I always get to this place - this moment that is the turning of the calendar in to a new year - and I realize just how much of our USA culture and worldview continues to be ingrained in me, even after all these years of being away. I first realized it in Peru. The new year came about and my mind automatically moved in to reflection and goals mode. What went well in the old year? What do I want to improve on in the new year? What plans need to be put in to place for the coming year? Lots of reflection and self-evaluation, then using that to make plans for the new year. It’s also a time of year when my mind automatically goes in to health mode. I need to get back to the gym. I need to do better this year with my physical fitness and my health habits. I need to get in to a rhythm of healthier eating. What struck me in Peru was that, for the first time in my life, no one around me was thinking these things! How could it be that no one else was reflecting and planning? How is it even possible that the rest of society was not making exercise plans and healthy meal plans? I mean, it seemed that absolutely NO ONE had turned the calendar page and realized that a new year had begun!
Then it hit me - this is a part of my North American culture that I was unaware of. I did not realize that all this reflection and planning was cultural. Nor did I realize the effect that media has on our culture when it comes to all this health and new year business. Think about it… what is on TV commercials and talk shows and magazines right now? Diets! Gym promotions, exercise plans, etc. The new Weight Watchers plan. Planet Fitness has a deal going. Rachel Ray is cooking special meals to help you lose that holiday weight and start the new year right. Guess what’s on sale at Target and WalMart and IKEA and everywhere else… organizing supplies, planners, ways to get yourself in order so you can start the year off “right”. By the way, you need a new yoga mat.
Guess what, folks. This wasn’t happening in Peru. I realized that during our first year there and I had a little moment of panic. How will people go forward and achieve their goals if they don’t reflect and plan and make goals in January?! WHAT KIND OF CULTURE IS THIS???? (Yes, I freaked out, just a little.)
So, newsflash… it isn’t happening in Spain either. Nope. No big season of health and gym membership sales. No big discounts on planners or calendars or office supplies. No big promotion of self-help books or yoga mats or diet plans. January is just January.
Even now, ten years after moving out of the USA to live a life of service overseas, that strange feeling wafts over me in January. Even though nothing around me is promoting it or selling it, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be in reflection and planning mode, and that I need to get back to healthy habits.
Billy and I have begun a monthly process of reflection and planning. It just works better for us. It keeps us a little more focused and a little more accountable to our various goals and projects, and we can make course corrections quickly to keep us on track. It also helps us to celebrate the little things and take stock of what’s going on. It’s easy to miss the little achievements and celebrations if you wait till the end of the year to try to reflect. And it’s really easy to find yourself way off course if you only visit your goals once a year! So, once a month, we have a day that is set aside for reflection and planning. We take a critical look at various aspects of our personal life and our work and we decide how to proceed. In some areas, we might be doing pretty great and have things to celebrate. And in other areas, we realize that we have let some things slip or we haven’t given enough attention to certain goals and we make corrections.
While we’re on the subject, let me share with you a recent celebration that came to light. One of the young ladies who taught for us in the educational projects in Peru recently connected with us. She (Tania) stays in touch and often sends us messages via Facebook messenger. Last month, she sent a message saying that she had been back to Iscos (one of the towns where we had a school outreach and discipleship program) and she had gone to visit Julia. You might recall that Julia was an older woman, a widow, who opened up her home and gave us a room to hold classes for our school children. She cooked meals for 30 kids every day in her kitchen and allowed us to have classes in her home for several years. In the afternoons, she opened up her home so community women could come and have bible study and workshops. Along the way, she became a believer through the discipleship of our young teachers. In many ways, she became a mother to us all and a grandmother to all of our students.
Tania went to visit Julia and then sent us a message. She said that Julia continues to be a believer and continues to read her Bible daily and try to continue learning. She said she will forever be grateful and have fond memories of us and of the school program, and she wanted Tania to specifically send a message to us thanking us for our time in Peru and telling us that we are still loved and remembered, and that the Bible teaching and discipleship that was done continues to live on. WOW! That was an awesome note to receive!!!
