Category Archives: General

Right Where You Are

We’ve been back home for a few days now and it has definitely been a whirlwind.  I’m just gonna be straight…. it’s been rough.  Being home and not knowing where we’re gonna live in less than 30 days is hard.  Watching my two oldest kids struggle and hate online schooling and beg me to be able to go back to their private school is hard.  Meeting with auctioneers to talk about selling all our possessions is hard.  Trying to find a balance between my home and the CR ministry and our ministry with MAF is hard.  I’ve never been a sugar coater on this blog and as you can see, today is no different.

I want to share with you a revelation God has been working on in me for about five years.  He is in the hard.  Ministry is in the hard.  Growth is in the hard.  I’m not sure why I can’t seem to figure that out and keep it stuck in my head. It is a resounding theme in scripture.  I don’t know a single person in the bible that just had it easy, smooth sailing, rainbows and sunshine.  But there is great joy in the growth, the ministry and the revelation that you are honored to serve God.

Our training the last two weeks in Idaho was mostly about building our story and how God led us to MAF and how to share that.  Through that time, the resounding theme for Jack and I was that God has had a call on our hearts for missions and for the hard stuff since high school.   We realized that we’ve actually been in missions our entire marriage and so are you.  Yes, we’ve done missions trips several times but we were also in missions when we got to work with the high school youth group.  We have been in missions as we have sat with people in our living room and became a listening ear for them.  We have been in missions as we supported our parents through the loss of our grandparents.  We have been in missions as we have helped in Celebrate Recovery.  But we were also in missions the day we became parents.  Yes foster and adoptive parents, but also biological parents.  One of our greatest joys but also greatest challenges and most important ministries has been being parents.

We might be literally moving to the other side of the world soon, but friends each mission/ministry God has had for us through the years mattered to Him and the building of His kingdom.  These things have mattered and so does everything you are doing.  I spent years down playing the works God had right in front of me because I just wanted to be a missionary and “make a big difference” in this world and all the while God was already doing it.  It took me a long time to come to that conclusion and it wasn’t until then that God opened up this door for us.

What I want you to know is that you are important right where you are.  Your ministry is everywhere.  You matter to God’s kingdom and you are making an impact.  Open your eyes and see it. No one is more important than you.

Frustrated momma, loyal co-worker, grieving parent or spouse….. you have a purpose and God is using you in ways you can’t even imagine.  Praise Him for that today and never forget it.  Ever.  And even in my difficult week I will choose to praise Him and see Him working as well.

Do you know someone who might need to hear that God has a plan for them in the midst of what they’re doing today?  Would you share this with them?  I’m always so encouraged when I see God working through these few (or sometimes many!) words I write on these pages.

Thanks for letting me share :)

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”  Proverbs 20:5


Partners

Pretty funny to watch a 6’4″ guy playing on the playground :)

 

Our days have been so busy and then nights are either packed with homework, housework or trying to spend time with the kids.

I give working moms SO MUCH CREDIT! Wow. I have never had to do this before and it is tough. I’m trying to be as organized as possible and meal plan and keep up with a load of laundry a day but it’s exhausting.

I want to take a few minutes and give some credit to my amazing husband. We are serving together full time for the first time and he has been incredible. Without me even saying anything, he has been jumping in to help with housework and meals. He has always been super helpful with the kids but I always did the rest because I was home all day

I’m so lucky. I do see and understand that I am blessed beyond belief and I totally do not deserve him. I know and recognize that not all women have this so I get up every morning thanking God for the gift I have in a wonderful man.

Also, the way He is leading our family in this new adventure is amazing. His faith and confidence as he seeks the Lord are so inspiring.

We spent last week in some very intense security training and it was even more apparent how Jack will need to be our leader and protector. Of course it was all worst case scenario but still. And a quick high five to my three kids and their bravery to participate in some scary simulations. I’m so proud of our little Hamstra clan.

