The Maxfields

The Maxfields

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Training & Transitioning

The Transition Bridge: an illustration of the transition onto the mission field, beginning with the settled and unsettled phases and moving into complete chaos before one can feel somewhat resettled and then finally 60% settled once again.

One randomly selected "family" and two single individuals journeyed across the bridge made of chairs [settled stage], rocking chairs [unsettled stage], exercise bouncy balls [chaos stage], rocking chairs [resettling], and secure chairs [new settled stage]. The family, made up of a mom and dad and two children, was linked together quite closely with hiking gear and clips because a family is a close unit and communicates in a way unique from that of the singles. Mom travels backwards because she wants to make sure her children make it safely across, and Dad wants to help out more but he cannot because of his position on the bridge. He is bringing up the rear and helping his kids across while facing his wife to communicate more easily. Sometimes the kids bounce a little, in the midst of the chaos, because it can be exciting and sometimes even fun, which puts the family off balance even more and makes Mom and Dad wonder if anything else could possibly be added to the chaos. When one family member struggles and loses balance, the whole family struggles and comes together even more than before. And if one family member falls, the whole family "falls" and must return from the field.

The two single teammates are attached by a stretchy phone cord on each end of the family and must learn that, because the family is close and concerned with the safety of one another, it can be easy for the singles to feel somewhat left out. The singles also might have to work at a slower pace if the family is working at a slower pace to avoid the discomfort of the cord's tension.

And sometimes, in the middle of the chaos, Mom will get a message from someone: "Hey, we haven't gotten a newsletter in a while." "Hey, what are you doing with the money we are sending you? Could we get an update soon?" And Mom is thinking, Um, we are in the midst of serious chaos and we are just trying to make it, but she says, "We are really busy but we are doing okay."

The supporters on the outside help the family during the transition and lift them up in prayer from "home-base," supporting them and encouraging them from off the field. While the supporters are not attached to the traveling team by a cord, they are very much essential to the team's wellbeing. The family cannot make it across the chaos phase without support.

While all of the supporters and prayer warriors and encouragers are essential to our journey, the team must realize that it is God who holds the bridge in His unmoving hands and it is God who is our true hope and strength.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thy Faithfulness

The snow has been falling steadily in Palmer Lake, Colorado, for the past twenty-four hours, and it is forecasted to fall for another twelve. I just walked outside for a few minutes to experience what 9 degrees feels like when it's combined with 11mph winds that whirl tiny snowflakes around in the sky. I don't think I've ever been so cold in my life - I'm a true Seattleite and I'm definitely not used to ten inches of snow and temperatures below twenty.

Being here at Mission Training International (MTI) has been such a wonderful experience. I am learning so much about so many different things. The first two weeks of training have been focused almost entirely on language learning and how to best approach any new language. In the moments that we aren't making strange new sounds with our mouths or consuming caffeine to keep us awake, we are talking about what it means to enter a new culture and engage fully in the paradox that is ministry.

It isn't easy to be here (nor is it easy to remain inside for days on end due to snow!), but it is so good to be here. It is such a blessing to see how God has brought all 68 of us here and to hear how He has called each one of us in a totally unique way. It has been such an encouragement to know that we are all experiencing the joys and hardships and blessings and discouragements of heading onto the mission field, and while each of us is experiencing something different, each of us knows what it means to truly rely on the Lord and trust His goodness.

God's faithfulness has been the subject of nearly all of my journal entries these past two weeks, and every day He shows His great faithfulness in such a new way. His grace and constant love are so overwhelming and His mercies are indeed new every morning, for which I am especially grateful. But ministry is a paradox. Some days are harder than others, and on those hard days that faithfulness looks as simple as a hot cup of tea in the evenings or a letter slipped under the door by one of my tiny five-year-old pen pals who are each heading onto mission fields of their own with their families.

But as we learn to appreciate the hard and the good of ministry by comparing both sides to a rubber duck, we see the blessing that comes with them both and that you cannot have the good without having the hard. Whether today was a "yuck-duck" day or a "yay-duck" day, all I have needed Thy hand hath provided, and great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.  

Prayer: A Gift from God

We are enjoying our time here at missions training. We have been discussing many issues around language training and Friday afternoon began addressing cross-cultural issues which we will continue to interact with over the next two weeks.

After only two weeks we are developing some good relationships. Getting to know people that are going through the same things we are has been very encouraging.

It is amazing that when you have the opportunity to get away from the craziness of life for a bit with time to reflect on issues how healthy it can be.

I have recently been convicted regarding my own prayer life. As we embark on life on the Reservation we know there will be difficulties. We know we will miss our friends and family. We know that we will have failures and discouragements and things might often be confusing. We know the Lord will stretch us in many ways. But for us to be engaged in this work and not be in daily, continual prayer with the Creator of the Universe is folly. I have a long way to go.

