Monday, 22 August 2016

The Coming Semester


Time to stay true to my word and write another blog post.

The fall semester of Seminary will be starting in about a week. Also, this semester Miska has the added responsibility of being the Associated Student Body (ASB) president for 2016-2017. So I hear you ask what do the ASB do? Well here it is in a nutshell (as published in the ASB newsletter produced by the team):
  • Look after Spiritual welfare: Your ASB team leads in the reading of the Word and prayer for chapels on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. Additionally, each month, ASB chapels are held with guest speakers and special music.
  • Look after your Academic welfare: Your ASB officers act as a liaison between the faculty of the seminary and students. 
  • Look after your Social welfare: Your ASB provide organization of special events and fellowship opportunities. 
  • Look after your Physical welfare: Your ASB make the arrangements for moving assistance and fifty mile hikes (the 50 mile hikes were added by the Dean of Students so ASB is not responsible!)
As a team they identified the theme of the year which is, “Men of the Word. Men of Prayer.”

Here is another excerpt from the ASB newsletter explaining the reason why:
  • The new ASB theme for 2016-2017 will be “Men of the Word. Men of Prayer.” The purpose of this theme is to remind us as seminary students of the essential, but easily neglected spiritual disciplines, namely personal devotion in the Word of God and prayer. Striving to be men of the Word and prayer is a lifelong journey and struggle against sin and temptation in various forms. We all know that the Word and prayer need to be the focus of our personal lives, but it is good for us to be reminded and challenged to put that knowledge into action in our lives more and more. Lest you be tempted to think that times of personal devotion are something that you can simply leave to the side until you are done with seminary, be reminded of the statement that we hear often from the professors, “The man you are now in seminary is the man you will be when you’re done with seminary.” Brothers, let us strive to be: “Men of the Word and Men of Prayer.”
Miska will also be carrying on his paid employment for the Marketing Department of TMS. Miska, works around 15-20 hours a week, and throughout the semester will be likely working Monday and Friday, then attending classes Tuesday-Thursday. 

The other main responsibility Miska has throughout the semester is to our Bible study group, Miska and our our neighbour (a fellow Seminary student from England) co-lead the Glendale Bible Study group from our fellowship group Faithbuilders at Grace Community Church. Last year was the first year for the Bible Study and I really feel we have knitted together well as a group growing in accountability and fellowship. We have gone through the book 'Praying the Bible' (Don Whitney) and also been learning about the basics of Bible interpretation. The Bible study meetings are always a great time of discussion and learning. We meet twice a month on a Friday evening and it really is one of my favourite times of the month.

Also, of course, the biggest commitment Miska has is to his family. I can honestly say, that I was a little nervous at the start of seminary that I could be losing my husband to books and study and work for three years and that we would be reunited at the end. Happily this is not the case, and the seminary wouldn't even allow that to happen... since so much emphasis is put on taking care of your family first. Miska, has been great at balancing seminary/work/family life. Yes, there are times when seminary takes over as papers are due, but we are both good at planning time together to do family activites and also importantly to have time together just the two of us. Also there is always protected family time, when Miska gets home from seminary until Jeremiah goes to bed - these I am sure are Jeremiah's favourite times, always a smile and excitement when 'Daddy' comes home as it usually signals time for sword fighting/rough and tumble/silly dancing :-)

So, how about me (Alison), what will my semester look like? Firstly, I hope it will be me practically serving my husband as best as possible throughout the semester to lighten as much as the load as I can. Then of course to being a Mum to Jeremiah and raising him (with Miska) in a God honoring way.

