JBU Stories - Scott and Tasha Jones

The heart of JBU is our people. Here are their stories.

JBU factoid

Scott and Tasha Jones graduated from JBU in 1996. They currently live with their children in Russia, where they serve at a Christian school. 

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"We want to be where God wants us to be. That's not just a geographic location, that's also an assignment question too of, 'Okay, does God not only call you to a geographic place, but does he call you to a task?'"

 

Show Transcript

Julie Gumm:

Welcome to the JBU Stories podcast. I'm your host, Julie Gumm, director of university marketing and communications at John Brown University. I'm also an alum and a current parent, so I get to see JBU from all sides. The heart of JBU is really our people, our students, alumni, faculty and staff. The JBU Stories podcast is where we get to introduce you to these amazing people and hear their stories.

Hi everybody. Welcome to this week's episode of the JBU Stories podcast. With me on this show, I have Scott and Tasha Jones.

 

 

They are both 1996 graduates of John Brown University and Scott was also a professor here for a little while, but currently they're living in Russia working, teaching and, actually, Scott is the president of a Christian school there and so they had just have a really interesting story of how God has led them to these various very different adventures and the things that he has taught them along the way. So I think you're really going to love today's episode. Scott and Tasha, tell us a little bit about how you guys came to be students at JBU and what you guys studied while you were here.

 

Scott Jones:

Well, I had grown up in East Texas for most of my childhood and then high school, my parents moved us to St. Petersburg, Florida. So, having done high school in Florida, I really wanted to get back to this part of the country. I'd loved growing up in Texas and was looking at schools in this area, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, that whole thing. And it ended up... it's a bit of a crazy story because I had applied to John Brown and then nothing really happened, I didn't hear anything back from them. I'd heard about the school from another guy at our school who was also looking at it. And one day the guidance counselor at my high school asked me, say, "Have you heard anything back from them?" And I said, "No, not yet."

 

Julie Gumm:

Somebody was slacking on the job.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah, I didn't... Hey, it's been a long time. So he then talked to the school's headmaster and remember, this is in Florida and our school's headmaster had been hired by a board that included a man named Jim Barnes who at the time, was director of advancement at John Brown University. So the headmaster then called Mr. Barnes and said, "Hey, I got this senior who's applied to your school and they haven't done anything about it." So he pulled the file, took a look at it, and then talked to John Brown, III and said, "Hey, there's this kid in Florida who wants to come here, I think we should bring him." So John Brown then talked to Don and admissions and said, "Hey, we need to do something about this."

 

 

So they began talking to me and ended up making it very possible me to come. And so I think even that Spring they did the... the cathedral choir concert tour was in Florida that year, so they even came to our little church in St. Petersburg one night and I got to meet some people there and then we came and visited the campus, and I think a lot of alumni would say the same thing. We came, we visited and realized, "Wow, this is a really special place."

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, fell in love.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah, fell in love with it and just realized, "Okay, yeah, this is where I want to go."

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, definitely. What about you, Tasha?

 

Tasha Jones:

For me it's a little bit different because I was a transfer student, too. Well, I grew up in Colorado and I went to a community college for two years with intentions to transfer to a state school and then, the summer after my freshman year of college, I worked at a camp in Colorado called camp IdRaHaJe and actually Scott worked there that same summer. So that's where we first met, although we hardly talked to each other that summer, he was very shy. But there was also four other students from JBU that worked there and one, Carissa Ward, was couple years older.

 

Julie Gumm:

Oh, yeah. I remember her.

 

Tasha Jones:

You know her?

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah. She was someone that I got along with really well and we became really good friends and I decided, "Oh Hey, I should visit." And the funny thing is, one of my high school teachers had graduated from John Brown, his name is Mark Miller. He was a math teacher. And I kept in touch with him after graduating, I said, "Hey, I'm thinking of visiting your school." And he's like, "Well, I'm going for homecoming, why don't you come at the same time?" I'm like, "Okay." So I visited here during homecoming that year, stayed with Carissa. Scott actually ended up taking me back to the airport afterwards because he had a car.