This week we have been working on our presentation that we will hopefully give at several churches, organizations and events to help spread the word about our ministry and seek prayer and financial partnerships to help us get to Indonesia as soon as possible. Jack hates public speaking but he has been a rock star the last few days as we have practiced in front of our classmates. Tomorrow we give our full 15 minutes presentation and it will be video taped. Yikes!

I’m so thankful to have this amazing partner to do life with and that he loves me even when I’m sad or crabby or unloveable.

I’m gonna head to bed but just wanted to give you guys this short update and let you know we are doing well and looking forward our journey back to Indiana the end of next week.

A few have asked so I wanted to share with you the link to our MAF fundraising page that I listed below. We are on staff now and need to start receiving monthly support commitments as soon as possible. If God has been stirring your heart towards our ministry we’d love to meet with you and tell you all about this adventure. Please check out our page and message us so we can set something up with you when we get back home. Also, please pray about asking your church or mission committee to let us come and share. We have several options for that as well.  Thank you to those of you that have already signed up.  We are so grateful!

Thank you most of all for your prayers. We SO appreciate them and can definitely feel them.

www.maf.org/hamstra

Email:  ahamstra@maf.org or jhamstra@maf.org


Indonesia Q&A Part One

We had dinner visiting the Lao community here in Nampa and visited their Buddhist temple.  Such a beautiful people with beautiful stories.

What a week!  We have had almost every moment jam packed with information to take in and absorb.  We learned about the safety and quality of the program, our compensation, creating our wills and trusts if we don’t have one, heard from the new President of the company, had a whole day seminar on crossing cultures, met with our candidate committee and found out what region we were assigned to, got our visa pictures taken for that country, ran chapel (check out our video on the facebook page if you haven’t yet!), learned about the payroll system & benefits, went over our DISC assessment and learning how to communicate with those who have different personalities than us within the organization, packing and shipping our stuff overseas, met with the person who will coordinate our travel plans for us, had a short meeting explaining what our ministry partnership training will be like, approved our first prayer letter and prayer cards that will be mailed out next week, and had an evening of simulation called “The Call” which I won’t go into detail about because I don’t want to spoil it for the future MAF candidates.   Then last night we invited our Regional Director over for dinner along with another family that was assigned to Indonesia and drilled him with questions and found out we are going to be assigned to the province of Papua most likely (but of course it’s always subject to change ;) )

So did that make you exhausted just reading it?!?!  Me too!  But it was awesome and so great to have so many of our questions answered!  So let me answer some of yours that you guys commented and texted to me…..

How are the kids doing?  The kids are doing AWESOME!  We live on a compound here and there are several other kids their age (very unusual but very ordained by God!).  There are teenagers in our apartments all day and night eating all our food and I LOVE it!  They are definitely missing their friends back home but I’m thankful that they have had a lot to do and are still having a fun summer.  They are excited about Indonesia and it was their first choice of places to go.  RJ is excited to be back in Asia and for all the different fruits they have.  Emma is excited to learn a new language and culture and to be able to drive a scooter.  Jackson is just excited about everything but mostly the airplanes :)

What is the primary language there?  It is Indonesian.  We will go to 9-11 months of language school in a separate area from where we will work as our first assignment.  The kids are deciding if they want to go to language school with us during that time or do traditional school.  They very much want to be a part of the life and culture there and are praying about the best choice for each of them although RJ will probably continue to homeschool with me because that has gone so well for him.

What will you (Angie) be doing for MAF?  I will be taking care of our kids.  MAF is very family focused and they care a great deal about how this will be affecting our kids and wants to make sure they have everything they need.  Once the kids are settled in at our assignment base after language school then RJ and I might find ways for us to be helpful around the hanger with maybe some of my finance skills or hosting visiting families or something like that.  I’m praying and trusting God to make clear when, if ever, I do anything besides caring for our kids.  I’m thankful that MAF is absolutely on board with us on that.  And let’s just be honest, they really want Jack ;)

Where exactly will you be living?  Language school is in the city of Salatiga in the province of Java and then we will *probably* be based in the city of Sentani in the province of Papua.  MAF provides us housing in each place.

