return to paris

Eiffel Tower

A photo posted by Teanna Sunberg (@tsunberg) on

We stand at the edge of the Eiffel Tower and its noble heights remind us that we have passed this way before. Before there were girls and hair bows and makeup and purses, there was simply a boy and a girl on a journey.  

And he said to her, ‘Let’s wait to climb this great tower until we come again.’

‘Let’s wait,” she said, “So that we never forget to return to the city of lights.” Continue reading

no heroes tonight

no_heroes_

This nativity set has been around since the girls were tiny.

I think that I could capture you in this season of blinking lights and I’ll be home for Christmas promises. My fingers flutter above the keys as my mind stretches to capture a flittering thought, a sentence, a heartbeat in a phrase.  Writers do it all the time but I am sure that our weary world is growing tired of such antics.

I think that I could prick your fear with tales of that weary world and its prophetic end, though the details of its righteous timing most of us faithfully remember to forget. Nobody knows when; at least, I do not.

Perhaps I could shame you, if I tried. Shame you into giving. Shame you into feeling guilty for the gifts under your tree or the food in your pantry or the number in your bank account. But, I just do not have the heart for it. Continue reading

home

20131005-230146.jpgWe want to thank you for traveling with us this weekend to Polznan, Poland. We are home now with our precious girls who also had a very full weekend. A little later today, we will be writing another blog about Poznan and missionary life. One of the challenges to this weekend’s plan was a fussy internet but we trust that you gained some of the flavor of this wonderful place! Continue reading

shades of gray

IMGP7177‘Csilla, my hair is orange.’

It’s not what you expect to say when the towel comes off for the initial unveiling.

Nor does one anticipate your 7 year old son answering in the affirmative when you question whether his friend just referred to you as the ‘lady with blue hair’If memory serves correctly, my friend and colleague, Betsy living in Croatia came to terms with her color by referencing it as ‘midnight blue’.

Midnight blue. Fuchsia. Okay, electric blue. Yes, even vibrant purple. Shocking orange. All, valid and popular color choices for Eastern European hair. Continue reading

Photo Bomb Mom

mom’s losing it

There is a scene in Cheaper By the Dozen when the 7-year old twins are in search and destroy mode. In her final moments of sanity before her head blows up, the movie-mom who has birthed a dozen says in her final pre-blast off warning, “Mom’s losing it.”

Been there. Done that. Numerous times.

photo bomb mom

Continue reading

an ordinary missionary on furlough

Let’s be honest.  If someone asked, ‘What does a missionary do?’, most of us would dig deep and mumble something about learning languages and telling people about Jesus and smile that please-don’t-ask-me-more-cause-that’s-all-I’ve-got grin.  The real truth is that most of us are not exactly sure what a missionary does and we are even more confused about this thing that missionaries periodically do with random names like furlough, deputation, and home assignment. 

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that a missionary furlough is a vacation. This is a natural conclusion because one would assume that after a few years of snake-fighting,  Bible-sword wielding, mountainside-preaching, a guy or gal might need a break.  I understand why that assumption could be drawn.  In fact, I think there is a lot of confusion about what a missionary does and how they do it.  The term ‘furlough’ is itself misleading, which is why the powers that be have coined a new term ‘home assignment’.  Of course, that very vague term leaves the non-church going community scratching their heads.  

Furlough is a lot of things: exhausting, fun, challenging, hilarious, uncomfortable, memorable, a blessing (to name a few) but it is most definitely never a vacation.  Missionaries are required to do home service and the vast majority do it with open hearts and and passionate spirits though it takes them away from their homes and the people that they are called to serve and love.

My hero today is an ordinary guy on furlough and one of the most committed missionaries I know.  

Months earlier, his missionary partner agreed that the family would participate in a Nazarene kids’ camp service on Friday, 12 July. Now, the camp kids have been assembled all week doing various campy things and the furloughing family was invited to participate for the entire week but their funds did not allow that personal adventure. Having a good gig house-sitting for a cute Sheltie pup named Darby, they committed to just come by camp on Friday morning and share with the kids.  

The 11th of July rolled around and plans were made for a next morning departure at 4:00 AM  that would put them on course for a 5-hour one-way journey to speak to 160 kids for 30 minutes.  Following the missionary presentation, the family was due to get back in the car and make that same 5-hour journey home.

Around 9:00 PM when the reality was sinking in, my hero called his partner into the hallway and said, “I don’t think we should ask the family to travel 10 hours in a truck.  I will go it alone.”  

This was not a parent caving in to loud complaints.  On the contrary, the kids had great attitudes.  This was a missionary dad understanding that the next three consecutive days had heavy travel attached and with wisdom beyond his years, he made a decision.

Lest we assume that his family were the only ones on his mind, let me quickly add that his impetus for making that drive in the first place was all about 160 squirming eight to eleven year olds in a make-shift chapel somewhere in the California mountains.  One might ponder whether a 10 hour drive for a 30 minute sermon is a good plan when the logical conclusion is that while he speaks:

Some will be scratching their bug bites and others will telling jokes with their friends.  

At least one little boy will be pulling a blonde girl’s pig-tails and she will be giving him the you-disgust-me face.  

A piece of chewed bubble gum is going to find itself stuck to the underside of a chair and a brown-eyed 10-year old is going to doodle and re-doodle her name in flowers in the notebook meant for notes.  

Yes. we know that this will happen. But, what we do not empirically know yet believe by faith is that in the midst of the frogs and the tadpoles, and the half-eaten snickers bars and the un-deodorized armpits, the Holy Spirit is going to be present.  Quite often, the tadpoles bend their ears to hear the Holy One call their name and they respond.

That ordinary missionary knows this because he was called to be a missionary and a pastor at the age of 9.  His missionary partner was called at the age of 14.  And on and on it goes with God calling right there when you are wearing a t-shirt on its 5th day of use and wiggling toes that have begun to grow a mysterious mountain-stream fungus.  By faith, we believe that God calls children and so that ordinary missionary on furlough went.

As I push the publish button on this post, he should be beginning that long journey back. May God grant him alert eyes and a peaceful heart as the tadpoles swim home to become ordinary missionaries in their own worlds.Image

the real story on being an mk

The road on furlough can sometimes be exhausting. It is not always the respecter of age nor is it terribly concerned with yesterday’s equally hectic schedule. Today and tomorrow are such days. We traveled and did two services on Sunday, arriving at the hotel at 11at night. This morning,we were up by 6 for meetings at 8 and back at the hotel at 11 again. The girls babysat all day while we were in meetings. Tomorrow, we have another early and long day.

Please do not hear a complaint here. It does not exist. I love our M-life and I believe the girls do too. That said, I want to be authentic in my communications. Sometimes, the travel and the demands are just plain exhausting.

The up-side is that our 4 girls get to help with the EurAsia registration for the next two days. Imagine what that says to them about their value and identity as the global church entrusts into their hands a job that helps this great, Nazarene event occur.

Missionary kids on furlough take away a huge understanding of what it means to give to the church abundantly and also to receive from the church abundantly (and I do not necessarily mean just financially).

As our Nazarene family begins to descend upon Indy, I want to say how thankful I am that The Lord and the Church have given our family the opportunity to serve as missionaries. While sometimes achingly exhausting and demanding, we truly would not choose any other life for our 4 Sunberg girls.

See you in Indy at the EurAsia Regional exhibit!

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