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Day Three -- The BIG Day

Tuesday was John's BIG DAY.  He has worked on his PhD, part time for over seven years.  Sometimes it's been tough slogging and there were times he just wanted to give up.  Other times it was exciting to see the research come together and to find new information that will, hopefully, result in new doors for ministry.  But whether difficult or fun, it's been a lot of hard work.

The Oxford Centre for Mission Studies was established by John Stott to facilitate the higher education of people coming from or working in cross-cultural contexts.  It is not Oxford University, even though it's located in Oxford.  The school is accredited by and degrees granted by Middlesex University.   I could not be with John for his viva (what a defense of a dissertation is called in the UK system).  Only his two examiners were there as well as an OCMS moderator.  He said it was more like a conversation than a grilling.  

The end result is what we had hoped for.  While a few doctoral candidates …
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Days One & Two in Oxford: A Rest and Preparation for the Big Day

We left the USA for Oxford England on Friday, December 1st.  We left out of Newark Airport and a friend from our church drove us there.  We flew Iceland Air this time as they were the cheapest, though maybe not the most direct route.  Although flying time was about the same, it's just that we had a short layover in Reykjavik. 

I didn't take any pictures in the airport in Reykjavik, but it's a pretty small and no-frills airport.  However, looking at on-line photos of the airport, I think there was a lot more to it than it appeared to us.  I think we arrived and departed in the same hall.  There was one bathroom area, downstairs.  There were hardly any seats to sit in, though there was an extensive eating area.  When we figured out what gate we were leaving from, we went to the gate, but there were no chairs at all.  You just stood in the line or sat on the floor.  When they opened the gate, it was for you to go directly on to the plane.  Also, you have to climb stairs to get…

November Reading List

I did a lot of reading in November.  I was almost finished with a book or two in October, so they didn't quite make it on the October list and it makes the November list look good.

Called for Life:  How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic by Kent and Amber Brantly with David Thomas 

     As missionaries in West Africa, we were watching the Ebola story with great interest and, I must confess, a fair bit of fear. What if it spread to our country? What would we do? We were travelling during that time and I remember wondering what if I sat next to somebody on the plane who had it? Then I heard that one of the missionaries in our organization (Nancy Writebol and then later Rick Sacra) had contracted it. While Kent Brantley was with World Medical Mission (Samaritan's Purse), he worked at our mission hospital. So this story was very real to me.
     Having experienced hospitals in impoverished settings, I can just see what is happening and the stressfulness o…


"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thessalonians 5:18)

It seems that thankfulness is not something that comes naturally.  I think it is more in our nature to complain, to want more, to compare, to always come up short. Take a good look at the Israelites in the wilderness and you'll know complaining has been around for a long time.  I think that's why God had to give us a command to "give thanks".

So I love that we have a holiday that puts the spotlight on giving thanks.  I love that it's a family holiday and that the focus is just on being with each other.  This year we were with Suzanne and Theo.  Dan and Kelly had gone to Iowa to be with Kelly's family since they'll be with us for Christmas.  When we arrived last Monday, half the family was struggling with one thing or another.  Suzanne and the two little ones had had a cold for two weeks.  Tera seemed to have the flu as she had a fever and…

Noteworthy November -- Part 1

As of today, November 16, we have slept in nine different beds.  Well, one of the beds we slept in two different times with a few days in another place in between.

We left our home in Pennsylvania on November 3rd and traveled as far as Salisbury, NC.  We stayed with a family we had never met, but they knew my mother- and father-in-law.  John's parents had once been part of a bed and breakfast organization, something like Airbnb, only it was a Christian organization.  This couple had stayed with them and they hit it off well, so the next time they traveled through the area, they stayed with my in-laws again.  John's parents told them about us and they started corresponding with us.  We finally got to meet them.  And I failed to take any pictures.  

When we got to their house, we found that a couple who had done a short-term in Niger back in the early '90's was also there.  They live not far away from our new friends and had met at a church!  And I really don't know wh…