounds like an exciting number, and it is! But there are numbers and then there are numbers.

I am cautioned when sharing the "inner workings of mission finances" and I'm not sure really why. I've heard the advice, and honestly if I get in trouble I'll probably get more cautious in what I share.

But again, my intention here is to demystify missions. I've been raised in the church and I've held many of the same misconceptions about missions as many people have. This entire process is a huge eye opener to me.

See even though we're told "you can go once you get 100% of support" the truth is, you really should be higher than 100% of "promised commitment". There is the promise, and then there is the actual. People are people and they sometimes forget, or their circumstances change and the funding you planned on doesn't come in.

A true miracle would be if we received 100% of the commitment. 100% equals the budget it takes for us to live in PNG and it's a very stripped down budget. The common question is "what happens to the extra?" 100% means that we've reached 100% of the comitted support required by our budget. In a perfect world any extra would go towards unexpected costs, towards immediate needs, or into savings for future needs (such as vehicles and gas, which we have not budgeted for since we do not own a vehicle over there yet). However in a realist's world, sometimes accounts dip under 100% support on a month by month basis. Sometimes the funds didn't come in, and sometimes emergencies required straying from the budget. Missionaries tend to play a lot of catchup, which is why working for an organization who can afford to allow you to play catchup. They have been burned in the past by this though, which is why they require 100% before being allowed to go to the field these days.

If one dips too low, to often, they are encouraged to return and do more partnership development (fund raising).

So we gleefully tell you, we're at 101%, and we wouldn't shy away from being at 110% before we depart, the extra money will go to cover the eventual loss we expect over time. We do expect to see a few drop offs as churches change and people age.

Glory to God, this is all in His hands. And miraculously, it's been chiefly through individuals. That's unheard of really. Most missionaries depend on churches. In our scenario, each and every person is a major player in getting and keeping us in PNG.

So Thank YOU! and Merry Christmas to your house!

Christ the Lord be glorified forever and ever!


Health Update

For those that have been praying.

My son had tubes put in his ears, and his adenoids removed yesterday around 1pm. The procedure went smoothly. His adenoids were very large.

He's almost back to his normal self, except he's been unable to hold down solids but he's working through it. What a trooper, was calm the whole time.

We got great care. This had God's hands on it from start to finish:
-we needed him in quick, the doctor got him in 3 days later because he was sympathetic to our cause.

-the anesthesiologist (sp?) had done several volunteer global short term trips himself and even was able to compare notes with my wife on certain places. He was GREAT with kids, a very pleasing bedside manner.

-that time of day the recovery room was empty so we got focussed attention.

-after we got home, my wife, who wasn't feeling great, finally took a moment to realize she had strep. We were able to get the oncall doctor to write a scrip for drugs for her without a visit and she's feeling a TON better today. That almost NEVER happens.

God had his hand on this family through this entire process, I'm sure there is more but I'm pretty tired from taking care of sickies all night.

Thanks God!

Side note:
Yesterday was the first time I ever had to see my kid attached to an I.V., with breathing mask and everything. I admire the strength of so many of my friends who have had to do that for prolongued periods of time during their child's infancy. Ear tubes and adenoid surgery is a cake walk compared to some of that stuff. And through it all, somehow my little son, with his bravery and calmness, facing his own nerves, made me respect him and proud and thankful to God all at the same time.

It is amazing what God will help us get through.

Prior to the surgery I was talking and walking with him. We spoke about bravery.
"Son, bravery is when you do something you need to, even though it scares you to do it. Can you think of an example?"

without hesitation he responds

"yeah, like I'm scared to go to Papua New Guinea, but I'm gonna go."

From a child's mouth, at any moment, without warning can come silliness, or poignancy.


Quick Prayer

We saw the specialist.

He said that our son has fluid in his ears, and recommended implanting tubes. At age 5 when chronic fluid is prsent, they usually take a look at the adnoids and possibly remove them. A procedure akin to removing tonsils.

-this will enable him to fly without pain (with tubes)
-this procedure lasts long enough to not require constant checkups (1 a few weeks later then maybe a year later)
-it could resolve his hearing issue and not have permanent loss.
-his current hearing loss, should it be permanent, isn't enough to affect his speech or learning or functioning. (not strong enough to require a hearing aid), and isn't progressive if we treat it now.

Because of our timeline the doctor was able to fit us in this Friday. Which is another huge answer to prayer. Being fit into our insurance plan AND his schedule 2 days after seeing him?