 

 

While I visited, I remember talking to Lauren and I told her kind of my story and like, "Yeah, I'm looking at this for my sister," whatever. And she really resonated with me on that. She shared a similar story and I just realized as I visited classes I'm like, "Oh, I would really like to come here, but I have my plans." And then when I came back I told my parents about, they started making plans for me to come and my sister to come. So we both came the same year. So I took my junior and senior year here and-

 

Julie Gumm:

So when did you and Scott start dating then?

 

Tasha Jones:

It's actually our senior year at JBU because I knew him from camp and such, he was one of the people, I was like, "Well, hey, let me meet your friends." And we were both history majors so I had at least one class with him every semester.

 

Scott Jones:

That may or may not have been planned by me.

 

Julie Gumm:

I love it.

 

Tasha Jones:

And we just became really good friends and had long conversations and then I guess that moved into more.

 

Julie Gumm:

Okay. So when you were in the college, junior, senior year, what did you think you were going to do after graduation for careers and that sort of thing? What was your plan?

 

Tasha Jones:

Well, my plan at that time was I was looking at going to law school. I started out as pre-law and then after my first semester I wasn't sure, and I realized I didn't need pre-law to go to law school, and so I had a long conversation with Ed Erickson, who was actually the history professor at that time, and he kind of talked me into switching to history and I'm really glad I did because I ended up not going to law school.

 

Julie Gumm:

Okay. But Scott, you did.

 

Scott Jones:

I did and I think for me, it was a combination of high school teachers I had, that guidance counselor I mentioned and then also the professors that I had here at John Brown in the Bible department. I was a theology major and a history major as well when I was here and I saw the impact they were having on me and the people around me and just really concluded that what I want to do then with my life is to try to have that impact on others, to be able to teach and to influence students positively. So I knew I wanted to teach, but I wasn't quite sure how best to go about that and was really going back and forth between law school and seminary, trying to decide what the best way to do this would be.

 

 

I was really interested in historical theology, but ended up settling on law school, which is a separate story, but came to the conclusion that with law, at least it would allow me to teach and if that didn't happen in the near future I could at least practice law and be able to pay off student loans and things like that.

 

Julie Gumm:

Always a good plan, be able to pay off the loans. But you ended up finding a place for that passion for teaching and impacting others.

 

Scott Jones:

I did. My third year in law school—we had come back I think, to visit John Brown a couple of times while I was in law school and after Tasha and I got married and talking with Dr. Erickson and others, keeping in touch with them and found out my third year of law school that JBU was going to be starting the political science major, and as part of that they were looking for someone who could lead the pre-law program. And so I applied for that position and God opened that door far sooner than we thought possible, and we came back in 1999.

 

Julie Gumm:

And what was your favorite thing about teaching? Not necessarily just at JBU but just about the teaching experience?

 

Scott Jones:

I think my favorite thing about it is getting to discuss or to talk about some of the great ideas that the world has seen. So my real love and passions can be constitutional law, but also political philosophy and just talking about these writers and the different theories they have and the ideas and getting to discuss those things with students. Because in a lot of ways, what we see on the news and what we read in the papers is politics or political theory made practical in a lot of ways, but it all begins somewhere with an idea. And so just talking to students about how ideas matter, why ideas matter and which ideas matters. And so, getting to do that.

 

Julie Gumm:

And that was a very different landscape for teaching that sort of stuff in 1999 because we didn't have Twitter and Facebook and the 24/7 social media, online news, trying to discern what's real, what's not.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah. I'm trying to picture Plato's dialogues in the form of these podcasts.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, definitely different. And then you guys also took on a unique role while you were still teaching, I believe, right? And you became business owners.

