Lenten Lights

Easter is one of my favorite holidays but unlike Christmas with the big build up that you can see in the stores, listening to Christmas music and participating in holiday festivities, Easter can sometimes creep up quietly.  I do admit, there is some candy out in the stores this time of year even in Australia and, of course, Girl Scout cookies in the US seem to mark the beginning of this special season somehow in my mind.  But unless your church observes lent there really isn’t a huge build up towards Easter/Passion Week.  Since getting married Ryan and I have done our best to observe this season and mark it in our own way.  Lenten lights are my favorite tangible reminder.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 3.49.29 PMAt the beginning of the season (Ash Wednesday) it begins with 7 lit candles.  We have a special candle holder but 7 tea lights on a plate would do the same thing.  Then each night during the meal or at another time during the day all the candles are lit and each day has it’s own reading.   This is the one we’re using for this year: Lent Devotional.  On each Sunday during lent one candle is blown out and the following week one less candle is lit during the daily reading.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 3.50.35 PMThree weeks in and now we’re only lighting 4 candles each day.  And slowly we will work our way down to blowing out the last candle on Good Friday.  Seeing the darkness represented tangibly is a powerful reminder for me that helps my heart prepare for the joyous celebration that is Easter/Resurrection Sunday.  It may seem counterintuitive but understanding what Jesus did on the cross, makes the celebration of His resurrection more beautiful and more jubilant.  I look forward to continuing this transition and making it a part of how our home marks the Christian seasons.

Happy Anniversary!

4 years ago yesterday Ryan and I met for the first time after finding each other on OkCupid.  After that first (5 hour!) date, we both knew there was the potential of something more but had no idea where this relationship would take us.  Now we’re celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary in our new home in Perth, Australia after traveling around the US and around the world too.

3 years ago today, Ryan and I got married in Santa Barbara, California at beautiful Franceschi Park.  If you missed the wedding because we’re new friends or you want to re-watch our wonderful ceremony, you can check it out on our webpage: Ryan and Joy’s Wedding or directly on Youtube: Ryan and Joy’s Wedding.

Happy Anniversary to my favorite husband!  You drive me crazy but I wouldn’t change this life with you.  I’m looking forward to many more years and many more memories together.

Preparing For Australia Day

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-36-pmWe see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event.  Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-58-pmPerth is preparing for Australia Day.  For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July.  But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics.  The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-18-40-pmObserving and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all.  And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place.  And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks.  Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.53.27 PM.png

Linus Explains The True Meaning of Christmas

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-8-34-25-pm“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 8.40.07 PM.pngMerry Christmas from our family to yours!

Does it Matter Which Word We Use?

On Christmas we see many depictions of the nativity scene and most of them are beautiful, clean and etherial.  I love these scenes that give me a visual of the Biblical stories of Mary and Jospeh traveling to Bethlehem and Mary giving birth to the Light of the World.  However, I realize that they are a cleaned up, sanitized version of what really happened.  The following story from Bob Creson, Wycliffe USA’s President and his communication assistant, Carol Schatz, gave Ryan and me a new perspective on this story that we know very well.  I hope you enjoy it and see the beautiful humility of Christ this Christmas season.screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-12-18-30-pmAs the Mbe translation team in Nigeria was translating the Gospel of Luke, they came to chapter 2, verse 7: “She [Mary] gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

The translators took time to ponder how to translate some of the words, but not “manger.” They immediately used the word “ókpáng.”

The “What’s an ókpáng?” asked their consultant, John Watters. “Tell me what it looks like.” One of the translators drew a picture on the whiteboard. It was essentially a cradle hung by ropes so that the newborn would be laid in it and swung.

“Read the Translator’s Notes again,” John suggested. “What do the notes say about the manger?” (“Translators Notes” is a series of commentaries in non-technical English that are especially helpful for Bible translators for whom English is a second language.)

The Mbe translators read the notes and saw that “manger” referred to an animal feeding trough. Even as the Mbe team read the notes, they objected. “We have always used the word ókpáng. We have used it for years, and that’s what we should use.”

John pointed out to them that it wasn’t just a matter of tradition. God expects us to find the words that express the original meaning as accurately as possible. Furthermore, this word tells us something profound about God. “When he came to live among us and bring salvation to us, he came in the lowliest way possible. He did not come and sleep in a nice ókpáng like every Mbe mother wants for her newborn. Instead, he showed us his unbelievable humility,” John told them. “So we need to find your best word for an animal feeding trough.”

Suddenly the one who had argued most loudly for the traditional term offered, “We feed our animals out of an old worn-out basket that is not usable anymore except to fee the animals. We call it ‘ɛdzábrí.’”

“Then try that term,” said John. “Put it in your rough draft and test it with Mbe speakers.”

“As the Mbe people listened, they were visibly moved. Picturing the newborn baby lying in the animals’ feeding basket, they recognized in a new way that Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to reach them. As an adult, he would humble himself by washing the disciples’ feet and then by dying on the cross. And this humility started right from birth, when he was born to a young peasant woman under questionable social conditions and laid in an animal feeding trough.

“No word in Scripture is too unimportant to translate carefully and accurately. And no language community is too unimportant to merit the Scriptures in the language they best understand. John Watters says, “Translation in the heart language respects the people who speak it, and through the process it frees them to have a relationship with God in their own words and terms.”

Tree Cutting 2016 – Zapp Family Tradition

One of my favorite family traditions is tree cutting up in Placerville.  I have so many amazing memories of cutting our own tree year after year, amazing Italian family meals, hanging out with cousins and being visited by Santa Claus.  It was wonderful to be able to celebrate one more time with my family before heading to Australia.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-57-52-amIt’s about generations gathering together, reconnecting and making memories.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-52-15-amIt wouldn’t be tree cutting if we didn’t walk over to the tree farm.  It’s just down the hill and up another hill.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-51-02-amAnd you always have to find the perfect tree.  Sometimes it takes awhile but you know the right tree when you see it.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-54-30-amThis is my crazy wonderful family.  I’m going to miss these special events.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-52-58-amAnd the homemade raviolis.  They are amazing and delicious.  This is the Italian side of the family.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-53-21-amAnd Grandma got a whoopee cushion from Santa Claus.  She’s going to be a riot in the community where she lives.screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-7-55-23-amThe average height in this group is 6’3.  We’re a tall family.Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 7.56.00 AM.pngGo Zapp family cousins!