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We’ve Arrived in ‘The Big Mango’!!

We’ve Arrived in ‘The Big Mango’!!

Well, we’ve done some crazy things… but moving our family internationally takes the cake. We flew out Sunday – whatever that means in our fog of long flights, too many good movies on the seat back tvs, and jet lag (which can be contagious, by the way… according to the five year old medical professional we know)

I’d like to just fill this newsletter with pictures. For several reasons. We were swarmed with people who love us and support us all week, some we have photos with, others just special memories. We are so thankful for each hug and prayer, and tear that doesn’t go unnoticed by the Father.

            

The other reason I want to fill this newsletter with photos is because we plan to *try* to go dark on social media for the first two months or so we are here. The point isn’t to keep ya’ll wondering or to make our separation more real, but to change our habits. Instead of turning into our phones and seeking Facebook as a source of connection, we want to turn our eyes upward and go outside to sit and visit with the fruit woman and her kids. Not only will this help us make local friends faster, it will help us adjust to our new home and cruise through culture shock with style… or at least with mangoes.

All that being said, we are available via Facebook messenger or WhatsApp if you do need or want to connect with us. And if Fern adopts a stray animal, you bet your bippy I’ll post a photo 🙂

Coffee to go!!

Thank you all for your support. We have been truly carried by you and your prayers. Please continue to ask for comfort for our families. And now for us to find an apartment!! ?

Departure!

Departure!

We bought our tickets! Wheels up March 26!! As the clock ticks away our last days in the mitten, we are thinking about all the plans we had for our lives and how our steps were guided…. in quite the opposite direction!

 

Exhibit A –

 

Two years ago we were in the process of buying an old building in town that had once been the meat market for our family’s farm. We dreamed of having a coffee shop in Central Lake, a place for people to gather and hang out. We had it planned to rent other portions of the building, so our mortgage would be covered, and we could have the community space. As we were negotiating who would pay the inspection costs of the building, the gal next door swooped in and payed the asking price of the building! We were dumbfounded – mind you, no one had even looked at this abandoned building in at least three years. Apparently, the Lord had other things in mind for us. And true to his nature, He enjoys a twist of fates with a happy ending… So we are now staying in that very abandoned building, which the owner has completely remodeled beautifully and offered for us to stay here until we leave!

 

Just as He has guided our steps, He has also prepared us in ways we didn’t even realize we needed preparing. One simple example is in our training in Colorado, we spent some time learning about living in paradox. Being super excited to be five weeks away from moving and being completely brokenhearted to leave our families. Being excited to start language school and feeling sick at the overwhelming thought of a tonal language with a completely different alphabet. Fern uses the illustration of a “pair-of-ducks”, instead of a paradox. One duck is the “yay duck” – excited for mangoes and sticky rice, the other is the “yuk duck” – sad to leave our friends, family, and critters. So that’s how we are feeling about these tickets in our hands – pumped that it’s here!! And terrified that it’s here!!

 

Andrew resigned this week from his job as the township treasurer, which was a major yuk duck for him. So hard to step away from a job and co-workers he has truly come to love. But he’s trusting in the steps that the Lord is guiding us in. And walking off what feels like the edge…

Likely the next time you hear from us will just be a quick note to let you know we’ve arrived in the Land of Smiles safely. In our training, we also learned the importance of taking time away from social media and email, to really let our roots grow deep in our new community. So we’ll be majorly scaling back our connection online for the first two months or so. We’ll be sure to let you all know we are alive – which may just look like a quick photo posted on Instagram or even just a waving emoji! We’ll also let you know different ways you can pray for us as they come up. And please let us know how we can pray for you as well!

 

For now, please pray for good goodbyes and good hellos in our new community. Pray for those we are leaving, that they’ll know the comfort that only Jesus can give. Pray for just the right place for us to live – lots of children, cats, and outdoor space for Fern! Please pray for friends for us all in our new community. Our desire is to learn the language and culture well so that we can serve well.

 

Thank you all who have joined our support team in one way or another over this last year. We are so grateful for you all. If you aren’t currently part of our support team, and would like to know more, please get in touch with us!

We’re Homeless!!

We’re Homeless!!

Happy New Year to you all! We’re hoping you’ve had some wonderful time with your family and friends this holiday season. Our Christmas was quite eventful – we were preparing for a month long road trip to Colorado, moving permanently out of our home, packing to move overseas, preparing our farm for our beginning farmer renters… oh, and trying to get some sugar cookies baked!

For the couple months leading up to Christmas, our house was becoming more and more empty! Selling everything that wasn’t tied down became my new hobby! Now we are out and our new farmers are in!

Let me introduce Doug and Adrienne!! If you live in the area and are interested in supporting these new farmers through your salad consumption, I will happily connect you!