 

Scott Jones:

We did. In 2009, Tasha's brother, who's also a JBU graduate, had been working with Walmart in their radio department. And that year Walmart decided to not do radio anymore for a while, they're back now, but for awhile they decided not to do that. And so he was looking for something different and we had just been... well, we'd finished what, about two years of kind of being back and forth between Europe and the United States. I'd taken a sabbatical to do my PhD research in Italy.

 

Tasha Jones:

We did several study abroad programs to Ireland and to Italy and-

 

Julie Gumm:

Took JBU students?

 

Tasha Jones:

Yes. So we did a year of a month study program in Italy in 2007 and 2008 and had done the semester program in Ireland in 2008, so definitely had traveling in our blood.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah. So we had just finished about two years of a lot of traveling and one of the things we learned was we really liked Italian food and we really liked Italian pizza. And when we moved back to Siloam Springs, American pizza is just not the same. So Tom was thinking about what he would do next and he had had some experience in the food business and even at a pizzeria. So we suggested to him, "Hey, why don't we start an Italian style, wood fired pizza restaurant here in Siloam Springs?" And we began brainstorming and putting together all the plans for that and kind of, I guess that was February of 2009 and, by May of 2009, we identified a building and had bought an existing business, which was actually a candy shop at the time. And by October of that same year, we had done a remodel and opened up Fratellis wood-fired pizzeria here in Siloam Springs.

 

Julie Gumm:

And were you at the same location that the pizzeria is now, in downtown the whole time?

 

Scott Jones:

Yes.

 

Julie Gumm:

And what was the landscape of downtown Siloam Springs at that time because I mean, when we were students, there was nothing downtown and now it's really great. So I imagine it was kind of somewhere in between at that time?

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah, the Christian bookstore was there, that had been there like maybe 60 years. And, actually, the building that we bought had been Cameo Gifts when we were students.

 

Julie Gumm:

Oh, okay. That's vaguely familiar. Yeah.

 

Tasha Jones:

And then before that, had been Harrison Jewelers, I think, a long time before that.

 

Julie Gumm:

There wasn't much for JBU students to go do downtown.

 

Tasha Jones:

No.

 

Scott Jones:

No. We used to joke on Friday nights, when we first opened, you could kind of see the tumbleweeds going down Broadway there because most Fridays most people were leaving Siloam, I mean, that was the thing. Even as students, it was the thing, you'd go over to Fayetteville or Rogers or something on the weekend. And so we were a part of sort of the turnaround of that, really. I mean, when we started, there was the cafe on Broadway had been there for a couple of years. And then we opened about the same time another Mediterranean restaurant opened downtown, where 28 Springs is now, and so we were sort of part of that first wave of coming back in and saying, "Hey, we can do better. Siloam Springs can be a place where people want to come or where even the people who live here want to stay on the weekend."

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. What were some of the other challenges in running your own business besides just overcoming some of that downtown Siloam Springs struggles.

 

Tasha Jones:

I can say one struggle was just the timing because 2008 was kind of like the big economic downturn and it didn't really hit Siloam as hard, I think. So a lot of people are like, "Why are you starting a business and why a restaurant? Don't you know the failure rate of restaurants is..." whatever statistic it was. But trying to get loans was tricky because nobody wants to invest in some people they don't know and there's no track record and we had no idea what kind of numbers to forecast five years from then, like, "Okay." But we were able to pull together some loans and—some from family, some from the bank—and then worked out a good deal with the person we were buying the building from.

 

 

And then just honestly a lot of prayer. I mean, every month we're like, "Okay God, help us make it." And that first year especially, it was just like every month, we ended with just the right amount we needed to pay our bills and that was a really cool thing. But it was definitely a faith journey especially as the wife sitting there like, "Okay-"

 

Julie Gumm:

How are we going to pay the bills?

 

Tasha Jones:

Right.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, yeah. So how long did it take for you to really kind of see and feel secure in that business to be like, "Okay, this is going to work?"

 

Scott Jones:

Well, I mean, I think most restaurants, especially, they fail within the first, was it three years?

