Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

It is hard to believe that it is May already. While the cold of the winter seemed to last forever, the time has passed quickly. I have been doing a lot of scrap booking this winter, and I have found it to be very relaxing and healing as I preserve all of my Craig memories as well as some others. I have gotten together with my aunt every month so far this year to make a scrapbook page about something that happened that month. As I have looked back over the pages that I have made so far, I noticed that the theme of just about all of them has been friends. I have been so blessed by my friends this year and the way they have stood beside me and encouraged me as I walk this road. I have been able to do a lot of visiting over the winter and it has been such a blessing to connect with so many different people and share about the teaching ministry I have the opportunity to be a part of in Papua New Guinea.

At the end of January, I went to the Heritage Missions’ Conference at the school Craig and I attended. It was hard to be back in a place so full of memories, and to see the students so excited about missions and not have Craig there. However, I am glad that I went and I think there was some healing in the tears. My friend and I made a black forest trifle for the cake auction (all money raised goes towards students going on summer mission trips) at the end of the conference with a tag that said “In memory of Craig Simmons”. They sold it second to last and it sold for $1000 in 3 bids! It was very touching to see how much Craig is loved and how his memory was honoured and respected, and I left the conference feeling very loved and supported by that whole community. It was great to reconnect with students and teachers as well several people from my old jobs, and spend quality time with some friends who have really been a blessing these past 11 months and who have helped me to work through some of my grief.

I worked on some at home projects in February and this is where I had most of my time to scrapbook, as well as organize and catalogue my growing collection of teaching/kids books. I also spent a lot of time working on PNG paperwork. I had to send a number of documents to the Government Representatives in PNG, and then wait for the PNG Government to give the okay to process my paperwork. Nothing goes quickly in PNG and this was no exception. Once that was sent in, I had more paperwork to complete in preparation for the next step. I am happy to say that the paperwork is just about finished. I am waiting to receive my passport back from Ottawa and then I will be able to start looking into buying tickets, which brings the reality of me going that much closer.

I spent most of March down in Iowa with my best friend and her family again. It was wonderful. The time away from home with the busyness here and the seemingly endless paperwork was an excellent break. There are still times when the sadness seems to overwhelm me and it was so healing and comforting to spend time with such a good friend who could comfort while saying nothing at all. It is amazing how time with good friends can slowly help you to heal.

April was my busiest month as I was only home long enough to unpack and repack several times. The month started off with saying goodbye to some dear friends as they headed off to Turkey as missionaries for 2 years. I was blessed to be able to spend special one on one time with both my mom and my aunt and make some great memories. I spent the last part of the month visiting some of my friends in Eastern Canada. I spent a week in Quebec with one of my good friends from Heritage and it was wonderful to see all that she is involved in. I was also able to meet up with a good friend of Craig’s while I was there and over lunch at a little French CafĂ©, he and his wife became my friends too. It was a healing time spending a few hours with them. From Quebec I went to Halifax to visit an old college roommate and her family and that was another great time. One of the highlights for me was going to Prince Edward Island for the day. It has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to see the Anne of Green Gables museum, and I even had the chance to dress up like Anne.

I got back from out East at the beginning of May and a few days later headed down to Durham, Ontario for my Pre-Field Orientation at the New Tribes Mission base. This was a really good time and I was excited as it made my going to PNG seem more real. It was a very productive time as I got a lot of questions answered and learned a lot too. It was also nice to be able to meet some of the staff and put faces to some names of people I had been in correspondence with over the past few months.

Looking ahead to June holds some bittersweet events. My brother is getting married on June 11th , I am thrilled for him and I am getting a wonderful sister in Faith Pettigrew. On June 16th it will be one year since my own love passed away. It’s hard to believe that it has been a year already. I still miss him so much, and some days it seems like it will never be okay again. But I do feel like I have healed a little over this past year and the Lord has definitely given me the strength I need, as I need it. At the end of June I will be packing my bags and leaving for PNG to start this new chapter of my life. I am excited as I move forward, but sad as I feel I am leaving Craig behind and moving on without him. However, I feel like the Lord is showing me very clearly that He wants me teaching in PNG next year. I should arrive in PNG in early July and this will give me time to get settled and spend a lot of time in my classroom preparing for the school year. The teachers start July 20th and the 2011-2012 school year starts July 27th.

When I look at the calendar and realize that I only have little over a month left before I head to PNG, I feel a little overwhelmed. However, I have a real peace that this is the door the Lord is opening for me next year, and I am trusting that He will bring all the details together. The first part of Hebrews 3:13 has really encouraged me lately, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’” Most days as I look ahead to what I have on the go it’s almost too much for me. But when I just focus on today, it’s much more do-able and then tomorrow becomes today and those tasks are manageable. One day at a time.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers for:
--> my PNG visa to be issued and my passport returned
--> provision of funds as I get ready to buy my tickets to PNG
--> monthly support for living in PNG for 2 years
--> my move to PNG as I get settled and start this new chapter

Thank you again for your prayers and support as I get closer to moving to PNG to teach. So many people have come alongside me this year as I learn to move forward. I would not be where I am now without all your continued prayers and encouragement. Below are some pictures that capture some special memories made over the winter.

