In 21 days our family of 4 (in case you missed it we adopted Calvin!) will be moving. Moving is nothing new for me, I grew up moving, and I’ve moved multiple times since being an adult, but this will be the first time, as an adult for me to move to another country. It’s hard to believe that after years of pursuing foreign missions, we’re finally going to West Africa! I know my life will be changing a lot and I’m both excited and nervous, but I know God will be with me through it all!

As far as the blog goes, I’ve really missed blogging and I’ve thought many times about coming back to it, I’ve even gone as far as starting some rough draft posts. However, it’s also been good for me to get away from it and spend time and thoughts on other things.

I’m hoping to keep posting sometimes, although it won’t be as often as I used to post….and if my posts do become really frequent I give you all permission to write me  and say, “Katy, what’s up with all these posts? Are you getting your other things done first???”

I’ve also been updating our ministry blog more frequently too, which covers more ministry and family type things.

Right when you feel like packing’s going good……

…you realize, you need to start all over again! :)

 

With all this traveling and moving I haven’t felt very frugal at all, let’s face it plane tickets, typhoid shots, malaria preventatives, and passports aren’t cheap. And it doesn’t help that we keep saying, “We need to eat at (insert all of our favorite State-side restaurants) before we go!”

To make myself feel better about all we’ve been spending, here’s 5 ways we’ve been frugal recently:

  1. I bought a dual-voltage blow dryer and flat-iron on amazon, using my earnings from swagbucks* to cut the price quite a bit.
  2. We opted for a small layover in Brussels on our way to Senegal because it was significantly cheaper than flying straight.
  3. We have over $50 at a consignment store, that I plan on collecting before leaving the country.
  4. I’ve been collecting lots of free e-books for my Kindle. I’m so thankful for modern technology, that allows me to pack buckets of books into one small device! :)
  5. I’ve been finding tons of coins lately when I go on run/walks. I wish I’d been keeping track of how many, but almost every time I go, I find at least one or two…Cameron makes fun of me, but hey, every penny counts!!

 

Linked at Sarah Titus for Frugal Friday.

Frugal Friday

Sounds like something a greedy little toddler would say, right? But it’s what I’ve found myself saying, in my head at least, multiple times lately as we yet again pack up.

“I love these mason jars, I can’t just get rid of them, surely I can find things to put in them, so I have an excuse to keep them.”

“Getting rid of almost all of our kitchen things and replacing them in West Africa sounds great…but what if it ends up being expensive and it takes us a while to restock everything? That might mean super simple cooking, and making do with what we have may end up being a pain.”

As all these thoughts roll around in my head, I think the main thing I’m trying to avoid is  discomfort. I really, really hate not being comfortable, whether that discomfort is inconvenience, not getting my “me time” or worried about what others think of me.

But that’s focusing all on me, and the purpose of my life should not be to make it as comfortable as possible. Not that my purpose is to make it uncomfortable either. My job is to spread Christ’s love…..often that means I’ll have to get a little uncomfortable.

Living on this earth wasn’t fun and comfy for Jesus, neither was dying on the cross, but “…For the joy set out for him he endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).

Paul’s life was full of prison, persecution, ship-wrecked and so much more, but he said in regards to the things he lost suffering for Christ, “…I regard them as dung! – that I might gain Christ,”(Philippians 3:8).

As I struggle with a love for my stuff, I’m so thankful that when Jesus was talking with the rich young ruler, who also felt sad about giving up his things, it says, “…As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him…”

As you go in that story, the disciples are confused at how Christ said he should give all he had to the poor and follow Christ. And that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for rich people to get into God’s kingdom. When they say, who can be saved then??? Jesus says some words I absolutely love, ” This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God.” (Mark 10:27)

In conclusion:

  • I’m thankful for the many wonderful things I’ve been able to use and enjoy.
  • I’m reminded that they’re just tools, and if they don’t help further Christ’s message of love….then I’ll be just fine with out them.
  • And it’s okay if my life isn’t perfectly comfortable, I’ll be plenty comfy in heaven for the rest of eternity. :)

Lord, help me to not just say these things, but really believe them!

