Category Archives: Mind Dump

Weekly Mind Dump: Blessed

✪ I went to the doctor this week with my wife and I asked the doctor if she would be willing to tell us the gender of the babies since we are foreigners. Normally, it is illegal for them to tell you. For foreigners though, it is a little confusing. Anyways, she agreed to let us find out…and as my wife wrote on Facebook: “Latest update on the twins: Baby A revealed his gender to us during yesterday’s ultrasound. Baby B is still a mystery.”

✪ Good news on our renting/remodeling situation. First, the homeowner of the two main apartments we rent agreed to sign a three-year contract and approved our remodeling plans. He is also hoping he can sell it to us in the future. Second, we are remodeling the main two apartments by putting in a nursery and then remodeling the newly rented room into a kids room. Lord willing, everything will be done by the end of this month.

✪ This past Friday was our ten-year wedding anniversary. I am blessed to have been married for ten years. God has been good to us. I also enjoyed the day (alone) with my lovely wife. On Friday, we had three families from the church each take one of the children to spend the night at their house. The children had a great time and two of families asked if the kids could stay over another night. It is Sunday afternoon now, and two of the kids are still out with friends playing and the smallest is home taking a nap. We are blessed to have such greats friends that love on our family and children. My wife has done a wonderful job training our girls.

✪ I was thinking about Chinese…and we know there are four main parts: listening, reading, writing, speaking (maybe grammar can be added as a separate grouping). Each grouping is separate from the other (although they are connected) and one doesn’t automatically help you build up the other. Thus, practicing speaking all day doesn’t help you improve the other three. Only practicing those other three will make you improve. Now, there is always a little influence and overlap in each area, but not to the degree that it is useful. Listening will help you with listening and not speaking. Speaking will help you speak, but doesn’t’ improve your listening. Reading characters will help you read but it doesn’t help you perfect writing. Each area needs to be equally studied if you want to equally perfect each area. One more thing that came to mind concerning writing…there are two types…pencil and paper and then typing. You could easily be able to type characters, but not able to write them with a pencil. So this is two sub-categories of writing. If I was grading myself from best to worst, according to how I studied, then it would be as follows: Speaking; Writing-typing; Reading; Listening; Writing-pencil.

✪ One of the American families that have been working in our church for the past few years is working towards starting their own church. This past week they hosted VBS in the housing complex that they bought a house in. They hosted it in their new house and the Lord blessed. They had a great turnout with over 30 kids and many parents. So far they haven’t had any problems from authorities or neighbors…since they have been building relationships in the community. I am very proud of them and the work they are boldly doing. We pray the Lord continues to bless them.

Remodeling: Adding a nursery on to the main auditorium.

View from 38 stories up overlooking the harbor.

Weekly Mind Dump: 5

✪ We had another great Sunday. Because of our moving and remodeling and the lack of space during the transition, we have just been having the Sunday morning service for the last two weeks on Sunday. But we were given the key to the new place we rented today, so we should start getting back to our normal Sunday schedule next week and re-start the kids club next month.

✪ This has been a long week. I have done a lot of counseling and working through different problems with those in the church. It isn’t always fun, but it is always needed and always worth the time to invest in someone else’s life…even if you don’t get anything else done that day.

I went to the US embassy this week. During the train ride, I wrote a post and many seemed to enjoy it, if you missed it, you can read it here.

✪ I heard someone say you become the sum of the 5 people you are around the most. This made me think about how this applies to learning the language? Let me give it a go: Your language will become the sum of the 5 people you talk to (or communicate with) the most. So in China, if you are learning the language, you need to ask yourself, who are the five people I talk to the most every week (excluding spouse and kids)? Do you talk to 5 people within a week? Do you talk in Chinese or English? (Includes all forms of communication, face-to-face or Facebook.) If the 5 people you talk to the most every week aren’t talking to you in Chinese then you probably won’t learn the language. If some of the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you might learn the language. If the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you most likely will learn the language.

