The Verdict Is In


The release of our pent-up breath was audible on Friday afternoon as we sat on swivel chairs in a conference room and finally heard the words, “We are accepting you as a pilot/mechanic in the New Tribes Mission Aviation training program.” 

We (Jared, Carol, and Ivan) spent the past week at the NTM Aviation facility in McNeal, Arizona undergoing an intense technical evaluation.  It seemed surreal that the past eight to ten years of preparation for missionary aviation could be decided upon in one short week!  We are vastly relieved to be through this week and to finally be able to say decisively that we are  pursuing missionary aviation through New Tribes Mission!

Our next steps are as follows:

  • Return to the Missionary Training Center in Camdenton, Missouri and finish our second semester of training for overseas missions.
  • Actively pursue support-raising over the coming months (especially the summer) in order to expedite our transition to a field of service.
  • Move to McNeal, Arizona in late August to begin the final aviation training program (9-12 months) before heading overseas.

We are so excited about serving with New Tribes Mission Aviation!  Thank you for journeying with us through this long process of preparation.  No matter how many uncertainties we encounter, we know that the God we serve is always certain of the future…and whatever it holds, it is good.

“But It Still Hurts!”


Since classes began in August, our family has experienced an unending whirlwind of sickness.  The boys have been in childcare for the first time, and they pick up every germ that gets passed around.  Add to that the airborne allergens of Missouri, and the result is very sick kiddos who are generous enough to share their germs with their parents.  Between countless colds, influenza, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), and a severe attack of eczema in Ivan, our lives have been short of sleep and just short of insanity.

The latest round of illness was HFMD in both boys.  As the painful, itchy rash began to show, they needed lots of love and attention.  Especially at night.  If Ivan was a wreck, Titus was an absolute basket case!  Five nights in a row we were up countless times with both boys, awakened from our fitful sleep by shrieks and wails.

Then the intense crying would start.  Most of the time, all I could do was hold them and cry with them.  I prayed unceasingly that God would speed their healing and give us an easier night so we could sleep.  Their cries continued, and I didn’t see answers right away.

On one particularly difficult night, I leaned over Titus and helped him pray that God would heal him and ease his pain.  Just a moment after we finished, Titus cried despairingly, “But, Mom, it still hurts!”

Oh, how his voice echoed the cry of my heart!  “But, God, it still hurts!  If you’re with us now and see our pain, why do you let it continue?”

In the middle of the night, it’s really hard to trust that God is there, caring and loving–even crying with us.  When my circumstances belie my faith and I focus on the pain surrounding me, I start to doubt.  This is when I have to choose to cling to God’s promises and the assurance of His character.  This is the source of our all-sufficient hope; it is what gives us courage to face another day–and another night.

Recently we have known of several people who have experienced incredible losses or trauma.  A young man at the Training Center lost fingers in a wood shop accident a few days ago.  A young pilot overseas lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.  Others have experienced serious health issues or traumatic incidents.

Where is God in all this pain?

We believe He is right here in the midst of it.  He’s holding out His arms, pleading with us to come sit with Him and allow Him to heal our wounded hearts.  He is leading us through the pain, not directly out of it.  Even when He doesn’t fulfill our every  request, He is still good.

We will choose to trust.  We will continue to cry out to Him, laying our burdens–with thanksgiving–at His feet.  His promises are sure, and His purposes are good.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
Job 13:15

Logging off in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…


Unplugged?  You must be crazy!  I need my two hours of Facebook every day!  (Ummm…that’s a joke.)

That’s right, starting Monday morning at 8 a.m., we’re launching into a four-week webfast.  We just finished up a powerful class on Worldview and the influence of the Internet on our thought processes and relationships.  To drive the point home, our final assignment is a “fast” from the Internet.

Over the next four weeks, we’re going to find out just how dependent we have unwittingly become on virtual reality and instant fixes.  We’ll be focusing instead on an in-depth study of the book of Philippians, as well as making face-to-face relational time a priority.

What’s prohibited:

  • The Web
  • Social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram)
  • Texting, Instant Messaging, and the like
  • TV (including Netflix, Hulu, etc.)

What’s permitted:

  • Cell phone
  • SKYPE, FaceTime (Note: used only on the weekend; total time limited to 1 hour)
  • NTM intranet (homework assignments and campus announcements are channeled through this)
  • Our NTM email accounts (call us if you’d like to have these addresses)

It’s back to basics, folks!

Please know that we don’t share this information with you out of any desire to make you feel wrong about using the internet.  This is simply a required class activity for us, and we’re really looking forward to what we’re going to learn from it (but we’re also looking forward to being free to use the internet again!).  If you’re interested, we’d love to share more with you personally about some powerful things we have learned in our Worldview class and ways that we can become more aware and responsible with internet use. 


Traditions run deep.  Very deep. 

Think of your family’s holiday traditions.  “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without…”  Or, “Every summer, we…”  You fill in the blanks.

