Friday, September 23, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
It’s hard to believe, but this week, we’re leaving the bubble. When we came 8 weeks ago, we were totally unprepared for the assignment ahead. I’m still not so sure that we are now, but we’ve certainly had lots of opportunities to learn lots of stuff. We’ve attended tons of classes, listened to lots of speakers, met some fascinating people who’ve been investing their lives around the globe, and we’ve been challenged to spend time in prayer and reading God’s word. The people who were responsible for preparing us have done their job strategically and diligently.
All that said, I can honestly say that I’m very excited to go. I am ready to launch. I can’t wait to apply some of the strategies I’ve been taught, meet the new friends I’ve been praying for, see the places I’ve been reading about, and learn how to speak the language of the people God has placed in my heart. I’m eager...and, I’m terrified. Still. Maybe now more than ever.
It’s not the same set of fears that I had when I came here. Well, some of them are. I’m still really afraid of African food. I know, it’s silly. But, it’s real.
I believe that most of my fears are simply the reality that it setting in. In 4 weeks, I’ll climb on a plane and leave my country. The only country I’ve ever known. I leave behind my beloved fall season. I’ll leave behind the familiarity and conveniences that have been my life. I have resolved that I can live in a country where the infrastructure is such that internet, electricity, and phone services are hit or miss. But the reality is, I’ve never tried it. And I don’t want to be a wimp who comes running home with my tail tucked between my legs because I can’t handle it. I fear failure.
I also really fear the loneliness. I have had such a network of people in my world for the last decade. But, the reality is, their lives are continuing in the old pattern and I’m not there anymore. They love me, and I know that they would help me if I needed it, but they aren’t my everyday community anymore. I can handle it, but my kids are struggling a bit with why people aren’t writing, calling, or e-mailing like they’d imagined people would. It’s hard stuff to explain to children.
It’s been okay, because we’ve been surrounded by like-minded people who are going through the same sort of transition, and we’ve been able to find fellowship, accountability, and encouragement with them. But once we leave... we’re going to go through 7 more months of transition that will involve living in 3 different countries. We will have no consistent church body during that time. Our colleagues will be varied at each place. My children will not be in any one place long enough to join a club or a co-op or a school. I know that God knows my needs, and I know what it is to walk intimately with him during difficult seasons. Honestly, it’s the faithfulness that he’s always shown me in the past that’s propelling me to keep moving forward with this crazy plan!
There are other fears, too many to name. I think that if I wasn’t wrestling with the grief and fear that sometimes overwhelms me, I wouldn’t be human. So, I’m trying to face my fears in a way that is productive. I’ve been trying to make it my habit to take those thoughts captive and talk to the Lord about them. We’ve spent lots of time talking as a family and the interesting thing is, the days that one of us is overwhelmed about a certain aspect of this life change, someone else is filled with hope and encouragement. God is continuing to knit us together in a way that only he can.
So, from the bubble we’ll go! Because, that’s what God has called us to do. That’s what He’ll equip us to do. And, that’s the only thing we really want to do at this point.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Disclaimer: This post is written primarily to my Southern Baptist friends. But, the rest of you are more than welcome to read on.
The other day, we were having a conversation with some colleagues of ours and we began talking about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which will be collected in December. Now, this offering is collected each year in SBC churches across the country. It’s purpose is to fund international missions around the world. 100% of the money goes directly to overseas missions work. It’s the primary funding of our international missions program. Without it, we couldn’t go, our friends couldn’t go, and the millions of Unreached, Unengaged People Groups that we’re trying to reach would not have someone strategically working to bring the gospel into the world’s darkest and most difficult places. Here’s a link that tells a little bit about some of the things the offering supports.
The reality is, with the economy struggling, Lottie Moon has struggled too. If you truly believe Matthew 28:19-20 is a command, then that’s a serious problem. I firmly believe that our work is not complete until EVERY tongue, EVERY tribe, and EVERY nation have heard. Which means, our task is not finished. People who have the gospel must go to places where there is no gospel witness. According to the research of Southern Baptists, that’s nearly 3,600 people groups. That’s kinda, sorta, unacceptable.
