Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A 7-Day Refresher

Dear Friends and Family,
   The Lord provided both of us a time to get away from the small town life of Katherine. We needed this. A break from work and ministry and children.  Jesus is the reminder to us all that we need to take times away in order to be useful in the work.... He often went alone to pray to the Father, to escape the many people who "needed" him.  We need to get with Him on a daily basis, but He was kind enough to us to let us escape and go somewhere else :). We chose to go to Brisbane, because that is where we were provided completely free accommodation, as well as a beautiful prayer retreat to end our trip with, in order to "get alone" with the Father. We count it a blessing that friends we trust were able to care for our children while we were away for 7 days! That is quite a lot to ask of friends... but it was such a blessing to know that our kids were safe and well-cared for while we were away. I hope and pray that God provides for them in their needs as well. Here is a daily run-down of our trip:

Day 1: We ventured out to Ipswich, QLD, where our lovely unit was waiting for us... took some time to rest from our midnight flight, and then walked on a path (in the rain :) !) to scout our some pizza for lunch...got lost, but made it anyway! 
Day 2:  Had a relaxing morning...then took the train to Brisbane... saw the "Wheel of Brisbane," an art gallery, and the city botanic gardens. We finished our day at a local Korean BBQ where we felt like we had left Australia and gone to Korea! EVERYONE in that restaurant was Korean, except for us. What does that tell you about the food? It was excellent! We cooked it ourselves, right on the table!






Day 3: Whale Watching Day!  Lots of travel just to get there... including a long walk, as the bus didn't go near the pick-up spot. (we walked a lot on this trip :) ) But it was most definitely worth it, just to get up and close to God's beautiful creation of whales, and see them in their natural environment. Amazing. This was also the day that a U.S. aircraft carrier was pulling into the Brisbane port to drop off American military boys for the weekend... the local newspaper said,  America's invading Brisbane! Oh no! :) But we saw the invasion up close and personal as well, as it delayed our travel out to the island for a bit...





Day 4: Our last full day before heading to the prayer retreat, so we decided to take it easy and stay in Ipswich, instead of heading into Brisbane again. We took a relaxed morning, went out for coffee (again) :)... and then decided to catch a matinee of "Inside Out." I wasn't sure what to expect with this movie, but it beat my expectations to say the least. We approve...not that you need our approval! :) Just a nice, relaxing day... we ended it with a short walk again.


Day 5: Early morning service at 8:30 am at a local church... rush, rush, get to the bus... miss the bus! Miss the train!  Can't make it to the prayer retreat on time! ... Call our friends who live in Brisbane area... get invited over for lunch (American hot dogs, which Jared was thrilled about!)... have a nice visit with them... catch the last train to Gympie! Arrive at the prayer retreat at 8:30 pm.

Day 6: A beautiful location, for focused time in prayer with our heavenly Father. No distractions. Had a good day in quietness with the Lord, both separately, and together. Invited over to the hosts' place for dinner... which turned out to be a Bible study at their house and lots of people we didn't know! Good times though. Partook of communion as a group... sang a hymn... prayer... and looked at the Lord's prayer in Matthew. Various denominations represented. It was a very nice way to conclude our day there.




Day 7: We spent the morning at Eaglemount Prayer Retreat... then hopped on the train to get back to the Brisbane airport and head home!  Arrived in Darwin at 12:30 am the next morning... drove straight home and got to our house around 5 am.  Needless to say, we were tired. Picked up the children that morning... great to be back with them again.  Thank you friends who watched them! We really had a nice time away.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Christmas Mango

I was at work today, trying to stay focused on the write-ups I needed to finish for the pre-training assessments before the Christmas break, thinking of lessons, school, and it was a bit stressful...it seems everyone at the office is in the "just hang in we're almost there" stage of work.  We know there is a break coming, and there will be rest then.  But right now, it's "I need to get this done!"  It's really easy to get caught up in the monotony of everyday tasks that call for our attention, sometimes yell at us, especially near the end of the year.

