Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Matter Where You Are

As I have stated in my last blog, I've been having a hard time this holiday season saying good-bye to the way things use to be.  We are learning to have a new normal.  On top of that, our family has been continuously sick for the past month and a half.  It's become a bit ridiculous, and brought me to an emotional breaking point.  I needed a good cry anyway!  Ya know, at least for me, sometimes you need a good cry!  But, I picked myself back up, asked people to pray for us and I'm happy to say by Christmas Day we were all healthy (ish).  (Zeke has come down with a cold, but with no fever or anything, so that doesn't count!)
Christmas was actually pretty good.  We Skyped and opened presents with family!  It almost felt as though they were actually here for a moment.  That was nice.  And we have an unfair advantage in that my brother and his family live here too.  We spent the whole day together and Renee and I even made a very yummy Christmas dinner! Best meal I've had here by far! We felt very accomplished to make so many American dishes in a foreign country! Everything tasted close enough to the "real thing/"  It was great!
I think my problem with this holiday season is that I was trying to make it "feel" right.  The conclusion I have come to is that it will never "feel" right so I just need to embrace the fact that we need to establish a new "feel."  We need to make new traditions.  It will be the holidays my kids will know as normal, so we need to try and embrace and develop a new way of doing the holidays.  The skrony fake Christmas tree we have will be the Christmas tree our kids grow up putting their home made ornaments on.  They won't know any different! They will love that they get to Skype with grandparents on the TV as they open presents.  It's not how I grew up celebrating, but it's how my kids will.
 HOWEVER, when it all come down to it, Christmas is not about the presents, decorations, or Christmas tree.  It's about celebrating the birth of our Savior, and that we can do no matter where we live.  So, I choose to be thankful today, for our God has sent us a Savior!  Hallelujah! Merry Christmas!
What an incredible song, listen and be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas...  

And here are a few pics from our Christmas!
 Reading the Christmas story by our Christmas tree!

 Spiderman hats and m&ms.  They were pretty happy!
 Opening presents on Skype with Mimie and Gammie
 Renee and I made Christmas dinner! Very fun and we are still eating leftovers!
 Christmas dinner!


Friday, November 29, 2013

I have to be Honest

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone and I have to be honest, I'm not feeling so thankful!  If you ask anyone who has lived overseas for an extended amount of time when did you have the hardest time?  I'm pretty sure most of them would say, the holidays.  Yep, not so fun.  Now, I have to admit, I feel a pretty bad saying this because, well, in reality, we are incredibly blessed.  You see, we have what most people who move overseas don't.  My brother and his family live here in Thailand too! What a blessing! And in no way am I brushing off the reality that having family to spend the holidays with is AMAZING!  My point is that I am surprised that even despite the fact that we have family here, it's still SO HARD.  No pumpkin patches, no hot apple cider, no hoodies in chilly weather, no grandparents, no holiday traditions, because well, you have to make new ones, nothings the same.  I mean, NOTHING.  From the weather, to the food, to the people, to the environment.  It doesn't feel like home.
We even attempted to make a new tradition.  I downloaded last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (because we are 13 hours ahead, we can't watch this years).  It's nothing we ever really watched in America as a tradition or anything, but I figured it might help it "feel" more like Thanksgiving.  We watched it with family and I tried, really hard to just look at the TV and think about Thanksgiving and well, it didn't work.  Felt weird actually.  Like Thanksgiving parades and Thailand don't really go together.  And today we decorated for Christmas.  We put up our fake Christmas tree (we've never had a fake one before) and hung the stockings (I brought them with us) and now everything is blowing in the oscillating fan because well, I'm in shorts and a t-shirt and the windows are open because it's never winter here and there is no central AC in Thailand.  Even though I'm from New Orleans and I have had plenty of warmer Christmases, it's still so strange.  It just doesn't feel right.   I'm not so sure how to explain it.
BUT, here is what I KNOW (even though I might not be FEELING it at the moment).  I know that we have a heart for Southeast Asia.  I know that we LOVE Thailand and it's people.  I know that God has called us to move here and be here.  I know that I am incredibly blessed in SO many ways.  I know that, for the most part, we are loving living here, doing what we are doing and I have no doubt that we are suppose to be here. So, although the holidays might not feel like the holidays this year and although we don't get to eat all the traditional foods that we normally enjoy this time of the year, and although we are missing all the people we usually spend time with, we're here, doing what God has called us to do, and there is no better place to be than that.  So, although I'm not feeling so thankful right now, I'm choosing to be, well, trying anyway...    

Friday, October 04, 2013

Thailand Here We... Are!

