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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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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.

 

Living in Two Worlds

missions1Sometimes it is difficult, living in two worlds.

We experienced this when we lived in South Korea, and now once more as we serve in Central Asia.

It is a weird feeling. I read on Facebook of my friends back home, and try to relate. Try to connect.

Yet, somehow living so far away, makes it hard to truly connect.

It is strange indeed, not feeling as if you really belong anywhere.

Oh, we have our ministry and friends here. We have set up our “home” and enjoy what we do. Yet, still here, we are foreigners and honestly always will be.

To our friends back home, I’m sure they too have a hard time connecting. They read our newsletters and pray for us. Yet, somehow to them, we are so far away and basically life must go on.

As I was reading through Paul’s letters to the churches. I was reminded afresh and anew that we are just pilgrims passing through. That this isn’t our home anymore than the grand ol’ USA is home.

Our home is in Heaven.

Jesus had no “home” of His own.  He knew He had come only to do the will of the Father.

Which is what each of us is called to do. Whether at home or abroad.

For us, this means a sense of not really belonging.

But when put in perspective….it makes sense.

For we don’t belong here, in this world

We have been called to be separate … to be different.

To all of those who serve far from home, thank you.

For if no one else understands, I know you do.

And I want to encourage you, as the Lord has encouraged me.

Your not home yet.

But one day, we will all be “home” gathered around the throne of our Savior, worshipping Him with brothers and sisters from every tribe, nation and tonge.

And yes, it will be worth it all!

 

The Harsh Reality of Culture Shock

culture shockI have always heard of culture shock. I have studied it and read about it. But the harsh reality of experiencing it is different.

We have now been in Nepal for one week. Yet, it feels more like a month. Nothing about life here is normal. In fact, everything seems backwards. From driving on the opposite side of the road, with the steering wheel on the left to the complications of daily life.

The stress of life on the mission field combined with culture shock can lead to many a melt down. In fact, today, I had two. One while in the pots and pan aisle at the store and once while out buying furniture. I know this seems crazy..but if you had, had my day you would understand.

I’m having to learn to let go. Let go of my mindset of how things should be. Let go of my high expectations. Let go of my concept of normal. In fact, it’s like learning my abc’s all over again. Letting go of all the things that seem so wrong and realizing that there are other ways of doing things.

I’m learning that my concept of time and doing things doesn’t work here. Life is on a much slower scale. And accomplishing two of the ten things on my list for the day is a great achievement.

Yes, culture shock is real. Adapting to a different culture is hard. Learning to let go and seeing things through different eyes takes time.

I’m also learning to give myself some grace. Seeking to let go of my own high expectations and realizing that the oppression of this land is real. The spiritual warfare a definite reality.

Tonight as Eric and I rode to the house on the bus, I looked about me and realized we were probably the only Christians on board. The utter lostness here is overwhelming and I wonder how God can use us to penetrate the darkness.

But,  I’m realizing that we can’t penetrate the darkness, only the Gospel of Jesus can. I’m learning that I must daily depend on the Lord. That I must walk in step with Him.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5)

This is my message, this is your message. May the Lord use us both to shine His light and be His light, pointing others to Christ.

The Smell Of Death

monkey-on-swayambhunath-stupa-kathmandu-1024x715The smell of death lingered on as we made our way through the largest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. Believed to be a holy place. A place where when Hindu’s die, they want to be cremated and have their ashes poured into the river. Believing that somehow this will lead them out of the endless cycle of death into heaven.

As we walked through there was a sense of oppression, for we had entered into the enemies territory. Walking up the stairs we watched as bodies were burned. Of course you could not see the body because it was covered with wood and hay, yet, the reality of what was taking place could not be disguised. The fact that the dead were cremated was not the issue however, the real issue was the number of Hindu’s who come daily here to this holy place to bring offerings and who seek to appease their god for their sins. We were told daily thousands are cremated here and thousands come with offerings. Once again, my heart broke for the bondage the mass majority of Nepal is under. How thankful I was when it was time to leave, yet glad for the chance to truly see the desperate need for Jesus here in Nepal.

Next we toured the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in Kathmandu. Though the atmosphere was different, the lostness remained the same. We watched as numerous Buddhist lit candles, spun prayer wheels and offered fruit and flowers to their god. The amazing part was the area of repentance, where we were told daily people come and cry out for forgiveness for their sin. Sadly, these will never know true forgiveness apart from Jesus.

Going to these two temples was needed to fully grasp the spiritual darkness and belief system we are dealing with and that the students from the seminary encounter daily. For some, these students are the only Christian in their families.

What a relief it was when it was time to go to the house of the Lord and to watch the students take in the Word of God. To hear them pray in Nepali is awesome and though I do not understand what is being said, the Lord does and He is pleased.

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