Then check out our other blog.

Cameron, me and a bunch of kids at Vacation Bible School in Paraguay many years ago...I feel old...

Where would you and Cameron like to wind up in your mission work?

Two people asked about where we would like to work in the future. I’ve mentioned on the blog that we want to work overseas, but haven’t specified where yet. While it could still change (seems like plans have a tendency to do that), we are currently planning on working in West Africa. I know that covers multiple countries, but we really don’t know which country yet, but for now we’re working on our French…oui, oui. :)

How does aviation ministry work, anyway?

New Tribes Mission has their own aviation department,  New Tribes Mission Aviation (NTMA). NTM often works together with other aviation groups as well. The reason NTM often uses planes and helicopters is because they work in remote settings. Some locations don’t even have a drivable road to get in and out of, so a helicopter flies in until an airstrip can be made for an airplane.

Sometimes there are other ways of getting to the remote people, like driving, boats or hiking, but aviation is much faster. NTMA uses their planes to fly the missionaries in and out of the tribes, fly supplies, mail, and even used in emergencies.

Gracia a couple of years ago.

When my family lived in a tribe for a year, we had 3 ways of getting in and out. We could go by boat, which we never ended up doing. It took a couple of days. There was also a road, but it was almost never used by the missionaries. You could only use it at certain times of the year, when it wasn’t flooded and you had to bring your own gas for the trip. So we were flown in and out by NTM pilots.

I remember one time in particular when one of our pregnant friends had preclampsia so bad that she was loosing her sight. We wanted to fly her out, but the airstrip was flooded due to so much rain. After several days the pilot could finally fly in and take her out. Praise God both her and her baby ended up alright in the end! And praise God for planes!

Not all of the places that NTM works uses aviation however, like West Africa. Right now NTM’s aviation department is not working over there. Even Paraguay has phased out of the aviation department because roads have improved so much.

As many of you may know Cameron has his pilots licence and mission aviation has been our goal for quite some time and like I mention in My Purpose, the expense of all the training has motivated us to try to be better stewards of our resources. But after a lot of thought, prayers and talking with leadership we have decided to not pursue mission aviation right now. We desire to be used as foreign missionaries, but at this point are not set on aviation and are getting very excited about being church planters instead.

31 weeks with Gracia

How would pregnancy/birth work while on a mission?

This is actually asked a lot. The answer varies depending on where you live and your own personal preferences, but I asked my mom to give her testimony of giving birth to my brother Nathan in Paraguay:

What I remember about being pregnant and having a baby in Paraguay.

  • Excitement from the people even though I was an older mom, and it being treated as a joyous thing and not a “mistake.” Also treating it as a natural thing and not being treated as a high risk pregnancy due to my age
  • The hospital looked like something from the 50’s or 60’s. It was clean, but I had to climb a stool to get up into the bed, it was hand cranked, very little of the supplies were disposable. Most all of the supplies were sterilized and reused.
  • Laboring and trying to communicate in Spanish was harder, my brain was stuck in English. I was thankful for an English speaking doctor.
  • No fetal heart monitors during labor.
  • Laboring in a tiny room. No TV, beds that go into a million positions, etc. My husband had a plain old hard chair to sit on next to the bed.
  • Having to go to a delivery room and use stirrups (very old fashioned in the US). It was also a tiny room and right next door to the labor room.
  • Having air conditioning in my room after the birth but the nurses shutting it off so the baby wouldn’t get sick. They also kept piling blankets on him even though it was very hot.
  • Little attention was paid to the baby, I’m not sure he even had a chart. He stayed with me unless I asked for him to go to the nursery so I could nap.
  • They would give me 1 diaper for the baby at a time. I had to ask for one each time I changed him. (I think that you would supply your own in many of the hospitals)
  • The meals were hearty and delicious, and there was a certain tea they brought that was supposed to be good for the mom.
  • Discharge from the hospital was a matter of proving your bill was paid. Once you had the pink slip showing that, you could leave.
  • No paperwork or signatures that I remember in order to leave, and you just walked out to your vehicle (no wheelchairs or escorts). I have seen mothers leaving the hospital with a newborn and waiting for the bus so that they could get home.

