Ongs in Malawi

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Ongs in 2011

Posted on December 7, 2010 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (1)

How time flies! 

Christmas is only 2 weeks away and things are getting very busy here, there, and everywhere.


So what's happening with us in 2011? Here's a quick update:


- Pete will commence full time study at Morling Theological College in Feb.


- Jo's cake business will cease taking orders but will be running 4 workshops during the course of the year.


- We have been allocated a 3 bedroom townhouse at Morling College next year! Yay! Moving date has been set for 12th Jan.


- God has organised for someone to rent our place starting the week after we move out. The husband is the new youth pastor at the local Anglican church. What a wonderful provision from God!


- Teaghan will start at her new preschool in Feb 2011. Her teacher is wonderful and happens to be a friend of a good friend of Jo's.


- We're still looking for a new home for Moonbie our cat.


- Jo is now 18 weeks pregnant with our third child who is due out in May :)


- Financially. God has been good in providing for us through his faithful servants but we are still a little bit short. Trusting in God for the rest. Let us know if you are interested in supporting us in this way.


- Jo has published a cake decorating book as a fundraiser for next year. All profits made will go towards supporting our missions journey. See the book below:



Have a wonderful Christmas as you celebrated the greatest gift of all!

I WILL NOT fear

Posted on October 15, 2010 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

My weakness

Trust is not an easy path, but the destination is sweet.

 

To be honest, I have struggled a bit with letting go of a few luxuries in the name of missions. A big one this week is the decision to not put Teaghan into Prep at the lovely Christian school I taught at, because we simply cannot afford it with Pete studying full time next year. I am more at peace with letting things go now, but for a while the cost of missions was really stacking up and I was feeling a bit down.

I was recently asked a thought-provoking question which made me think long and hard about our missions journey: ”Do you think God still wants you to go feeling like this?” In the end, I was glad to have been asked that as it served to deepen my faith in God and my convictions for the path that Pete and I had decided before God to go on almost 10 years ago.


 

Faced with giants?

Pete and I recently did a kids talk on Numbers 13-14, when the Israelites are at the brink of entering The Promised Land. The Bible records that the Israelites sent 12 men to check out the land, 10 of them came back discouraged by what they saw - giants. On hearing this, the Israelites complained against God. Only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, stood firm in their faith in God. Though it looked scary, they trusted that God would bring them victory against the giants. We read that because of the lack of trust of the other 10 spies, all of the Israelites except for Caleb and Joshua were forbidden to enter the Promise Land. The lesson is that we need to trust God even when things seem impossible. We need to trust that He is more powerful than our human abilities. When we don't, and we try to take things into our own hands, we make a mess of things.


 

When we are faced with The Impossible, it is easier to go down the path of least resistance - where you can see exactly what lies ahead, know exactly where you're going, and where you require less trust in the Almighty to lead you. Even though it may appear harder, going down the path of faith ultimately leads you to unexpected joys and pleasant surprises along the way, and the end is sweeter because you have walked the path with your Saviour.


 

As we were preparing the above Sunday school lesson, I couldn't help but think about what it means for us to go on missions. It is not an easy journey, with many uncertainties along the way (like where are we going to live next year?!). Are we going to grumble about giants or trust in God?


 

His power in our weakness

God definitely doesn’t want me to go ‘feeling like this’, that is why He is going all out in reassuring me that everything will work out according to his purposes to make me more like Christ! Just like a parent guiding a child, not all the lessons will be easy but some are necessary and for my good. God doesn’t want me feeling like this, so he’s promised to walk with me all the way to stand beside me as I tackle all the challenges that lay ahead. Wow, what a promise!


 

Leaving for missions is not easy, not even for those who are 'mission minded'. Missionaries aren't happy magical people who prance off to a foreign land singing happy songs with no fears or worries. Missionaries are simply people who have a passion for the lost and trusts in the God of all nations who is bigger than all their fears and worries.


 

We can choose to stay and avoid all the uncertainties that seem to surround our life at the moment, we can choose not to go because we worry about the unknown, but then we'll also never get to experience God's awesome power at work should I choose to go down the path of faith. For it is in our weakness, that his power is made perfect.