✪ In the quote below, there are three areas that are mentioned as problems for missionaries adjusting to a new culture during their first term on the field. The three areas mentioned are relationships, ministry, and expectations. I would agree with this. Relationships are hard to form under the stress of a new culture and we become self-focused and forget to love one another. Ministry is often harder to do and many don’t know how to go about it or they get so busy with surviving their new life that they don’t have time to serve. Expectations are set really high before arriving or one thinks others have set these unrealistic expectations for them and the weight of the language and new culture often causes them not to live up to it. Whatever aspect the author is looking at these three areas from, struggling to adjust to new relationships, not finding fulfillment in ministry and failing expectations all can crush one’s spirit. Missionaries can easily fall into the trap of thinking about how much better their relationships, ministry, and ability to fulfill expectations were in America. It is a struggle of the mind and a missionary needs encouragement and ultimately connect these three areas with his true identity in Christ. Only after this is done can we work through the practical problems that arise on the field.

Quote from Culture Shock by Myron Loss

Weekly Mind Dump: After the Rain

✪ We had a great Sunday today. At the end of the morning service, we prayed over one of the young men who is moving to the south of China for work. He was invited to our church by an intern. He then studied the Bible with one of the Chinese men in our church, working through the discipleship lessons. He believed, was baptized and became an active member in our church.

✪ As I had mentioned, we are losing one of the three apartments that we rent for the church because the homeowner sold it…so we started remodeling when another neighbor was willing to rent their place to us, giving us some of the lost space back. After talking it over with everyone, we decided to rent it. It will save us some money and the remodeling we started will also help us change the space to better fit our needs. Praise the Lord! (Also, the homeowner knows we are a church and is still excited to rent to us and help us out. Amen! —this is rare in China—)

✪ We halted the kids’ club for the month of August. A lot of families are traveling for the summer vacation. We will start back with the club, Lord willing, in September.

✪ We changed our day off from Saturday back to Monday. This will help match out new schedule going into the fall.

✪ Last week I mentioned the story about the dog…today the dog came to church. The girls were excited and I am thankful for these little blessings.

Moved the auditorium as we change things up.

Praying over a church member before he leaves the city.

A view of the sky after the rain.

Weekly Mind Dump: Summertime Fun

✪ We are in the middle of the summer roller-coaster—meaning our attendance is up and down each week as people are enjoying the summer weather and time off from school or work. Even though attendance was low yesterday, we still had a first-time visitor! Amen!

✪ We had a great couples’ retreat this past week (Thursday-Saturday). We took the group about an hour north (by car) and rented a four-story villa for us to stay in. We had a great time studying truths and principles about marriage from God’s word and spending time eating and fellowshipping together. Please continue to pray for the couples in our church—that we can build strong, healthy, and God-honouring relationships and families.

✪ Two interesting stories. First, during our couples retreat, we went to a restaurant and all the workers in the restaurant we wearing shirts that said: “I Love Jesus” in English and in Chinese it said, “Jesus Love You”. Then each of the private rooms you can use to eat in had different names that was biblical virtues or fruits of the spirit. I ask them if this was a Christian restaurant (for as much as a restaurant can be Christian?!) and they said it was, that the owner and workers were Christian. I guess that explained all the Christian decor. This isn’t something you are expecting to see in communist China!

✪ Second, a while back we got the girls a dog. The girls were extremely excited and loved the dog. But caring for the dog wasn’t going to work with our current life style and the busy-ness of our life. We ended up giving the dog to someone we knew. After a short time, they realized they couldn’t keep the dog either and passed it on to someone else. A few weeks ago (or so), the young couple who received the dog, unknowingly, visited our church. They are a young Christian couple who didn’t have a church and were looking for one when someone recommended our church to them. We put all the puzzle pieces together and the girls were happy to know they could see the dog again. And it seems that this young couple might become members soon!