It was my fourth child, so that was a big help. Overall, I felt it was a very different experience, but a very good experience. Things were more laid back than in my US deliveries. I was also blessed with a doctor that didn’t have you shaved to prep you for birth and didn’t believe in doing a C-Section unless absolutely necessary. That isn’t the norm where we were. I’m sure the experience varies greatly from country to country.

 

After Nathan was born we came back to the US so family could meet him.

 

On the other side of the world, my sis-in-law is pregnant and going to give birth in the Asia Pacific region. After having the baby they’re going to come back to the US for a visit!!! Can’t wait to meet my new niece/nephew! It’ll be fun to hear her birth story!

Both my mom and my sister-in-law were/are in a town, but when you’re living in a remote tribal area, that’s a different story. All the missionaries that I know of have come out of the tribe and gone to town for their births, but I know that some of them have had a lot less doctor visits than are normal in the US, simply because it’s long and expensive to come out of the tribe that often.

Looks like I’ll be making a 3rd Q & A post for mission related questions. I want to thank all of you that wrote in with questions! It helps me know what you want to know more about! If you have any questions for me about frugality, missions, fostering, small space living, or anything at all, you can leave them in the comments, or email me at purposelyfrugal(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Here’s another Q & A post! One reader asked:

I’d love to hear anything about the classes you took this year. Especially the field health class. ….Do you have summer classes? If not, what are your plans?

How does Gracia like living at the school? Are there lots of other kids for her to play with?

And another reader:

…  How much longer do you have in your training?  When does Gracia start kindergarten?  Considering that you are going into missions, are you going to start Gracia at a public school for the experience, and then start home schooling her when you are assigned somewhere?

 

Classes

 

Do you have summer classes? If not, what are your plans?

No, we don’t have summer classes. We finished our second semester in May and will start our 3rd semester in August. Most of the students go back to their home areas over the summer, but we’re staying here, mostly because of Little Dude. God has provided multiple odd jobs for Cameron to do this summer, most of which are car maintenance jobs, and I’ve been hanging out with the kiddos.

How does Gracia like living at the school?

She really loves it here! During our classes she goes to an on campus preschool. She loves her friends and teachers there! The campus is beautiful, right by the lake and with lots of playground areas for the kids. It’s basically a kid’s paradise. :)

Are their lots of other kids for her to play with?

Most of the students that come through are around our age (although we have older people come through too), so that means they’re in their child-bearing stage and there’s plenty of kids around. :)

I’d love to hear anything about the classes you took this year. Especially the field health class.

Here and here, I have posts on our ministry blog about some of our classes.

Our field health class was taught by a nurse who worked overseas as a missionary with NTM. We also had a couple of local doctors come in give and lectures. She taught us what things would be most important for us to know. Some of this included:

  • What areas have malaria, dengue, and other diseases.
  • What medicines are available to prevent those diseases, the pros and cons of the various options.
  • When you need to call in for a medical flight evacuation (which is only available in certain locations).
  • Worms!! We talked a lot about various worms, how to prevent getting them, how to get rid of them, etc…
  • Water contamination.
  • How we can stay healthy so we can do our job better (this included, exercise, eating habits, how to handle stress, etc..)

 

Suturing a pig foot!

 

 

We covered more than that, but those are the things that I remember most. We also had a couple of optional classes, which Cameron and I took and that’s where we got to do some hand-on practice:

  • Taking blood pressures and heart beats.
  • Looking in ears for infection.
  • Giving shots (I gave Cameron one and he gave me one).
  • And suturing. We used pigs feet for this.

 

Cameron giving me a shot.