What do you mean by raising support?  We have to be sponsored by individuals and churches for our income.  We are blessed by being a part of an organization that has their funds allocated in such a way that we all raise the same amount of support and there is a fund for pre-field missionaries like us that has been funded by missionaries that have gone before us so we can receive some pay while we are trying to raise our funds.  This is why Jack had to quit his job already because right away we need to start trying to get funds coming in to cover that.  Our last two weeks here will be training us on how to do that.

What can I do for you?  Pray!  Pray for anything that the Holy Spirit brings to our mind.  Encourage us by letting us know you’re praying.  This can be a very lonely process as we are going through so much change.  I know we are busy and can’t always have long phone conversations or reply with long emails but just knowing that you still think about us and are praying means so much.  Support us.  Both prayerfully and financially.  Our fundraising page should go live in the next few weeks and we would love to share our ministry with you.  Share the word about what we’re doing.  Do you have a church who might let us come and speak or set up an info table?  Maybe start asking if that is a possibility to your mission board or pastor.  Or share your ideas about a fun activity we could host to gather people together to hear about MAF.  Our coach is going to help us with this but we are also going to need YOU!  The biggest thing is to start PRAYING and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart.

Those are all the questions that I can remember for now.  If you thought of another one I would love to answer them for you in another post.  Sometimes you guys think of things that I haven’t as well so please don’t hesitate to ask and share, it can be helpful for us too.

Thank you to all of you who have commented, liked and shared about what God is doing in our lives.  Thank you for each and every message and text of support.  We truly, truly appreciate it!

Vision of MAF (and the Hamstras)That every person on Earth will experience the love of Jesus Christ and respond to the Gospel.

Philippians 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Revelation 7:9 “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and the palm branches were in their hands; and they cry in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

 


We’re moving to…..

 

Indonesia!!

Not much time tonight to write but comment any of your questions and I will try to write a Q&A post in the next few days.  Ask away!  I’d love to know what you’re thinking.

We will finish up training here for another 3.5 weeks and then head back to Indiana to start raising our support.

Thank you for praying for us and please continue!


The Faces of Week One

So those unedited photos were totally staged this morning….. in our pajamas… at 11am.

My brain hurts.  We have taken in so much information this week.  We’re pretty much feeling every emotion possible.

We are so happy and excited because we know for sure this is what God is calling us to do and we just can’t believe God trusts us enough to join this amazing ministry and the amazing work He is doing in it.  We have done a lot of learning about MAF’s mission statement and vision and we are so on board.  My heart swells just thinking about how their vision lines up with ours.  I find myself nodding in agreement all day.

We are so scared.  This is a lot.  Just thinking and seeing that this is real.  We are really gonna move to another country.  We are really putting ourselves out there in this huge spiritual battle field.  We are really gonna do this.  Really….

We are sad.  We miss our friends and family already.  I missed my nieces wedding yesterday.  The kids miss their friends.  I miss my familiar kitchen utensils.  And this is just the beginning…..

We are exhausted.  Especially me.  I am not used to “working” 8-5 every day and trying to keep a house clean and cook and take care of the kids and get time in with God.  We are trying to be so present in our training and soak up all this knowledge. By the time we get back to the apartment I wanna crash.  I’ve been getting up extra early for devotion, worship and prayer time and then try to throw something in the crock pot or I’ve also done a few big cooking nights and getting a bunch of meat cooked up so dinners are quicker in the evening.

We are thankful.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to do this and for all of the people we have met.  There were some circumstances that happened yesterday that really affected some of our classmates.  Member care talked with us and we banded together as an MAF family and our apartment was filled with people who all brought whatever food they had and we together created a big meal that we then delivered to our classmates who were hurting and then sat back at our table for a time of friendship.  It felt good.  It felt good to be a part of the body of believers here and to love on and support each other.

