myMISSION Missionary Blog

Changes in My Plans

The way forward railway

Less than six months in, I knew the 2-year commitment I signed up for was about to look drastically different than my previous expectations. I moved to the Middle East, with a team I was going to walk alongside and a community that was welcoming me.

The day I found out my supervisors were no longer going to be the leaders of our team, it was clear from this point forward, the next year and a half was about to look very different than what I had in mind.

What we seem to never plan for are the bumps along the way. I don’t think any of us go into a circumstance expecting it to be easy. But few of us go into new situations looking for the potential bumps. We walk in obedience and take each moment as it arrives.

This drastic change in job, leadership, team dynamic, and community made the next year and a half really random to say the least. I moved countries 11 months in and had to readjust to a new dialect and a new cultural order. What initially felt smooth in my transition grew increasingly difficult and, to be honest, really lonely.

No one could have prepared me for what living in the Middle East on my own would have felt like.

The Cross of Crossing Town

It’s amazing how quickly we can become “comfortable.” I vowed after my years in the Middle East I wouldn’t give in to the American lifestyle, feeling entitled to a certain standard of living and implementing levels of fear and distrust into my life about the world around me.

Over the past year and a half, my small home I rent has started to feel really cozy. After my husband and I got married, we decorated and began to shape it more into ours. In this past year we had no idea the changes God was about to place in our lives. We discovered God was blessing us with a child and instantly we have started to take the steps to shift and adjust to the new addition coming to our family this summer.

One of the areas of our life we have been praying about from the beginning of our relationship is how to serve the community around us. We have been asking God for His vision for us and who He wants us to be as a couple in service to Him.

God has answered that prayer recently in big ways. He has opened up a part of the city for us to move to, with an opportunity to serve the community and show His love to people who inhabit the homes around us.

Learning to Cook

Cooking was something I grew into, if that’s how we should term it.

I thought I really liked to cook when was growing up, but when I ventured out into the world and met women who could take a pinch of flour and turn it into a masterpiece, I realized maybe I wasn’t that gifted. Ask me to cook a savory dish, I am there. But, oh you have a local bake sale coming up? And I am struggling to figure out what would be appropriate.

In my cold, yet cozy home in the Middle East, my favorite holiday was on the horizon: Christmas. I had moved into this apartment and I knew I had neighbors but honestly I never saw them. My local transportation was taxi cabs, so I was constantly walking the floors to exit the front door, while my neighbors used the elevator to go to the garage and leave in their vehicles. Oh the elevator, a way to never see people.

Obedience and Mistakes

During our apprentice term with our missions organization, one of the things required was to share a Creation to Christ story in the heart language of our people . . . from memory. Sigh. I was seven months pregnant with our second child when this requirement needed to be fulfilled and while pregnancy brain may have been my excuse, I'm not sure how much easier it would have been otherwise.

To say that I struggled with this assignment would be putting it mildly. I had spent two years studying the language and still had difficulties with it daily. I knew who the Lord wanted me to share this set of stories with, but I was anxious. Roxanne was a friend who was a nonbeliever and I was convinced that if I messed this up, she was never going to want to accept Christ. Selfish? Prideful? Yes, to say the least but it was (however sadly) my mindset.

Sharing Among Differences

While my husband was in seminary, I taught fourth grade and the Lord began to show me that I wasn't there simply for the children. He brought a woman into my life that needed to hear of His love. I can remember thinking how easy it would be to build a relationship with her and just tell her everything I knew about Jesus. I envisioned her accepting Christ and coming to church with me for the rest of the year.

However, it didn't quite turn out that way. I didn't realize it at first but quickly came to the conclusion that I had never shared my faith with an adult before. I shared with children as a child and as an adult but never someone older than me. As I listened to her life story and started to learn of her struggles, it became very apparent to me that I had nothing to offer her. We had grown up differently, our marriages were worlds apart, and she had “heard the whole Jesus thing” before.