 

Fearless faith

I was recently reminded in my weekly Mums Bible Study that to say: “I will not fear” as David in the Psalms did, is an act of will based on the truth of God. David does not say “I do not fear”. This lack of fear doesn’t just happen, it is a result of daily reminding yourself of God’s faithfulness and consciously saying: “Because of what I know of God, I WILL NOT fear”


 

God has been further reminding me of this idea of ‘faith through trials’ thru my personal devotions. In particular, these words from my devotional book in the past couple of months have been of encouragement to me. I hope they are to you too:


 

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; Is anything too difficult for me?” Jeremiah 23: 27


 

“I have learnt to be content in whatever circumstances I am... I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:11, 13


 

“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you” God’s words to Paul in Acts 18:9-10


 

Suffering is a precious gift when viewed from an eternal perspective, because suffering not only proves our faith but is used of God to make us more like Jesus.


 

God does not want compliant resignation. When life is difficult, God wants us to have a faith that trusts and waits. He wants us to have a faith that doesn’t complain while waiting but rejoices because we know our times are in His hands – nail-scarred hands that labour for our highest good.


 

God proves himself again

Even as I write now, I can already see the way God is taking care of us because we chose to trust in Him with our future.


The day we decided not to enrol Teaghan at my old work, Pete was armed with the task of calling around preschools near Morling college where he will be studying and where we hope to be living. By the 2nd phone call, he had found a lovely Christian preschool 5 mins from college, which on that particular day had one vacancy come up for the days that we wanted for Teaghan for next year. They accepted our application over the phone. Perfect timing. Perfect provision. One uncertainty ticked off the list.

 


Today a nearby church contacted us (thanks to a friend who told them about us) to say that they are interested in renting our place for their youth pastor next year starting Jan, which is when we plan to move into college housing. Perfect timing. Perfect provision. Another uncertainty ticked!

 


Today Pete was accepted to study full time at Morling College next year. Tick!!


 

How sweet it is to trust in Jesus!!

 


A garageless Christian?

Posted on September 8, 2010 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I like the saying "Being in a garage doesn't make you a car any more than going to church makes you a Christian."


So true, that going to church is not what makes you a Christian, nor is doing ministries, and it's good to be reminded of that... However, at the same time, if you car was parked outside in the elements all the time then maybe it wouldn't do so well after a while...


We learnt a painful lesson recently when we missed 2.5 years of servicing for our car... that when we finally took it to the garage - the type where they fix your car - it cost us an arm and a leg to get all the bits fixed up!! Over time, little damage had turned into major damage because we didn't get it to a garage straight away.


Likewise with Christians, I agree that going to church doesn't make you a Christian, but we need to go to church regularly to hear God's word taught. For it is only by doing that, that God can begin to 'fix' our broken bits. We need to meet regularly with other Christians, so that they can encourage us and we can encourage them, it's a little bit like keeping your car well oiled.


Similarly, regular personal times reading God's word is important -  like petrol in a car. You are still a car without the petrol, but you won't go very far!


I really struggled with having regular QTs when I first had Teaghan. It's taken me a while to find my rhythm and find what works for me in getting a consistent QT going. I thought I'd start off using something short and to the point so that I can get back into the habit first, then move on to 'meatier' stuff later. I have found the below book really really helpful and a little more personally challenging than others I've read.  Each day has a blurb and a Bible verse. I am daily challenged, encouraged, and humbled  by God's word through it. Every night as I read it, I think "WOW!! That's spot on!! Just what I needed to hear". If anyone is looking for a good short devotional. I would highly recommend it!


So I've been reflecting on the above, on the importance to be grounded in God's word regularly. Because when we don't, the damage is gradual and most of the time, you might not even notice anything is wrong until something drastic happens (we knew our car needed fixing finally when it wouldn't start... oops!). 


As we head out for missions in the near future, this is something that I'll need to remember. Because I know I can so easily slip back into the old pattern of being too busy for God.


So if you remember, would you mind reminding me of this when I'm 'on the field'?  :)

Where will we be in 2011?

Posted on August 24, 2010 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

It's been a little while since our last post by Pete. So what's been happening?


MEDICALS

We are now at the medical/dental/psych part of the application process. Then comes the big D. The doctrinal assessment, which unfortunately does not allow wives to cheat off knowledgeable husbands :)

So my teeth are cleared, after a filling, a root canal treatment and three wisdom tooth extractions!

Teaghan's 20 little teeth are all good.

The boys have yet to get their teeth checked... we thought we'd wait a while before getting Lucas' checked, since he only has a grand total of 8 teeth at present.


