the missions lady

a place to find missions resources, stories and more…

Nomad or Missionary?

Nomad –noun  [noh-mad] : person who moves to a foreign place 2. A member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land. 3. A person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer.

(Sorry, I haven’t posted in awhile…we moved and then it was Thanksgiving and I haven’t sat down at the computer in about a week)

I feel like a nomad.  I’m sitting in the middle of boxes, and I should be unpacking more boxes, we moved…again.  This was the 20-something  time I have packed up my stuff and moved in the last 15 years.  You’d think I was a pro at packing by now but I’m not.  One positive thing about moving so much is that I don’t have tons of stuff…right now I do admittedly have more than I did 5 years ago.  Five years ago I moved from California back to Colorado with all of my earthly belongings fitting in my car. (BTW I was single at the time…now I’m married with two teenage step-kids)

Most of the missionaries I know have had to move a lot…they move from their home culture to their place of service and then often they are either forced to move (houses or cities) because of security issues or because their landlords raise the rent etc…they often feel like Nomads.

When I lived in Afghanistan the house I lived in was sold by our landlord and we were forced to move.  The city had many foreigners looking for places to live so rent was very high.  It was hard to find a place to live.  Eventually we found a place that was just a few blocks away.  Our moving process was pretty interesting!  We hired men with carts pulled by them or their donkeys…it was like a parade from one house to another with loads of the stuff belonging to the foreign girls.

One of the big “stressors” in the lives of people committing to live in another culture is the lack of stability.  Often people changing cultures not knowing whether they are both coming or going—because they are both coming AND going, feel like they are vagabonds or nomads.

This and many other stressors can lead to burn out.  This is one reason that I think it’s very important to be well prepared (trained) and to have lots of support in place (encouragers, church partners, sending agency, counselors…)

Here’s an helpful article about dealing with stress and burn out.

Community Development Making A Real Difference!

In the last year I’ve been challenged in my way of thinking about community development.  How do you change a whole community?  One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is in Uganda.  I’ve been blessed to visit Musana Community Development Organization two times now.  I’m in awe of how God is using the staff there (mostly locals) to impact the whole community not just the kids they have taken into their children’s home.  Here’s a little glimps into how the whole city is starting to embrace them and be transformed.

“The day was finally here! It was our day to shine and show the community what Musana is all about… the hardest part as always would be to get people to show up. At 8 am, nervous but excited, all the kids and all the staff waited for the beat of the drums to start the parade around town behind Iganga’s one and only marching band. When we were finally on our way, the neighborhood and town seemed to light up with life as we interrupted everyone’s Friday morning routine with trumpets, tubas, and earth shaking drums. As we passed, people and children of all ages excitedly joined us, helping to announce our 4th anniversary celebration that would take place a few hours later.”

“…A surprise appearance from Iganga’s LC 5 (one of the district’s top government officials) whose first words were, “I am only staying for five minutes,”…An hour later, the LC 5 (way past his five minute mark) stood up and admitted he was thoroughly impressed by what he saw at Musana. He even flooded our craft table and bought many Musana trinkets, before genuinely thanking Musana for all the hard work and moving on to his next event”.  -Leah (Musana Newsletter)

If you are looking for an opportunity to learn more about community development Musana is accepting applications now for summer 2013 internships.

Learn more and Apply Here

Applications are Due by November 30th so act fast!

 

Melting A Hard Heart

When I returned form living in Afghanistan I was worn out, almost burnt out.  I had some PTSD and I was weary in so many ways.  I signed my self up for a place that’s kind of like the “Betty Ford for Missionaries”.  There is a great ministry called in California… It’s a place for missionaries to receive counseling and healing.  I spent a good chunk of the summer there.  When I was driving out there I was picturing a lovely place on the coast…I hadn’t taken the time to realize it was in the armpit of Cali (Fresno).  My weeks there were full of reading, group sessions, and private counseling.  I’m so glad that I did it!  That summer I was able to jump start some of the internal work God was doing in me.

