Monday, October 8, 2012

The Parable of the Love-ly Tree

Once there grew a Love-ly tree. The Love-ly tree was so very proud of its green, healthy leaves and sturdy brown trunk. The Love-ly tree grew among Many trees that weren't as Love-ly and healthy. It was so proud to be a Love-ly tree among Many Love-ly trees.
Day after day, the sun shone and the gentle rains soaked the ground to help the Love-ly tree to keep its Love-ly-ness. The Love-ly tree took the Sun-and-Rain for granted assuming the goodness of Sun-and-Rain would always be there. It was a very young Love-ly tree, by the way.
As the Love-ly tree grew lovelier and healthier through the sunny, rainy season, it began to think that the sun shone and the rain fell because the Love-ly tree was so Love-ly. And the Love-ly tree grew very proud, boasting to the other trees of its Love-ly-ness. And the Love-ly tree was Love-ly, until...

No rain came and the sun was hotter than it had ever been. The Love-ly tree's leaves curled and browned in the Sun-with-no-Rain. Instead of shiny, green leaves that fluttered in the soft breeze, the Love-ly tree's leaves rattled and dropped off the branches at an alarming rate.
The Love-ly tree did everything it knew to do to produce Love-ly leaves. Love-ly tree's efforts didn't work. The Love-ly tree cursed the sun and rainless days. The cursing didn't bring back the Love-ly tree's Love-ly-ness. The Love-ly tree heard the whispers and laughs of the other trees even though they were all in the same condition; dry and curled and brown. The Love-ly tree blamed the other unLove-ly trees and was shamed to look like THEM.
One day, the Love-ly tree (who had become very unLove-ly by this time) heard a noise below of crunching and swishing. A Man walked through the grove of unLove-ly trees. His face was lifted and smiling because of what he saw. Where the Love-ly tree only saw brown, curling leaves, The Man was in rapture by the various brilliant colors of rust, orange, red, yellow. The Man saw what the Love-ly tree didn't see.
The Man knew the Sadness in the mind of the Love-ly tree and spoke to him. "Don't despair Love-ly tree. This death and loss of your leaves is only a SEASON. This SEASON of changing, death and loss will not touch your Roots."
The Love-ly tree didn't know about Roots being the source of his life and health. All he cared about were the leaves on the outside.
The Man continued speaking. "During the SEASON of death, your Roots will continue to grow and remain strong. Soon will come a SEASON of renewal and life. You will see new green leaves and bear FRUIT as you go through more seasons of change."
The Love-ly tree had heard of FRUIT but didn't understand why Love-ly trees would bear these.
"FRUIT is not for you, dear Love-ly tree," the Man spoke tenderly. "FRUIT is for Many sad, hungry, pale people to come."
The Love-ly tree listened carefully to the Man's gentle, loving words and believed them and hoped for the SEASON of renewal and life.

As the SEASON of death came and the Love-ly tree looked at the bare branches, doubt and disbelief came into his mind. Then the Love-ly tree remembered the words of The Man and believed.
Day by cold day, the Love-ly tree refused to believe what he saw and believed the promise of The Man.
Finally, the SEASON of death changed to the SEASON of life and renewal. The Love-ly tree and his friends grew new leaves, green and shiny.
One day, the Love-ly tree looked and saw strange shapes hanging from his Love-ly branches and on the branches of his friends. It was FRUIT!
Then they heard the shuffling of Many people with sad, hungry, pale faces looking at the ground. "Up here!" shouted the Love-ly tree. "Look up here at our FRUIT! Our FRUIT is for you; sad, hungry, pale people!" The sad, hungry, pale people looked up, smiled and rejoiced for the FRUIT of the Love-ly trees.
For the Love-ly tree had believed the words The Man had promised even when the Love-ly tree was unLove-ly.

Hebrews 11:6 "Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him." (Holman Christian Standard)

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Thursday, April 5, 2012


My next blog about our Mongolian friends was to follow shortly after my last blog in January but life and time happens. I want to write about a few other things that we experienced in English camp before I write about our awesome friends!

We taught from 2pm to 9pm Tuesday through Saturday, January 10-14. The students were placed through testing in two levels; beginners and intermediate. Class lasted 1 hour 15 minutes with breaks in between. 22 students signed up ranging from age 14 to 30s, high school and university students, mothers, accountants and one Mongolian history teacher.
In Mongolian school, they are taught basic grammar with an emphasis on vocabulary memorization. They have an amazing capability to memorize hundreds of words but had trouble putting those words together to converse in English. For many, this was the first time they had been taught by native English speakers.

Pam and Kevin taught in one room on the second floor of the community center. Geri and I taught together in the room next door. The beginning level would go to Pam/Kevin's class and the intermediate to Geri/Nancy's; then we would switch classes. Class sizes were 4-6 students. The beginners were a challenge because all instructions were given in English. Most couldn't understand so we had to improvise with sign language and dictionaries.

