Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stepping Out

I've been considering writing this post for about a month now, but haven't done it because it's a little too personal. I mean, it points out my own weaknesses. And who really likes to admit where they need to improve, or do things differently?

I tend to be an introvert. I really am content to hide in my room, with a good book and a cup of coffee. Maybe some quiet music. I don't need to interact with anyone. That's how God created me.

But God wants me to step out of that comfort zone...
                                                                  and sometimes I fight that command.

Recently, we were visiting Pine Hill. There are very few foreigners who enter this small community because it's basically the end of the road. You don't just happen by it. You don't drive through it. You go there because you plan to go there. Consequently, when we're there, we attract a lot of attention. People are curious. Why are we there?

And then they want to look at our children, or touch them. Even the children from the town are curious. They follow us around. Some times, I feel like the Pied Piper, leading the crowd down the street. One time, we had at least 20 children walking with us.

With four children, sometimes the kids and I sit in the car while Clay goes in to the store to buy a snack. And if you know my very non-introverted husband, it is not a quick stop! It doesn't matter if the windows are up or down. People stop and stare through the windows at the kids. If the windows are open, they reach through and touch the kids. Sometimes they give them candy or a toy.

I often find myself annoyed while I sit there. Can't these people just leave us alone?! I mean, really! We're inside our car. In the States, you would never walk up to a car full of strangers and reach in and touch their children! And you certainly wouldn't hand a child candy without asking the parent if it was okay!

But what I realized is that when the kids and I get out of the car and talk to the people crowding around, we start to build a relationship. We're no longer the latest zoo exhibit. We're people who like to talk, play and laugh. And that's exactly where God wants me to be! He doesn't want me to hide. He wants me to get out and share BOLDLY about HIS love. I also realize that I'm not annoyed. I enjoy being with the people!

Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador in chains;
that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:19-20

His people...

Often, as I'm drifting off to sleep, I think of the great blog that I want to write. Last night I was doing just that, but this morning I can't for the life of me remember what it was! So much has happened since I last posted. So much that I want to share, but how do I put it all into words?

This week we made another trip into "Pine Hill." It's always a beautiful drive, and usually cloudy. This time, however, it was sunny and bright. And I didn't have my camera to capture the beauty. But it gives me hope that when we do eventually move to that area, it won't be cloudy everyday.

On our previous trip, my kids quickly
made friends!
I continue to be amazed at how open the people are. I realize that my four children are a natural draw. People are curious, and we attract a crowd. Most of the time, I'm ok with being stared at. Or my children being carried away by members of the family we're visiting. And my kids seem to be okay with it most of the time too. Of course, for them it usually means someone to play with them or to give them candy.

On this trip, we visited Don J's family. Don J has three adult sons and one daughter. We're still learning who is who and how they all relate. That may take a few years! This visit, Clay chatted with Don J, asking him questions about life in Pine Hill and how to say a few phrases in ZK. While they chatted, Don J shared that July is the time of year that many people get sick. He shared that the reason is that it rains over the cemetary, then the sun comes out. As the sun heats things up, the steam rises from the cemetary, then the wind blows that steam over the town. The people get sick. For him, there is a connection between the spiritual world and sickness here on earth.

The next morning, I was talking with Don J's daughter in law, G. We were standing outside, and the sun was getting warm, so I took off Matthew's sweatshirt. At that time, G asked me if my kids get sick alot. I assumed she was referring to the weather and my kids not being bundled up tightly. She said, "Here, the beautiful babies get sick because the people are always looking at them."

"Oh, the Evil Eye," I said. "We believe that Jesus Christ guards us and protects us. He is more powerful." G shook her head in agreement, but didn't comment.

Sometimes, I wonder why we are entering Pine Hill. They all claim to love the Lord. Or at least they claim allegiance to the Church. But most of them have no knowledge of what the Bible says, or the freedom that Christ offers. They don't know the beautiful love story that God has given us. They don't understand what a relationship with Jesus means. And once again, I am reminded why God has called us to these people. His people.

Pine Hill
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Toilet seats? Think about it...