At the end of my time there I wrote out a document called Take Aways and Goals.  I came across this paper when I was cleaning out a closet at my parent’s house the other day.  The first paragraph goes something like this:

I have realized that my heart has grown hard over the last few years.  It really stems from learning to stuff my emotions in my childhood.  I began to think of negative emotions as sinful and that I needed to get rid of them but I never possessed or actually owned them to start with so instead they lingered around and created a slow bitterness.  That coupled with my fear of being really known (which also stemmed from feeling like those feelings were sinful as well as the sin and confusion inside me) caused a wall to build up around my heart and then when hard days came and hurt penetrated my wall, as well as cultural struggles in Afghanistan and some shattered dreams etc.…Satan had a hay day and I began to let a crust form over my heart.  I’ve heard it said that Missionaries should develop thick skin and a soft heart but that the opposite often happens, their hearts harden and their skin thins. 

That’s what happened to me and the result was that I was easily hurt by the things said to me or the things I saw happen around me but I didn’t let it sink in…I was able to really empathize or to allow others to really care for me.

I think part of God’s plan in taking me to Afghanistan was to change me and transform me!  My prayer from Bible College days to my first year in Afghanistan was often something like this “God please break me and make me completely yours”.

Well, God did allow me to be broken and then my prayer started to be heal and mold my heart, I am completely yours.

Darn those walls around my hard heart…they seem to creep back up, even today I’m reminded that I need to keep asking God to heal me and to melt my hard heart.  We are all gradually being transformed to be brighter and more beautiful like Christ.  If you are preparing to work cross-cultural I encourage you to have lots of support in place (good mentors, leaders, counselors, friends etc.) to keep you from becoming depressed or hard-hearted.

If you are living overseas and need support I encourage you to speak up and ask for it!  There are all kinds of people and places out there that want to help support and care for you!  The organization that you are sent through should have some retreat centers or resources for you…or ask your church.  Here’s a couple of places I’ve heard great things about:

Alongside

Link Care

Life Impact

Realities of Living in a “3rd World Country”

I’m house sitting right now in a very large nice house and while I’m sitting here reading some posts from friends that live overseas it got me thinking of the realities of living in a Third World Country.

Here’s some of the realities I’ve experienced:
• Spending a month trying to figure out the best way to heat our house (or at least a room or two)…we should have started a month earlier because our first 3 attempts left us freezing through the nights.
• Getting high on the gas fumes from the propane or diesel heater you use to heat your room.
• The slushy, muddy, unpaved streets that try their best to take you down if you’re not careful.
• Needing to pay special attention as you walk down the street as to not be hit by a car or run into an animal or step in the open sewer flowing down the street.
• Not bathing for 5 days because it’s too much work to heat up the bathroom and the water and then to brave the still cold experience.
• Wearing clothes/outfits that I would have never picked out back home.
• No electricity…this brings about a lot of reality checks like: all the kitchen things we are use to using (including a fridge), no blow dryers etc, no computer…No Lights!
• Using a headlamp on a regular basis in your own house.
• Having a well for water with a gravity system to make it run in the house. The well breaking or going dry…living for two months with only buckets of water brought carried to the house from the nearest pump.
• Sleeping under a mosquito net…they are great but not near as romantic as in the movies.
• Always wearing shoes in the house so a scorpion doesn’t sting you.
• Often being the one that doesn’t know what is going on because everyone is speaking another language too fast for you to keep up with.
• Not drinking the water (boil it first or filter it or buy bottles)
• Washing clothes by hand.
• Having a house helper (someone that cleans, cooks etc).
• Not flushing toilet paper and learning to use a “squatty potty”
• Shopping for hours in the back corners of an open market to find some kind of Christmas Décor. We actually found a tree (possibly one of the only ones in the whole town) and then we made lots of homemade decorations.
• Singing around the fire became a normal way to spend an evening!
• Cooking dinner in the freezing kitchen and running upstairs quickly to the warm bedroom to eat. (eating French Toast for about a month straight because we didn’t have the energy to figure out something else to make for dinner in the cold)
• Having friends over for Dance Parties!
• Walking to work etc.…stopping to talk to people along the way.
• Being known by everyone in your neighborhood… “the foreigner” “horagi” muzugu” …
• Drinking tea every time you go to a meeting or a visit with a neighbor.
• Getting so use to the sound of explosions that it barely fazes you.
• Learning to drive where there are no lines on the streets and people walking and herding animals, as well as big military vehicles all in the same road…all while wearing a head scarf (I learned to tuck the edges behind my ears so my peripheral vision wasn’t impaired).
• Living at a slower pace!
Life in other parts of the world often has some harsh realities but I’ve also found that it has amazing depth and richness!