Kevin and Pam teaching the fun all girl class (>>>giggle, giggle<<<)

Christina set up the curriculum for us each morning. She and Marilyn are setting up the iPod to use songs during our lessons. Music plays an important part in learning conversational English. 'How?', you ask. Music teaches intonation and flow of the English language. We used songs such as 'We Are Family' by the Sister Sledge and Michael Buble's version of 'The Way You Look Tonight'. The words of the songs highlighted the theme of that day's English class; family and appearance.

Marilyn, Christina and Geri

We shared meals and lives with each of the four families we visited who live and work in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in various capacities. Dennis and Marilyn are half way around the world from their children and growing number of young grandchildren. My grandma's heart connected with Marilyn as she talked about missing the fun of seeing little ones grow and change. Dennis leads the 'youngsters' with respect and unity as God gives him grace and insight.

Kevin, Dennis and Marilyn

Renee' and Bernie are soon to be empty-nesters but in reverse. Instead of the kids going off to college in the States and having a home in the States to return to at breaks and vacation, their parents are living and working half a world away. Over some morning coffee Renee' and I talked about this transition. My advise to both my friends, "Be easy on yourself and take one day at a time." And dog-gone, if Bernie isn't funny. His analogy while we were crossing Mongolian streets was the 80s video game Frogger. Not a comforting image as we dodged fast moving cars. His heart to enthusiastically worship God with a rhythmic guitar makes me want to dance like a kid!

Renee', Mercy the dog, Kevin and Pam

Bernie and Geri with praise team

Rich and Melody have the heart to see families grow healthy and strong in God's love. They are so awesome in reaching out to neighbors in their apartment. Moving from the Philippines to Mongolia, tropical to cold dessert climate is huge. They perseverance each day to live and work in a cold, unhealthy climate. Rich and Melody inspire me.

Melody, ? and Richel

And Erik and Christina! They are preparing to come home for a year. Their faithfulness to the people they serve and the business they run, UBean Coffee House and Roasterie, must make for a bittersweet next few months. I love being with this young couple and their family. The kids are truly cross-cultural. Geri and I had a Mongolian boy come to Children's church who didn't speak English and was very upset. I depended on Becca to help him feel comfortable because in her brother Jack's words, "You speak better Mongolian than me, Becca."

Erik brews hands-down the best cuppa!

Christina and Marilyn

Becca in the back and Jack-front right

This has been a long blog. I hope you've enjoyed reading it. I want to return in the future to work once again with my friends and the Mongolians. 'Til next time! Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mongolia January 7-17, 2012


(pictured Geri, Pam and Nancy at Chicago O'Hara to Seoul, Korea; Kevin not pictured)

I don't find it ironic that my last blog in 2011 was concerning Mongolia. Returning there to participate in teaching an English Camp for students was a unique privilege; hopefully not my last trip.
(pictured Nancy and Geri at Breakfast in Incheon Airport, Korea with Smuckers!)
The travel was grueling but here's a few tips for international travel. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and DRINK SOME MORE WATER! (an experienced friend gave us that one!) Sleep when you can and use sleep aides when you can't! If the layover is long, get a hotel for overnight and hydrate and sleep! Mongolia is +14 hours so I was wide awake when they were sleeping. Coming home is the reverse; I fell fast asleep when I sat down during the day and was up and down during the night. Oh, did I mention that drinking lots and lots of water is important? Adding a vitamin supplement, like Propel or Gatorade to the water boosts your immune system too. And take a neck pillow for the long plane ride! If they offer you water or juice on the flight, take it! And carry on protein bars. We flew Korean Air (the best service airlines going east) and they offer kosher meals if you want more western-friendly meals. Layer your clothes because the cabin got stuffy and warm. I found a t-shirt with light-weight stretch pants for comfort great.

Our students were from ages 14 to 30. They attended the camp to learn conversational English which is different than the school English they are taught. Mongolia is experiencing rapid growth in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, with a steady influx of foreigners because of the newly found cooper mine in the Gobi dessert. Having a working knowledge of English is a marketable skill for the young people. Many want to travel and study abroad and the common language is English.

(pictured Level One class in the afternoon and Level Two class with both Geri and Nancy)

(pictured Geri and Yanjka practicing making a date on the phone in English; the students loved this activity)

Our friends took us to The Zaisan Memorial during our stay (no pictures from my camera). The normal temp during the day barely reached zero F and dropped to -30 during the night. Dawn was around 8:30am with the sun setting (and the temp dropping) around 4:30-5pm. Our camera batteries drained quickly in the cold. At the Soviet Zaisan Memorial we climbed up the icy steps to get a breathtaking view of Ulaanbaatar which is located in a basin surrounded by mountains and steppes. Unfortunately the basin traps smog which we saw up at the memorial as we looked out on the city. UB (Ulaanbaatar) is the most polluted city in the world during the winter months because many of the gers (nomadic felt tents) in the suburbs burn coal.

(pictured a smoggy view out of our guest apartment over UB at 5pm rush hour traffic)

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park was breath taking early in the morning. These two pictures below don't capture the rugged, wild beauty of countryside Mongolia. Erik is standing in front of a large rock formation known as Turtle Rock.