There are so many things that we take for granted on a daily basis. Have you stopped to think about it?
  • electricity--When you flip the light switch, do you wonder if the light really will come on?
  • laundry--Do you have to make sure it's not raining so that your clothes get dry?
  • vehicle--Do you wonder if there's a gas station in the next hour drive?
  • groceries-- How do you plan your meal menu? Do you think about what's going to be available this week at the market?
  • kitchen--Do you have enough gas to cook your meal? Do you have to cook over fire? Did you collect enough firewood?

Many of these things we don't think about either, honestly. We've only lost electricity once, but in some areas it seems common. We are blessed to have a washing machine and dryer, but in the area that we will move to, they wash by hand and hang things to dry. It rains about 10 months out of the year, and when it's not raining, it's humid. The closest gas station will be an hour away. We need to make sure we're thinking ahead!

As for groceries...we will be planning on taking most of what we need/want in from the city. "Pine Hill" has market day once a week and this last week we went on market day to see what they have to offer. It really wasn't much. There were just a few vendors selling a very small variety of produce. There are a few small grocery stores, but their variety is limited also.

In the homes, most women cook over a fire. Some have a basic stove top, but no oven. How would not having an oven affect how you cook?  The bread "stores" have brick ovens. They look like igloos made out of bricks. Our plan is to take a stove/oven with us so that I can continue cooking comfortably, but I still need to think about the supplies that I'll need.

Another interesting thought...when you go to a public restroom, do you assume that toilet paper will be supplied? This is one that often catches me off guard! Sometimes they have a large roll on the wall when you walk in and you have to remember to grab what you'll need.  Other times, there's a person sitting there and their job is to sell you toilet paper. And of course, there are other places where you just have to make sure you brought your own.

The one that I'm still adapting to though is the lack of a toilet seat! Most toilets in this area don't have one...we learn to adjust, but I never thought about how it affected my children until we went to Home Depot after spending a night in the village. Clay needed to find a specific item, so I said we'd wander until he was ready.

As we walked away, Ryan said, "Can we look at toilet seats?"

I stifled a laugh as I contemplated the things we take for granted...and added another thing to my growing list.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


So often peope wonder how we can "do it." You know, live without the comforts of home...or so far from family and friends. I mean, I haven't been to Starbucks since December of 2011. (Yes, there is one only an hour away.) And I haven't seen our friends and family from Idaho in a year and 2 days, but who's really counting?

We're missing the beautiful fall colors this year. And we'll miss the snow this winter. We'll miss weddings and funerals...and birthdays and just plain ol' days where we hang out with loved ones.

But today the sacrifice that's on my mind isn't the kind that only missionaries "suffer." Christ calls us to live differently and to make daily sacrifices. You know, "take up your cross and follow me."

Recently we were out in a village and as I watched my daughter play with two other little girls, at first I was thrilled. Ellie really can play with anyone. She's such a people person. Then I realized these little girls weren't playing nice. They kept taking away the toy she was playing with. At first, I tried to encourage the little girls to "be nice." But that really wasn't working.

There has to be a better answer...right? So I pulled Ellie over to me. We had a little heart to heart about the importance of being able to share the Gospel with this family. I mean, we both knew that Ellie had the toy first and she had every "right" to play with it. But I asked my 4-year old to sacrifice her "right" to the toy, and give it to the little girls. To my daughter's credit, she willingly handed it over with a good attitude. Yes, it took her a few minutes to come to grips with that request, but she did it.

The end of that story...well, those girls soon lost interest in that toy and threw it (literally, they threw it) on the floor. But we maintained peace in a home where we are trying to share God's love.

Since then, I've pondered the question, "what is God asking me to sacrifice?" There are many things in my life that I feel I have a "right" to have or to do. I have a right to privacy...but what if I move in to a small village? God will be asking me to give up some of that privacy and willingly invite strangers into my life. To observe us. To judge us. To judge our way of life. How we eat. How we rear our children.

Are there other "rights" that I need to be willing to sacrifice? I have no doubt. I only hope that I can act as bravely as my 4-year old daughter.