Thursday, December 10, 2009

December Edition: Exciting News and Prayerful Dependence

Hello to you all.

We thought it timely to post an update as the year draws to a close, to let you all know our plans for 2010 and beyond.

Seumas' job at Mac Fields is drawing to a close as there are no funds to employ him into 2010. So far he has not secured a position for next year, and that has significantly impacted our plans. In other more positive news, David and Wendy Hall, currently in Mongolia with Pioneers, have invited us over in March to teach their English classes at the bible college there for three weeks while they return to Australia for their daughter's wedding. These two events have dove-tailed nicely, and so here is the current plan:

Rachel is going to keep working through the first half of 2010. She has enough (or near enough) leave to take a month off for Mongolia, so we will go over for a month in late Feb through to March. This will be a great opportunity for us to get a feel for the place (-20 is what we're anticipating temperature wise), the people, the college, and life in Mongolia. We also hope to take a video recorder over and get some footage, so if you have a recorder of some sort that we could borrow, talk to us.

Seumas will spend the first half of the year (apart from Mongolia), studying full-time on his Masters, while looking for work and picking up a few other things (teaching a Moore college evening diploma course, for example). God-willing, by July Seumas will have some steady employment (ministry, fitness, Latin, fish-and-chips?), and Rachel will do a year at SMBC back-to-front. This leaves us with the aim to get to Mongolia more permanently in the second half of 2011.

We will also continue with our application with Pioneers to hopefully be accepted mid next year.

God has been very good to us in providing this opportunity to go across in March at a time when we were feeling very uncertain about what we would do in 2010. This opportunity has provided us with extra energy and anticipation. Please be in prayer for us; that we would be effective in our short time in Mongolia; that Seumas would find employment so Rachel can go to SMBC; and that we would be continually seeking God and his wisdom.

Blessings upon you as we remember the coming of Christ our Saviour.
Much love,
Seumas + Rachel

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On the road to Mongolia; figuratively and literally

Hi everyone,

Thanks heaps for your prayers and words of encouragement in response to our letters. It has been humbling seeing people get behind us though it is still early days.

This last week has included some more steps taken towards officially becoming 'applicants' with Pioneers (the mission organisation we would like to partner with).

Last Monday while on holidays in Melbourne we travelled to the national office to talk again with Tamra the mobilisation officer and the national director Simon Longden. They made some excellent suggestions concerning our options for next year and introduced us to some of the people who would be caring for us. Of particular value was talking to the finance staff and getting a ballpark figure for how much monetary support would need to be raised; Rachel was and still is very shocked as that amount is much more than she had expected!

The visit was also a good hurry-up for us to get our applications completed and sent; they have now been emailed and the process has officially begun!

Last night was the Pioneers annual Sydney dinner and it was a great opportunity for us to meet other people currently or previously in our situation. Lots of laughs, advice and cake. We were also fortunate to meet a couple who will be moving to rural Mongolia at the start of next year; amazing to think that the next time we see them will likely be in a different hemisphere!

In non-Pioneers news our holiday also included a stop at Bendigo where Seumas gave a talk at the local Christian student group's weekly meeting, after which we were encouraged to talk about our Mongolia plans. We will probably need to get a bit more prepared for such presentations in the future so we can be clearly about why we're going and what we'd like to do, but it was nice to be asked for future updates and discuss what they might send us in care packages (primarily Weet-Bix).

What's next? Our plans for next year are still in God's hands. Seumas' current position will no longer be funded next year. We had hoped that Rachel would do some theological study, but this is uncertain at the moment. So, at present we are waiting to hear about job opportunities for Seumas and are still not able to make much of a draft timetable but when we have something definite you'll be in the know! This is a particular area that you could be praying for us about.

Please pray that we will keep trusting in God for the future and serve him in the present. This includes serving you so please let us know what we can pray for you and if we can do anything practical as well.

Seumas and Rachel

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pioneers Annual Dinner in Sydney

Hello to our supporters! This post is coming to you live from the Pioneers office in Melbourne, where we have just been meeting with various Pioneers people and talking more about Mongolia. We'll write again with some more details on current developments soon. This post is to invite you to come to the Pioneers Annual Dinner in Sydney. It's Saturday October 31st. The details are on the page linked before, and please RSVP to Pioneers by Wednesday. There will be quite a few other couples who are going to Mongolia present, and it would be a great way for you to come and support us, hear more about what's going on, and be involved with our plans.

Dinner details

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What is going on

It's been a few months, and not a great deal has happened, but that's okay, we're still early days. Here's three things that have occurred though:

1.Meeting more missionaries

We've had a good chance to chat to some missionaries working in Mongolia, including two couples that we would hope to be working in a team with. It's been great to meet and chat and pray with them. We've enjoyed both being challenged to think through various issues, and being encouraged in what the Lord is doing

2.More study

Part of our plans and strategising is that Seumas should pursue a PhD. Besides his obviously chronic addiction to study, a PhD would allow Seumas to teach to the highest level of qualification and thus resource an indigenous church into the future. It's a reality of tertiary academia throughout the world that without PhDs no college can really be self-sustaining because graduates will always need to go elsewhere to get a final research degree.
Anyway, Seumas has spoken with Macquarie University's Ancient History department about pursuing a PhD part-time from Mongolia. They seem quite open and on-board with the possibility. I spoke with a potential supervisor who was quite enthusiastic. My thesis would probably centre on the translation and commentary of two rather long trinitarian treatises from the 4th century, one in Greek, the other in Latin, currently without English translations.

