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Our Mission to the Himalayas and Beyond

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

praise himIt has been a rough week, what am I saying, it has been a rough year. 🙂

Had I only known what all would take place as our family set out for Nepal, I think I might have gone running back to the car.

As we began our time here, we spent the first few months settling in, getting accustomed to life overseas. Just when we got into the groove of it all, our world was shaken, literally by two major earthquakes. Months were spent doing relief work, and striving to live without fear of another big quake.

As the tremors slowed down, rumors began to be dispersed of the borders between Nepal and India closing. And in a matter of days, the petrol and cooking gas were gone. This lasted for months on end, as we put our feet good use and did a lot of walking.

Finally the blockade ended and just when we thought things were getting back to normal, a drought set in. Month going on month, there has been little to no rain.

This has caused wells to dry up, and has made it impossible it seems to get a tank of water. For the past week, we have called one after another water supplier, we’ve been told they would come, but then they have failed to show.

And as you can imagine, we have had to become creative with our limited water. By hand washing the essentials, sponge bathing, using paper plates and cups, and doing limited cooking.

Leading to short tempers and frustrations all around. Making me wonder sometimes why I’m here. When I could be back in the States where water flows in abundance, petrol lines are short, cooking gas isn’t needed, there is no such thing as load shedding, and the ground doesn’t shake.

Especially when we have rough mornings like today, and I struggle to be a good wife and mom, much less a good missionary.

But as I read today from the Bible, I was reminded that just because God leads us to do things, doesn’t mean that those things won’t be without problems.

Problems,suffering, trials and temptations are part of life. No matter where you live. They come in different ways and affect us in different ways. Yet, none of us is immune.

Today, I had the thought, if we were back in the States, I wouldn’t have lost it this morning… but then God quickly spoke to my heart and said, no. Reminding me that it isn’t the place, it isnt’ even the conditions we find ourselves in that determines our response to life’s problems.

Instead it is the condition of our hearts. Sure, life can be hard. But God is teaching me that when I’m abiding in Him, nothing is impossible. Teaching me that the best way to be content in whatever situation I am in, is to all remember that I can do all things through Christ.

What trials and temptations are you facing today? It is easy to blame how we act, easy to excuse our sin. Yet, the reality is, those things are not the issue. The issue is being found in Christ. Dead to self and alive in Him.

Oh how far I have to go. Often people want to put me on a pedal stoole and tell me how proud they are of me, or they think me so godly, so strong. When the truth is, I’m far from it. I’m weak, I’m fearful and often controlling. I lose it just like others, I struggle to be the wife and mom I need to be, and I care a little too much about what others think.

But God…. despite it all, God chose me, called me and sent me. And I am blessed to be His and blessed to be used.

So yea, I could go home and I would not have to deal with the same daily struggles found here. But I’m realizing that there would be other struggles, other temptations, other trials.

And what matter more than where I am, or what I do. What matters the most is whose I am.

And because I belong to Jesus, I will continue striving daily to become more like Him, and less like me. Allowing God to help me die a little more daily through the problems that come my way, and learning to trust Him a whole lot more.

Rough days, weeks and years are bound to come. But God is unchanging. Always faithful, always loving, always kind, patient, and gracious. And always ready to help us through.

The Greatest Love of All

deep love of godWell, I’m probably going to show my age, but I can remember it well, it was my senior year of high school and somehow I had won Most Talented at my school. And was asked to sing for the Favorites Show. I was a nervous wreck! They had asked me to sing a Whitney Houston song nonetheless, “The Greatest Love of All.”Such a nice song, with such a wrong message.

This past Friday as I wandered through the back roads of Kathmandu, headed to find a bus. I heard the bells ringing, smelt the incense burning and passed numerous people bearing the tika on their heads.

And like I often do in such situations, I began to silently pray as I walked the dusty roads. Praying that somehow, someway God would open the eyes of the people here to the Truth of Jesus. Praying that they would understand that the One true God sees them, hears them and loves them. In fact His is the greatest love of all.

See the song I sang so many years ago sends the message that the greatest love of all, is learning to love yourself. As I think on this now, all I can do is shake my head. For the greatest love of all is not a love others give to you, it’s not the love of a child the love of a husband and not even as Whitney sang, learning to love oneself.

The greatest love of all is the deep, deep love of Christ. Jesus said, “Even as My Father has loved me, So have I loved you. Now remain in My love (John 15:9).” Can you fathom what this verse implies, the amazing love of God Almighty for the Lord Jesus, is the same love the Lord Jesus has for His children.

And if that isn’t enough, dwell upon this. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” When we were His enemies, He who knew no sin, took sin upon Himself and died in our place.

Paul prayed that we might know how deep, how wide, how vast and unmeasurable is the love of Christ. That nothing could change this great love.

It is this majestic love that compels us to go and tell others. It is this amazing love that I yearn for the people here who are walking in darkness to understand.