I’d love to hear some of what you would add to this list!

Personal Reflection

This weekend I thought I would share a little personal reflection.

I was looking back at a blog that I started when I lived in Afghanistan in 2005.   It was interesting to read back and reflect on what my life was like 7 years ago.  In the summer of 2005 I moved back to the US after living in Afghanistan for about 2 years.  Many people say “Wow” when they hear I lived in Afghanistan for 2 years…but I don’t really feel “wow” about 2 years…I’d planned to live there much longer.  When I moved in there in the summer of 2003 I was excited and ready to change the world…I had been dreaming and asking God to send me to some far corner of the world for about 6 years and it was finally happening.  I had gone through all kinds of training; I had done several short-term trips and internships overseas.  I was eager and ready to live in Afghanistan for the next 10 years or however long God wanted me there!  My hopes and dreams were all becoming a reality…I was well prepared…or so I thought! 

Less than 2 years into my time working in Kabul I was on the verge of burnout and my team was falling apart.  My dreams were shattered when I was exhorted by my mentors to consider that it was time for me to no longer live/work in Afghanistan.  That Exhortation didn’t come out of the blue it happened after I got sick and ended up in the hospital (Air Force tent in the dessert of Afghanistan…I’ll tell more of that story another time).  So, after much prayer and seeking wise counsel I resigned from my role on the team in Afghanistan.  I finished up one more semester and I was glad I did because I felt like at least I was able to finish well.  Then in the summer of 2005 I was in transition…looking for what was next.  I learned so many huge lessons that year!!

In the fall of 2005 I had been back “home” for about 5 months I had done lots of traveling across the country to report to supporters etc. and did 5 weeks of intensive counseling.  Here’s an old blog post from that point in my life (funny thing- it almost sounds like something I could have written last week…I’m learning the same lessons again).

The In-between Times October 04, 2005
Okay it happened…I woke up and there was a chill in the air…I could sense that something had changed…and when I got in my car and turned onto the highway I knew it had happened… fall was here. I knew it when I saw the yellow leaves glimmering in the sun and the brilliant background of the newly snow capped Rocky Mountains. Up on the tiptops of the mountains was fresh snow. I personally love that kind of snow…the kind that I can look at up on the mountains but still be wearing a t-shirt as I look from down here in Longmont. Since that crisp morning the weather has warmed back up to the 90’s but now has plummeted back down. The forecast is calling for freezing temps tomorrow night. I was so eager for fall to arrive…but now I fear that we are skipping right from summer to winter. I sure hope not. I love the change of seasons! My favorite seasons are the in-between seasons-spring and fall. That transition phase where the trees are blooming or leaves are changing shades…that time where the temperatures are mild and people can wear either a sweatshirt or a tank-top. There is just something special about the wonderful transition of nature. I have sweet memories of driving to look at blooming trees in Kentucky…or the golden aspen trees in Colorado…I look forward to those times of year with eagerness. These seasons for some reason bring be a sense of peace…oh, to sit under a tree on a blanket in a park in the spring or fall. Why is it that I can love that transition or in-between time of the seasons but when it comes to the in-between times of my life I don’t seem to feel peaceful but rather I squirm and try to either get back to the way things were or I anxiously pursue things of the future…????? When it comes to life I seem to think I need to keep moving forward…I don’t seem to be able to just sit back and enjoy the ride.  I’d love to find a balance between the two!

I am in a major transition time right now. I often feel stuck in the in-between. But, I want to look at my transition in a new way…I want to look at it in the same way I do fall or spring. Instead of trying to rush through to the next season of life I want to just enjoy the change of color, the blooming flowers…I want to look at life as a journey not something to attain. Just like I hope that we don’t move straight from days in the 90’s to days with freezing temps…I don’t want to move straight from one phase of life to the next without taking that time to enjoy the peace of transition as I go through life’s journeys.