In the middle of my dash to get things finished this morning, I was interupted by a co-worker who stopped at my desk and asked, "Do you know a Tom*?  He's out in the foyer waiting for you."  I hadn't spoken to Tom in months.  I hadn't even seen him around.  He had been over to our house some for a cuppa and a chat when I worked at the motel, and when I first started at Mission Australia.  He always called me, "Churchy" and has a grip of steel.  When we moved to our new house, Tom and I kind of lost touch.  I hadn't thought about him for months.

So, I went out to the foyer, not sure what to expect.  When he saw me he said, "Hey churchy!  How's the family?  How's the kids?   Just wanted to say Merry Christmas, mate."  With that he handed me a ripe yellow/gold mango, and shook my hand with his steel grip.  "Now don't say I never gave you nothin'!"  I told him Merry Christmas and thanks, and he joked, "Where's my Chrisy present, mate?"  and with that, he was off again.

I held the mango in my hand, brought it to my nose and smelled it.  Sweet and ripe.  I took the mango back to my desk, blessed by the gift from a friend.  Imagine I had told Tom I didn't want his mango.  Or what if I just didn't acknowledge that I even knew him, didn't even leave my desk to go out to the foyer?  Where would that put our friendship?

But Tom's gift reminded me of another gift given over 2000 years ago.  The mango from Tom was a gift that continued and reaffirmed a friendship, but the gift God gave us of His Son, Jesus Christ opened the way for a relationship with God Himself.  Imagine we ignore His gift to us, don't even bother with it.  Or imagine we go "out to the foyer" to chat with Him, and politely refuse His gift.  Where does that leave us in our relationship with God?

This Christmas season, in the midst of all the busyness and noise, I challenge you to "step out to the foyer", and think about how you will respond to God's gift of Jesus Christ. 

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."
Matthew 1:23 (NASB)

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Jitterbug in Heaven

I recieved some very sad news this evening.  My Grandma Mary has gone to be with the Lord.  She was my step-grandma, but she will always be just "Grandma Mary" to me.  She immediately accepted me, Jamie and Jeremy into her family just as if we were her natural grandkids when my mom and Brad married.  I remember the first time I spoke with her on the phone, I said, "Is this Grandma Mary?"  and she replied, "Yes!  Who is this?  Jared?"

I remember having our Easter dinner at Grandma Mary's, and we would eat cold ham sandwiches from The Honey Baked Ham Company with perfectly buttery rolls.  At first I wasn't too sure about cold ham, but it grew on me.  
 
I remember that each birthday, she would give us one dollar for every year we were celebrating, and each of the one dollar bills were perfectly crisp and new, and sequencially numbered from 1 to whatever age we happened to be that year(I couldn't wait to be 100..).  She would wait at the bank or at King Soopers and specifically insist the numbers were in order!  She did that for all of her grandchildren. 

I remember when I was learning to swing dance in high school Grandma Mary said, "You know, I used to be quite the jitterbug when I was your age!  We used to do something called the Minneapolis stomp!"  And then she commenced to show me and my sister how it was done.  She was in her late 70's at the time. 

I remember that every present she wrapped was PERFECT.  There was no tape showing anywhere, and the patterns always matched up so you really didn't want to open it, but you really did, and it almost seemed like a shame to waste such a beautiful present... and I would aspire to wrap my presents just as perfect(never with such perfect results)!  Also, at every birthday celebration with Grandma Mary, there was the obligatory "cake picture" with us holding the cake up and smiling so Grandma could get a good shot. 

I remember when I was a boy she was shopping at the grocery store and noticed someone with a cart full of cake mixes.  She asked what all the cake was for, and the person flashed a nametag from a local cake shop!  Grandma went home and immediately called her friend, who called the cake shop and asked, "Are all of your cakes made from scratch?"  When the shop owner replied, "Oh, yes.  Of course."  Grandma and her friend both had a good laugh.
 
Even after we moved to Australia, I always knew she was thinking of me and my family.  When I spoke with her at my brother's wedding this past summer, she said, "I have your calendar up at my house!  I love looking at your family and your beautiful children." and she gave me a hug.  That was the last time I got to see Grandma and talk to her.  Grandma Mary was a blessing to me and our family.  She brought joy and laughter to our lives, through her quirky personality and great style, as well as her love for us... and mischeivous personality.  She will forever be loved and missed.  I can just see her in heaven taking Grandpa Dale by the hand and doing the Minneapolis Stomp!