✪ Lastly, we were informed that one of the three apartments that we rent for the church has been sold by the homeowner. Specifically, it is the one we use for the kids’ space. Thus we have about a month before we have to be out. We are working with the homeowner of the other two apartments to see about signing a longer contract (5 years) and then doing some remodeling to make it fit out current specific needs. Although this would still be smaller than we now have, we are hoping that it will be able to work with the new setup or that we can find a larger space in the same building or a similar building in the same area. We would appreciate your prayers as we go forward with this within a limited time frame.

Villas where we stayed on the couples’ retreat.

The back of the shirt all the workers were wearing.

Weekly Mind Dump: The Return

✪ Is this the return of the weekly mind dump? Maybe!

✪ Praise the Lord we had a wonderful Sunday. We have several first-time visitors. The teacher for our older children’s class was out-of-town this week, so I was able to teach for him. It was a blessing to give the next generation the gospel! We had 8 kids in there between 7-12 years of age.

✪ In the morning and afternoon services I preached on “What Is The Ambition Of Missions?” and talked about having a zeal for the evangelization of the unreached which extends to much of their friends and family. Pray that our church members will become even more zealous about reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus.

✪ Pray as we prepare this week for our couples retreat coming up this Thursday through Saturday. We will be going about an hour away and renting a place for all of us to stay. We have several families committed to going but praying for a few more. Pray for this to be an edifying time and for some of the spouses who don’t come to our church to get connected with our church members.

✪ We have looked at several locations for a church plant. Interesting story, while we were looking at a building to possibly rent, we found a church for the Korean minority group in the same building that we were looking in. We met the pastor and he said they have around 20 or so and everything is done in Korean. He also warned us that they had recently been visited by the local police and religious bureau. That reminds me that our work here is important and we need to be busy about our Father’s business…thanking Him for every day He allows us to serve here. Praise God with us for what He has already done and please pray for our continuing work here in China.

This is part of the city where we are considering planting the next church.

Random Mind Dump: Recently…

✪ The weekly mind dump is dead. Sorry. There is so much to be done and I have to choose the better of two good things I could be doing at the moment. Although, I will still send out “random mind dumps” as time permits.

✪ One of the things that we have been doing is making sure that all my sermons are in a reproducible format so that we can help future leaders and assist other churches, as well as use them to edify our current and future church members. You will also get to see the benefit of these lessons because I will schedule one of them to go out every Thursday on the blog (as has been the case).

✪ I recently read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and it radically changed that way I view things, especially my parenting. It has been powerful book in my life recently.

✪ Our two oldest daughters have been enjoying going to Chinese school. We just visited both schools for celebrations recently. Our littlest is speaking more Chinese than English, which is the first of our kids to do that.

✪ The Lord has given us more kids and parents in our services recently. Pray that we can see them saved and growing members of the church. Our church dynamic has really changed over the past year.

✪ I had an old church member contact me. She left the church because she wanted to attend the services of a college fellowship ministry instead. After several months, she realize they were a cult or have wrong doctrine and she wants to come back. Praise the Lord for that.

✪ I have finished proofing the English version of some marriage lessons we have been working on. We are still working on proofing the Chinese version as I finish teaching them at the church. You can download them on the docs page. The ten lessons will also be added to the Firm Foundation Discipleship series. Also, I have uploaded a bunch of other stuff you can have a look at.

✪ We have an intern who has joined us for ten-weeks. She is doing a great job. Pray for her as she continues to serve and reach out to the Chinese people.

✪ There is also a short-term group visiting the city and we set it up for them to teach some of the kid’s English at their homes, one-on-one, as an outreach opportunity. So far the parents have been very grateful for the opportunity and many are coming to church each week now.

✪ God is good. I am so thankful that I get to serve Him! Praise the Lord!

Weekly Mind Dump: Getting Caught Up…

✪ Things have been a whirlwind over the past few weeks. My last Weekly Mind Dump was on January 13, 2016! Some stories are too long for this weekly mind dump, so I will have to write individual posts for those. So it is time to get caught up…

✪ Our new teammates arrived on the 27th, and we have been helping them get setup ever since. They have done great adapting so far and have made tons of progress getting setup for the amount of time they have been in the country.