Kristin Simmons

Donor Information:
NTM Canada
Box 707
Durham, ON, N0G 1R0
1000 E. First Street
Sanford, FL, 32771

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, it's been a while since I have written an update, and my life has completely changed since the last one. Craig has been gone for seven months now, and some days it doesn't seem like it has been very long, and some days it seems like it's been forever since I have been with him. But I know that he is happy and healthy, and knowing that I am trying to keep moving forward. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and continued friendship through this time.

I have actually kept rather busy since I have been home from Korea. I went on a weekend vacation with my family in August down to Pennsylvania, and we had a pretty good time. I was able to go and spend some time in Iowa with my best friend and her family in September, and it was so nice to be able to catch up with her. I ended up going to Papua New Guinea (PNG) with my dad for 7 weeks in October, and it was a really good time. It was nice to be back and see people that I hadn't seen in 6 years. There were some very healing moments as well. I spent 2 weeks while I was there volunteering at the Wewak International School. It was quite the experience. I really enjoyed it though, and I loved the kids in my class. I was with the youngest ones (age 4-6). I also spent about 2 weeks in the Highlands, where I attended high school. It really felt like I was going home. I even stayed with a couple I lived with in Grade 10.

Since coming back from PNG in early December, I have been accepted as an Associate with New Tribes Mission, and Lord willing I will be heading back to PNG in July 2011 for 2 years as a teacher. I will be teaching Grade 1 the first year and then hopefully Kindergarten the next year. When I was in PNG this fall, I was able to spend a lot of time at the school with the current Grade 1 teacher. It was wonderful. She is very organized and her classroom is a dream to step into. I was able to take a lot of pictures and read over the curriculum and just watch her teach. I was also able to meet the kids in Kindergarten this year, as they will be my students next year, so that was really special.

Over the next few months, before I head off to PNG, I will be spending some time visiting friends that I have not seen for a while (from being in Korea), and who I will not see (for being in PNG). I will be spending some of my time in the States, and some in Eastern Canada. During the time that I am here, in Muskoka, I will be volunteering at the Christian school in my area. I am excited about this, as I love to be in the classroom, and it gives me a chance to glean some wisdom from the teachers there, as I prepare to teach in the summer.

Recently, I have been encouraged by something author Kelly Minter wrote, "Although there will be weeping in this life, the direction in which we weep is what truly matters." The sad of losing Craig is still there, and it probably will be there for a long time; however, I know that he is where the Lord needs him, and I am where the Lord needs me. There are still days that are full of tears, and while I get tired of crying, I am trying to weep forward. Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I:

-Work on PNG paperwork for my Visa and work permit
-Raise my monthly support for living in PNG
-Learn how to live, and laugh again in this new phase of my life

Thank you again for your prayers and support as I plan to go teach in Papua New Guinea. Because of the part you have played in my life, I am able to step out in faith in this new adventure.

Kristin Simmons

Donor Information:
NTM Canada
Box 707
Durham, ON, N0G 1R0

1000 E. First Street
Sanford, FL, 32771

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1000 Paper Cranes Completed

Mom and I finished making the 1000 paper cranes before we left Korea. We folded about 400 cranes in 4 days. Here is the rest of the pictures. Please keep myself and our familes in your prayers. Our hearts still hurt and the sad is still there.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Next Thing

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be. So He put his arms around you and whispered "come with me". With tearful eyes I watched you, and saw you pass away. Although I loved you dearly I could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands at rest,God broke my heart to prove to me he only takes the BEST. - Author Unknown (at least to me)

Part of me wishes that we were already back in Canada, as being here just seems so sad without Craig. Another part of me wants to stay as this is where "Craig is". This is where we lived our entire married life and this is where my memories are, the places we walked, our favourite restaurants, our 'home', and hundreds of inside jokes that no one knows but me. That part of me never wants to leave, as the thought of going back to Canada without Craig scares and overwhelms me. It's a tough place to be.

Legal decisions and paperwork are currently what is delaying our return to Canada. I would imagine that legal issues and paperwork for this type of situation would take a while in Canada as well, but it is taking even longer here. Everything seems to hinge on something else, and we are at a disadvantage because of the language barrier. Everything we do, say or gather information about needs to be done through a translator and nothing seems to happen quickly. However, with all that said we are making progress. Little by little things are getting done, and while nothing happens over the weekend, we are hoping to make some headway this week and our plan right now is to home by the end of next week.

Our apartment is almost all packed, my dad is a master packer and has managed to get all of our belongings into 6-7 suitcases (only mailing home two boxes of books). :) In all the time we have had here we have continued to fold cranes. We are at 600 now. Yay!!