Monday, August 25, 2014

$50.31

$50.31

It's a number I will never forget because it represents God's provision and a dear child of His obediently caring for our family.
My friend called me up one day while our family was raising support to come to Australia and work with the indigenous church developing resources in Kriol, and distributing the Kriol Baibul.  She told me that she had spoken with her husband about supporting our family in the work God had called us to do, even though she had just lost her job (and 1/3 of their family's income!).  She asked her husband, "Couldn't we just support the Mullets?"  But he was realistic (being an engineer--a generous engineer), "You just lost your job!  We should be cutting our support of missionaries, not adding another one."

My friend persisted.  "Couldn't we just live carefully, spend wisely this month, and see what we have left, and give THAT to the Mullets?"  Her husband graciously agreed.

When she called on the phone she said, "We usually support our missionaries with $50 per month.  But I wasn't sure what we would be able to support your family with...But God provided, and at the end of the month we had $50.31 left over after all of our expenses!  So, we are going to support the Mullets at $50.31 per month.  And I won't leave off the .31 on our checks to you, because it's a reminder to me of God's faithfulness."

Our whole family was blessed through this family's kindness toward us, and my friend's desire to give all she could.  She consistently remembered our family in prayer as well.  She would use landmarks or objects to remember to pray for people.  She told us that whenever she drove down a certain street she prayed for "so and so" because she had done something with her there.  Then she said, "And I remember to pray for your family every time I look at the word "Precept" because I first met Cheri at (Bible) Precepts class.  And since I'm a Precepts leader, you can guess how often I see that word!"

When our son went through kidney failure and dialysis, Tina was one who regularly read our blog and continued to pray for our son.  She was a blessing from the word go.

Tina Downey will be dearly and truly loved and missed.  Each time she is remembered, she will be remembered with love and honor.  She was a blessing in life and I am truly saddened by her passing.  However, she has blessed and inspired me and our family to trust the Lord, and give it all you've got!  May God bless and keep her family during this time of sadness and mourning.  We will be praying for you all and are so grateful for the chance we had to get to know Tina and your family.  We are looking forward to the day when we will meet again.    

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ministry & Family Update

Since my visit to the US for my brother's wedding a lot has happened, and I'd love to share with you all about it.

As you know, God has blessed us with a house in Katherine.  Only about a week after returning from my trip to the States, we were given the opportunity to host our first guests!  I(Jared) recieved a call from my indigenous dad, and he was looking for a place to stay during the Katherine Show.  When I asked him how many people would need to stay with us, he began listing more than just him and his wife...I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at all, as that's the way it usually works.  We ended up hosting 7 people at our house, on couches, beds and on the floor.  You know, that's one of the reasons we asked for this larger house in the first place, and God answered our prayer.  It was an encouraging visit with my dedi and his wife, and we're getting to know their family better each time.  One of the people who came with them introduced himself and said, "Remember me?  You came and visited me in the hospital."  That made my heart glad because we had a chance to serve, and God used us!

When I first started to work at Mission Australia, I was told I would be stationed as a teacher out in Beswick (Wugularr), an indigenous community about 100km from Katherine.  Well, I've been working for MA for a year now, officially, and this week I will be heading out to Beswick to begin the process of starting the SEE Program(Skills for Education and Employment) out there!  FINALLY!! :)  And the most exciting part for me is the exciting news I recieved from my boss: "I want you to teach it in Kriol."  YES!!!  I was SO EXCITED!  I can't wait to start out there, and I started to translate our materials into Kriol last week.  I will use my notes to teach from, but also use the English "road rules" book so my students will be learning English reading/writing/numeracy as they study road rules to get their drivers' licences.  

On the church front, our family was involved this year in doing a VBS (Vacation Bible School) with our church.  It's the first one our church has ever done, and it went pretty well.  I was the emcee and the teacher for the 5-8 year old class.  It was a lot of fun, and I'm praying the Scriptures we looked at with the kids will stay with them, especially the ones concerning salvation.

