Sunday Inspiration. Sunday Prayer.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life– your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

– The Message, Romans 12

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So, today, on this Sunday, how can our community pray for you? Leave a comment with a prayer request, and we’ll intentionally lift you up this week. If you would, read the prayer request from the person who commented right above yours. Either pray for them on your own, or write them a short prayer in the comment that you leave. This is a practical way we can all offer spiritual encouragement to each other, even, literally, separated by the continents.

Generating Gratitude?

Thanksgiving is this week…

and so I feel a bit stupid starting out like this –  

I REALLY can’t stand listening to a generator.

 

I know. You’re wondering, “What’s the big deal?”

First, I’ve listened to them an awful lot lately.

Additionally, generators are noisy, they stink, there’s usually a big puff of black smoke as they start up, I’m quite sure they can’t be good for the environment and they consume a whole lot of diesel fuel and that gets expensive. Those might actually be considered valid reasons. They aren’t the ones behind my stronger than ambivalent dislike.

My antipathy towards those monstrosities authorizing electricity for some while everyone else plunges into darkness is simply sinful.

I detest them because I don’t have one…  while everyone else around me does… repeatedly jogging my memory of something I’d rather ignore.

When the power goes out – I’m stuck sitting in the dark trying to mark papers until I get frustrated and my head aches (candlelight is hard on these getting-older eyes of mine), or I’m finishing looking up the Zarma words with unfamiliar symbols for Saturday’s Bible study, or I’m washing dishes hoping they’ll look as clean in the daylight as they do under that dreamy flickery glow, and all the while I’m praying that the little ones don’t wake up because the difficulty of rejoining Mr. Sandman increases exponentially when the air seems deader than the inside of a tomb.  I’ve also discovered I sweat buckets at 11:00 at night when working near even the tiniest flame.

I used to begrudge those who experienced nothing more than a blip when the current sagged or disappeared altogether. I think I’ve gotten past that. I don’t wish they didn’t have one because I don’t, and I certainly understand why they use their generators. If I had one, I’d be using it, too.

EACH time, however, I hear a generator roar into life I’m vehemently reminded of something I’d rather ignore…. or perhaps convicted is more accurate…

I balk at the instruction to give thanks in all circumstances, and I see that reality in instant, slow motion replay each time I hear those machines jolt into life. I’m content to growl and complain. In some worldly, twisted way, it brings pleasure of the immediate but temporary kind.

I don’t want to thank the Lord that the local powers that be have once again denied me power.

My father-in-law served for some years in Haiti and tells of visiting a local electric company. Night had fallen, the plant was up on a small mountain outside of town, and he could see the city lights. An employee began pointing out different neighborhoods and then with a sly grin told my father-in-law to watch.

Click!­

He switched a button; an entire neighborhood went dark. Then he laughed. According to Dad, those guffaws were just shy of the rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-out-loud kind.

I won’t assume something similar goes on here. And I can live and still function adequately with this particular frustration common to the expat experience of life in an impoverished, still-developing locality.

I can also willingly choose to refuse to give thanks.

We’ve had a smattering of power outages in recent days and weeks. More than normal. Each time I hear the neighboring generators roar into life, a still small voice calls to mind my own words: “I don’t want to thank the Lord that the local powers that be have once again denied me any power.” The voice doesn’t stop there, however. It continues, whispering, “It isn’t the electric company denying you power. You’ve done it to yourself, by not choosing gratitude.”

Not only am I stumbling and sweating it out without electricity, I’m also self-rendered powerless spiritually, choosing to be a victim of circumstances when God offers me joy and contentment.

Just like that dude at the electric plant in Haiti, by refusing gratitude, I’m flipping a switch, laughing… and plunging myself and those around me into darkness.

Choosing gratitude, however?

Choosing gratitude siphons any clout out of darkness. It leaves opportunity for vibrating voltage, exhilarating energy, and contagious current.

An electrical stream of thankfulness pulsating powerfully can provide perspective and light for me as well as for those nearby.

