Posted by: robertparrish | September 7, 2011


An amazing thing happened a few weeks ago. Alicia and I had submitted our resignations as co-managers of the independent senior living community where we were working, and during our final week resident after resident told us how much our year there had touched their lives. Though they supported our decision for slowing down, they would miss us terribly. Whether they identified whatever impact we made as God-given, as the presence of the Holy Spirit, or not, we were both deeply touched.

Back home in MO the senior care referral agency position in Springfield was developing. Should be an easy gig – 40 hours a week instead of the 55+ we’d been used to – working from home in the comfort of PJs, with a couple days a week making sales calls. They liked me, I liked them, nice cocooned job. We were both about to say ‘I do’ until the agency’s corporate office implemented a hiring freeze 2 weeks before I was to begin training. No new employees in the foreseeable future.

What’s going on, Father?

Needing a little additional income, Alicia and I applied as part-time relief managers with our former employer. No hesitation on their part! A couple of phone calls later we were re-hired, but working only 2 weeks a month. Back to helping seniors.

In reflecting on this zig-zag in our perfectly made plans, along with prayer and reading the Word, it seems our next assignment in the kingdom is back out among the lives of people needing Jesus. And yes, there will be enough income to continue being a giver, a provider. Maybe we can also be a goer.


Posted by: robertparrish | August 14, 2011

David or Solomon?

The Old Testament notes David, king of Israel, as a “man after God’s own heart.” What an awesome recognition of one’s walk with the Lord God, Creator of the universe! It was this David who slew giants and strummed harps, who waited patiently for the throne to become his even though he was anointed king years before. It was this David who brought peace and prosperity to Israel.

It was also this David who was not allowed to build the temple to his God. Too much blood on his hands, the Lord said, for a house of peace. What a disappointment that must have been! But though prevented from building the temple, David at least provided for it. According to 1 Chronicles 22, he assembled stone, iron, bronze and cedar for his heir to actually build the permanent worship center of the Lord God of Israel.

When David could not become a goer or doer, he became a giver, a provider.

Maybe that’s why visiting Wycliffe Bible Translators last month did not pull on my heart strings so passionately I would be willing to sell all and relocate to Dallas, TX. Maybe I have too many years in the business world, and have  too many marriages in my life to become a goer. Maybe, like King David, I’m to be a provider – a giver – rather than a goer.

This is the only conclusion that gives me peace, that gives rest to my soul’s continually seeking how and where I might plug into the Great Commission.

Posted by: robertparrish | August 8, 2011

Giver or Goer?

For years I’ve wanted to become a missionary, a foreign missionary. I dreamed of telling people in far-off lands of the love of Jesus. No heat was too oppressive, no living conditions too primitive for the joy of sharing and showing people how much Jesus loves them. And inviting them to join His family.

Except that not all my family was in agreement. Except that needed finances were not in place. Perhaps in the final third of my life living in a grass hut in the wilds of Africa is not what God has in mind. I had hoped, had prayed as passionately as I know how, that the visit to Wycliffe Bible Translators in Dallas would be life-changing. I desperately wanted my wife and I to both be so “called to ministry” we would rush home, quit our jobs, sell the condo, pack up and move to Dallas.


The people in Wycliffe are lovely – and fully committed to getting God’s Word into every tongue and every nation. They are the called. Apparently Alicia and I are not. At least not now.

We did come home from Wycliffe and quit our jobs, but more because of long hours and corporate balderdash than rushing off to becoming missionaries. What the Holy Spirit seems to be doing, what seems to excite us more, is living quiet lives in the hills of the Ozarks and working with seniors.

Interestingly, just a few days after submitting our resignations, a new position working with seniors opened up in Springfield, MO just 35 or so miles from home. I applied and sent my resume. Now we’re in the final stages of decision-making. Do they want to hire me? Do I really want to work for them? If so, this could let us support Wycliffe missionaries financially, even if we can’t be on the ground.

Maybe at this time in life I’m a giver instead of a goer.

Posted by: robertparrish | August 7, 2011

Now What?

A few days ago Alicia and I were pretty certain we weren’t being called to Wycliffe and Duncanville, TX. So last night we collected our Wycliffe literature, our notes, the Duncanville town map, info about area jobs and apartments, and filed them in our Travel Folder.

Maybe another day.

The following morning, while dressing for work, we talked about our desire to directly help seniors, or anyone for that matter, rather than serving as behind-the-scenes paper pushers. Doing so had propelled Alicia into resigning her very successful position as manager of a HUD building in Mesa, AZ. And that had been a contributing factor to my resigning as Business Administrator of the missionary sending agency that got us to Phoenix in the first place.