The Great Commission

From a young age, the Great Commission became a motto of sorts for me. I knew that I was called to the nations. I had no doubts that I would be the one to tell others about Christ, especially those who had never heard.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and sure enough the Lord placed me right in the center of an unengaged, unreached people group. I spent time in language learning how to share my heart and His words with this people who walked in such spiritual darkness. My lifelong vision for missions had come true. I was actually living it out.

In 2014, what started out as a six-month stateside assignment to the United States turned into the Lord calling us back to Mississippi. To say my world was rocked would be an understatement, but that's a story for another time. What I want to share with you is how the Lord redefined the Great Commission for me. He used it to create the same missions vision just from a different perspective.

Vision Casting

Often on the missions field we talk about "vision casting.” Having a vision for what you are doing is important because it causes you to focus on the long term goal and what you can do currently to help achieve it.

Through the Lord's grace, I am "mommy" to two funny and beautiful gals. Long before they were born, I was praying for them and asking the Lord for wisdom in parenting and raising the ones He was entrusting us with. Little did I know then, that I would be praying that more and more as I try to live out this calling of motherhood.

Now, I'm not sure I've ever called it "vision casting" but if you ask me what my vision is for them, I know what it is. My vision is that they would walk intimately with the Father, that they have joy that is unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding. I pray for them to know His salvation the very first time His Spirit calls them to Himself and that we, as parents, have given them the knowledge of who He is and the gift that He has given.

Language Learning

My gifts are teaching, speaking, and writing. I have known two of these for a while and one was just beginning to develop back in 2011 when I stepped on the distant soil of Madagascar. I was anxious to develop relationships and share the gospel with anyone who would listen. That was, until about ten minutes later as I went through customs and realized no one could understand anything I was saying.

For the first couple of days, it was entertaining. It was almost comical how much we could not understand and how little we could communicate (unless it was in the form of pointing and gestures). Soon though, our lack of communication became part of our motivation to learn the language and to learn it quickly! Over the next six months, we were in formal language school and once we passed our final exam; we moved to the town where we would do ministry. I began to understand that I would indeed never be out of language school . . . it may not be formal but there would always be something new to learn.

Just Checking In

About a year and a half ago, our family found itself in a large first world city in Africa. We were there for medical appointments and were able to stay in an apartment complex with other missionaries. There was one woman who lived there year round due to the ministry that her husband led. When I hear the word humility I think of her.

Lee is a beautiful woman full of grace and truth. She speaks and you are wise to listen. She spoke wisdom into my heart during a time when I needed to hear it. She had me over for deep conversations and prayer. She invited me over to watch her favorite movie. She had our whole family over for dinner the night we flew in because she knew we would be tired and hungry. She is one of my favorite people.

Her humility exalts the Lord in all she does. Lee is real and honest in a world that is incredibly easy to be fake in. She is a hugger and I would absolutely love one of those hugs right now. I can see her smile and the wave of her hand as she would walk by, "just to check in.” I am grateful for her heart, her love for others, and her humble way of living her life.

Loving Her

Most think that just because we are missionaries we must all get along. Somehow when we go under that occupation label, all of our humanness leaves us. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's simply not true.

We simply wouldn't have been real life friends, our personalities didn't mix well; these were actually things we talked about, joked over, and had a few laughs in between. We knew that a deep friendship would have never happened in normal circumstances. However, we found ourselves thousands of miles from our home culture and in a place where few foreigners lived. We were about to spend lots of time together.

Weekly (and hourly if I knew we were about to see each other), I'd pray for common ground. I'd pray for His love to overpower any petty things I felt when spending time with her. I wanted to love her and I wanted her to love me. Slowly, the Lord built a friendship based on Him. He was our common ground. He had given us both a love for this place that we now called home. He had created our personalities, which means He knew how different we were. He knew that we'd be together thousands of miles away from our friends and family. He knew we'd struggle.

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