 

How much longer do you have in the training?
In August we’ll start our 3rd semester and in December we’ll finish it and technically be done, but there’s 2 optional training courses after that. One is the linguistics course and it’s all about how languages breakdown and work. We get a little of that training in our regular classes, but this is much more in depth. They do one semester of it, and then several weeks of going to Oklahoma and working with Cherokee there to get first hand experience doing linguistics.
The other optional course is Missionary Technology. This is one semester of solar panels, generators, and all kinds of other tech things that are extremely useful in remote places. Right now we’re thinking about Cameron doing the Missionary Tech course. He thoroughly enjoyed the short tech class we all took, and he has a background in technical things like alarms and mechanics.
So…if he does take the Missionary Tech course that will be in January 2014 until  May 2014.
 

1st day of preschool

 

When does Gracia start kindergarten?  Considering that you are going into missions, are you going to start Gracia at a public school for the experience, and then start home schooling her when you are assigned somewhere?
My “baby” is 5 now, so she’s old enough to start kindergarten this year, however our plans are for her to stay in the on-campus preschool for this coming semester and then in January (when Cameron will possibly be starting the tech course), I will home-school her.

Right now I am trying to do some school type-things with her, just to keep her brain exercising. :) She loves doing addition problems!

When we move to the country where we’ll work we’ll probably have multiple options for schooling, public/private school of the country, missionary school, or homeschooling. Most likely we’ll continue to home-school.
I have more questions about missions. The other ones I’ll answer in a second (and maybe even third) post. If you have any questions you’d like me to try and answer you can leave them in the comments, or email me at purposelyfrugal(at)hotmail(dot)com.

I received a few questions about fostering:

….What does it mean to your foster child when y’all move from your current county?….Regarding your foster son, how old is he, and is adoption an option?  If it is an option, is it one that you would consider?

And another reader asked about fostering too:

How is fostering going? I know you can’t tell us everything, but whatever you can tell us would be appreciated. What has the hardest part been so far? What’s the best part?

So I’m going to break these down a little bit, kinda like an interview:

What has been the hardest part?

One very stressful situation happened the day after Little Dude came to our home. It was by no fault of his own, just a health issue came up that he had never had before and we rushed him to the ER. Thankfully he is fine now, but at the moment it was very scary! We showed up at the hospital and were like, “We don’t know very much about him, we’ve only been foster parents for less than 24 hours, but here’s what happened…”

Another hard time was that less than a week after Little Dude joined us, Cameron left for a trip. He was only gone a few days, but it was very stretching for me to be a mom of 2, after being used to being a mom of one for so long, especially since the 2 kids were not getting along so well. Thankfully they’ve been doing a lot better now, and every time I have to tell them to be quieter because they’re making so much ruckus playing together, I try to remember to thank God that at least they’re having fun and getting along! The few days Cameron was gone, also really showed me how important teamwork is and gave me so much more appreciation for how amazing he’s done at being a foster dad!

To be very honest and real with yall, I have already (even though I haven’t even been at this a month yet!) doubted if I’m good enough to be a foster mom, but I have to keep coming back to 2 truths:

  1. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
  2. I’m very far from the perfect foster mom for Little Dude, but I can at least teach him about his perfect Father who loves him more than he can fathom.

What has been the best part?

I know exactly what the best part has been!! I’ve been reading through 365 Read Aloud Bedtime Bible Stories with the kids each night (okay, maybe not each night, but most nights). One night when we were learning about God making everything. We headed outside to look up at the stars in space. I pointed up and asked, “Who made that star?” to which Little Dude replied, “God!”

He may have already known that before living with us, I don’t know, but either way, it was such a reminder to me of how important it is to teach kids the truth. For some reason I never think telling kids about God counts as witnessing, but I’ve realized it not only is witnessing, but they’re some of the best people to share this truth with! They’re open to what you have to say and can get so excited over the stories in the Bible. I have no idea what Little Dude’s future holds, how long he’ll be with us, when he does leave, if we’ll ever see him again, but one thing I hope and pray, is that we get to spend eternity in Heaven with him!

Little did we know, but just a few days after this picture Little Dude came to live with us!