Well, we are here!  All the preparing, all the prayers, all the traveling, and we finally made it!  It's still a little hard to believe.  I know, we have been here for over a week now, you would think it has all sunk in, and well, it hasn't.  I'm not so sure it will until we are able to live our daily lives again, until we find a house to call home, until we have a more regular schedule.  Right now we are transitioning.  And tomorrow we will begin a month of training.  Training with the organization we have come here with.  Learning about the culture, meeting people within the organization, learning how to live daily life here, etc.  They do this with all the new people coming to SE Asia, we are excited to be a part of the team. To be a part of bringing the gospel to this side of the world.
For now we are staying at a retreat center as we get over jet lag and begin to start getting the basics done of establishing yourselves in a new location.  We are thankful that we have had some great progress in our search for a car and have found one! We are just waiting for it to arrive (its coming from Bangkok) and checked out, but we should have it soon!  We have also been to quite a few stores learning where to shop and what kinds of things we are (and are not) able to get here.
Our kids are doing well.  The first week of jet lag with a 2 year old and a 4 year old are, well, rough, to say the least.  There was a lot of waking in the middle of the night, a lot of crying, and a lot of eating breakfast at 4 am, but thankfully, I think they are finally almost over it.  We have actually gotten both of them to sleep through the night, well, once so far, but it was glorious and hope to have more sleeping through the night in the near future.  Our goal was to get everyone over jet lag before we starting CLI (Cultural Learning Institute), and I think we will reach that goal.  Or at least be close enough.
Our finances are well, what they are.  We are still lacking about $700 a month, which is a stretch to say the least.  We are really trying to trust God with our finances and that God would place us on the right people's hearts at the right times as we continue to do His work here.  It's all God's money anyway.  We truly believe that He will provide each month, though our human eyes have a hard time seeing.  I know He is faithful.  There is something about trusting God for your EVERY need, and not being dependent on yourself that well, brings faith to a whole new level, and, it's hard.  It's hard to not just depend on that paycheck we got very regularly when Rob was working for a contractor.  It's hard to have no clue how much money you will have to live off of each month.  Not really sure how to budget for a budget that fluctuates so much.  I guess we will figure that out.  There are seasoned missionaries that continue to affirm to us of God's provision over and over again.  Their faith is so obvious, I can only pray to have faith like that one day.  I guess that's the journey I'm on now.  There's no way I can have that kind of faith without the journey.]
Well, here are a few pics of our travels thus far...
 Good bye New Orleans!  Here we are checking in all our luggage at the New Orleans airport!
 The kids loved riding on the airplanes (all 4 of them it took us to get here!)
 We had an overnight layover in Seatlle and when we arrived we got our luggage back and one of the duffle bags had ripped and had a very large hole!  So, we duct taped it up and shipped it off to Thailand!
 Our kids with pretty much all our earthly possessions in just 10 bags! Phew..
 Our layover in Korea! One more plane to Thailand!
 And this pretty much sums up our jet lag experience. This is us the evening of our first day here.  we were a little tired to say the least!
 After staying with family for a few days, we came to a retreat center for people in ministry and have been staying here while we get over jet lag!
 Rob's first time driving here!  He's a natural!
 Here we are at a mall here.  It is normal for someone to parallel park behind you but they are suppose to leave it in neutral so you can just move the car out of the way to back up, well the people who parked behind us must have forgot.  So they had to jack the car up and push it out of the way!  It was a 45 min ordeal!
They love tigers here!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Perspective from the 42nd Floor

Funny how moving up a few floors can change your perspective on things. 

This week, Christina and I had the opportunity to go to downtown New Orleans and stay in a hotel for the night.  We needed a break.  We needed to get away from it all, just for a little while.  Twenty-four hours; that’s all we needed.

The stress of moving a family of four to the other side of the world was getting to us.  What to keep, what to throw away, what to pack, what to leave here?  The kids are in the boxes again.  The kids are jumping on the bed again.  The clothes that were neatly folded on the couch are now strewn all over.  The kids are running around screaming.  The kids need to go outside!

The car is not selling yet.  Nobody even seems interested.  How are we going to sell this car?  

Did you call the credit card company?  Did you call the bank?  We still have to sign our will.

Can you buy deodorant there?  Do we need to bring any "important" papers with us?

Oh, did you remember to pack the socks? 

Then there’s the emotional stress of saying goodbye to family and friends for the last time.  We want to squeeze every second of quality time with friends and family before leaving.  So we go here and there and everywhere.  We do it because we want too, cause we love them, cause we’re going to miss them so much!  Lots of lasts have been happening lately; lots of tears…

All that to say, we needed a break.

We wanted a view.  No ground level, second story room for us.  We wanted to be up high so we could see the city, the river, the places we have traveled.  One of the tallest hotels in downtown New Orleans that was within our budget was the Sheraton Hotel.

We got a room on the 46th floor; club level.  And with a club level room came certain amenities.  One of the privileges we had was access to the 42nd floor club lounge.  They served snacks up there at night, and we ate breakfast there in the morning.  Although the food was good, the best part was the view.  The whole east side was made of glass, so we had an amazing view overlooking a part of the city and the Mississippi River.

Funny how a different perspective can change your view of things.

From up high, the cars looked a little smaller than what I remember them looking like at street level.  The ten story “tall” building doesn't look so intimidating.  The huge cargo ship floating lazily down the river looks like I could reach down, pick it up in my arms and carry it with me wherever I went.  The people scurrying about, well I guess that was me before I stepped into that elevator and “up we go”.

Sitting there in my plush breakfast chair, eating cantaloupe, watermelon, scrambled eggs and a crescent roll; taking in the view as the sun was rising, the light came on.

Maybe I need to change my perspective a little. 

Here we are, four days from making the biggest move of our lives, and I finally have a sense of peace (most of you are probably wondering, “what took you so long?”).  Yes, the will still needs to be signed, some article of clothing needs to be packed somewhere, the car still needs to sell, the kids will still run around ruining things, and we still have a lot of goodbyes to say.  We might miss our connecting flight in St. Louis (we only have 25 minutes to change planes after all), our baggage might not make it even if we do.  But I finally know in my soul that it is going to be fine.  God’s in control; He always has been.
He did create the world, stars, and universe with a word from His mouth after all.  And I’m worried about a car selling or bags missing a flight?

I just needed a new perspective.

Too many times I have looked at the circumstances instead of to the One who is in charge.