For my part, birthdays just wouldn’t be birthdays without Lucky Charms for breakfast!  My dad instilled this tradition in me, and I’ve faithfully upheld it.  As you can see, I’m also passing it on to my own children (Titus just turned three):

  Birthday Cereal

Another ingrained tradition, quite the opposite of Lucky Charms, is that of healthful eating (instilled by my mother).  Ivan just turned one–much too young for a sugary cake!–so he got fancied-up watermelon instead:

Birthday Cake

Ivan's Cake

Watermelon 1

Watermelon 2

During our time here at the Missionary Training Center, we’ll be learning about how the ancestral traditions of tribal cultures will directly affect how we minister as missionaries overseas.  On Wednesday we will begin a class called “Worldview,” which will teach us many of the tools necessary to discover the deeply ingrained perspectives and thought patterns of individuals and cultures.  With this kind of information, guided by the Holy Spirit, we can become more effective communicators of the gospel, both home and abroad. 

The harvest season is swiftly approaching, and with it will come many down-home American traditions–corn mazes, football, apple picking, color tours, harvest parties, cider and doughnuts, Thanksgiving turkeys, family reunions…the list goes on!  As you enjoy these good times with family and friends, take a moment to remember and pray for people around the world who are trapped in traditions of deceit, cut off from fellowship with God.  Pray that their worldview will be transformed by the truth of Christ!   

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’

Romans 10:14, 15 (ESV)


So, You Wanna Be a Missionary?

Saturday, August 9th found our family pulling into the New Tribes Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Camdenton, Missouri.  Jared drove a moving truck loaded with most of our worldly possessions, while the boys and I followed in the minivan.  We had been warned ahead of time that we would experience a “cultural event” upon arrival, which could take up to two hours.

Our first clue as to the nature of this event was the paperwork we had to fill out before we left Michigan–very specific entry paperwork for “The Republic of Camden.”  The information, spelling, weight of the paper, and dimensions were all required to be exact. 

Our next clue was a forbidding sign posted at the entrance gate.  In Spanish, it read, “Cellular phones are not allowed!”

The MTC welcoming committee consisted of four border patrolmen strutting around in camo, carrying pretty convincing “machine guns,” and all speaking different languages.  We watched from our vehicles as they searched through the belongings of some unlucky travelers ahead of us.  The boys started to squirm…it was hot…”Where’s Daddy?  Who are those guys?  Are they bad guys??” were a few of the questions I answered over and over.     

Soon we moved forward in line.  I watched as Jared was made to unload a quarter of our moving truck.  Seriously?  Do you know how carefully we packed that?  Two guards carefully searched my 5-gallon pails of wheat berries and oats by prodding them with the long handle of a broom.  Oh, well.  We can cook the germs off later.  Noticing large quantities of canning jars, one guard decided to swipe a quart of maple syrup for himself.  Good thing this is only a drill, I thought.  I’ll be hunting him down later.  

Finally, they finished with Jared and beckoned me forward into a roped-off area.  “Let me see your license!”  “Where are your entry papers?”  “Record all valuable items your are carrying on this sheet.”  “Open your hood!”  “Are these your children?”  “Was that your husband?”  Each question was fired in a foreign language with much gesticulating to get the point across.  It was hard to remember this was only a mock border crossing, especially while I tried to fill out paperwork, hold a screaming infant, and reassure a frightened three-year-old all at the same time.

And those guys were good–they never cracked a smile!  

After an hour or so at the border crossing, we were ushered on to immigration services.  More paperwork, more foreign languages.  Identification pictures had to be taken (“Please to remove all jewelry.”)  Next question: “And how will you pay?  Cash or check?”  Thankfully, this was accompanied by a wink.  Meanwhile, our stir-crazy kids ran in circles around the waiting area, wondering where in the world Mom and Dad had brought them!  

This was our official welcome to the MTC. 

“So,” they ask us, “you want to be a missionary?  Get ready for a whole lot more than this!”


Come, Enter His Presence

Special Moment

Forgive me for occasionally letting loose my “mommy blogger” self.   These are the times I’m living, and my boys so often offer me a walking, breathing illustration of my relationship with my Heavenly parent, God.

Little Titus has always had an odd fascination with my white taper candles and brass candlestick holders.  Just yesterday, he came to me, clutching them, and implored to light the candles.  My immediate, thoughtless answer was, “No, Titus, we only light those at special times.”

He accepted my statement and started to turn away, but I was smitten by the cruelty–the wrongness of it.  I had just told my sweet son that there was nothing special about this moment, the two of us together.  That there were more important things to be done than spending time with him.

“Wait, Titus,” I said, after a moment of thought.  “Is this a special time?  Would you like to light those candles with me?”

A grin immediately lit up his face.

“Yeeeaaah!” he shouted.

Together we sat around the coffee table and watched the two flames burn down to nubs.  I hung my to-do list on the wall while we enjoyed each others’ presence.

Later, I thought of how I often rush through my tasks, thinking piteously that each day is as mundane as the one that came before.  Living for some future event that promises a break in the clouds.  Perhaps God is calling to me (and you!) right now, “Come, child.  This is a special moment!  Sit with Me and watch the candles burn. Bask in My presence.  You’re standing on holy ground.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4