Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What are we made of?

[what's brewing: don't know, you tell me...please]

When I was a little girl, I had a copy of a well-known poem that I enjoyed reading and reciting for my parents and other lucky visitors.

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

I rather enjoyed thinking that I was comprised of sugar and spice and everything nice, especially when I considered the alternative. My brother was apparently comprised of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails and I couldn’t imagine wanting any of that to be a part of me!

This poem came to mind as I’ve spent time wondering about you – yes, you – whoever and wherever you may be. If you’re reading this, I want to know more about you. It turns out it’s a bit strange for me to be in a predominantly one-sided conversation. I love hearing from you in comments (and I want to give a big THANKS to those who are commenting!) and I’ve wondered why more of you don’t let your voice be heard on a regular basis. I’ve considered possible answers to that question and have decided that I’m most interested in one particular aspect of the issue.

What are missionary women like?

I want to know more about you, as individuals and as a like-minded group of women. I want to know the factors that lead you to comment or remain a silent reader. I want to know what your need for connection with other women is like – perhaps it varies based on location or team situations. I’m curious about the considerations you make before deciding to say something that reveals something about yourself (whether it be in a blog or before a group of people). I have my own thoughts on how I would describe what we missionary women are like, but I am only a beginner.

I would like to hear from YOU about the components you think should be included in the following poem. It doesn’t have to be clever or even rhyme – my goal is to hear more about you all and how you describe yourselves. If you’ve never commented before, this is your time!! Let your voices be heard!!

What are missionary women made of, made of?
What are missionary women made of?

P.S. Did you know that you can receive all of the follow-up comments from this blog post by email? Before you leave your comment, be sure to have signed in to your Google account. Then simply check the box in the comment section marked “Email follow up comments to…”. If you’re not a Google user, sorry to say, you’ll have to keep checking back here to follow the conversation!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Far, Far Away

[what's brewing: wanting a "to-go" cup for home]

When we first moved here, the distance between my family back "home" and us felt enormous. As we’ve become more comfortable with maintaining family relationships from what feels like a world away, the distance seems to have shrunk steadily over time. Suddenly, through the events of these past few weeks, I feel so far, far away from home once again.

After several years of struggling, a marriage in my extended family had begun to disintegrate. The whole family had been coming together to support, encourage and pray for them. The situation seemed to fluctuate daily and no one was sure what would happen. My family was faithfully calling to keep us updated. I exchanged several personal emails trying to express my concern and support as this couple went through this difficult time. I was longing to be nearby, to be able to talk face to face. Even though I was informed about the crisis, I still felt so far removed from my loved ones. No amount of information could recover the thousands of miles between us. Not that I would have been able to do or say anything to change the outcome of the situation, but when I heard that the wife had decided to leave, I felt helpless and useless being this far away.

My heart is right there with them, but my physical body is stuck here and somehow this whole experience is just different because of that.

Although no one in my family was able to say goodbye before she left, somehow I feel robbed of my chance to say goodbye to a good friend because I’m so far away. How strange to realize that she won’t be there when we go back to visit. Every loss brings about its own form of grief, and I’m grieving this loss in a place that seems so far removed from the impact and reality of her departure. It is sometimes hard to believe it’s really happening because my life here is so separated from the happenings of these last weeks, but at the same time I have felt incapable of carrying on with my responsibilities here because my thoughts are so consumed with questions and details about the situation. It is difficult to concentrate on teaching a lesson at church when all I really want to talk about is what’s happening in my family.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this lately, I pulled up an article, Long-Distance Grieving--the Unexpected Sacrifice , that was published in the Women of the Harvest magazine in 2004. I found this line particularly interesting: “It’s funny, but being absent in times of loss is not one of the typical missionary sacrifices that people think about.” I never thought about it in that way – it is a sacrifice that inevitably comes with life on the field. I was so grateful for this author’s perspective – what a blessing to glean from the women who’ve gone ahead of me in this journey. What about you, my readers? How have you dealt with this unexpected sacrifice of being absent during difficult times?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cry Out

[what's brewing: a full {broken} bodied blend ]

A young boy of 11 years sat in our office yesterday afternoon with wide eyes, carefully watching and listening to everything we said. He spoke softly, answering our questions and helping us determine what was needed to settle him in to his new home at our orphanage. We gave him a set of new sheets, a warm blanket and comforter for his bed, a haircut and a pack of personal hygiene products that he could keep. We introduced him to the other boys in his room and then carefully unpacked his one backpack of belongings. I caught a glimpse of a smile when I introduced our puppies to him, warning him of the kissing attacks that they attempt to sneak in when an opportunity presents itself. The pain of the past 6 years was revealed in his eyes – the abuse, abandonment, the struggle to survive on the streets.

The details of his life follow a similar storyline to the lives of many other children in our home, but as I listened to the details of his story, I was deeply struck by the world’s injustice that necessitated his placement in our home. He has been robbed of his innocence; he's been abused and oppressed by the world around him, inundated with painful messages that sharply contradict the truth about who he is as a child of God. I can only imagine what kind of questions and thoughts must be racing around in his mind as he is cautiously taking in his new surroundings, debating whether he should trust us or not. My heart is broken as I watch him navigate this new environment, yet I am desperately hopeful for the healing that God can provide.

I barely made it through our Bible study last night – I could not keep my mind from thinking about the painful events he has endured, and each time I thought about it my eyes would fill with tears. As we drove home, I stared out the window and prayed for a peaceful first night in the Children’s Home for this sweet boy. As I prayed, I was reminded of a Third Day song that came out several years ago. It communicates a great truth about the hope of Christ for the hurting. As I listened to it, tears rolled down my cheeks and I simply rested as my heart sang along –

There is hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary
And love for the broken hearts;
There is grace and forgiveness,
Mercy and healing that meets you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus.

[To hear the song, click on the video screen in the right column]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


[what's brewing: cup's empty, fill me up!]

A national friend of ours recently house-sat for us while we traveled with some friends for the weekend. Upon our return she reported that all had gone smoothly, but she had two questions to ask me. First, why are you keeping brown bananas in your freezer? I laughed and explained that I was keeping them to make banana bread with eventually, a habit I had picked up from my mother. Second, why do you have a salt shaker sitting on your nightstand? Shouldn’t it be in the kitchen? Oh, that is a gift from a friend in the US. It’s not meant to be used in the kitchen; it’s a special reminder for me.

A week before we left for the field, a dear friend gave me a thoughtful gift package. Inside was a piece of hand-pressed paper with a blessing written on it. Each verse that was written on this delicate piece of paper was accompanied by a physical object. One of the inclusions was this small salt shaker, corresponding to this note:

“You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13
May the Lord bless your love for His children…for that is what is truly tasty.

Upon arriving, I set the little salt shaker on my nightstand where I would be sure to see it each time that I reach for my glasses in the morning. I’m reminded of Christ’s call to be the salt and light in this world. I’m reminded of my friend’s prayer that the Lord would bless the love I have for these children, because my own love falls so very short of what I want to offer them. I lack patience and motivation; I run out of love to give. I find myself wishing that Christ himself were here to offer these kids an unending amount of love, but he’s gone and he’s chosen me, and each of you, to do the loving in his absence – to be his hands and feet in a world of hurting people.

Oh Lord, keep my salt shaker full through the renewing work of your Spirit. Bless the love that you have given me for your children – may it be your love that they experience, not my own, for it is your love that is truly tasty in this broken world.


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