 

Julie Gumm:

Well, there's one-

 

Scott Jones:

There is a one year success rate, a three year and then a five year. And really, I think it was probably after that third year that things were really starting to come together and to move forward. And some of that was, I think, because Tom and I really saw that business as not just a business, not just as a great place to get food, but as an opportunity to be a blessing to the community we were in and that that business was given to us by God to be a blessing to Siloam Springs, to be a place that people would want to come, to be a place... we ended up doing something where we served the poor in our community and really just to use what he gave us in a way that would hopefully bring glory to him, that it wasn't just about the bottom line or something like that, but about using the opportunity he gave us to try to serve the people around us.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, there's always a way no matter the type of work that you go into to try and find a way to honor God and serve others, which is the mission of JBU. So you guys were totally carrying out what we're training students to do every day. And one of the things I really love about your story is you get to this point in your life and you can look back and see just kind of this winding road that God takes you on. Because I feel like there's so few people today our age that go into a career and stay in that same career for 40 years or 50 years like our parents did. And so you guys are perfect illustration of how God can take your skills and your passions as they change and they grow over time and use them in a lot of different ways.

 

Scott Jones:

This is the 20th anniversary of my graduation from law school, and certainly if you had said to me in 1999, "Hey, you're going to teach, you're going to own a pizza restaurant, you're going to get involved in politics, you're going to move overseas and work at a foreign school." All of those things, I would have thought—maybe with the exception of the politics part—I would've thought, "Really? I'm not so sure."

 

Tasha Jones:

And I was going to say thank you for not saying we're flaky or anything like that. I mean, sometimes I feel like “man, we just can't stick with something.” But I think you're absolutely right—that God uses different seasons in your life and different experiences in your life to prepare you for things, and we've definitely seen that through our life and someday I'm going to write a book about it but too busy now, right?

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. So talk to us how you go from cooking Italian pizzas to teaching at a Russian school, what did that transition look like and how did that happen?

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah, that was definitely a pretty big shift for us. But we had done one of those study abroad programs for John Brown in 2015 and had taken a group of students to Italy. We came back at the end of that summer and just began to sense that, "Okay, God's preparing us for something." We didn't know what, we didn't know when, but we began thinking, "Okay, we need to start preparing ourselves for the idea that God could be moving us." And that Fall I began sending out resumes for teaching positions again in order to get back into full-time teaching.

 

 

I had not done that since 2011, so it was about a five year break from teaching full-time and was looking to sort of get back into that. And it seemed as though the door was closed. All the places I was applying to were not getting back to us or saying no. And so it was just one of those things where it's like, "Okay, well, I guess the answer is no." And then in January of 2016, Tasha can tell you, I think a little bit more of the story, she likes to tell this one.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah. Not a fun day for me because I was having dental surgery, but Scott was looking at his phone and just kind of poking around while he was waiting for me to get out of surgery. And as we look back on it, we're like obviously it was a God led thing, but he was kind of like, "Oh, this made me think of this and this made me think of this." And then he came across ACSI's webpage, the accreditation for a lot of Christian schools, both in the US and internationally. And he saw, "Oh, they have a jobs tab." And he looks at that and then he sees this posting for a high school history and government and economics teacher.

 

 

And he's like, "Well, that's what I do, so sure." And he sent them an email and they got back to him that same day, which is really unusual, now that we know the person that was emailing, but also just considering that we had heard absolutely nothing from any of these other places, and then to get an immediate response. And so we're like, "Okay, this is definitely something to pursue." And by the time—let's see, that was mid-January—about a month later, we had decided to go. And it was just cool throughout that whole process, all these little conversations that we had with the director and just so many little things that fell into place that I think were, like, God gifts and not just coincidences.