I am so glad that I serve a God who always sees things from a “42nd floor” perspective.  Planes and bags arrive exactly when they are meant too, ships are easily moved, and cars sell when they are meant to sell.  He does things as He wills.  He is completely in charge of every aspect of our lives.

I've been working on memorizing a passage of Scripture that has helped bring peace and change my perspective.  It’s from Job 38:1-12 (I know, not your normal “peace passage”, but read it, it's a good one).

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said; “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 
Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements – surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out of the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you go and no farther and here shall your proud waves be stayed’.
Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place…?”

There’s much more; this is just a glimpse.  In light of this, why am I ever anxious or worried about what is to come or what needs to get done?

I shouldn’t be.

I just need to change my perspective.         

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's Time to Get Ready!

Well, our departure date is fast approaching!  I can hardly believe that we are only weeks away from getting on a plane to Thailand!  A few days ago we received our visas and with that, it's official, we can move to Thailand!  We have already said goodbye to quite a few people and it's so surreal to think that the next time we will see them will likely be two years from now!  Crazy.  I have been trying to prepare the kids as well, talking about Thailand often, trying some food from Thailand, and spending some time with people whom we will miss GREATLY!
To be honest, I'm feeling really stressed.  Packing up a family of four to move to the other side of the world is quite the task!  I have been collecting, saving, and storing things for months now for this very time and it's crazy to be in the place where we are putting it all in suitcases and bins!  And well, it's exhausting.  Not to mention going around having to purchase certain items.that we are unable to get there, and need for the next two years!!  Anybody have any idea how much deodorant one would use in two years?  Yeah, me either, I'm just taking a wild guess and hoping to be able to find some kind of something along the way that will work! ;)
Some days I just need to tell myself, "Breathe Christina, just breathe, one thing at a time."  I can't wait until the final bag is packed and I can just say, "If we forgot something, oh well, we'll live without it."  That is, as long as it's not the kids blankies ;)  That would be bad. very bad!
This past Sunday was great!  Our church did a commissioning (a time of prayer and confirming their support of us as we leave) for us!  We are the very first international missionaries coming from our church and it has been incredibly special.  Although Rob wasn't feeling well that morning, it was a very special moment for us!
Here are some pics of what we've been up to!
Trying some dragon fruit from Thailand that we got at the local Asian Market here!  They loved it!  

 Clay woke one morning and said that he wanted to have a kite flying party, and so, we did!  I'm trying to make these last few weeks special for our kids!  Spending some special time with the cousins, who will be missed so very much!  this group is pretty tight.  No one is looking forward to saying goodbye.
 Picture from our commissioning.  So very special!
           Not only are we packing, but we still need to get rid of some things!  Selling our car is the last thing on our list! Will you pray with us that we sell our car quickly!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tell me.... WHY???

Just to warn all of you, this is Rob, not Christina.  Yes, I have hijacked my wife’s blog page…

Hopefully in doing this, I am not crossing any invisible, sacred boundaries of the bloggers domain.  But don’t worry, she knows. 
Writing is not really my thing.  Come to think of it talking is not really one of my things either.  Words and I don’t really get along together all too well.  I know they are important, but let’s just say I’m not the most loquacious person on the planet.  I wish I was better with them, but they never seem to come out the way that I want them too.  There is some disconnect between the way my brain thinks them and the way they come floating out.  So, for the most part, I just leave them in. 

All this to say, I am not a blogger.  Most likely will never be one.  But on occasion, I do have something to say.  Every once in a while something tosses and turns about in my mind too much and then comes pouring out.  So sorry, you’re about to get rained on. 

On this particular occasion, I feel compelled to ask and answer the question, “WHY?”

WHY move to Thailand?

I was sitting at lunch the other day with one of my co-workers at one of my favorite ethnic restaurants, Taco Bell.  As we were talking, he asked me out of the blue (well in my mind anyway it was out of the blue) and rather abruptly, “So what, you just decided one day to up and move to Thailand?”  Implicit in his question is “WHY?”

I was not at all surprised by his question.  The most surprising part was that he actually asked.  It took a while though.  He’s known for the last couple of months.  I’m just glad that we’ve been friends for a long enough period of time that he feels like he can ask.  Many of my co-workers and friends whom I have told never get around to actually verbalizing the question, although I can tell by their reaction that they want to ask it.
“WHY?” is so simple and yet so extremely complicated.   I’ve asked myself the same question many times during this journey. 

WHY would I sell my house?  It’s the first one we owned.  We fixed it all up real nice; just the way we wanted it.  It has a huge back yard and we even purchased the lot next door for more green space.  I put a lot of time, energy (sweat and a little blood), and money into making this the perfect place for us.  Location is great.  Love the neighbors.  This is where we moved when our oldest turned one.  This is where we brought our youngest back from the hospital.  They love it here.  So many memories in just three years!  Could be our dream house really…

WHY would I leave my job?  I only work Monday thru Thursday (granted their 10-12 hour days) at Davie Shoring.  But the works not too hard and the people I work with are great! Then I get all day Friday to do ministry at Crescent City Community Church with one of the pastors.  I still get fulltime pay, great salary and benefits at Davie, why would anyone want to leave that.  I’ve got it made.  I’m livin’ a good middle class life, livin’ the American Dream!
WHY would I leave my church?  We’ve been a part of this amazing church plant since its beginning almost 4 years ago now (I think – has it really been that long already!).  We love the people.  We love the vision.  We love the mission.  We love the community we’re there to reach.  It’s actually the reason we bought our house in the area we did.  We wanted to be in the community our church was in.  It’s one of the communities hard hit by Katrina almost 8 years ago.  The church is helping, is being a part of the rebuilding that is taking place in this community.  We, as the church, are being Jesus’s hands and feet to the community around us.  We are so excited and humbled that we got to be a part of that!  But there’s still so much more to do.  Why, why would I leave…

