Resource – Flash a Card Series

In an earlier post, I talked about being prepared for anything while on the road. Today, I would like to review a resource that has been a great help here in Portugal and can be used over and over again on deputation/furlough. It is the Flash-a-card series from A Beka Book Publications. (To find the Flash-a-card Series, type flash a card in the search function on the website.)

The Flash-a-card Series is a collection of Bible stories and picture cards put together in several packages. The quality of the materials is excellent. The pictures are professional paintings used to illustrate the story. With only a little work, you can have a Bible story prepared for whenever you need one. They have sets available from Genesis to the Life of Paul. Also available are some sets of various stories grouped together. For example, the Salvation Series has stories dealing with the life of Christ and why He came to earth.

I was able to buy most of the sets they offer. I have been very happy with the way they tell the story and the pictures that accompany the story. Because my sister worked for A Beka, I found out that they have other languages available than just what is on the website. (If you want to know if they have anything available in your language, talk to a representative.) Best of all, the majority of the pictures have no English written on them. This makes them usable for various languages and cultures.

The price is a little on the high side but for the quality is reasonable. The picture cards are lifelike and not the cartoonish illustrations you often see in children’s Bible literature.

On the field, they can be a big resource. The stories are set up so that the teacher can read directly from the book. This helps with new and beginning teachers. The pictures can be used separately with a more experienced teacher telling the story.

Getting them to the field may be a bit of a problem though. The sets are HEAVY! At least they are when all piled up in one stack. (Ask me how I know!) However, with all of the sets, I have enough Sunday school /Junior Church/Bible Club material to get through at least 2+ years. Possibly the best way to get the sets back is to buy them a little at a time and take them with you on the airplane.

Disclaimer: A Beka has not asked me to review the Flash-a-card Series. This review is from a happy customer. All of the pictures were taken from the A Beka Book Website.


Great Motto: Be Prepared

After reading about some of my fellow missionaries’ adventures in deputation, I came up with this idea for a blog post. Hope that it is a blessing and help to you.

The Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, is well known in many parts of the world. They believe in being prepared for every emergency and practice the techniques they learn regularly.

Be Prepared is a good motto for a missionary to have. I will be writing a series of posts on being prepared for ministry, not only on deputation/furlough/home assignment, but also for ministry on your chosen field.

Photo Credit: charamelody via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: charamelody via Compfight cc

This first post will be about being prepared for ministry while on deputation/furlough/home assignment. (From now on I will only use the word deputation, but it will refer to any time you are in the States or your home country reporting on your work or raising funds.)

Today, I will be dealing specifically how you can be prepared for any ministry eventuality by taking some time before hand to prepare. Ministry opportunities abound when one is on deputation. Sunday school, Main service, Evening service, Mid-week prayer meeting, Vacation Bible School, Missions conferences, Youth rallies, etc. All of these afford an opportunity to share your field and burden. However, each instance may use different materials. For example, the tools you use in a main service will not be the same ones you use in Junior church. Preparing your tools ahead of time will make you less stressed when five minutes before service the pastor tells you, ‘You will be teaching the 5-6 year old Sunday School class.’ Less stress is good in a life style that already has a lot of stress built into it.

What to prepare

Ok, so I have convinced you that you need to prepare materials ahead of time, but you ask, ‘what do I prepare and how do I fit it into my little deputation car?’ This will require a bit of mental exercise. Think of all of the activities you have participated in while attending a church. Write them all down on paper/Word Document (Take your pick). Then analyze your list. Which activities use the same or similar materials? Example, Sunday school, VBS and Junior church use the same or similar materials. For them I would prepare a game, a song to teach, a lesson that can be graded according to age group, and a memory verse. This is what I would do. Can’t sing? Prepare an object lesson. Think outside the box a bit. You never know what God will use to touch the hearts and lives of children. There are some excellent materials that have a series of lessons that fit together nicely. (I will be reviewing some of those materials in a later blog post.)

Main services, evening services, and mid-week services tend to use the same tools as well. The obvious is a video presentation. This should present your field of service, your calling, what you intend to do when you get to the field/what you have done on the field, and your background. Most of this is covered by classes offered by your mission board/mission agency.