 

Tasha Jones:

And a lot of people were surprised that we were moving to Russia because we love Italy. And so when we tell people we're moving overseas, they're like, "Oh, Italy?" We're like, "No, Russia." And they're like, "What?" I know the very strangeness of it just it shows it had to be God-led. So that was really cool. But one of the cool stories is, when they were talking to us about some of the things we would be doing, they mentioned that there's this economics project that they had the seniors do, and Scott was like, "Okay, I like projects, I like simulations," or whatever. And they mentioned, "Well we have them develop a business plan for a restaurant and then they have a day where they do this restaurant plan.

 

 

And Scott's just laughing because he's like, "What have I been doing the last seven years? Running the restaurant, how did we develop a business plan? And so what kind of felt like, at the time, kind of this interlude in our life was actually just a small preparation, but a preparation for what he was going to be doing. And even just some of that business planning and budgeting things, that's also playing into what he's doing now.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, yeah. So talk a little bit about, we'll get into more about the school and what you're doing, but talk about some of the fears going into that transition because you have two kids, right? And so that's a big deal to move kids overseas and disrupt their life and all of those things. Talk about your fears and how God worked with you, how you overcame some of those.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah, and I can tell you, as I mentioned earlier, we had moved from Texas to Florida between my eighth and ninth grade years. And now here I'm about to do the same thing to my son but not just from one state to another but from one country to another, from one culture to another. And so yeah, there were fears there in terms of “how will our kids adapt?” We had homeschooled them here before we moved, and so just even how will they adapt from that sort of free homeschool atmosphere where we can learn at various times that don't make sense to a very regimented daily schedule, will they adapt to that? Will that be okay?

 

 

Being in a country we had never stepped foot inside of before and that was a big unknown. Wow, I mean, this is Russia. I've been several places in Europe, but I've never been to this one and now I'm saying I'm going to actually live there. That was a really big step and a lot of questions and a lot of fears there, too, in terms of what will that look like? And what is the culture like? And for those of us our age and older, we grew up during the cold war, so it's like Russia? Really? So my visions of Russia are Tom Clancy books and James Bond movies, that kind of thing. So I had no idea what this place was going to be like.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. What about you Tasha? What were some of the things you had concerns about?

 

Tasha Jones:

I would say a lot of the same things and just kind of the security. I kind of like security and when you move to a foreign land, I mean, a lot of those things kind of disappear just simply because they're different and you're always aware that, "Hey, I'm a guest in this country." You don't have the same freedom, I guess, that you have here. But even just the same feeling of comfortableness, just when you walk around, you kind of know what you're encountering and how people are going to react and just cultures look at those things differently. And so I think that's part of it.

 

 

But then, also, my parents had moved here five years previous to that to be close to the grandkids. And my brother and sister are still in the area, but it was kind of one of those things where-

 

Julie Gumm:

Sorry.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah, "I'm leaving home again and taking your grandkids across the ocean." So that was hard because there's kind of that sense of guilt and then as they get older it's like, "Okay, yeah, I'm the oldest so I've got this sense of duty." And with my kids, especially my daughter, she was really loving what she was doing. She was doing ballet and she was doing all these things, had a lot of friends and just feeling like, "Oh, we're just kind of taking them away from all of that." So I think my fears were more just the social stuff.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. How did the kids react when you told them?

 

Tasha Jones:

It's really cool how they initially reacted, it doesn't mean there weren't tears and fears later. But one of the things we had said all along, when we were kind of in this process of just filling unsettled and looking for, "Okay, where does God want us to be?" I kept telling people and we kept praying, "God, we just want to be where you want us to be." And so we didn't necessarily have a specific place in mind, we just knew it wasn't probably going to be here much longer. And so we said this over and over again.

 

 

And so what was really cool about when we talked to the kids, because we told them about sending out these applications so they were aware-

 

Julie Gumm:

Right, possibility of moving or change.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah. Plus they had traveled with us when we did this study abroad. So it wasn't like going out of country was a terrifying prospect to them. But when we got home that evening from the surgery that I had and my son was there, my daughter was staying with my parents. We mentioned to them like, "Hey, what about Moscow, Russia?" And he's like, "Well we want to be where God wants us to be." That's cool-

 

Julie Gumm:

That's cool.

