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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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!

New Norms

dusty-streetsThis morning as I walked the dusty roads of town to catch a bus, I was amazed at how familiar these sights have become. When we first arrived, I was shocked by the dust, the traffic, the noise, the broken buildings etc. Now, it has just become a new normal.

Seeing kids working to take up money on the bus use to drive me crazy as I thought about how they should be in school, but now, it is normal.

Watching as the women carry bags of bricks on their backs use to amaze me as I thought of how difficult this must be. Now, normal.

It is amazing how quickly our normals can change.

If you watch the news these days, it is normal to see stories of wars, killings, and refugees. And though these things are horrible, they have become normal.

The Lord is teaching me that normal doesn’t always mean right. Yea, many things that have become normal here are considered okay, but that doesn’t make them right. The news reports that have become the norm, do not take away the fact that these things are far from okay.

When our “normals” fall tragically away from the truths of God’s Word, we are in danger.

Normal doesn’t make it right. Normal may indeed be very wrong.

To the young girl who sells her body for food, this may have become normal after the twentieth time, yet it is far from okay.

I believe in this day and age, it is entirely too easy to adjust to the new normals of the culture. Too easy to fall for Satan’s lies that because these are norms, they must be okay.

As parents, teachers, pastors and leaders it is necessary that we teach to others what is normal or right not according to the worlds standards, but according to the Bible.

Where we live, it is normal to lie and bribe, even among Christians. It is ingrained in the culture, a way to survive. Yet, over and over again we have to teach the students and leaders the reality that these things are not okay. Not according to the Bible.

It is easy to slip into the flow of life, to accept the norms. Yet, we have been called to swim against the stream. To be set apart. This isn’t always easy or fun.

Some new norms are okay. Walking dusty streets, taking rickety old buses has become my new norm, and well that is okay. Boiling my water before I drink it, ordering a water truck in the dry season.. new norms, that are okay.

Lying and bribing to get by in this culture, not so much.

For this I must be different, I must follow Christ. A call for us all no matter where we live or what “norms” we face.

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!

The reality of missions…

hudson-taylorI love missionary biographies, I think I have read almost all of the Christian heroes: then and now series. Filled with excitement of these great men and women on the front lines doing amazing things to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the nations.

But after having served overseas now for 4 years in two different countries, I realize that these great stories left out a whole lot.  They left out the details of these missionaries day-to-day lives. They failed to include the mundane things they had to accomplish each day, and skipped right to the exciting things that probably were a result of years and years of service.

Because the life of the missionary is not as glamorous as these books make it out to be. There is still laundry, homework, groceries to buy and meals to be made. There is also all the time poured into others through Bible study and discipleship, that leaves you sometimes wondering if they really get it.

It is kind of like the beautiful mountains here in the Himalayas. We always hear about those who scaled these great summits, those who reached the top of Mt. Everest, but often we are left without knowledge of the work, sweat and tears it took for these to reach this height.

Most of the missionaries work is not done on the mountain tops. Those amazing times are rare and are a result of the work they did while in the valleys.

This I had to learn.

Because if we are all honest, when first arriving to a country, we have some misguided notion that we are going to see so many come to Christ, we are going to accomplish such wonderful things for the Lord. And when that doesn’t happen, we are left wondering why we came at all. We are left wondering what we are doing wrong.

When in fact, this is the reality. It takes years of hard work and training to be able to scale Mt. Everest, and often for the missionary it takes years of hard work and investing to be able to see grand results.

And that’s okay. Because just as God is in big stuff, He is also in the little stuff.

So to missionary out there who feels defeated and is wondering why they don’t seem to see any fruit from all their time and efforts… be encouraged… God is at work in both you and those whom you came to serve.

To the one about to strike out for the great unknown and can’t wait to see how God uses them… just know, often God has to teach you many lessons before He can really use you.

To the one on the mountain top right now, enjoy it. Relish it, because much time will be endured in the valley before you see it again.

And to the one in the valley… hang tight. God is at work, and He will allow you a glimpse of that mountain top if you just remain faithful to Him and His call.

Blessings from the Himalayas!

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.

 

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.

TransformationAs 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.

 

 

Where is your Home?

not home yetJust the other day I was transported back to my home town, as I sat here in Nepal in the dentist office. For a brief moment as Toby Keith sang “Red, White and Blue,”over the speakers, I was taken back.

It’s a funny thing how music, smells, and even sounds can transport us to another time. When I smell Pumpkin bread, I’m transported back to when I was a child. When I hear certain songs, memories of days gone by come flooding back.

But yesterday was funny, in that I’m not a country music fan, but as I listened to this song, my heart became nostalgic for “home”.

Home for a missionary is a funny thing. Because to be honest, we have multiple homes, and even the idea of where home is can leave one feeling undone. Yet, hearing this song, shot me across the oceans quick to the other side of the world.

And I began to long for this other home. For the familiarity this home represents, the loved ones living there, and the comforts that seem to go hand in hand.

It is funny to listen to my kids talk about this other home. They seem to remember all things good and have forgotten all things bad. They remember things from a different standpoint than either myself or my husband, and they dream about the yummy foods, and fun things this “home” represents.

As the song ended, and we finished up our appointment, we gathered up our things to go to our home here. And I laughed as we walked to the main road in the rain, boarded the public bus, and watched as we passed multiple cows in the road.

Life here is quite different from life there. Though we do many of the same things we would do there, doing them takes more time and can often be far more complicated.

Home there means football games, fire works, family gatherings and bbq’s. Home here means rice and dhal, cows, temples, and load shedding.

But both are home. As much as any home can be.

I’ve learned over the years that home isn’t a place so much as home is the people you are with. My home is with my husband, with my children, and where God leads.

And my eternal “home” is Heaven. The truth is, we are all foreigners, aliens passing through on our way home.

Here in Nepal, I’m often asked, where is your home? My answer, your answer.. let it be…

My home is in heaven. And until we get there, we are to live here, serving Him

 

 

 

 

 

 

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