We are curious.  We are very curious to find our for sure which country we will be based in.  We think we might know but we won’t find out for sure until our final meeting as candidates on Tuesday afternoon.  The kids sat in with us when all the regional directors presented their ministries and the kids definitely know where they want to go.  I’m really grateful they are old enough to give us their input and that God gave us the insight to let them be such a big part of this process and decision.

Lastly I just wanted to list some of the classes we have been taking in case someone was interested in that.

Faithfulness, Personal Call to Missions, Chapel Planning, Structure & Philosophy of Ministry, Playing with Fire, Business as Mission, D.I.S.C. Assessment, Online Resources and Training, Immunizations and Diseases, Social Media: Blessing or Curse, as well as each regional director’s presentation from all MAF programs and meetings with our candidate committee and member care.  Phew!  I’m tired.

I might go take a nap ;)


Eight States Later

From Tuesday night to tonight we have gone through EIGHT states!  We are finally in Idaho!  Tomorrow will be another 5-6 hours in the car and we will arrive at Mission Aviation Fellowship and will settle in there for five weeks.

Today was one of the most incredible days of my life.  We took the whole day to drive through Yellowstone National Park.  It has always been a dream of mine to see the waterfalls and the colorful hot springs and today that dream became a reality.  There are really no words to describe what I saw today.  The best thing I can say is that God is an incredible artist and I was moved to tears several times at the infinite beauty that He has given us to enjoy.  Pictures posted below :)   I will also give you my overwhelming theme that I felt God telling me throughout this whole trip….

There were several times throughout this trip that we decided to turn off at the last minute to explore something that looked interesting.  The first time was to go through the Bad Lands National Park on the way to Mount Rushmore.  The car activity schedule did not have that included…. if you know me, you know we STAY ON SCHEDULE.  You don’t start movie time until the clock turns that next half hour and I get overly excited when the movie ends right on the minute the schedule said it would.  Yes, I have a problem…… :)   So anyway, Jack remembered that one of my dad’s friends had said that it would only take us a little longer to take this scenic route.  I’m SOOO glad he did.  The Bad Lands was so incredible and if I had been strict to stick to my schedule and my plan I would have missed out on so much beauty.  I found that many times as we went through Yellowstone today as well.  The drive is wonderful and beautiful but for some of the most amazing parts, you have to take a side road back into an area that you couldn’t otherwise see.  So much going on just behind a tree line that we would’ve just missed.  This made me think of our new adventure with MAF.

We could choose to say no to this new calling out of our comfort zone….. way out of our comfort zone!  But for one thing, God has made His will so clear in this that it would be very hard not to obey Him.  And for another, I do not want to miss out on the beauty waiting on the other side.  I have this huge foundation of God creating beauty out of the fearful situations and I don’t doubt this will be another one.  Moving to another country, not being financially “stable,” wondering how our kids will adjust…. these are all things that could send us running away from this but we are trusting God that He has another surprise waiting just around the corner and we don’t want to miss it!

Are you hesitating in something you know you should step out into?  There might be adventure and blessing waiting for you to just take that side road and find it!  Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afriad; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

We love you guys!  We are so grateful for all of you that are cheering us on, even those who are doing so reluctantly ;)   Please, please keep praying for us.  Monday starts candidacy and learning and praying about all that programs MAF offers and asking the Holy Spirit to speak to us and the committee on where we should be placed.  We find out in less than two weeks where that will be!

We’ll keep you updated!


1150 Miles Down

We are officially over half way through our drive out to Idaho!!  Not only is joining MAF and doing full time mission work a dream come true, this drive out there is as well.  Our family has always wanted to take this trip out west to visit these amazing sights but never had the chance.  We contemplated it a couple of years ago but it just would’ve been too complicated.

I don’t have too much to say today except that God is an amazing artist, I LOVE my family and we have so much fun travelling together and I LOVE how easily awe struck and grateful our kids are.