Then, Tania went on to give us even more! She asked for prayers for her new business endeavor… she has opened a school in Lima and is modeling it after the work that we did in Iscos and Patarcocha. The school opened in December, with the goal of reaching entire families for Christ via the education and love shown to their children. Again, wow! Those young teachers not only continued the work that we started in Peru, but they have now taken it in various directions and it has grown to something we never could have imagined. One of them continues to work in the area where we began, one of them answered a call for teachers to go in to the most unreached and dangerous parts of the jungle, and now Tania has opened her own school. All remain faithful to their calling and passion… to use their passion for teaching and for children and families, and to live out their calling of discipleship and loving others through their vocation.
Never during any of our reflection or planning did we foresee the future or the fruit that would occur in Peru. Honestly, that’s all God. What we did was to daily walk alongside those teachers, daily pour in to their lives, and stay true to our calling and passion. God did the rest. And we trust that this will be true in Spain as well. We reflect and we plan, we try to focus and be true to our calling. We daily practice our passion of loving and empowering people, of caring for others and walking alongside people in whatever life throws at them. And we trust that God will do the rest. He always does. He’s in the business of showing up and amazing us!
It is sometimes tempting to assume that you know all there is to know about a subject. That you have exhausted the learning process on a particular issue and you’re finally ‘there’, you are an expert. As a teacher who is a firm believer in the inquiry method, I’m here to say, “Look again. What else do you see?”
When I was teaching science, I absolutely loved using inquiry. It’s based on looking deeper, asking questions, and digging for more. It’s learner-driven. It is deeply rooted in observation. It’s hands-on and experiential. I love it!
When I became a coach, I immediately fell in to that same vein of questioning. “Tell me more. What else do you see? What other factors are at play? What more is there to learn here?” When I truly fall in to that groove and the inquiry process takes hold, I’m in heaven!
I was recently on a phone call with some friends and we were discussing our recent move to our home in town. It’s a new situation for us, mostly because we have been living in the country and not in the middle of the city for the past 4 years. There is a different dynamic to life and a different rhythm to how things work now, and we are slowly learning those differences and finding our footing here in ‘city center’. So, we find ourselves in the learner seat, students again, asking those crucial inquiry questions of ourselves and our surroundings. One of our friends asked how it was going and what we were learning—specifically, what is new that we hadn’t seen before when we lived in the country. Hmmm… I hadn’t thought of it that way. I had to think for a second. What’s new for us?
One thing is cleaning the outside of the house. I knew that most Spaniards are fanatics about cleaning the house. Homes are swept and mopped and dusted daily. Windows are cleaned at least once a week, if not more. In fact, a clean home is such a high value in this culture that if you are injured or disabled in some way that would affect house cleaning, a home helper is covered in your health care and sent to your house to do these tasks for you while you recover! Y’all, that’s serious!
What I hadn’t realized was that cleaning OUTSIDE the house is just as important as inside. I’m sure there is a spiritual devotional blog in that somewhere, but today is not the day for that. I’m just here to tell you that it is expected that you will go outside and sweep the sidewalk AND THE STREET in front of your house for the entire length of your property. You should also take your soapy mop water and a stiff bristle broom out and sweep/scrub the sidewalk. Don’t forget your windows and door… you must take a duster out there and dust the window sills and any window bars or decorative ironwork and the front door. I’m not talking once a month. I’m talking several times a week! One day, I was outside sweeping my sidewalk and the neighbor came alongside me and started sweeping the street. We swept together and chatted and I caught the subtle hint of the unwritten neighborhood rules. She said that she usually sweeps one day and another lady sweeps on the next day and they sweep the entire block. The implication was that I would sweep every third day and I would sweep the whole block. Okay. Note taken.
