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Unexpected Conversations

Missionary Blogs - 8 hours 51 min ago
We spend a lot of time talking with people when we're in Australia. Occasionally we'll hear some unexpected comments about mission. Last week someone said, "I've never met "young" missionaries...

Happy Thanksgiving! And a Look Around Our Yard

Missionary Blogs - 10 hours 26 min ago
Thanksgiving day here was just like any other day--the kids went to school and I flew.  Being part of a multi-national team in a foreign country, it's not really a holiday that's on the local...

Day 27: Thanksgiving!

Missionary Blogs - 10 hours 29 min ago
Turkey day! Family, food and fun----It's been a good Thanksgiving. We are super thankful to be in the states for our first Thanksgiving since 2008!Thankful for family... Soon-to-be family! Lots to...

Saltzburg– Part Two

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - 14 hours 44 min ago
As I was saying, Salzburg is Salt town, and so naturally you have salt shop…. including all kinds of salt, even bath salts!! of course there are lots of other interesting shops in the town as well. Here’s an apothecary, or pharmacy…. And of course there are numerous quaint cafes, we ate at one across [Read More...]


Missionary Blogs - 15 hours 28 min ago
While Grandpa took the boys to a UMHB football game, the little ones experienced their first pumpkin patch with Grandma, Ginny and myself.  Of course, the goats were the best...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 19:07
MACKENZIE GRACE, AGE 1 This little cutie turned one this week, and we have been in celebration mode!  For our family I think Mackenzie's birthday will always mark the start of the holidays for...

Pausing to say thanks, friends and pie

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 16:03
We’re pausing to be grateful. Here and now. It sounds so obvious, right? I mean, it is Thanksgiving Day, after all. But it’s so easy to wait for everything to be perfect, for the table to...

Happy Thanksgiving from the Mibu Team

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 10:52
We just wanted to say happy thanksgiving from us in Mibu! One of the things we're so thankful for is all of you who hold us up in prayer and who support us financially each month!

Thinking about a new hobby

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 10:34
I'm thinking about taking up a new hobby*: weaving and maybe spinning. During our holidays in September we spent several days at my sister-in-law's place. She owns Alpacas. While we were there I had...


Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 10:00
I've spent the past 5 months in the US out and about the country. I've traveled to visit friends & family as well as traveled in Open Bible churches in (mostly) Washington and Oregon, sharing...

Pre-Thanksgiving Travels 2014

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 09:18
We've been on the go this week.  We left home on Monday afternoon driving into Guatemala City.  We had a few things to do in the Capital before heading to our Thanksgiving gathering with...

Thankfulness as the Kingdom Advances

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 05:50
It has been very busy since we returned to the States for a short season.  Time seems to be flying by.  We have really enjoyed our time here and visiting with family, friends, and...

Actually, the Thought Doesn't Count

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 05:23

It's Thanksgiving. Can you believe it?!

Thanksgiving day means the Holiday Season is upon us... and that makes everything inside of me want to run away and live in a cave for the next month. 
I know I should be excited because it's THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR and all that crap, but I kind of hate the holidays. And by kind of, I mean completely.
“The Holidays” will swoop in today on the carcass of a fat, dead turkey and there's nothing anybody can do about it. I'm already gearing up to emerge from the bliss of my annual Thanksgiving food coma, only to careen into a state of perpetual anxiety over all the stuff that follows our national day of gorging and gratitude.
By 5am tomorrow the world will have been launched into the madness we call Christmastime, and I am guaranteed to lay awake at night for the next 4 weeks obsessing over food, sweating over money, and burning with shame at my inability to give presents that people actually like or want. I know it sounds crazy, but the Holiday Season just isn't that fun when what you don't have is any money, and what you do have is a history of eating disorders and a proven track record of lame gift giving. 
It's like a trifecta of month long misery for a person like me. It's so stressful, it just makes me wanna poop.
And can we talk about the gift-giving thing for a sec? I know that some people are really good at choosing, making, buying, wrapping, and giving awesome presents, but I am not one of those people. For me, the annual tradition of everyone giving everyone else gifts is stressful, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and awkward. I'm not a planner, I'm not all that creative, I'm not particularly intuitive, and I have NO money, so when it comes to gift giving, I don't enjoy the process and nobody enjoys the results.