William Faulkner noted:

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”

Faulkner was absolutely right…

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What, in your life, reminds you of those times you reject a thankful spirit?

 As you celebrate Thanksgiving, not just this week but throughout the year, how are you intentionally producing, discharging and using up gratitude?

– Richelle Wright, missionary in Niger, W. Africa

blog:   Our Wright-ing Pad    ministry:   Wright’s Broadcasting Truth to Niger     facebook:  Richelle Wright

When my child is sick: Missing the promise and illusion of safety

On Friday my fifteen-month old baby, Dominic, started running a fever for the first time in his life. We live in Northern Laos. The hospital beds here are full of dengue fever patients at the moment, and fevers of any kind aren’t to be taken lightly.

I did what any worried mama living out of reach of good medical care does nowadays … I googled. And after 24 hours of fever and fussiness, my husband and I put Dominic in his stroller and set out for the doctor who runs an after-hours clinic out of her house down at the end of the little dirt lane we live on.

Going to the doctor here is a little different than going to a doctor at home. There is no such thing as an appointment. The clinic opens when the doctor comes home from her work at the hospital at about 5:30pm, and she sees patients on a first come first served basis.

When you arrive at the clinic you take off your shoes and pick up a number outside the door. Then you wait your turn on a bench in the front of the room while Dr Payang sees people in the back of the room where she has set up a desk, a chair and a camp bed. Only a large dresser that acts as a partial screen separates the waiting room and the consultation area.

We waited our turn with half a dozen other families, and exhaled in relief when the tired doctor peered into Dominic’s mouth with a small flashlight and then showed us the source of all that heat – a throat infection. She handed over some antibiotics, wrote down the dosage instructions on a sheet of paper to make sure that we had the details right, and we headed home.

Living outside the reach of carpeted, colorful pediatricians’ offices is possibly my least favorite aspect of our life in Laos. I miss ambulances with their purposeful sirens and English speaking paramedics. I miss emergency hotlines. I miss gleaming hospitals with their bright lights and shiny instruments and reliable X-ray machines. I look at my baby when he’s running a fever and I really miss the promise and illusion of safety that all provides.

I say promise because, let’s face it, medically-speaking, Dominic would be safer if we were living in the more developed world. Malaria, dengue fever, and the tropical parasites that thrive in our garden here don’t even exist in most of Australia. And some of the more globally equitable childhood maladies, like meningitis, you really want to catch and address fast. As we learned the hard way when Dominic broke his femur at five months of age, you can’t address things fast when you live in a small town in Northern Laos.

But I say illusion because living right next door to the best hospital in the world can’t guarantee you safety or grant you total control. It just can’t. No matter how much we might want to shield our children from catastrophic injury or illness, we never erase those risks entirely. In fact, Dominic would be more at risk of experiencing something like a car accident in that situation. We don’t own a car here in Laos, so he rarely rides in one. The same could not be said if we were still living in our previous home, Los Angeles.

So the questions that I must continually confront are these: How do we calculate risk? How much risk are we willing to tolerate, and to what end? What do I do about fear? We are living in Laos because my husband is doing work we both believe makes an important, tangible difference in the lives of people poorer and much more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life than we are. Is that a good enough reason to have my baby risk dengue fever? On average, the answer to that question so far has been yes. On average.

Now, three days after starting antibiotics, Dominic’s fever is gone. He had seemed to be much improved, but two hours after going to bed last night we woke to the sounds of retching and screaming. It heralded the start of Dominic’s first all-night vomiting marathon. This morning has brought more vomiting for him and more questions for me.

So now I’m off to consult google again, this time about oral rehydration. If only I could search out answers to all of my questions so easily.

Do you feel any tension over how your choices impact your children?
How do you resolve that tension?

——————-

Lisa McKayauthor, psychologist, sojourner in Laos

Blog: www.lisamckaywriting.com      Books: Love At The Speed Of Email and My Hands Came Away Red

Friend of Missionaries

Alternate title: “Missionaries are like Manure”

 

Musicians love music. They make their own music but they revel in the music others make, too.