WHY would I leave my family?  Our boys LOVE their Mimie and their cousins!  And we get along alright with them tooJ  We see each other on a normal basis at least a couple of times a week, and the kids love to play whenever we are together.  Our kids are always so sad when we leave even though they know they will see them again soon.  And then there’s Mimie.  I don’t even know where to start with that.  She’s always there for us when we need her.  Always showers us with her love.  Always has good advice.  Always gives and gives and gives.  Those are going to be the hardest goodbyes in the world to say.  Then you have family dinner every Friday night in New Orleans with the Daspit clan.  And I’m not talking immediate family only.  There are grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, maybe even a third cousin here or there, I don’t even know.  And you do not miss.  It is every Friday night.  And if the whole group can’t make it (which is actually more common now because the group is getting so big!) you split up into smaller groups and still go to dinner on Friday night. All that to say, family is important down here.  We love to spend time together.  And that still doesn’t cover all my family up in Nebraska (and Washington) who we love and will miss just as much.  We just don’t get the chance to see them as often.  But when we do get together, the memories we make are some that I will cherish forever!  I am so grateful that I am a part of such an amazing family!
So the question is WHY?  WHY would we sell our house, quit our jobs, leave our church, and say goodbye to our family?

The answer to the WHY question is as simple and as complicated as the questions themselves.

Really, it all boils down to the question “Who am I living my life for?”  Or to put it another way, “Why am I living; why am I alive?”  If the answer to that question is me and my family, I stay where I am.  I don’t sell my house, quit my job, leave my church, or say goodbye to my family.  I stay where I am.  I stay where I am comfortable.

But I don’t.  I don’t live for me.  I don’t live for my family.  I live for Jesus. 

Many of you probably already know, but in case you haven’t heard, let me tell you a little about Jesus (I can't say it all - it would take up WAY to much space).

HE created you.  HE created me.  HE created everything that you see (and even the things you don’t).  HE is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  HE is sovereign over all things.  And yet HE chose to die.  HE chose to die for you and HE chose to die for me.  Even though we hated HIM and were HIS enemies, HE chose to die for us so that we could live with and for HIM.  HE loved us that much (John 3:16).  HE also died for the glory of God and according to the will of the Father.  HE deserves all the glory.  HE desires all the glory.  HE will get all the glory.

That is amazing to me, especially now that I have kids of my own.  I guarantee you, I would not give one of my sons to be put to death in order for you to live (and I like most of you).  So enemies; not a chance.  I also know if someone did do that for me, it would change the way that I live. 

We are always awed by stories of heroic people who sacrifice something for someone else, even when it is small.  How much more if someone sacrifices their life for someone else.  How much more, if it’s the Creator, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sacrificing HIMSELF for me and you.

And then, to make it even better, HE rose again.  HE is not dead.  HE is ALIVE.  We get to live for, and love, and serve a risen Savior.

So I don’t want to live my life for me.  I want to live my life for Jesus. 

If HE tells me to leave everything and go half way around the world for HIM, then I go.  If HE tells me to stay and work and share the love of Jesus with those around me, then I stay.  I do know that wherever I am, HE wants me to make disciples.  That was HIS last command to us while HE was on earth.              
So we live our lives for HIM.  HE rescued us from our lives of sin and hostility towards HIM.  HE died for us so that we might live for HIM.  HE loves us.  HE deserves all the GLORY.  Our lives are no longer about us.  They are about HIM.  We go as HIS ambassadors to a hurting, dying world.  We go to spread the TRUTH of HIS love and mercy and grace.

The question is already being raised by many of you, “But can’t you do that here from your house, at your work, with your church, and to your family?”  Yes.  And I hope that we have while we have lived here and I hope that you do as well wherever you live.  That is our whole reason for living.  I also know that there is a great NEED in other parts of the world.  There are still a BILLION people in the world that don’t have a Bible in their language.  How are you going to hear about HIS love and mercy and grace if you don’t even have a Bible to read?  Most of you have multiple versions of the Bible sitting on your shelf as you read.  Not trying to make anyone feel guilty, just trying to express the great NEED that is in the world today.  So we go to where there is the greatest need. 

We go because we have felt the call of GOD in our lives to go and it is one that we cannot ignore.  No, we did not hear some audible voice from the sky.  Christina has already written about all the doors that GOD has opened to make all of this possible so I’m not going to repeat it here.  I just want to say the call of GOD has been evident, and so we go.  We leave our house, our job, our church, and our family for HIM.     
My prayer for you and for me is that you and I would live for HIM.  First you have to know HIM.  First you have to love HIM.  Then you can live for HIM.  Live for HIM in America.  Live for HIM in Thailand.  The place doesn’t matter.  Jesus wants your life and your heart.  Jesus wants you to live for HIM.

This is why we move to Thailand… 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Open Doors...