 

 

A Complete Scandal!

I’m blessed to have friends that work all over the world and it’s always fun to read their newsletters and hear about what God is doing in their lives and the lives of those they live among!  This morning I got this update from a friend’s recent prayer letter (I’ve changed the name of the church and people for their protection).  I asked if I could share it because I think it is thought provoking.

There is a small contingent at London Church who are not supportive of us going to Afghanistan. One lady in particular, Mattie, has refused to greet me at church. Very obvious, just looks at the floor when we pass. Last Sunday Katie and I spoke for 10 minutes during the service about our future work with AMI. After the service we went to the fellowship hall and invited whoever wanted to attend to come and ask further questions if they had any. We were prepared for the group who didn’t want us to go, or who at least question whether we should go. The main reason they are not supportive is because Afghanistan is a “hostile” country. Mattie was there and she led the questioning by asking us how successful we were before in Afghanistan. Katie asked her what she meant by success and Mattie said that it was quite obvious that it’s measured by how many converts to Christ we had made. Katie was very gracious with her and after one or two more “attacking” type questions, Mattie declared to all of us that it was “utterly scandalous” that The London Church would send a family with two young children to such a hostile and violent country like Afghanistan. She picked up her purse and stomped out of the hardwood floored room, refusing to acknowledge our thank you to her for coming to the question and answer session.

Then this past Tuesday, something pretty cool happened. I was due to speak for a few minutes in the morning at the London college we have been attending during the week ( we have something called Sacred Pause every morning between classes). I got to thinking about what Mattie said, and I saw it in a different light. I told the group about what happened with Mattie on Sunday, and then I went on to say that she was absolutely correct. I reminded the group of the scandal of Jesus being born and placed in a feeding trough, the way he was treated in his hometown when the people there took him to a cliff intending to throw him over it, the way he was treated throughout his ministry by the religious establishment, and finally, his arrest and night-time trial, a complete farce: all these things were a complete scandal. And so we follow this in the “scandal of mission”: something that makes no sense from a worldly point of view, but in an eternal view, something entirely different. So in the end, I considered Mattie ‘s comments and behavior a gift.

We’re back in London getting packed up to leave this Friday. Our passports are at the Afghan embassy in London in process for visas. Their website says applicants should apply from their home country; fine for Katie, and the kids as UK citizens, but a rule-bender for me. Part of me wants to be denied, part of me doesn’t. If they deny me, I’ll have to apply for my visa in Istanbul, where we’ll have to lengthen our 4-hour layover a day or two. Part of me wants to get back to Kabul and join our friends, part of me doesn’t. What the heck, cold feet is normal for anyone in our position. Thanks for praying for us!

After reading this I was forced to ask myself if I’m living a life that is seeking Comfort and Safety or one that is seeking Scandal and Justice?

The Debate Reminded me of this Video

The other night I watched the Presidential Debate with some friends.  These debates drive me crazy for a few reasons…for one I just don’t like debating/arguing, just ask my brothers or my husband ;-)  also, I have to admit that I’m not the most educated when it comes to politics and the issues…so sometimes I get lost in all their back and forth talk.  That said I do not claim to be an expert in economics!  But, I’ve learned some things in the past couple years that cause me to look at the issues be talked about in our economy a little differently.

I think some of the ways churches, organizations and the government have tried to help actually end up hurting.  There’s a great book out there called When Helping Hurts that caused me to think, and think again, and keep thinking, about the ways people try to help alleviate poverty and help the economy.  Reading this book has caused me to look at so many things differently…when I see a commercial that’s trying to tug at emotions and get us all to give to children in poverty my first thought is “Arrrrgh, no we don’t need the big ol’ deep pocketed Americans to keep throwing money at these communities…”.  Also, this book changed the way I think about our own Economic issues right here in the US.  The issue is so much bigger and deeper than how much taxes and who should be taxed more, it’s about the heart of and mind of people and communities.
Right here and around the world there are communities and economies that are broken.  “Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts catalyzes the idea that sustainable change for people living in poverty comes not from the outside-in, but from the inside-out.” (from book description)

Last night this video came to mind when watching the debate.  It’s a 3 part documentary that highlights concepts from When Helping Hurts.