Artists love art. They create their own pieces but they thrive on experiencing the creations of others.

Technicians love techie stuff. A game designer plays hundreds of hours of games on a plethora of gaming systems.

Following this reasoning we could conclude that missionaries love missions.

Right?

When we were in missions school one of the teachers told us that the top three reasons missionaries leave the field are: money matters, sickness, and relationship problems. He went on to expound on the difficulties missionaries tend to have getting along with others. The famous quote we took away from that class made me laugh.

“Missionaries are like manure. Spread them out and they do some good. In a group they are just a stinky pile of… crap.”

I didn’t believe it. Until I saw it with my own eyes. Missionaries fighting against missionaries. Mission organizations undermining other mission organizations. The saddest? People who had given up everything they once knew to help the people of a foreign land, leaving earlier than planned because they couldn’t get along with their team.

I closed myself off from relationships with other missionaries. I could count on one hand the number of other missionaries I allowed myself and my kids to have contact with. It was fabulous for language learning. I connected really well with the Bolivians. I think God was cool with it for a while, for about five years, in fact.

Then I felt urged to consider the possibility of opening myself to relationships with other missionaries. Upon reflection I saw my reasons for not making friends with missionaries tainted by an ugly shade of pride. My miss-goodie-two-shoes mindset kept me away from problematic relationships, but it also validated my sin of pride. I was so proud of myself for not getting trapped in a pile of manure that I began to judge those who worked on mission teams. I criticized the workers bound to the conditions imposed upon them by their overseers. I puffed up our independence.

Knowledge puffs up but love edifies. I have to love other missionaries, too? Yes.

Bit by bit I began making friends with other missionaries. I quit ducking away from the foreigners at the market. I stopped crossing the street if I spotted another pair of blue eyes.

This stirring started about six years ago. Guess, what? I am still on the mission field.

I am so glad that God’s gracious treatment of resentment removal has been fun. It’s been so good to get to know other workers. Our family has benefited. Our mission has benefited. I am most grateful for the personal benefits I have undeservedly gained from friendships with other missionaries.

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What’s your experience with relationships with other missionaries or foreign workers? Are you guarded or welcoming with other ex-pats? As passionate, dedicated, people of mission how can we build healthy relationships with others? Are missionaries like manure?

– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America

blog: angiewashington.com twitter: @atangie

Welcome to A Life Overseas {Vlog}

The day is here!

We’ve been working behind the scenes and our first official post will hit the online space tomorrow, November 15th. But, before we get into the actual articles from our amazing team of international writers, I wanted to take a minute to personally welcome you to this site which is written by global workers, for global workers.

We’ll be having new content 3-4 times every week, so be sure to subscribe today for posts to get sent right to your inbox. It’s a free and easy way to connect with the faith community of missionaries. You can simply enter your email address below:



Take a minute today, too, to connect with us on Facebook by liking our page (HERE or on the sidebar) or by following us on twitter at @alifeoverseas . Feel free to browse around the authors’ sites, too, and get to know their work and online voices, as well.

Whether you are thinking about living internationally, or whether you have logged years of experience already, thank you for being here and thank you for the work you are doing to impact the world for good and for the Kingdom.

Let the conversation begin.

– Laura Parker, co-founder, former missionary to SE Asia

 

5 Mistakes I Made My First Year on the Mission Field

Just last year, I was a culture-shocked newbie stumbling through my first months living overseas.  And we came as independents {we still are}, brought three small children with us, and probably arrived before we had technically raised enough money to sustainably stay. You could say we’ve done a lot wrong in regards to our transition into full-time missions.

But you could say we’ve gotten a lot wrong about a lot of things.

