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?

——————————————

– 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

blogテレビ台 ローボード テレビボード TV台 国産 日本製: angiewashington.com twitterMotown: The Complete No 1s (Coll)【中古】: @atangie

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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?

——————————————

– 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?

——————————————

– 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.

Short-Term Missions: Is the Price Tag Worth It?

Short term mission trips are a popular thing these days in Christian circles. In fact, estimates are that literally millions of individuals, mostly young people, serve on short term trips (1 week up to a year) every year worldwide. Now that’s a lot of people and a whole truckload of money. Here’s an article written last year asking some sobering questions about short term mission trips:

Consider this: a group of 15 high school students {with four adult leaders} want to go on a missions trip to Africa. They write support letters, hold spaghetti dinners, call up grandma across the state line. The cost of the trip is 8 days out of their summer vacation and $1800 USD out of somebody’s pocket. Per person.

The goal of the trip is to paint the outside of a church, do a VBS for an hour four evenings, and “love the orphans” at the local orphanage {a.k.a. play soccer and give lots of hugs, since they don’t speak the same language}. The group gets called to the front of the church for a send-off prayer before and produces a killer video that makes their mothers get teary after. There are lots of Facebook updates and instagram pictures of the trip– rich American teens hugging on dark African orphans– which become the profile pictures of the participants for a good six months post-travel.

The church got painted, which locals could have done for about 30 bucks maybe.

The orphans got hugged, and then had to say goodbye to people that they’ll never see again and who promise to write, but never really do.

The four days of VBS got delivered. And included the same bible stories which  the previous four short term teams had also told. Through the mud of translators and with songs and hand motions that didn’t really make cultural sense.

And the grand total of this particular missions trip: $34, 200 USD. Ouch.

In a country where the average wage might be $2USD a day. That would be the equivalent of 17,100 days of work for a local. At that rate, the money could have gone to give 46 single mothers honorable employment for an entire year.

In this part of the world in Asia, it could provide clean water filters for 1,700 homes in village communities or it could begin a business to give hundreds of future prostitutes another choice or it could fully fund several national pastors for a whole year.

Ouch, again.

And maybe I shouldn’t knock what I myself have tried, and tasted the benefits from. I went to Jamaica on my first summer missions trip as a jr. high kid, and I still remember the stories. My husband has led a half-dozen missions trips for teenagers during his work as a student pastor. And some of our ministry here in SE Asia has been based on the idea that there  is incredible value in the mentorship of young adults as they travel and volunteer internationally. {And we have seen that it has.}

I get it.

And I know that maybe that money wouldn’t have been given to support those other {more cost- effective} endeavors, anyway. I understand that  motivating a Westerner with an experience which could make him or her a financial supporter of missions for the rest of a career has value. I get that there is intrinsic value in letting the third world know that they are not forgotten by the first, and I can see that a missions experience for a teenager could translate into a lifetime of living overseas themselves.

Yet, yet. $34,000. For eight days? When people are starving and children are trafficked and pastors themselves don’t have access to Bibles?

It’s hard to swallow. Or justify sometimes.

Or, is it?

originally posted here:  LauraParkerBlog, former missionary to SE Asia.

You All Right?

The whitewashed staircase looms before her. She hesitates and tries to calm her elevated heart rate, “Breathe. You’ve done this before. It’s going to be ok.” But is it really? It’s been so long since she has stepped foot in such a place. Mixed emotions swirl as her foot slowly steps on the first stair.

On the other side of town another thirty-something, also motivated by guilt, stands before a different edifice staircase. She postponed this defining moment, not knowing if she would be accepted. Her heart races, as well, as she digs deep searching for courage. Her hand catches the rail to steady her slightly week knees.

The two women share a common fear: is it going to be all right? Past experiences berate their minds and cloud their choices. They know the correct thing to do; but the thought of following through seems too great to bear.

They may have shared fears, yet set before them are very different prospects. One woman is standing before a gym, the other before a church. Both ask themselves if it is worth it. Both scrutinize themselves as past hurts and failures berate their subconscious.

Both choose to enter.

The first woman receives with her gym membership a complementary medical evaluation. At the end of the appointment the doctor smiles and tells her that she should continue with the exercise and a healthy diet. Then he says the words that bring relief to her worried mind, “You are in the normal range with all the examinations we performed.” She makes him repeat himself to be sure she heard correctly. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The second woman climbs the steps to the church building. She arrives late in hopes to hide in the back. She bends her head in shame. Maybe they will mistake the shameful posture for reverence, she hopes. The back row also affords a quick escape. Then a phrase in the message catches her attention. She pulls her head up so as to be sure she heard correctly. Is this man saying the truth? Amidst all her faults, shortcomings, and blatant sin, she is loved? Yes, that is what he is saying. God chose her, called her precious, and loved her. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The first woman’s fears were calmed when she learned that things she had done placed her in an acceptable rank. Deeds saved this lady’s self worth.

