Monday, August 30, 2010

Not That I Know A Thing.....

The following is a response to my sister and brother-in-law who are considering a move
in order to be involved in a ministry they feel God may be calling them too. Having left Corvallis 1 1/2 years ago I realize I am still a newbie at all of the "ministry" stuff. I don't claim to have the answers. This is only my thoughts and revelations since coming to Brazil. I thought I would share with all of you-

When we were about one month out from leaving for Brazil last year,
Kellie asked me what my expectations were.
I, being the wise mother and woman of God that I am (!) replied,

"I don't have any expectations."

I remember her face and her kind answer.
"Mom, you do have expectations. I understand what you are feeling. When we moved to Tennessee I didn't think that I had expectations either
but then as things began to happen, or not happen, as I thought they would
I realized I did have expectations. You DO have expectations."

She was right.

Of course, Warren and I are all for hearing from the Lord and acting on it.
I would never want to discourage anyone from that.
There is great reward in doing what the Lord lays on ones heart to do.

However, the reality is this: It is not easy.

It spurred us on as we were getting ready to leave to know that people were behind us, encouraging us and telling us how wonderful
they thought we were in doing what we were doing. I'm sure we needed that at the time.
I'm also sure that there was pride involved that God would deal with later :).

And then the day came when we had done it.
The business was sold, the house was gone, good byes had been said
and we were sitting thousands of miles away from what we had called home
and there was no one there with us to tell us how "wonderful" we were.
No one else to live this strange life but us. And it didn't (and hasn't) always felt good.

Sometimes I have wanted to quit.
Sometimes I have thought people owed me more, God owed me more,
because of what we had given up. (just being honest here).

Let me warn you that being in the ministry makes you more susceptible to being hurt.
I know this because ministry IS people.
We sin.
We say things we shouldn't. We do things we shouldn't.
We leave things unsaid that we should say and leave things undone that we should do.
We don't live up to others expectations. We don't live up to our own

I think the biggest expectation that I had, and didn't realize that I had,
was that I would suddenly be more spiritual.
A better Christian. More in love with God.

I wasn't.

It took me a little while to admit that to myself.
I was the same person with the same faults and failures. The same tendencies to sin.
I make mistakes and they are now even more noticeable because I am "in ministry"
and I'm not "suppose" to fail or sin. I am not "suppose" to let others down.
And there will be criticism. From others but even more so from yourself.

I guess I say all of this not so much to discourage you from ministry
but rather to encourage you to be honest with yourselves.
Be sure it is the Lord and not some notion that life will be greater, easier by doing it.

Serving, truly serving, is giving up your life to people that may treat you as servants.
They won't always appreciate you. Some of them may not even like you.

Ministry is learning what it really means to trust the Lord for financial provision
while all the while learning that what we think we need
is not always what God thinks we need.

Ministry is filled with many ordinary days.
Lots of days of ordinary things that don't make for good stories to tell those back home.
Days that make you wonder what your purpose is - why you left it all.

And the life you use to have, the one you left behind, it goes on without you.
As it should. You wouldn't want it any other way. And yet - it's hard.
It's hard to feel you no longer belong.

Before I have you believing that we regret our decision or that our lives have been
full of difficulties and hardships
let me assure you that is not the case.

We have met amazing people.
We have made some wonderful friends.
People we love so much. People that have shown so much love to us.

We have had opportunities to do and see things that we would have never imagined.

We have experienced God working through us
when we had neither the strength or the abilities needed.

We have seen God provide financially through miracles.

We believe we are living God's best for us right now and we wouldn't trade it.

There has been such joy.

To stay or go?

The answer, and the joy, lies in obedience.

Either way.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Simple Song

My sisters: Dori, Sandee, Me and Joni

Earlier today it was recommended to me
that I listen to a song on YouTube.
Although it was a familiar song to me
it wasn't one I knew well and certainly not one from my childhood.
But in hearing it, for whatever reason, emotions welled up inside of me.

Good emotions.

Ones of security and safety.
Of loving and being loved.

Although I am happy to be at this stage of life
there are times when those feelings come over me
and I am washed in the joy of innocence,
the excitement of discovery, the warmth of belonging,
and the freedom of being young.

My parents: Keith & Delores Miller

I was blessed with a wonderful childhood.

Parents that loved each other (and still do!).
Parents that didn't seek after riches
but instead sought to be rich in the things that mattered.

Dad worked hard and if there were times we were poor, I didn't know it.
No, we didn't always have the newest toys or the latest designer jeans
but what we may of lacked financially was small in comparison to what we had.