Why am I telling you this? Because you have the opportunity to be a part of changing that statistic. One of those ways is by giving faithfully to Lottie Moon this Christmas. I heard somewhere, that in 2009, the average Southern Baptist Attender gave $24 and some change to Lottie Moon. And I also read that in 2010, the average American spent $66.28 on Halloween supplies. WOW! How about this? How about if every Southern Baptist chose to cut their Halloween budget in half and give it to Lottie Moon instead? According to my calculations, that would more than double this year’s Lottie Moon offering.
Then, the folks who are applying to the mission board, able to defend a call to missions, who are being turned down simply because the funds are not there, would be able to go. More people could go, more people could know, and all we Southern Baptists would be missing is a few bags of candy corn. Seems like a great idea to me!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I’m going to be honest here, one of the things about our orientation time that has been a real challenge for me has been the lack of internet and television.
We are not big TV watchers and we don’t really have shows that we “have” to watch regularly, but I still like having one around. Especially during hurricanes, earthquakes, and unrest in my soon to be host country. You know, just being able to access world news is sometimes good. We’ve also missed having it for the purpose of watching a family movie on the weekend. And then, there’s those days when nearly everyone in your family has a fever because they’ve just been injected with a variety of vaccines that most Americans will never even think of getting, times like that, call for a comfy couch and a day of the Hallmark Channel.
The internet is here, we just have to walk to another building to get it. But with having 2 big storms and an earthquake while we’ve been here, there have been issues and we’ve had 3 weekends with no internet. They turn it off during our class time, so that we can’t sneak in an e-mail or facebook check. That’s probably a good thing, because I confess that I might get distracted sometimes. I knew that I used the internet a lot, but I didn’t realize how much until I came here. Now, I find myself hiking across campus anytime I need to do banking, e-mailing, online purchasing, blogging, or research on just about anything.
Some days, it’s been maddening. I now keep a “when I get to the computer” list going all of the time. But, in some sick and demented way, I feel like I’ve been given a gift. Because I’ve realized something that I already knew but refused to acknowledge... those screens waste a lot of time. And I’ve found that the reality is, I can actually do what I need to do on the computer each day in just a small, disciplined amount of time. If I am intentional about what I click and how long I spend just reading and browsing the millions of things available to me online, I can accomplish much more in less time.
Suddenly, I have found time to do things that I’ve been wanting to do, but I hadn’t bothered to make time for. In the evenings when I would normally collapse in front of the TV or computer, I have done tons of reading, I’ve memorized scripture, and I’ve made time to fellowship with other people. Through all of this, I have become acutely aware of what time wasters these things can be and how important it is to use these tools wisely.
Now, don’t get me wrong...when this training is over and we head to beach for a few days, I will be glad to turn on the TV. And, I’ll confess, I made sure that I booked a house with wi-fi. But, I hope that I will be able to use the lessons I’ve learned about these time wasters for many years to come and that I will be a little more balanced in my use of time.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
- While taking a walk with your 7 year old she says, "Mommy, look at that cute squirrel. (long pause) Mommy, if that squirrel bit us, we wouldn't die because we have gotten all 3 of our rabies shots."
- When your 9 year old son asks for a Hausa Bible on his next birthday.
- When baby doll play now requires 2 long scarves- one to wrap around the "mommy's" head and another to tie the baby onto the back. And when you overhear the play the children are "talking" with a long string of sounds that are not truly a foreign language, but sound an awfully lot like they could be.
- All country flags are either immediately identified and then connected with the friend who is or will soon be living in that country OR must be identified ASAP so that we can figure out what country it belongs to and what their major religions are.
- When you're headed to Sunday evening worship and your children ask, "Mom, what continent are we going to worship like tonight and how many different languages will we hear?"
Needless to say, we're having a great time of learning and we're especially enjoying our Sunday night, cross-cultural worship times. Tonight, our service consisted of at least 8 different languages. I've also learned that one good thing about wearing a head covering is that you don't have to waste time fixing your hair!
I can't wait to find time to share more (but for now I must sleep!)