Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mother’s Day: Grandma’s Letters from Africa would make a great gift

Mother’s Day will be here soon, and you still have time to order Grandma’s Letters from Africa for those special women in your life.

Grandma’s Letters from Africa would be a memorable gift for your mother.

And for your grandmother.

Your wife.

Your mother-in-law.

Your daughter.

Your granddaughter.

Do you know an empty-nester (or soon-to-be)—who is wondering what in the world she’s going to do with her life? She longs to spend the few decades doing something meaningful—but what?  Grandma’s Letters from Africa will give her some ideas. 

Do you know someone near retirement? She’s still got lots of energy and oodles of experience and talents and skills to contribute to a good cause. But where? How?

If you’ve said yes to any of the above, Grandma’s Letters from Africa can be a great resource. It can inspire new ideas and opportunities for those special women.

Grandma’s Letters from Africa received three awards from the publisher: Editor’s Choice, Rising Star, and Reader’s Choice. The memoir has also been listed on the Barnes and Noble Special Collections  Boutique.

You can buy Grandma’s Letters from Africa (hardback, paperback, ebook) online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iUniverse, and through your favorite independent book seller.

What others are saying:

“Great stories, great humor, and real spiritual depth!” (Susan Van Wynen, Director for Communication, Wycliffe International)

Grandma’s Letters from Africa is an engaging, memorable account of Linda’s years in Africa. It was a privilege for me to read over the shoulders of her granddaughters as Linda tells her story through a series of letters. Through both laughter and tears, she learns to balance her roles as missionary, wife, mother, and grandmother. In the process, Linda falls in love with Africa, its people, and her work. Readers will be moved by this compelling story that reveals God’s heart and extraordinary grace.” (Bob Creson, President/CEO, Wycliffe USA)

“No matter what age you are, Grandma’s Letters from Africa transports you to that intriguing continent and gives you a glimpse of everyday life there. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby because sometimes you’ll cry and other times you’ll laugh until tears run down your cheeks. One caveat: Don’t start reading this book late in the evening unless you want to stay up all night. It’s a ‘can’t-put-down’ book.” (Aretta Loving, Author, Together We Can and Slices of Life)

“Grandparents and soon-to-be grandparents, read this book and give a copy to all your grandchildren old enough to read. In it, you will discover how to leave a life-impacting legacy for the children of your children. You will laugh and cry your way through Linda’s incredible four years in Africa … away from her children and grandchildren, but connecting with them in powerful ways as she skillfully weaves a tapestry of how her life made a difference.” (Don Parrott, President, The Finishers Project)

So buy a copy, or three or four. Once again, here are links for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. Order your copies of Grandma’s Letters from Africa today before it’s too late!

Related posts:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A pause

My sweet little mother died a few days ago so today I’m pausing to think about her.

She was an amazingly brave woman in so many ways and I am so proud of her, so in awe of her.

For example, she flew all by herself to come visit us in Kenya, at age 79 and crippled.

As part of remembering Mom, I’ll show you a few pictures of her visit:

Mom loved flowers, 
and I knew she'd be delighted to see Kenya's many beauties. 
Here she's standing in front of a poinsettia tree
Until then she'd never seen anything bigger than 
the little potted plants we buy at Christmas.

Here she is in front of more of Kenya's  lush vegetation. 

Our dear Elizabeth brought this kanga to Mom for a gift. 
Here she's helping Mom learn one way to wear it.
I still have that kanga and love to think of 
Elizabeth and Mom and this time they had together in my home.

Here Mom is standing with Sammy, a dear young man.
She gave him money so he could build a little house for his family.
Below is his letter of thanks.

God bless my sweet little mother. I'll always love her and miss her.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Living the parable of the loaves and fishes

Those were difficult weeks for me—but by God’s grace, all these years later I’m learning from them, making peace with them, finding closure.

Those were weeks of feeling negligent and ashamed.   

Weeks of heaps of duties and surprises and rationed electricity.

I longed to do my best in caring for our house guests and keeping up with my work at the office.

Those were weeks of sprinting through life at a frantic pace and stressing about how I was going to do it all.

I was flustered, ruffled, discombobulated, and sometimes bewildered.

I tried so hard not to get hysterical. I tried so hard not to freak out.

