Saturday, December 25, 2010

Grandma's Christmas star

My Grandparents live in Georgia, just 2 hours south of our trailer park. So we packed up the truck and drove down here to spend Christmas with them. Grandma an amazing cook and we enjoyed a beautiful candle light service at their church last night.

Grandma says there is a special star that she notices every Christmas, it only comes out once a year. She says people call her crazy, but still she believes it is Gods special gift for her every Christmas.
I agree.
Thank you for that star Jesus. We love you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hi ya'all from South Carolina

Hi ya'all and Merry Christmas from South Carolina!
Everythin's peachy keen down here in the south land, our neighbors is fine folk. Momma's been keepin' us real busy workin' round the trailer park. We been rustlin' up the garbage, cuttin' down them trees, and makin' a might purty road down both sides of the trailer park.
Our neighbors is really gonna 'preciate the beautification
Momma and Daddy been started round these parts. N'fact we best make our way over to Miss MaryAnne's trailer for some sweet tea and biscuits. Bring these cookies to the neighbors fore Isaac eats them all!
But we'll keep in touch ya'all! If'n yer fixin' to come out here for a visit let us know and we'll kill the hog and have us some supper.
And ya'all have yerself a right good Christmas, ya hear?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
For example, while waiting for 'Osi's greencard his Dad flew us up to Alaska, so we can finish building his mountain cabin. In exchange he promised to help us build our own cabin in Tonga possibly next year. This sounded like a freezing, but great opportunity, so we flew up here this week.
Alaska is breathtaking! We’re livin’ in this ramshackle shack in the middle of the woods, with no plumbing, and its great! We’re on a rather large, yet scarcely populated island called Prince of Whales. Our neighbors are all old hunters, fishermen, loggers, and gypsies like us.
So everyday after working on the cabin we go visiting, and they teach us how to skin mountain goats and pick wild mushrooms. It looks like this winter we’ll be wearing homemade beaver shoes and canning everything. Sure didn’t see that coming last month. I guess this is just a reminder that God works in mysterious ways and its best to look for the blessings and adventure He has in all of it!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Returning to America to work

This is the beautiful one acre piece of land God has blessed us with in our village. We have been clearing the trees and brush for awhile, to make room for a little house. But we can't seem to save enough money to start building. God is so good in providing our daily bread, and has given 'Osi part-time work to buy more food for the youth coming over for our daily programs. But as our ministry/family grows, we feel we need to have our own house.

So we had been praying for awhile about what to do, when my parents offered to fly us home for our Uncle's funeral.
Our dear Uncle Adrian passed away, and Jen's parents adopted his son Alex. After much prayer, consulting family and ministry partners we decided to apply for 'Osi's greencard to work temporarily.

We were a little ashamed to be leaving the ministry when it had been so fruitful, but 'Osi is a good man and his priority is taking care of his family, making sure we are living in a healthy sane environment. Then we can be free to show hospitality to others.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Praise Dance!

'Osi sometimes teaches praise dances to youth groups in local churches.
They love performing these praise dances for their congregation and usually we join in too. It is a great way to engage the cultural while encouraging kids to join in church activities.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 There is "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Those pesky mosquitoes!

Does anyone know of a natural mosquito repellent that is safe for babies? Because Isaac gets eaten up all day, and we've tried all kinds of things: Listerine, garlic, lemon mixtures....those pesky bugs love to get him as soon as we turn our back!
Our little cutie's skin looks like a solar system right now. So any advice you have is most welcome. (Yes, we always sleep under mosquito nets at night, but we don't yet have him in a mosquito net bubble during the day =)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Most of the families in our village are subsistence farmers. Meaning most of the food we eat are root vegetables we grow ourselves. So here we are planting kasava for our family. Usually our cousins, friends, and Mom Kelela is with us too. She has biceps and endurance that can put any other farmer to shame, plus a cheerful spirit to keep us all laughing. 'Osi is pretty amazing too, but I'm biased =)
Isaac and I are just the "water boys" right now.
On account of Isaac being too young to tote a hoe, and me being too busy holding an umbrella so he doesn't get sunstroke. It gets up in the 90's some days, and those are the days 'Osi asks if we can bring him coffee!? Whatever keeps you plowing through the fields honey!
The wonderful thing is during their breaks one of the guys will climb up a nearby coconut and cut down "Nui mata" (green coconuts) for us all. We chop the tops of with a machete and drink the sweet, sparkling coconut water inside. It is so amazing how God made the coconut water as a perfect electrolyte balancer. Everything God makes is perfect though, and its great to be on the farm together.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Family life

For now we are still living with 'Osi's family while we prepare to build our own little house. They keep passing new laws for land surveying and building in Tonga so we are still jumping through some hoops while saving some pa'anga's =)

So for now we live with'Osi's lovely Mom, pictured here with Isaac and his cousin Vena. As well as 'Osi's older married sister and her 2 babies, his younger sister, a cousin, occasionally our 82 year old Aunt and her only son, along with any number of random family members or village youth who sleep over and eat with us too everyday.