We are currently cruising through the Kansas prairie – listening to one-to-many NPR podcasts, binge watching cartoons in the backseat, and plotting the course to the next Starbucks to refuel. We are just.so.thankful. From the people who came to help clean our house when we finally had it emptied, to our ambitious and excited farmers, to the encouragement from our church family. Looking back at the eight months since we first were introduced to TMS Global we have to say it is clearly God’s path, not our own. He’s provided for us in uncountable ways – financially, our renter farmers, even just changing the desires of our hearts to match with His plans. I’ve seen this in my life – walking out of my absolute dream home and feeling not just okay about it, but excited! If anyone knows me, they know I’m a homebody. My friends joke that I don’t leave my zip code. Now I’m technically homeless, have no space to call my own and hide out, and He’s given complete peace about it! It is not me, it’s all Him.

Our next stop is a month of training in Colorado Springs. We’re excited to be back there, as Andrew lived there before we were married. We’re looking forward to seeing some family and friends and stretching our legs on a Fourteener, if we get the time.

We’ll be back in Central Lake in February, aiming to leave for Thailand by April. We’d love to be there for the Thai New Year – Songkran – which is basically a giant water fight. We think it would not only be a great way to meet neighbors, but also to help us cool down and adjust to the blazing temps.

So, as we continue to drive into the unknown, literally, it’s like 280 miles until the next coffee stop, we’re just trusting He’ll meet our needs. That used to mean in a physical sense to me, but now I know He even meets my introverted, book and coffee needs, giving me peace when it doesn’t look exactly like I’ve always done it.

If you are interested in partnering with our family on this journey, please just be in touch with us. Thank you so much to all of you who have already made the commitment to walk along this path with us!

Vision Trip!

Vision Trip!

After a rough week of 6pm bedtimes (for US!) and 2am cinnamon oatmeal breaks for Fern, we are back to our usual routine! We had an amazing, two and a half week, whirlwind trip around Thailand. We were able to meet several TMS Global workers, see some old friends, and make many new friends.

Our discount flight on China Eastern Airways landed us safely in the middle of a steamy Bangkok night, followed by an Uber ride to the bus station, and we were quickly on a rickety old city bus, headed toward my favorite place in the country. Nine long, warm hours later, we arrived in Sangkhlaburi – the village where Andrew proposed to me seven years before. My dear friend Nimar met us at the bus station, so excited to finally meet Fern – her “morning star”. Immediately, she became Auntie Nimar. Of course she has three adorable cats, so she couldn’t get Fern out of her house if she wanted to!

After meals with many local friends and invitations to teach English, we were quite sure this was where God wanted us to be. We certainly didn’t want to leave after just a few days. Fern even asked if we would leave her with Nimar and come back for her when we officially move! So the feeling was a mutual one among our family.

After Sangkhlaburi, we traveled to the northeast to visit some TMS workers. Two families live there, teaching English in a number of small villages. They then invite all of the children back to their home for an English class once a week. They have built some amazing relationships with these children and their families. It was awesome to be there to experience what they are doing. We are dreaming of doing just the same thing in our village when we move.

Our next stop was in Chiang Mai at the ECHO Asia office. This organization exists to provide cross-cultural workers information and resources to help increase the effectiveness and productivity of farmers, and alleviate hunger problems around the world. We were so excited to make a connection with them and have all of their expertise in our back pocket!

Finally, we were in Bangkok for a couple days, meeting the last of the TMS family in Thailand and meeting with local Thai church planting partners. We were also able to scope out a few possibilities for language school – which is where our adventure will begin, language school in Bangkok!

After our meeting with the local partners, our vision was more clear. We definitely want to be living and working in Sangkhlaburi, the village along the western border. We plan on mimicking the English teaching plan the other TMS workers are using in the northeast – teaching in several schools and then inviting students into our home for English club. Parents and communities asked us almost wherever we went to come and teach English to their children. Even just having down conversational English can open up another whole world of job opportunities for children in Thailand as they grow up. Andrew has also been asked to consider teaching an English class for the Thai soldiers!

Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and prayer for our family! We appreciate each of you and are grateful to know you are beside us as we continue on.

It’s Not Us!

It’s Not Us!

We are struck by how well we are cared for by the Lord. Even when things are hard on this journey, the Lord has brought people into our lives who believe in us, sometimes these people barely know us, but they believe in us. We are CERTAIN that it’s not because of us, or anything we’ve done, but because of Jesus living through us. Please hear me say – zero credit here!!

Jesus’s way is crazy (and we have that part down!) and attractive, because its counterculture to us. He SAYS to sell all your things and give the money to the poor. He SAYS not to store up your things on earth. They’ll rust and moths will eat your J. Crew sweater. That stuff is easy for us.

However the rubber meets the road in Mark 10:29 when he says to leave your fields, father, mother, brother, and sister. That’s where it gets hard for us. God has taken care of us leaving our fields – we signed a lease this weekend with two of the most promising new farmer’s I’ve ever met. Their desire is to provide healthy food for our community and they adore our farm, which is an absolute answer to prayer. I *know* that the God who hears our prayers and says He catches our tears in a bottle, will not leave us hanging when it comes to leaving our families.