As with the past few years, I plan to return to Every Women's Grace (EWG) on a Wednesday morning. This is a ladies Bible study which takes place over two hours. The first hour we meet in small groups and go over home work that we have completed throughout the week, there are five days of homework and the aim is to spend around 20-30mins a day going through the questions, as with anything, the more you put in it the more you get out of it. The second hour is teaching time, where the speaker concentrates on what we have been studying the past week, for me it is always a great conclusion to the weeks study and always said more eloquently than I could begin to say :-) Last year the focus was on God's redemptive plan through the Old Testament, this year we will continue with looking at God's redemptive plan through the New Testament. After the study there is the option to go to 'mindset for missions' which is where we have a potluck lunch and hear from Grace Church missionaries, either in person or via Skype, I love this time to hear about how God is working across the world. Jeremiah gets to be in Nursery the whole time, which he enjoys and is nicely tired out for his afternoon nap.
International Seminary Wives (Photo by Louise Essex)

This year, I will be returning to Seminary Wives, which meets on Wednesday evenings. This is a ministry for the wives of seminary students, we meet in small groups again and have speakers covering a wide variety topics related to being a seminary wife. last year, I missed this meeting as I undertook a Biblical Counselling course, this was so valuable, but I also missed seminary wives, and am glad that I will be returning.

I also, will continue to attend Women Walking Wisely, which is the women's ministry from our fellowship group Faithbuilders. Last year I was an assistant leader, which was a great opportunity for me, to be surrounded by older women who had been in this ministry for many years. I stepped down form being an assistant leader, due to being pregnant as I knew I would not be able to commit, come December when baby was due. Though I will still be going as a participant, this year we are studying Bruce Wares' book 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles and Relevance'. Again, we meet in groups at tables and also here teaching on the chapter we have read that month (Miska will be one of the speakers, next year). The meeting is once a month on a Monday evening.

I am also part of a prayer group of six ladies, we meet once a month to pray together and have fellowship. We continue to pray for one another in specific ways throughout the month. This is a wonderful opportunity again for me to be surrounded by ladies who are more mature in their faith and also for accountability.

Then, there is the opportunity to have sweet fellowship with friends. I continue to be blessed by the complex we live in, since there are 13 seminary families living within this one complex, by last count there are 9 different nationalities represented, 23 children under the age of 6 and 4 more on the way. We regularly meet on Tuesday mornings, mainly in the courtyard which as you can imagine with that many children can be noisy and busy, but it is a joy. Though we are often outside or at someones apartment, it is a sweet time in our lives to have so many Christ loving neighbours who are always willing and eager to help one another out and pray for one another. There is also, many opportunities to have fellowship with others from church or seminary. 

So, my post was a bit longer than I imagined, but I hope that gives a small picture to what our semester will look like. We will also begin turning our attention to our future back in Finland and start thinking and planning for this move, the last thing I want to do is leave it all to the last minute, as this would simply not work with two small children around.

Please feel free to get in contact by email (alison.wilhelmsson(at)gmail.com), I would love to hear from you, and I am certainly on a drive to stay in touch with people better.

Praise/Petitions:
  • Praise to God for providing all we need and more, throughout the past two years.
  • For Miska's studies this coming semester, in particular for time management.
  • For me (Alison) to be a good helper to my Husband.
  • For us both to be good parents to Jeremiah, prayer for wisdom in raising him in a God honouring way.
Until the next update,

Alison

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

An update, long overdue!


Hi everyone,

So it turns out that Miska and I are not so great on updating our blog! O
ur previous post was over a year ago! However, I (Alison) have decided to take this into hand and aim to write regular posts, especially as we are approaching our last year at seminary and will be planning for our return to Finland.

So I thought I would just begin this recap with a quick overview of the past few years, it is always an encouragement to look back and see how God has richly provided for us over these past few years. We arrived in Los Angeles just under two years ago, there was Miska, I and a little 12 week old baby growing inside me, we had just four suitcases and two hand luggage bags. God abundantly provided for us through the generosity of other believers, when we arrived we had an apartment that was fully furnished waiting for us right down to the smallest of kitchen utensils. Getting a car, at first proved a struggle, but through patience and perseverance we finally found a good and reliable Toyota Corolla and I soon got used to driving on the wrong side of the road!