Soon Alicia noted she “hadn’t completely written off Duncanville.” I admitted to similar thoughts.

What was the Holy Spirit doing now?

We smiled at each other. This quest wasn’t over yet.

More to come. For sure.

Posted by: robertparrish | August 4, 2011

After Wycliffe.

Dallas and the headquarters of Wycliffe Bible Translators were visited as scheduled. We met godly people, received wonderful hospitality, and toured a fascinating operation. The Cowan Senior Apartments are spacious, well-designed and will graciously nurture retired missionaries for many years.

Venee made our orientation tour very exciting. Her enthusiasm for getting God’s Word translated into the remaining 2100 or so languages is contagious. As she led us around the 110-acre campus we envisioned many opportunities at the Global Publishing Services department and the “boutique” where missionaries can freely choose whatever clothing they need for their upcoming tour. Even the dining room offered an assistant cook position – paid, too!

Did we sense God’s “call” to become part Wycliffe Bible Translators? Clearly there is need. Clearly the mission is much bigger than ourselves. As we continue praying back home in Iowa, however, there seems no compelling draw, no urgency within our spirits to become part of Wycliffe.

Are our hearts hardened? Did we focus too much on externalities like where we’d live, how we’d find part-time work? Perhaps. But our deep desire is still to help people meet and know Jesus Christ. Where and how and when can we become more fruitful?

Posted by: robertparrish | July 13, 2011

It’s Been Awhile, part 2

Throughout the early part of 2011 we prayed about and talked about this gnawing on our spirits, this desire – even hunger – for meaning and passion in our lives.

A friend recommended the book, Wild Goose Chase, by Mark Batterson, lead pastor at Washington, D.C.’s National Community Church. The book resonated loudly with our search for purpose. We discussed attending, and planned on registering for, the Finishers Project forum in central Iowa. Just as we were about to do so, a Finishers advisor called. After a few minutes talking, he recommended creating our profile on Finishers’ website rather than the forum.

We created our profile early in June 2011. Except that in filling out the profile form, I mistakenly listed our current city as “Urbandale, Missouri.” No such place. We live in Urbandale, Iowa.

A couple of weeks later the recruiter for Wycliffe Bible Translators, Intl., phoned and wanted to know where “Urbandale, Missouri” was. I confessed my goof and before the conversation ended, he had made known their need for a couple managing the senior residence for retired Wycliffe missionaries.


Their need – our recent experience – and no timeshares to market. No more 100 cold calls per day every Tuesday. Sounded like a perfect match.

This coming weekend Alicia and I fly to Dallas to meet with the current retirement residence manager and another representative of Wycliffe Bible Translators. We’re praying hard about God’s leading for our lives. We’re checking out local job opportunities because at least one of us will need a part-time job.

More to come…

Posted by: robertparrish | July 11, 2011

It’s Been Awhile

Okay, 2 summers ago Alicia and I checked out a Ministering to Missionaries possibility in San Juan, Texas. San Juan is an R&R location for missionaries retreating from the rigors of ministry in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and parts south. It’s a great facility, offers clean apartments for minimal rent, hot water, telephones and television. And access to home cooking, whatever tastes that might include. San Juan is also part of New Life Advance, a ministry we’d served with back in 1999 and 2000.

Back home in Missouri Alicia and I prayed and talked and prayed some more about joining the staff at San Juan. We could sell the condo, load up our possessions and head back to Texas, Alicia’s home state. But there were ongoing financial obligations that wouldn’t end with selling the condo. And to support ourselves at least 1 of us would need a nearly full-time job. That would leave most of the running of San Juan up to the other of us, with help from the other on days off. Sounded like a major undertaking.

That September my 93-year-old mother fell and broke her elbow and shoulder. She now needed in-home, day-to-day care. We opted for living in Iowa, rather than Texas, while maintaining the condo in Missouri.

Nine months later while researching live-in care options for Mom, we came across Holiday Retirement. Holiday is a chain of independent retirement communities across the U.S. and Canada. We liked the company so much we applied to be co-managers at one of their communities, were hired, trained and sent to Urbandale, Iowa just 10 minutes from Mom’s house.

At first, working for Holiday Retirement was exciting and rewarding. Things to learn, people to meet and care for, new skills to acquire. Before we joined the company, however, the founders had sold out to an investment group. Now the great American dollar directed the company’s future. Gone were the core values of “Holiday touch,” replaced by the demand for ever-increasing move-ins while cutting operating costs.

