Category Archives: Family
Even though we returned to the US in the third week of September, there’s not been much time to slow down. Following our arrival and brief time in California, our next stop was Colorado. I was invited to join fellow FEBC colleague, Guy West, at his church’s men’s retreat. We enjoyed the beauty of the Colorado Rockies while meeting new friends, members of Guy’s church family. The view of Pike’s Peak did not disappoint.
After that brief 4 day visit, we quickly found ourselves in the upper Midwest of the US. It was an enjoyable time meeting friends over the past few weeks. We met several of our supporters and churches near our home area in west-central Minnesota as well as in North Dakota. We were able to get a glimpse of the fall colors as the trees in the region dropped their leaves in preparation for winter. We were even able to squeeze in a few days along the north shore of Lake Superior with some close friends and former colleagues in ministry.
Our visit to North Dakota included an extended time with my family who still live in the state. We were glad to be there for a few days as we worked through a variety of issues that needed attention. While our visit perhaps raised more questions than answers, we have a better idea of my family’s circumstances. We will appreciate prayer for my mom and brother as we work through the adjustments that are taking place.
Our next month looks to be filled with a variety of experiences while traveling through the central US visiting churches and supporters along the way. Our current schedule includes:
- Oct. 29 – Immanuel Lutheran Church, Springfield, MO
- Nov. 5 – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Napoleon, OH
- Nov. 11-12 – Autumn Ridge Church, Rochester, MN
- Nov. 19 – Crossroads Church, Fergus Falls, MN
For those of you who may be nearby one of these locations and would like further details, please contact me via this blog. If you wonder if we could be passing near your place, please let us know. We’ll see if even meeting for a coffee somewhere might work out.
We all enjoy the routine of life, to have a place to call home and get into a rhythm of predictable schedules. Our family, over the years, experienced various times when a major move meant facing a host of new changes and challenges, some good and some more difficult.
Now the time has come for our son Nathan to make a significant move in his life. As I am drafting this post, Nathan is making final preparations to move to Florida. He’s getting ready for the long trip from North Dakota, a state he has known well, to a warmer climate where snow will no longer be a part of the routine. This new adventure will bring many changes to his life. We are hopeful many of them will be positive. We’ve been coming alongside Nathan as he has made this decision to move on his own, weighing his options and stepping out for new opportunities.
Nathan (along with Mom and Dad) will appreciate your prayers for him as he makes this long journey. Please remember the following changes he will face along the way:
- Pray for the extended journey from the northern to southeastern US. It’s a long drive, most likely taking the better part of a week to complete the journey. Pray for his safety and the decisions he will need to make along the way. This needs to be the priority until the middle of September.
- We are thankful that Nathan has found a place to live before he moves there. He’s already made initial arrangements near a university. Pray for his adapting to his new living situation and that the new relationships he makes will be encouraging ones.
- Nathan will be looking for a job when he gets to his new location. Pray that God will provide him with a job and income to get established in his new community.
- Pray that God will lead Nathan through the new experiences and adjustments he will need to make. We pray that God will grant him great wisdom and peace as he makes new friends and finds ways to plug into positive fellowship and spiritual growth.
While Nathan makes his way to Florida, I will also be making my way for a visit to Africa. I’ll be leaving soon for Rwanda for a series of meetings with other international ministries to encourage and build up local broadcasters in the region of East Africa. I’m anticipating I will be meeting delegates from Uganda, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and probably other countries as well.
Thank you for your ongoing encouragement of our ministry, but also for our family. We value your prayers as we ask God to protect, lead, and provide for Nathan as he takes these steps to a new experience. We are very grateful that God is going with him.
Moving across town is one thing. Moving to another state can be another. However, when moving halfway around the world into another culture, expectations can be quite misguiding. We’ve certainly experienced a few bumps (or should I say “adjustments”) in the last few weeks as we’ve been settling into our new home and work environment in the western suburbs of Jakarta, Indonesia. With each detour and diversion, we’re slowly learning how “things” work. I’m wondering if maybe the bumps aren’t just differences in expectations rather than shortcomings in various procedures.