Miska, soon found his feet and settled into life at TMS, making friends and thoroughly enjoying his studies, delighting in the fact that he was where he had wanted to be for so many years and getting to study the Word of God in detail. For me, it took a little longer to find my feet, sure I was happy to move to Los Angeles, but for me I guess it felt like I was giving up more to come here, I was giving up my family, friends, the only church I had really ever known, job and even my own country. I certainly felt home sick for several months and cried a lot. Everything felt new, we spoke the same language, but even in that there were differences and the paperwork to get medical insurance and even a driving license was just completely foreign to me! Through it all God sustained me and strengthened me. As we started to get more involved at Grace Community Church, things started to fall into place, we joined the fellowship group called 'FaithBuilders' which also had a home Bible Study that met in our apartment complex. I started attending Every Woman's Grace (EWG) a women's Bible Study meeting on Wednesday mornings and Seminary Wives meeting on Wednesday evenings, also Women Walking Wisely a monthly women's meeting from FaithBuilders. 


Attending Membership classes was also a great wake up call for me, I thought when joining a church this size people would be rushing to make friends with you, and don't get me wrong people were certainly friendly, but in the class I learnt that it is our responsibility to put ourselves out there and reach out to people, that was a wake up call for me and I realised that I need to reach out the hand of friendship, rather than expecting it to be given to me on a plate. Also, that friendships can take time, when I compared them to friends at home, I realised that I had known them for years and of course our friendships were therefore closer.

In our EWG group for the first semester we studied 1 Peter, firstly I don't think I have ever studied a book so thoroughly, and I learnt so much from that book study that was so applicable to me in that time of my life. We were encouraged to learn the passage 1 Peter 1: 3-9 by heart, below is just a portion, but it certainly spoke to me that at time, knowing that we have all that we need through Christ, we have an inheritance that is kept in heaven for us, and we can rejoice in this through all trials we may be facing in our lives.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

I guess the biggest change came to us on February 25th 2015, when Jeremiah Ryle Wilhelmsson was born weighing 9lb 11oz! The first few weeks were again a struggle for me as I had some problems with breast feeding, but again perseverance paid off and all started working well. Jeremiah has truly been a gift from God to us. He is now almost 17 months, running around, saying random words, feeding himself and just generally being a little boy - head bumps and all!

Another blessing came to us in the form of moving apartment complexes, although we enjoyed where we lived and were happy there, the expense of the place was making a huge dent into our bank balance. Thankfully God provided for us a two bedroom apartment at a much cheaper rent than we were first paying, and what’s more the new complex was full of other seminary families, many of whom also had young children. This community has been such a blessing to me in so many ways I can't even express, and will be dearly missed when we return to Finland.

Okay, so this recap is getting longer than I expected and I feel like I have only covered such a little part of our time here so far. Miska has continued to enjoy the seminary and get to know more fellow students. He has also been blessed with several different work positions at the seminary and is now working as a designer for the marketing department at TMS. He was also recently voted to be the President of the Associated Student Body at TMS for the next academic year, which demonstrates how well he has settled in and adapted to seminary life. Also, our involvement in ministry at FaithBuilders recently resulted in an opportunity for Miska to preach at FaithBuilders in June. I was probably more nervous than him, but it was such a joy for me to see how much he has learnt over the past few years, and how he was able to put this into practice when preaching, it has made the whole seminary experience so worth it. If you would like to listen to the sermon, you can do so on the Grace Community Church website.


Sermon link: https://www.gracechurch.org/sermons/12178

So I think I will leave it there for now, my aim is to be brief on my posts and keep them more frequent, so watch this space :-)

Points for prayer and praise:
  • How God has sustained us and provided so much more than we ever could have imagined.
  • For Miska, as he finishes his last assignments for summer school by the end of July.
  • For me (Alison), that I will be a good helper to my husband and mother to my son, also for the little baby that is currently growing inside me.

