Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Retrospect....

”The years teach much which the days never know.

I can’t help myself. I always have so much excitement about the beginning of a new year. I just love the feel of 365 days of possibility lying before you, just waiting to be experienced. It’s like and adventure – and I love adventure!

To be sure, some adventures are laden with more adversity and hardship than others. And, if I’m honest, 2011 was one of those “hardship” years. It’s not that it wasn’t a good year, because it was. But, if it has to fall in one category or the other – it was just a hard year….but it had some really sweet moments thrown in.

I guess I would classify it as a hard year because it was year of “goodbyes.” I began January 2011, knowing that it would be the year when I once again got to set eyes on my beloved Mozambique. But, I also knew that meant saying goodbye to so many other things that I loved as well.

I said goodbye to being the Children’s Ministry Director at FFC. That was a job I loved! I loved planning events and working with the volunteers. I loved the hugs and smiles of all the children that I came to think of as “mine.” It was bittersweet to walk away from all of that.

I said goodbye to Florida – my home for nearly 5 years. Florida was a place that I swore was “two years and no more.” But, I found out God had so much more planned for me and I found a church that challenged my faith and friends that are more like family. Saying goodbye to all of that was almost enough to make me reconsider Mozambique.

I welcomed my nephew, Isaac into this world. We had prayed for him for so long, that the day of his birth seemed almost surreal. But, I realized with great sadness, too, that I would miss many milestones in his life. Mostly, I am thankful that I got to be there at his birth, to hold him, and share so many wonderful memories with my sister.

I watched my relationship with my sister bloom into the kind of relationship I had always wanted with her. That was a really sweet spot in my year. There is nothing in this world quite like a sister, and I got the best of them.

I watched my mom get remarried. In many ways, this is a good thing. My mom has been by herself since my dad died 14 years ago. My siblings and I are grown with lives of our own. It is good that she has someone and I enjoyed watching her joy. However, it happened fast – the kind of whirlwind that makes you stop and ask, “Did that really happen?” And, as any of you who have watched your parents date or marry someone else will understand, it is not easy – no matter how good it is. It was so devastating when we lost my dad, and then it was like it solidified us as a group – we had lost this person we loved and that grief bonded us in a way nothing else could. And, now, my mom brought someone else into the picture. Greg is a good guy, and I like him – a lot. He makes her happy.  But her marriage to Greg was like the final nail in the coffin. It’s not like I thought my dad was coming back, but this new chapter closed the old one with my Dad with a finality that left me unprepared for the grief I felt. So, that too, was a bittersweet day.

And then, in a flurry of activity, I visited friends for the last time, packed a few belongings and got ready to say goodbye to everyone and everything familiar for a really long time. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to go to Mozambique. After all, it’s the one thing I had consistently talked about for nearly 6 years. But, as I stood in the kitchen with my 91 year old grandmother, thinking that this might just be the last time I saw her it nearly broke me. Those last few days at home, I could hardly eat or enjoy the things I was doing. Goodbye seemed too hard – and too costly.

I didn’t want to think about the fact that I would be just a distant memory to my friends kids when I returned. I didn’t want to think about missing out on the adoption of a really good friend. I didn’t want to think about all the moments I would miss. I couldn’t think about the fact that the next time I saw my nephew he would be a little boy – and he might even have a brother or sister. I hated to think that I would miss out on getting to know my mom’s new husband. This question loomed over my head, “What is it like to step out of your life for 3 years, and then step back into it?”

Now that I’m here, I’m ever so glad that I came. I know I am supposed to be here. I know that I will look back with such gratefulness that I got to be here and love these little guys – that I got to be the one to kiss the booboos, and praise their artwork, and play ball with them. I will be eternally grateful that I got to share Jesus with them. This is where I am supposed to be.

Even still, it is hard for me to think back to all those goodbyes without tearing up. They were hard days that will one day be rewarded. So, as I look to 2012, I am so hoping that it will be a year of “hellos.” I am hoping it will be a year of great rejoicing, and laughter, and fewer tears.