Dad and Mom made hard choices like selling a successful business in order
to take a lower paying job so Dad could be at home more.
They both made the decision for Mom to be "a stay at home Mom".

Family was decidedly more important
then driving a fancy car or
Mom having a closet full of dresses and shoes.
Or a large retirement plan.

Oh sure, there were times of longing for "things"
but I don't remember dwelling on that.

What I do remember is a house full of laughter,
A Mom that was my greatest confidante
and many friends & family around our kitchen table.

Sitting on the ice cream freezer while Dad hand cranked it.
Stirring the thickening that would become gravy.
My hair blowing in the wind on a quick motorcycle ride around the block.
Husking the corn on the last day of summer vacation.
Drying dishes while Mom put away leftovers and one of the sisters washed.
Mom singing to her latest made-up song
or whistling an old hymn.
Dad pushing me on the swing.
A gentle spanking that made me cry
because it hurt my feelings rather than my bottom.
Crazy made-up plays that the parents had to watch.
The smell of a freshly cut lawn.
Saturday night baths and Lost In Space.
Playing Dutch Blitz late at night because Mom wanted to play one more hand.
There were always games.
And always there was talking. Much talking.
And laughter.

And people - did I mention the people.
Our house was always full of people.

Both of my parents are warm and friendly.
Dad is good in a group and never knows a stranger.
Mom is more of a "one on one" type of person.
Looking back I wonder if some of the boyfriends us girls had
stuck around as long as they did because they wanted to
talk with Mom. No kidding.
Dad could easily get acquainted with anyone but Mom could truly know them.

And our friends wanted to be there.
Every Sunday we went to church and Dad faithfully
would drive around picking up our friends
so they could go with us.
And then, after church, they were just a part of the family for the day
because, I suppose, that's just how it was suppose to be on Sundays.

I don't remember not loving Jesus.
Oh sure, I had to come to a decision to make Him my Savior
at some point in my life but I just always loved Him.

I had heard about Him for as long as I could remember.
Bible story books. Singing. Praying.
Still today my parents encourage me in things of the Lord.

Through the years they have supported me in unbelievably hard situations.
They have encouraged forgiveness when others wouldn't have.
They have given me an example of loving
when it's difficult as well as when it's easy.
They have shown me that faith is to be practiced in the most difficult of times.
And I have learned what it means to follow hard after the Lord from them.

A simple faith? Simple people?
Maybe. But real.
Very, very real.

My journey of faith began with them.

I am forever grateful.

So many memories from a simple song played on YouTube.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hangin' With the Guys

Thomas (on the left) and his band

We've been busy.
It's not easy to keep up with all the young "folk" here
but we certainly do enjoy trying!

We were invited to go see Thomas' band play at a local book store.
Of course we met up with some of our friends from the church
for an evening of good music,
food and laughter.

watching the band play: Brad, Doug, Laura, & someone we don't know!

As we were leaving at the end of the evening I commented to Warren
that I had realized that our friends were young enough to be our kids.
And yet, once again, we had hung out with them the whole evening
and they had treated us as one of them.
We were blessed. We are blessed.

We have made such good friends here.

The wire opera house.

Then last week we spent a day with Ricado and Marcela.
They showed as around the town, looking at all the beautiful parks,
having coffee & the best carrot (rabbit, as Ricado called it
in trying to explain in English!) cake ever,
spending time at their house (working on Portuguese and English together),
and then out for a soup dinner.

the ceiling in the wire opera house

We had the best time with them.

Now you must consider the fact that when we met them
neither of them could speak English - at least not much.

Then Ricado kind of got pushed into the learning process when he
drove me around to doctors,
helped Warren with the painting at the church,
came to the church to oversee the electricians, etc.

We saw a lot of the two of them
and they began to carry around a Portuguese - English dictionary.

Or we always made sure there was an English speaking person around!

Now we communicate with a mix of English, Portuguese and hand & body motions!
(I must admit, they do better with English than we do with Portuguese)

Curitiba has a lot of natural beauty and beautiful parks.

We have laughed together and cried together.
(well, at least the women have cried together!)

They have become wonderful friends to us.

A rodent that is common in the parks.
I asked if they would hurt a person and Ricado
just told me if they turn and start coming after me to run.
Then he laughed. I still don't know if they would hurt a person. :)


a Ukrainian church made out of 10" square timbers

Jardim Botanico

We arrived at the gardens just as it was getting dark.
It took my breath away to come up over the hill and see this sight.

Someday we want to go back when everything is blooming.
We are in the middle of winter here, ya know.

inside the greenhouse

A couple days later

(after they both made sure we had everything we needed
while they were gone - Marcela even arranged that our sheets would be
washed since she usually does them!)

they left on vacation.