Ps. Even though Miska hasn't written any blog updates here for over a year, he has actually published a few articles on his theological blog 'Nordic Preacher.' Here's the link if you're interested to read what he has written: http://www.nordicpreacher.com/

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Video Update #2 (May 2015)



Hi everyone! Miska has just finished his first year at The Master's Seminary, so we thought it was a good time to record another video update speaking about how the time has gone. You can watch the video (about 18 minutes long) here above or by clicking this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/amdMiHKR24c

Summary of topics covered:
- Completed first year at TMS
- Birth of Jeremiah
- Blessing of new apartment
- Thankful for all support
- Plans about visiting UK & Finland
- Jeremiah sucking his hand and interpreting for toddlers as Daddy is speaking ;-)
- Summer school at TMS
- Brief summer holiday
- Overview of classes completed
- Fellowship group and Bible study at Grace Community Church
- Alison at SemWives and EWG
- Thankful for godly seminary professors

We hope you enjoy the update.

Until next time,

Miska, Alison & Jeremiah

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Introducing our baby boy Jeremiah! (photos)


Jeremiah was born on 25th February

1st Family Photo

Mother and Son

Father and Son

Jeremiah at four weeks old :-)

Saturday, 14 February 2015

First Update of the Year (February 2015)


Greetings to all,

Waiting for the Baby :-)

Yet again we realise there it is way over due that we write another blog update. Time seems to go so quickly.

So it is February already, Miska has already completed his first semester and is now well and truly into his second semester at The Master's Seminary.

Miska writing seminary papers during Christmas break

Between the Semesters we had the Christmas break, Miska had three weeks off school but was still a busy period. Christmas was a little different to what we are used to, what with not being around family and it being hot and sunny, but we were thankful to be around church family. On Christmas Eve, Miska and I celebrated together having the non-traditional dinner of Steak and Cactus. Then on Christmas Day, we had dinner with some other seminary families in our apartment complex, in the evening we went to our friend Jeanne's house and spent time with her and her family.  Miska got to go in the sauna and cool off in the pool :-)

Our non-traditional Christmas dinner

Christmas Day with friends

Miska was also an orientation leader for new incoming students so the last week of the holiday was mainly spent in school helping the new students orientate to Seminary life. The role also involved helping families settle into their new life here at in Los Angeles, we took care of two international families, one from the United Kingdom and the other from Madagascar. This has been a blessed time as we have seen how God has been working in their lives to bring them into seminary and we were also able to help them practically like we were helped when we arrived in Los Angeles. We have also built up some vey wonderful relationships with these families.

Pick-up at the airport

Family from Madagascar


You may have heard about our car accident that happened just before Christmas, thankfully no one involved in the accident was hurt, including baby Wilhelmsson. However, the car situation and getting it fixed caused me a little bit of anxiety as at one point it looked like the insurance company were not going to fix it. Though God has taught me a lesson in patience, finally after seven weeks we got our car back, fixed and looking even slightly better than it did before. We are so thankful to all who prayed over our car situation and also to our friend Jeanne, who kindly lent us a car in the mean time.

Our car back and fixed :-)

So Miska, has started back at school and is already about 5 weeks into the semester. This semester he has classes in Old Testament, Biblical Counseling, Prayer, Hebrew and a Discipleship Lab. Although it is hard work, Miska is still very much enjoying his studies. He is also continuing to work in the library 20 hours a week. Also, as we are fully aware, being in seminary is not about grades, it is about building Miska up to be a future pastor, but we are still thankful that Miska's hard work is paying off and he did very well in his exams and papers last semester.

Me at 8 months pregnant

So I am now 39 weeks pregnant and the due date is 19th February. I am still thankfully doing very well, baby Wilhelmsson is growing as he should and is now ready to come into the world in the Lord's timing. In my head, I think I will be over, but time will tell. I see the doctor now weekly, who continues to monitor my progress. I am feeling as ready as I will ever be for baby Wilhelmsson and we have truly been blessed by people's generosity, we have not had to buy hardly anything for this baby.