LETTERS

Since breaking the news to Pete's parents, we have received two letters from his Dad, basically voicing his concerns about our decision which is totally consistent with a Chinese parent who does not understand the impact of the Cross on theirs and our lives. Pete received a letter when we went to Ethiopia in 2001. So we'd appreciate continual prayers for that.


NEXT YEAR

Well, after putting in the application to study at SMBC next year, we just found out that there are NO accomodation available for next year. Not even the teeny 2 bedroom unit we thought we'd get at least. Sooo that's thrown a spanner in the works... We'd like to live close to college so I can undertake some part-time studies.


We will not be able to afford to pay for the mortgage of our current place without renting it out. So staying put is out. SIM recommends that we do not sell up, so that we have a place to come back to in the future.

Places to rent around the Croydon area (where SMBC is) are too expensive. So that's out.

Staying at Mum's in Bexley is too cramped (we'll all have to squish into my old bedroom/granny flat), so that's out too. 


So now we are considering Morling College - a reputable Baptist Bible college in Ryde. I am still coming round to the idea of Morling... it's a little like the difference between UNSW and USyd, as some of you would understand!


The advantages of Morling:

- Close to church in Dural

- Close to other activities the kids are currently involved in (swimming, playgroup, etc)

- Close to PHCS which means Teaghan might get to go to Prep.

- Close to Pete's parents, which might make them happy and soften the blow of missions.

- Morling has 3 bedroom townhouses, which we have a better chance of getting than at SMBC. Or else, they are pretty sure they can get us a 2 bedroom place. There are currently 10 families who have applied for 6 available 3 bedroom places, but some of these families have only 1 child so we might stand a chance with an extra couple of Onglets.


Sooo... we are considering.


Despite some unhelpful and discouraging rumours we have heard about the teaching at Morling. Pete has looked into it and has found their subjects and lecturers to be comparable to ones at SMBC, so we are happy for Pete to learn more about the Bible there.


Pete plans to lodge his application with Morling soon and see how it goes from there. 


THE CUPCAKE GALLERY

I'm feeling a little sad about giving up my business, which I have worked so hard to get to where it is now. It's been particularly hard seeing friends also start up similar businesses. I wish I had the years ahead of me in Australia to develop the business like they can. The Cupcake Gallery is just at a very good place now, with a good reputation, regular customers, and increasing media exposure. We have decided not to take any orders for next year so we can concentrate of getting ready to leave, but will still be running workshops as that would help us financially. This has gotten me thinking a lot about surrendering. I prefer the term 'surrender' to 'sacrifice'. 'Sacrifice' to me seems to focus more on the giver than the one the sacrifice is being made for. Surrendering to me is more about giving back to God what he gave you, entrusting it into his hands for him to look after until further notice. He may put it on a shelf forever like a proud father displays the trophies of his children, or he may get it down for me again when He sees that the time is right to continue to bless the business as he has over the past 2.5 years. So God *sigh*, here it is. Please take very good care of it for me!


~ Jo




A Remarkable Day

Posted on June 25, 2010 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Thursday 24th June was a remarkable day.

 

On the political front, Australia had a new Prime Minister under the most extraordinary of circumstances and she is the first female Prime Minister in Australian history.

 

On the sporting front, the Socceroos won its first match in the FIFA World Cup but just missed out on the Round of 16 by goal difference! This marks the end of this World Cup campaign for the Aussies, and for many in the squad this would be their last World Cup.

 

Two remarkable events.

 

On the personal front, Thursday was a remarkable day as I told my parents for the first time about our mission plans. Earlier this year, I had shared about how this would be perhaps the biggest obstacle for me personally. However, my 2hr conversation with my parents went surprisingly well even though they did not agree nor understand why we would want to uproot our family and take them to Africa to serve God.  But that's ok. We still love one another and that's the main thing.

 

Prayer made a huge difference (So a big thank you to those who have been praying for us!). What was first thought of as an obstacle has become an opportunity for me to know my parents better and for them to know me better. I also hope that they will come to know God better and His heart for the nations.

 

It certainly feels like a big burden has been lifted to have initiated this dialogue with my parents on this issue. It will be an ongoing conversation with them but now I don’t dread it as much knowing that they are ‘open’ to talk about it.

 

Much to be thankful for to the remarkable God who is in control of the remarkable events of life!

 

~ Pete