Dress code… Spaniards care a lot about how you dress and that you are dressed appropriately for the appropriate activity. You shouldn’t wear yoga pants unless you are going to yoga. You don’t wear exercise clothes unless you are going to the gym. Not to shop, not to a restaurant, not to the grocery store - only to the gym. Appropriate clothing is important. And makeup - I have been told on more than one occasion I forgot my lipstick today. *sigh* HOWEVER, we have found these rules to only apply after 8am. If you go out before then, anything goes! If you walk to the bakery to buy your morning bread and you go before 8, feel free to wear your robe and slippers. If you go out to walk the dog and it’s before 8, pajamas and tennis shoes are fine. No shame. Greet the neighbors. Flash that lipstick-barren smile. Hold your head high - it’s not yet 8am, so it doesn’t count yet.
Part of loving your neighbor is figuring out how to be a part of the neighborhood. We’re still learning the intricacies of life in town… we’ll keep you posted!
Looking for a way to share in the ministry or work in a special way this holiday season? Look no further! There are several special needs that you or your Sunday School class or Bible Study group or family could help with.
Renovation of the guest apartment to host people in need of care, counseling, and retreat - La Posada means ‘inn’ in Spanish, with particular reference to the biblical inn in the Christmas story. It is a place of refuge. We regularly host missionaries and other humanitarian and ministry workers for a period of a week to 10 days for a time of specialized care, coaching, training, and rest. Our current project is to outfit a large one-room studio apartment for this purpose - to be La Posada, a refuge, a place to stay in your time of need. We have been gathering furniture pieces, bed linens, odds and ends, but we are missing some crucial pieces to make this a nice haven for weary workers. Would you or your class or family consider a special gift for La Posada?
* $700 will purchase (2) sofas for the apartment (COMPLETE! Thank you!!!)
* $600 will purchase (3) mattresses (we already have bed frames) (COMPLETE! Thank you!!!)
* $5800 will allow us to install a dedicated bathroom for the guest apartment - currently, guests need to go upstairs and use a common bath/shower area.
* $1200 will allow us to add a small kitchenette (sink, coffee area, microwave, mini fridge, cabinets)
* $400 will put a TV in the apartment (COMPLETE! Thank you!!!)
Other ways to help:
* $1200 would allow us to repair the fireplace in our main room so we can use it. Spanish homes do not have heat. It is getting pretty chilly now, with frost in the mornings. Small electric space heaters are not sufficient for the space.
* $940 would sponsor us to travel to train and mentor a young team working in a security sensitive location. They have asked us to come in the Spring of 2018.
* A monthly partnership gift of $30 or $50 or $100 - any amount! - helps us stay in the field and continue working with the local community, local church, leadership development and discipleship. We need monthly partnership in order to minister to others. Your partnership is the only way we can continue to work in Spain and around the globe.
To give to any of these needs (all or in part), simply mail in the form on the back of this newsletter or go online at www.tms-global.org/give and donate to our account DRUM 0321, and specify in the special notes what you would like to give toward. Thank you for rising up to meet the needs!
The flu hit our house just before Christmas. It hit hard and it took no prisoners. Just kicked us in the teeth (and the hips and the back and the head and every other possible aching thing) and threw us to the sofa. All three of us at once. Not fun.
Billy ended up with respiratory complications and we went to the ER twice in 24 hours. They gave him breathing treatments both times, did chest xrays and took blood tests and we don’t even know what else. No pneumonia, but some sort of upper respiratory infection to add to the awesome flu symptoms.
Illness in another country is never fun. Not that illness is ever fun, but at least in your home culture you speak the language fluently and you know the system. In another country, not so much. The one good thing we hear every time is, “You speak Spanish? Thank goodness. Well at least you speak the language.” Yes, we speak the language. But sometimes medical lingo is pretty specialized and we have to fumble around for the vocabulary that fits the situation.
Illness is never fun. Illness + insurance issues + culture + language barriers = YUCK!
