Monday, March 19, 2012

This and That

We are still alive and kicking...and having a pretty great time, actually!  We have been silent because we have been busy. Packing and moving and traveling has left us with little time to hop on the computer.

**We made it out of M-ville okay. It actually went much better than we expected. We were so richly blessed with help from our teammates. We honestly could not have pulled off that feat without them. They helped pack, hung out with Little t (who adores time with them), fed us meals, helped with laundry, etc.  Such a huge blessing.

**Our one hour flight to the capital turned into 5 1/2 hours as weather scrambled the flight schedule for the day. So we ended up making three extra stops. But Little t was in a great mood and we just went along for the ride and enjoyed seeing more of that amazing country that we have grown to love so deeply.

**We had good times in the capital with some very dear friends and felt good about closure to this period of time there.  We are so blessed with some people in country who have invested deeply into us and we are encouraged by them each time we get together.

**I began to panic when we were in the capital because Little t started to get sick and then decided that sleeping at night was no longer a cool thing to do.  I was suffering after a few nights of getting up every hour with him...and wondering what we were going to do for the next month of traveling...and really what we were going to do when the new baby comes. I forgot how wonderful it is to get a full night's sleep. I am whimpering even now just thinking about giving that up again...  So, those few nights were slightly miserable, but we survived.

**We bumped up our flights out of the capital to Dubai and then onto to Thailand. We had finished all of our work early and decided to take a few days break here in Thailand before our meetings started instead of waiting around in the capital for those days.  We were stoked that we got them switched for no charge.  We got off the phone and excitedly checked the weather see that it had changed to a 90% chance of snow the day we had just switched our flight to.  We about cried.

**We were up at 4 am with all of our luggage As we loaded the car, huge flakes started to fall.  After we had gone through the first half of the security checkpoints, we were standing in total white-out conditions...hearing a policeman tell us that our flight had been cancelled.  We persisted, saying that we wanted to go to the ticketing desk to make sure.  He let us and we went with a small hope.  We checked in and waited, still doubtful. Not too long after, the snow stopped and the sky began to clear.  Our flight left only a few minutes late and a few hours later we touched down in Dubai. We were giddy.

**We had a great few days in Dubai. We didn't do much at all; slept, walked, ate good food, watched movies, took it easy. Little t slept solid through the night both nights we were there and it was like the biggest gift in the world!  We had a rental car and cranked up Dubai's hip hop station as we drove down 6 lane roads that snake through the desert.  Dubai gets a bad rap, but we enjoy it. It is quiet and clean and we can relax. Yeah, there are bad aspects, but we have good memories there. It was a great start to our break.

**10 pm found us in the airport getting ice cream...and hearing our flight being hour early. A.P. shook his head in wonder/frustration as we reminisced that the exact same thing happened on our flight from the States with my mom. Both times, we get Coldstone and hear our flight (that is 30 gates away) being called. Proceed to run with bags, and stroller, and kid and precious (and expensive) ice cream in order to catch the flight.  This time, as luck would have itm we got to the gate and they had just opened it. So we sat around and finished our ice cream waiting to board the plane.  A.P. swore we are ending that only adds in stress and sweatiness and melted Coldstone ice cream to already exhausting travel experiences.

**We had talked up the flight to Little t as a time to sleep. It was through the night, after all.  He had his p.j.'s on and was tired (seeing as it was nearing 4 HOURS past his bed time).  But he got on the flight and would have none of it.  Several times he was this close to falling asleep...but then a flight attendant would walk by! Or someone would sneeze! Or he would blink and wake himself up!  It was pretty frustrating trying to keep him quiet and wanting to sleep so badly, but having to keep an eye on the little stinker.  Finally, with an hour left, he fell asleep...and proceeded to sleep through deplaning, being put in his stroller, wheeled around the airport, the security check for the next flight, waiting in the lounge for 1/2 an hour, being taken out of his stroller, boarding the plane and all but the last 1/2 hour of the next 3+ hour flight.  It was seriously amazing.

**Thailand is hot and sticky and awesome as usual. We had a few days in a guesthouse; eating good food, going on walks, going to a water park, sleeping.  It was also a good time of rest.

**We are at a conference now that we have been looking forward to for a few years...quite literally.  It is such a gift to be here. We are able to meet and study the Word with dear dear friends from around the globe.  These are the kind of friendships that are deep and lasting. We don't see each other often, but our times together are really special.  Studying Isaiah together, talking about life in hard contexts, enjoying good food, the kids playing together, just really rich times.  We are very thankful. Thankful for a break before the intensity of returning to the States. Thankful for time with people who labor as we do and 'get it'. We are so thankful for this time and really soaking in the rest and rejuvenation that is coming with it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forgotten Faces

I used to love flying in this country. There is something mezmorizing about hovering so low to some of the most rugged mountains in the world.  Especially these days when the snow will be fresh on the highest peaks and the valleys below will still be bare, the beauty is staggering.

Everyone does it, puts their forehead to the window of the plane and stares down at the ground below. It is like a rule, or a magnetic pull or something. You just can’t help but stare at the majesty of creation that is sprawled beneath you.