One of my most panic-filled moments was finding out I’d have ten people sitting around my dining room table for lunch. All morning at my office, my mind raced and I hollered breathless prayers.

Oh, Lord, please help me think of something to feed them!

My refrigerator and kitchen cupboards housed a random selection of food—that was not the problem—but (a) I needed enough for ten people  and (b) I had only an hour and a half to pull it all off and get back to the office.

Ten people! Dear Lord, what will I feed them?

It didn’t occur to me until now: I was living out the parable of the loaves and fishes. God used my meager supplies, blessed them for His purposes, and they were enough, enough for my crowd! (See Mark 6:41, 8:6; Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17.)

I’d been standing on holy ground but didn’t realize it until now.

God had heard my prayers and answered. It brings tears to my eyes.

I wish so much I had realized all this at the time. I suspect, however, God knows that too often, we humans behave that way so that’s why He created us with the ability to remember. That's why He  told us so many times in the Bible: Remember!

He knows we rush around in a tizzy and don’t stop long enough to take in what’s really going on under the surface (or maybe I should say “in the heavenlies”).

God created us with the ability to reflect, to re-live, to ponder, to make sense of something years later.

And that’s what I’ve been doing.

And that’s why I’m rejoicing in His goodness. I’m lifting up my praise and gratitude to God: He took note of His stressed out little servant-girl and helped her care for all those dear people.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Things are not always the way they seem at first

All these years later, I still think, often, of those hectic weeks, and I still squirm.

Maybe I keep reliving the experience because I haven’t yet made sense of it all. I’ve not found closure—maybe because I’m not sure if I did something wrong. Could I have done something better?  Could I have handled my duties differently?

In the past few weeks I have discovered three things that offer me closure.

Let me explain:

You see, something inside compels me to live according to this motto when it comes to people living under my roof:

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
at all the times you can, to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.”
(John Wesley)

That’s what it means to love my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22:39)

That’s what it means practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

You'll remember where I found myself:

It started with the teachers’ accident and our near-carjacking. Then, within hours of that, I began hosting our pastor and two dear friends from the States, at the same time housing three little girls (plus one extra a couple of times) for two weeks while their parents were out of the country.

Oh, and I was also working full time at my office.

Oh, and our electricity was rationed, too.  

And 24 hours after the little girls moved out, my parents-in-law arrived.

While much of those weeks is only a blur in my memory, often I’ve relived the frantic pace, my heavy responsibilities, and my worries about how I was going to do it all.

I was flustered, ruffled, discombobulated, and sometimes bewildered—but I don’t recall feeling sorry for myself.

I don’t recall speaking or acting in a way that would suggest to my guests, “How am I supposed to do all this?!?

I do remember that I longed to be a blessing for those dear people living in my home.

I yearned to provide a safe, happy, comfortable, serene haven for them. But was I succeeding?

I’d always heard that God is not a God of chaos but of order. Our household, though, seemed chaotic, so it was my job was to bring calm and order to the chaos.

I was doing my best. I was giving enormous amounts of attention and energy to those people and my duties, but I felt like everything was precariously close to spinning out of control, and if it did, I’d have failed to do my job well.

I seemed to be gasping for air, spinning and sprinting through life, sending up many prayers, “Oh, Lord, please help! Help me to do this, and do it well, and do it right!”

Sometimes we get ourselves into hot water because we’ve made wrong, selfish choices or we’ve been disobedient to God in some way. At those times, we suffer consequences that we bring upon ourselves.

Was that the case then? I don’t think so.

I have found relief and comfort in discovering this: When Jesus’ disciples were with him in a boat on the lake, and when a fierce storm threatened to swamp them (Luke 8:22-24), and when the disciples screamed, “We’re going to drown!”—they were not in trouble because they had done something wrong. They were not suffering punishment for being disobedient.

In fact, they were precisely where Jesus told them to be, when he told them to be there, doing what he told them to be doing.

We, too, can be exactly where God wants us to be, when He wants us to be there, doing what He wants us to be doing—and still get caught up in “fierce storms” of life, where chaos swirls, where waves threaten to drown us.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned in recent weeks: I was where God wanted me to be, when He wanted me to be there, doing what He wanted me to be doing. He had given me an apartment full of people. He chose me to be there for them—to shepherd them—and that was hard work. Like the disciples on the stormy lake, sometimes I feared I’d drown. That’s where I found myself during those weeks.