We are currently in a season of both celebrating and losing our minds. Sounds funny, right? Well, let me explain – we moved to a house in town. Huge celebration! It took a lot of jumping through the proverbial hoops to make it happen, but it finally happened and we now live in a house that is MUCH more suited to the work we do with care and counseling. It is also proving to be a much better location for meeting neighbors and having meaningful relationships. All of that is really good, so we are celebrating this move and we’re really pleased with how it affects relationships and our work.
Along with a move, comes the ‘other stuff’ – packing and unpacking, figuring out all of the idiosyncrasies of the new place, realizing that the electricity is not exactly up to par (as in, the electrician is now in our house from 9am-7pm each day fixing issues), etc. On the first day, I opened the refrigerator and the door shelves fell out on my feet. That was when we realized that the fridge was possibly ‘mature’. It was being held together with duct tape and bandaids. Yes, I said bandaids. I kid you not, little sticky boo-boo bandaids were being used to hold the shelves in the fridge. That’s special. The oven needs a good kick and a sharp hip bump to get the door to close. There is one electrical outlet that is attached to nothing - it’s just an outlet glued to the wall. And the tub… don’t get me started. *sigh* All of this is a little stressful (okay, some days it is a lot stressful), but we are learning to work through it and even laugh at some of it. And, hey – we have met an awesome electrician and painter and several neighbors who are helping us settle and work through the kinks, so there is a silver lining in all of it! (but we DO need to buy a fridge!)
Part of what I love about this new place and new lifestyle in town is meeting our neighbors. It’s a reboot, of sorts. We are the new kids on the block, and we have a perfect opportunity to meet lots of new people. We live across the street from a bakery, and in Spain, people walk to the bakery every day to get fresh bread. That means a steady stream of neighbors walk directly in front of my door every day. We also live directly next door to a produce shop, and people pop in to pick up their fresh fruits and veggies all day long. About two blocks away is the butcher, and most people are in the habit of going to get their meat fresh each day, so I’m meeting folks at the butcher counter.
This may come as a news flash, but your neighbors don’t live in your house. So if you never leave your humble abode, you’ll never meet any of your neighbors. They are not going to bust up in your living room and introduce themselves. This means you need to go outside. Often. Daily. Consistently. As much as you can. Because that’s pretty much the only place you are going to meet people who live close to you. ~ The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements
Let’s not discount the fact that we live in a small town. Eyes are on us all the time as the newcomers to the neighborhood. It is not uncommon (almost an everyday occurrence) for people to say things like, “I’ve been watching you walk your dogs every day” or “You’re doing a lot of work in the house, huh? I’ve been seeing the workmen come in and out.” Nothing we do is going unnoticed. This is a new experience for us! Many people in the USA comment to us that they don’t know their neighbors or never have occasion to really connect with neighbors. Here in Spain, we haven’t lived in the house 2 weeks yet and we already know most of the neighbors. The fact that it is a social society and a very pedestrian society, we see and greet everyone in the street as we go about doing daily life – buying bread, shopping for produce, getting fresh meat for today’s meal, or taking the dogs out for a walk. One neighbor introduced me to another neighbor today as “the newest member of our neighborhood gang”, to which I was greeted with a hearty laugh and a kiss and an invitation to come to their house for anything we might need.
‘When we join God in His mission of hospitality (welcoming people in to our lives and our homes), we are actually creating a counterculture here on earth. Our homes become micro previews of heaven when we put God’s warmth and joy and presence on display. Imagine this: what if your house became known as “that house” in your neighborhood? What if your home became a little bright spot in your community, that when people walk or drive by your door, their heads turn a little and they start to wonder what’s different about you, because you don’t seem to think about your home the same way everyone else in the neighborhood does? This is possible for us, because we can reject the values of our culture (i.e. privacy, security, independence, seclusion) and pursue the values God intends for His people (i.e. community, relationship, inclusion). In so doing, we become a radical alternative to the world’s way of thinking.’ ~~ The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements
That’s what we want to be - the house that’s different. The house that symbolizes welcome and warmth. They house where everyone is always welcome to come in and share life. We look forward to meeting more people in the new neighborhood and sharing coffee and meals and lots of time together.
