Saturday, March 29, 2008

Missionary Biggest Loser Week #1

March 29/ Day 8: 274 lbs.

Mental State: Angry at myself for making this a three month contest, why didn’t I make the contest for one month? In that scenario I could whoop up on Matt Jones, get justification, and return to my beloved pączki. No, instead I’ve gotta go for the whole “life changing” route. What was I thinking? I know what I’ve been thinking this week, I NEED SUGAR. On the same note, Ginger told me this week that she was glad I was dieting because she wanted to lose some weight too. So I asked her how much, and . . . . you won’t believe this. . . . . .6 lbs, she said. SIX MEASLEY POUNDS, I’ve eaten hamburgers that weighed more than six pounds, and I’ll have the picture to prove it next week. Overall, I guess I’m pleased that I lost 8 lbs. in the first week, but my skeptical mind is already telling me that I can’t keep up this pace every week. Oh well, I’m off to go find comfort in . . . . . . . . . . . . rice cakes???!!!!! So I wonder how Matt Jones is doing, I know he is using the "old people's" method of weight loss, but maybe it will work for him. You can check up on my nemesis and Christian brother's progress here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Missionary Biggest Loser

Stepped onto the scale today for the first time in awhile and I was a meager 282 lbs. That's right 282 lbs---if I fell asleep on the beach right now Greenpeace would probably try to put me back in the water as part of their "save the whales" campaign. That is 70 lbs. heavier than when we got married. Since the age of 17 I've always been able to benchpress more than my weight, I can still do that but the margin for error is (forgive the pun) slim. Two culprits currently thrive in my life that forbid me from a healthy weight and they both start with "p." Pop and Polish doughnuts, or as I like to call them "manna from Heaven"---translated into Polish "manna z nieba." How do I let go of two things that bring me so much joy? The answer is a contest with, my nemesis and Christian brother, Matt Jones. The Jones family and ours were in the same missionary candidate class with Baptist World Mission. I still remember our first session when Dr. Cummins said "raising support is not a contest"---Matt and I looked eachother in the eye and the race to the field was on. There has been heated debate as to which family won that contest, sure they got to the field first but we had to raise more money. That debate won't be settled until Heaven, where Matt will finally come to the realization that he did in fact lose.
So how can I achieve vindication in the here and now? The answer is through a "Missionary Biggest Loser" contest with Matt Jones. Like me, he enjoys the taste of fine cuisine. I believe two of his closest friends are in fact "Swiss Miss" and "Little Debbie." So we are going to battle it out over the next three months on our blogs. Updating you each Saturday on the victories and horrible defeats of the past week. The winner is to be decided June 21 and the criteria will be based solely on "overall percentage of weight lost." You can check out my nemesis and Christian brother's progress here. Don't forget to check back each Saturday as to our progress and mental state. In addition, I will still be updating our blog during the week with ministry and family news.
March 22/Day 1: 282 lbs.
Mental State: I really want a doughnut, could one more really hurt?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baby Steps

The path to learning a second language is marked with baby steps. I was able to take one of those baby steps a few weeks ago when I made my first joke in Polish. Reality television is all the rage now in Poland. One such show is "Zona dla Tatusia"---literally translated "a wife for dad." Three times a week Ginger and I get a little exercise at a gym here in Sieldce and one day I noticed several people, around the television, shaking their heads at a commercial advertising this show. Evidently, the gimmick is that the children choose the wife for their dad. In this case, the dad was kind of an odd looking fella and he was bald, and by bald I mean, something scared his hairline years ago and it never stopped receding, if you get my drift. As I walked by the group of people I said (without even thinking) "moze byc Wlosy dla Tatusia" ----literally "maybe it should be called Hair For Dad." The comment managed to get a smirk out of most of the group, which is a hard reaction to get here sometimes. Red Skelton I am not but a guy can try can't he?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Case For Poland

