Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Carte blanche: "the student"

"I'm just a student." 

Oh the beauty of that statement! You'll never know until that season is over... but the carte blanche that comes with the title "student" is truly once in a lifetime.  You can go, experience, taste, see.  As a student you are clearly there to learn.  No other expectations are placed on you.  Everyone knows that students are poor, have little influence, and are nomadic in nature.

When you cease to be a "student" (by title), expectations and hopes are raised by your presence.  Cultural blunders change from being funny learning opportunities to dangerous offenses.

This has become increasingly clear to us as our opportunities for learning are curtailed by our roles and responsibilities within our organization.  When we go somewhere, regardless of OUR motivation, we are viewed as ambassadors of Action International Ministries.

We are so grateful that we had the opportunity as students to sleep in Masaai huts 'on the goat skins,' get bitten by scorpions in the bush without having to worry about orphaning a small herd of children by our impending deaths, watch funerals and weddings wide-eyed without wondering when we would be called upon to give a speech on behalf of the entire mission board, hop into matatus (crowded taxis) without concern for how to get our daughter and her wheelchair from point A to point B.......

Student, don't miss out on a great time of life.  Travel.  Learn.  Encourage others with your humble learner's attitude.  You won't change the world on your summer missions' trip, nor should you try to.  Come under the leadership of missionaries on the ground and just focus on learning and being a humble, quiet, gentle blessing.  Swallow your fears and ask to go on every possible outing.  Discreetly take your pepto bismo and eat that rat, swallow that wiggling insect, drink that horchata.  Ask questions of your hosts and (...brace yourself...) LISTEN to the answers.  When at all possible, put yourself under the leadership of trusted national leaders - those who have the endorsement of your missionaries.

Students, go!

This is your chance. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strength that God supplies

We're tired.

Plain and simple.

The amount of work that needs to be done far exceeds the capacity of one pastor and one full-time mom.

But we struggle onward.  We see God's hand in bringing us here, in placing us here at this time with these needs.  We never doubt that this is exactly where God wants us.  Even on those days when we long for a few hours of being anonymous and having people watch our children who are comfortable with our special needs daughter.

But we're tired.

"The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Christ Jesus.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen" (I Peter 4:7-11, ESV).

This passage puts it all in perspective.  We might be weary but this is why we press on: "in order that in everything God may be glorified." The end of all things is near, so I'm grateful that God has removed many distractions from my life so that I can focus more steadfastly on loving others.

But what struck me the most is that we are called to serve by the strength that God supplies! Some days I feel so bone-exhausted that I'm not sure how I will have the strength to serve my family lovingly, let alone our staff, houseguests, neighborhood children, our interns, supporters, teammates, our missionary community here, ACTION co-laborers worldwide... the list goes on.

But guess what! I don't NEED any strength to serve! GOD WILL SUPPLY!

I didn't sleep last night (training a baby to sleep the night involves sleepless nights for mom).  I didn't rest this weekend (weekends here just mean more activity since HOL children are home from school).  But my attitude is so much better this morning after reading this passage.

May this strengthen and encourage you.  Drop the facade.  Stop trying to find strength in yourself to serve and love.  It won't work.  But God will supply the strength that you need to serve and love to his glory!

Exhausting rest

Sunday... not a day of rest when you're in ministry, but today was as close as we get...

Josh got up at his usual 5:30am to spend time with the Lord and work on his sermon.  I couldn't get the kids ready in time for 8:00am service at Peter's church, so Josh went to the service for a little bit while I finished getting the family ready.  By 10:00am, we all piled into the car to go to Home of Love where we participate in worship service each Sunday.

It was still breakfast time, so we got some maize porridge with odi (peanut-sesame-paste) - yum!

Eventually, the worship time started, with fantastic singing and dancing led by the Home of Love children! I will never tire of it! Josh preached.  Noah wiggled and rolled around on the floor.  ('sigh!') Micah tried to sleep and couldn't commit.  Ana read her Bible.  Moses looked at the pictures in his Bible.

After worship time, we had a wonderful time just hanging out with our two interns and Bosco.  We seldom have time where we're just hanging out.  We intentionally did not talk work.   We talked, joked about cultures, ate lots and lots of mangoes.  The children played with their friends, got really really dirty, ate lots and lots of mangoes.

This day was perhaps more what we imagined life would be like for us - relationships, eating mangoes, playing with children.  It was sweet relief and simple joy.

We praise God for such exhausting days of rest!

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