Gotta run… I’m making lots of loaves of pumpkin bread to share with the new neighbors as a way of sharing our celebration of Thanksgiving and showing our gratitude to them for welcoming us and helping us find our way in a new place. Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!
The following is actually Sarah's story. It's a true story. One that she experienced in the Moria refugee camp in Greece. A story that still has a grip on her heart. Although I was present when it was happening, I wasn't close enough to the conversation to realize exactly what was occuring. Sarah shared the details with me later.
A young Syrian man,*Ali, was painting with us one day. On his artwork, he painted a black heart. One of the volunteers asked him, "Why? Don't do that!" She reached over with her paint brush and painted over the black heart with red paint.
He seemed disappointed and he didn't respond. He just sat there in silence for a bit. The volunteer went back to talking and painting with other refugees.
After a few minutes, *Ali painted over the red heart with black paint. Again, the other volunteer said, "No. Don't do that. Black hearts are not good. Use red." And she painted over it again.
A few moments later, he repainted the heart with his black paint. So the volunteer said, "Why? Why do you keep doing this?"
*Ali answered, "This is my heart now."
"Why? Why do you say that?", asked the volunteer.
He replied, "I lost the love of my life in a bomb attack." His fiance was killed in Syria during a bombing. He began to cry at the table. Everyone was silent. Everyone could feel the pain, even though not everyone was aware of the story. Every one of those men at that table has a similar story and sadness, and when tears break through and fall, everyone just knows and falls silent. Everyone has lost someone in these wars. Everyone has something in common with *Ali.
A few moments later, the volunteer picked up her paintbrush and dipped it in white paint and covered the black heart with white. *Ali watched. The volunteer then painted flowers in and around the heart. A smile started to form on his face as he watched her paint. He wiped his eyes and said, "Thank you, Sister".
The interesting thing here, and I believe that God played a part in intervening in the situation, is that the one thing I hear over and over and over again in the camps is a desire to see clean hearts, to know people with clean hearts, and to have a clean heart. It is a prominent piece of religion and culture for Muslims, and without even realizing it, the volunteer painted a depiction of a clean heart for *Ali, a future for him that included a clean heart and happiness and beauty that would come again.
This is not exactly how art therapy should go, obviously. This volunteer was not trained and just happened to be at the table at this moment. But at the same time, there was breakthrough. God used this moment for love. He intervened, I'm positive! There were emotions shared. A story was told. Something that was bottled up was allowed in to the light. Pain was exposed and a sacred space was created for a few moments. Only in these moments of vulnerability and openness can we truly see each other and learn to love each other well. Only in these moments do we come close and realize that we are not alone - *Ali is not alone, and there is hope.
While we were in Texas during July and part of August, we were able to visit with many of you and share some of the stories from our work. You heard stories of work we do with the local church in Spain, within our community, with refugees, and with other workers around the world. Our hearts were warmed by conversations we had with you and by the response you had to our work in hospitality, care and counseling.
Just yesterday, we received the following note and we were asked specifically to please share it with you, our partners and the heroes of this work:
Dear Friends of Laurie and Billy,
Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My name is Tabitha Cox. My husband, Trent
and I just spent 6 weeks at Billy and Laurie Drum’s house in Antequera, while they
traipsed around Texas visiting as many of you as they could. While there, I felt the
urge to write you, their prayer and financial supporters, to say “thank you” for your
support of the Drums and their incredibly multi-faceted ministry both in and out of
Spain. Between refugee work in Greece, church work in Antequera, mentoring and
coaching missionaries all over Europe and the Middle East, as well as new
missionaries about to leave for the field, they pour into countless lives and impact
the nations for Christ in unimaginable ways. And this year, we became one of those
Trent and Billy grew up together in a small town in Texas, but as usually happens,
once kids leave home for college and lives take different paths, they tend to lose
touch. Fast-forward a “good number” of years and, much to the surprise of any
Caddo Mills resident I assure you, both Trent Cox and Billy Drum end up on the
mission field – one in Ethiopia and one in Peru. Yet given that they were with
different organizations on different fields and living quite remote, without normal
telecommunications, they still did not have contact with each other.