We rest in the sovereignty of our great God. He not only is our Creator, but He is active in the lives of those that follow Him in a way that we can rely on and trust for all our needs. What a blessing to know the Holy Spirit not only enables us to pray but gives us the words! And we know that through the mediating work of Christ, our prayers are heard and answered by the Father.

It is often so easy to rely on ourselves. In the business world I would focus on working hard, putting in the time and effort, following the right methodology and usually would get good results. "See, look what I did!" In God's grace he allows success, even though it might often lead us farther away from Him.

Praise God that He has awakened me to my weakness in this area. He has called us to follow Him in a way that I can't rely on myself. If we try to do it in our own power, we will fail. I'm sure I will try. Many times. But with His power and grace, He will work through me and accomplish His purposes even in my weakness.

I have been reading a bunch the last couple weeks and just finished a small little biography of David Brainerd, by Brian H Cosby, titled "A Love for the Lost." Mr. Brainerd was a missionary to Native Americans in the 1740s. He lived a godly life that was cut short by sickness. He died in 1747 at the age of 29 after struggling several years with, I believe, tuberculosis. But he was a man of prayer and continual seeking after Christ. Below is a short excerpt from the book that was a huge encouragement to me that I thought might encourage you to seek after Christ as Mr Brainerd.

"However, through these challenges and hardships [hypocritical witness from other white Christians in the area, fear from Native Americans, English translation issues, Native American's worshiping spirits with powerful witch doctors] God was pleased to shape David and to teach him to trust in his goodwill more. He had to trust that God's grace was sufficient for him. He had to trust that he would never be forsaken because Jesus was forsaken on his behalf. It always came back to the gospel. David showed patience toward the Indians because God had shown patience toward him in his sin. He forgave the Indians when they wronged him because God had forgiven him. David loved the Indians because God had first loved him. Jesus was the centerpiece of David's entire life to the point that, "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21) (pgs. 124, 125)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week #1 Training

It is amazing that one week of missionary training has come and gone.  There are so many things we could share.  I will try to highlight a few of my thoughts and also try to recap a bit of what we are learning.

First, it is such a blessing to see other families and young singles heading to the mission field!  We are amazed at each one and thankful for their dear hearts to share the hope of Jesus all around the world!  Special friendships are forming in this sweet setting.

We will be here for a total of four weeks.  Monday through Friday we are in classes from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.  The first two weeks are spent focused on language learning.  I have to admit, I wasn't sure how I would feel about this part of the training since we will be speaking English on the reservation.  It has been an incredible experience though!  It has changed my whole mindset on how to go about learning a language.  The language training consists of drills, techniques, homework, language games, phonetics, language tips, etc.  The language training can easily be applied to any language someone might need to learn.   Our girls have even been able to apply it to the languages they are studying in high school.   It has also gotten me thinking that I might like to learn some of the Yakama tribal language.  

Amidst the language training, we are hearing wonderful testimonies from former missionaries.  We are learning about trials, joys, expectations, fears, etc.  We are being encouraged in our spiritual walks as well.  Each day we are encouraged to write down our joys or things we are thankful for - and we are encouraged to continue this as we head into our mission fields.  We are also split into smaller groups (growth groups) where we go deeper together and pray for each other.

The second two weeks we will spend time on cross cultural changes.  Just a few of the topics on our schedule include:

  • Conflict Provides Opportunities
  • Spiritual Vitality
  • Managing Stress
  • Grief & Loss
  • Who We Are Under Stress
  • Embracing Rest and Sabbath Keeping
  • Glorifying God
  • Entry Posture
  • Goodbye's & Hello's
We are all looking forward to the teaching on these topics in weeks 3 and 4.

Today it is snowing and about 20 degrees -- it is so pretty!  They have sleds here and some snow gear for those who want to play outside.  The food has been delicious and it feels strange that I will not cook for a month.  There is a common area near the dining room with a fireplace where many gather each evening to talk, share a cup of tea, use wifi, play a game or read a book.  

I am so thankful to be here.  What a blessing and time our family will never forget.  I almost wish every Christian could experience something like this.  

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, emails, letters and love!  We are thankful for each of you.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 2 of Training - Update

We are finishing up Day 2 of missionary training in Colorado today and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those of you that are praying for us and supporting us financially.

It is a bit surreal to actually be here and beginning this training. The last year has been a crazy year of raising funds, telling everyone we could about Sacred Road (some of you probably think whether you wanted to hear about it or not), transitioning out of my firm, selling our house, and saying goodbyes to everyone. It has been busy, rewarding, difficult, encouraging, sad, exciting and many more emotions.

We couldn’t have gotten to this point without your prayers and financial support. Thank you.

And in only 4 weeks this training will be over and we will be going directly to Yakama. We are really excited about this new phase of the process.