Teaching Vacation Bible SchoolWhat if you don’t have time to set up for a video presentation? Have you written down your testimony so you can give it at any moment? Have you adjusted your testimony so you can fit various time constraints? Do you sing or play an instrument? Can you start a question and answer session? Sometimes life throws you for a loop, and just like the Boy Scouts, we need to be prepared for anything. The lights went out in the middle of your video? Surely you have seen it enough times that you can present what is in the video! Are you a single man? You should be prepared to preach at any moment. Don’t have your Bible handy? Scripture memorization is a wonderful thing. Didn’t you know that was the purpose of all those verses they made you learn at Bible College and in Sunday school? Besides, as a Missionary Kid, I can personally attest that if you have at least one sermon that you have preached a lot, you can preach it from memory, Scriptures and all. (In fact, so can your family!) If you are a single lady, you should also be prepared to teach at any time.

The point of this exercise is to prepare for all of the events you can think of. Be smart about what you prepare. If you can, make your materials useful for more than one event. Think about the space you have to work with in your car.

How do I fit it in my car?

By taking the time before hand to think about what you may be asked to do, you can think about your materials and the space in your vehicle in a logical manner. By using items for multiple purposes, you can carry less and do more. As I mentioned before, Sunday school and Junior church use the same materials. Where ever you put your materials, make sure they are easy to get to at a moment’s notice. (Also from personal experience, MAKE SURE THEY ARE IN THE CAR BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE PLACE YOU ARE STAYING! Especially if you are driving any distance. If you want the story, contact me later.)

Think outside the BOX

Churches see a lot of missionaries, especially at missions conference time. What can you do to be memorable? A friend of mine has a set of puppets that relate to her field. They are all animals that she encounters on a daily basis. She uses these puppets to teach children about God and about her field at the same time. (I remember her presentation to my Junior church class more than 10 years later.)

Whatever you decide to use, flannelgraph, flashcards, object lessons, etc. the one thing that can make a story useful to the Master, is to consider Him in all things. There have been times that I planned to say something and God has asked me to teach a different topic. He is the only One who can breathe life into your teaching and use it to reach the hearts of your hearers.

Please let me know what you come up with. I am always looking for good ideas I can use in my own ministry!

Resource: Apologetics on Creation

It has been some time since I have written a blog post. A new responsibility has eaten up some of the time in which I would write. However, this new task has also given me a new resource. I wanted to share this with you.

My new responsibility is teaching one of the moral’s classes in the local middle and high school. Because we are just starting out, I decided to teach on Origins. Origin of the world, origin of sin, origin of death, etc. while researching for the classes on the origin of the world, I came across the ministry Answer’s in Genesis.

Photo Credit: Dino Langis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dino Langis via Compfight cc

Please do not take this as a blanket endorsement of everything published or said by Answer’s in Genesis. That said I do agree with much that they produce. This ministry is the originator of the Creation Museum in Covington, Kentucky. If you have never been, I would recommend a visit. Instead of the misinformation you need to wade through in a Natural Science museum, you find all of the exhibits referring back to the Bible.

This ministry is geared toward Christian Apologetics with a specific emphasis on the Creation and the Genesis accounts.

Before we go much further, I feel the need to define what I mean by Apologetics. To the dictionary we go.

Apologetics, n. That branch of theology which defends the Holy Scriptures, and sets forth the evidence of their divine authority. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary – 1913)

Answer’s in Genesis has as its goal the defense of the literal, Biblical account of Creation. They publish many books to this end written by creationist scientists. These are people who have doctorates in science and know whereof they speak. These scientists are taking observational science and applying it to historical science. This scientific basis helps to combat the general belief in evolution.

Not only that, but many of their materials are available in other languages (including, much to my surprise, Portuguese).

I have been able to use their videos and materials in class to teach my students what the Bible says is true. It also allows them to learn how to defend their faith against the attacks of secular reasoning and evolutionary science.

The one caveat I have, is that they have stopped using the Authorized Version or the KJV. In spite of this, I have found their materials to be detailed and analytical when it comes to what the Bible says about science.

A Tool for Children’s Ministry

One of the most useful tools I have used in children’s ministry is flannelgraph. Flannelgraph is an effective visual aid. Especially in areas where children have either never seen flannelgraph before or where it has not been used in a long time. However, this tool can be hamstrung by a poor quality set of flannelgraph materials. This is why I am sharing with you today my favorite flannelgraph set. Betty Lukens Deluxe

Betty Lukens’ flannelgraph materials are made of high quality materials. The set my mother gave me has lasted at least 20 years and is still going strong. Their Bible stories set includes all of the major stories of the Bible and many of the lesser known ones. It also comes with a teacher’s manual that includes diagrams for placement of the figures and what figures were used for the story. Their website address is:

There are two ways of getting the sets of Bible flannelgraph. The Basic set comes with all of the figures and backgrounds but you need to cut them out. The Deluxe set comes with all of the figures cut out and all of the backgrounds mounted on heavy duty cardboard. It also comes with a filing system for the figures. The deluxe set is more expensive but the money is worth it. It saves you from having to cut out hundreds of figures and having to come up with your own filing system. Both set also come in two sizes. The large set has 12” figures and the small set has 6 ½” figures.Betty Lukens Backgrounds

The teacher’s manual come in English and in Spanish. Even if you can’t use the teacher’s manual, the flannelgraph plays well with other stories. I normally use the teacher’s manual for placement of the figures and to know what figures to use. Then I use other materials for the actual stories or even tell it my own way.