The second woman’s fears were calmed when she learned of an all-powerful love which covered her past deeds. The deeds of One offered this lady complete salvation.

Where do you find your sense of self worth? Do you find yourself trying to ‘be enough’ or ‘do enough’ to be accepted? When was the last time you deliberately extended the grace of God to someone else? To yourself?

——————————————

– Angie Washington【BFRS-3K-901RW】富士工業 レンジフード 換気扇 ホワイト, missionary living in Bolivia###INAX 洗面化粧台【MAJX2-602TZJU】ミラーキャビネット アジャストミラー LED照明 2面鏡 全収納 間口600mm くもり止めコート付, South America

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Avoiding the Missionary Kid Syndrome

We’ve all heard horror stories of P.K.’s (Pastors Kids), M.K.’s (Missionary Kids), and W.K.’s (Whatever other ministry oriented kid turned out bad).

While my wife and I have a long way to go to declare success, here are some things we have been practicing to keep missions appealing.

1. Priorities
I can hear all the above mentioned K’s shouting “Amen”. Most families with the dreaded K syndrome, are linked to more time, energy, and focus being placed on ministry than family. It’s fashionable to say “family first”, but much harder to live that out. It will require making sacrifices, many schedules, and constantly re-evaluating the season your family is in.

Missionary Family
By: Andrew Comings

Billy Graham, when looking back over his life and ministry, had one regret. He wished to have spent more time with his family. You can read about it in his autobiography, “Just As I Am”

2. Boundaries
Going hand in hand with priorities, is making decisions to keep boundaries. Since our children are young, we have made the decision for only one of us to attend evening meetings. We want to place a priority on the boy’s routine. This also gives each one of us the chance to have some quality time with the two boys before bed.

There are little choices that need to be made like this each day. Your checklist never gets fully accomplished, so something has to give. I recently read a book by Andy Stanley I bought in response to his leadership podcast. In Choosing to Cheat, Andy shows how everyone cheats. You will either rob your family of time or you will create that time by trimming things in your ministry.

3. Involve them
Seemingly contradicting a previous point, this is the balancing act of parenting. Our kids love being involved in the ministry. They recite testimonies from our weekly staff meetings, know the people we work with, and put their faith with ours when we dream bigger than ourselves.

My wife was a pastor’s kid when she was growing up (still is actually). She recounts with fondness sitting at the top of the stairs, eavesdropping on board meetings. Her father was excellent at involving her, even asking her opinion on things. He made ministry attractive!

4. Protect them from some of the Ugliness
On several occasions my wife or I, have stopped friends from telling horror stories of crime or human failure in front of our children. They will learn the ugliness that missions brings soon enough. We do not want to keep them in a bubble, just ease them into real life. Living on the mission field, they still have to confront issues of crime and poverty in their own childlike ways.

5. Be Positive
Your children will know more than anyone if you really do not love the people you minister to or the nation you are in. Love what God has called you to and they will too.

6. Advertise them
Ok, this might sound a bit like exploitation. Hear me out.

Present your mission as a family mission. When we are at home visiting churches, we always bring the kids on stage with us. In our newsletters, there is always a corner for what is going on in their lives. We’ve found that other young families in churches connect with us, and have become a part of our team.

Do you have anything to add to the list? What makes ministry or missions attractive to your kids?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog:  NoSuperHeroes  Twitter: @lautsbaugh      Facebook:  NoSuperHeroes

 

Meet the Editors

Angie and I have never met in real life. Instead, our journey was formed in blog comments and facebook posts. Our friendship begun via computers and twitter handles. She was in Bolivia, and I was living in SE Asia. She was the encouraging missionary with years under her belt saying, “You can do this,” while I was the one with only months under mine claiming publicly that I very-much-couldn’t.

I received many emails and messages and comments on my own blog, particularly during the times I vomited hopelessness or admitted to cussing in the front yard,  but Angie became this source of constant encouragement to me, half a globe away. Her words always rang true, always pointed up, always spoke life. She faithfully left comment after comment after comment, reminding me that I wasn’t crazy. And that it would get better. And that living overseas would teach me lessons I couldn’t learn otherwise.

****

And several months ago, I had a precious friend at our house for dinner in Asia, and somehow, Angie Washington’s name surfaced. And my new friend exclaimed, “Wait, I know her!” To which I replied incredulously, “Like, in real life?!”

And my friend had spent a summer with Angie and her family in Bolivia, and I held my breath a little as I asked the question that I think is in the back of everyone’s mind when they’re about to meet in real life someone they’ve only known via words on a screen:

“Is she like, legit?”

And my friend couldn’t stop raving, and I knew then that words on screen matched words in real life for Angie Washington {Of course, I figured that was the case}. And I understood clearly that I wanted to stay connected with this particular blog-friend on a regular basis– regardless of latitude. She was too precious not to keep rubbing shoulders, or online words, with.

