GMHC 2015 Recap

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How can one even begin to describe a mountaintop-of-the-year experience? The Global Missions Health Conference is one of the top highlights of every year: 3 packed days, 4 plenary messages, dozens of breakout sessions to choose from, and the incredible encouragement of worshipping together with over 3,000 people. 

This Missions thing is not always easy. Worth it? Yes. Awesome, incredible, overwhelming, breathtaking, and life-changing? Absolutely. But easy? Not. Being in the center of God’s will is the BEST place to spend every minute of one’s life… and while we always receive more blessings than we ever deserve, there are often slippery or difficult patches to navigate as we travel this Kingdom road.

I was eleven years old when my family and I left the sunny paradise of California and headed North and East towards an unfamiliar and forbidding land. With a heart still aching from saying goodbye to our house and pets and orchards and gardens and everything we called home, I soon became intrigued by the fascinating new life opening before us. It was cold. And snowy. And windy. And the people didn’t speak our language (an awkward and novel experience for a kid). 

Slowly, we accustomed ourselves to this new life. We taught ourselves music, learned to eat strange foods, embarrassed ourselves (and made others laugh) with our French until it finally became smoother, studied the captivatingly complex culture of the Acadians, and became pros at ice-jumping – an Adams-invented sport involving leaping from iceberg to iceberg (it’s only risky if you attempt this over deep water). We were happy.

We were also awed by the difficulties of missions life, and the only place we could turn was to God, Who was always there for us and brought us through every.single.moment of, faithful and trustworthy and worth serving. There were days when the fridge was empty and we were hungry and there was no money with which to buy food. Sometimes winter storms would rage for long cold days at a time, the snow packed firmly against the windows and shutting out the light, ice caked in thick sheets over everything, the electricity out, the temperature in the house hovering around freezing. There was palpable demonic oppression that gives me goosebumps right now just remembering it. And the Islanders are a hard people, a resolute and rugged group of shipwreck descendants, with whom you must build years of relationship before winning their trust.

I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything! I’ve learned that the best place to be is wherever God calls, and who knows where that will be in one or ten or fifty years from now. God has us stationed at a base across the Quebec border at the moment, in Vermont, the least churched state in the whole of the U.S., and it is a mission field all its own. 

Which is why conferences like the GMHC are a great shot in the arm (understatement of the year). So, here is a sampling of my favorite quotes from those three full days (for security reasons, I’ve only included first names):

“If there is no risk, there is no need for faith.” – Charles

“You’re not too young or too old to hear God calling your name…. God wants you to serve where YOU are needed most.” – Joseph

“Students: whatever you are studying, don’t waste your life.” – Eileen

“Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world – what are we doing about it?” – Eileen

“Jesus was always busy, but never in too much of a hurry to care for hurting people…. The highest and best use of your life is to do what He has called you to do, where He has called you to do it.” – Brian

“Am I a missionary only to the [-----], or am I a missionary everywhere, even at home?” - Evan

Home Life

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I have just returned from an epic trip to Louisville, KY, where my family and I attended the Global Missions Health Conference... and I'll be posting about that soon. But meanwhile, while I'm in the middle of unpacking, sorting through piles of notes taken during the conference, filing my thoughts into something remotely cohesive, and settling back into home-life, here are a few pictures from pre-conference. 

Here we had just come back from a rather rainy hike:

You may observe several things in this picture. First: Augs has that ever-so-slightly-guilty look about him, which was caused by his rather generous sampling of whipped cream just before the picture was taken. Second: this is what I look like, just post-hike, savoring some TASTY apple cider fresh-pressed by fab bros. It was very, very good! Third and Fourth: Curtis & Ibs were busy making cornbread for dinner, and in my opinion, it totally looks like Ibs is about to let go of the egg she's holding, and Curtis is suddenly apprehensive about an imminently huge splat. In the end, the egg came to earth safely... :)

Enjoying good times with a sweet friend! (same name and same age as sister dear, which made for many fab memories and a bit of fun confusion :)

This was about the funkiest cow we'd ever seen. Very, very, very Vermont.

Here is what a girls-walking-down-the-road picture is supposed to look like:

Here is what happens to some people:

And finally, here is Bro #2, playing Memory with a new little friend (there aren't many kids in our community up here so this one totally spoiled us!!!)...

Conference notes coming soon, I promise. :)

The Last Day of Fall (Sort of)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I'm calling it the Last Day of Fall, because even though technically we're nearly two months away from that date, here in Vermont the weather doesn't always follow the calendar. In fact, it rarely does. As one New Englander put it, "We have eleven months of winter, and one month of awfully poor sleddin'..." Which is more true than most of us care to admit. :)

So, a couple of days ago when the sun was shining and it was warm enough not to wear a jacket, we all seized the opportunity and headed outside.

I see future warmth and comfort in this picture. I also see men who will soon be coming inside wanting something hearty to eat - something like chili, burritos, enchiladas, bread, bacon, pancakes, soup, lasagna, and coffee & donuts.

I love my job.

I also loved this job - pulling out the old bits of ferns and weeds and making the retaining wall look nice and clean again, the way retaining walls dream of looking.

Meanwhile, bro #2 and bro #3 were busy collecting a giant leaf pile. The yard went from being completely carpeted in leaves to looking beautiful and green again, which made for this wonderfully comfy and inviting place to jump into.

So of course Ibs & I jumped in. And as we had thought it would be, it was VERY comfortable and VERY pleasant to just lie there, feeling like we were engulfed in the very essence of Autumn.

We were settling lower and lower, smelling the wonderful nutty fragrance of the old leaves, and feeling the coolness drifting about us...

...when Ibs spotted the first spider. And then the second. And then the third. They were huge, fat, grey, hairy-legged, large-bottomed, big-toothed, menacing, and ill-mannered, and they apparently felt quite at home in our leaf pile.

I must give credit to Ibs for shooting out of there at a remarkable speed. She reached safety in a matter of milliseconds after one giant leap and a flurry of leaves.

I, on the other hand, was more inclined to be of the "Don't move fast, we should just ease out of here calmly" mindset. "Remember," I said to Ibs, to assure myself  remind her, "They're more scared of us than we are of them." I would like to know who came up with that idea. I'm sure it's true for somebody's spiders somewhere, but Vermont spiders don't appear to be scared of anything, and especially not of humans stuck in leaf piles. In fact, on the contrary, they seem to find humans (in leaf piles or out) highly amusing and extremely tasty.

At this point an unnamed sibling, who was not aware of the spiders, came onto the scene. "Wow, nice leaves!" he exclaimed, and then everything went into slow motion.

I saw one of the spiders - big, fat, and bad-tempered - balanced on a top leaf at the edge of the pile. I saw Sibling's foot go back. I knew what was going to happen. That foot was going to crash into the pile to give me a nice friendly shower of leaves. That nice friendly shower of leaves was going to contain a not so nice and not so friendly shower of spider, and I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!!!

"Just a minute!!" I cried, but it was too late. The foot landed in the pile, the leaves flew into the air, the spider went who knows where, and Ems shot out of that pile in record time, with the help of the Sibling, who kindly reached out a hand to assist in the giant leap.

Wow. That was a close one! I hope those hairy intruders enjoy wintering in the leaf pile, which is now in the woods. I am happy to let them stay there. Both Ibs and I appreciate spiders in the right time and the right place, just not right next to our heads... :)

Happy Weekend, folks!

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