A few things you might be interested in about the training:
1.       There are 37 adults and 31 youth/children.
2.       There are 3 other teens besides ours – all girls.
3.       It was 60 degrees yesterday and it is supposed to snow tomorrow.
4.       We are actually in the Palmer Lake/Monument area of Colorado, not quite in Colorado Springs.

One final thing to share that will hopefully be an encouragement to you. During the last year we have thought a few times that we are the only ones going through this process. Sometimes felt like odd-balls. But to be able to meet all these people that are in various stages of the same process we have been going through is a huge encouragement. And what is even more special is to hear about all the places they will be going to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people all around the world. Here are the places:
1.       Malawi
2.       Burkina Faso
3.       Dominican Republic
4.       India
5.       Native America (Apaches in Arizona – Yeah!)
6.       Uganda
7.       Philippines
8.       Mexico
9.       Kenya
10.   Mozambique
11.   Southeast Asia
12.   Nicaragua
13.   Poland
14.   Brazil
15.   Tanzania
16.   Jordan
17.   Czech Republic
18.   Thailand
19.   And Native America – Sacred Road Ministries in Yakama.

Friday, February 6, 2015

See Yah Soon

These past few weeks have been nothing short of hard. I’ve said so many goodbyes to friends and family that I know I won’t see for months, if not much longer. While it’s been very easy to stay absorbed in the emotions of leaving, I ran across some journal entries of my time on the Rez during the summer and was thoroughly encouraged. It reminded me of so many feelings that you can only get while loving with Christ’s love. Piggy back rides, chalk decorations, and water fights flooded through my mind and created a feeling of anxiety to get back there. Even though I can barely picture my life away from here, I know I can’t picture my life without the Yakama Rez. I can’t express how privileged I feel to serve the Lord in this way.

With that, I’m so grateful for friends and family who are praying for us and encouraging us as we adventure forward.

Isaiah 41:8-13
But you, Israel, my servant,
 Jacob whom I have chosen,
 the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
 and called from its farthest corners,
 saying to you, “you are my servant,
 I have chosen you and not cast you off”:

 fear not for I am with you;
 be not dismayed for I am your God;
 I will strengthen you, I will uphold you,
 I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 Behold all who are incensed against you
 shall be put to shame and confounded;
 those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.
 You shall seek those who contend with you,
 but you shall not find them;
 those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
 it is I who say to you “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Come and See

We've made up a list of "phases" of this adventure and we are now in phase 2!  Phase 1 consisted of selling the house, packing and putting everything we own into storage pods.  It also included "camping out" in our house for a week with air mattresses and sleeping bags, a very empty house, and no fridge.

Now we are spending a week in Birch Bay for phase 2.  Last year I said to Darren, "Will we keep this timeshare at Birch Bay when we go to Sacred Road?  Are missionaries allowed to have timeshares?"  He told me to wait and that we would revisit it later.  As the months went by and our house sold, it became apparent that we would need a place to stay between when we had to be out of our house and when we would go to Colorado.  Providentially our Birch Bay timeshare week fell in this exact time.  I was reminded once more of how God is orchestrating everything.  His timing is perfect.

Another blessing we experienced was this past Sunday morning.  We attended Wiser Lake Chapel Church in Lynden, WA.  We often attend this church when we are staying at Birch Bay.  We were invited to share about Sacred Road during the church service.  Interestingly, the call to worship was from John 1:35-39 which is this:  Philip found Nathaniel and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'  'Nazareth?  Can anything good come from there?' Nathaniel asked.  "Come and see", said Philip.

The "come and see" part is Sacred Road's slogan.  We were shocked to see it first thing in their order of worship.  Darren was able to share that providentially their call to worship tied in perfectly with Sacred Road.  There was also a song called, "Come and See" that we sang during the service.  I felt like God was whispering to me, "I'm still right here, orchestrating this whole thing."  It blessed us tremendously.

As we drove away from Bothell last Friday, a friend slipped "Streams in the Desert" (a devotional book) into my hands.  Would you believe the very first day that I read was about the Lord renewing His people through spiritual refreshment.  The verse was, "I will be like the dew to Israel."  Hosea 14:5.  I read how nature is bathed in dew just as the Lord renews His people.  It mentioned about attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna.  (What a good reminder for me as I head to Sacred Road.  How can I attempt to minister when I have not fed on His Word?)  I read how it is not sufficient to have spiritual nourishment only occasionally.  Spiritual dew comes from lingering in the Master's presence.  (Another conviction....sometimes I get too caught up with my "to do" list and don't stop to "linger in the Master's presence".)  

I'm so thankful for Phase 2.  This week has been a special gift from the Lord.  It has been a blessing to stop the busyness and listen to the Master.  There have been several very good lessons I have needed to learn.

And in just two days we begin Phase 3 as we head to Colorado Springs for missionary training!