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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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faith

Furlough

furloughIn four days we leave for a four-month furlough, and my heart is a mixture of emotions. There is so much I need to do, and yet I keep acting as if I have all the time in the world. My oldest has been packed since Monday, and I have just begun.

It isn’t that I’m not excited to see our family. It’s not that I’m not looking forward to reuniting with our church and supporters.

The truth is I can’t wait to see everyone, I’m looking forward to experiencing Fall for the first time in three years, enjoying Thanksgiving, and celebrating Christmas. It’s going to be wonderful.

And yet, my heart feels torn.

Our life is not “there” anymore, it is “here.” And yet, we don’t really belong in either place.

And to be honest, I’m having a hard time knowing how to push the pause button on life here, so we can go and experience life there.

I guess I’m feeling a bit bi-polar, not knowing who I am, or where I belong.

And to be honest I’m a bit afraid of fitting back in. I mean I have no clue what the latest styles are, but I have a feeling my three-year old clothes I’m still wearing now, are not it.

And though I’ve tried to keep up on the news in the States, my focus has been the latest news here. So, I’m not sure, I will understand what everyone is concerned with or even talking about.

I know many will approach and say things like, “Aren’t you glad to be home?” And I’ll smile, and most likely say yes, but inside, I will be thinking about our home here.

I’m also a bit nervous over how the kids will adjust. Sure, they are excited, and are listing all the places they want to go, the foods they want to eat. They can’t wait to see the friends they left behind. But, I wonder, will they fit in? Or will they feel like an outsider in their own country?

And then to answer the questions about our life and ministry here? I wonder will our response be sufficient? Will the people really want to know, will they want to hear our stories, or will they only ask to be polite?

I’m sure it will be great…but I’m not delusional, so I know it will also be hard.

And yet, the hardest part will be, when once again it is four days until we catch our flight, and we head back “here.” Except this time, all the emotions I’m feeling about going there, will be directed towards coming back here.

It’s an odd life the Lord has called us to. It can be a roller coaster of emotions. And some days I question the absurdity of it all. I wonder is it really worth it? Are we really making a difference? And I long for a more stable, normal life.

But then I remember the call. I remember why we came, why we go, and I remind myself in the end it will certainly be worth it all.

 

The Not So Normal Childhood Experience…

kidsSchool trips, these were always a highlight. I can remember taking the train in fourth grade to our state capital. In grade 6 we went to St Louis to the Arch. My senior year, rather than go with my class, my parents took me and one of my best friends on a cruise. Wonderful, memorable adventures!

Often I feel like a failure as a parent, because my kids are not experiencing these “normal” things. I think about the great youth group I was apart of my high school years, that kept me sane. I think about staying up late talking on the phone with friends and jumping in the car to go for a movie or ice cream.

Then I think about raising my kids far from these normal experiences of life. Oh, we can go for ice cream, even see a movie, but it isn’t quite the same.

But then today I was reminded that though my kids miss out on what I consider “normal.” They have other adventures all the same. This morning my youngest son left with his class to go on their school trip. They were going to Chitlan, a place they would drive about 2 hours to, and then hike another 5 hours to reach. A village at the top of the mountain. Where they’d see many historical sites of Nepal. His two best friends were adjoining him and he was so excited he could barely sleep.

Last year, my oldest son went to Lumbini aka the birthplace of Buddha. And made memories that will last a life time. My daughter has friends here from American, Australia and Nepal. And they’ve had the adventures of living in two foreign countries, riding elephants, and seeing the sunrise over the Himalayas.

There childhoods will certainly be different from mine.Their experiences vastly more complex. Yet, they will enjoy experiences most kids never have the opportunity for.

I can’t give them “my” experiences, and though I do wish they could experience these things. God sees them and knows them. He loves them and cares for them. And I believe He can and will use the exotic adventures they have had for His glory and honor. Shaping their lives for the plans and purposes He alone has for them.

 

When you long for Home..

homeWhere do you live? This is a question I get asked a lot, and it is also a question I’m never quite sure how to answer. Do I tell them where I live “here” or where I’m from “there?” It can get complicated even telling where we are from, because technically I’m from Mississippi and my husband is from Indiana. Yet, the last place we lived in the USA was Tennessee. You get the point, where are you from is a complicated question.

Since my husband and I married we have lived in 6 different homes, 3 different States and 2 different countries. All in the mater of 15 years. And bless their hearts, the same is true for our children, although the youngest certainly doesn’t remember all of these “homes.”

On the hard days here I will often find myself telling my husband I just want to go home. Which leads me to feel even worse because then I wonder well where is home? In all essence of the word… we are actually quite homeless. The last place we lived before coming here was my parents home. In a matter of months we will go on furlough and will once again live at my parents home and my husband’s family home. All before returning to our home here.