Things already for the baby


Things to pray for:

  • Safe delivery of baby Wilhelmsson
  • Miska and his studies, especially for time management when the baby comes
  • Adjusting to life as parents

Until the next update,

Alison (and Miska)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Long Overdue Update (Oct. - Nov. 2014)

Greetings to all :-)

So I thought it is time I should write a long overdue blog update, I am not sure where all the time really goes, but it is going quick! Miska's first semester will be over before we know it and it will be Christmas :-)

We have been here in America just over four months now, in some ways it feels longer than that, we definitely feel a lot more settled here now and like this is our home for now.

At the annual TMS banquet - Novemeber 2014

Miska has been busy with his studies, which he is still very much enjoying, it is getting towards crunch time as he has many assignments due at the end of the semester and although he has been trying to work on them throughout the course of the semester, time seems to have flown by and there seems to be a lot to do in a short period of time. By all accounts, talking to other seminarians and their wives this is normal seminary life. Prayer would be appreciated for Miska over the next month that he would be able to work diligently and get all the assignments done to the best of his ability.

Some of Miska's Hebrew flash cards

We are also so thankful to God for the provision of a job for Miska at the seminary library, Miska was working in the church events department serving at weddings and memorials and although he very much enjoyed this work, the hours were not regular or for as many as he would like to get enough fincancial income. The library job gives a secure 20 hours a week (the maximum Miska can do on international student visa), he is very much enjoying being there, it is a great opportunity for Miska to meet many people and he loves being around the books. There is also an opportunity to buy second hand books from the library, so as you can imagine, Miska comes back most weeks with a few books in tow, this always makes my heart sink a little as I imagine the number of books we will be taking back to Finland, but the prices are very cheap and it's a great opportunity to build up his personal library, especially when you think there is not exactly a huge abundance of good resources in Finland, and if there are they are so much more expensive.

TMS Library leaflet

We have joined as members of Grace Community Church and also settled in a fellowship group called FaithBuilders. FaithBuilders meets between 8.30am and 10.00am, then we have main service at 10.30 and an evening service at 6.30pm. With three sermons on a Sunday it can be a lot to take in and digest, but we are thoroughly enjoying our time at Grace Community Church. We have become involved with the FaithBuilders fellowship group, Miska has volunteered to help with sound on Sunday mornings every now and then, so is currently being trained up. We also attend a local small group Bible study two Friday's a month, which is very conveniently held in out apartment block, Miska will also start teaching in the Bible study come the new year as we start on the book of Ephesians. Faithbuilder's also has a men's and women's Bible study once a month, both groups have been reading through Tim Challies' book 'The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment', we have both found the book very helpful so far, it is a nice easy read but also challenging and I would certainly recommend it. We have been building up good friendships in the church and within the fellowship group, we even house/cat sat for a couple of weeks for a couple in the group, it was nice to have a garden to sit out in and enjoy the cooler sunny weather. Miska has been out once with the evangelism team on a Sunday afternoon and would like to go again, but as yet the timing has not been right. I must admit, when you first go to Grace Community Church you can be overwhelmed by the huge size of the church, but I must say, when you plug yourself in and get to know people, it soon feels a lot smaller in a good way :-)

Harvest pot-luck dinner with our church fellowship group

Baby Wilhelmsson is doing well. A huge answer to prayer came in the result of my medi-cal (government provided insurance) coming through. This means I am fully covered for my pregnancy and delivery at no cost. It is a huge weight of our shoulders and we are both so thankful for this provision. My pregnancy is developing well and he is growing on target. I feel very blessed to be having a straightforward pregnancy so far. Every so often I get the anxious attack and start worrying that he is not moving around in there, but then he soon gives me a reassuring kick :-) Miska has been able to feel him move a couple of times also. All being well, he is due on February 19th 2015. A good friend of mine here is also due on exactly the same day, we are both having boys and are under the same doctor, who knows we may be in the hospital at the same time :-)  My Mum and Sister have booked flights for a few weeks after due date, which I am very excited about and also Miska's Mum will come out soon after they have left, so it will be great to have family around us here in L.A. when the baby comes.

