Apr 27, 2011

Missionary funk & fighting the good fight

I'm not gonna lie.  I'm in a bit of what I'm going to describe as a "MISSIONARY FUNK" right now.  Don't worry - it's all good.  The Lord's got this thing.  . . . this I know.  My "missionary funkedness" is but a season, and one in which I feel sure that my faith will increase as I seek the face of the Lord and cling to Him.  

I am defining it as a "MISSIONARY FUNK" because as opposed to a regular funk, it has a lot to do with the transitions that occur on the mission field and within mission organizations, and a lot to do with being an alien in a culture that I can't completely understand.  Typically, I heart most things about my host culture, but from time to time I just want to put on my ruby red slippers and click my heels together. (Just so you know, in my mind when I have clicked my slippers and open my eyes, I'm at to Super Target:)

I am overcome with sadness right now, and yet I do have JOY.  My sadness is the result of people coming and going, the deprivation of my own flesh, the reality that I WANT to please others but sometimes despite my best efforts I CAN NOT, and the hurt I share with others that are hurting.  The grief of loss - I since it all around me right now, and it hurts.  Joy is lurking, from the backseat . . . but at this moment, a tranquil sense of sadness is driving.

I just finished a book (praise me * praise me* I RARELY start/finish books.  I tend to just fall asleep when I sit still -so this is HUGE FOR ME!) by Mary Beth Chapman called Choosing to See.  It was an inspiring, difficult recount of a journey that she never saw herself on or would want to be on.  I cried every single time I picked it up.  She lost a young child, and the book was a transparent, gut wrenching look into how this altered the course of her life, her faith, her family's life, etc.  The Lord is totally glorified in this book, even in the midst of a painful mess.  Ultimately, it was about a time of proving one's faith.  Mary Beth Chapman has cried out to the Lord, and He has clearly strengthened her, surrounded her with loving support, and allowed her to be a mighty voice for Him.  But, even as glorifying as that it is, I doubt that she would have chosen those circumstances to prove her faith.

And so, I have been sitting with the question, "What are you, child of God, gonna do - who will you be - when the Lord tests your faith?  Will your thoughts, actions, deeds PROVE  that you know, trust, love the sovereign God of the universe when the outcome is not one you like?" This question haunts me right now.  It terrifies me.  I shudder at the implications.

Coincidentally (or not) I have been working thru what it means in biblical terms to "fight the good fight."  1 Timothy 1:18 "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance wit the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith."

So, soon, oh so soon, I will share with you what I am discovering about fighting the good fight.

And as for the sadness, I am clinging to the light unto my feet:

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  Matthew 5:4

"Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy," Psalm 30:11

P.S. For worried moms/mother-n-laws (and anyone else prone to worry) out there who may read this, DON'T WORRY. I have NOTHING to complain about - there is not something specific that has happened or some devastating event that you don't know about.  My pain is of the empathetic nature, and about a current season in my journey of faith.

Apr 20, 2011

The revolving door

After almost 6 years of living in the D.R., I can confirm that one of the most painful parts of being a missionary is the revolving door. That ever spinning revolving door.

It ushers people in - people that you learn to struggle with and thru,

that become a part of your daily life: your community,

that love your children,

people that sometimes drive you bonkers, annoy you, grate you, sharpen you . . . and I won't include a photo for that one.

Whether you want to or not, when you live in a community of believers, you HAVE to LOVE others- because well, you live with them, work with them, worship with them, fellowship with them, carpool with them -  because if you don't love them, your whole testimony of being a christian is blown out of the water. Most of the time, the love part happens naturally, but sometimes, even with those you would naturally gravitate towards, it takes work. Either way, the love is there, even with it's jagged edges and smooth entertwiney - ness.  At least this is how I feel about it.  I've been commanded to love, with all of its pokey parts which sometimes leave a mark.

AND THEN, after all that, the revolving door of ministry ushers them out - just like that - gone from here.

Yes, of course, friendships continue to flourish from afar, but it is different. The apartness is painful, even though the moving on is a directive of the Lord.  The pattern of nice to meet you/I adore you/your leaving/repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Uggggg. Shakespeare nailed it with the "parting is such sweet sorrow" bit.

I think Dr. Seuss said it best when he said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  Yes, I'm smiling . . . . but it still hurts - the backside of that door.  However, it has been SUCH A JOY to know these AMAZINGLY AWESOME people whose ultimate desire has been to serve and glorify the Lord - and I shutter to think of my life had the revolving door not spit one of us out at the other - in love, of course.

I know this probably won't make sense to many people who have not experienced the mission field, or ministries in general, and that's okay.  There is a certain amount of transiency, which can be difficult when you believe you have been commanded to sit and stay . . . . for now.

Okay, I think this might be my most melancholy post EVER - I wouldn't expect to see to many more like this, but every once in a while my inner Eeyore comes out.  I feel better now.  Thanks for listening.

P.S.  Just so you know, I realize that the "revolving door" is really the hand of God at work.  I understand His timing is perfect, and that He brings specific groups together at certain times to accomplish His work.  And even as I sit here, I know that there are more AMAZINGLY AWESOME people in my midst whom I have yet to connect with on a deeper level that experience the same sting of frequent departures that I do.

Apr 14, 2011

Ginny & Papa T

My parents (a.k.a. Ginny & Papa T) are visiting the D.R. for 10 days.  It has been a few years since they have been here, so it is with great anticipation that we have awaited this visit.

The kids in their pj's anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ginny & Papa T.

Weary travelers met by not so weary grandkids.

Que linda!

There is something magical about sitting on the porch . . .

Seeds have been planted.

Lots of smiles shared.

Hours of rocking and watching the wind blow . . . 

Everybody in their place.

It is a blessing to have family visit.