And though I know that this earth is not my home. I realize my true home is in heaven, and that we are just passing through. There is a huge part of me that longs for “home.” here.

Thankfully since moving here, we have remained in the same house and it has become home. My kids handprints are on the walls (to my dismay ūüôā ), the dog has dug holes in the yard, and the house has become ours.

Just the other day the house owner who lives in England was in town. He asked to come by to get some things he had left behind. I told him of course he could come, it was his home. And he smiled and said, no it is yours. He was of course being very kind, and I appreciated his words. Yet, I know that in reality, that house isn’t really ours.

When we were living in my parent’s basement before moving here, I couldn’t wait to have a place of my own once more. A place to hang curtains in the windows and decorate to my liking. The house we moved into was furnished, which meant I didn’t have a lot of say other than adding my own little touches here, but we have made it our own.

We painted my daughter’s room pink and the boys have decorated their rooms to their liking. It’s their space, their room. Since being here, we have thought a couple of times of moving houses, but every time I think of doing so shake my head no. Not because I love our house so much, but because it has become our place and starting over again doesn’t thrill me at all.

But what am I to do when I just want to go home? What are you to do? I think we have to daily remind ourselves of that heavenly home. I read a quote recently about the word missionary.. it said what is a missionary. It is a person who leaves their family for a short time, so that others may be with their families for eternity.

I have to remind myself why I’m here. And remember my call. Knowing that my heavenly home will well be worth it all.

So when I’m longing for home or for the familiar. I have to do things that are familiar like baking chocolate chip cookies, and watching hallmark movies via YouTube. Paying high prices for the taste of home. Drinking coffee at the coffee shop or even having a getaway to a nice hotel. Whatever it takes.

How about you? What do you do when you long for home? How do you cope with this? What do you do to make your home away from home your own? How do you help your kids grasp these things? Would love to hear from you!

Perspective and transformation

10425847_10204830403464707_8024968763891978400_nIt has been almost two years since we stepped off the plane, juggling 12 suitcases, 3 kids, and all our carry on bags. It has been almost two years of living abroad in a place we now call “home.”

Last night my husband asked me how my perspective has changed since we arrived? What has God shown me? How has He transformed me? And I had no immediate answer.

Not because my perspective has not changed, not because God has been silent, and certainly not because I have not changed. On the contrary I was just at a loss for how to begin.

Perspective: When we first arrived, everything seemed backwards from the steering wheel in the car to the cars on the different side of the road. Then add in the cows, monkeys and goats roaming the road, and it all seemed strange. ¬†But today, as we made our way to church on the public bus, and I looked out the window… I realized it all seems “normal” now. This “normal” wouldn’t work back in my home town, but it works here. It is what it is, and I have learned to adjust and accept it.

How has God changed me? In so many ways, honestly this post would be too long were I to list all the ways. But most importantly He has taught me that He is my best friend when it seems lonely. He has taught me I can trust in Him, when I have been fearful of sleeping at night. I have learned how much He loves the people here and how much He wants me to love them. He has shown me that in order to transform lives, His Word is enough. And He has demonstrated again and again when I am tired, that He is my perfect strength.

Transformation:¬†As funny as it may sound, living here has changed me a lot. When we first came, I timed my showers around when the electric would come on so I could dry my hair. Now I’ve learned how little that really matters. When we first came, I thought I had so much to teach others, but I’ve realized how very much I have to learn. I pridefully believed God had brought our family here to change the people, but have realized the hard way that He is often more interested in using the people and the country here to change me. How have I been transformed? God has used earthquakes, gas and water shortages, and blockades to chip away the junk and to make me more like Him (but i still have a long way to go in this transformation process).

Many days living here it seems I’m just getting through another day. Often I struggle to feel like I’ve accomplished much. I cry over what my kids are missing out on, but am thankful for all they are allowed to be apart of.

Its been a journey, a journey that continues each day. A journey full of sacrifice, but also of joy. A journey that is often hard and frustrating, but a journey I wouldn’t trade for the world.

 

 

A Most Inconvient Time

nepalchildren-709159It was the day before the mission team was to arrive. I of course wanted everything to be perfect. Yet, nothing was going my way.

Instead, it seemed everything was going wrong.

For a week prior, rumors had spread of a possible fuel shortage, leaving long lines visible all over the city, as everyone tried to fill up on petro.

Now, a week later, all the fuel stations were closed, and news of a blockade between the southern border of Nepal and Northern India was all anyone could talk of.