While it has taken us some time, we are now pleased to report that our paperwork for being in the country has all been completed, We’ve been each granted a KITAS card that identifies us as temporary residents in the country. Another stamp in our passports indicates that we can travel in and out of the country freely. With all of these documents, signatures, and permissions in place, we are now pursuing the shipment of our personal effects from South Africa. We are hopeful that they will arrive about a month to six weeks from now. Pray that we will be able to coordinate the arrangements. I need to be back from my trip to Africa by the time the shipment arrives so it can be processed through customs in Jakarta.
We made the decision to purchase a vehicle (called “mobil”) for our own transportation needs. We found one suitable for city driving and have been working with the dealer to finalize the purchase. The car is all ready for delivery to us, except for one detail. The license has not yet been processed. Apparently, the local government office that licenses vehicles lost Internet access for the past several days so all license applications are on hold. Having an extra holiday in that time didn’t help. We remain hopeful that the car will be registered this week so we can take delivery.
Two weeks ago, the area in which we live experienced a three day water outage. It seems that the dry season here has been drier than normal and the rains are slow in coming. As a result, a number of areas across the country are experiencing water shortages. We ran out of water in our storage tank on day two, so were thankful when the water returned, unannounced, at the end of day three. We had two shorter outages since then, but nothing major. We’re looking forward to the rains coming to top up the municiple reservoirs.
We took yet another step to feeling at home this past week with the purchase of furniture for the office we use at our host, FEBC Indonesia. The office has mostly been used by visitors with borrowed furnishings from the local operation. Since arriving, Barb and I worked out a plan and received budget approval at the end of July for the additional hardware. With that, I ordered office furniture as well as the necessary computer accessories for my new office. With this in place, we’ll be able to focus more on our work. We’ll also be able to accommodate visitors and have sufficient privacy for meetings and conversations around ministry.
We started our language studies in earnest this past week, working with a tutor in Bandung, another city on the island of Java. We are taking lessons from her via Skype. We have study notes and lessons as well as lists of vocabulary words to learn and remember. My recall isn’t all it could be. We also need to be diligent in our practice of the language, even though we don’t know what to say immediately in nearly every situation. However, the intense focus of the lessons is making a difference even at this early stage. Continue to pray with us for diligence to grasp the language, persistence to practice speaking with those we meet, and patience for them as they try to understand what we’re saying.
We haven’t been the only part of the family in transition these days. A couple weeks ago, Nathan, our son, received a surprise phone call from a radio station in Harvey, ND. They were looking for an announcer that would also include local sports coverage of teams in the central part of the state. Nathan put together a couple of demos and was called for an interview. Liking his voice, the manager offered him the job starting later this week. So Nathan is going through his things and getting ready for this major shift to a new community. Please pray that this will go smoothly for him and that he can build new relationships after several years in Minot. We are all excited that he has the opportunity to pursue what he’s been dreaming of doing, being on the radio doing sports.
As you can probably tell, very few days have been the same. Each day has been one of adjustment, small joys while appreciating our new environment and building new relationships. As we get more settled, we’ll have further updates on how ministry is taking place here across Asia and the rest of the FEBC world.
We have finally made it to Jakarta, Indonesia and are in the process of getting settled into our new home. While we knew this would be a process, we had a few more twists and turns along the way. We are indeed grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from the the staff here at FEBC who have been helping us work through many of the details.
It took a bit longer than what we originally thought to get our visa. There was some confusion about the process that resulted in an extra trip to Singapore. After about three weeks of uncertainty, we were eventually rewarded with visas in our passports on July 13. Now that we are back in Jakarta, we are in the process of completing a number of other requirements to obtain documents we need to live in the country.
