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One year in the US - the unexpected transition

Transition is something we talk about a lot in missions.  But that doesn't mean we are good at it.

People transition in and out. New students come, old friends leave.  Every good friend that I have had over the last 18 years has come for a limited time, then left.  Eventually that takes a toll on one.

Our extended time in the US came upon us unexpectedly, and yet now I can see it was unavoidable.  Tensions and stresses had been building up for years, and yet letting go of everything in Panama was an excruciating process.

The transition has been more painful in that it was unplanned.  We didn't have months to prepare, to carefully pack, to properly say goodbye.  We left for 3 months, and didn't return.  Couldn't return.

I found myself turning in paperwork at the local school for our kids, signing up for health insurance, and the most daunting of all, negotiating the immigration process with Alex.

I feel like a hiker who had been following a fairly well marked trail, and…

Is Poverty Good?

Picture yourself a missionary in Panama, or another developing nation.  You are receiving a short term team.  They arrive at the airport, wide-eyed, ready to serve, taking everything in.
undoubtedly, poverty is one of the first things they will notice.  They will see houses that are simple shacks, barefoot children playing in the street, street dogs that are all skin and bones. They will visit a village and observe the children crafting toys from garbage, or playing all morning in the river, not a toy in sight.
Without a doubt, someone will comment, "They seem so happy!"
Who are "they"?  Those others.  Those different from me, those with little, while I have much.  I never realized that I was rich, now it is obvious that I have lived a life of privilege.
But somehow the picture of children smiling and laughing doesn't fit the picture they have in their minds of poverty. Shouldn't they be miserable?  They think, "I'm unhappy with my own lack.  I worry a…

"I could never do what you do..."

I have been told this many times.

"I could never do it!" people have told me.  I understand what they are saying.  Most of them, I believe, mean to communicate admiration.  Admiration is nice, as far as it goes. But it can also be isolating.

When people say this, sometimes as a missionary, this is what we hear....

"I could never do what you are doing.... therefore I put you in another category. You are a super-Christian"

"I could never do what you do..... therefore the challenges that you face must not faze you much."

"I could never do what you do..... therefore I can distance myself from your struggle, and admire you from afar."

I don't believe that most people mean to say those things. Perhaps I am the only missionary who has struggled with this phrase.  But perhaps not.

Missions work can already feel lonely.  I live in a culture foreign to the one I grew up in. And while I have learned to love my adopted country, and love it's people …

Time to Remember

So, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
I was reading on Facebook the experiences of other moms who had suffered a miscarriage and suddenly I felt this burning need to write about MY experience.  October 19th marks exactly 4 years since we lost a tiny baby that we had very much wanted.
I had a few people around me allow me to talk about it with out judgement or embarrassment, but most people either didn't want to talk about it, or didn't know how to.   So many things stayed in my heart, burning and hurting and waiting to come out.

So I decided to let some of them out here.
We found out we were pregnant while visiting back in Oregon. It was not totally expected, but not totally unexpected either.  Carolyn was 2 1/2, Abigail was 4 1/2. It seemed like perfect timing, the girls would have their next birthday before our baby was born.
I wasn't nearly as sick with this pregnancy as I was with the others.  But I still didn't feel great, and I had no energy.  …

Diverse and Global family

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I sat down at the end of the row. The morning conference session was just beginning.  We were in Kansas City for YWAM's international conference.
This was the very edge of the big meeting tent, where all those with strollers and potentially crying babies were sent. It was full.  Moms and Dads sat with sleeping newborns, alert babies, wiggly toddlers, and preschoolers immersed in their Ipads (thank you technology!).
The families were diverse.  Some were families that bridged two races, some two countries.  Many were bilingual.  Some had traveled from halfway around the world.  All were here with a purpose.
Sometimes it can feel like our life is a crazy roller-coaster ride of packing and unpacking.  Our "normal life" is totally foreign to many people, either in the US or Panama.  The girls are going to school here in the US for the next three months (something totally new to us).  As we came back from the conference, I almost made a comment about getting back to "norm…

Two halves of my life

Typical to the Oregon coast, the afternoon was cool and breezy. None of the kids were really dressed for it, as my sister and I watched them explore the wonders of the piles of driftwood.

My sister Sarah and her kids were out visiting for some rare time for the sister (and cousins) to catch up with each other.  As I sat with Lucy in the sand, Sarah brought over a beautiful rock she had found.  As I admired it, and she went off to find something else beautiful, suddenly we were kids again.  I remembered a hundred outings as kids, exploring a creek, hiking, camping up near Mt. Hood.  My mom still picks up pretty rocks when she goes places.  Abigail and I have started collecting heart shaped rocks where ever we go.

My sister and I are moms now, carrying the weight of responsibility, tired from babies waking us, working long hours, worrying about whether we are doing a good job.  It's almost impossible to get a quiet moment to just talk, unless the kids have found something to occupy …

WRITE

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WRITE
The words appeared to me in the middle of the night in bold capital.  Not in front of my eyes, but clear none the less.  Some dreams may be a mystery to us, but this was pretty clear.  Whether it was direction from God, or the cry of my heart, I do not know.
But what should I write. I have a four month old baby, my sleep is interrupted, and my thoughts don’t always run in a straight line. I don’t have time to develop deep theological thoughts or have experience impacting testimonies.  I have been busy surviving pregnancy and the newborn stage with child #3.  So that is what I will write about.
About one year ago, we came back from our outreach to Native American communities in the US.  It was an amazing experience.  We were exhausted, but also encouraged by all that happened.  We were ready for the next season.
I wrote a blog post upon returning about the dry season, how as the vegetation died down, it provided space for new opportunities. I felt excited about what those opport…