Another exciting note:  the pastor and his family we have been waiting for has finally arrived!  We're really excited to have them after 2 years of waiting(on our half... the church has actually been waiting for about 4).  You can pray for them as they begin the ministry the Lord has called them to in our church.  Their names are Justin, Jessica, Colin, Elijah, and Aiden.  Cam has already made friends with Colin who is the same age as him.  Please pray for our church as we continue to minister in Katherine and share the gospel.

After much prayer and consideration, Cheri has decided to put her studies aside in order to focus more on our family and our home.  Perhaps she will return at a later date, but that hasn't been decided as of yet.  As a family we are seriously looking into becoming foster parents, and Cheri will be going to their office tomorrow morning to get more information.    There will be a special training over my birthday weekend(beginning of August) to learn more and prepare.  You can pray for us in this area as well, as it may be that we take on long-term care of some children.

On that note, please also pray for the Lord's provision of a 7-seater vehicle we can use both in town and community. Our landcruiser has seen it's last days, and our only other small car fits the 5 of us, with no room for extra children. 

Thank you to all who have been praying for our family and who have asked for an update on what we're doing.  We are so thankful for your prayers and I'm personally encouraged when I think of each of you.  God bless, yumob!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

God's House

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We had not been seeking to purchase a house. Yes, in the past we had. Yes, it was a dream of mine to settle down and own our own home.  BUT all of the doors had closed when we tried to purchase a home. God said “NO… now is not the time.” We thought He might be saying “Never is the time.” We have always trusted in the Lord’s provision for living places, and as our journey with Him has taken us on a bit of a roller-coaster ride in regards to housing, we have learned that He will ALWAYS provide… He is our Father.  We looked to the verses “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” (Matthew 6:19) We had some in savings, but decided against using it for a house downpayment, as we have been commanded to “lay your treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). We had given up on the idea of ever owning a house in this life.

BUT then a Christian brother came up to us and said, “you need a house. God can do anything, and He can provide a house for you! This is a basic need, providing for your family.” Long story short, this was the spark that got us thinking again about purchasing a home. We thought, “okay, God, are you telling us now is the time to buy?” I thought we couldn’t afford it, and I have to pay for school as well. Jared said “If we’re going to buy a house it needs to be 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom, for guests.” I said, “yeah, right… do you know how much 4-bedroom houses cost? We can’t even hardly afford a 3-bedroom house!” BUT we looked at the market, and there happened to be a 4-bdr/2-bath house in a “lower” price range, with an open visitation that very weekend. So we went to check it out… we thought, “this would fit the bill.”

 I called a lender to see about a house loan… it didn’t look very good, however most of the “boxes” I had to have ticked, were.  After one disappointing night when I thought we couldn’t do it, and God was closing the door, I thought, “Why God, would that man say something to us, if this wasn’t your will? Why did we have to try this again, only to be denied again?”… I drove to the house and prayed. “Lord, this is Your house. I can’t do anything about it. I’d love it if you gave it to us, but if not, Thank you for the house you’ve already provided for us to live in…”  That very night we had a meeting with a broker who said, “Yes! You can do this! I’ll apply for a loan for you.” 5 minutes AFTER speaking with her, the real estate lady called: “What do you think about their counter-offer?” Prior to the broker’s meeting, I would have replied that we couldn’t do it.  However, I told her what the broker said, and she responded, “Great! I’ll start you on a contract on Monday!” I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe it. God was giving us this house, I knew it.

The verses that God gave me were “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33), but more than that, was this verse: “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11) I kept these verses in my heart.

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Our loan application was DENIED by the bank. I almost thought God was going back on His Word to me. I thought, “Lord, didn’t you promise me this house through those verses? Am I doing something wrong?  Are You going back on Your promise?!” The broker appealed the bank’s decision. DENIED yet again. By this time I had real peace about it. I knew that if God wanted to provide this house for us, HE COULD DO IT. HE IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL CREATION. I didn’t need to fret just because of the bank people. So I didn’t. The mortgage broker apologized for getting our hopes up and counseled that if I worked part time for a few months, we could reapply… I informed her that I had previously had a part time job, but took a break during the school semester to focus on my studies, and was welcome back to work whenever I wanted to. She told me to get two payslips and a letter from the workplace stating that I had been an employee there, and she could reapply…. We asked the vendors selling the house if they were willing to extend the contract for this finance to be worked out… they agreed! Lo and Behold, I went back to work just a few days, the loan was approved, and now we’re moving into the house that God provided for us.