Here I find myself, sitting at PJ's Coffee shop doing something I have been meaning to do for a LONG time now.  If you know us at all and know anything about our story of moving to Thailand, you know that God has opened more doors than He ever has with any other decision we have ever made.  He has confirmed to us again and again, overwhelmingly at times, that this is what He is calling our family to do, become Site Volunteer Coordinators in Thailand.  So, I have been told by several people, that I need to be writing it all down.  All the things God has done and is doing as we journey through this time of transition.  So, I sat here, with my notebook and pen and listed all the things we have seen God's hand in as we made this decision to following His calling for our lives.  5 pages and 13 things later... I'm still not finished.  But I am OVERWHELMED! (oh man, now I getting emotional here at PJs)  From selling our house in less than 48 hours, to the Ladies Bible Study I was in studying "Discerning the Voice of God" by Pricilla Shirer while we were in the middle of interviews and deciding if this move to Thailand is what God wants us to do, to specific financial needs that we prayed about and He provided. I'm not sure there is any other way to discribe all the open doors but to say that we are OVERWHELMNED!  Honestly, I'm not sure there is anything else God could have done to make it any more clear that we are on the path He wants us to be!
So, all I have to say now, is Praise be to God! And the great part is, our journey is far from over... Amazing!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Around the States in 40 Days

Our family is currently on a 40 day "journey."  And it has been quite the journey so far! From Texas to Colorado, to Nebraska, our journey is far from over.  We are currently in Central City, NE with Rob's family, visiting some of Rob's old friends, speaking about the ministry God has called us to, spending some quality time with family, and trying to network!  It has been a pretty busy few weeks  but we have been so blessed.
There are two things that have become very apparent to me throughout the past few weeks, one is that my husband comes from an incredible family (I've known this for awhile now, but have been reminded of it lately ;) Rob's parents had 6 kids in 6 years!  Which means that we are all in the same season of life (more or less).  Three of the Johnson kids got married within 10 months of each other in 3 different states in 04-05.  The amazing part to me is that each of the 6 Johnson kids aren't people who just say they are Christians, but they are people who are actively living a life of faith and trust in God, pursuing His calling for their lives.  Not only that but Rob's parents are some of the most godly, encouraging people I have ever known whom I have come to respect and love greatly!  I truly could not have asked to marry into a more wonderful family and I am honored to be a Johnson!
Rob's youngest sister Kristi is also becoming a missionary this year.  We have been in the same boat for the past few months, deciding to follow God's calling for our lives overseas around the same time, raising support together, and leaving to minister within in a few months from each other!  She will be leaving very soon and we see it as a God thing (I hope she does too ;) that we are able to be here during her last few days in the States and even send her off with the rest of the family in a few days.  What a blessing and encouragement to be with someone who knows exactly what you are going through! A God-thing for sure ;)
The second thing that has become apparent to me is what a blessing the body of Christ is.  This is something I think we all experience drastically from time to time.  Meals made for us when we have a baby, incredible child-care workers who love on our kids and teach them about Jesus, prayers offered up on our behalf.  What an amazing thing God has established in the body of Christ, giving each of us different talents and abilities to serve one another.  Incredible.  As we continue on this adventure of drastically changing everything about our lives, raising money, and moving to the other side of the world to serve the Lord with our gifts, we have been blessed by other's gifts.  We know that we cannot do what we are doing without the body of Christ coming alongside of us, loving us, praying for us, and giving financially.  We have come to an understanding more and more that what we are doing is IMPOSSIBLE without the body of Christ. Having spoken to several people whom we do not know personally about our ministry lately, and having them be so excited for us, pray for us and even having some of them give financially towards our ministry WITHOUT even knowing us personally is INCREDIBLE.  What a blessing!  I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 12.  It's too long to quote here, but you should read it!
Here are some highlights from our trip so far...
The Entire Johnson family spent a week together in CO for one last family reunion before Kristi leaves for Zambia and we leave for Thailand
Our family hiking in Colorado

Some amazing friends of Rob organized a meet and greet with some of their friends to meet us and hear about our ministry!  It was such an encouraging evening.
Grandma and Grandpa with all the grandkids!  They had so much fun together!

One evening we had a talent show and the kids surprised by singing the song Rob's mom wrote for her kids to sing when they were kids.  It was great!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

It's Here!

Well, the time has come.  There are only 3 links left on the paper chain I made with Clay to count down the days until we move out of our first home.  I'm not even sure where to begin as I process what we are jumping into.  Our house is half empty already.  Sofas have been sold (thank you craigslist!), we are living out of suitcases, and there is nothing in our sun room besides boxes.  Boxes filled with our only earth possessions left, and empty ones ready to be filled with the few things we have not yet packed.  OH MY, HERE WE GO!  Moving out on Saturday will be an emotional good bye to say the least.  I know that what we are leaving behind is just wood and bricks, that really is of no eternal value, but the fact remains that saying good bye to our home means so much more than just moving out.  It means we are saying good bye to the comforts of living the All-American dream.  My husband has a job that provides well for our family, we have never lacked anything, we were living in a house that could have easily been the home we raise our children in, retired in, and lived in for the rest of our lives.  In the eyes of the world, we were living a very comfortable life, but the problem is, I don't want to live a comfortable life.  I don't want to just live in the same ol' house, doing the same ol' things, being my same ol' self.  And I don't think that's what God wants for me either.

I just got finished reading a few blogs about how stressful it is to be a missionary, and I have to admit,  it freaked me out a little.  Rob and I have lived overseas before we had children for a year in the Philippines and yes, it was stressful, but we knew that our situation was only temporary.  Moving now, definitely feels a lot different.  While I feel as though we have a small, pea-size advantage because of our over-seas experience, I kind of feel like I have no clue what we are getting ourselves into.  Ok, it's more than just "kind-of feel like."  I absolutely realize that I have NO CLUE what we are getting ourselves into.
The thing is, why do I feel like I need to have a "clue?"  Oh yeah, because I am an controlling need-to-have-all-my-ducks-in-a-row-and-need-to-know-where-those-ducks-are-coming-from-and-how-much-they-are-going-to-cost kind of a person. But what does God say?

  Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
Luke 12:22-34

The thing is, I don't want to live my life where my treasure is in my house that I absolutely love, or my air conditioned living room, or the "security" of my husband's job. So, what do I choose?  I choose to believe that God has confirmed to us over and over again that this is what He wants us to do.  That we are following His calling for our lives and that although that means giving-up the All- American dream, that's just breadcrumbs compared to the feast of living my life for the Lord!

Our shelves are looking pretty empty these days!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Financial Update

Well, I just crunched the numbers this morning and we have raised 33% of what we need for our monthly support and 64% of what we need for our one-time expenses when we get there!  Praise the Lord!  We are speaking at two churches this weekend, will you pray with us that God would stir the hearts of those we speak to to become prayer and financial partners with us?  We know that this is all in God's hands and He will provide through the means and at the time He chooses.  We just need to be faithful to tell the body of Christ about our ministry and trust Him!  A hard lesson to learn, and one that God keeps teaching me moment by moment!  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

From Pretend to Reality

Growing up, I played a little differently than I would say most little girls play.  Yes, I did play kitchen, house, barbie, and mommy a little.  But what I most remember playing was school (where I of course was the teacher, and when I would get mad at my older brother, I would give him all F's! I'll let you guess which brother;)  Haha!), secretary, and another game that I'm pretty sure most little girls didn't.  I would climb underneath the dining room table in our front room and pretend that I could only bring that which was completely necessary to survive (you know, pillow, blanket, and my Kid Sister doll ;) because well I was in the middle of no where and had to survive on my own! Every once in awhile I would have to venture out to pick some plastic apples from a "tree" or something.  But mostly I loved the idea of living in this really small space with room only for the things that are necessary!  Weird, I know, but I seriously loved this game!

For some reason God has brought this memory to my mind lately!  Hmm... I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that we are in the midst of selling/getting rid of pretty much all our earthly possessions and moving to the other side of the world?!  As a child, teenager, and even in my early 20's I never would have thought that God would have me go into ministry overseas, but as I look back, I really feel like He was preparing me from the very beginning, long before I ever could have dreamed what He would ask me to do.  His ways are higher than Our's!
So, I secretly (well, I guess not so secretly now...) am really enjoying getting rid of all this junk.  Yep I said it JUNK!  I'm pretty sure I don't really need 10 empty picture frames and we sure aren't going to ship our couches to Thailand!  It feels so cleansing!  I really do love thinking about what are the special things we are going to bring with us, you know, like if you could only pick 10 books what would they be?  
And while there are things that we are keeping in the attics of family AND there are some things that have sentimental value that are hard to give up, this verse keeps running through my head:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures here on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

Oh Lord, may I never forget that my life is not about earthly things, but eternal ones!  

And just for fun... here's a picture of my boys playing in a "tent." Maybe God is preparing them for what's to come too!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Big Impact

For the past few years, we have been a part of a core group that has helped to start a church in a neighborhood that was greatly affected by Hurricane Katrina.  Although we did love the church we were going to at the time, when we heard of this church plant, we knew that God wanted us to be a part of it.  What we didn't realize at the time is what an incredible blessing this church would be to us.  We absolutely LOVE Crescent City Community Church ( and leaving it will be one of the hardest parts of moving to Thailand!  We love that there are 4 unique pastors that share the pulpit!  We love that there is a discussion time after the Sermon each Sunday where we are challenged greatly by the other members of our body!  And of course we love the community there and how much they love us and ESPECIALLY love on our kids (our kids are the youngest at the church so you can only imagine the kind of love and attention they get!!). Although the group of people who attend the church is small, their impact on our lives has been GREAT!
With that being said, Crescent City Community Church (CCCC) will be our sending church as we do ministry overseas, and we wouldn't want it any other way!  It's so incredible to be the very first missionaries that a new church sends!  We feel privileged to be in this position and are excited to help CCCC establish their philosophy on missions!
Although CCCC is a small church they desire to do all that they can to support us!
The first Friday night of every month our church does a movie night at a local park.  This past Friday some women from our church decided to offer concessions during the movie night to help us raise support! It doesn't matter to me if they raise $1 or $1000, the fact that they are so willing to love on our family in this way means the WORLD to us!  We feel so blessed to have the people around us that we do as we step into this next season of our lives!  We serve an amazing God who knows exactly what we need!
So Crescent City Community Church, thank you so much for loving us, supporting us, and encouraging us!  Our numbers are few, but your impact is great!  We love you!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Financial Update

Just wanted to give an update on where we are in our support raising.  As I have mentioned earlier, we need to have people and churches committed to giving us $4,000 monthly and $20,000 in one-time gifts before we can leave to start our assignment in September.  This is quite the task that we truly feel only God can accomplish!  Trusting God for our finances is one of that hardest things we have ever had to do, and YET one of the biggest blessings.  It's amazing to be at a place where God is truly providing your EVERY need.  It takes dependency on  Him to a whole new level...
With that being said, we currently have people committed to giving us $1,045 a month which puts us at 26% of what we need and we have raise $9,605 in one-time gifts which puts us at 48% of what we need!  We are so grateful for every penny God has provided and feel extremely blessed!  We are trusting God for the remaining money to come in, all in His timing.   
So, we are printing our spring newsletter TODAY and hope to have them mailing our soon!  If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be, please email us at randcjohnson (at) hotmail (dot) com  and we would love to add you to our list!  
Thank you so much for loving and supporting our family and believing in what God will do through us to impact Southeast Asia!

