Monthly Archives: August 2013

Eternity In Their Hearts…

I love reading books that inspire and encourage me in my faith. If you are looking for something to remind you how awesome, big, and amazing God is then I certainly have a book for you!!!

“Eternity In Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World” is a book by Don Richardson. The purpose of the book is to show how there have been numerous people groups all over the world who have a basic knowledge/understanding of God. They each have different pieces of the story but are lacking the full understanding about Christ. Many of them know that someone is going to come along and give them the full story so they can be reconciled to the one true God. It is a pretty amazing book and I was astounded by all of the ways that God has prepared people all over the world to receive the Gospel. It is true what Christ said in John 4:35, “…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” 

As we prepare for the mission field, it is good to realize once again that we serve the one true God. It is good to know that God has already gone ahead of us and prepared the fields. It is good to know that we simply have to go and obey and God will take care of the rest!

Have a blessed week and check out the book!!! 


The Leap…


There is a chance many of you have thought, “When are the Vana’s going overseas? What are they still doing in Reno?”

Well, I am glad you asked those questions!!!

The process to get to the mission field has taken longer than we had hoped, but we are confident the day is quickly approaching. We can’t wait to take that huge leap of faith and leave all we know behind! Here is the current plan…as far as we know…

  • We will be in the Reno/Sparks area through the rest of 2013. We are staying connected with our church family at Summit Christian Church, working at Trader Joe’s, doing some flight instruction, and getting good time as a family. We will also use this time to start raising financial support and build a team who will help provide emotional and prayer support while we are on the mission field.
  • On January 13th, 2014…wait for it…we will start Candidacy with MAF!!! This is a two week process where we will learn about MAF’s beginning, where and what they have done, and where they are headed in the future. During the middle of the second week, we will sit down with the Candidate Committee and determine where the Vana’s will serve their first term! Yahoo! 
  • The next two weeks are Deputation. This is when we will learn how to raise support and create ministry partnerships with individuals and churches (something that we hope to be doing this Fall!!!)
  • After the training we will put our full-time efforts into ministry partnership. If all goes well, then we may be able to start the 8-week Standardization. Standardization is the process through which MAF to trains me, Phil, to fix and fly the MAF way.
  • Now, I know that most of our hopeful/expecting time-lines haven’t worked out the way we planned, but we are hoping we can depart for the mission field some time next Fall. It is in the Lord’s hands, as it always has been, and we are excited for the future and excited about the opportunities in front of us!

So, we are ready to take the Leap and we know the time is a few short months away. 

As I think about the situation we are in, I am tempted to find a way to rush things and get to where we are going. But, I am reminded of Psalm 16:6, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (NIV) The reason I think of this verse is because we are certain God has given us this time to grow together as a family and learn how to be a blessing no matter where we are! God has us right where He wants us. The name of the game is faithfulness and humility. 


Our family is doing well. Jessica is an amazing mother and I am proud of how hard she works every day. Adelina loves going to school two mornings a week, Jeremiah loves tearing around the house and learning new words, and Solomon loves to eat and sleep. He has started to look around and take in his surroundings, and coo when it pleases him to do so!

We are content with where we are and we wait expectantly for the days to come!



A Really Good God

HI!  It’s Jess!
Back in college we used to take this really, really great hike to a set of the earth’s most beautiful waterfalls: Havasupai Falls.  By “really, really great hike” I’m talking about a thirteen mile hike.  If memory serves, the first three miles are nearly straight down into a very steep canyon and the next ten miles are fairly flat and straight in. But thirteen miles is thirteen miles and by the time you make it to the first waterfall you are ready to sleep on concrete.  You don’t care if you have a tent or a pillow or even if you have a flat surface to sleep on.  You are so blooming tired you could sleep on a park bench if they had one.  There is a picture of me in some photo album asleep in the canyon after that grueling hike and I am on some paper-thin blue tarp sound asleep.  I’m stinky, I’m dirty, and I probably drooled in the most exhausted peaceful I-don’t-even-care slumber. But, when I look at that picture I always smile because I know it was worth it.  