Regardless, here are a few pieces of advice I wish I had been given {and then been humble enough to listen to} during our first year overseas:

1. Learn the Language, First and Only. When we got here in April of 2010, we hit the ground in a full-out sprint. We gave ourselves very little time to adjust or get culturally-acclimated. Instead, we dove into ministry in a panicked frenzy. And while much may have been accomplished at the girls home we worked for, our long-term ministry and effectiveness have suffered because it has taken us so. much. longer to learn to communicate.  We’ve had individual tutors, we’ve done 6-week long classes for tourists, we’ve promised {and then re-promised} to do Rosetta Stone daily, we’ve made flashcards and more flashcards. And we still only have a workably-mild grasp of the language. I assumed we would be fluent by now, honestly, and it frustrates me that I still have to pre-plan my Thai phone calls.

Learning the language while you are in the thick of ministry is like trying to get your Masters when you have small children and a full-time job. You can still do it, but it is much harder and much slower and much more frustrating. Trust me, the three months or six months {or more?} you devote to simply learning the language and adjusting to your new culture will pay off dividends in your long-term effectiveness. 

2. Sandwich Vacation. I wish our family would have taken a vacation between when we left the States and when we showed up in Asia. The stress and emotional weight of the goodbyes at the airport are brutal, for you and for the kids. And the stress and emotional weight of diving in to your new culture are equally as brutal. I wish we would have given ourselves a breather between the two— a few days at some nice hotel or some beach somewhere to process the leaving, to rest from the moving process, to collect ourselves.  I think for the kids that would have made the “adventure” of moving overseas more enjoyable, right from the start. {I think it would probably be an equally great idea as a family transitions from living overseas back to home, too, for the same reasons.}

3. Do Not Dive In. Really, Stay on the Dock for a While. The tendency for go-getters is to go-get-some-ministry-on — especially if your term overseas is two years or less. Your plane lands, and the Great Clock of your missionary life seems to start its countdown.  And so you give yourself a week to get settled, and then you attack whatever ministry it was you came to do. I get this tendency. I’ve lived this tendency. However, I wish I wouldn’t have. Because it takes more time than you think to find housing and food and the closest place to buy lightbulbs. It takes time to begin to learn the culture, to figure out your role in ministry, and to look realistically at the effectiveness of your/your organization’s work. People that jump in too quickly tend to either A) Burn Out or B) Make a Mess of Things. It’s better to avoid both of those, I am thinking.

4. Beware of Going Solo. We did not come with a missions organization. We did not come with a team. We lived out in a rural area, where we didn’t know the language, at all. {Because, obviously, I hadn’t listened to the advice of other missionaries to learn it first.} The kids didn’t have a school to make friends at, and on so many levels we felt very alone. And while I’m not a big fan of some of the hoops missionaries have to jump through because of missions organizations and while I understand the risk of your team “not working out,” I do know that community is essentialAnywhere. 

5. Expect Disappointment. From yourself. From your marriage. From the ministry you came to serve. From the culture. From your finances. From the nationals and other missionaries. From your walk with God. From your kids. And while I am typically a sunshine-daily optimist, I know I would have done better during our first year if I had lower expectations. When you are gearing up to go, you can feel a bit like you are attending a perpetual pep-rally of sorts. And in some ways, you need this inspiration to just get on that plane.

However, when you expect to walk into your new very-foreign land with the guts of Hudson Taylor, making converts like Billy Graham, while toting kids around as well-behaved as the Duggars, well, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Grace, grace, and more grace. I guess that’s advice that translates anywhere.

* Adapted from original post on LauraParkerBlog, 2011

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All right, let’s play a game. Pretend you have the ear of a new missionary, heading to the field. Assuming they want advice, what would you tell them to do or not do? Is my advice off?

– Laura Parker, freelance writer and former missionary in SE Asia 

 

The Common Coffin Consolation

When missionaries gather we console each other. We encourage each other. We laugh together. We gripe together. We solve problems together. A particular consolation comes up frequently in my corner of the world. When things get hard or lonely we say,

“At least we didn’t have to pack our stuff in a coffin.”

Some missionaries a long time back would pack their stuff in a simple wooden coffin instead of suitcases. The regions God called them to often did not participate in the practice of burying their dead. The trip was one-way because of cost and the extensive time to arrive. Aside from sporadic letters through the postal service, the missionaries sent so far away were rarely heard from again.