 

Tasha Jones:

He's been listening. And then when Scott went to pick up our daughter the next morning, and again, it was just the two of them in the car and he mentioned that to her, very same thing, she's like, "Well, we want to be where God wants us to be." So to hear those things come out of your kid's mouth, first of all, it's like they are listening to you. But, also, I felt like that was God telling us, "It's going to be okay."

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, yeah. That even in the hard stuff, like you said, and it's a transition, so it's not going to be an easy peasy thing, but, okay. So tell us a little bit about Hinkson Christian Academy and what your roles are there. And I know, Scott, there's been a little bit of change from when you originally came, so you can talk about that too.

 

Tasha Jones:

Well, I'll start first. My role has not changed too much. I got hired to be kind of the school secretary, although when we first moved over there, they weren't sure what my role was going to be because there was a couple of possibilities. So I kind of arrived not really being sure what I was going to do, but I ended up taking on that role. And so I'm responsible for doing the school communications and also managing the school calendar. And then of course each year duties have been added-

 

Julie Gumm:

Other duties as assigned, that's what we call them.

 

Tasha Jones:

That happens a lot. And when you're at a small school, especially at the type of school that we're at, things shift every year because as a person leaves, they take with them not just the job that they did, but also kind of personality and style-

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, different skills.

 

Tasha Jones:

And they'll fit into different things, so sometimes you got to shift things around. But that's my main thing, but I also do a lot of just kind of connecting people with each other. And this last year I was in charge of the textbook room and then this next year I'll be teaching a class and just kind of year to year, it changes. But now Scott is actually my boss, so I will let him tell you about that.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah, so I started out as a teacher— the thing that I wanted to be, the thing that God called us to do there in Russia—and did that for two years, our first two years there, and then this past year I was asked to become the school's president. And so now I just finished my first year doing that and so I am-

 

Tasha Jones:

You were kind of reluctant to step into that role.

 

Scott Jones:

I was. I had a few prayers that I sent to God along the lines of, "Hey, wait a minute, that's not why I'm here, I'm here to teach, that's what I wanted to do, that's what we said this whole time."

 

Tasha Jones:

That was the deal you made with me.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah. I'm moving overseas so I can teach, right? And I think that, just as we had told our kids, we want to be where God wants us to be. That's not just a geographic location, that's also an assignment question too of, "Okay, does God not only call you to a geographic place, but does he call you to a task?" And as I thought about it and prayed about it more, it became more apparent to me that, "Okay, you're being kind of selfish, this whole teaching thing is good and all, but that's not really what I've equipped you to do. I mean, I have, but I've equipped you for more than that. So I'm expecting you to step up and use those other things that I've helped you learn over the years to serve in this role now." And so kind of reconciling myself to that and just saying, "Okay, do we mean it or not?" I mean, do we mean that we want to be where God wants us to be or not?

 

 

Because really, the dumbest thing we can do is if God says, "Look, this is where I want you," the dumbest thing we can do is to say, "Well, no, I'm not interested. Thanks." I mean, there's a book about that, I think it was Jonah or something like that. So I would joke with people, if you see a whale swimming up the Moscow river, you'll know that I said something I wasn't supposed to. So, but yeah, it was just one of those things that, "Okay, I love teaching, I really enjoy teaching, but maybe it's time for a season being an administrator and getting to use those experiences and talents that I have in that area to lead the school."

 

 

The school has been in existence since 1991, so we're now 28 years old and has gone through several changes over the years as the environment in Russia has changed. And so, right now, the school is in a period of transition, I think I'm the third director in three years, so hopefully Tasha doesn't have a fourth boss anytime soon. So it's one of those things where the school was in need of someone who could come in and just kind of take stock of things and think about sort of the strategic planning for the school and where the school wants to go next and how it should get there. And that's a lot of what I did for the restaurant in terms of monitoring things and making sure we were staying on mission, if you will, with our restaurants. And so keeping us on task at the school is now sort of what I do, thinking about the big picture and how the pieces fit together and to moving us forward towards that.