So we have a very full house.
We are all learning alot about sharing. Sharing space, food, clothes, one toilet. Its funny people always told 'Osi and I we would realize how selfish we were after we were married. And we did. Then they said we would REALLY realize how selfish we are once we have a baby. And...we did. But no one warned us how we would REALLY REALLY realize how selfish we are when living together as newlyweds with the baby and the whole extended family in a little house. Wow, God has a great sense of humor. It has been an exponential growth year for all of us. We appreciate your prayers for our house to be filled with peace, harmony, and unselfishness =)

My favorite fruit

It looks like a dragon from the outside, but inside is filled with a sweet lemony custard fruit. Yummmmmm
Just goes to show you can't judge a fruit by its cover.


Sione, the young man 'Osi has been discipling over the past 6 months decided to be baptized. He wanted to show the world his commitment to Jesus, which was a big step for him because Wesleyan church members are baptized as infants and don't see the need to be baptized as an adult after receiving Christ. But Sione took the plunge in symbolically dying to his old life and being reborn in Christ. The wonderful things is he keeps asking us everyday if we can see the change in his life, because he "feels" totally reborn. It is so exciting to see the butterfly emerge from the cocoon. Praise Jesus!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One in Christ

This year after returning to Vava’u we knew God was calling us to work with the youth in the area of evangelism. While fellowshipping with the youth in our village—who happen to come from various Christian denominations—we started a Bible study and evangelism group. They call our group “To God be the Glory” and anywhere from 3 to 10guys show up. We have a lot of fun together, and they are really eager to grow in God.
(Here they are leading a program for a local school)

Our prayer has been that the true Christians in various denominations in Tonga will come together in unity. As Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:24 “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me, and have loved them even as You have loved me.”

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Childrens Day/ Fakame!

May is a very special month in Tonga to celebrate the family. Childrens Day, then Mothers Day, then Fathers Day all in a row - they like to do it all in one month.

So we start celebrating on the first Sunday of May with "Fakame" the childrens special day. Children go to church dressed in white and all kinds of special cultural decorations. Their Mothers busily prepare these decorations throughout the year, and it is breathtaking to see what their loving hands can sew.

When the kids come to the curch they do a special program for the church,and they all sing songs and recite verses. It is the most adorable day of the year.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Hosting a YWAM team from the mainland

We had such a wonderful surprise this month when our previous YWAM leaders from Tonga asked us to host one of their DTS outreach teams.
Here we are sitting in our living room to have a meal together. This team went on to do community service/cleanup projects in neighboring villages, door-to-door evangelism, and ran evangelism programs with dancing, skits, and preaching....
This team was a great influence on the small group of guys we have been discipling. Now instead of just Bible studies, our guys want to start going out to local schools to run evangelism programs too!
Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lessons from the piglet

In Tongan culture pigs are a very valuable animal because we need to roast one for every feast and celebration...sometimes for funerals we will roast a couple of giant male pigs to feed 200 people. If a family doesn't have a pig of their own to sacrifice for the occasion they must buy one and baby pigs start at $60 each. After a couple of years this baby pig can be worth $1,000.

'Osi decided we should start a small pig farm as an investment for building our house. So we bought a pregnant Mommy pig for a great deal. Much to our delight she gave birth to 10 babies!
Every day we have been feeding them coconuts and cooing at the babies as they romp around after their Mom. But then the unthinkable happened, we're not sure how, but the hefty Momma pig must have fallen on one of her babies and broken its back. Then the poor little helpless guy drug his feet and lower back behind him everyday, struggling to keep up with the others.
I cried, openly, several times watching helplessly as this small animal struggled to survive. And I began to pray for it. Everyday.
To make a long story short, several weeks later God had mercy on him and he healed right up. Today he is a perfectly strong, healthy little piglet, in every way comparable to his peers.
Then my baby Isaac came down with a cold, which quickly progressed to bronchitis. We brought him to the hospital and the Dr. said he could have pneumonia. He had such a hard time eating and breathing everyday and all night I hardly slept, just kept watch over him to make sure he was breathing. I was so scared.
Nothing is scarier than watching your own tiny helpless baby struggle to breath. It was paralyzing and I prayed so hard, cried, and poured out my heart to God asking him to heal him.
Then God reminded me of the piglet. And spoke to me so clearly, "Jenn to you remember that struggling little pig, and how I healed his broken back? If I can answer prayers and have compassion on a simple animal, how much more will I care for your precious baby?"
That is truth.
A week later Isaac was completely healed once again, and breathing soundly through the night.
Psalm 86:15 "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Translation please?