Thursday, February 28, 2013


As you can imagine there is SO MUCH that needs to happen before we can move to Thailand in September.  There are definitely times when I think about all this and I get anxious.  Every time I  begin to worry, I hear God telling me "I got this Christina, I got this." And I truly feel a sense of "peace that surpasses all understanding" come over me.  The two biggest things that need to happen are one, that we need to raise support and the other is that we had to sell the properties we own.  Little did I know that God had BIG plans for us in checking one of those things off our list a lot quicker than we ever imagined possible!
So, we own two properties.  We own the house that we live in (of course) and because of Hurricane Katrina there were SEVERAL houses that were actually bought by the government.  Well, they decided to get rid of these properties by offering them to the houses next door as lots you could add on to your yard.  When we bought our house, there was a gutted house next door for the first year and a half that we lived here.   We were offered the opportunity to buy the lot next to us at a very cheap price.  We decided that it was a good investment and bought it.  So, here we are now owning not one but TWO properties that we need to sell before we left to go to Thailand.

As I knew the time was fast approaching that we would be putting our properties on the market, I was very aware of all the houses around us that were up for sale.  I drove only a couple miles to the grocery store one day and counted 20 different houses and properties just on my way to and from the store.  Also there is a house right across the street that's for sale and has been on the market for 6 months and has 200 square feet more than our house.  So needless to say, our expectations were very low.  I was already thinking about how we are going to have to consider renting our house out when we leave in September and who would maintain the lot for us.  BOY was I wrong!
We put both properties on the market on Monday Feb. 18th.  In only a few hours after putting it on the market, we got an offer for the lot next door AND the Realtor called to say there was someone that wanted to look at our house the very next day.  GREAT!  I was praising the LORD that there was at least interest in our house.  The offer on the lot was for quite a bit less than our asking, so even though we were amazed that we got an offer so quickly, we were advised and decided to reject the offer.  Ok, a few hours after this (still on Monday, mind you this is still the DAY we put our house on the market) our Realtor called us back and said that he has 4 different people he wanted to show the house to the next day!  WHAT?!  This is crazy!  So we cleaned up our house real nice (I even baked cookies, I mean, we were basically having an open house!) Tuesday came, and about 30 mins after the showings, we had a FULL PRICE offer on our house AND a MORE than full price offer on the lot next door!  We were stunned!  We had NO idea that BOTH properties would sell so quickly!  You think the story is over don't you, oh just wait... it's not!
So, Wednesday morning comes around, we were ready to sign on accepting both offers and we get a call from our Realtor saying that he got another offer on our house that was MORE than our asking price  AND another offer on the lot next door that was an ALL CASH offer for more than our asking price and they wanted to close in 6 days!  WHAT??!!!  Are you kidding me God?  I was speechless.  I still can't believe that God did this... So, in LESS than 48 hours after putting both properties on the market we accepted both offers, both MORE than our asking price.  ONLY GOD, people!  Only God!
So, we have already gone to the act of sale on our lot next door and we had the inspections for our house yesterday.  Our date for act of sale on our house is not until May because we are not able to move out of the house until then and actually the buyers are fine with that because that is when their lease ends, (yep, God's timing is perfect!)  Our Realtor (who is the top rated Realtor in New Orleans and has sold TONS of properties) said that he has NEVER before seen anything like this.  We made his record for the fasted he has ever sold a property from the time it went on the market to the time it went to act of sale with our lot.  After he tells us this I said (of course getting emotional, because well, I am my mother's daughter!) "You don't understand, this is so much more than just selling a house to us.  This is God confirming to us that He has called us to move to Thailand and do ministry there. Only God can do something like this!  Only God!"  I have no idea what our Realtors beliefs are but he said he got chills and once again stated how this has never happened to him!
PRAISE THE LORD!  I am speechless every time I think about how God has blessed us abundantly more than I could ever imagine.  This is a story for the record books of our lives where God did something truly amazing to tell us "I got this Christina, I got this!"

Monday, January 28, 2013

To the Market we Go

Well, we've been working hard trying to get our house ready to go on the market!  We are so thankful for the body of Christ and all their help!  Not to mention my amazing husband who has been working so hard and the AMAZING weather we have had down here!  Is it Spring because it sure feels like it!  We are hoping to put it on the market in a couple weeks!  In case anyone's interested ;)    

We added a little color to our front door to add some curb appeal! I really like it and think we should have done it sooner!  

fixing up a few little projects outside!

and the day was not without accidents although this had nothing to do with all the projects we were working on.  This more had to do with a little brother and a sippy cup.  I never knew a sippy cup could be used as a weapon but leave it up to the 17 month old to figure that out!! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I love seeing how God uses so many people, circumstances, and most importantly  His WORD to encourage me lately.  I know He is always there working in my life, I think I am just a little more aware of it lately!
I have been reading through 2 Corinthians during my personal Bible study time.  This morning I was reading chapter 6, where it says,
 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are AMBASSADORS of Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." - 2 Corinthians 6:17-20

Being Ambassadors of Reconciliation is something that our church preaches often and something both Rob and I have thought about A LOT lately.  God has done amazing things in both Rob and I's life.  We have come to trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross.  God has SAVED us.  And our lives are forever changed because of that!  We are NEW CREATURES!  And it is because of this that our desire is to be Ambassadors for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  To let the world know of God's amazing love and how He has demonstrated that through the cross.
 We know this to be true, with everything that we are!  We believe in this message and know how God can change lives through this amazing truth.  This is why we are selling all our stuff and leaving everything we've ever known to move to the other side of the world, to share the message of reconciliation with Southeast Asia, to be "Ambassadors of Christ!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Here We Go!