 

Julie Gumm:

Talk about the student body, who are the students who make up and what grades is Hinkson?

 

Tasha Jones:

Well, it is a K-12 school. It is American style: American curriculum, English speaking. And so some of the people we serve are experts. They're doing various types of work and that would be probably, I would say, about a third of our student body. And then we have about a third that are from South Korea, which is really cool. And then the other third is a mixture of Russian and a couple of African families and a couple of mixed Russian American, Russian Canadian, that sort of thing. So a very diverse school, which is really neat because it's like we're not really American and we're not really Russian and we're not really Korean, we're just very third culture, which has both its pros and cons as you can imagine.

 

 

And right now, our student body is about 115, we're looking at maybe 120 to 25 this next year. They had been a lot higher than that in the years before we came and our first year, but just as things change, you kind of have these cycles and so it kind of took a dip, but now it looks like we're maybe coming back up, which is nice.

 

Julie Gumm:

That happens all the time, even at JBU.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yep.

 

Julie Gumm:

So you've been there how many years now?

 

Scott Jones:

We've been there three years now, we're starting our fourth year in Moscow.

 

Julie Gumm:

How would you say that this experience has enriched and changed your family life?

 

Tasha Jones:

I would say—and people kind of laugh when we say this, but—our lives actually got simpler when we moved to Russia. I don't know how that's possible, but it was, because when we were here, Scott was doing, I think, four different jobs at one point, I was doing two part-time jobs plus homeschooling and just, I don't know, we were really busy and family life was good, but it was a kind of a lot of passing each other, "Here, take the kids, I'm going to work." That kind of thing. Or "Hey, taking them to my parents, their grandparents," and having them watch the kids because I had to go into work, that kind of thing. And so it got simpler because we're all working-

 

Julie Gumm:

Working and going to school-

 

Tasha Jones:

And going to school at the same place—

 

Julie Gumm:

--at the same place.

 

Tasha Jones:

Right. We have one job, we have one place to go. And so in some ways, it's just been simpler because we're getting to do this all together and it's not so many different things and trying to... I mean we have different roles within the school, but you know what I mean? It's just easier. And so I think in a lot of ways, that's been good for our family. We do enjoy talking to each other and doing things as a family, it is good to get along. And also I think just, it's been good. It's been challenging, but it's been good because we've been able to navigate the teenage years with our kids and friends and I'm like, "If you can get along with people from all these different backgrounds and cultures, you're going to get to be able to get along with anybody." So-

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. That's a great experience for your kids.

 

Tasha Jones:

Even those challenges can be beneficial.

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah. I would say similar to Tasha, a lot of the same things really. But I think for me the community at the school has been a real blessing and we have a good community here in Siloam Springs too that we come back to. But the school community there in Moscow is a really good one. And some of that, I think, is because we're all kind of in the same boat.

 

Julie Gumm:

Right, relying on each other and-

 

Scott Jones:

Yeah. We're all sort of in that third culture mode, and so we're in it together. And so that I think goes a long way to helping to form that community. But in addition to that, one of my deep desires for my children is to understand that God's kingdom surpasses our political boundaries and surpasses the cultural boundaries that we have, that his church is made up of, as the scriptures say, of every tribe, tongue and nation. And so to get to see that firsthand, to get to be a part of that firsthand, is something very important to us.

 

 

And that's one of the reasons we liked to do the study abroad trips, is to take American college students overseas. And even though we're doing sort of the classroom there, taking them to churches there and to be able to see what God is doing in those countries is very important to us. And so we're involved with a body there in Russia that is very diverse as well. And so that's been a, I think, a very good experience for the kids and for us too.