It was early morning, as I sat down with my coffee, Bible and journal. My heart it seemed was racing, as I felt panic swell within me. I still had so much to do to prepare for their arrival. And, all I could think of was the petro shortage, wondering how this would affect our plans for the team.

Then I began to read God’s Word, and as always, the Lord was faithful to speak to my worn heart.

I had just begun the Gospel of Luke, and as I read the familiar text of Luke 2, and our Savior’s birth. I couldn’t get passed the part where it said….”While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.”

See, they were far from home, trying to do the right thing, by going to register for the census, when at the most inconvenient time, the time came for the Baby to be born.

I’m confident that this is not how Mary had planned it. I’m sure, she wished she were at home, anywhere but in a stable for the birth of her first child. Yet, this was God’s plan, bringing Him the most glory.

As I read this, a calm that comes only from the Lord, settled over my heart. As the Lord reminded me that though this was probably the worst time for the mission team to arrive, due to the unrest and lack of fuel. That this didn’t take Him by surprise. For He knew long before they would come, that this would be the scenario that they would arrive to. He knew that there would be a fuel crisis, but He wanted them here for such a time as this.

The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “it is okay, I have them coming now at a difficult time, so that I will indeed receive the most glory.”

And He did. For now as I write this a week and a half later… I stand amazed. For though nothing is certain in Nepal. Though life is difficult even on the best of days. The Father showed out for His glory during the time the team was here.

For though there was a fuel crisis, and I feared our plans would have to change. Nothing changed, everything went as planned. Lives were changed,hearts were transformed, and the Lord showed out. All for His name sake, and for His glory.

How great a Savior and Lord we serve. Though His ways don’t always make sense. Though we often question His ways. His ways are perfect. And I give Him all of the praise, honor and glory, for the great things He has done!

To the loved ones at home….

mission sendersToday I heard of two more who have left everything to follow the Lord, even to the ends of the earth. One who is now on her way to Kenya, and another family on their way to China. It is exciting to see more and more answer God’s call to go to the nations. And personally I can’t wait to see and hear how the Lord will use these for His glory. How He will use the nations to change them for His glory.

Yet, there are also now a few more families back home, who are dealing with the pain of saying goodbye. The fear of the unknown, and the ache of not knowing when they may see each other again.

I’ve realized that harder than leaving it all to go to the mission field, harder than living in a foreign land as a missionary. That harder still it is for the families left back at home.

Oh these families rejoice that their loved ones have answered His call. They are bursting with pride over their loved one’s desire to follow the Lord. Yet, the hurt remains.

I know because our family has left our loved ones twice now. Once to serve in Korea and now in Central Asia.

And though it was hard to leave, hard to say goodbye. Life for a missionary is busy, a little complicated, and yet fulfilling. The missionary is doing what God has called them to. He/she is getting to do what they have always longed to do. (Not that it is always easy, and not that there are not days when he/she wants to go home).

Yet, for the loved ones back home… life somehow has to go on.

So to the loved ones back home, the one’s who have watched teary eyed as their child or grandchildren have boarded a plane to fly to the ends of the earth.

I want you to know it is okay to cry. It is okay to miss them. It is okay to write them, call them, email them. And yes, they need your prayers.

But, God also has a purpose for you.

He want to use this time in your life to change you for His glory. He wants to use you to tell the stories of your loved ones, giving others a heart for the nations as well.

And though, you will watch at a distance as your loved one experiences the path chosen for him/her.

Your life will go on, and God can and will use you right where you are.

A great article put entitled, “Does Missions Separate Families?” put it just right. They said,

Does missions separate families?
Yes. For a time.

But it also expands them. By inviting the lost into a family. Those who had no family, no hope, who were on the outside and separated from God. (Ephesians 2)

There may be a few empty seats at our next Thanksgiving dinner. But by those seats being empty, it will mean that other place settings are being made ready for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Because lost brothers and sisters who live across the ocean, whose skin is darker than ours, whose language is different than ours, will be invited into God’s family, and will be called for the first time sons and daughters, and will be given a place at His table forever.

One day we will come together, all of us, those who were far off, and those who were brought near, as one family, with exploding joy.  And there in the presence of Christ, we will see that missions never separated our family at all.

It only ever made it grow.

Your loved one may have left, but through your loved one, God will grow His family. And one day, you too will meet those whom your son/daughter impacted for the nations.

To the loved ones back home, your missionaries need you. They need your prayers, they need your encouragement, they need to know they have not been forgotten. They need your love and they need your support.

For just as it is important for the called to go, it is just as important that the one’s back home send.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!

You play a vital role in the missionaries call, and work!