I am still blown away by the LORD’s provision. It’s a great house, but one that definitely needs some work.  We are not even worthy of anything in this life, and yet God is faithful to His children and provides their “daily bread.” He has done this time and again in our lives.  May we use this house He has provided for His glory, and may we worship Him in it. God be praised!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What's it all about, really?

Why did we stay here in Australia after finishing up with Wycliffe?  Why have we continued to stay when our entire family is still in the US?  Are we anti-social?  Do we want to avoid our family and friends in America?  Why have we decided to remain here, hopefully buy a house, and be in Australia a long time?
  Well, simply, we feel this is where God has called us to be at this time.  As he has proven time and time again in my own(Jared) life, I'll make plans, but God ultimately directs my steps...That sounds Biblical, eh?  So, though I don't know the future, it seems for now that we are called to remain here in Australia.  God has provided a job for me here, a place to stay, and a town where there are still many people who have not come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  AND He continues to bring them across our path.
  Many of those people have  been disillusioned by the traditional religion of Christianity, or rather the plain old meaningless dead ritual of Christianity they were exposed to.  They don't understand that it's not about a "religion" but a relationship with a Father who loves them, and longs for them to come to Him.  I realize I'm completely powerless to change anyone's heart or make them believe something, but God can.  I can and will pray for Katherine.  I will pray for the people God brings across my path.  We can see so much hurt here, because of alcohol, drugs, poor choices, ... basically, sin taking its course in people's lives.  Brings sadness to my heart, and we have the One they need.  But without the Holy Spirit moving in their lives, it's not going to happen.  Please pray with us for the town of Katherine and surrounding communities to come to the Lord;  and please pray for us as we endeavor to reach out to those who are seeking.  Pray for discernment, wisdom, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's leading.
   We know this world isn't all there is.  There is life after death, and that is either an eternal blessing and joy, or an eternal torment.  People are crying out for something, and there are all kinds of organisations doing good things and helping meet immediate needs, but leaving out Christ.  Without Jesus Christ, the best laid behavior management plan will fail... and even if it does change a person's actions for the rest of their lives, the world can't save anyone from hell because the world is powerless to do so.
  The only one who gives anyone true hope and peace, true joy and unfailing love is Jesus.  I wish people understood this.  I wish we didn't all choose to run away from God because we've done wrong.  But God continually reaches out for us, and waits for us to come, expectantly.  Christianity is not simply a list of "do's" and "don't"s... It is so much more than a set of rules.  It is about a living, loving relationship with the Creator of the universe, who as Christians, we can call Father.    Our relationship with God is the most important thing ever--and that isn't true only for Christians.
   Where do you stand with God?  The thing separating us from God is our sin.  The things we have done which are against what God has commanded us not to do in His Word.  Because of our sin we are eternally condemned and set apart from God, the consequence of our sin is death.  We are helpless to save ourselves, and God knew that.  So in His great love, He sent Jesus, his son, to take our place.  He lived a perfect life, died for us(defeating sin FOREVER) and then rose again from the dead 3 days after dying.  Through Him we are made righteous and acceptable in God's sight if we confess with our mouths and believe that Jesus is the Christ.  Perhaps you've known this before, eh?
  This is the message of the gospel.  As a believer, I need to share this message with as many people as God brings me into contact with.  He is the only one who truly saves, and we live in a world in need of saving.  And yet, I'm still powerless to change any hearts or MAKE people believe.  God must bring them, so I just have to pray.
  I know there are so many people all over the world that don't know Jesus Christ.  Perhaps you're in the US reading this.  God has put people in your life who need Him that I'll never meet.  God has put you there for the express purpose of spreading the gospel.  Tell them!  Pray for the them!  God will change their hearts, and He wants us to be involved.