My have times changed!

Missionaries now use tools like airplanes and the internet. We can call our loved ones in our passport countries with relative ease. Even those working in rural regions, cut off from communication methods, can hop in a motor vehicle to get to an urban city pretty quickly.

So we tell each other in short, “Things could be worse. Things have been worse. Be grateful.”

Maybe one day, way far off in the future, missionaries will console each other by saying,

“At least we don’t have to travel in clunky old airplanes now that teletransporters exist.”

Could happen, right?

Where do you find consolation? How have things changed since a hundred years ago in the region you work? What contemporary tool are you most grateful for?

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– Angie Washington【取寄せ】 ディズニー Disney ピノキオ フェアリーズ ティンカーベル 置物 フィギュア 人形 セット 彫刻 エネスコ Enesco [並行輸入品] Disney WDCS Blue Fairy, missionary living in BoliviaSIEVE シーヴ シーブ ソファ パートソファ 二人掛けソファ 二人用 part sofa 2seater ファブリック カバーリング ナチュラル シンプル 北欧 木製 木 ウッド かわいい , South America

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10 Reasons Not To Become a Missionary

1. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World. First, high expectations doom to disappoint, but, also, maybe your desire to change the world is trumping your desire to serve. Ask yourself if you would be happy moving overseas to a much harsher environment in order to quietly help a local, while getting no recognition and seeing no fruit in the process.  If you can answer honestly yes, then maybe you’re still in the running. {Don’t worry, we thought we would’ve answered yes, but found out that we really had some unhealthy saviour-complexes to begin with. You can read about that here: On Living a Good Story and Not Trying So Hard and The Guy in the Orange Shirt .}

2. Don’t Become a Missionary to Make Yourself Better. My first mission trip was as a middle schooler to Jamaica. I’m not really sure how much good we actually did, but I do remember one of the missionaries we worked with. His name was Craig, and he had some of the biggest glasses I’d ever seen. And the dude talked to everybody about Jesus. Everyone– the pot-smoking Rastafarian in the line, the tourists at the store, the check-out guy at the food stand. And I remember turning one time to another missionary who worked with him and asked what made him so “good” at evangelizing.  The older missionary said, “Craig?  Oh, he didn’t come to Jamaica and become like that. He was already like that in the States.”

And I think Craig with the big glasses dispels the lie that if you move overseas, then you will magically become a superhero Christian. Um, false. What you are here, you’ll be there. And while it’s true that the change of environment can spark growth, it doesn’t mean you’ll go from luke-warm average Christian to Rob-Bell-Cool-On-Fire-Mother-Theresa just because you suddenly find yourself on another continent. Pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

3. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Have the Answers and the Nationals Don’t. Westerners have clunky shoes.  This is just true. We are loud and obnoxious and, good Lord, arrogant. Our DNA has us descending on other cultures and dictating ways they can “fix” themselves, while throwing money at their problems. I think I’ve learned that every good missionary LISTENS, first. And listens, a lot. {Don’t worry, I suck at this still. You can read about that here, Rich Guy with the Crappy Car or Quiet Heroes.}

4. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Can’t Hack Transition. We’ve been overseas now for less than two years, and we have moved houses three times, taken two major trips, and have gotten close to and then had to say goodbye to over 15 good family friends. People come and go on the mission field. Terms are up and governments change the visa laws. You find a deal on a house or the house you are in has rats. When you sign up for missions, like it or not, realize it or not, you are signing up for a transient lifestyle. {On Moving House, Like A Lot and New Girl both speak to this reality.}

5. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Really Pretty Great, Spiritually-Speaking. There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country to reveal all the crap that’s in your heart.  Seriously. I have cussed more, cried more, been more angry, had less faith, been more cynical and, generally speaking, have become in many ways a worser person during my last two years of serving in Asia. Call it culture-shock if you will, but I tend to think the stress of an overseas move thrusts the junk that was conveniently- covered before out into the blazing-hot-open.

6. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think Living on Support is Cake. It might look easy, but it is most definitelynot– this monthly process of holding your breath and praying that you get a full paycheck , while knowing that even thatpaycheck is based on the kindness of your parents or your friends or the lady you know hardly has two pennies to rub together anyway. And then, when you do have a little money, you stress about how you should spend it —  Should I treat myself to a coffee? Do the kids really need to go to the pool today? Should I buy the more reliable scooter or the used one that will {probably?} be just fine?

And then, and then, shudder, there’s that awkward process of asking for it in the first place and feeling like you are annoying-the-heck out of the same people, who happen to be the only people you know  — like that pushy lady selling Tupperware down the street.

The whole thing might be great for your faith, but it can sure be a killer on your . . .  heart, finances, sense of self-worth, savings, relationships, budget, fun, and freedom.

7. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Aren’t Willing to Change. Flexibility is more important than I ever thought it would be in an overseas life. So is humility, actually. Unfortunately, neither of these qualities is naturally at the top of my Character-I.Q. However, I have learned that the more determined you are to stick to your original plan– regarding ministry or living situation or friendships or organizations or personal growth– the more painful it is when that plan changes, and change it most definitely will. It’s the ones who humbly hold things loosely that I think can go the distance with far less collateral damage.

8. Don’t Become a Missionary at the Last Minute, on a Spiritual-Whim, Spontaneously. And yes, my Charismatic friends may disagree a bit here, but moving overseas, especially with a family and especially in any kind of committed-capacity, is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not necessarily a move that should be felt at a tent-meeting on Friday and plane tickets bought for the the next Monday. Training is important. Spiritual, emotional and cultural preparation has immense value. Turning your heart to a new place often takes time to fully root. So, give it a little time. Don’t be afraid to put the brakes on a bit, and heaven’s sake, don’t think that you’re more godly if you decide, pack and go in record time. This is not the Olympics, and sloppy leaving can take more time to clean up than you realize.

  1.  Don’t Become a Missionary to Fix Your Kids. Jerking a rebellious teenager from liberal American society and sticking them in an African hut so they can “find God,” is not a valid parenting technique. Family and personal problems will follow you overseas, in fact, they may be amplified. It’s important not to buy into the lie that forcing your kids to be missionaries will supernaturally make them love Jesus. That might happen, but moving a rebellious teen might also royally backfire on you, and should never, ever, ever be the primary reason a family takes up missions.

10. Don’t Become a Missionary to Find Cool Friends. Now, I’m not saying you won’t find amazing friends– maybe the best in your life– but there is no denying that the mission field can draw some pretty odd ducks. {Of which, I, of course, am not one. See #7 regarding my natural humility.} Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself in a church service with ladies wearing clothes from the 80?s singing praise songs from your middle-school years like Awesome God, but without even the drums. Don’t be surprised, too, if your social interactions are awkward at best with many of your fellow mission-souls. Living out the in jungles for twenty years might do wonders for your character and strength and important things, like, oh, the translation of the Bible into another language, but it can sure do a number on a person’s ability to shoot the breeze in a church lobby somewhere.

But, there, again, maybe there’s a necessary shifting that has to happen to your definition of cool, anyway.

– Revised and Extended from LauraParkerBlog‘s original list, posted Jan 2012

Laura Parker, former missionary in SE Asia.

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What would you add to the list?  Bring it. Even if you are not a missionary, pretend and add to the list.

Acquainted

They started telling me their stories. We call the orphans of our orphanage the Dreamers. It caught me at the throat when the children decided to speak about their mothers. Pure fantasy spewed from their lips.

“My mother brought me a huge cake,” he said with arms extended indicating the enormous dimensions.

“My mother is beautiful,” another declared with loving eyes.

“My mother is going to come and take me from this place,” the oldest of the group at seven years old crossed her arms in defiant determination. The possibility may exist, due to the foster type care we provide, that the mother would return. The probability is low. Those words shot forcefully from that little mouth straight through my heart.

Suffering doesn’t touch you until you touch the suffering. And until you are touched by suffering you will not touch a sufferer.

