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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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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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 🙂 ), 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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