At this stage the plan is also for Rachel to study for a year before we go, probably at SMBC, hopefully in 2010. We're still hammering out some details in regards to work and home next year.

3.Talking to a mission organisation

We've begun some more formal discussions with a mission organisation already at work in Mongolia, and have meet several of their staff. The big news here is that we are filling out some paperwork and moving into a formal application process. This will involve forms, medicals, interviews, chats, and prayer.

4.A visit

Taking on board some wise counsel, we have in mind to do a survey trip to Mongolia and possibly some other locations in 2010. This would enable us to see what things are like on the ground and be a little more open-eyed about what we're getting in for. It would also allow us to consider a few other options in case Mongolia is not where God wants us.

Thanks for the support and encouragement we've been receiving along the way.
Pray for wisdom and guidance about future study plans for both Seumas and Rachel.
Pray for the formal application procedure as it gets under way.
Pray for advance preparation for a survey trip sometime in 2010.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Talking to People

Yesterday we spent some time talking to people. I know, sounds riveting.

First we drove up to Penrith and spoke to a couple who are team leaders for a team working in Mongolia. We were meant to meet them at Penrith Plaza, but it was shut for ANZAC day, so we drove down to a park next to the weir, and spent a good hour and a half chatting with them. They gave us a bit more of a picture of life in Mongolia, and were keen to confront us a little with the grim realities: indoor living most of the year, a singularly unattractive capital city to live in, changing teams and circumstances, and so on. That was, I think, fairly constructive for us. We're not unaware of the significant challenges Mongolia will hold for us, but we do need to be reminded of them.

They also suggested we think of other places! That felt a little backward for us, having already gone through a process of narrowing down to one place, and now to start widening our options out again. But they made some good points about opportunities falling through, strategic thinking, and so on. So we're prepared to start entertaining some other possibilities, which clearly would make the blog-title redundant, but Mongolia is still our aim.

They were positive though! But it's up to us, we're the driving force here.

In the evening we went to Reach-Out e-track (silly name, methinks), a mission awareness/mobilisation night at SMBC. Rachel was quite keen to go to one of the workshops, on personality and mission, which was by a woman who had authored a book which she had read. (too many subordinate clauses in that sentence). The night was good overall, even though the american speaker kept allegorising the Bible.

Anyway, naturally various mission agencies had representatives there, so we went and spoke to one in particular, who didn't quite know what to do with us when we fronted up and said, "We want to Mongolia, we've been talking to your missionaries there." Anyway, we got the conversation going, made our seriousness apparent, and I guess we are now into the stage of serious-inquiry.

What's next?
- Conversations with mission agencies
- Contemplating alternative plans/places
- Finding out more about the official application process, and deciding when to commit to that
- Contemplating and planning a survey tour within the next 1.5 years to places we'd be thinking of going to (incl. Mongolia)

Friday, April 17, 2009 Mongolia!

That's our motto and we'd love you to get in on the ground level and embark (metaphorically, or literally if you're up for it!) on our exciting adventure with us.

Where? Mongolia! Mongolia is a country of almost 3 million people with a growing church. It is landlocked by Russia and China. It is very cold! And they are not vegetarian-friendly! Specifically we hope to go and work in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, which is Mongolia's largest (and main) city.

What? Seumas is hoping to teach at Union Bible Theological College (UBTC), the main Protestant bible college in the country with around 130 current students. The college is looking to offer more advanced degrees, with the eventual aim of being able to staff itself with indigenous Mongols. Seumas' MTh, and in years to come (we hope) PhD, should be of great assistance in this regard.

Rachel... we're still figuring out. After speaking to some missionaries there it seems there are a number of good opportunities which we'll explore when the time comes.

Why? Glory, Strategy, Gifts. Our overriding reason is our desire to glorify God through Christ with our lives on this earth. More specifically, we believe this is a strategic opportunity. Mongolians have freedom of movement into a number of neighbouring and nearby countries, and God is doing great work through the Mongolian peoples. We believe that in terms of gifts and calling Seumas can best serve by teaching, training, researching and equipping, and in a mission context a place like UBTC would be an excellent fit.

What next? We've had an initial meeting with an Australian couple serving over there in a very similar capacity at the moment. From here we plan to meet with their team-leaders, who are in Australia at the moment, and then start talking to mission agencies. Rachel will probably spend 2010 at SMBC while Seumas will finish up his MTh and continue working at Macquarie Fields. We hope, plan, and pray to be heading to Mongolia in 2011.

You: can begin a partnership with us now. At this stage we are asking people to come on board our supporters' bandwagon and commit to praying for us and for Mongolia regularly. In return we'll be supplying you with regular news, updates, prayer points, the usual. We really want to encourage people to get alongside us now from the very start, to journey with us along the way, and to share in the exciting things Jesus is doing to advance his Kingdom in this world.

We'll be sending out email newsletters and updating this blog regularly as our plans progress until, God willing, we truly are Macdonalds in Mongolia1

Contact us:
email: macdonaldsinmongolia at

1 There is no McDonalds store in Mongolia. We believe there is one in Kazakhstan. Just if you were wondering!