We're happy for them. But sad for us.
We really do miss them.

And now to show you one of the projects
we worked on while John
was gone:


We love how they turned out.

Side note: Please continue to pray for my knee. Although it is better
I am still under the direction to stay off of it and limit the use.
I know God has a purpose it's just hard to see it sometimes.
But then, that is why we are to walk by faith and not by sight.

We also have decided that God would have us stay in Curitiba
for much of our remaining time in Brazil this year.
Much prayer went into that decision and truly our deciding factor
was peace.

We are hoping to visit several of the churches for short visits
before the leadership conference in Oct.

Please join us in prayer as we seek God's heart in this.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Kindness of Others

Today is our 32 anniversary

and this is what we were greeted with first thing this morning!

Keren delivered this beautiful basket full of
wonderful breakfast items.

A gift from Calvary Curitiba.

We feel as though we are the ones that should be giving to them.
We have been so blessed here.

Thank you, church!

And speaking of blessings:

I don't often take a picture of my hand
but this was after another, previous blessing.

3 of the girls from the church gave me
the gift of a spa afternoon a few weeks ago.
I had a facial, manicure and pedicure.
They finished the time with tea and bite - size indulgences!
A most enjoyable afternoon.

Poor Warren, I think he

painted that afternoon!

That's right, he and a few of the guys have been doing some painting
around the church. Inside and outside.

I've done a little but my knee continued to limit
the amount
of time I could be on it.

However, it is much better now
and so I'm finding myself doing more and more
each day.

To Warren's relief!

We just finished our 3rd week of Portuguese lessons.

Pricila is our teacher and what a joy she is.
I actually look forward to our class time -
although, I can't say that about the homework yet!

And this weekend's homework is a killer!!!!

Ricado (the go to guy here at the church!)
young electrician, the boss electrician!

While John (the pastor of the church) is away
the people here have a mental list of things they want to accomplish
while he's gone.

The electricians came for several days and although they didn't
speak English "boss" guy
and I tried to communicate and had fun doing it!

You would have heard a combination of the two languages -
or at least the attempts!!!

The younger electrician? Well, he was more shy and kept a distance from me.
I know, I probably scared him into thinking he'd have to speak English with me,
or worse yet, he'd have to try and understand my Portuguese!!!

And by the way - he's the one that went through the roof and ceiling!

No, I don't usually wear a hat - but this was a special occasion.
Marcellie invited me out for English tea
and to make a long story short, Warren and Pricila ended up joining us.

We loved their company.

Warren felt that the place was a little bit girlie
but he was a sport.

(He even put on a hat but I'll spare you that picture!)

Marcellie,me and Pricilia

The hats were there for picture sake, I think.
A most delightful tea time with lovely company.

(I thought I would use some adjectives that sounded a little bit "British"!

Ju and her mother.

They invited me over for a
wonderful afternoon last week.
I was able to hear their testimonies.
It is always such a faith builder to hear
the amazing things God does in people's lives.

It was a wonderful time of fellowship and, once again, food!
These Brazilians know how to entertain!

I wouldn't want to end this portion of the post without
telling you that this is just a small taste
of the ways Warren and I have been blessed since
we are here.
Unfortunately, I don't always remember my camera
(I know, whip me with a wet noodle)
but there have been dinner dates,
invitations to homes,
gifts, and visits that have meant
so very much to us.
And I hesitated to mention any at the risk of minimizing
any of the other times spent with the people here.
They have all blessed us.

John and Flavia's house.

Although we had decided to stay at the church
we did use their house a couple of times to do some laundry
and to have a quiet place to study
when we knew the church was going to be busy.

Adam, Natalia, and Brad

More of our friends as we made our way out to lunch
after church last Sunday.

We've had the blessing of using John's car.

We really hadn't taken it out very much
(we finally had to put gas in it on Sunday for the first time!)
but now that my knee is better we decided to get out a little bit more
this past week.

And then there was yesterday -

We decided to go to one of the malls just to get out of the house
(it's been cold, really cold!)
Our plan was to walk around looking for a while and then grab some
dinner before heading back home.
We were about done with the walking part when
it was realized that we had lost the parking ticket.
A sudden rush of anxiety.
We knew that would be problem because:

1. We didn't know the language enough to communicate what was going on.
2. We knew our documents (passports) and the car documents (registration)
wouldn't match in name.


It took some time but we got it taken care of.

They had sympathy on us
with the assistance of a
smiling, helpful, non English speaking, Brazilian man
we got by with a small parking fee.

He let us take the car home
(much to my relief!)

Thank you, Lord.

We didn't stay at the mall for dinner....