✪ I watched our home church’s blessing service for this family, and I was reminded of two things: (1) Our home church loves China! Not only have they sent one family to China already, but they were sending another family that night and they have two more who are planning on coming! All of the paid staff including their wives have been to China. Two deacons and their wives have been to China. I would say that our home church cares about getting the gospel to China! (2) Our home church has a common goal: training men! It was a common theme you heard as people got up and gave testimonies about the family that was being sent out–they all seemed to know the mission was to send them to come over and train others!

✪ Our middle daughter turned four years old! She is a character and loves to snuggle and be a goof ball. Please pray that as she grows in her knowledge of the Lord Jesus that she will trust him as Lord and Saviour.

✪ The Sunday before Chinese New Year we had a dumpling making activity! Everyone who was still in town came, and we had a great turnout. I preach the morning service and then we made dumplings together afterwards and ate them for lunch. It is probably something we will try to do every year at this time. Chinese New Year’s Eve was the following Sunday, and our attendance dropped majorly. The “Eve” is the big day of celebration, so most were out of town or with family. We were expecting this but enjoy a good morning service with those who were able to come.

✪ We have one young man interning at the church during the Chinese holiday season. Please pray that God works in his heart during this time.

✪ Chinese New Year has been fun so far. We went out on Sunday night and had a big meal, gave out red envelopes, set off fireworks and even visited a friend’s house in the countryside to celebrate with his family. They were sweet, and we were honored to be invited into their home for the holidays! (We were also a lot less nervous and enjoyed our time much more which was a good indicator of our language and cultural adaptation.)

✪ Our neighbors had to leave for another city unexpectedly so they asked if I could take care of their birds for them while they were away and gave me the key to their house. We are thankful for the relationships and trust we are building in the community.

✪ Good article to read: 5 Ladies Who Give Women in Ministry a Bad Name

✪ We are praying about buying a van. We need to sell our car and upgrade to something bigger. Something that can hold our family and others so we can use it as a way to help more people. When we get more information about specifics, we will update. Please be praying with us about this.

Weekly Mind Dump: 2016, Boom Shakalaka!

✪ Our annual PHOTO JOURNAL is done, and you can see the pics here, or you can watch the VIDEO version here.

✪ I met with a Korea man who is a teacher at one of the universities. He is using our Firm Foundations as material for an English class he is hosting!

✪ We recently had a foreign girl who considered joining as a member but said she didn’t know if she could because of the danger. Fear is a very real thing here.

✪ We started mobile giving. Why? Hip and cool! Not really… but paying for things through your phone has quickly become a way of life here. This past December they had a special day where almost every store in the city was willing to give you a discount if you paid through your mobile device. We have had people give though it almost every week. Even old members who aren’t in the city anymore! Just as I was writing this, I person contacted me and gave a large offering to the church through our mobile giving. Praise the Lord!

✪ We are giving out the red banners that Chinese people hang around there doors for Spring Festival, but with the following sayings: “来信耶稣,神子舍命爱满尘世,罪人得救乐极人间”! :-)

✪ We have been helping our teammates arrange things on this end before their departure to China at the end of the month. The internet has changed how missionaries move to the field, being able to find apartments and furniture online before ever arriving on the field. I think we visited around 14 apartments or so on their behalf and helped them secure one.

✪ We were able to get custom air filtration machines for our house and the church. The church cost about $900 to do and our house cost about another $900. But we should be able to have clean air all year 24/7 while inside.

✪ Since I finished teaching through Galatians (available here) I have started teaching through Jonah in its place. So now we are going through Matthew and Jonah as a church.

✪ They just now put up the Christmas lights! What! Well, they are actually “Spring Festival” lights. But it always feels weird when there are no “lights” before Christmas and then after Christmas the whole city turns into a Winter Wonder Land! Spring Festival is coming, and the city transforms! This also means we are about to have an exodus as everyone returns home for the holidays… anywhere from three days to four months! But we will also have visitors as a result of it–hopefully!