In the meantime, we’ve been able to find a home near the FEBC office in the western suburbs of Jakarta. With the assistance of Yaski staff, we found a suitable house within our budget that we could rent. The lease has been signed. We were able to move in at the beginning of July and are now setting up the home. We still have to wait for our shipment from South Africa, but with the help of the landlord lending some furniture to us, we are able to live in our subdivision rather than in a hotel.
In the midst of the moving, traveling, and settling, we were invited to participate in the Heartline staff retreat of FEBC Indonesia. This provided a good way for us to meet the staff in a more informal setting and start to get to know them. The two day event was filled with activities, meals, and sessions designed to help us interact with one another. It also reinforced our motivation to learn the local language!
In the weeks ahead, we have a number of prayer requests as we continue to settle into our new ministry roles here in Asia:
- Pray for the completion of the rest of our documents that will allow us to be in the country. We cannot send our shipment or travel outside the country until these documents are obtained.
- Pray for our plans to study the Indonesian language. We are working on an audio course at the moment but are considering more formal study, most likely with a tutor over Skype so that we can remain in our home .
- Pray for our adjustment to the environment and culture. We are still in the process of learning our way around the area and how to transact business in shops and stores to purchase what we need. Just purchasing drinking water took longer today as many shops had run out over the extended holiday.
We are glad to be in Jakarta. As we adapt to the way of life here, we are trusting we will also build relationships with those around us. We are grateful for many of you back home who are helping make this all possible.
Let me see, which side of the world am I on now? The month of May was a whirlwind of travel and conversations all drawing me into the new role of project management at FEBC. It concluded with the realization that I would be heading back to Asia sooner than I thought. I’m now back in Minnesota only long enough to repack and make the move to Indonesia in a few days’ time.
I traveled to Cambodia from May 18 to June 1 to start up the renovation of FEBCambodia’s headquarters in Phnom Penh. I met with a project management consultant who we expect to help us with the remodeling required to accommodate new production and broadcast studio equipment. The entire headquarters will be transformed to better engage staff and listeners for more effective ministry.
I also worked on a number of other projects that FEBCambodia is planning for the future, including an outreach to believers in the provinces as well as reaching the next generation of listeners across the Internet through mobile phone technology. I’m expecting this will require a significant portion of my attention in the coming months.
Barb and I were thrilled to hear the news from the FEBC operation in Indonesia that our visa was approved. The process required our application be passed through a number of government agencies before it was finally approved at the end of May. We are grateful for all of those who have helped us in Jakarta as well as those who have committed this matter to prayer.
Returning to Asia
With the visa waiting for us in Singapore, we have plans to depart the US in the next few days. We anticipate leaving for Asia on June 17. We will visit Singapore first to pick up the visa. We’re expecting to be in Jakarta by June 24, when we will begin the process of settling into our next ministry assignment.
Please pray for us during the transition to this new environment.
- We will be looking for a suitable place to live. We are hoping to find a home nearby the FEBC headquarters where our office will be located.
- Pray for a smooth process of completing our papers upon arrival in the country. We need to have special documents in place for permission to import our personal effects, rent our home, and set up services we need to begin our life in the community.
- Pray for the safe and timely arrival of our personal effects from South Africa. We’ll have to wait a bit once we authorize the shipment but it will be an important step to getting settled.
- We are still working on arrangements for some language study upon arrival. We will have to choose a course that will best meet our needs and the place where we will study.
- We will be seeking a new church fellowship where we can further our spiritual growth as well as engage in ministry. We’re trusting God to lead us to an English speaking church seeking to strategically impact others as they walk with Jesus.
So our next adventure has begun. We are on our way to Indonesia to help projects not only in that country but across the rest of the FEBC family. In the coming months, I’m expecting to be impacting ministry in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, India and even back in Africa. We appreciate so many of you who have partnered with us to reach many hearts for Jesus through media.