 

Regarding your foster son, how old is he, and is adoption an option? If it is an option, is it one that you would consider?

Since I’m so new at this fostering thing, I’m still figuring out what I’m allowed to say on the internet, and what I can’t. So for now I’ll just say that the plan is for him to get back with his family. But as far as us personally adopting, that’s actually the whole reason we got our fostering licence, and we weren’t really planning on fostering unless it looked like it was going to head toward adoption. One of the main reasons is simply because of our plans to work in foreign missions, which leads to the next question…

What does it mean to your foster child when y’all move from your current county?

We will probably be here in training for 1 more year. At this point we are willing to foster Little Dude for as long as we are here, but after our training, our plans are to spend some time raising support and then heading off to another country, so we would not be able to foster.

That being said, we are not hiding the fact that we’re here temporarily from the caseworkers. In fact the lady who called us asking if we would take care of Little Dude knows very well our situation and we had discussed it with her just a few days before the call.

Like I said, we weren’t originally planning on fostering unless adoption was in sight, but our minds were changed, since this need came up and foster parents are so greatly needed. It also fell at a good time, since we’re not in classes I can stay home with the kids while we all transition to having 4 in the house.

As a last thought I’d just like to share that there are 463,000 kids in the U.S. in foster care. Here’s some common myths about foster care adoption. And if you have any questions (regarding fostering, missions, frugality or anything else) feel free to ask me! I’m planning on doing more posts in the future about my personal experience with being a foster parent.

 
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Asuncion, Paraguay

If you missed my other posts on being a help to missionaries, here’s the first one and here’s the one about helping missionary kids. If you want to read about my life as a missionary kid go here. Today I’m going to talk about how to be a blessing if you go to some missionaries where they work.

If you go to visit where they work

  • If you go to visit keep an open mind. For example, if you’re a picky eater…the missionary is going to worry that you won’t be willing to try the new foods or that the food will taste different and it’ll be harder to please you. If their living conditions aren’t as nice as what they know you’re used to they may stress about the bugs, flaky paint on the walls or mold that just won’t leave the bathroom. All that to say…try really hard to be open-minded and not complain! Plus it could end up not just offending them, but offending the people they are trying to show Christ to and that could hinder their ministry (which is also YOUR ministry as part of the body of Christ).
  • If you go to visit ask them what would be helpful.The very first US visitors we had in Paraguay were my grandparents, aunt and 2 cousins and it was lots of fun! But we still needed to get work done, so my Aunt offered to

    Me and Cameron with the youngest of the VBS kids in Paraguay. This was when I was about 16.

    help home-school us kids, freeing my mom up to continue plugging away at Spanish study. Offer to help with cooking, dishes, cleaning, whatever needs to be done. You never know how you may end up helping! My grandparents came and visited us in the tribe and during their time there we had a terrible storm that ripped part of one of the other missionaries’ roof off. Grandpa was able to be a huge help to my dad in temporarily fixing it.

  • If you have a little extra space in your suitcase you might want to stick some goodies in there. Whenever our relatives came they always generously brought with them so much Stateside stuff it was like Christmas!! Know your missionaries and what they miss from the States.
  • I always loved having friends and family come visit when I was a missionary kid, so make sure you enjoy your time!

Cameron with a VBS prop

And I have a couple of last thoughts to wrap up my missionary posts.

  • Be accountable. Ask the missionaries about their ministry, see how they’re doing. They’re liable to be getting distracted in their ministry or discouraged. If you do send them financial support you’re probably wondering where that money is going, and as much as I hate to say it, it is possible for missionaries to just be taking advantage of the support and not really ministering. So if you get to know them well you’ll know if they’re in the type of ministry you want your money and efforts going to.
  • I’ve talked a lot about things you can do for missionaries, but I do not want anyone to think that missionaries are more deserving or more spiritual than others. In fact all believers need to be missionaries, whether it’s across the world or across the street. I do however know that have different kinds of struggles foreign missionaries face, like homesickness, struggling in learning the language etc… And YOU can be an encouragement and  help to them!
  • And lastly I really hope that if you do any of these things I’ve mentioned the missionaries will be very grateful and thank you. But if they don’t remember that God sees everything you do and He knows your heart! And ultimately we’re doing it for Him not for missionaries.