Here’s the bottom line for lesson one: I’m so thankful to now recognize that my heavy workload was not punishment or a consequence of my willful sin. Neither was my feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I wish so much that I could have recognized this back then, but embracing it now helps me make peace of the experience.

Next week: The second lesson I’ve learned from that experience.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rationed electricity and water, and God’s mysterious grace

Continuing from last time,

  • hosting and housing our pastor and two dear friends from Port Angeles, Washington, and
  • at the same time housing three little girls whose parents were out of town for two weeks, and
  • housing another little girl—surprise!—and
  • working full time at my office,

and besides the sheer amount of :
  • planning
  • preparation
  • coordination
  • overseeing and
  • hard work,  
  • 24/7,

Dave and I were returning to the office on some evenings and weekends to catch up with our workload.



Because the city turned off electricity in our part of town every afternoon!

If you’ve never lived with rationed electricity, you can’t grasp how that messes up a person’s duties

  • duties like getting work done at the office,
  • duties like cooking dinner for a lot of hungry people every night.

At home, our stove didn’t work until about the time we were accustomed to sitting down with a hot meal in front of us.

Our refrigerator didn’t keep food cold.

Our washing machine wouldn’t work . (We had no dryer so that was not a problem.)

Hot water heaters didn’t work.

Lights in the house didn’t work.

The iron, TV, radio, boom box—none of them worked.

But it gets more complicated than that. Stop and think for a minute:

What if, at your office or place of work, you had no electricity every afternoon? You couldn’t use your computer, printer, photocopier, scanner, fax machine, or microwave. You couldn’t make a pot of coffee. Your lights were turned off.

For a couple of days we and our office colleagues fumbled around, dumbfounded over all we could not do at the office every afternoon. We felt pressured, we had deadlines, we had work to accomplish—but we couldn’t! It seemed that during those long hours, all we could do was twiddle our thumbs.

After a couple of days, though, we re-thought how we organized our days. During morning hours we worked like crazy on everything electric, and during the afternoons we scheduled meetings, appointments, filing, and things that didn’t require electricity.

Nevertheless, we were not keeping up with our work so several evenings and weekends we returned to the office to catch up.

Add to this another challenge:

The city powers-that-be announced they would turn off water in our neighborhood.


I tried so hard not to freak out.

Oh, Lord, I don’t think I can handle one more challenge! I am so tired—I don’t think I can leap over one more hurdle.

Day after day, hour after hour, we knew we could lose our water.

O Lord, You know that with all these people in our apartment, we really need water!

And day after day, hour after hour, about half of the city had no water but, by God’s mysterious grace, it kept flowing out our taps.  (from Chapter 23, Grandma’s Letters from Africa)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I tried not to sound hysterical

Ten people! Dear Lord, what will I feed them?

That was my prayer all morning a few days after our pastor and two close friends arrived from our home church in Port Angeles, Washington.

You see, while Mike, Vern, and George were visiting us, three girls moved into our apartment for two weeks. Since their parents’ visas expired and they had to leave Kenya to renew them, and the personnel office asked us to care for the girls.

That meant nine of us occupied our apartment.

I was also holding down a full-time job in our Bible translation mission organization so, as you can imagine, I was mighty busy.

During those weeks I had two full-time jobs: One started at 5:30 a.m. while I got little girls dressed and packed for school, and fed breakfast to them and Mike, Vern, George, Dave, and myself.  That lasted until about 7:45 when I left for the office.

My office job lasted until noon when I dived back into the job of feeding the crowd that lived in our apartment.

Then I jumped back onto the office job until 5 p.m. when I came home to prepare dinner, do dishes, entertain guests, help girls with homework, and be sure their clothes were ready for the next day.

I fell into bed late each night and awoke the next morning at 5:30 to resume sprinting through the schedule.

I took lots of deep breaths and shot up multiple prayers throughout each day and evening.

A few days into this scenario, on a Tuesday morning, the girls informed me that another girl would be moving in with us.



I tried not to sound hysterical. I’m not sure I succeeded.

“She stays overnight with us every Tuesday night,” the girls said, all peppy and giggly.


“She lives too far from school to come every day.”

Huh? I didn’t get it.