I used to say that I would much rather learn from the Good Book that God has provided for our benefit rather than at the cruel school of hard knocks. That is not the case now. I see value in feeling, to bring me to a new awareness not attainable by facts on a page.

In my ignorance of pushing suffering away from myself I also pushed the sufferers away. As I have learned to embrace the hardships in my life I have also embraced the suffering people. Skirting the valley sent me tumbling down in only to realize that there were others going through as well.

Three days to break the body of Jesus and see it revived again with scars to testify. Thirty-three years suffering with raw and blistering humanity to break his heart, never to see it fully restored. He is a man acquainted with suffering.

Can I be acquainted with him yet ignore his empathy and compassion? Can you?

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– Angie WashingtonK10YG K10YG マリッジリング オシャレ ring 指輪 イエローゴールドK10 ホワイトゴールドK10 結婚 婚約 ペアリング 人気 ジュエリーアイ 刻印 文字入れ 可能 人気 安い 2本セ, missionary living in BoliviaLIXIL/リクシル 【INAX】J1HT-755S(8)YN/LP2H 化粧台 片引出し取っ手レスタイプ 寒冷地仕様 (クリエペール), South America

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Sprint, Sprint, Sprint, Gut

The coach of our swim team during my younger years had this saying. But it really wasn’t a saying, it was a yelling. He had to make himself heard over the splashes and we were all wearing those flattering plastic caps that squeezed our ears making it almost impossible to hear anything. I guess it was smart of him to have only one thing that he said, so that we always knew just what he wanted us to do. So when I looked up and saw his brow furrowed and his mouth moving around like the fake dinosaurs on Jurassic Park there was no doubt as to what he was bellowing out:

“Sprint, sprint, sprint! Gut!”

His voice has been ringing in my ears as of late. It is not that I don’t like what I am doing; just the same as when I was swimming. I liked swimming, even if I was in the turtle lane and the other three lanes above me were called: bronze, silver and gold. I still love to swim laps.

I like what I do as a wife, as a mother, as a missionary, as … well, as me. I have a good life. I simply feel like I have been in sprint mode for a long while and now my coach is yelling in my ear to gut that last lap.

Times of refreshing intercalate with times of industriousness. Without the work, refreshing is nothing more than laziness. As missionaries we drive ourselves hard. We push ourselves to produce. Our ambition gives us the tenacity necessary for a life of high demands.

How do you gut it? What keeps you moving when every muscle yells stop? When you know the season you are in requires every fiber of your being to performジョーダン 靴 シューズ カジュアルスニーカー ユニセクシャル ブラック Jordan Jordan Retro 4 – Mens – Black / Blue, where do you find the strength?

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– Angie Washington【聴診器】3M リットマン ステソスコープ カーディオロジー3, missionary living in Bolivia[カントリー家具] マントルピースブリック暖炉(だんろ)パイン材/ディスプレイ/インテリア[完成品], South America

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Entitlement and Titles

My jaw dropped as I watched a triangle of interaction take place. Having befriended a gal in our office I felt compelled to give her a little gift. The gift bag with froo-froo tissue paper hid two cute shirts. I practically skipped into the office. Seeing she was alone at her desk I sidled up and grinned saying simply, “This is for you.”

Beaming she gave me a hug even before she opened the treasure. According to custom she asked permission to open it. Once granted she gently pulled out each shirt and held them up to her small frame. Suddenly another gal appeared next to the desk. She saw the gift bag and my new friend happily fingering the new garments. Then she walked over, yanked one up and held it against her busty chest.

“This shirt is mine,” the third lady said in a dry matter of fact tone.

My Spanish abilities fly out the window when I am flustered. Not finding the right words I hoped the objection to what was taking place could be seen on my face. The gestures and stammering were insufficient against the allowances extended to ‘friends’ in this culture. My new friend tried to help me understand that this acquaintance was entitled to the gift simply based on the length of time the two had known each other. In the end I conceded, frustrated and confused.