“Stover, are you sure you know what you are doing? You mean to tell me that my grandkids are going to be Pollack’s?” That was my father in law’s response (himself, a missionary in Thailand for over thirty years) to the news that we were leaving our ministry in Chicago to join a church planting team in Poland. He was joking of course, but the reaction was a common one as we prepared to head to the field. On June 12, 1987 Ronald Reagan uttered the famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” that speech in West Berlin would drastically change the landscape of Europe forever. Following the loosening of the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe, missionaries began to pour into the former Soviet States. Initially, interest in Poland was strong, but after little results and fierce Catholic resistance, attention turned to neighboring countries. Why was it such a rough go in Poland? Why were places like Romania and Ukraine so much more open to the Gospel? I posed that very question to a national pastor here and he responded by saying that, unlike some of the other former Soviet States, the underground church was almost non-existent in Poland during communism. The Polish people’s loyalty was to the RCC, in fact, many saw Pope John Paul II (himself Polish) as an important catalyst to the ending of communism in Poland. For so many reasons, to be Polish is to be Catholic, but one has to visit the country for themselves to understand the grip that Roman Catholicism has on the Polish people. Only then will you come to realize the vindictive, controlling, and vengeful character of the RCC and its grip on the people. Of course, taking a moment to think about it, one understands the amount of power a priest can wield having heard the confessions of local leaders from the time of their childhood to the present. True, we are not talking about physical persecution, but we are talking about stifling peer pressure from friends and family for all who dare leave the church.

Twenty years later and so much has changed. In fact, I would argue that there has never been a greater need for missionaries in Poland and that the Polish people have never been more ready to hear the Gospel, than at the present. 1.) Capitalism is taking hold, and with that the realization that education will bring advancement. The 20 and 30 something’s are well educated and have learned to ask questions. Those of you who have come out of the RCC know that the church doesn’t react too kindly to questions. People are looking for answers; perhaps the Gospel might very well have the answers they need (read a touch of sarcasm). 2.) A sex abuse scandal among the priests equal or greater than what occurred in the States a few years back has many, once staunch followers, questioning the integrity of the RCC. 3.) For many Poles, Pope John Paul II was the only pope they had ever known; they worshipped him like a deity. Witnessing firsthand the political “good ole boy” process of electing a new pope disenfranchised many of the younger generation. 4.) Recent inquests have revealed that many priests were informants for the KGB under communism, thus revealing that the RCC was more interested in money and preservation than ministering to its’ “faithful constituents.”

China and the rest of the 10/40 window currently occupy most of the mission focus in the United States and rightfully so. An area containing 2/3 of the world’s population should be of utmost importance. However, in carrying out the Great Commission, let us not forget about the nearly Forty Million people living in, what I like to call, “The Below Forty Window,” as in below 40F all the time, at least it feels like it. Poland, unlike most of Europe, is very pro U.S. According to the book “A Question of Honor,” they have been our allies in every major war since the Revolutionary War. It is a country that has survived the atrocities of Hitler and the weight of the Iron Curtain only to be damned by RCC dogma. Our response to this people group has been meager at best, a handful of missionaries have come in the twenty years the field has been open, resulting in a .03% Protestant population*. Christ’s words in John 4 ring true of Poland, “the harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few.” Join me in praying that the “Lord of the Harvest” would send more laborers.

*CIA World Factbook

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Little Homework For The Ladies


I am writing to you today to ask for your help on a project that has been on my heart for the past year. My family and I moved here to Poland 10 months ago. I thought that because I grew up on the mission field I would be prepared for all that missionary life entailed. I was wrong, a missionary kid and a missionary wife are two completely different things. I was shocked at how unprepared I was to be a wife and mom in a new country. In the beginning my emotions at times, were overwhelming.

I distinctly remember the excitement I felt when I knew that deputation was over and we were heading to the field. Finally we were going to be in the country that God called us too. Packing for Poland was fun, arriving in Poland was fun, and setting up our new apartment was fun, and then reality struck. I was here for good, there was no turning back and my family was thousands of miles away. Where did all those emotions and feelings come from? Why was I feeling this way? I was where I knew God wanted me and so why was I so upset inside? Looking back on deputation, I wish I had more insight into setting up home in a foreign country. I would like to compile a series of stories and experiences of missionary wives and single missionary ladies from all around the world. I want to hear from veteran missionaries and from those who have just arrived on the field. What are some of the most difficult adjustments you have faced? What were some emotions that you experienced, and what best helped you adjust to your new country? Maybe you could share some Scripture passages that were a comfort to you.

It is my belief that a compilation of our experiences, struggles, and victories would be such a good resource and help to new single missionary ladies and missionary wives. I would love to hear from your hearts. Please be as open and candid as possible, you can remain anonymous if you would like. Not only could this be a help to new missionary wives and single missionary ladies, but I think that it could be an encouragement for veteran missionaries as well. I know that personally I feel embarrassed and ashamed at how weak I feel at times. I feel as though I must pretend to be an impregnable fortress. We can encourage one another by being honest and by sharing how God helped us through the different periods of adjustment. I personally would love to hear little tips on what makes you feel more at home in your new country. If you would be interested in sharing your experiences please send me a quick email { }. Then, in the next two weeks as you have time please send me your experiences. I would like to begin compiling these as soon as possible.