Fun, right?!
I think people who are good at this kind of thing have a moment when they see the joy and surprise and gratitude on the face of the person opening their gift, and I'm guessing that that moment makes the time and money they invested feel worthwhile. But, imagine the opposite. Imagine a gift being opened to a glimmer of disappointment, a glance of disinterest, or a genuine look of W.T.F. …Even if the words that follow are the same (Thank you! That's so sweet! I've always wanted a walrus hide belt.You shouldn't have. No, really, I mean it...You shouldn't have.), the tone is a dead giveaway – if that “thank you” lilts like a sad trombone, sorry, but your gift bites.

The choral *womp-womp* of disingenuous "thank you's" upon the ears of the gift-giving-challenged can make the Holiday Season a sort of personal hell. While all the normal people are writing their lists and checking them twice, bad gift givers are aimlessly scrolling through Amazon's holiday deals and clicking through gift-guides on Pinterest, desperate to find everyone we love the perfect thing ...or really anything. Because what we're really desperate for is to get this whole damn thing over with.

It's just so much pressure!
And, I swear, if you try to pacify me by saying it's the thought that counts or that we're not required to give gifts and should only do it if we really want to, I will pull my Thanksgiving Cranberry-Pear Crostata out of the oven right now and stick my head in there. DO NOT EVEN. Because, first of all? It's not the thought that counts, it's the gift that counts. Otherwise we would all just say, “I thought about getting you a nice gift” and everybody would be happy. Besides, the gifts I give aren't awful because they're thoughtless, they're awful because I'm a poor, forgetful, relationally-shallow procrastinator. So last Christmas, when I thought about what to get you - and I did - I didn't have enough money for a decent gift card and I couldn't remember what you need and I wasn't sure what you like and I waited too long to figure all that out, so all I could do was walk up to the clearance rack at Target, close my eyes, and grab the first thing I touched. And that's why you got a XXL zippered fleece with Snoopy surfing a wave that said "Life's a Beach".
You're welcome. 

I know.

I shouldn't have.
But seriously, let's just admit the thought doesn't count. I've received good gifts, and it's awesome, and I've received bad gifts, and it sucks. Let's just be honest and say we'd really prefer to get presents we like or need or want, so that we can also acknowledge that some people just naturally suck at giving presents. 
While we're at it, we can also quit pretending like opting out of the gift exchange madness is a reasonable thing to do. The suggestion that no one has to give gifts unless they feel like it defies everything we know about society and culture and the nature of community. Telling me I can simply abstain from reciprocal gift giving in Suburbia is like saying if I don't feel like using a fork, I should just eat with my hands. Who cares what everyone else is doing, right?! Do what works for you! Go ahead and eat mashed potatoes with your hands at the staff Christmas party and the PTA Brunch and the in-laws Holiday Celebration – I mean, yeah, it will make everyone super uncomfortable, and they'll call you rude behind your back, and no one will want to eat with you next year – but WHO CARES?! It's your life! You are not obligated to use a fork. Or to give a gift. 
You don't have to participate. Riiiiiiiiight. That sounds like it'll work out well. 
The thought does not count and you cannot opt out! 

These are gift-giving truths every holiday shopper must face. So I guess I should just accept my fate as the very worst gift giver, and focus instead on what I can bring to this month of crazy we call the Holiday Season. ...Pie. 

That's all I got. Bad gifts and good pies. Let the dreaded Holiday Season commence

Day 26: Siblings

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 05:14
This is one of those happy/sad posts...We're thankful cuz Brandon is driving home for Thanksgiving right now, and we just found out (surprise!) that Micah was able to get off work and is coming home...

Saltzburg— Part One

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 03:03
Ann and I decided to take a day trip on a bus to Saltzburg. Now ordinarily, I’m not enamored of canned bus tours, but this one turned out o.k., and Saltzburg was well worth the journey. The town is named after the fact that it had a salt mine as its major source of employment [Read More...]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 02:24
Greetings from the Godzwa Family as we pause to give thanks.

Karina’s Knee Surgery

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 23:41
Please remember to pray for Karina.  We were advised by a surgeon in the USA who reviewed her exams and determined surgery on her knee is necessary.  He has graciously worked Karina into his busy...

God’s the One!

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 22:10
Even though we comfortably ride in air-conditioned taxis in Hong Kong, we are divided as a family, due to the fact that the max allowance per car is 5 people… no exceptions! I smiled when we arrived...


Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 12:00
All these years I thought it was only the pastor who could understand what God was saying. But now I’m reading it, and I can understand what God is saying to me.” A woman speaking the...

Avoid a camping-out mentality

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:54
I love camping, as you might have guessed if you've been following my blog for a while. But I try to avoid a camping-out mentality in daily life. By this I mean just living temporarily,...
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