Gracia in Mexico with some Tarahumara kids

Part 2 of how YOU can be a part of missions! If you missed part 1 check it out here! Today’s focus is on being a help to the missionary kids (mks).

Don’t Forget the Kids!

  • Help the missionaries’ children too. One great way is befriending them when they’re back in the states and everything’s new and different. Understand that although they may be technically Americans, they may not have been in the States in a few years, and so may not know exactly how everything works  here.
  • You can remember the kids’ birthdays and send them a card every year.
  • Also helping the kids when they’re not kids anymore, like when they move back to the States for college. I remember getting a couple of care packages from churches when I was at Bible school and it was so nice! Some people with a nice house on a lake hosted an MK evening, which was a blast! Or maybe helping them adjust to the States (especially if their parents have moved back to the other country). Helping them get their drivers licensee, working on their car if it’s having problems, helping them fill out their tax forms, etc… Of course all of this depends very much on the person, some people are more independent and some may have already had experience in those areas, so just see what that particular MK needs help in.
  • Another way to help if you’re around the Stateside kids (ie: go to church with them) occasionally send their parents an update on their kids. Hopefully the kid will be in contact with their parent (although lets face it some aren’t as good about communicating as others), but sometimes it’s nice to know from someone else that their child is appreciated and that they’re doing good. If you’re close enough to the family you may even have to let them know if you think their child is struggling. Sometimes over just phone calls and emails it’s hard for the parent to know that their kid’s having trouble, especially with a quieter child. I know my Mom has always appreciated people who took time to help us kids or send her an update on us.
  • And remember that the kids are (hopefully) part of the ministry too. My parents always considered our whole family to be missionaries, not just Mom and Dad. So pray for the kids to be witnesses to their friends, and to be a part of the ministry too.

That’s all for today, but come back next week to hear about how to best help the missionaries if you go to visit them!

I don’t want people to think that I’m frugal just because I’m strange. Even though I do enjoy the challenge of it (yeah, I know I’m weird that way), my husband and I have a bigger goal in mind than just being labeled tightwad freaks. But before I talk about OUR purpose let me cover some other good purposes.

If you don’t have a good reason to save money, you probably won’t save much. So if you’re trying to be more frugal decide what your goals are to keep  you focused and encouraged. A lot of people are trying to be more frugal to get out of debt as fast as they can. Some are saving to make a big purchase, like a house or car. You may want to save so you can have an emergency fund or maybe to have some money to help your kids through college. Or maybe you’re not even saving for yourself. Maybe you want to save so you can have more to give to others (gasp! be frugal just to give it away?).

As for me and my husband we have a few reasons for being tightwads, but here’s one of the biggies. Even before we were married we both wanted to go into foreign missions. We both were Missionary Kids (MKs) and saw the need for people to hear the gospel of Christ. At Bible school we heard so many stories of people that were not getting the opportunity we’ve had our whole lives to hear about God and read the Bible. And just so you know, a lot of these people don’t know ANYTHING about Christ. It’s not that they’re a little unclear, they’ve never even heard His name before. How could we know of the need and just ignore it?

So we are in pursuit of missions right now. The reason we aren’t on the field yet is because my husband would like to go into mission aviation. A lot of the locations that missionaries need to get to are only accessible by helicopter or airplane. Cameron has already gotten his private pilot’s license and instrument license. He is currently in his second semester at Airframe and Power Plant school (so he can work on planes). Soon he plans on starting his commercial training.

If you know anything about aviation, you know it’s expensive. So that’s why we’re living frugally, so we can afford the training he needs before heading to the field. If you ever feel like giving up your frugal efforts, remind yourself why you’re doing it. When I think of the people that barely have enough to eat, let alone medical help, or the Bible, I’m reminded not to give up.

Gracia Helping Daddy Push the Plane into the Hanger

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