Friday, June 23, 2017

Strange New World

Of all the things Chris and I have in common, one of my favorite things is the dream we share.
The dream of serving together in Turkey.


That's right, Turkey.


When we were dating, we tried to make plans for our future. Chris came from a construction background in Warwick and I came from need greating in Thailand. That was where our skills were best put to use while we were single. But since we can't be in two places at once, where would we be best put to use as a couple?


This is one of many adjustments new couples have to make. Chris and I had different skill sets and goals we wanted to pursue. But what we didn't know is that Jehovah is able to assess us as a couple, despite our differences, and find an assignment that is enjoyable for us both. However, getting to that assignment may take a little patience, flexibility, and humility.





The advice we were given was to take a year just to learn how to be... married. This advice was priceless! A new field will present its own challenges so it's best to enter it as a team who already has experience in their new roles. I was told to look on my marriage as my own need greater field, because nobody could work on it for me! My marriage deserved my full attention. Especially being a sister adapting to my new head. That's a strange new world all by itself... But after the first year was up and we had many valuable lessons under our belt, what then?


While at Warwick, Chris heard a branch report on Turkey and the huge need there. He was hooked immediately. He mentioned it to me while we were dating, and 5 seconds after I googled Turkey, I was in too. With that goal firmly in mind, we kept things simple, prayed, planned, saved and just few months after our one year anniversary, we touched down in Turkey! There were some snags along the way, but i'll get into that later.

There are many, MANY places where the need can be described as "greater". So many in fact, that it can often be a challenge to decide which country/language/route to pursue. Initially, most people might not consider Turkey because of how it is portrayed in the media. I will address that later too. But for now, I thought i'd share some of the good things that drew Chris and I here.


Why is Turkey a great place to serve?


- it has a ratio of one publisher to 27,925 residents

- there was an 8% increase last year

- JW Language is available in Turkish

- english and other foreign language groups desperately need help

- you can live and preach in the same cities you read about in the Bible

- visas are easy and affordable

- theocratic schools are now available in english

- LDC projects are on the increase

and

- THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO






Interested in trying out this strange new world too?




Below are a few links that provide extremely helpful information:







Just in case you need more convincing:



This beach is in Turkey. Fethiye, to be exact.
Did I mention that Fethiye has a small english group with big needs?










The food is pretty great too.


















Chris and I are serving in Bodrum currently. Soon, we will have to return home to work. But we intend to come back immediately! Next time, i'll share a few more details on what it's really like to live here. 


Bye for now!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Back to the Future

Goodness gracious. I had long hair the last time I posted?

The beautiful natural surroundings of Kanchanaburi
were a welcome change after Pattaya.
That was a long time ago.


After my last post, I returned to Thailand for 6 wonderful months and served in the unforgettably zealous Kanchanaburi group with my dear friend Amy. I had some of the best times of my life in that little group. They became my family.

The field missionaries and special pioneers taught me a new kind of work ethic. My amazing neighbor Minna with her insatiable enthusiasm for life showed me everything else. I had wonderful Bible students, ate some of the best food of my life and at one point, was even part owner of a canoe. On Sundays I would paddle out into the river and practice the ukulele. Of course, I struggled there too. Particularly when it came to dealing with loneliness and exhaustion. But in the end, everything I went through there taught me who I wanted to be.

Thailand became the permanent shape of my heart.







At one pioneer meeting, an elder immortalized us in caricature. And like always, there was eating,     singing, and sharing the stories of how we came from all over the world and ended up here.

We worked hard, we played hard. You like caves and waterfalls? You like preaching in as many languages as you can stand? Join this group. You might end up having the time of your life.





I know real life involved a lot more sweat and frustration than this picture implies. 


But I like remembering it this way. 

These moments were real too. They accented the deep respect I felt every day for those around me who put copious amounts of love and effort into sharing the good news. 

Plus, this picture documents the existence of my scooter accident scar! Pretty much nothing left of it now.




Preaching in Thailand the second time involved a great deal of video showing. It's amazing how quickly that became a way of life. My first year, I used mainly the old style tracts. When I came back, it was with new tracts and videos! They took the ministry to a whole new level, multiplying my limited Thai by leaps and bounds. What a gift from Jehovah.




We were working on sign language too! Minna and I helped one of our elders occasionally with his deaf student. Our group may have had only 16 publishers, but they knew how to pack out a hall for Sunday meeting.


                     




It almost seems cruel to reduce the people who meant so much to me during that time to a paragraph and a few photos. It does not do any of them justice, for they are all larger than life and refuse to fit on this page. If you want, you can visit and meet them for yourself, which I highly recommend.


But my six months came to an end. I went home for a visit and something else happened to my heart.




A boy.


Christopher Clayton Ross Dowding, to be exact.

In almost less time than it takes to write it, we fell in love. The serious kind. He was at Warwick and I was in Washington, so it took a little maneuvering to make it work. But we had the determination. He was everything I did and did not expect. And yet a very sure voice inside of me calmly said yes, so that was that.

We got married.







He was there long term and I was only there temporarily but I am so thankful we had the privilege of working together on World Headquarters! My dad and I went out together for painting. The three of us dated quite well together. And as you can see, we remained highly visible at all times.












We had a lovely little wedding on Whidbey Island, Washington.

We now live and pioneer in Mason, Michigan. What's Mason like, you ask? Well, Mason is the kind of place where not only does everyone know your name, but they know your mother's and your grandmother's name too. Chris grew up near there and knows just about everyone. I'm trying to keep up.

In Mason, the wheat and corn fields stretch for miles and there are barns a-plenty. Some of them are even adorned with wild cats. One has a real stuffed polar bear inside. Or so i've heard.


Around here, it's country living at its best.
We buy our eggs and honey off the side of the road. A sister is always baking something and bringing it to the hall. One of Chris' Bible students even has a small farm and gives us milk straight from the cow. I make ice cream with it.

However, the seasons are a bit drastic and i'm learning about snow. Sometimes the hard way. But one thing's for sure. In Mason, the leaves look better dead than alive. Come to Mason in Fall. You'll see.

We own and operate a small painting business to support ourselves. We work together and I like it that way. Chris gets the high stuff. He's got longer arms than me.










But I didn't crack open this dusty old blog just to tell you all that.







As pleasant as it's been to reminisce about the past three years, I've got something more exciting to share with you. So let's just leave the past in the past.


It's time to go back to the future.