It’s probably good that you can’t see my house this week. I actually said to a visiting friend yesterday, Mi chaos es su chaos.
We’re moving out on Tuesday. As in, to very soon leave this stunning continent.
It’s some of why I’ve been exploring lately–in posts like this one on living “sent, like missionaries who stay, and this one on having an “open house”–what it looks like to live as people set on fire in and for our communities. And after the heart-rending events in Manchester this week, we’re reminded again of the gaping need and pain in our communities. (In us, too.)
I like how The Message puts this:
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
Yeah, I’m leaving Africa soon. But Webster’s describes “poverty” as the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount. And don’t we all sense that “insufficient in amount”? Don’t we all sense that not-enough-ness?
On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’m helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com. We’re exploring what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. This month and beyond, here’s a prayer for our communities for every day of the week–no matter what zipcode in which you find yourself. Check it out here on everthinehome.
Quick role-play. Let’s say you, your spouse, your kids—you’re all headed back to the Western world from some distant land. You’ve been missionaries somewhere; Africa, maybe. (You pick.) You’ve been helping people gain clean water, maybe, or teaching refugees, or advocating for orphans of AIDS.
How would you live in your home country?
This is actually my personal, particular predicament. My family and I have been living and working in the developing world for five years now, and are now headed to suburban America. I’m asking a question that perhaps many of you are already asking: What does it look like to be missionaries…who stay?
On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’m helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com. We’re exploring what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. This month, as we pray for our communities, I’m looking in to how to live “sent“–no matter what zipcode in which you find yourself. Check it out here on everthinehome.
Today’s quotable is from Frank Laubach (1884-1970), missionary to the Philippines. Laubach is estimated to have been responsible for teaching half of the 90,000 people in his area to read and write, and to have reached out to the Mohammedan Moros, who regarded the Christian Filipinos as enemies. Laubach wrote in the new year of 1930,
It is exactly that “moment by moment” every waking moment, surrender, responsiveness, obedience, sensitiveness, pliability, “lost in His love,” that I now have the mind-bent to explore with all my might. It means two burning passions: First, to be like Jesus. Second, to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the Master.* (emphasis added)
I’m including a free chalkboard printable of this last portion, in hopes that in 2017, our lives will reflect that sort of staggering beauty from His hand. Happy New Year, friends!
*As quoted in Foster, Richard J. ad James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups: A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. New York: HarperCollins (1993), pp. 101, 105.
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Author’s note: It was two years ago that our family received unsettling news that began an extended holding pattern for us, news which wouldn’t be resolved for another eleven months. That period of gray, unsettled twilight will stand out in my life as one where I became well-acquainted–more than I would have wished, for sure–with the chisel of God that is waiting.
Yet in an odd way, it also brought me to love its sculpting edges, planing away curls of my own impatience and distrust.
1. I set a goal for myself while jogging: If I can only make it to that goat.
- Everyone speaks more languages than I do.
- I have partaken of creatures I would normally not consume by choice, e.g. fish eyes, grasshoppers, and the like.
- People dispose of trash by simply throwing it out the window.
- A healthy percentage of my most delightful friends were born a hemisphere away from where I was.
- I avoid unfiltered water like the Plague. Because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the Plague in there.
- My pothole-per-mile ratio exceeds 136:1.
- The concept of “home” feels bewildering.
- I answer to a wide variety of names that sound entirely different than the one I’ve answered to for the majority of my adult life.
- Fruit and other materials labeled “exotic” in my home country are available at that little wooden stand down the street.
- My children asked for a raise in their allowance based on the increasing value of the dollar.
- My electrical company is perpetually listed in my phone’s recent contacts.
- Sometimes home feels like camping.
- Despite the lack of familiarity, there is something about the place I live that makes I feel so…alive.
- I adopt an accent when speaking, say, at the supermarket.
- My suitcase is filled with odd items, like 6 of the same deodorant, 18 months of underwear for six people, eight pounds of chocolate chips, and 12 jars of B vitamins. My carry-on is where I stash the Hot Tamales and six packs of Slim Jims.
- People attempt to compliment me by calling me “fat”, or in regards to my status, a “big woman.” …Yeah. Thanks.
- Ants in my home don’t even capture my attention anymore unless in vast quantities or floating in my drink.
- The last trip to the States found me saying, “What in the world is ‘Apple TV’?”
- I are content with my “dumb” phone, because pretty much everyone else has one, and if it falls in the toilet (or pit latrine) I can afford to replace it.
- Cops stop me because I are more likely to be a source of cash.
- “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” gets me all sniffy.
- My bed is shrouded in netting, but somehow my arms and legs still have telltale welts of those little (literal) suckers.
- I keep toilet paper in my glove box. Because public toilets, when I can find them, are BYO TP.
- I give up asking for decaffeinated coffee, because people don’t really know what that is (or why you would drink it), nor do they have it.
- I can pronounce all of the ingredients in my food.
- I am feeling a whole lot more deft with the metric system lately.
- My employer contemplates sending out regular deworming reminders via e-mail.