These sets are available online and as of this blog post the deluxe edition is on sale. I have worked with their customer service before. They are friendly and helpful. They even told me of a great discount for missionaries. If you are looking for a good tool that will last a long time, I suggest you look into Betty Lukens materials. I know that they have other sets available besides the complete Bible sets.

Betty Lukens did not pay me to review this material. It was reviewed of my own free will and desire to be a blessing to others. I have tried to make my information as accurate as possible but something may have changed since I wrote the post. All pictures are from their website.

Project With Ease

Photo Credit: libraryman via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: libraryman via Compfight cc

Today I want to share with you a free program that my coworker found online. This program allows you to set up the whole service to be projected on the overhead screen. The program’s name is Open Song. I know that in the States, having songs projected in the church can be a sensitive subject. However, on the field, we lack hymn and chorus books. Hymnbooks with music are not even available to purchase in the country. So, to make our lives easier and still have hymns and choruses that everyone can sing, we project our songs.

Following is the link to download the program:

This program is very easy to use. Once you have input a song it can be used over and over. You can pick out the songs you want to sing that service and line them up to be projected. Before we used this program, we used Power Point. It was clunky and required a lot of work to line up the song service. This program is so easy, I can line up the song service in 10 minutes. The program also works with Power Point, Open Office and iOS. You can even add in a video presentation to the service line up. Want to read a passage from the Bible? Two minutes, tops. We are blessed to have our version of the Bible in Portuguese (Trinitarian Bible Society from Brazil).

I have been using this program for over 4 years. It is easy to teach to others and easy to operate. If this is something that is lacking in your ministry, please give it a try.

* Open Song did not pay me to review this product. It is a review from years of experience with the program.

A Musician’s Best Friend

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me an article to look over that discussed a specific problem for single missionaries. I am in the middle of preparing a blog post about it so today I am presenting a tool I use in my ministry here in Portugal.

Photo Credit: just.Luc via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: just.Luc via Compfight cc

That tool is a handy little program called Noteworthy Composer.

This program was the best $40. I ever spent for a program. I have used this program many times in my work. I has allowed me to make background music for singing, write original music, rewrite music with Portuguese lyrics, and make medleys for special music. In short, it has been very useful over the years.

The program allows you to write sheet music with ease. It is not a difficult program to use or learn and can be of great benefit to anyone who is a musician. Especially if they also compose music. On top of writing sheet music, you can insert lyrics in English or another language. This has helped me create music for which I only have an English source but to use Portuguese lyrics.

The file when created can be saved as a MIDI file and then played through a MIDI instrument. From there it can be played back into the computer and recorded as an mp3 or other audio file. (You should see my piano when I am doing this. It looks like it sprouted wires overnight.) The music may be a bit canned but that can be compensated for a bit with the composition.

I understand that not everyone out there will find this program useful but if you are a musician it can be your best friend. What are tools that you have found useful in your ministry?

Planning a Menu for One or Two

Menu planning has long been held as one way to be frugal with your dollars and eat healthy. Just a quick search on the internet will bring you dozens of ideas and tips to utilize this tool. However, most of the menu planners are geared toward families. What happens when you are a family of one or you suddenly have an empty nest with only you and your spouse? Many women experience this when their children have all left the house and now, instead of cooking for x number of people, they are cooking for two. Does this mean we, the few, cannot use this tool to frugality? No. It does mean we will have to adapt the practice though.

Photo Credit: jazzijava via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jazzijava via Compfight cc

Tips to Menu Planning for One or Two People

Used to making a meal for a large family? One way to utilize this habit is to make meals in bulk and freeze them for later. Many meals can be frozen and then heated later for a meal. A little research on the internet can net you thousands of recipes that can be made ahead then frozen. My favorite is lasagna. I can make a large pan of lasagna, cut it up into pieces and freeze the pieces separately. Later when I need a meal, I take it out pop it in the microwave and a few minutes later I have a hot meal.