As a missionary to a foreign country it is absolutely necessary to learn the language. I have been trying for the past 2 years but have yet to be fluent in Tongan. Fortunately I have accidentally developed a technique that is working out - my Mother in law has been making me watch sappy Filipino soap operas and translate them to her in Tongan.
As the drama unfolds I try my best to read the English subtitles as fast as I can and translate in strong Filipino emotion. I try to explain who is marrying who's cousin while secretly embezzling money from the family business...and no one would have ever expected that Grandma was plotting revenge.
All the other Tongans in the house laugh and laugh at the whole new story I am inventing. In the end we all laugh and learn, praise God for creative answers to my prayer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keep your places

There is an old Tongan proverb that says "Holo Pe Tu'u He Ko E Ngalu 'E Fasi" - "Keep your places, for the wave will break."
This saying comes from the sport of surfing. It is important to stand and wait for a large breaker to come, in order to surf. Hence the inference that we should always be ready for the arrival of an opportunity, so that we will be able to make use of it.

I've been mulling this around in my head lately after seeing the importance of living our lives as best as we can; loving God, each other and our neighbors. The time will come when people have a crisis or the youth need advice and if we are known to be loving and available neighbors they will feel free to come to us for help.
If we are too busy creating waves we might neglect our family and our own relationship with God, it's better for us to spend enough time preparing our own heart. Then instead of chasing the waves, get ready for the waves to come to us.
Please pray that we can be good neighbors.

Irrational fear?

It's time that I admit my irrational fear of Tongan spiders. They are as big as my hand, hairy and scary. They always turn up in my shower early in the morning or evening when the light is dim and I can't see them until they are inches from my face. I hate them!
But they are completely harmless.
The Tongan even say spiders are lucky - at least that's what 'Osi says every time I make him remove it from the shower. In my mind I know spiders are good because they eat the mosquitoes, and they don't bite, but due to my longstanding hatred of the bug I can't bring myself to appreciate them.
Its a completely irrational fear and I need deliverance. But then again ALL fear is irrational right?

Bear good fruit

Tonga is like the garden of Eden because every tree bears fruit that blesses the people. Looking around me in the everyday jungle I count 3 papaya trees, 3 mangoes, 1 Tongan Apple tree, 1 Tava, 2 Breadfruit, 5 Bananas, 1 Fa (we use this for perfume and decoration), and 1 Tuitui tree (we use the nuts from this tree as a creamy shower soap).
This is a reminds me that we are all trees in the garden of life and it is to the Fathers glory that we bear much fruit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

9 more days

The count down has begun and home is just around the corner. We are so excited to return to the people we love and the work we enjoy.
At the same time as we pack our bags and start saying goodbye's we can think of a thousand wonderful memories we've made this season with family and friends.
Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to
* Rest
* to learn about the process of birth and parenting
* Teaching 'Osi about American culture and the English language
* So many wonderful friendships we have made and renewed here
* Sweet time with our family
* All that 'Osi has learned through Pastor Mich's discipleship
* All Jen has learned from fellow MOPS volunteers: their love, encouragement, and example
* Great fellowship with our Missions partners

Oh! And Isaac slept for 3.5 hours straight last night! yay! What more could this young crazy couple as for?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Treasure all these things

I fell out of any normal routine after the baby was born, including my morning quiet time, and I've really been struggling as a result. So this morning I resolved to get back on track again. With Isaac on my lap we prayed for forgiveness and fresh revelation. God taught us a beautiful lesson from Luke 2:8-20, through the shepherds, the angels, and Mary.

After the shepherds experienced the miracle of angels and seeing the Savior they went out and told the whole village. "And all who heard it were amazed."
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
I think there is a time for us to experience God and tell the whole world about it, like the shepherds did. Don't hide our light under a bushel but boldly declare the great things He has done for us.

But there is also a time for us to be like Mary and treasure miracles in our hearts, ponder the grace of God, and meditate on all He has done.
I need to do that more. I've had alot of rainy days lately with no sleep, when my precious baby won't stop crying and everyone else is annoying. On those days I really really need to start pondering the miracles I've treasured up in my heart - fight the blues with the blessings.
Have you treasured up miracles in your heart lately? Save them for a rainy day.