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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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The most dreaded thing….

visaVisa’s and immigration, two things I would safely say most expats despise and dread. There is just something about having to jump through hoops to remain in a place you came to serve. You’d think, they’d be more welcoming, somehow seeking to make it easier. Yet, that is far from the experience we have had thus far in our life overseas.

As we drive to immigration, my stomach feels sick, as I imagine the worst. Visa denied, leave immediately! My palms sweat as we wait in line holding possibly every document they may or may not ask for.

Then when we get the new stamp, for however long it is good for, I can breathe freely. That is until we have to start jumping through hoops again.

As you can imagine, dealing with visas and visits to immigration are not easy or fun.For my husband, he is never it seems concerned. Somehow believing it will certainly all work out, it always has. And most usually he is right. But for me, the what if’s are suffocating.

I realized last night why this is such a difficult thing for me. Prior to coming to Central Asia, our family lived and loved Busan, South Korea. I could have lived there forever. We made plans for a furlough so my husband could complete his PhD and graduated, with intentions of return.

Yet, two weeks before our flight was to leave, we found out returning was not an option, and in haste packed, shipped and sold our things. Hastily saying goodbyes to people, we knew we’d probably never see again this side of Heaven.

It was a horrendous time, ripping my heart to shreds. When we arrived back to the States, I wanted to be anywhere but there. It is true what they say, reverse culture shock is worse than culture shock!

So, now when we deal with visas and have to go to immigration, I always have the worst case scenerio in mind. Making something simple hard!

Today once again we had to make our way to immigration to ask for an extension on our visa. This proved to be no easy task, we were even sent to the director’s office to get a signature.

Yet, one thing I was reminded of today is that our God is the most High God, and though we are seemingly helpless in situations such as these. In reality we are not. For though we may not know what to do, we rest our eyes on our Savior, who whispers, “Fear not!” And who fights on our behalf.

Tonight I can rest a little easier knowing we have our visa extension, and I can trust the Lord even more knowing that in the most difficult situations He is there. And not only is He there with us, He moves and works on our behalf.

What a mighty God we serve!

When it all seems meaningless…..

insigificant-lifeLast night as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep, the thought crossed my mind. Is it worth it all? As we begin to prepare for our furlough in a few months time, this it seems is a constant question.

We sold everything to come here, was it worth it?

We have to spend lots of money on visa’s to stay in country, and jump through beurocracy hoops to get visas. Is it worth it?

Our kids are missing out on “normal” life in the states, and are far from their grandparents who love them, is it worth it?

Flights for a family of 5 to return to the States are not cheap, is it worth it?

Serving those who sometimes take advantage of you and hurt you, is it worth it?

Struggling to learn a language, speaking like a five-year old, and seeking to understand what is being said. Is it worth it?

Being bone weary, stressed, and emotionally spent. Is it worth it?

Going home for a few months only to return and start again, is it worth it?

As I lay in bed and thought on these things, in my weary form of thinking, I wondered is it worth it or not?

Yet, the break of dawn brought about a fresh perspective. Especially as I opened God’s Word.

This morning I began reading about the fall of Solomon, and how his love of foreign women led him astray. Which turned his heart hard, and destroyed his relationship with the Lord. Also bringing upon his life the discipline of the Lord.

It was in the midst of this time that it is believed he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. A book that begins with talk of how meaningless life is.

As I read the first few chapters the Lord spoke to my heart clearly.

Yes, all of the above are meaningless if done for the wrong reasons. Yet, they hold great worth if they are done unto the Lord, and for His glory.

So, though the thought of packing, planning, preparing for our furlough can be wearisome, it is worth it.

Though finding someone to take care of things in our absence, and thinking upon the hoops of obtaining a visa upon our return make me nauseous, it is worth it.

Allowing our kids to experience life overseas, does lead them to miss out on things, but it also gives them experiences most never have, and it is worth it.

Having others take advantage of you hurts, but that’s okay in the long scheme of things, and it’s worth it.

Things are just that, things. And things can be replaced, so it is worth it.

Seeking to learn a difficult language, though tiresome is worth it.

Making the long trip home, despite the cost, is well worth it.

Living and serving here, in obedience to the Lord. Yea, it’s worth it.

It is all worth it if it is for the Lord.

So when you’re strugeling about your day, wondering if all you do is worth it, feeling it is simply meaningless. I encourage you as the Lord encouraged me. To see things afresh and anew from His perspective.

Make sure whatever it is you’re doing, you are doing for Him and for His glory. Then no matter what it is, it is worth it!