We just crossed over into Wyoming and will stay just outside of Yellowstone National Park tonight.  Yesterday we saw Badlands National Park and  Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Looking forward to another few fun days of travelling.

Thank you all for the prayers!!  Please continue!!

I had a couple funny pictures to upload but I’m losing cell service driving through the Black Hills.  This will have to do for now!

 

 


The Grief Calling

I’m currently writing to you from the passenger seat of our minivan as we drive across the country to our candidacy phase of joining Mission Aviation Fellowship in long term overseas mission work.  Whoa.

Saying goodbyes was not my favorite thing and this time it is only for six weeks.  I do not look forward to those long term goodbyes in a year or so…

Sometimes I get bogged down with how much grief we put those around us through as we continue to follow the call God puts on our life.  Throughout the things we have followed Him to, it has not only affected us but those around us.  That is really hard.

Laila’s death was a huge part of that.  Knowing that we followed God in finding and adopting her but then watching how many lives she touched and how grief stricken so many people were alongside us when she died was overwhelming at times.  I never regretted one minute with her and we would chose her over and over again but I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle watching her siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, teachers, doctors, therapists and friends REALLY struggle with her death.  Watching some need counseling and some dive into depression was very hard.  It is hard to know that these people who were along for the ride with us really had no say so in it.

And now this new calling  and the grief that goes along with that.  See, I almost typed “that we are causing” but I really have to take that thought captive and realize that we are not causing it.  It is just a part of this and I have to choose God and His plan over anything else.  But it is still SO hard.  It is so hard to watch our parents realize that they are now having our other three children taken far away from them so soon after grieving the loss of Laila.  Watching close friends grieve as it will be harder to be there for each other and wondering if this friendship is one that will make it through this huge refinement.

Above all else I have learned to that to please my heavenly Father is the number one goal.  He makes all things right in His time and all of the things that have caused grief have also caused much joy.  MUCH joy!

If you have been dragged through the grief of being part of the Hamstra journey, we thank you.  Thank you for sticking it out with us and please continue to do so.  We hope you have found joy along with the sorrow.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”\

We love you and we thank you!  Today is our longest travel day as we journey hopefully to the border of South Dakota.  We appreciate your prayers and we will keep you updated!

 


On The Verge

This time next week we will be in the car, a few hours into a six week long journey.  Time is literally flying by so fast that I can kind of picture numbers and times floating past me.  It is crazy.

One day last week I had one of my really bad grief days.  Those days are still there and very real.  The world is still the world, Laila is still gone, and humans still suck sometimes.  It’s just the gosh darn truth.  But, there are way more good days than bad at this point.  I honestly never thought that would happen, even 4-5 months ago I thought that.  Anyway, on that day last week I was literally on the verge of tears every. single. moment.  Any second tears would be dripping down my face… well and here they come again right now.  Triggers….

AHHHH, OK, refocusing on what I want to say.  I love when you guys have to go on this crazy rabbit trail blog craziness with me ;)   What I wanted to say today is that as I sat on the verge of tears that day, I sat and reflected on all of the things I was on the verge of in my life right now.  When I have the grief days, one of the things I do is try to figure out what is triggering me and work through those things.  Sometimes I can identify them and sometimes I can’t but that day God revealed a whole load to me and I’ve been prompted for about a week to write them down.  So here goes….

I’m on the verge of:

My last day of work today.  Working at Revived for the last year helped me finally get out of the house and face the humans that I sometimes dread who say rude things and are very insensitive to people who are grieving.

Jack’s last day of work this Friday.  He’s been at Excel for over 11 years, worked with some incredible guys who make him laugh and fill his life with teasing and challenge.  Also, we see clearly some of the roles a few of them had in  leading us to this new adventure with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Selling our house.  We thought we would wait but a few people have been interested and in looking at finances we think we will probably sell it sooner rather than later if the right offer comes along.  This is the only house Laila and RJ have lived in with us.