Over the past few months, our ministry situation in Africa has grown increasingly unsettled. Something in our spirits was telling us there was another change coming our way. TWR was encountering change in the way it would be handling its ministry in Africa. The vast majority of these changes would not require my involvement any longer. At the same time this was happening, some significant changes were also taking place in FEBC. One result from these changes is a request that I join FEBC’s Internatlonal Service Team and consider returning to Asia, where our ministry got started more than 25 years ago. While we aren’t quite sure where our next home will be yet, we do know that the time has come for us to say farewell to our time in Africa.
As I reflect back over the 7.5 years we’ve spent on this rapidly changing continent, it’s become apparent how God has been shaping and molding us. We’ve learned a number of important lessons about shifting cultures around the world – how change, often considered universal, impacts culture uniquely in many different ways. I have noticed here some similiarites in the approach to relationships in Africa when compared to Asia, but, by and large, there are some stunning and significant differences as well. All of these things have served to shape us and help us become more aware of the people who are impacted by our ministry.
Africa, with its wide open savannahs and more temperate climate, brought us many new experiences we never would have encountered in Asia. We’ve learned to appreciate the fine art of the “African Safari”, getting up close and personal with Africa’s unique wildlife in their habitat. We have greatly enjoyed the visits to Kruger National Park to explore the drama and reality of uniquely African species surviving in their own environment. We’ve also adapted to the South African version of the barbeque, called a braai, which has its own unique traditions when it comes to cooking and preparing meat. There were aspects of our life in Asia we missed when we came to Africa. Now as we depart, there will be other aspects of African life that we will also miss.
Amid all of the details of relocating, perhaps the most difficult part of the process is the loss we feel in the many different and close relationships we’ve developed during our time in Africa. We will take so many people with us in our hearts as we leave at the beginning of September. Whether they be the people with whom we have worked every day at Feba Radio or TWR, our church fellowships, members of the various Bible studies Barb has led, or the musicians and artists with whome I’ve been privileged to collaborate, we take with us a host of memories and valued relationships just as we have done from the US and the Philippines. While it is painful that these relationships have to change, they will endure in our hearts. We will treasure the memories and remember them in prayer as the Lord brings each to mind. I’m grateful for Facebook and other platforms that keep us informed about one anothers’ lives.
So we are in the final weeks of packing up our home and preparing for our move back to Asia via the US. We will leave South Africa for the final time in early September, right around Labor Day back home. There are still several uncertainties to sort out before we settle in our new home sometime around the March 2015 timeframe. In the meantime, we’ll be back in the US, meeting up with many of our good friends based in the upper Midwest and elsewhere. A part of that visit will include our daughter Emily’s wedding. Please pray for us as we travel back through Indonesia and seek God’s direction concerning whether we should relocate to Jakarta following our home assignment. More details on all of that once we get back to the US.
Over the past several months, in addition to the challenges of ministry in Africa, we’ve also been offering support to our children. Since November last year, our son, Nathan, has been struggling to find work in his field of communications. After losing his job at a local TV station, Nathan began the difficult journey of finding alternative employment in an increasingly tight job market. He was diligent in all the steps necessary to apply for new positions that became available. However, after a couple of months of searching, it looked like this would be an extended process. So in the meantime, he was able to secure a part-time position at a local supermarket where he lived in northwestern North Dakota.
One morning earlier this month, I received a call from Nathan. This wasn’t uncommon but I could hear something was up. He was calling to inform us that he had applied for and was accepted in a full-time job as a copy editor for a regional newspaper in that part of North Dakota. He had gone in for the interview and evaluated the job and its requirements. The employer was enthusiastic about his interest in the job and eventually offered it to him. We are so grateful for this answer to prayer in his life as he now has a new job in the communications field without having to change locations.
Please join us in celebrating this new opportunity for Nathan. Pray for him as he makes the adjustment to this new role. The work hours will be in the evening which will require some change to his schedule. Pray that he will pick up the process of the job and will get the training he needs on the paper’s software to fulfill his role.