Well, that changed last fall when Billy reached out to us with a short message during
a stressful time of political unrest here in Ethiopia, offering prayers and a place to stay
should we need a break. That one-week in October shaped this whole last summer
as Trent decided to take a mini-sabbatical with Billy coaching him through the
preparation and even joining him for the first 3 weeks of walking El Camino de
Santiago. Not that Billy was needing any more work, not that he didn’t have
anything to do for 3 weeks before leaving Spain for the States, but simply because
that’s what they do…help where they can. It doesn’t matter if you’re with another
organization, or on another continent, Billy and Laurie serve everyone selflessly and
Not only that, but they also offered for us to come and stay in their house for the
second half of the sabbatical. They offered their home as a place of rest and refuge.
Now I don’t know about you, but there aren’t too many people who would open up
their home to a family of five, but they did. And they did so lovingly and generously.
So again, I want to say “thank you.” By loving and supporting the Drums, you have
done the same for us. You won’t know in this life time how many lives you’ve
touched and how many people you’ve blessed through your partnership with this
fine family: Peruvians, Spaniards, Refugees, and even other missionaries. So please
accept the gratitude of just one of the many beneficiaries. God bless you. Your gifts
are surely a sweet smelling offering to the Lord.
Tabitha and Trent Cox
Friends, we too would like to thank you again and again and again for the faithfulness you have shown to this ministry. Many of you have been supporting us with your prayers and financial gifts since the very beginning. Some of you have joined our team along the way. And some of you are brand new teammates. It takes all of us to do this work around the globe, and we are so honored to be doing it with YOU!
We continue to have other workers and families contact us and ask for a time to come to our home in Spain and receive care and counseling and rest—to take refuge from the storm of life and find warmth and safety and respite. These are people who work in places like the Middle East, East Asia, and other tough areas that we cannot name for security reasons. Because of your generous support and our hands-on hospitality and counseling, we are able to offer healing and renewal that keeps people in the field. Thank you— we thank you, and the people we care for thank you.
PS… not only did Trent and Tabby (Ethiopia) stay in our home and receive respite and retreat this summer while we were away, but our pastor and his family also spent time in our home and were able to have people over to visit and share fellowship and fun times in a different setting. It was fun to return home and hear stories from the congregation about how much fun they had barbequing and sitting on our patio, playing with the dogs, and enjoying our place with our pastor as host. Our home was definitely well-used this summer and we are so happy to have been able to share it with others. I love that our home is a place of safety and rest and community!
We returned to Spain from our time in Texas with bittersweet emotions… so happy to get back to Spain and back to our work and our friends and family here, but also it is always tough to leave friends and family behind in Texas and say ’adios’ until the next time we get to come Stateside.
We left on a sunshiny day and a small tropical storm was floating around in the Gulf. Just three days later, Category 4 Hurricane Harvey began his assault on our beloved homeland. We have amazed and been deeply saddened by the news reports that continue to scroll across our news feed.
One of our sons (Ryan), lived in Corpus Christi and evacuated as Harvey upgraded to a Category 3. Both he and his girlfriend Sara are staying in my mother’s home for now. On Wednesday (before Harvey hit), they had been given 30 days notice that their apartment building had been sold and they were being evicted as the new owners take over the building. Now, evacuated and with no apartment to return to, they are permanently seeking a new life and living space in College Station. This is a time of upheaval, transition, and grief for them as they leave the place that has been home for many years (10 years for Ryan, and a lifetime for Sara).
