Where to begin…
I woke up two days ago to a sand storm - a legitimate the-sky-is-blacked-out sand storm – which, as a California boy I don’t think I’d ever seen. As I walked the mile home from work I got pelted by tiny pieces of hail. Finally, as we went to bed that night a snowstorm blanketed the city in fresh snow. So lets see, in a period of twelve hours we had a sand storm, hail storm, and snowstorm. That was interesting.
I hear that Bear Grylls is doing a Man vs. Wild in Mongolia. Man, I hope he comes to our town. I have a knife he can use…
Right now I am lying on our new/used bed and Kim is curled up next to me asleep. The reason this is big news is because there is actually now space between us, whereas in our old child-sized twin bed we were basically forced to spoon all night and turn over in sync throughout the night to get any kind of sleep. We look forward to finally getting to sleep through the night. We’re going to use our old bed as a couch, or rather, a loveseat.
As we drove the bed home, I had to hold the bottom of the frame on top of the Mikr (Russian van) we were riding in by sticking my arm out the window and holding it the best I could while a Mongolian man stuck his arm out the other window and held the other side of it. I sat there in the pitch black of night, next to a Mongolian guy in a Russian-made van blaring Russian techno, holding our bed to the roof of the van, while Kim sat in the front seat and we swerved and bumped our way home. I thought, “Really, could I have ever imagined this?” Nope, not at all.
Teaching at the YWAM base has been going really well. It’s a really interesting environment because if parents become Christians and want to be trained to go into the mission field, they have to bring their families as well so in one dorm-room-sized dwelling you have a family living with two bunk beds, a sink, and a dresser. The base is ten minutes outside Erdenet so when we pull up in the van every Monday and Wednesday night there are at least two or three kids in each little window looking out at us.
I’ve also started to teach at the hospital and I’ve really been enjoying that. Everyone has been so nice to me and they’ve given me my own office with its own bathroom. The doctors and nurses are all eager to learn and, even though they have all started with next to no English, we got to the point today where we could actually converse as a class a little. I only teach two hours a day but I spend the rest of the hours preparing lessons and quizzes. I’m going to start having office hours with them as well so I can practice one-on-one with them at least an hour a month.
I’ve obviously had a trim back on ‘taking’ the Reformed Seminary classes but I’m still going through the Genesis through Poets classes, the History of Christianity class, and the Theological Foundations class. I have loved everything I’ve been learning and it’s added a dimension and a depth to my faith that I was foolish to think I might ever reach on my own. It’s made me anxious to pursue seminary but still patient and hopeful for what God has for us here and for whatever is next.
Since the church out here has very few resources outside of the Bible, in particular for training the pastors, I had an idea to teach a class from JI Packer’s Concise Theology book to the Mongolians from the church who could speak English. The twist though would be to have them translate it as we went so that when we were done they would have the book in Mongolian to distribute through the Christians here. The people who’ve been here for years politely discouraged the idea by explaining the difficulty and tediousness of the translating process. Oh well, maybe we can come back to that idea later. I just really would like to get a solid resource into the hands of the lay people out here.
I was, however, encouraged to start an English Bible study for the church with my friend Johnny. I guess people have been specifically asking for one for awhile so that could be really cool. We’re hoping to start that in May. If you could keep that in your prayers that’d be great.
My parents are wonderful and sent me my football and my copy of Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will. I look forward to reading about the depravity of human nature and throwing post routes to my wife. That’s ok, right?
Thank you so much to those of you who have sent packages. You have no idea how excited we get. We practically bounce the half-mile home from the post office and open them like a gift on Christmas morning. It’s a moving and humbling thing to feel the love of your family and friends from a world a way and we’re constantly thankful. Remember, if you are able to send a package, use the Flat Rate boxes the post office supplies. They are significantly cheaper than a box you provide or the priority mail ones they have. (Believe me, I was an expert at this during the six months Kim was gone.)
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
As far as what I’ve been reading and listening to, I really, really, really want to encourage you guys to check these resources out.
John Piper’s sermon podcast on iTunes and his archive and Desiring God. His most recent conference message on distinguishing the real Gospel from the false Gospel (Desiring God) and sermon on Regeneration, Faith, and Love (iTunes) are not to be missed.
For those of you interested in a concise breakdown and sincere diagnosis of a hot topic in the church right now, the Emerging/Emergent Church, I would urge you to listen to two of Mark Driscoll’s recent sermons on iTunes: “Mars Hill and the Emerging Church” and “Religion Saves and 9 Other Misconceptions – The Emerging Church”.
CJ Mahaney’s blog at http://sovereigngraceministries.org. I’ve been challenged, humbled, and inspired by everything I’ve read by him. He’s somewhat of a pastor-to-pastors and, though that’s the case, his simplicity and passion makes him accessible to anyone. He also has a podcast available on iTunes.
I listen to those as I walk to and from work, but in my free time I’ve been reading Knowing Jesus in the Old Testament by Christopher JH Wright (not to be confused with NT Wright) and God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts. Both books address the scope and incredible story that the Bible is. Too often we separate New Testament from Old Testament, Gospels from Epistles, Law from Gospel, when we need to see it as one story of God’s redemptive plan for humanity, stretching thousands of years. I’ve also just finished Judges in the Bible and am currently tackling the ever so tedious Leviticus.
Ah yes, I also need to mention that I am getting quite good at charades. Partly because I’m not afraid to look like an idiot and mostly because I only know a few words in Mongolian I’m forced to act out almost any communication I have. For example, when Kim and I were in UB last week we were in a taxi and she forgot how to say “train station” in Mongolian. I looked at the driver, grabbed my invisible horn string, pulled it, and made a horn/trumpet/toot toot noise with my mouth. He immediately knew what I was talking about and took us to the train station, though I don’t think he respected me after that. What I’m trying to say is, Mr and Mrs Kensrue, your years of Cranium domination may soon come to an end.
These pictures are especially for Kenny, Riley, and Tim.