Sunday, July 17, 2016

My first missionary moment

I like to write e-mail. It's very cathartic for me to sit down and compose a good, long, funny, newsy e-mail to a friend. I think it's how extroverts journal. Introverts can sit down and write themselves a long letter in a cute little blank notebook and keep it all privately tucked away, but extroverts need to know somebody is going to read it if they really want to think and process and motivate themselves to write. So, in college I wrote my parents a lot of e-mails. I was in college in Michigan and they were in Washington, and since this was in the pre-cell phone days (I used a calling card on a landline to call home!), we only talked on the phone once a week. That meant that I wrote long e-mails six days a week, and my mom saved them. She printed off just about every single e-mail I wrote for four years. When I  moved back to the States in 2014, she gave me a giant folder of all of my college e-mails to her.

What do you do with a huge stack of printed e-mail? Being as I'm not a saver, I figured out a way to use them. Since they are only printed on one side, I have Zarya and Jerod use the reverse sides for coloring pages. I read the e-mails, and then hand them out for scribbling with crayons. It's kind of entertaining, kind of pitiful (did I really have to write so many details about what we did at swim practice??), and a good trip down memory lane, at the pace of reading two e-mails every few days. At this rate the kids will still be coloring on my college e-mails long after they are both old enough to read the letters themselves!

I found a particularly interesting one the other day. I wrote it while preparing to go on my first-ever missions trip. I was headed to the Philippines to visit a Bible translation project. It turned out to be a completely life-changing trip that altered the course of everything afterwards, although at the time I was rather unaware of what was to come. The evening I wrote this, March 31, 2001, I had been at the home of the local Wycliffe Bible Translators recruiters, Ed and Linda Speyers. They had been in Suriname for over twenty years, and had just returned to the States the year before I met them. They are fascinating, passionate people, and I was hooked from our first conversation on, it appears. Here's what I wrote as an 18-year-old:

"After [meeting with the Speyers] I had this retreat-like 'I want to be a Wycliffe missionary for the rest of my life' high. For about 15 entire minutes I was considering changing my major to linguistics (which would require transferring schools) and doing all that, then I became practical Michelle once again. But it occurred to me that my greatest fear (besides snakes) has always been that God would want me to be a missionary, and here I was having a little fantasy about doing just that."

I think this really was the first time ever in my life I even considered being a missionary, and about two months later, I found myself seriously considering it as a long-term career. Thanks to three more years of monthly dessert nights at the Speyers (never underestimate the power of homemade apple pie and ice cream to convince a college athlete to become a Bible translator) and another short-term trip, I joined Wycliffe. I'm so glad I did!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

To the fathers in my life, Happy Father's Day! I got to see my own father shortly before Father's Day this year, which was very fun. We met up at Lake Cumberland, KY. Because, you know, Kentucky is where people who live in PA, MO, and WA would logically connect.

Jerod had a blast hanging out with Babu. He doesn't remember it, but he was happy:

On Father's Day itself, Jerod wasn't feeling particularly like having his picture taken, so evacuated the pre-church photo session. Zarya, however, is a total daddy's girl these days and was thrilled to pose all by herself with her beloved Baba:

Thanks, both of you amazing fathers, for being there for me and our kids! We love you and appreciate you!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

NT in customs

I just saw a post on a Wycliffe friend's Facebook wall that I just have to share! His post contained some quite exciting news:

Dear Friend,
I am pleased to inform you that the Lubwisi New Testament is now awaiting customs clearance at Malaba (Uganda Kenya Board). Please pray that this will be finalised soon so that we get ready for the launch on 29th July 2016.

These New Testaments in the Lubwisi language of Uganda are the real deal, the full NT, not just individual books. They are have just arrived from the printers overseas and have to be cleared through customs before they can be transported to the Lubwisi area and have their big launch celebration on July 29. Please pray that everything will go smoothly. Praise God for everything that has gone well thus far!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Quinoa for people who don't like quinoa

Maybe your spouse will consume everything you put in front of him/her, as does mine. But that doesn't mean he likes everything I serve him! Quinoa is on his list of edible-but-not-enjoyable foods. I had a little bit of leftover quinoa in a package and was trying to figure out what to do with it, and came up with the following recipe. He had seconds!

Quinoa and Kielbasa

1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, c hopped
14 oz Polska Kielbasa, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup rice
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water

In a large frying pan, saute onion and green pepper until tender. Add kielbasa slices and cook, not stirring too often, so that slices brown a bit on both sides. Rinse quinoa and rice well, then add both to the pan. Add salt, bouillon cubes, pepper, and cayenne. Stir around a bit. Add water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover pan, and let cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rice Snob

We've all heard of coffee snobs, who have to have just the right kind of beans roasted a certain way. There are purse snobs, car snobs, music snobs, apple snobs (AKA Washingtonians), seafood snobs, and other sorts of people who cheerfully make fun of themselves for their particular exclusive appreciation of certain fine products.

Y'all want to know what I am hiding in my closet? Rice. Oh yes, I'm a rice snob. In my overflow-pantry closet, I've got RICE. The current occupants of the rice closet are three 20-lb bags of rice and one 10-lb one. I've got Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati, Mexican medium grain, and Japanese short-grain. There are other kinds I like but don't currently own, and yes, I do think they all taste different! I admit it, I'm a ricaholic rice snob.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I laugh a lot these days, thanks to these crazy kids. Zarya (3) and Jerod (1) are just plain funny. Here are a few recent moments that I actually managed to get a picture of. Some of them are a little blurry because, well, kids just don't freeze in place when they see the camera!

She loves burritos...

Curious George got his arm stuck in an elephant

He was dancing, something that I think he thought was a cowboy shuffle

Preschool fashion involves a lot of accessories

Zarya says really hilarious things. She's quite articulate, so it's an unusual window into the mind of a three-year-old that not everyone gets to enjoy with their preschooler. I've been reading her Bible stories recently and sometimes we act them out. She loves this activity, but sometimes a few facts get jumbled. Here are a few of her most recent Scripture-themed quotes:

Zarya: "Mama, you're Mary, I'm Joseph, and Jerod can be Baby Jesus." She then picks up a play phone and starts pushing buttons on it.
Me, confused: "What are you doing, Joseph?"

Zarya: "Texting the wise men about the gold."

Zarya and I were pretending to be Zacchaeus and Jesus eating lunch at his house. Zarya/Zacchaeus was giving me tons of pretend food to eat, but not eating any herself/himself. I asked, "Zacchaeus, aren't you hungry? Here, have some lunch," and handed her/him a few items. She/He shrugged and said, "No, I'm not hungry, I had a big breakfast with," and she pointed at Jerod, who was sitting  nearby, "this old woman who lost her coin."

While in the bathtub one evening, Zarya splashed around a bit and casually commented, "This water used to be wine."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Translating it is the easy part

"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God." - Rev. 3:12

Sometimes I talk about how difficult Bible translation is, and yes, it certainly is! But you know what's more difficult? Being a pastor. Take the sentence above, for example. It's actually pretty easy to translate. We've got words for everything in that sentence. But what on earth does it mean?! Hey, don't ask us, we just translate it; it's the pastor's job to explain it!

*Take this post with a few grains of salt. Yes, at times we do try to help readers by making some implicit things more clear and helping with unknown concepts. But when it comes down to it, we don't add to the Bible, and when a verse is clearly worded, there's not much which is appropriate to change.