Many people do not like to eat the same foods two days in a row. This is why menu planning for a single person is so complicated when most recipes make at least 4 servings of food. What can a single person do to mitigate the waste? Again freezing is an option. Making two such meals and alternating days in which they are eaten is another option. Sharing cooking duties with a single friend is another option (with this option you cut expenses and the cooking time).

If I am like most single people, the one thing that bugs me the most about menu planning is fresh fruits and veggies. I find myself many times throwing out rotten fruit and vegetables because I could not consume them before they went bad. This is where a freezer can also come into play. If you live in a country where frozen vegetables are available, use them. If you do not, this idea may take a bit more work, but will be so worth it in the end. Freeze your own vegetables and fruit. A little research in cookbooks or on the internet can provide you with ways in which you can preserve your own frozen fruits and vegetables. (They end up being healthier in the long run because you know what is being put into your freezer.) The only exception to this is lettuce. I have yet to find a practical way in which I can preserve lettuce for salads. When I do I will be sure to post about it.

Menu planning for singles requires thinking outside the box. With a little imagination and planning, a single person or a couple can use this handy tip.

Tools that are Handy for Making Meal Planning for One or Two a Success

The first tool I have already mentioned, a freezer. This does not have to be a large freezer, but a freezer is a very helpful tool to have when planning meals for one or two people. While many people know that a freezer is useful for a large family, many do not realize its usefulness for single people. As I mentioned earlier, a large meal can be prepared then frozen into smaller portions for later consumption. I use this tool all the time for my own meal planning. Lasagna, soup, muffins, pancakes, waffles, baked goods, fruit, some veggies, meat in individual portions, and much more can be stored in the freezer. Just be aware that some items only last a few months in the freezer while others last almost a year.

The second tool that has made menu planning easier for me, has been my microwave. I can make meals ahead and pop them in the microwave when I need them. This useful tool is used mostly in conjunction with my freezer. (One thing I do not put in the microwave though is bread. It will dry out and be hard as a rock if you do. Just a friendly warning.) What if I do not have a microwave or they are not available where I live? Most things can be heated on the stove or in the oven. How do you think your ancestors heated food? A microwave just makes it easier.

The third tool I find useful is a small crock pot. When I first came to the field, I had a crock pot that my mother had left me. It was huge. Way too large for a single person. I was able to obtain a small crock pot from England and I have used that tool almost every week since I received it. It cuts my cooking time by cooking while I am busy doing other things. I can make a meal for just myself or for more with just that one tool. In fact, it makes the chicken pot pie filling much easier to make.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you as you plan your meals. Please, let me know if you have any other tips that have proven useful over the years. Maybe you have found a way to keep lettuce longer!

Tips and Tools for Ministry

With this series of blog posts I want to share some of the computer programs and ministry helps I have found useful. My ministry centers around three things, children and teens, music and translation. While your ministry may not center on the same three things, some of the programs and helps I have found useful may be useful to you.

Photo Credit: geishaboy500 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: geishaboy500 via Compfight cc

The program I would like to talk about today is Corel Draw. Many times missionaries do not have access to the types of materials they need. Sunday school materials, games, bulletins, Christian artwork, book markers, illustrations, booklets, pamphlets, and other such items are either too expensive or not found in the language of your people. I know that when my parents first started out on the mission field in Portugal, there was little available in Portuguese. Thankfully more and more is available from Brazil, but even so getting into Portugal or Mozambique can be cost prohibitive.

This is where a program like Corel Draw can come into play. The initial investment can be a bit steep, usually costing from $100 to $200, but the benefits more than pay for the program. It enables you to make all of those items for the cost of your time and the ink and paper to print them. Just in the 6 years I have been on the field, I have used this program to make book markers, bulletins, booklets, games for junior church, memory verses, backgrounds for power point, and much more. It is a versatile program with a thousand and one uses. It can also save you a lot of money spent on materials or postage to get those materials.

In a first world country like Portugal or the United States, getting items printed involves going to a local print place and telling them how many copies you need. However, in a developing country or a third world country such luxuries are not available. So if you are going to use a program like Corel Draw, you will also need a printer and maybe even an ink supply. This can seem like an enormous investment of money and time, but the rewards are worth it. Using materials you have created can bring another to salvation. After all, that is our purpose. The program and printer can be tools in the Master’s hand.

One thing I would advise if you are going to use a program such as Corel Draw. If possible, take a course on using the functions or buy a book for ‘Dummies.’ The more you know about your program the more you can use said program and the better your product will be.

What are some of the tools or programs you have found invaluable on the field? Let me know and I will include them here on this series.