In another family development, Emily and her fiancee, Alex, are in the process of relocating to Texas where they will be pursuing their doctorates in their respective fields of study, English and Electrical Engineering. Both of them have received approval of their master’s thesis and have been granted their degrees at NDSU in Fargo, ND. They are now in the process of moving to Texas to resume their studies in early August. We’re praying for them as they get settled in their new surroundings and develop new relationships in College Station, the home of Texas A&M.
We are grateful that, in the midst of transition for both of our children, God has provided them with clarity and direction. We’re praying this new chapter for each of them will be rewarding and fulfilling.
The year 2013 brought many changes to our ministry as well our family. It started with us together in the US before Barb and I returned to South Africa to begin a new chapter of ministry. We rejoiced when Nathan had a job before we departed in Feburary. Somehow, we have the idea that once we’ve gone through an intense period of change, our circumstances will settle into a more normal pattern. It doesn’t always happen that way. As we finished up our first year with TWR-Africa, we realized we needed a bit of a break. So, as is often the custom here in South Africa, Barb and I took an extended holiday from our ministry efforts with TWR. We had enough holiday time alloted to us that we took off the entire month of December, something we had never done while overseas. It gave us ample time to prepare for Nathan and Emily’s visit with us for Christmas. The break of 4+ weeks gave us time to turn our attention to other activities that included time together and with the family. Consequently, my email load dropped off dramatically.
Nathan and Emily arrived together in Johannesburg on Barb’s birthday, December 15. It was a wonderful present for her to have everyone back together after 10 months. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a delay with Emily’s luggage, so it took some work to track down her bags prior to our holiday on the south coast at a town called Plettenberg Bay. We spent the balance of that week enjoying the beach, hiking in the mountains, a few trips down a zipline, and generally spending time together. We were back to our home in time for Christmas. We also took in a number sights around Gauteng (the province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria), including a visit to a cheetah reserve and several places around Johannesburg. Basically our goal was to spend time together as a family. That we were able to accomplish.
We haven’t been without change in our family. At the end of November, Nathan learned that his job at a TV station in Minot, ND, was coming to an end. It was disappointing for him, but now he is busy looking for another position in the broadcast media environment. He’s had several interviews, but nothing has materialized so far. We’d appreciate your prayers for him as he diligently seeks out his next assignment.
Emily and her boyfriend, Alex, are pursuing their masters’ degrees in North Dakota and will be completing those studies in May. They both wish to continue on to get their PhDs (English for Emily and Electrical Engineering for Alex). They are currently in the process of investigating alternatives. We are praying that God will guide them together in their choice of schools.
Barb and I are now back on our own again as January, 2014 starts up. As I’m attempting to assist TWR national partners in crisis in southern Africa, there will undoubtedly be more change for many of my colleagues through the process. I’m praying for God’s wisdom and discernment as we attempt to balance effective ministry with financial constraints. Barb’s Precepts Bible Studies will begin shortly. Her group is eager to get started again as they finish up Genesis- looking at the life of Joseph.
We do appreciate your interest in our ministry. Please continue to pray for us as we approach this new year with attentive hearts to hear how God would lead us in our service for His kingdom.
Now, let’s see if I can remember my passwords…… 😉
Every so often, a day comes along that takes a bit more energy to get through it. This was one of those days. Most Mondays aren’t like this (fortunately)!
It started with a trip to Pretoria. I needed to apply for a visa to travel to Tanzania this coming week, where I’ll be working on assessing possible ministry opportunities for TWR in the country. I thought this would be a relaxing trip to the Tanzania High Commission. It didn’t turn out that way.