Satan longs to steal our joy, to make us want to quit. Yet, the Lord is right there with us telling us we can go on, and gives us the strength to do so.

Everything has meaning when done unto the Lord!

Embrace what God has called you to,surrendering it into His hands, and watch as He brings about beauty from the ashes!

Blessings from Nepal!

Trusting God Even When it’s Hard

mandylynncarpenter

How do we trust God when we can’t see the way?

How do we trust God when nothing makes sense?

When life seems to be spinning out of control?

When someone we love is sick or hurting, and we are helpless to help?

We all know trusting God is easy when life is good, when all is well in our worlds. Yet the true test of our trust is shown not in the good, easy times, but in the difficult.

Trusting God to do the impossible is easy to instruct others, but difficult to hold onto when you’re the one needing to believe.

Holding fast to the Lord seems painless until He is all we have to hold onto.

I think of the saints of old, and how they trusted God. Abraham trusted God with Issac. Joseph trusted God as he waited in prison to be remembered. David trusted God…

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When we miss out on what God has because we are afraid…

mandylynncarpenter

I still remember the fear, I had never done any evangelism before. Yet, here I was, a first year seminary student doing evangelism on the University of Memphis campus. I listened and learned as others in my group approached students hanging out after class. Then they said it was my turn. I was so afraid. I mean I knew God desired that I tell others about Him, I knew that these needed to hear the Good News. But, man was I afraid.

I could have gone running the other way or got my friend to take my place. Yet, if I had I would have missed out on what God had in store. For as I began to share the Gospel, the students listened respectively, but in the end basically said, thanks but no thanks and walked away. I was disappointed, but happy I had obeyed the Lord. But amazingly…

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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 🙂 ), 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!

The Not so Glamorous Life of the Missionary

insigificant-lifeFor about 6 weeks from Thanksgiving on through the first of the year, we had house guest from Australia. They were such a blessing to us. A team of 9 stayed for 2 weeks, 1 girl stayed 4 weeks and another girl stayed 6 weeks.

The two girls who stayed the longest and I had many discussions. One day I asked what surprised them most, and they were both quick to share their surprise of how I still had to do the normal, day-to-day life. Of course they realized this must be true, but somehow had not given it too much thought.

This is the not so glamorous life of the missionary, especially the wife/mom. The truth is life still happens. Clothes still need washed, food still needs cooked, medicine bought, bills paid, school work taught, homework helped with and the list could go on.

And the truth is, this not so glamorous work can seem insignificant. Just yesterday as I was up on the roof, hanging out the clothes to dry. I wondered to myself for like the hundredth time, what am I doing here. Am I really making an impact? Or is this all wasted effort and time?

I know the truth just as I’m sure you do when you ask such questions. That God is using my life, just as He is using yours. I realize that nothing is ever wasted in God’s eyes and that He is using me here in the life of others, in the life of my family and that He is using this land, these people to change me as well.

But the reality is we all still long for more. For many of us we want to be out their on the front lines EVERYDAY. We want our lives to COUNT BIG. We expect our everyday lives to read like one of the great missionary biographies. And when it doesn’t we are left wondering.

Yet, God has to remind me again and again He is there in the day-to-day and the day to day matters. For three years Jesus did His ministry. For three years he taught his disciples, ate meals with them, traveled with them… but it was that final day that we focus on. Yet, those days He spent with His disciples were just as necessary.

You may feel your life is insignificant. You may wonder what God is doing, why He has you were you are. So I want to encourage you as God has encouraged me. You are where you are for His purposes. And if you are doing what He has called you to do, then every seemingly insignificant thing you’re doing matters to Him. And He is pleased.

 

 

Unexpected Kindness

monkey-on-swayambhunath-stupa-kathmandu-1024x715Just when you think there is nothing but evil left in this world, your met with unexpected kindness.

Earlier this week the kids and I set out via public transport through the streets of Nepal to a new mall just to do some window shopping. After finishing here, we make our way to the local supermarket to buy a few things before returning home. Laden with three bags, and not knowing which transport would take us home, we started walking. Along the way, the three bags I was holding got heavy and my youngest son offered to carry a bag, which I gladly let him do. As we got further up the road we came upon a bunch of phone shops and this same son wanted to check inside for a phone case.

Once inside, I sat down to rest and the kids all looked at phone cases and tried to help their brother decide. Unknown to me, my son had also sat the bag he was carrying down and after buying the phone case of his choice, also left the same bag on the floor as we left the shop.

It wasn’t until we had made it almost home that we realized his error. He was heartbroken, and though I felt sick that the groceries I had bought were gone, I assured him that the guys at the phone shop would certainly enjoy the coffee, tea, tuna and mangoes in the bag.