Since sending our support letters in December, our life has been quite the whirl-wind, and we are just at the beginning of all this!  We have heard that the sooner you are able to get rid of things, the better.  So, January has been full of craigslist listings, trips to Goodwill, and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.  As September seems fast approaching, we feel pressed for time!

We met and signed a contract with a Realtor a couple weeks ago to sell our house.  For some reason doing this made all that is happening in our lives VERY REAL to me.  Although we have no idea what God's plans are for this house, we love this place.  Having children and the memories of them in your "home" just makes a place so special.  Rob and I have been married for 7 1/2 years and we have lived in 9 (yes I said 9!!) different places since we have been married.  So I was never attached to any one place, well, until we had our kids.  Leaving the house we rented when I was pregnant with Clay until he turned one taught me this.  I will never forget Rob and I cleaning up that little house after we moved all our stuff and going into Clay's empty room where I couldn't hold back the tears!  There are so many memories of Clay's first year of life in that house!  And our current house holds even more!  I know quite a few tears will be shed when we have to leave our precious home!

Although these walls hold such great memories, in all reality, our lives are not about where my child learned to walk, how many times I pushed our boys on the swingset in our backyard, or the countless hours of story books being read in the living room, our lives are about living for our Lord and Savior!  And although we are very fond of our lives here in New Orleans and all the people and places that we hold so dear to us, they are not what is of most importance.  So, is all this transition hard, absolutely!  Will we miss New Orleans, our house, all the memories, and people, absolutely!  But are we completely at peace about where God is calling us and what He is calling us to do, ABSOLUTELY!  Are we excited about this next season of life, ABSOLUTELY!

I have been journaling off and on since I was a teenager.  My teen year were when my faith became very real to me and I began to understand the privilege of living our lives for the Lord.  Since then I have often written the last lines to be "Lord, I want to go and do whatever You have called me to do.  Here I am." While that desire has taken me to very unexpected places, the reality of that desire rings so true in where God is taking us.  Although there are many details to figure out, much to do, and a lot to say "good-bye" to, we are convinced that this is the journey God has called us to.

So, Lord, I want to go and do WHATEVER you have called me to do, even if that takes us to Chiang Mai Thailand!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Big News!!

We have some exciting news!!!  Rob and I have been on quite the adventure over the past 6 months.  Since graduating from Moody Bible Institute we have always felt like God would lead us into full time ministry one day.  We didn't know when or how, but we knew that we felt called to serve together.  In 2007-2008 we taught at an international school in the Philippines.  It was an invaluable time for us as a couple to search our hearts and see if God was leading us to full time ministry overseas.  While Rob had always had a desire to serve overseas, I (Christina) have always felt like God would call me to ministry but never thought it would be overseas.  Until we spent that year in the Philippines. God really showed us the incredible NEED there is overseas for people to come to know the LOVE of Jesus Christ.  This was a need we could not ignore.  God began to change my heart in a way I never thought He would.  He truly began to stir within me a passion for overseas ministry.

We came back the summer of 2008, feeling like we would love to go back overseas but knowing that it wasn't the right time.  A few months later we found out I was pregnant and knew that this season of our lives would be focused on starting our family.  So, we planted ourselves in New Orleans, LA were Rob works for a local house raising and Shoring company and we began to be a part of a core group that helped to start a church (  In 2009 we had Clay and in 2011 we had our little Zeke.  It wasn't long after having Zeke that Rob and I made a goal to be at a place were we discussing and looking into what God would have for us next by the time Zeke (our youngest) turned one in August of 2012.  

While we had this goal, God was already working.  We received a mass email in May concerning a need for a Site Volunteer Coordinator for Southeast Asia.  The location for the position would be in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but we would be coordinating volunteers for 5 different countries in Southeast Asia.  The more we looked into the position, the more God began to show us that this was something we really had a heart for and that would utilize both of our gifts.  They were specifically looking for a couple who could work together!  Emails became interviews which turned into a trip to Chiang Mai to see if this was really where God was calling us.  Soon after our trip in October of this year, we were officially offered the position and it didn't take us long to accept!  So, we will be moving to Chiang Mai (Lord-willing) in September 2013!

The Site Volunteer Coordinator is a very key position.  Basically we would be assessing needs and coordinating volunteers to come to 5 countries in Southeast Asia whom will help with various projects, including teachers, construction projects, computer projects and various other needs.  We are excited to serve in this way and truly feel like we can impact Southeast Asia in a mighty way by and through the hand of God.  

We have already begun to prepare for this transition as you might imagine, it is a monumental task!  We  are already selling/ getting rid of things and preparing our house to be put up for sale!  (Anyone interested??? :)  The biggest task of all is that we have to establish a group of partners willing to financially support us and our ministry..  Being that this is a ministry position, we need to raise funds to cover our expenses.  In order for us to be able to go in September of 2013, we need to have people committed to financial partnership with us totaling $4,000 per month to cover all our living and insurance expenses.  We also need a total of $20,000 in one time gifts to help establish our new house, buy a car, and cover the cost of our training and language learning expenses.  If you would like more information about our family and what we will be doing or are interested in financially partnering with us, we would love to add you to our mailing list.  Please email us at randcjohnson (at) hotmail (dot) com.    
Taken on our trip to Thailand in October with the city of Chiang Mai in the background.