Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tin Lanh!

Jillian and Ryan, accompanists for the choir from Danang International Fellowship!

In 1911, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church reached the shores of Danang, Vietnam (then called Tourane, controlled by the French) with the Gospel. Beginning with a church, then a small Bible school, then reaching out to the northern and southern parts of the country, the message of Jesus spread through this small country of Southeast Asia.

This past week, the Tin Lanh Church (C&MA) celebrated 100 years of ministry in Danang. At the largest Tin Lanh church of the city, on Ong Ich Kiem Street, two days of services and activities marked the event. On Wednesday night, the Vietnamese church invited our international fellowship to sing (in English). This is no small honor. The Tin Lanh church is noted for their large choirs of excellent skill. Our international church (Danang International Church--or DIF) is about 50 folks strong. About half signed up to sing, including seven children (of course, 5 of those were Brewers!).

The building was packed with hundreds of worshippers. We sang "Prince of Peace" by Michael W. Smith. It is a stirring song of praise, in which men's and women's parts divide into separate harmonizing verses. In the evening program that included about four large choirs and several solo/duet songs, we wanted add our heartfelt gratitude for what the Lord has done here. The response was astounding. The normally stoic, conservative, quiet church was filled with the rustle of whispering as we took the platform. There were smiles everywhere and people clapped with us as they read the translated lyrics on the screens up front. We are told it is the first time a western church group has sung there.

I feel as though our family has taken part in an historic occasion. Our girls sang with abandon. Jillian played drums for the group.

The following night, Jillian and I returned to the church to sing with a choir of more than 100 voices to sing (in Vietnamese) "The Holy City." We had been practicing for a few months now. What a great blessing! The service lasted over 3 hours with more than 30 responding to the invitation.

100 years ago, a seed was planted. The roots have spread far and wide and fruit continues to come forth. So glad to be here to work in the vineyard!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Times They Are A'Changin'...

It has happened. Somewhere, sometime...I blinked and the little girls that needed help with...everything now need help with nothing. Last Friday, Jillian, Anna Mei and Elizabeth (ages 12, 10 and 9) asked if they could go out for lunch. Together. Alone. True, they needed a ride. But they had their own money, their own plan, their own conversation. They didn't need direction, advice, funds or suggestions. The didn't need...me.

Don't get me wrong. My heart is joyful at this new development. I am proud of their initiative and ability. I am satisfied that they understand the value of the meals they purchase and have pre-determined what and what is not "worth it." I am delighted that they love each other and want to spend special "girl time" with one another. But...there is a part, small but real, that knows I have been left behind in the wings while my little stars shine.

And that's not all. Just 24 hours later, Jillian announced that she "felt like cooking." So she baked a banana bread (from scratch) in the rice cooker--something I have not yet attempted myself. And the day after that, the "3 older girls" were in the kitchen again...making strawberry-banana-yogurt smoothies in the blender. There were samples all around. Each person had her own particular method, special ingredient or presentation of the product.

There is no going back. The skills they have will only grow. The independence, excitement and sense of accomplishment will only pull them further. The wings that once held them close to me have been lifted higher and higher, until they seem nearly parallel to the ground.

I remind myself they still need me. I know they do. But they need me differently. It is a transition that I do not relish right now.

I am not a pessimist. I believe that our greatest days are ahead. More laughter, more tender moments, more memories are waiting to be experienced and made. Still, I am not quite ready to forget or sweep away the moments of "come tuck me in" and "read me a story."

There IS one comforting thought...Faith has told me she intends to stay small and live with me forever. Her sincerity makes me smile, but I think I feel a tiny tear forming in the corner of my eye.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jesus is Big!