Next month we head to Thailand for three weeks to visit different communities there and ask the Lord for direction. Our experience in India this summer was so great that my fears for this trip are minimal, and mostly surround our off-brand Eastern China Airways flights having in-seat entertainment or not! Fern felt at home from the minute we landed in India. She told me as we got off the plane, “I’m going to have WAY more friends than you, mom.” Boy was she right. Within minutes she was already buddies with a girl in the baggage area! Because of her outgoing personality we spent an evening in an Indian home our third night there. She made a friend and they insisted we eat dinner with them – which was served at 10pm! Toward the end of our trip, when we were talking about going home, she told us “I don’t know why we are leaving. Our stomachs are used to the food and we love India!” Of course she was in it for the stray animals and auto-rickshaws! Now her conversations revolving travel typically begin with “when we move to Thailand…..can I get a goat?”

Thank you all for your love, your encouragement, your support, and the many ways you all live like Jesus.

Andrew, Maggy, and Fern

Off to India

Off to India

And off we go! We fly Monday afternoon out of Chicago to INDIA!

While at MSU, I (Maggy) had the pleasure of living with quite the Indian gal…that I met online! In what can only be explained by being God’s plan, we hit it off and became lifelong friends. She was also my cultural guide as I lived in international housing. Now, as each raise a girl on separate continents, we sneak visits in whenever the stars align! And the stars are aligning on our flight to India! We have a 12 hour layover in London, where she lives with her family now. Which means we spend the day with my dear Chandni and meet her sweet girl.

From there we fly to New Delhi and on to Goa, where her parents are graciously hosting us. Though they will be in the US while we are there, they offered us their place to stay. All the guide books say it takes a few days to get your belly used to India, so we planned this extra time for that.

Next comes an overnight bus trip to Bangalore, where we will begin our cross-cultural training with TMS Global. We are excited to reconnect with everyone and see what they have planned for us.

After training, we were invited up to Siliguri and Darjeeling to visit two other TMS teams working in those areas.

We are so excited for this experience and are so thankful for everyone who has been encouraging to us along the path.

Andrew & Maggy are doing what!?

Andrew & Maggy are doing what!?

So….

We’re moving!

Sometime after the New Year, inshallah (which is Arabic for God willing!), our family will be the newest residents in a Southeast Asian community! We have decided to partner with TMS Global, based out of Georgia. We aren’t sure where we are headed yet, but for now, we’ll catch you up to speed.

Andrew and I began dating as I was beginning to pack my bags to spend a semester on the Thai/Burma border. He was cool with that. His adventure started a short time later when he joined the Air Force. Just before basic training he spent two weeks with me in my Thai village. He was not weirded out by gobs of hair in his food from my favorite restaurant, “The Clean Shop”. He didn’t shy away when he was smothered by small children in the village where I worked. He really made himself at home! We both agreed that living in a community overseas was something we both wanted in our future. Oh, and he proposed to me while he was there.

Funny Glasses

Fast forward: military contract, wild screaming baby, we ached for a simple and quiet life. We moved to Central Lake, got cozy and comfortable on our farm, planning to ride out Andrew’s military career. We had decided to wait until his contract end date was on the horizon to consider any options for going overseas. Well friends, that is here! We checked into a number of organizations, but TMS Global was recommended by several friends and seriously stood out to us. Everyone talks about their Member Care program, training, and the support their staff offers. In March, we went to candidate week – aka spent the week on pins and needles as they interviewed us, watched us interact with one another, and strained us with a barrage of questions and mystery Ethiopian food.

We just finished up Foundations training in Georgia this week. Spending more time with the staff of TMS Global was wonderful. We are so glad to be a part of a group of people that truly feel like the living body of Jesus. One thing in particular resonated with us about going with TMS. Their workers are not going out to proselytize, but to truly help and be the hands of Jesus. We desire to develop genuine relationships with locals and to live incarnationally, or simply stated, as the people live. We cannot wait to settle into our community and -inshallah- be helpful.

In hindsight, we can see a golden thread woven through each of our separate lives and our lives together that has led us here. We have often had many questions about why certain things have happened. Both of us have experienced significant painful situations, but also have experienced the comfort and healing that only Jesus could bring. We’ve come to love the verse in 2 Corinthians when Paul says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

This is just part of the golden thread we see woven through our lives, where God choses to make beauty out of ashes. Turning the dark moments of our lives into comfort and hope for others. He is making our story beautiful. Not us, because we aren’t the authors of our story, but Him.

We don’t know exactly where we will go, but our vision is to serve among children at risk. Jesus talks about loving the fatherless and the oppressed. We aren’t sure what living this out will look like for now. But we ask that you would join us in prayer as we patiently wait and investigate potential opportunities around Southeast Asia.

Thai - Myanmar Border