So thank you to the loved ones who are left back home. How precious you are in the eyes of the Lord.

Does Missions Separate Families?

The blood of bulls and goats

jesusToday is Easter. A day to celebrate our risen Savior.

In many churches today, the cross, and the blood are offensive. They are depicted as too gory and not something to talk about.

Yet, I wonder, what is there to talk about apart from the cross and the blood of Jesus.

Here in Nepal, the sacrifice of bulls and goats is a common thing. Back in the fall my kids and I watched as our neighbor slit the throat of a goat, pouring out its blood. At festival time, hundreds of bulls are sacrificed up to the gods.

And I can’t help but be reminded of the verse which says, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4)

The blood that is shed here as a sacrifice can not cleanse them of their sins. No amount of good deeds they do can appease the gods.

As I daily walk past, and see these people living in darkness, going through their own religious motions, my heart breaks.For I know that apart from the blood of Jesus, they can not be forgiven. Apart from the blood of Jesus, they will die and be eternally separated from the One True God.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.¬†For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:11-14)”

Jesus has come and been sacrificed once for all. His blood is enough!

So as we celebrate the cross, as we celebrate the blood that has cleansed us and set us free. As we celebrate our risen Savior.

Let us not forget that as His children, it is our responsibility, no our duty, to go and share this good news with those all around us.

IT IS FINISHED!

WHAT A JOY, WHAT A SAVIOR!

Unexpected Blessings

kathmandu citySome things here in Nepal have taken on a familiarity. For instance, walking along the dirt roads, seeing goats and chickens as I walk. Encountering the occasional cows that roam about freely.

But today, something unusual happened. After I took the kids to school, and got on the bus to return home. I sat next to an older Nepali man, who was busy reading a Bible.

I couldn’t help, but think of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. So I began to pray that God would somehow opened up an opportuinity for us to talk.

Within seconds, he put his Bible away and asked me where I was from. (Thank you Lord, he speaks some English!) I told him I was from America, and we proceeded with small chit-chat.

Then I asked him what he had been reading, and he smiled sheepishly and said, the Bible. I gave him a huge smile and asked if he was a Christian. When he said yes, I told him that I was to.

He then told me that he and a small group of other believers are meeting in their home to study the Bible together. And I shared with him about the Seminary we are here working with to train pastors.

It was a wonderful time to meet this fellow believer. For this certainly doesn’t happen everyday!!

Thankfully unlike the Ethiopian Eunuch, this man was a believer, but I wonder how much of the Scripture he understands. His name was Simeon. I told him, I would be praying for him, and those meeting in his home. He thanked me, and blessed me.

Soon thereafter, he got off the bus, and I smiled to myself, thanking God for allowing me to be in the right place at the right time.

Who has God placed in your life? What opportunities has He given you in your day-to-day? I encourage you to ask the Lord to open up the doors for you to be His witness. To ask the Lord to give you boldness to share with those He brings about your path.

You never know, whether God will use you to provide the blessing or like me to receive the blessing!!

Ring the Bell

images (1)This past summer back in the USA, our church hosted some Sunday evening movie nights. On one of these nights, we watched the film, “Ring the Bell.” It was a great story of how at a home for orphaned kids, when they came to know Jesus, they would go out in the yard and ring the bell. One man traveling through encountered Christ while there and well, you should go watch the movie to see what happens.:-)

Yet, the other day as I was walking the kids to school, we passed one of the many temples located here in Central Asia. As we walked by, there were people there bringing offerings, lighting candles and incense, and ringing the bells.

My inquisitive daughter turned and asked me, “Mommy, why are they ringing the bells?” I then explained to her that they believe they must ring the bells to alert the gods of their coming and their prayer request. It is also believed to word off the evil spirits. I told her that this was a part of their worship, that they believed they must do to please the gods.

She listened and nodded and then said, but we don’t have to do that do we? We can just talk and pray to God anytime.

And of course she is right. But, as we continued on to school, I was struck by the sound of the ringing bells. In the movie, it was a declaration that someone had accepted Christ as their Savior. Yet, here it means nothing close.

Morning, noon and night, I hear bells ringing, as the Hindu’s offer puja and go to temples to worship their gods. Each time, my heart breaks a little. For though they are sincere in their prayers and beliefs. I know that these acts of worship are not heard nor answered. For there is only one God, Jehovah, and only one way to gain access into His presence. Through Jesus Christ, His Son.

Please join me in praying for this nation and these people. That the Lord God Almighty, who neither slumbers nor sleeps. Will open the eyes of His people that they might see their desperate need for Christ. Pray that His Word would go forth and spread, never returning void, but being used for the furtherance of the Gospel in this land.

 

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