✪ Our oldest daughter is already out of Chinese school and doesn’t start again until March. But she gets to do homeschool during the break!

Weekly Mind Dump: Happy New Year!

✪ The man who was saved and baptized recently officially joined the church this past Sunday.

✪ The weather has been warmer these past two weeks which means the air pollution has been bad. I haven’t been able to run. I noticed a major difference running on a good day and a bad day. So now I am avoiding the “heavily polluted” days

✪ “PM2.5” is a term that we are starting to hear about more often concerning air pollution. The “PM” stands for “particulate matter” that are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes they are natural, and sometimes these are man-made. Either way, they affect the climate around us and our health. The “2.5” means the particles are very fine with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. These are harmful to use because of their ability to go deep into our lungs or blood streams without being filtered. It is this harmful matter that we are trying to regulate and keep to a safe level.

✪ Today is my wife birthday! Happy Birthday babe! She is a great wife and mother! I love her so much!

✪ Christmas service in the morning went good, but we didn’t have any new visitors come for it. The kids Christmas program brought in several visitors in the evening. Overall we were able to give about 30-40 books about the meaning of Christmas.

✪ On Christmas night, the kids and I went door-to-door in our apartment building and wished our neighbors “Merry Christmas” and gave them one of the books as a present. We passed out 10 more books there. Most were friendly and receptive but others wouldn’t open the door and didn’t want the book. Someone even called security on us. Security knew what we were doing though and it wasn’t a big deal. Three little girls aren’t really that intimidating.

✪ I have studied about Spring festival. I am understanding more about the Thanksgiving/Christmas atmosphere that it creates for Chinese people and why they see it as so important. Also, the beginnings of it has so much in common with the passover story in the Bible. I will probably share a lesson on it in the future.

✪ Pray for young men to be raised up to lead this church and help us start more churches. We have several young men serving in the church but none have made commitments to full-time ministry.

✪ It is New Year’s eve eve…so, “Happy New Year!” Pray for us and the ministry here as we head into the new year!

Galatains is finsihed! Check out the Docs page to download the sermons in English or Chinese.

Weekly Mind Dump: Merry Christmas!

✪ We had one baptized on Sunday! Praise the Lord. We were able to find a new baptistry that has a metal frame and much better quality than a kiddie pool to use for indoor baptisms in the winter.

✪ We also invited some friends from Harbin down to spent some time with for the holidays and also asked Pastor Levi to preach for us on that Sunday. He did a tremendous job! God has given us a unique relationship over the years since he was my Chinese teacher for over two years. He and his wife were a blessing while they were here!

✪ I asked the church to pray about giving a special offering to be able to bless them this Christmas. I was blown away with how much they gave. It was probably our largest single offering! (We also started “mobile giving,” where they can scan a QR code and give instantly. Four people gave this way this past Sunday. We are trying to keep up with technology as it is moving so fast here.)

✪ The Christmas celebrations start tonight! We have a team Christmas party with our Chinese and American team. Then tomorrow we have our family Christmas time. Friday and Saturday we will be having Christmas with family in the States over FaceTime. Sunday is our Christmas service and outreach. Its is going to be a busy and enjoyable few days!

✪ I got a call from a supporting church to let us know they had been praying for us and did a special fundraiser for us. It was such a blessing and answer to prayer!

✪ I love reading the Bible. God has been teaching me so much lately! Are you reading your Bible?

✪ It has been warmer than usual this winter. Which might sound good, but for Northern China, it isn’t good news. They burn coal here for the heat, and when the weather isn’t cold enough, the “smog” doesn’t go away. So the past few days have been very polluted. Polluted to the point that it is advised not to exercise.

✪ A man in the church is building custom air filter machines to filter all the air in the church. This is going to cost us about $900, but it will be cheaper than buying the machines and will efficiently filter the air to grade 1 air quality. This will make it healthy for the church members and create a healthy space to work during the week. If you would like to give towards this need, please let me know!

✪ Pray for Sunday, I am preaching about the God who became flesh versus idols.

✪ Merry Christmas from our family to yours!