But later I wondered if we went back if it would still be there. I wondered if they’d still have it. There was no way to get back there that day due to the lateness of the day. However the next day I asked my husband to take us by there. All they could say is no, we didn’t leave a bag or no it wasn’t there.

So though it was a day later we drove there to ask. And amazingly as soon as my son walked up, they called him inside and handed him the bag. They had locked it up for safe keeping and were waiting on us to return. Even more amazing was the fact that everything that was in the bag was still there. They had removed nothing.

I profusely thanked them for their kindness and walked away in disbelief. Later I told a Nepali friend, who was just as amazed. She said they must have been really good guys because she’s never heard of such a thing happening before.

And I thought to myself, how right she is. They were really great guys, displaying the truth that we miss so often in the news these days, that there are still kind, good people in this world. People ready and willing to do that which is right!

What is missions??

mandylynncarpenter

SAM_0277What is missions?
It’s long crowded flights to the other side of the world.
It’s living in a place where everyone seems to know who you are, but you still can’t get everyone else’s names straight.
It’s fumbling with the language, even though you study and try, it never comes out the way it should. It’s even thinking you’re saying one thing, when in reality you’re saying something totally different and getting very strange looks, and not understanding why.
It’s dealing with sickness and high fevers in the night with nothing to do but pray.
Its worms, lice, and other creepy crawly things that teach us to count all things as joy.
Missions is always being on display, always having people watching you, and not always setting the best example that you know you should. It’s even being put on a pedal stool by people back home, who think your some…

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Why Short Term Mission Trips are Important and Necessary!!!

short term missionsIt seems here lately and especially this time of year, short-term mission teams get a lot of flack. And now with sites like barbiesavior.com it has become a more heated debate.

It is true that short-term mission trips can do more harm than good. It is true that many go on short term mission trips for the wrong reasons, and that they post pictures that call for people to look at them.

But can I just say that if it were not for short-term mission trips, I would not be serving long-term now.

My first short-term trip was to French Guiana, South America. I had not clue where this place was, I had no idea of the French creole spoken here or really how I was going to help. I’m not sure my intentions for going where all correct, and I know that for the long-term missionaries we were working with. We were probably a little bit more trouble than we were worth.

But at the end of that trip, I knew God was calling me for more.

That same year at Christmas, I joined up with a group of girls from all over the States and headed to China for three weeks. This was a bit more intense than a one week trip, but none the less it was another short-term trip. I taught English, took pictures, and sought to tell anyone who would listen about Jesus. I came home believing we had made a difference, but I know now that it is the lady we worked with who had been there more than 8 years who was really making the difference.

Yet, once again, this only fueled my desire to serve the Lord cross culturally.

God used both experiences to bring me to a point where I was ready to say yes to long-term. Yes, to Korea, and now yes, to Central Asia.

This past year, we had an amazing short-term team visit us here, and they did an amazing job serving the people here. Most of these had never been out of the USA, and it was an amazing chance for them to see the world, to see the needs, and for God to do a work like He did in mine in the hearts of some who came.

The truth is without short-term mission trips, there would be little to no long-term missionaries.

Both are important, both are needed.

So before, we are too hard on these short-term groups. Let’s remember that it is through these trips that God calls out those who will serve Him long-term.

True, short-term teams can cause trouble, they can do damage, and they can be difficult for the long-term people. But I think the good they do far outweighs the bad. And I know the good God does in their hearts to change them is nothing that can be measured.

I always thought before going to the mission field about how God would use me to change nations and people for His glory. But, just to add in a bit more honesty. God used Korea and is using Central Asia now to make me more like Him, probably far more than He used me to change them.

And He does this with the short-term travelers as well. For the first time, they catch a glimpse of the world, of the need, and of God’s heart for the lost. Once they see this, they are never the same.

These short-term teams help the churches back home know what the long-term workers are doing. They understand better than anyone else back home, how much the long term workers need prayer. And after seeing the day-to-day of what those serving long term deal with, they can empathize and encourage like no one else.

So my advise to everyone who has never been on a short-term trip. Go! Take the opportunity given and allow God to use your trip to change you, to grow you, and maybe even to call you to more.

But I would also advise you to be sensitive to the needs of the people. Be sensitive about posting photos that glamorize what you’re doing. Be quick to listen to the advise of those who live and serve there long-term. Go with a serving heart, go with a teachable spirit, but go.

And I promise that when you return, you will no longer see the world in the same way. You will no longer see the refugees and foreigners in your home town the same. God can and will use this short-term trip to change those you encounter, but even more so to change you.

 

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