One morning, Bernie walked us to the Buddhist temple complex about a mile from our apartment up a hill. The temp was -30 with a rising sun, when we heard the gong sound and watched the monks walk fast to morning prayer. When we started back to the apartment after being out for 30 minutes covered head to toe, I couldn't feel my feet! But the sights and sounds were worth the pain of thawing out.

(pictured Kevin and Pam stand by a statue near the main temple)

I'll post more about our friends who live and work in Mongolia in another blog. Until then, enjoy the pictures!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two Years Ago

TWO YEARS I was in a land cruiser with four friends traveling from Ulaanbaatar to Darhan, Mongolia. Surreal doesn't begin to capture the memory of those nine days. Our expedition was tasked with discovering if a partnership could develop between friends working in Mongolia and friends here at home. It did and a possibility exists to return to Mongolia within the next five months.
I left part of my heart and soul in that wild country with its hardy, hospitable people. And as much as I long to return, God speaks to me of engaging in the work right here and right now. "Don't get ahead of yourself, Nancy. I have work here at home to accomplish."
This month I finish out four years of music ministry to our church watching with amazement and gratitude God's provision of a couple to lead us on in our worship life. The future work plans for a safe, nurturing place for our babies and toddlers are coming together - slowly. That's right - from in front of a microphone to the front lines of nursery ministry. And maybe, just maybe, another trip to Mongolia in the near future.

Do you remember what you were doing two years ago? If not, then think about making today memorable. Do you need to make a change today? If you feel you have nothing to give others because your life is screwed up? It's time to think about giving away your own life, giving up control to One named Jesus Who loves you and letting Him fill you with His love, His Spirit. Since His love never runs out, you can give it away without measure.
Now that decision would make for a memorable day that will last forever...really!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summertime Blues and Grays

Have you ever been drifting along in life with the same day-in, day-out routine? At times an event comes along to jerk me to an abrupt halt and I wake up one morning shaking my head, saying, "Now what is this all about?" "Why am I so blue?"

My jerk awake was both good and bad in the same event; a 40th high school reunion. The simple number 40 is enough to be a wake up call, let alone getting reacquainted with high school friends, reliving memories better forgotten and missing friends that have passed on before their time. Isn't there a saying, "You gotta take both good and bad together."?

As a woman of faith in Jesus, this event brought some thoughts to the forefront. I think of the scripture that God gave me from 2 Corithians 5:9 before the reunion, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, wheather at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." For someone who has spent an inordinant amount of her life trying to please others and failing miserably, my aim is to be a pleasure and honor to my Lord Jesus. My conduct, speech, motivation and life leans toward this ambition. Out of the flow of that desire comes the ability to genuinely love others and prefer them before myself.

Do I screw up? Yes! Do I miss the mark? Of course! Am I perfect? What do YOU think?

As the blues fade (could have something to do with the terrible heat and humidity!), I am left with a grateful heart for this past weekend of reunion.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Did you know...?

Did you know that...
God is wildly passionate about you and me? He created us special but not terminally unique (thank you Nancy C).
Did you know that...
when life's circumstances get me down, I sincerely question the above statement?
Did you know that...
cycling puts me in the space meant for only God and I alone. He talks to me there and I listen.
Did you know that...
when I listen to God talk in that space, He tells me about you? That's when you get my phone call/email/facebook/card/kiss/text.
Did you know that...
my heart longs to return to Mongolia?
Did you know that...
this blog is for you? Not some narcissistic outlet. (well maybe a little - teehee)
Did you know that...
Yeshua ha' Mashiach is the Hebrew name for Jesus, the Messiah?
Did you know that...
many people I love, some I like and a few...well, thank God they are the few!
Did you know that...
I'm finished with this blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being stuck and God's glory

What does being stuck have to do with God's glory?
Do you have the desire to do 'what is good' but you can't carry it out? (Rom 7:18b) Maybe the lack of control over bad habits are resulting in broken relationships or damaged emotions or self-pity. Every effort leaves a feeling of condemnation. This is being stuck and it sounds like...
'I knew I shouldn't have said THAT to them but I said it anyway and I regret it now because they are mad at me.'
'Just one more slice of cheese won't hurt; one more piece of candy or that cookie.'
'I'm so tired/busy/grouchy/annoyed/lazy that I'll miss that meeting today and go next week - maybe.'
'I really tried to xyz but it's not working for me.' You add your own stuckness statement.
Have you listened in on the conversation Jesus has with His Father and the Holy Spirit about us. It sounds something like this...
"They said it again, Father. We'll draw them close to us through this difficult relationship so we can strengthen them to forgive themselves and the other person."
"Father, should I send the Spirit to teach them self-control of their eating habits? They have work to do and can't get it done if they are sick."
"Spirit, they are letting their emotions rule. Let's join together to pray for them and empower them to walk in the work We have layed out before them."
"Jesus, are you interceeding to protect them from the discouragement of their enemy? We'll join you!"
This conversation between our heavenly Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit is glorious; IT IS THE GLORY OF THE TRINITY. Take some time to listen to their conversation, read about it in Their Book and receive strength to move through your stuckness.