In the midst of this season of our lives, the Holy Spirit again came knocking. Was helping corporate stockholders fatten their wallets where we wanted our lives to count? Yes, we were contributing to the lives of seniors, making their lives more comfortable, meeting their special needs efficiently and quickly. That was the gratifying part of Holiday Retirement. But the long hours were, well, looong. And as the insatiable demand for move-ins mounted, our working hours were more focused on timeshare-like selling rather than caring for residents. What were we to do?

More tomorrow.

Posted by: muchbiggerthanme | August 1, 2009

“Serving Those Who Serve”

NLLI, now New Life Advance International (NLAI), was founded in the           middle 1950s by Drs. Fred and Clara Jarvis. One of the many outreaches of their lifelong ministry is a base in San Juan, Texas.

Offices and missionary apartments

Offices and missionary apartments

This facility was started and still exists for missionaries and teams going into and coming out of Mexico and Guatemala. It has been managed for the last 30 years by the Jarvises and two other couples.

In the last few years this responsibility has fallen onto the remaining two women, Mrs. Jarvis and her friend and coworker, Mrs. Zammitt.

Joan Zammett and Clara Jarvis

Joan Zammett and Clara Jarvis

While volunteers have helped, the women have been praying for a couple to assume the day-to-day operations of the base. Property management is not the only need, a listening hear and a heart for missionaries have been the primary focus of the San Juan base. Their motto is “Serving Those Who Serve.”

We visited San Juan in July and met with Mrs. Jarvis and Mrs. Zammett. After hearing and seeing their heart for evangelism and “serving those who serve,” we were touched and connected to their vision.

RV parking and property

RV parking and property

For more information about the NLAI San Juan Base, please visit their website (

Posted by: muchbiggerthanme | July 30, 2009

Photo History of the Mexico Border Ministry

Base apartments

Base apartments

The ministry in San Juan was started when Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis were in the States on a furlough from Japan. The Lord miraculously provided this land. The elderly man who owned it was going to donate it to the Southern Baptist Board. The Jarvises approached him, told him about their vision and need for land, and asked him to pray about it.

The man’s daughter set up payment on an annuity basis, with the Jarvises paying a certain sum each month as long as he lived. Upon his demise the land would be theirs. There were a few run-down buildings to be torn down, old fruit trees to be removed, etc. The Jarvises put up new buildings as the Lord provided the funds. They never borrowed. One by one the buildings were put up and the Lord has continued to provide in wonderful ways.

Thrift Store and Former Print Shop

Thrift store and former print shop

While printing is no longer done here, the ministry still continues to distribute Bibles, New Testaments, hymnals and tracts in Spanish and English to Mexican pastors, missions and missionaries.

Thrift store entrance

Thrift store entrance

Part of the ministry is a Thrift Shop open on Friday mornings, except during hot summer months. All items are donated by churches and individuals are sold at very reasonable costs. Clothing items are free to missionaries. Some of the donated items are used to help furnish guest apartments. Proceeds from the Thrift Shop sales go toward the support of dedicated national workers in India.

Workshop, dormitory and small guest house

Workshop, dormitory and small guest house

The Mexico Border Ministry has a growing outreach with teams involved in ministries on both sides of the border. It has a 32 bed dormitory available for church-sponsored short-term mission trips. One organization sends a team every year which arrives in travel trailers from all over the country. For three weeks, they use their skills and experience to help with major projects on the mission base.
Exist from the base

Exist from the base

New Life Advance International is an interdenomination and international faith mission founded by Dr. Fred D. Jarvis in 1954. Its ministries include  literature distribution, childrens homes and schools, church planting and ministry to missionaries.

Posted by: robertparrish | July 26, 2009

A Walk of Faith

Clara Jarvis and her husband, the late Dr. Fred Jarvis, had founded New Life Advance International in the middle 1950s. They’d been missionaries in China, Japan, and South America and had ‘retired’ to a dry and dusty patch of south Texas founding a hospitality, rest and restoration center for missionaries working south of the Mexican border.

Back during the founding of the San Juan missionary hospitality ministry, there’d been three couples and numerous volunteer mission teams clearing the land, building buildings, operating publishing and thrift store ministries and welcoming missionaries from the south and workers from the north wanting to minister across the Mexican border. Now the only staff were two elderly women browned by the sun and moving slowly, yet strong with servant’s hearts for all who needed their help, their counsel, a listening ear, prayer, and always opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Sister Clara walk of faith was evident as she  quoted one of her favorite verses,  Jeremiah 33:3, “Call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.”  What a woman of faith and vision all of these years!

Her desire to “Serve Those Who Serve” resonated with us and we were touched by her steadfastness in praying for missionaries all over the world.