And so a few months later, when I was thinking of the concept of this site and the need for it in the lives of missionaries on the field, I immediately thought of Angie. Not only is she a stellar and honest writer, but she consistently points people heavenward with encouragement and challenge– exactly the kind of person we need at the helm of this community. I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to do for some of you what she did for me during some of my darkest days on the field.

Laura Parker, October 2012

**********

Laura Parker. Co-Founder, Editor. As a child, Laura wanted to be Amy Carmichael, and in college, she wanted to be an English teacher living in an African hut. When her first attempt at overseas missions became an epic failure, lasting three months instead of several years, she began to think that foreign ministry was perhaps more difficult than the books made it out to be. This was a truth made clear during her second stint living overseas, this time with three small children, in SouthEast Asia. As a freelance writer and avid blogger, Laura wrote gritty and honest about her time in the field, building a community of missionaries, hungry for authenticity about  the difficulties of living overseas. In addition to writing for her personal blog, LauraParkerBlog, Laura has also been a freelance writer and photographer for Compassion International. She has been published in RELEVANT Magazine, MomSense magazine, a Deeper Story, {In}Courage, SheLoves and other online websites. Currently, she works with a counter-trafficking NGO. You can find her at her personal site, LauraParkerBlog and can follow her on twitter at @LauraParkerBlog.

 

Angie Washington. Co-Founder, Editor. Angie has been living the adventure with her husband and their five kids in Bolivia for over a decade. Together they have started: multiple bible schools, an international office for equipping Latin leaders through media and conferences, a local church, a K-12 Christian school, and an orphanage. She has a personal blog called “The @“. Her blog topics range from street art to adoption to cooking with gas. Through her writing she hopes to push people to love God, love people and enjoy life. Straddling hemispheres creates a continual need for her to rely on Christ… and coffee! When not writing, chilling with the fam or doing missionary stuff she collects cactus plants, takes pretty pictures and hangs out with her friends.

Coming Soon!

a Life Overseas will be officially launching November 15th. This collective blog-site will be a space to encourage, challenge, and help missionaries and humanitarian workers living overseas. Our articles will spark honest conversation, ask hard questions, and give glimpses into the realities of the missionary lifestyle. We have a line-up of writers from all over the globe, most of whom have logged years of experience in international living and many of whom have published books. Feel free to look around, but please know that surfing our site now will be a little like walking through a framed house without sheetrock or seeing the bride when she’s barely finished with her makeup —

we have a lot more building, and polishing, to do around here.

Please be sure to stop back by mid-November where we will officially be launching this new community. Until then, feel free to go ahead and join our facebook page.

Thanks for your patience,

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The Most Important Question for a Missionary

This may be the most important missionary message I have ever shared. It certainly is one I must apply the most frequently.

The longer I am in missions, the more I gain a sensitivity to a perceived sense of superiority. It is not intended, but it is the message we often communicate.

I hear it with new, zealous missionaries who are convinced they have something to offer the poor helpless souls of such and such nation.

If I am honest, I still hear it from my own mouth after twenty plus years.

CC on Flckr by by babasteve

Well meaning, willing to serve; of course
But dripping with an unintended superiority complex; yes

Duane Elmer, in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility,  interviewed countless people on the field, asking them about the experiences they’ve had with missionaries. A common response was one which causes us to think.

“Missionaries could more effectively minister the gospel if they did not think they were superior to us”.

Elmer, in his book , raise the questions of attitudes. As missionaries, do we minister from a desire to serve or a sense of superiority.

He defines servanthood as “the conscious effort to choose one direction and one set of values over another.”

This is difficult in normal life, but when we cross cultural barriers, the choice becomes much more difficult; but perhaps even more essential.

Elmer goes on to state, “Many missionaries are like me: well intentioned, dedicated and wanting to serve, but also naive and in some denial about what it means to serve in another culture.”

Desire to serve is not enough, we must guard against ministering from a place of superiority.

Here are some beliefs or statements that may help us gauge how we are doing:

  • I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, a corner on the truth).
  • My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me do most of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).
  • I am here to help you (so do as I say).
  • I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).
  • Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as let me make you a clone of myself).

“Superiority cloaked in a desire to serve is still superiority”

Ouch!

The Bible calls this pride.

Jesus himself came to Earth as a suffering servant. “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Although superior, He did not cling to that, taking the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:7)

Whether you serve cross-culturally or domestically, we must ask ourselves if we are ministering from a sense of superiority.

Take a good, hard look. It might be painful, but your effectiveness will benefit from it.

When is the last time we learned something from the people we are serving?
What aspect of the foreign culture have you implemented into your life?
Can we receive from those we serve, or do we always have to be in the place of power as the giver?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog:  NoSuperHeroes  Twitter: @lautsbaugh      Facebook:  NoSuperHeroes