But more and more, I find myself sad on trips in that little white plane. I try to busy myself with my son instead of the ground below.  I think about my destination and not the souls I am floating by. 
See, in each valley and nook and cranny between those big majestic mountains lies people. Living and breathing souls.

I have been to some pretty remote places in this land and met people who have never seen a foreigner before, who have never ridden in a car before, who have never seen a t.v. before, never eaten ice cream before, and missed out on other important things. But even though I have seen those desolate and hidden places and heard the stories of the occupants, I can’t get over the isolation that many face in this land. At times it is beyond me how anyone could survive in the places where evidence of life can be found.  
There will be nothing for minutes in that plane and suddenly you see a village clinging to life on the side of a valley. Miles from the nearest living being, a shepherd boy will wave to the plane from the top of a mountain as the noise scatters his flock in 10 different directions. 
Every plane ride used to be a game of picking out those camoflauged dwellings, dirt that blends in with dirt, bodies scurrying around, workers toiling in the fields.

It used to be a game until my heart broke.
How many thousands of those people will never hear the name of my sweet Je.sus?
How many children will be brought into this world and then leave it (hopefully) years later, never having left their village, never having heard His name, never having tasted and seen that the Lo.rd is good? 
And even in writing it, my heart is wrenched once again.  Valley after valley, mountain after mountain, they live. To an outsider like me, smoke rising from their chimneys is the 
only evidence of their life.

How will they hear?
How will they know?
How will they understand?
These days, plane rides have become times of fervent pr.ayer. Begging God to break through in those crevices. For the wind of His Spirit to move forth, for His love to rush in to the hearts of those clinging to life and a very fragile existence.
Oh God, have mercy on the thousands who are forgotten before they are ever seen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Guess He Does Know...

I would be lying if I said, I wasn't slightly resentful toward the fact that we are losing our house.  I mean, come on, we love our house! We take good care of it. It is the perfect size for us. We have worked hard on the yard and garden. And it would have been a WHOLE lot easier to just pack some stuff away and leave for the States than completely pack up the house.  But hey, as if we don't have any other fun in our lives, we are moving for the third time in 14 months!

And I have had to check my attitude a few times when it comes to the owners of the house and the state in which we are leaving it.  All of our local friends tell us how horrible the owners are and how much of a dump the house was before our organization started renting it a few years back.  They are convinced the landlord will let it fal down around him once more and that kinda ticks me off.  I hate to say it, but I have adopted the local attitude when it comes to packing up and leaving this property.

The local attitude is that you take anything that is not cemented down if you had something to do with putting it there.  So, doors you put in, you yank them out!  Awnings you installed for shade, you take them down. The tree house?  It comes with you. Kitchen counters? There is no way they are left behind!  Mirrors? They can buy their own stinkin mirrors! I spent a whole dollar on this one and will not part with it!

Lovely, right?

Well, because I was resentful, I kinda fell into this mentality...which I don't believe is good.  And my attitude soured with each box I packed.

So, when the landlord showed up at 6 pm tonight with his wife and wanted her to talk to me, I was not thrilled.

I invited her in and shoved a pile of boxes and toys off of the cushion for her to sit down.  She declined saying she couldn't stay long. I breathed a sigh of relief and didn't even offer her tea...because I had packed everything for tea the day before.

Her first words were, "Wow! Why is your house such a mess?"

I shot a poison look her way as I said, "Because we have to move out! Remember, you are cutting off our contract?"

Her eyes lit up and I could hear a glimmer of hope in her voice as she asked, "You are really moving out?  When? How soon?"

I was slightly frustrated with this...because everyone had told us this would happen.  Everyone warned that we would pack up our stuff and get ready to move and then they would change their minds.  I was pretty sure that was coming and I wasn't pleased about it.

I told her that we were leaving on Wednesday morning and the house would be empty then.  Her eyes danced with hope and I realized that she was happy we were leaving. So much for just calling our bluff.

She stated that they would move in on Wednesday morning then, right after we were out.  She quickly explained that their house had collapsed in the rain a week or so ago and they were really struggling. They had tried to repair it, but because the damage was extensive and the rain had continued to fall since then, they hadn't been successful.

Suddenly, I was feeling guilty for giving her the poison look, for letting the rabbit chew on the door (the local mentality had set in and I gave up caring one night), for having such a horrible attitude towards this family.

We chatted for a few minutes and she thanked me before leaving.  A.P. discussed things with the husband and off they went, back to their collapsed house, but with light at the end of their dark tunnel.

I marveled at God's hand in this. I have been frustrated with having yet another place taken from us. I have been resentful towards these people I didn't even know.  I have been questioning God's move in all of this (allowing us to lose this yard really puts us in a bind if/when another family arrives).

But He knew that this family would need a house.

He knew when we would be leaving.

He knew that I needed a kick in the pants because my attitude was deeply lacking grace.

He is just good at knowing things like that.

Trust in the Lord and do good,
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Trust also in Him and He will do it. 
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgement as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way.
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. 
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off;
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Psalm 37: 3-9