Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kwaj Challenges

Sometimes people wonder if there are challenges to living on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There are some unique things to this place and so I thought I would share some of those in this post. It is important to remember that in our challenges are opportunities to reflect on life and to learn about ourselves and God. Also our joy comes from Christ and not from having a lack of challenges. Here are a few challenges in no particular order.

1. The Grocery Store.
Our fresh produce comes in on a plane once a week on Tuesdays. Therefore Tuesday afternoon is the day to shop at the store since if you go Wednesday the selection is not that great and well you can't go Thursday because the store isn't open Thursdays. Yes, that is right our grocery store isn't open 24/7 and well it isn't open 10-6 either. It is only open about 30 hours a week. It is the only grocery store on the island so if you want an item and it isn't there you aren't getting it. Since we have been here they have been out of milk, cheese and chicken. Currently they are out of ginger and poppy seeds. Sometimes our family mails food items to us.

2. Mail.
Our mail comes twice a week on the plane. Once a month we get a special mail delivery. If the plane is delayed or something happens we don't get mail or produce etc.. Mail comes Tuesday and Thursday mornings which means it is available late Tuesday or Thursday but definitely on Wednesday and Fridays. We all have PO Boxes so if you get a package you must pick it up at the package window which is open probably 20 hours a week at best. Most mail takes at least 2 weeks and sometimes up to 6 weeks to get here. There is no instant gratification for online shopping. We online shop for most items since our store has very little to choose from.

3. Budget Cuts
We all work for the government in some capacity and we all know the government is trying to cut back spending. This means a remote place like ours is a good place to cut. That means layoffs for us and reduced hours at places like the grocery store. Layoffs mean people have to move back to the States jobless and possibly homeless depending on whether they sold their house when they moved here. It is scary for people and we are expecting more layoffs throughout the summer and into the fall. For example the elementary music teacher was cut and the elementary PE teacher moved and wasn't replaced so the school has less staff this year. Everyone will be expected to get the same work done with less people and resources. That's a tough go here.

4. Dial up Internet
Yes, our homes have dial up Internet, 52k. Enough said on that.

5. Missing people
We miss our people back in Washington. We are having a great adventure and learning so much and hopefully serving faithfully but we still miss our people. We love you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wheelchair Ministry

Our congregation has a growing wheelchair ministry that is lead by the chair (Jack) of our missions committee. The attached photo is of a ten year old boy on Ebeye who has been disabled from birth and who has never had a wheelchair since his parents can't afford one. Therefore his parents have had to carry him and he has had a limited ability to get out into society. Yesterday Jack and a few people delivered his wheelchair and here is a photo from that event.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Living on Kwaj for us has been a great time for learning. I have always thought that God wants us to learn from life. One author said something like “God comes to us as life”. I think what he meant was that God can teach us a lot about ourselves and about Him though our life. The key is slowing down and noticing. Moving to Kwaj has changed our routine so dramatically that we have been forced to slow down and notice our life and seek to learn from it.

One of the things we are learning about is healthier eating patterns. One of Kim’s girlfriends has shown her how to bake a healthy bread so our kids don’t have to eat the white bread sold at the store (they only sell one type). With the healthy bread she has been shown where online to purchase healthy spreads like almond butter and natural jams and jellies. We are learning how to be healthier and realizing that what we eat and how we exercise is a matter of stewardship. We are coming to a better understanding that our bodies are a gift from the Lord and caring for them is an essential part of stewardship. Stewardship isn’t only about money or time is it about all that we have and all that we are which of course our bodies are a key part.

We are learning about living three dimensionally as a family. We have spent time talking about what it means to live UP, IN and OUT as a family with small children. I think we have been able to do that because we have more time as a family since I live close to church and we aren’t spending as much time in the car. Actually we have spent no time in the car.

These are just a few of the things we are learning through our life here. God teaches us wherever we are if we are open to observing how he comes to us. It is really not a difficult process; we just need to be intentional about the process. Mike Breen’s work on learning from life is a great tool.

Choose to learn from life keeps our life with God fresh, current and dynamic. It keeps us growing and maturing in Christ and can break us out of the ruts we are in. One doesn’t have to move to Kwaj to do it, learning happens right where we are.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I was talking with one of the members of our congregation earlier in the week and she was telling me how she was grateful for hand written mail in these days of email and impersonal mail. I was struck by how well she is practicing gratefulness. It is so easy to miss the little things in life like a letter. A letter, written by hand takes time and energy and to notice that effort and be thankful for it is wonderful.

To practice gratefulness we need to be awake and aware of what is going on around us. So often we are going to fast and doing too much and as a result we miss what is actually happening and what we are actually doing. To notice a letter means that we need to slow down and look around us. The other day it was raining here (we get over a 100 inches of rain a year) and I was thankful that I had a place to be dry and when it was time to go I was thankful for a rain gear to keep me dry. (Riding your bike in intense rain is quite an experience. When it rains here it rains hard)

What really grounds us in our practice of gratefulness is when we realize that "Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light (James 1:17 The Message)" It is God in his love and faithfulness who is giving us all the good gifts and so our gratefulness is thanksgiving to a loving and generous God. The natural outflow of gratefulness is worship. Worship is about thanksgiving and praise to a God who is generous and kind.

Our ultimate source of thanksgiving is the cross of Christ where we see God's love and mercy so clearly. Praise be to Christ!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day on Kwajalein

Over the weekend we had a simple memorial ceremony on one of our historic WWII battle sites. It was powerful to celebrate this holiday on a battlefield.

What brought the meaning of the holiday home was when one of our on island visiting families was recognized as a gold star family. A gold star family is a family who has lost loved one in combat. This couple lost their son in Iraq. They were part of the group who placed wreaths in honor of those who gave their lives in service of our country. Our Colonel in his speech reminded us that this holiday is not about a day off or more shopping, it is about people. It is about the people who lost their lives and about the people who grieve.

Our ceremony finished with a 21 gun salute followed by the playing of taps. While the ceremony was short and simple it was a powerful reminder of the meaning and purpose of memorial day. I think all of us found ourselves thankful for the men and women who serve our country and therefore serve us.