Miles and Hattie and our yet-unborn granddaughter Lily ♥ (news flash!!!) live in the Montgomery area. Their apartment building’s bottom floor was reached by an over-full Lake Conroe, but they did not have to evacuate. They have, however, lost work hours due to being cut off from road travel—work hours that this young couple CANNOT afford to lose! It takes every penny to pay the rent and doctors and buy groceries. There is not enough each month, and there certainly isn't any extra. This is a time of great stress for them.
In the midst of all of this, it is so hard to be so far from Texas and our loved ones. As care and counselor people, it is hard not to be there to listen to stories and help people navigate their feelings and grief and all that comes during these times. As hospitality people, it is hard not to be there, opening our doors to others and doing all that we can to feed people, provide for people, and care for those who need a safe place to land and regroup and recover. This is what we DO! And it’s so hard to not physically be THERE to DO IT!!! *silently screaming*
It is, however, warming our hearts to see so many of our friends and neighbors rising to the occasion and doing just that… serving and loving and caring for their neighbors. Some of YOU, our partners (we already knew you were the best!), have been in the big fat middle of this crisis. You have gone down to affected areas and physically rescued people. You have literally opened your doors and given up bedrooms and seats at your dinner table. You have made your homes and businesses places of hospitality and giving. You have taken donations of goods to distribution centers. You have personally gone out to serve the rescuers and those in staging areas. YOU ARE AWESOME! We knew you were! And the fact that you are serving makes us both proud and makes us feel, in some way, connected to our greater Texas family.
Your heart should be touched to know that your Spain friends are concerned for Texas. News reports of the storms and devastation have gone international and our friends are watching. We have had many of our Spanish friends contact us and ask about you. Everyone here knows that we are Texans—we don’t even remotely hide it! We wear our Texas heritage like a banner! Actually, it is a literal banner… we have a Texas flag hanging on the front porch of our home in Spain! Several times each day, friends have sent us texts to check on our mothers and our families. Those who have met some of you when you have come to visit us in Spain have asked about you by name. They have seen photos of flooded churches and homes and they want to know that ‘our people’ are okay. In a very real sense, they consider you brothers and sisters, family in Christ. You are being prayed for and loved. Please know that!
Continue on, Friends. Continue serving. Continue loving your neighbors. Continue to take care of each other. Know that you are loved!!!
Many of you shared your prayers and love with us as we grieved the loss of Sarah’s best friend, Rompeolas. Sarah saved her birthday money and Christmas money for 10 years with only one goal in mind—to buy a horse of her own. In Spain, that dream came true when Sarah bought a beautiful, well-trained Anglo-Arabian horse named Rompeolas (Wave Breaker). Together, they trained and competed in show jumping and spent countless hours together in the country. Sadly, in February, the vet began seeing signs of a liver issue. By March, our beloved Rompeolas was suffering and losing weight and the vet announced that there was nothing more that could be done—she had to be put down. Moments later, we were saying tearful goodbyes to a dear member of our family. Many of you sent condolences and said to let you know when Sarah would be ready to find a new horse. If you would like to be a part of getting Sarah back in the saddle, you can send gifts electronically to https://paypal.me/billydrum and we will give your gift to Sarah.
leave of absence.
a temporary release from a place of employment.
Most overseas workers, be they humanitarian aid workers or military people or folks like us, have a designated time period every so often when they are released from their station. In some workplaces, this time is called “furlough”. Because most people have only used that word in the military sense, it conjures up the mental picture of rest and relaxation and soldiers on vacation. Allow us to share what furlough is for us.
Furlough is a four letter word.
Actually, furlough is a series of four-letter words.
Rest: Yes, this is a time of rest for us. Rest from our normal routines and roles. In a perfect world, we will have actual physical rest during this time. But we all know that this isn’t a perfect world. So rest takes serious intentionality and planning and work.
Work: We actually do have to take care of some business and work while we are in the States. Our care roles have not stopped, because people don’t stop needing care while we are in Texas. Billy continues to meet with his coaching appointments and counseling calls via Skype. We continue to work with the Member Care Team and the TMS Europe team. And we keep touch with the work and relationships we have back in Spain. We even continue to host people in our home.