Yet, how often do I forget? How often do you?

When listening recently to a sermon by Francis Chan entitled, “Falling in love with God.” He apologized to his congregation saying that for so long he has preached at the symptoms instead of focusing on the root. For so long he said, he’d preached on giving, loving the poor, going to the ends of the earth, living godly lives. All good and needed, but he said he’d missed the core issue. Going on to share that when we begin to grasp and understand the love God has for us, the grace He has shown to us. We will have no problem “doing” and obeying His commands.

The deep, deep love of Christ. It is amazing, it is compelling. And it is to motivate us in all things.

It is my prayer that not only will God reveal this amazing love to the lost living here in this land, but that He will reveal this great love more and more to you and to me.

 

10 Ways to Pray for Missionaries

missionary callingTo the churches back home, to those praying for those who have answered the call to go. You are vital, you are important. Your missionaries can not serve God fully where they are apart from your prayers.

So for those of you praying, here are ten things “we” need you to pray for.

  1. Pray that we will find our joy and our strength in the Lord. Some days are hard, others seem long, still other we wonder if we are making a difference and question what God is doing. This is when we need the joy of the Lord to be our strength, so that we can keep on keeping on.
  2. Pray against the stronghold of Satan in the land most are serving in. In many places around the world, the darkness can not only be seen, it can be felt. Pray that the Light of Christ will shine through those you have sent.
  3. Pray that God will cover us with the Spiritual Armor, protecting us against the schemes and traps of the enemy. In our short time in Central Asia we have experienced so much spiritual warfare. The enemy would like nothing more than to make us quit and go home. So we need your prayers to fight and stand strong against the wiles of the enemy.
  4. Pray that “whenever they open their mouths, words may be given them so that they will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 5:19).”
  5. Pray for God’s grace and that we will recognize it as sufficient.We have encountered a lot in the year and half we have spent in Nepal from earthquakes, to border blockades, to limited electricity and water. Yet, despite it all, God’s grace has proved sufficient.
  6. Pray for our marriages, sometimes, the stress of service causes a strain in our relationships. Pray that these relationships will grow and become strong rather than fall apart as the enemy would like.
  7. Pray for our children, unlike us, they did not feel the call to this land, and sometimes they struggle to find their place. Pray that they will find good friends, and that God will also be their best friend.
  8. Pray for the people we serve and the lost that fill the lands we live in. That God will open the eyes of the lost, revealing Himself to these who are walking and living in darkness.
  9. Pray for our ministries, that God will use the things we are involved in to build His Kingdom.
  10. Pray that God will help us to see the people we serve through His eyes and to love them as He loves them.

The list could go on and on, and the needs are in random order. Yet, I know that these are prayers our family needs as we serve Him. So, when the Lord brings those you have sent to mind, please pray these things for us.

We could not do it apart from you. Though we may be on the ground as His hands and feet. It is only through your time and our time spent on our knees that enables us to serve Him well.

And thank you in advance for lifting us up to the Lord. We praise and thank Him for you!

 

Thriving or Surviving

small thingsLet’s be honest, some days are hard. Some days whether back at home or in a far off land, it is all we can do to keep our heads above the water. All we can do to just get through.

This past year, as our family has sought to settle into life in a different country, and adjust to all that this brings. I have felt more often than not, that I was only surviving.

So I began to pray, and ask the Lord to help me not to just survive, but to thrive here. Prayed and asked that He would help me not to just get settled and to adjust, but to bloom here where He has planted us.

Then it happened, a good local friend wanted to encourage me one day. He had no clue what I had been praying, but said the exact words I’d been asking of God. He said, “You have not just survived here, but you have thrived.”

What a word of encouragement this was. How thankful I was that God had not only heard my prayer, but that He had sent someone along to let me know.

Living here, I’ve learned so many things. Yet, mostly I’m learning that God is in the here and now. I’m learning that today is the day the Lord has made, and that I am to rejoice and be glad in it. He’s teaching me that sufficient for the day are its troubles and thinking about tomorrow, won’t help.

He has taught me that to thrive, I have to depend upon Him. I have to rely upon His strength. I need to have my eyes trained on Him, and run hard this race He has placed before me. As I keep my gaze on the prize.

No matter where God has you in this world, He longs for us all not to just survive the day. He longs for us to thrive where He has us. But, we can not do this on our own. We need Him.

Living in a country prone for earthquakes, a country where closed borders have caused the country to dry up. A country where nothing is for certain, and everything takes longer.

It would be easy to just survive, and to be honest, there are certainly days when this is all I do. Yet, no matter where we are, no matter what God has called us to…. His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfect, and we can do far better than only making it through. We can thrive and bring glory unto Him.

I challenge you to pray and ask God to help you to thrive where He has you. It may be your home town. It may be far from loved ones. It could be in a foreign land. But wherever He has you… be all there.

Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith!!!

 

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