It's not because it was an emergency but because the doctor would like to check up on him before we left for N. Carolina!

THank you for praying.

Continue to pray :
that the procedure goes smoothly
that there be no permanent hearing loss (the doctor was avoiding my "worst case scenario" questions, but the bottom line is, he may never get better, or he may get entirely better, but he shouldn't get worse)

also throw in a side prayer that our visas come through soon.

thank you! PRAISE GOD, that's a load off our minds.


a Lot is going on

There is more going on than I can even blog but the energy is very high around here. We're very very excited. I tend to use that word a LOT these days.

We're going!

Funding wise, we haven't technically reached 100% yet, we still need some more monthly committments and partners. However we have reached 100% if you look at it another way.

(it's funny how finances can be viewed in multiple ways) So we're cleared to leave the country! We're hopeful that by the time we actually leave we'll be at 100% EVERY way you look at it, but 1 way is good enough for us for now.

The nature of support they say:
1 - you'll never be higher support wise, than you are when you first leave.
why? - because people won't feel your presence anymore, won't see your energy, won't experience your enthusiasm, and will forget your face over time.

2 - your support raising will never be over
why? - because people will stop sending for various reasons, or forget to start.

So, by no means are we intending to stop, for multiple reasons.
We're very excited to actually start creating experiences to write you all about.
Pictures! New stories! The good stuff! The exciting stuff... what God is doing over there stuff!

Well we've begun packing too. Giving away furniture, selling stuff on craig's list, donating to the neighbors, hauling away junk, putting stuff in boxes, and trying to find people who'll store a box or two for us here and there.

We have many piles: TO PNG, TO STORAGE #1, TO STORAGE #2, TO DUMP, TO DONATE

It is quite the logistical puzzle to craft moving, when to get rid of what furniture, when to sell/donate cars, when to quit work, and when to pack up... say.. your computer equipment, etc.

We have our tickets!

All signs are pointing to GO... but there are a few more obstacles God has to clear.
Before that though,
our itenerary:

January 13 - we fly to Waxhaw, North Carolina to live in an apartment for 8 weeks.
During those 8 weeks we will undergo cultural sensitivity training and technical training while our kids attend a local school.

March 10, we return from NC to stay in the Bay area for 1 week, visiting, saying goodbye, and tieing up loose ends.

March 17, we begin to fly to PNG.
March 20, we arrive at our destination in Ukarumpa, PNG. (I can detail the flight more later)

- visas. while the adult's have been approved, there was confusion with the kid's and while were confident it'll be resolved quickly, it still needs resolution. The embassy needs a letter, which we're told was sent, but they haven't received, etc. and so forth. Clerical stuff. God'll work it out

- packing. Logistics of getting it all done.

- holidays. We're hosting Christmas, and it'll be a very full house, with family from both sides attending. IT promises to be a mixture of the stress of moving, the emotional stress of leaving, the logistic stress of having visitors stay in our home, and the christmas commotion of all the goings on. It's a perfect storm, and everyone is going to feel the pressure. But, the reason for it all is love. Folks want to be around us during this time, even if part of them are upset at us for taking away the grandkids, they love us. Pray that all of us can be kind and sincere during this time.

-our son's hearing. This is a very personal issue and one that we share not to embarrass our son. He's 5yrs old, and the doctor's are telling us we might expect some percentage of permanent hearing loss. A few weeks ago, I noticed something odd about his hearing and didn't dismiss it as a young child being stubborn. We did an impromptu hearing test and he didn't do so well. So we went to his pediatrician. She said she suspected fluid, and because we were leaving the country in 3 months, put him on aggressive anti-biotics.

Aggressive anti-biotics is a bit scary of a thought because I had heard of children being deaf because of this type of treatment for ear infections. In fact memory serves that one year our son had 2 infections and the dr. said a third would require tubes instead of anti-biotics.

The treatment possibly cleared up the fluid but a tympanogram proved no movement of his tympanic membrane. So we went to an audiologist who said there might be "some" fluid but they suspect a percentage of permanent loss.

So on Tuesday we see a specialist. What are they going to tell us? We don't know yet. We have many questions.

We need more data on his situation first. As you would guess, there are a lot of questions, and a lot of prayer needed about this right now.

As always, Pray that God would envelop us in a pocket of God's presence. That we would defer all decisions to Him, that we would submit gladly to His will and recognize it.

thank you for reading and praying!