On the way there, my car (and I) was involved in a minor accident at a busy intersection. While I was stopped for a traffic light (called a robot), another vehicle clipped the rear bumper of my vehicle. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The damage was minimal enough to not affect the operation of either vehicle, but it did mess up my rear bumper. Within moments, the tow trucks (called break-downs), as well as an emergency medical vehicle arrived at the scene. One paramedic came over to my car as I was sitting there sorting out my papers and asked if I was OK. I was fine, just a little frustrated. She said, ” I can understand that.”
An accident like this isn’t too traumatic, but the aftermath will consume a portion of my days for a while. I’ll need to sort out the repair of our Toyota, working with the other driver’s company and our insurance agencies. I’m hoping we’ll be able to settle the claim fairly quickly so I can get the car repaired.
When Barb and I returned home from work that evening, we discovered our video recorder for our TV had gone out. Even though there was power through the cable, I could not switch it back on. So, I added running that appliance over to a repair center to my to-do list. I’m happy to report this is now repaired (after a week’s wait) and installed so Barb can use it while I’m away.
So as I am preparing for a ministry trip to Tanzania, I’ve had a host of other distractions to interrupt my days of ministry with our partners across Africa. I’d appreciate your prayers as I attempt to manage the preparations for the Tanzania visit with less time than what I thought I would have at the beginning of this past week. I’m anticipating my next post will have more relevant ministry information. I expect to leave for Tanzania later in the week.
In the meantime, I pray that there won’t be too many more interruptions.
It’s been four months since we left South Africa for an adventure of travel, conversations, and renewing relationships with our family and friends in the US. While it was great to be back home for a time, carrying our possessions with us in suitcases for that long of a stretch was getting a bit old. As every week passed by, we were getting ever closer to the long flight that would return us to Johannesburg and our new assignment in South Africa. We arrived safely at TWR Africa as planned. We were welcomed into TWR’s guest lodge that is part of their office complex with our suitcases in hand.
Our first assignment upon returning to South Africa was finding a permanent home. Our search had already started while in the US via the internet, but we hadn’t found much. The rental housing market in eastern Johannesburg is extremely tight because many in the country find it hard to purchase a home given the current economic climate. As we started searching for available properties, especially within our budget, we found most rental agencies either didn’t have anything available or, if they did, it had already been taken. We had hoped to be in a place by March 1 but were starting to wonder if that would be possible. We knew many were praying both in the US as well as our new colleagues here at TWR, so we were trusting God.
Then a lead on a place came up one morning. We jumped on it right away and arranged a viewing, seeing it was within our budget. When we arrived to view the home, we didn’t expect what we saw. While it was a bit older, the house was in good condition. It not only met our requirements but exceeded our expectations. We were absolutely amazed that this place could be available at the advertised rent. As we viewed the property, we started visiting with the owner, who was there working on it. During our conversation, we discovered that he, too, has been following Jesus for many years and had a wonderful testimony of how God delivered him. We were so impressed with the place that we immediately went to meet with the rental agency who manages the property. Within the day, we had our new home arranged. We won’t be able to move in until early March, but we’re relieved to focus on the move rather than the search.
While we’re waiting to move into our new home, our orientation to TWR starts on Monday. There are a series of activities and events that will help introduce us to my new role and the approach to how ministry works in the TWR-Africa office. It includes a workshop with other professionals and ministry leaders back in Pretoria on how modern media enables missions. We may also be taking a quick trip to Swaziland to visit TWR’s shortwave facility where many of the programs are broadcast back into Africa. In the days to come, we would appreciate your prayers for the following:
- A smooth transition into our new home as we work out all the details of the move and arranging for all the services to be connected.
- Clarity and focus as we begin our work with TWR. We will be learning many new things in the coming days as we get connected and integrated into the TWR culture and approach to ministry.
- Nathan has started his work with a local TV station in Minot, ND. Initial reports indicate he is enjoying his new role and adapting well to the tasks before him. Thanks again for your prayers on his behalf.
We are so encouraged by those who have been praying for us in our return to South Africa. It seems that God is confirming for us our new assignment in so many different ways. For that, we are truly grateful.