Thank you for all the e-mails, facebook messages, and blog comments. I have been too overwhelmed to respond, but know that I appreciate them and am encouraged by your prayers and thoughts. This journey is far from over, but God is sovereign and He gives me just enough strength to do the next thing, and then once that is done, He gives me more strength. I have been encouraged by a poem that Elisabeth Elliot wrote after her husband died about just focusing on 'the next thing.'

Do The Next Thing

At an old English cottage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing."

Some days, like today, are okay days. I feel okay and the sad doesn't seem quite so overpowering. Some days I feel like there is a sadness that goes all the way to my core and it's hard to see anything good. Please continue to pray for me and for our families as we have a lot of healing to do.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

500 Cranes Made, and 500 Cranes To Go

As I have done some more research on Sadako Sasaki I learned that she fell short of her goal of making 1000 crances as her illness took over and she passed away. I too, fell short of making 1000 cranes to put by Craig's bed, but I still plan to finish them as a memory of him and our year in Korea together. To date we have made 500 and that is the half way mark. Yay! I discovered an easier way to make them which has helped, although my original way is more precise.

Encouraging Thoughts

I was going to post this earlier in the week, but thought that I would still pass it along to hopefully encourage you.

Both my mom and my grandma are good writers, and they have both written poems recently that they have passed on to me this week. My grandpa also passed on an encouraging poem that I thought I would share with you. I have included the different Bible verses they gave me in The Message version, as that is one of Craig's favourite versions.

From Grandma:

Jeremiah 32:17 “Dear God, my Master, you created earth and sky by your great power—by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can't do.”

Jeremiah 32:27 “Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can't do?”

Jeremiah 33:3 “'Call to me and I will answer you. I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.'”

Is anything too hard for Thee, Thou God of all creation?
Nay, everything about Thee is beyond our comprehension.

With Thee all things are possible - when we come to Thee in prayer
Thine ear is listening for our cries; Thou knowest every care.

Nothing is too hard for Thee, petitions great or small;
Thy love and grace are ever near to help us through them all.

We bow in thankfulness our God, that from Thy lofty throne
In tenderness Thou lookest down and carest for Thine own.

Oh God who made the moon, the sun, the sparkling stars above;
We thank Thee Thou are waiting still to bless us with Thy love.

Also in the New Testament we have the same expression in
Mark 10:27 “Jesus was blunt: 'No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.'” WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

From Grandpa:

"Life's Weaving"

Life is but a weaving
between my God and me;
I may not choose the colours,
...He knows what they should be.

For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While I can see it only
On this, the under side.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow,
Which seemeth strange to me;
But I will trust His judgement,
And work on faithfully.

'Tis He who fills the shuttle,
He knows just what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest
And leave with Him the rest.

At last, when life is ended,
With Him I shall abide,
And I may view the pattern
Upon the upper side,

Then I shall know the reason
Why pain with joy entwined,
Was woven in the fabric
Of life that God designed.

Author Unknown

From Mom:

1 Samuel 7:12 – Samuel took a single rock and set it upright....He named it 'Ebenezer' (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”

In addition to giving me this poem, she gave me a little smooth stone with the word Ebenezer written on it and this Bible reference on the other side. This way I can hold it in my hand and remember that God is in control, and I can remember all the people who are praying.


This stone you hold is rather tiny,
Not colourful or bright and shiny.
But it's a special stone, you see,
A gift of love for you, from me.
My prayer is when you see this stone,
You'll remember you are not alone.
The Lord is with you everyday,
To help you all along life's way.
So even though it's rather tiny,
Not colourful or bright and shiny.
It's message always will be true,
He's more than able to help you!

Many of you have also shared verses and poems with me, and I appreciate that so much. We read Psalm 91 to Craig a few times when we went to visit him, and it was/is an encouragement to all of us.

Psalm 91

You who sit down in the High God's presence,
spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!"

Kristin for Craig too

Craig Bradley Simmons, I will always love you

My dear, sweet husband, Craig, quietly slipped away and went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on June 16, 2010, at 8:30am in South Korea. I was able to be with him at the end (with my mom and our friend Marg), and the nurses even put his bed rail down and let me sit in his bed and hold him as he met Jesus for the first time. I miss him more than words can say and my body physically aches with sadness. But his body was so hurt, and it would have taken so long for him to heal, and even then he might not have been "our Craig", as his brain was so damaged. This way he never even knew he was hurt. As far as he knew, one minute he was walking home, and the next minute he was walking towards Jesus. He is fully healed and healthy, he is happy, and he probably doesn't even need his glasses anymore. :) His life was not near as long as I would have liked it to be, but I guess God needed him more, and He is going to take good care of him until I/we get there. He was the best husband a girl could ever ask for and I wouldn't trade our 10 month marriage for anything in the world. We had more adventures and excitement then some people might ever have, and I have those memories to keep with me forever. Thank you so much for your prayers while he was in the hospital. God didn't answer them the way we wanted, but Craig is healed, and that is an answer to prayer. Please continue to keep me and our families in your prayers as life without Craig just doesn't seem as fun as life with Craig, but we will never forget him and we will always love him.

Kristin for our families