Okay so, if you ask any missionary in the world there is a whole lot of waiting, transition, and travel in the process and none of those things are a whole lot of fun.  Take today for instance: Phil worked a long shift at Trader Joes (alarm went off around 4 am) and then rushed to meet us at a doctor’s appointment in town, we had to grab dinner on the road (icky), then enjoyed sweet and rowdy fellowship with our LIFE Group this evening but had to scoot out early because Phil had a flight with a student. He’ll probably get home around 11:30pm and be so tired he could sleep on concrete. We rushed to put our kiddos to bed and there is a list of things that still need to get done tonight to keep our many plates spinning (I will probably get up with Solomon at least twice before 6am). Within that statement are a handful of real blessings and a handful of tough realities.  

Blessings:  1.  A job that puts food on the table.  2. A flight student which offers the blessing of income as well as flight time.  3.  Fun kids to hang out with, even if it is in a doctor’s office 4. A church and a LIFE Group with people to love and be loved by. 5. The hope for the place and the people the Lord will allow us to serve as missionaries
Realities:  1.Transition times are really tough (weird jobs, weird schedules, and a slew of expectations from all kinds of people).  2.The Vana’s hit the bed these days so tired we could sleep on a rock and yet… we are.
The Rock of Christ  
But here’s the deal.  I recently read in a book for wives that we should never, ever indulge in self-pity.  I think the line in the book went something like, “self-pity will kill you.”  It’s sounds harsh, maybe even crass, but, it’s true.  Self-pity will kill my joy and rob me of a proper focus.  Phil read the same sentiment this week in “My Utmost for His Highest” and came to the same conclusion.  No matter how much muscle it takes, I will muscle myself toward a God-centered joy and dwell upon the blessings (the people in particular) and refuse to allow myself the indulgence of self-pity.  In the moments when we are truly physically exhausted but still have dishes to do or a baby to feed, this resolution can be tough.  But in the moments like this evening when Adelina ever so gently and sweetly welcomed a new little girl to our LIFE Group…it’s as easy as pie.  Or when a girl new to our church whom I gave my contact information to actually wants to get together and hang out.  Or when Solomon smiles for the first time.  Or when Jeremiah says a new word or looks at me with those piercingly beautiful almond eyes. Or when I get so excited about serving overseas that I literally dance in my house for joy (happened today).
God is really good.  And that’s all that matters.  He’s the point and whatever we’re doing and however we feel, we hope to point to Him so others can see what a really good God He is.        
What’s the punch line?  God is really good.  The hike to Havasupai is really good but really tough.  The sleep at the end of that hike is the best ever.  And not long from now, Lord willing, we will be serving overseas. With that comes a kind of rest our souls are pining for but we know is on its way.      
May you be blessed with good work, encouragement for your soul, and really great sleep.  

To Love And Be Loved…


I can think of no greater treasure is this world. We are loved! The beauty of this is we can then love one another. “We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19 (NIV)

Jessica and I celebrated 9 complete years of marriage on July 31st. What joy is ours to look back on all the blessings in our lives…

  • Three beautiful, energetic, healthy, rowdy, sweet, brilliant, and photogenic children!!!
  • The adventure of a life-time just around the corner!!!
  • Family and friends who love us dearly!!!
  • The knowledge and love of Christ!!!

We are blessed indeed! We had a simple celebration and some great talks together. We love to take time on our anniversary to dream about the year to come. We often scribble the dreams on a napkin at a coffee house or a restaurant. It is amazing to think of the dreams we have had and of the dreams that we couldn’t even imagine could come true. I love the fact that God’s dreams for us are better than we often dare to dream!

So, here we are, raising the national average for marriage in the U.S. and loving every minute. We have much to be thankful for and plenty of work left to do. The family is doing well. Solomon is growing bigger by the second, Jeremiah is walking and talking and learning new words every day, and Adelina continues to surprise us by how well she loves her brothers and says super cute things! We are surrounded by love and our hearts are full.

One huge blessing from this past week was I received my first review from my time working at Trader Joe’s. They usually don’t give a review until you have worked for a complete 6 months, but I snuck in somehow and they gave me one! It was a favorable review and the boss had a lot of good things to say. There are some things I can improve upon, but this is only natural since I am new to the job. I am excited for two reasons. First, the boss knows about our plans to serve overseas and we spent the first 10 minutes talking about where we might go and all we might see. He is as excited as we are! Second, I want to strive to get better and learn all I can before we leave for MAF candidacy in January. Even if I am leaving in a few short months, I want to leave working as hard as I can and bring glory to God. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

God bless you all and enjoy the pics of the family!!!



Waterfall on our Anniversary hike