American Dream?

I had a moment this morning of comparing my life to the Joneses…wishing I had a house like theirs and a car that didn’t need CPR every other week…then as I was driving my mind just kept going until I heard a song on the radio that caused me to stop complaining and comparing and start worshiping.  In that time of worship I was reminded that I didn’t want the American Dream I want God’s Kingdom to come His will to be done!  I was reminded that most families around the world live in spaces smaller than my family does and that many of them have less complaining and more joy in their lives!

Awhile back I came across this video and today I was reminded of it.  The American Dream has been hijacked and i don’t want to chase after it!  Do you?

The Right Now Video  (This website has the video in the middle of it’s page)

Do you pursue the me me me mindset?

Do you Hate Injustice?

Do you find ways to bring Hope to Desperate situations?

Do you see your work as Worship?

Do you have a Kingdom focus?

Surrendered

Today, I spent the day with people who have devoted their lives to making a difference in Afghanistan. It was so encouraging to hear about all the wonderful things going on over there…such a contrast to the harsh news we hear through the media.  I even got to hear stories about the underground church.
When I lived in Afghanistan I met so many wonderful people.  Many people have given their service…some have raised their families there…some have lived there for a few years others for 30+ years…some have been imprisoned…others have even been killed all for the purpose of seeing Christ known and God Glorified.
I was reminded today that I need to surrender my life to Christ and give him my agendas, my hopes and my dreams!  I need to ask Him how He wants to use me for His purposes.  I need to seek surrender and not significance.  Are you surrendered wholly to Christ?

This video is a beautiful story from a lady (family) that has been fully surrendered!

Also…Here’s a link to a video of Obama honoring Tom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuIT3trPA1Q&feature=relmfu

Apply Now for an Internship!

I was almost a professional intern for a few years after college.  I did several internships and then had a job of leading summer intern teams for four years.  Internships are a wonderful way to learn and grow.  It’s a great way to learn about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.  It’s a great way to learn about the world and about working on a team.  Also it’s a great way to figure out what you want or don’t want to do in the future!  And sometimes it’s a step towards finding the organization you could work with in the future.

I think it’s important to pick the right internship!  Here’s some thoughts on how to pick:

  • Consider your future goals
    • You want to do an internship that will give you opportunities that lead you towards your future goals.  For example if you want to work with kids then make sure you apply for internships where you will get to work with kids…or micro finance or whatever it is that you are interested in.
    • If you want to work with a specific group of people (i.e. Muslims or Buddhists or in a city or a village setting…) then look for opportunities to get experience with those people.
  • Get good training
    • Some internship programs do a great job at preparing and training interns before and during their experience overseas.  I think it’s important to have personal, professional and spiritual development as part of your internship experience.
  • Look into several organizations
    • Before you choose specific internship programs to apply for I think it’s good to look into several different kinds.  Organizations have personalities per say…and it’s good to find a good fit for your personality.  Do research to find one that lines up with your own priorities and beliefs etc.  Also some programs have only summer internships others have semester long etc.  Consider what works best for your situation.
  • Talk to lots of people
    • Proverbs 15:22 says: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
    • Talk to others that have done internships, talk to your mentors, parents, and teachers, pastors …whomever you can to help you discern the best internship for you.
  • Set goals for your experience
    • Before you start your internship decide what you want to learn etc. and write it down.  Reflect on it throughout your internship and especially at the end.  This will help you to get the most of your experience and process it so you can use all that you learn!

 

To get you started in your search…here are some links to organizations that offer internship programs:

www.gomi2.org

http://web.teamexpansion.org/#/get-involved

http://iempathize.org/engage/internships/

http://www.pioneers.org/Go/Venture.aspx

http://www.servantpartners.org/index.php?page=internships-2

http://cmfi.org/serve/howcaniserve

www.musana.org (will be taking applications soon for summer 2013)

http://thetravelingteam.org/summer-project/details

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