 

Tasha Jones:

Yeah, I think I remember the first time I was in a church service in another country is Ethiopia and just didn't understand a word of what was being sung or said or anything, but to stand there and think about back home in Phoenix, at the time, all my friends were also at a church. You're worshiping God, different language, but just, it was really... and see I'm getting goosebumps again talking about, it's a really cool experience, but-

 

Julie Gumm:

So to wrap up, tell me about what has been maybe your one biggest personal area of personal growth in the last five years?

 

Scott Jones:

For me, I would say, and not just five years, it goes back eight years really from when I stopped teaching the first time. And that has been the idea of trust and learning to trust God. And one of the things I've talked to my students about, to our staff about, is the Lord's prayer, when Jesus was asked, "How do we pray? Can you tell us? How do we talk to God?" And part of that Jesus says is, "Give us this day our daily bread." And for me, that just sends shivers down my spine because I'm a planner-

 

Julie Gumm:

Me too.

 

Scott Jones:

And I like knowing, again, that strategic planning thing and business running thing. I want to know, where are we going to be a year from now five years from now, ten years from now? How are we going to get there? And to have Jesus say, "Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a minute. You ask God for your daily bread. Not your weekly bread, not your monthly bread, but your daily bread." And just learning to trust God with that. And now the format it takes is, "Okay, I may be school's president, but it's not my school. I don't own the school, I don't run the school." Really, we're there to serve. And how do we do that? And then having to trust for the rest of that, that if we do what we know to be right, we can trust that the rest of it gets taken care of. And that's been, I think, probably my biggest lesson that I've had to learn over the last several years.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, that's a good one for us, control freaks.

 

Tasha Jones:

I would say there's so many areas that God is working on me and there's days I'm like, "Am I still in middle school?" Because I feel a little like these emotions and different things are very petty and such. But I think probably one of the biggest things has just been thankfulness and learning to appreciate things, even if it's not my ideal situation to be in at the time, I can find something to be thankful for. And some days that's harder than others, but for me, I'm really trying to be intentional about that. And then to tell other people about it.

 

 

So for example, one of the coolest things is in Autumn, I don't know how many weeks it is, it's a couple of weeks, but they actually call it Golden Autumn and they have all these birch trees around—and I think it's Lipa—I don't know what that is in English. These trees, they just turned this beautiful golden color and you'll get this golden carpet of leaves along the sidewalks and it's just this glow and it's so beautiful. And then when we walk to our school, there's an area where we're walking kind of like on a driveway in between apartments and the trees kind of like make this little arch over-

 

Julie Gumm:

Canopy.

 

Tasha Jones:

And it's just really kind of magical in a way. And there's just this one day I just felt like, I don't know how to explain, it was just such a gift, just so beautiful, and it was just so just special and I ended even writing a little poem about it. But it's just little things like that. And sometimes there's big things too, but I think just kind of developing an attitude of thankfulness is very important and I need to keep working on that, but that's helped a lot.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah, I can see too how going into a third culture where there's a lot of difficulties and a lot of change, that that can be especially helpful because I know whenever there's any discontent, on my part, if I can stop and find things to be thankful for and grateful for, it really just changes your whole attitude about things.

 

Scott Jones:

It really does. I mean, it's super easy when you're in that foreign situation to constantly focus on the differences and, in a negative way, focus on those differences. So yeah, it's been very important for us, especially on those long winter nights, when we have 17 hours of darkness to realize that, "Hey, this is part of God's gift to you too," and to be thankful for even those days.

 

Julie Gumm:

Yeah. Wow. Well, thank you guys so much for coming on the podcast. You guys have such a great story and we'll be praying for you and your work over there in Russia and if anybody is interested in teaching, we'll send them your way, but enjoy the rest of your time back here in the States-

 

Scott Jones:

Thank you.

 

Julie Gumm:

... before you go back.

 

Tasha Jones:

Thank you.

 

Julie Gumm:

Thanks for listening to this episode of JBU stories. Visit jbu.edu/stories for a transcript of today's show, links and show notes. Be sure to subscribe to JBU stories on iTunes, and we'd love it if you would leave us a review.