God has called our family into a ministry where we get to do some amazing things but why? Why would we move so many times or leave our extended family that we love to go to a place where people do not know us?

I suppose the answer is as simple as we followed someone.

Before you get to know our family you really should know God because our family really does not make any sense without him. See, long before God led us to Nulato God had already done the very thing we are doing. Though on a much grander scale.

When Jesus was born in the stable that Christmas stories tell about, he was moving from the heavenly home to an earthly home. He lived among us, taught us, and in the end died to make it possible for all people to have a way to be set free from the power of sin that holds us all captive. He left his home to come to our home to tell us good news. To show us that the power of God could overcome all the other powers in this world.

For me, I first heard about Jesus from my parents and brothers. I saw the power of God at work in their lives and I learned that it was more than just a religious system of going to church and doing stuff. It was a relationship with Jesus where I could honestly admit my wrong choices to him and ask him to forgive me and set me free from the power of sin that held me prisoner. Not only did he set me free so that I could go to heaven but he gave me strength and desire to follow him in life.

It is because of God that our family moved from one place to another to share the hope and the power of God with others.

Complicated Tears

I have a well meaning friend that texts me often asking “are you in Nulato”. After being on homeservice/furlough/support raising (whatever you want to call it) for 19 months now, it brings tears to my eyes.

Nulato is home to me. That is one reason for the tears. I miss home. I miss being in a place where I can plan and dream long term. For the last year I have to think long and hard if I should buy groceries and supplies in bulk or not because we might be moving soon.

Another reason for the tears is that I can look back on our text history and see how many times he has asked me that and once again I have to say “no, not yet”. It hurts to see how long it has been and it feels like a dream is floating by, just out of reach, and yet I am constantly hearing the reminder to not give up. It is torture to my heart.

I also spiritualize it a bit. I have no idea why God has handed us such a tough two years. I go through the usual questions: checking if I have made a wrong choice that needs confessed and corrected; seeing if there is something I need to be doing. I am convinced we need to persevere and not give up, but this is hard. I guess that’s why perseverance is not a favorite word of mine.

Finally, I cry because of what has been lost. Nulato has changed while we have been gone and I missed it. People have died, babies have been born, high school kids have graduated, people have moved away, new people have come. I consider myself a part of the community and yet I know we have been away long enough that we will, for a time, feel like strangers again. I grieve this loss.

The whole reason we moved to Nulato is because God called us there. We love the quality conversations where we get to point peoples attention to Jesus and how worthy He is to follow. I cry because those conversations are not happening as often. Not that God can’t get peoples attention without me; I am not essential to God at all. But I enjoy being a part of it. I love it when I get to point someone to the truth of God’s Word and see their eyes brighten as the truth settles into their hearts. I can do that anywhere but I love doing it in Nulato.

Yup, the tears are complicated. Even in writing this I wonder if it will be understood. I hope that this “journal entry” gives you a window into how our hearts hurt and what life feels like on furlough/homeservice/support raising for us.

Northern Ministry Training

One week training in Soldotna at the Alaska Christian College campus. It is a collaborative effort among missionaries in Alaska and Canada to have an ongoing training to encourage, equip and strengthen the Christian missionaries in the north.

We have attended it for many years. This year was a bit different for us. MaryAnna attended classes and took lots of notes for Jon. Meanwhile Jon helped with the kids program. He enjoyed helping the younger elementary group as they learned to apply 1 Peter 3:8-9 and as they learned Alaska history and culture. All five of our kids loved being a part of NMT and they look forward to it every year.

It was great to see coworkers and meet other missionaries working in the north. We also loved seeing volunteers come help with the program as well.

Power in Weakness

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31
In June of 2018 doctors told us that MaryAnna has Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. What that means is she faces daily pain and a constant shortage in energy. Basically, we are weak. It is not just MaryAnna, I (Jon) am weak too. Perhaps the word weakness is what prompted me to make a list of places in the bible that talk about weakness. The one written above is one of my favorites. The reminder that God uses weak things like MaryAnna and I to do great things is so comforting. We cannot look at anything we do and boast about how great we are because the truth is we are not great. But God who works in us and around us is great and if he delights in using the foolish and weak things of this world I think we qualify.