Host: While we are in Texas, we are also hosting a family in our home in Spain. They are on sabbatical from the work they do in Ethiopia, and we offered them our home as a place to escape and rest during the summer.
Chat – Meet: This is a time of meeting up with people, going out to lunch or dinner or out for coffee. It’s a time of reconnecting with friends and partners. It’s a time for long chats over good food and drink. It’s a time of laughter around the dinner table. And it’s a time to meet new friends.
Team: This is also a time for us to meet with our existing team – the people who partner with us
financially and prayerfully, the people who are the backbone of the ministry. Without these heroes, we could not do the work we do! This is a time for us to speak to the church congregations that support us and a time to meet with the individuals who partner with us, to hug necks and say thank you and share the stories from the field. It is also a time to find new partners, a time to meet new people and share the vision and the work and give people the opportunity to join us and become members of the best team around!
Road / fuel: While we are in The States, we are not static. We have friends and family and partners all over the place! The home office is in Atlanta. We have family from Colorado to the tip top of Texas to all the way down to the coast and everywhere in between. We have ministry partners in even more places than we can count. And we do not own a vehicle. Thanks to a wonderful friend and team partner, we have a truck on loan for our time here. We cannot take a loaned vehicle to all the places we know folks, so we are consolidating visits to keep the mileage down and the fuel costs lower. Even so, we will log at least 2500 - 3000 miles in our few weeks here. Thank goodness fuel is cheaper here than in Spain!!!
Help / give back: This is also a time to help and to give back to our community and to the churches and people who are so faithful to our team. A couple of our partners are active in local missions and have asked us to visit and to help them by giving them a different set of ‘eyes’ on the situation. We are helping to facilitate some coaching conversations around next steps for those local groups.
Bottom line – our time in the States is not exactly a time of release from work. Is there any time for rest and play? Yes. We have carved out time each week, time that we have intentionally protected and put boundaries on so that we can get some rest and some down-time. We have a great partner who hosted us at their ranch in the country for a couple of days, and we will be headed off for a few days of Texas country time in North Texas next week. We were in the USA for the 4th of July for the first time in ten years, so we took advantage of time to enjoy picnics and fireworks.
Body: Our bodies are paying for all this USA food! Texas barbeque, good hamburgers, Mexican food, and Blue Bell ice cream. It’s all just too good, and comfort food is usually not great for the waistline. PS…it’s HOT here! Like, ridiculous hot! Our daily walk and exercise routine has taken a major hit due to heat and humidity.
Haze: If we look like we are walking around in a haze, we probably are. Things feel a little fragmented during this time. Our normal routine is off. We’re trying to juggle family and friends and speaking and work roles. For some reason, everything seemed to hit crisis mode just as we packed to come back to the States. Our water well at our home in Spain is at a critical state – it’s almost dry. Our landlord was murdered the day before we left. We are hosting people in our home in Spain while we are 5000 miles away. Our sons here both have their own issues with vehicles and jobs and living arrangements. Both our mothers are moving households. None of those things are within our control, but that doesn’t make them less stressful. There is a lot on our plate, and trying to balance that with meetings and speaking to groups and get some rest and renewal… it’s just proving to be a little difficult. Busy is not good for the soul. Fear is not good for the soul. Stress is not good for the body for the soul. So, yeah, we might look a little hazy.
Love: We love Texas. We love our families. We love our team and our partners and all the folks we represent, the people who pray for us, the people who recognize us and run over and hug our necks. We love being here. We also love Spain. We love our friends and our church family there. We love our leadership development work. We love caring for people in far away places, people who put their life and love on the line every day for the sake of others. This time of ‘furlough’ is about telling the stories, about sharing with friends and family, about being present and listening. And, as always, it’s about LOVING WELL.
Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ~Matthew 22: 37-39
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the princess Sarah (13) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in el campo in Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!