Happy Thanksgiving! We are very thankful to the Lord for you all and your faithful prayers and support of us. We would not be able to continue in ministry here without you guys.
We have now been here in country for 2 years and 4 months. We are still in the process of studying the national language and Lord willing we will be able to be finished with studying before our planned home assignment next year around August or September. Sometimes we wonder why we have to become so fluent in the national language but the reality is is that we are likely to have national coworkers working alongside us and it is crucial that we are able to communicate with them on a deep heart level. Please continue to pray for us that God will encourage us and help us to learn with patience on his timetable.
Above are some more pictures of our language helpers that we study with every week. The last one is new a language helper of Eric’s who has come onto the scene at a very key time. Because he teaches at a University in town he is able to speak well at a more formal level and has been able to fill a lot of gaps that Eric has been missing.
As we continue to grind out the language learning, the most time consuming and difficulty we have is our ongoing family life. Having two little kids around while Cherie and I attempt to put in our combined 60 hours of language study a week has been a challenge and we recently found out that we are expecting another little one at the end of May next year. This wasn’t part of our plan but we are excited to have another blessing from the Lord.
Some exciting news. Eric will be heading out on his first survey trip interior starting the 26th of December. He will likely be gone about five days while Cherie and the kids stay in town. Eric, Philip Perkins, and our field leader will join a team of 6 nationals in the town of Sandai which is about 6 hours from where we live. From there we will travel up river by boat and visit a number of villages and hopefully find out if they have any interest in having missionaries come and live with them.
Below are some maps of where Eric will travel to.
We will leave the city and travel by car for about 6 hours, when we reach the city of Sandai we will take a boat upriver
So that is about it for us, we hope you all had a good thanksgiving despite the restrictions that have been put on everyone during this difficult time of Corona Virus. We wish you all a Merry Christmas in celebrating The King’s arrival and humiliation.
If you have some extra time, below are some thoughts from Eric:
Matthew 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
Maybe some of you remember how I talked about going on a “screen” fast a couple months ago. The main purpose of this fast was to discover how to handle my stress without the temptation of having so many outlets. I have learned 2 valuable and important things during this fast.
The first thing I have learned is how to “think” deeper about things This is something that may seem simple and it is but it is seemingly becoming forgotten in our culture where boredom is an unbearable thing. We have an endless supply of entertainment through our T.V., our Netflix, and even right at our fingertips on our phones. Boredom is wrong, at least that is how things seem to be in our world today. When I was studying about the word “merenungkan” in my language study its meaning in English is to meditate, or to contemplate. Something that I try to do often now is to contemplate. Contemplate life, contemplate God and what He is trying to teach me, contemplate a passage of scripture. This requires a lot of slowing down, this requires a bit of just thinking and trying to remember what God has done, and who He is. I am not able to literally pray without ceasing, nor am I able to designate the entirety of the time that I am awake to reading/studying the Word, however I am able to continually throughout my day contemplate God and His Word and live moment by moment through prayer.
Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
The second thing I have been learning is how to “rest” in Christ despite life’s noise/distractions/trials How to rest in Christ? When Joshua was 1.5 years old he had to get a root canal on one of his front teeth, I remember pinning down his arms and legs in a bear like embrace while the dentist attempted to communicate to me in broken English and I attempted to respond in the national language but I was not fluent at that time. The following hour was filled with Joshua screaming for it to stop and two helpless parents trying to comfort him while letting him be “tortured.” During this time I was not a good example of what it is “rest in Christ.” We were thousands of miles from “home” and Cherie was 7 months pregnant and having some complications. It was a lonely season of life.
I still remember when Lily was born in the greeting room at the house we were staying at because we couldn’t get to the hospital in time for her less than half hour labor. It wasn’t our house. It wasn’t how the labor was supposed to go. I remember feeling like there was absolutely no one who actually cared about me in the world, despite that not being true. During that time a friend of ours was trying to help us, she was there to watch Joshua, but he was napping from the start to the end of Cherie’s labor. Our friend was seemingly overwhelmed and stressed at the situation watching Cherie have labor pains. Then she did the unthinkable, she instinctively began to lift the whole situation up in prayer, and gave all of her fears over to God. What about Me? Admittedly, I was angry and grumbling at the whole situation, at everything going wrong, at the driver not being able to show up in time. Not my finest moment.
These are some of the stresses that life brings, I think some of the worst times for me are when I mess up and get angry at my own children. Some of the most helpless I’ve ever felt in life is not knowing how to be a dad, or knowing that I am not a very good one. Even if I put my all into it. How do we rest in Christ when life has so much pain, stress and difficulty? In reality, our world is filled with distractions that are an attempt to help us find relief from these things.
When Jesus was led to the wilderness to be tempted, he had been fasting for 40 days. He was about to begin His ministry with the end result being crucified and bearing the wrath of the Father. What the tempter was offering Jesus was essentially an “easy way out” all Jesus had to do was to bow down and worship the tempter and he could allegedly take a short-cut from having to go to the cross. Jesus refused the offer and was the first Man of all-time to withstand the tempting “easy-way-out” offers from Satan. In my life I have felt a lot of guilt and shame over things I have done and things that have been done to me. Sometimes I want to escape and spend excessive amounts of time devoted to things like TV or video games. It’s as if there is a beckoning to me when I am tired and weary to come and find temporary numbing from my pain. This is why I began a fast for using those things for 2 months. There are many people who have found alcohol, pornography, and a variety of drugs to find a way to numb pain, pain that is caused by sin. Those things are generally socially unacceptable things to participate in. However many people use socially acceptable things like: food, entertainment, and exercise as a way to find escape. Many, if not all of these things are not evil of themselves, but the most important question for us to ask ourselves is: why? Why are we pursuing them? Are we pursuing alcohol in order to forget pain and attempt to self-medicate and find rest from this sin-stained world?
If we are to rest in Christ it requires two things: we have to stop trying to find rest in things the world offers, and to come and find rest in Christ.
Hopefully my writing can be helpful to stir up your thinking about why you pursue certain activities. In many contexts where addictions happen, the substance itself is fine to use in moderation. Sex, alcohol, and drugs are not things that are outlawed in the scriptures, but oh how they have become so abused and that abuse often ending in tragedy. Because of this abuse many have made commitments to never touch the stuff. It is just as important to remember that resting in Christ requires us to come to Him, in prayer and in thought. It is a matter of not using worldly pleasures and distractions (the tempter’s offer for rest) and coming to Christ for that rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”
1 Peter 5:5-7 And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand by casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.
Something that has helped me to understand this concept of resting in Christ is to remember that He said: “it is finished” before He died on the cross. Shortly after, the temple in the curtain tore in two and after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He sat down at the right hand of God. Jesus is sitting down. Jesus came to the earth as a man in a low and humble state. He fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah. He accepted the wrath of God as He was being crucified on the cross. He removed the barrier of the curtain in the temple and is seated on His throne at the right hand of God. He finished the work, and He took a seat. He is the way, the truth, and the life. This is true for those who find Him in the rebirth of their salvation, and it is ever more true for growing believers who are walking this earth and purposing their lives for His glory.