Cleaning out Laila’s room.  I’m actually just wanting it done at this point.  It is a good point.  I have no problem going in there anymore which is a huge blessing.

Leaving for six weeks.  That is a LONG time!!  Cleaning, preparing, budgeting, booking hotels, getting cars ready, finding people for our animals.

Saying goodbyes…. dang it.  I know these goodbyes are only for six weeks right now but did I mention that’s a LONG time?!!? And of course in the back of my mind it also includes the goodbyes in my head that I know are coming in a year or so when we move overseas.

Homeschooling.  All the kids are homeschooling this next year!  Woohoo!  I’m very excited to have all my babies home (yes, I’m calling them all babies even though the oldest is in China on her own like a freaking adult right now!).  Our whole family will get to be together all the time.  I’m sure I’ll probably want to lock one or all of them in a closet at some point but for now it sounds exciting ;)   Are you picturing me trying to shove giant Jack in a closet?  No?  Oh yeah, me neither…

Processing Emma being in China.  I’m processing the fact that Emma is doing this grown up thing and is telling me that she is so drawn to these special kids at Maria’s Big House of Hope and all the feelings of realizing how grown up she is and the heart God has given her for the poor and needy and what is He gonna do with her life.  I’m definitely understanding more and more how our moms are feeling about our situation as I process Emma’s.

Handing over the Celebrate Recovery ministry.  I don’t know to who yet but I know that at some point in the next year I won’t be able to run this anymore as we need to focus on our new ministry that God is giving us with MAF.  Learning God’s word through CR has changed my life as a parent, wife, sister, friend, Christian…. Having that safe environment to process my challenges in especially the areas of parenting and grief was key for me.  It’s so close to my heart.  I look forward to what God has planned for the future but for a control freak like me, giving up this one is hard.

Going into full time ministry.  In a few short weeks we will be accepting a position that will be based on people financially supporting us monthly and all the details that go along with it.  All the responsibility of being All In for God every day.  That’s a whole blog post in itself…

 

So that’s a lot of stuff and a lot of change I guess.  When I look at it all in print it helps me give myself grace on the hard days as I process everything but also excitement about all the ways God is trusting us with His kingdom and all the adventures ahead.

On last thing…. we have had to take a few family pictures for our newletters and prayer cards and you all know family pictures are hard for me.  But they did turn out pretty cool :)

 



 

 


The Bragging Mom

I’m sitting here this morning in disbelief that my 15 yr old daughter is headed to China this afternoon.  Let me just brag.  I’m gonna do it.

This girl is special.  SO stinkin’ special.  Her heart for others and her beautiful spirit have been different since she was very little.  I remember when she was about three years old and cried in the back seat of the car because the beat of the music on the radio “made her feel sad.”  She has always been a feeler and a lover but somehow (thank God!) that hasn’t translated into a crazy unbearable hormonal teenager.  She is just still that loving, kind hearted deep feeler with a heart of gold.  She has her “normal kid” moments but man, I’m just so blessed and thankful to be her mom.

Emma set out several years ago and said she was going to China with Show Hope after they helped us bring RJ home from India.  She planned and saved and asked for babysitting jobs.  She crafted and decorated a box that she just continued to throw cash into and God blessed her.  Oh, did He bless her!  And you all blessed her!  We spent about a year trying to find a cheaper trip or even just praying that maybe God wanted to open a different door for Emma but he didn’t even crack another door.  We emailed and contacted other organizations with ZERO response.  Emma had heard God tell her she was going to China with Show Hope and now it’s really happening.

I wanna be Emma when I grow up.  I want to hear God clearly and trust Him for years and then watch Him do the thing.

Our family has been called to very “different” things and while it is SO hard sometimes, it is also so worth it when we get to watch God show off and be so present and unmistakable.

We are blessed.

Please pray for my amazing girl for the next ten days and watch our Adopting Judah facebook page for updates.  You should be able to see it even if you don’t have facebook.  facebook.com/adoptingjudah