Like so many others, we have been busy lately decorating for Christmas. One thing I miss most at this time of year is the Christms ornaments we have collected over the years, which are safely packed away in Kentucky. (Yes, they are number 1 on the "Bring Back" list for our next visit to the US!)
We have purchased ornaments here, but one item cannot be found in Danang (to my knowledge)...a nativity scene. I own a beautiful set (made by Home Interiors) a gift from my sister-in-law Cathy on the "first Christmas" Tony and I were married. Oh, how I have missed it! Last year, Aurora (my dear "little sister") gave me a miniature one to bring back, about the size of a coffee cup.
This year (drum roll) Tony made a trip to Saigon with one of our guests. While he was there he found...YES! individual pieces for a Nativity set.
I am VERY happy to display it...and it has made me think. It is definitely a Vietnamese rendition...
Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the child angels all have glitter on their clothing. some of the animals are disproportionate in size (the camel is smaller than the donkey). The kings wear predominantly green (with yellow and red) and the angels wear pink and blue.
And the baby Jesus is...well...big. If you could stand the figure up, he would easily tower over every other person, animal or angelic being.
This may be considered by some to be a flaw, but I think it is by design. Jesus is the most important person in the scene. He is bigger than life, death, angels, principalities and powers. Even as a Babe, the King of the Universe has arrived! Here is the Light of the World, Hope of all hopes, King of all kings and Lord of all lords...and the world will never be the same!
Maybe this Christmas, Jesus needs to be bigger in my life. More central to my personal celebration, more prominenet and unmistakeably pronounced.
Maybe I need to live, believe, act, speak, listen and work from a heart where Jesus is larger than anything else.
Maybe I need to sing louder, rejoice with more gusto, laugh longer, love more deeply, give more generously (money AND forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc.), and take more time to ponder because...
...well... Jesus is big!
May you have a large CHRISTmas celebration in your heart and home!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Multi-tasker Extraordinaire

Anna Mei poses in her latest fashion creation: a vest and belt ensemble made from a trash bag! Today, she is on to origami--so far she has made a crane, a drinking cup and a rabbit. Tomorrow...the world!

I consider myself fairly adept at multi-tasking. But Anna Mei has taken that skill to a whole new level. An event this past week proved it once again.

Each morning in our homeschool, we have a routine to begin the day. We sing, we pray, we update our wall calendar, and so on. Before moving on, I have been reading a poem or two. It has been a productive exercise; the girls have begun to write poetry on their own, without an assignment or even a suggestion.

Last week, we read a poem called "Frogs." Picking up on some recent Language instruction, I pointed out to the girls that the poem used three similes (comparisons using "like" or "as"--if you're rusty on your language arts). While I was reading, I was a little annoyed that Anna Mei was reading her own dinosaur book and writing away on a poem of her own.

When I finished, Anna Mei cheerily said, "Mom, this dinosaur has 64 razor-like teeth. Can I read my poem now?" To which I replied, "You were not listening while I read the poem about frogs. You'll have to wait." "

"I was listening!" she shot back

"Anna Mei," I began to expound, "it is impossible for your brain to do that many things at once. You cannot have read your book, written a poem AND listened to the frog poem."

"But I did!"

"All right. What are the three similes I pointed out in the poem?"

Without an instant of hesitation, Anna Mei said, "When he jumps in the water, he hits like a rock; his eyes are like metal rings; the spots on his back are like moss on a rock." She smiled triumphantly.

"Well, now...don't just sit there. Stand up and read your poem!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fat Morris

Fat Morris on his first day at home.
Fat Morris, an intellectual cat.

If the food runs out, he can curl up in the bowl!

We have a new addition to the family! Fat Morris is now the Brewer family cat. Anna Mei found him on the street, looking pitifully close to the end of his 9 lives. Here is his story in rhyme...

Fat Morris

Scarred up and scrawny and not the least brawny
Fat Morris

Balding and bare, some spots lacking hair
Fat Morris

Homeless and lost, to the trash he was tossed
Expected to die, but now loved by our five
Fat Morris

Huge eyes and all ears, we laugh into tears,
Pumpkin and white, five inches in height
Fat Morris
Never has kitten caused more hearts to be smitten
Fat Morris

Friday, September 3, 2010

First Day of School

Our Classroom!
Far left, Jillian, 6th Grade; middle, Elizabeth (blond) 3rd Grade; Anna Mei (with hat), 5th Grade; right, twins Joy (in pink) and Faith (in blue), 2nd Grade. 4-year-old Sally will join us next week!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Imagine the surprise of Jillian and Tony when they greeted each other the other day, only to discover that they had each (unbeknownst to the other) selected identical outfits: khaki shorts, blue T-shirt and crocs! There was nothing to do but get a picture with their Vietnamese textbooks. Like father, like daughter...