Proverbs class with Dr. John Street

I've been enjoying going to the Seminary Wives group mettings and have a lovely group of ladies with whom I share a table with. The teaching has been great, as well as the book we are reading through - 'One with the Shepherd' by Mary Sommerville. The meetings have just ended this week for the Thanksgiving and Christmas break and I am already looking forward to starting up again in the new year. I have also been doing a 6 week Logos Institute course with Dr. John Street on the book of Proverbs and especially how the book can be used for biblical counseling purposes, this has been great, I only wish it could continue, though God willing I will also undertake a biblical counseling course at some point in the future while I am here. I'm also very much enjoy going to a knitting group that occurs on a Friday afternoon at the local library, I have learnt there is a whole world to knitting and crochet I never knew exisisted! The ladies are so talented and friendly, also so patient to teach me new knitting skills, I have successfully knitted my first sock... now I just have to knit the other one!

On another note, I passed my driving test, and now have a Californian driving liscence, makes me feel a little bit American! I am also having to adapt to using American phrases, I tried my best to stay strong and use my British terms, but have to concede to American terms, quite simply because otherwise people do not have a clue what I am talking about!

I am also very excited as my best friend Miriam will be arriving here tomorrow :-) It will be so lovely to have her here for two and a half weeks, we have a few exciting things planned but to be honest it will be just great to hang out together properly.

So, things on the whole are going very well. Financially, we have learnt that things are a little more costly than we first though but we are learning to budget our money as best we can. The use of coupons here is something I am getting used to as well as shopping around at different stores to find the best deals. This does mean at times doing my food shopping at three different stores but the savings are worth it. One thing we would value prayer about is our apartment living, we realised we could save some money in this area by dropping to a smaller apartment - pray for wisdom in this, potentially we could move within our apartment block or more likely it would be when our contract ends next July. We love living where we are and have a lovely home, but we are trying to be wise with finances, so we would value prayer in regards to housing situation and saving money.


We have had a little bit of downtime too and have enjoyed getting to know the area in which we live in a little better. I still maintain that Wales and Finland are more beautiful than here in the desert but there is still natural beauty to be seen certainly. We have enjoyed exploring some of the local canyons for short walks, many of which have been seen on film sets and this past week Miska and I had a whole date day where we went to Santa Barbara Zoo and also the city centre, it was a lovely place and I enjoyed my day there and know it is somewhere to bring visitors. At the Zoo I got to fulfill a life long dream to feed a giraffe :-)

Having a 'zooper' day at Sanata Barbara Zoo :-)

I do hope all is well with everyone who reads this, wherever you are in the world. Remember you can always contact us at either of our email addresses or at thewilhelmssons@gmail.com we would love to hear from you and also let us know if there is anything we can be praying for you. I do miss the UK and Finland, though also thankful I am now feeling settled here in L.A.

In summary here are some things you can pray for us:

Praise God for answered prayers:
  • Miska has a job in the library
  • We feel more settled here in L.A.
  • We feel settled in Grace Community Church
  • Baby Wilhelmsson is growing well and my pregnancy so far has been nice and straightforward.
Current prayer requests:
  • For Miska and his studies, especially getting all his assignments in the next few weeks
  • For wisdom on our housing situation as an opportunity to save money
  • For myself not to be anxious about the baby at times and learn to trust God in all things
  • That I (Alison) will be able to put into practice the things I am learning in Seminary Wives and the Logos class and other Bible studies into practice.

Until the next post (or video),

Alison (and Miska)