The girls explained that she traveled to Nairobi from her missionary-parents’ remote home in order to attend school on Tuesdays, she always stayed overnight with the girls, went to school on Wednesdays, and then returned home.

OK, well, no one told me this would happen, but—OK.

I mean, really, what else could I do? If she was my daughter, what would I want me to do?

So ten people occupied our apartment that night. I don’t remember much about it but I know they all ate dinner and they all had sheets, blankets, and pillows. The men slept in beds but the girls slept on pads on the floor.

The next morning, the girls told me that school dismissed at noon—something about teacher conferences. That meant I’d need to make lunch for everyone—all ten of us.

At my office all morning, I wracked my brain but couldn’t think of anything to feed them.

From time to time I asked myself, Is this really happening? Or am I only dreaming?

But it was no dream. It was real.

And the clock kept ticking.

My heart raced.

I squished down a panic attack.

Oh, Lord, please help me think of something to feed them!

My refrigerator and kitchen cupboards housed a random selection of food—that was not the problem—but (a) I needed something quick so I could get back to the office, and (b) I needed enough for ten people.

Ten people! Dear Lord, what will I feed them? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Feeling negligent and ashamed

Why is it that sometimes you remember where you were when a certain event happened?

I still carry a picture in my mind of something that occurred a few hours after Dave and I settled the teachers at the hospital (or at home, for those not injured). 

It was a Monday. We had fallen into bed around 1:30 that morning. The alarm went off at 6, and an hour and a half later we set out for the office.

Dave and I were still reeling from the teachers’ accident, Bridget’s grave condition, and our near carjacking. Still a bit stunned. Only beginning to process it all.

Now, even before the teachers’ accident, my stress level had already been soaring high. For several months, I had been burning the candle at both ends.  At the office I had a full time job, and at home I had an enormous workload, too. It’s a long story, but let me just say it this way: A lot is expected of missionary women. 

And the stress level was growing higher:

For several days, protesters in Nairobi had been throwing rocks, shouting, rioting.

And the stress level climbed yet higher:

That morning, Dave drove to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to pick up our pastor and two friends from Port Angeles, Washington.

On their way back, they stopped at the office to pick me up and go home for lunch.  

I still remember standing at that spot in the picture I showed you last week, and watching the car roll to a stop.

Dave pulled the car to a stop right here. 
I remember opening the car door, and the wind ruffling my hair, and trying to see through it to smile and say, “Welcome to Nairobi!”  

Why would I remember that moment?

Because turmoil churned within my being.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I was delighted to have those special friends visit us—Pastor Mike, George, and Vern—loved ones from home.


I groaned to think they’d arrived during disturbances—demonstrations, commotion, turmoil, unrest. Across Africa, numerous civil wars had started with such doings. Would this happen now in Nairobi? I felt a need to protect our house guests, to shield them, to keep them from being frightened.

But the worst part—the part that made me most miserable as I climbed into the car—was this: I hadn’t put clean sheets or pillows on the men’s beds by the time they arrived.

And I had a long grocery list.

You see, I had originally planned to take care of those things the day before, the day we helped the teachers.

Now, if you know me, you know that being unprepared for guests was a huge blunder.

I had really messed up.

In my own eyes, I was negligent, guilty. I had failed to do my duties. I had failed our friends.

And that’s why I still remember that moment in that spot at the office parking lot—I remember the dark sensations that swirled around me, the pain of failure, of disappointment in myself.

We drove the men home and showed them their rooms, apologizing that they were not ready yet.

I was in a panic about what to fix for lunch, since I hadn’t gotten to the grocery store, but somehow I threw something together—I have no idea what it was; it was all a blur at the time. (Mind you, fast food joints were few and far between, and going to a restaurant was out of the question due to cost and time.) The five of us gathered around our dining room table, set with nice cloth napkins and napkin rings, and we visited while we ate. Somehow, God had helped me pull it off.

After lunch, we suggested the men unpack and rest—Dave and I knew all too well how exhausting the trip is from Seattle to Nairobi—and the two of us returned to the office for the afternoon. 

It’s a blur as to how and when we got the men’s beds made up, but we did.

If they noticed my lack of readiness, they didn’t let onbless their hearts—but I still felt bad. I had never treated guests that way.

What could I have done differently?

What would you have done?

Next time: more wackiness