Since this slap-in-the-face shirt experience early on in our missionary career here in Bolivia many interactions of entitlement have followed. I can even employ this relational device with relative ease. The first few times felt awkward. Then I started receiving immediate gratification by way of acceptance from the ‘natives’. I attained desired results attained which reinforced continued usage of entitlement.

Because I can identify the intricacies of this cultural nuance, I cringe a little when anybody calls me, “Pastora.” It is the feminine version of the title Pastor. The people have a right to call me this because I am married to the pastor. Yet, when they speak it, I know there is a list of duties attached they have pegged on me.

When the man says to my face, “You have to give me the money that the people from the United States send to you,” I know he is not trying to finagle anything from me. Rather, he recognizes my position in his life. Tactfully I can help him to understand why I will not be handing over a wad of cash. Then I can request of him specific behavior based upon my title.

The following titles I hold entitle certain groups of people to a certain level of entitlement: wife, friend, amiga, mama, tia, pastora, sister, hermana, señora, and daughter.

What titles do you hold entitling the people in your life to allowances? How do you feel about titles? What cultural practices have surprised you?

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– Angie Washingtonやまびこ(新ダイワ) インバータ ガソリンエンジン発電機 IEG1600M-Y/M 超低騒音 (ヤマハ EF1600iS EF16HiS 同等品)【在庫有り】【あす楽】, missionary living in Bolivia【取寄せ】ディズニー Disney マレフィセント オーロラ姫 ファッションドール 人形 おもちゃ 玩具 トイ 30.5cm [並行輸入品] Maleficent Film Collection Ex, South America

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Bloom Where You’re Planted and All That

I’ll be honest, this missions gig hasn’t gone like I thought it would. 

When I was a teenager, I devoured books on Amy Carmichael, determined to live in some hut rescuing orphans. I wanted to “accomplish great things for God,” and I assumed that meant a dramatic adventure, namely, taking a plane somewhere.

When I had kids and my husband began feeling the pull towards a life overseas, the dream began to morph.  Now, I’d just be Amy Carmichael with Kids, my children walking amongst the impoverished, learning a sacrificial love, developing a sold-out faith on foreign soil {while at the same time maintaining a sense of national home, cultural-relevance in America, minimal transition-issues, and general up-to-date fashion sense}.

I thought before we began this journey that it would be easy to find our niche of ministry– we are working for free, after all. I assumed we would do what we came to do, and when that shifted, I assumed it’d be simple to find the gaping hole of need that we had been divinely equipped to fill. That the Story of our purpose here and role would make sense, sooner, rather thanlater. 

But, two and a half years in, and I am continuing to find that Amy Carmichael I am not, that missions can be brutal on a family, and that fog is no respecter of the Jesus-disciple. 

And I was reading just the other day in this book I happen to love, and the words caught my breath, as is often the case when I have the guts and discipline to really ask the Living Word to speak.  And it said simply this:

And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 corinthians 13

And I’ve read that a million times, but this week, it’s struck a new chord. Because, this, this is what I so desperately need– faith, hope, love– qualities not dependent on my circumstances, missed expectations, or personal doubts.

Faith. That God is in the smack-dab-middle of writing a good Story — for me, for us, for them.

Hope. That beautiful things can rise from ashes. That the next bend could bring what we’ve been waiting for all along.

and LoveFrom God, for God, and for all his kids around me. The extravagant, never-stopping, everybody-included kind.

And I don’t know where you find yourself this weekend, what circumstance or fog or barrier weighs heavy on your soul. Maybe it’s a job you hate or money that can’t stretch far enough. Perhaps it’s a child you don’t have yet or one who’s drifted far, on purpose. Maybe it’s the  drag of the mundane or the failure of the adventure. But whatever it is, whatever circumstance threatens to speak doubt or anger or depression, my prayer for you, for me, is that these three will keep on remaining,

faith. hope. and love.

Played out in a million, daily, gritty, far-from-dramatic choices

The kinds of choices Amy Carmichael probably made, but that never made her books.

 – from the archives of LauraParkerBlog, 2012
Laura Parker, former missionary to SE Asia.