But, whatever it holds, I know that He will be there and I will be richer for having walked through it with him. See that’s the thing about walking with Jesus, it’s not always pleasant or what you would have chosen, but in the end you know you’ve gained this depth of soul that you would not trade one teardrop for.

So, bring on 2012, I can’t wait!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thinking about a Book....

Today on my blog, I am going to tackle something political (which is not at all the forum for this blog) and I’m also going to create a spoiler alert for the new Jodi Picoult book (readers, beware!)

I have just finished reading Sing You Home, her latest novel about the issues of gay marriage and infertility. I must first tell you that I am a fan of Jodi Picoult books. I love courtroom dramas and Picoult has a way of tackling pretty tough issues and making you think about it from another view point. She has tackled many issues from suicide to terminally ill children. The language in her books can be a little rough at times, but its usually to help the character express himself in the light of very strenuous circumstances. I’m not saying I like the language, but neither am I tempted to start dropping the F bomb – so I don’t really see it as a huge deal.

The plot of this novel is this (spoiler alert): A married couple, Max & Zoe have tried IVF unsuccessfully to help them have a child. When their latest round of IVF ends in a still birth, the couple can’t cope with their loss and divorce. Zoe befriends a lesbian teacher and decides she is also lesbian and they get married. Max goes to live with his brother Reid and his wife, Liddy, who are members of an ultra conservative church. When Zoe asks Max for the use of the last 3 frozen embryos so that she and her partner can have a baby, he decides he wants to give them to Reid and Liddy who have also been unable to conceive. A court battle ensues. There are a lot of details I’m leaving out (so read the book) but,  Zoe decides to give Max the embryos instead of being slapped with a sexual harassment suit (which was fabricated). Max in turn gives them back to her knowing she will make a great mom. The last chapter is told from the view point of Samantha – Zoe’s little girl. Sammy knows she is the luckiest girl in the world because she has Mommy Zoe, Mama Nessa, and Daddy. She also has Auntie Liddy – who is getting ready to marry Daddy. Yes, by the end of the book Liddy has left her husband Reid for his brother, Max. The book closes by Sammy saying she really is the luckiest girl in the world.

I was bothered by many things in this book – and the top one on the list wasn’t the gay marriage issue! I was bothered by the fact that Max fell in love with his sister-in-law and it was perfectly natural to express that emotion by having sex (in his brother’s house). It was okay, in the end of the book, for them to be together. While the author in no way made this a central issue of the book, the message was loud and clear. Love is enough reason to leave a committed marriage relationship. A woman is a good enough reason to destroy your relationship with your brother. There are no boundaries. Being together feels good, so be together at any cost. Well, what happens, when Max or Liddy fall in or out of love again? It is so easy to tell ourselves the lie that “I deserve to be happy” or that “feeling good” is enough reason to move ahead with our selfish plans. But what no one else ever reads in books or sees in movies is when that thing no longer makes you happy. What then?

 I also hated the way that Christians are portrayed in this book. It was either the Westboro “gay-basher” Christian or the “Christ saved me and now my life is amazing, so we must pray others out of their sin” type of Christian. Neither of those come close to depicting my life with Christ!

I believe that living the homosexual life style is a sin. But I also believe lying, gossiping, being disobedient to your parents, hate, immorality, and a whole bunch of other things are sins, too. In fact the famous passage in the Scripture that speaks of homosexuality as a sin (Romans 1) also lists many other things that are sins.

I do believe that there is an agenda in America to take God completely out of society and force me to be tolerant of all other lifestyles – while no one is particularly tolerant of my choice to be a Christian.

I do believe that America is on slippery slope when the family and marriage is no longer considered sacred. How do you tell a polygamist that his marriage is not okay? Why is it not okay if all parties enter the relationship willingly? Is it really any different than telling two women or two men they can get married if both parties willingly choose to do so? My questions is: Where does tolerance end? How can we choose whose lifestyle we will or won’t be tolerant of?

And, I do believe there is a breakdown in the American family. But I’m also convinced that is has very little to do with the “gay agenda.” It has more to do with the fact that so many people are having children outside of marriage, that divorce is such an easy option, and fathers are largely absent. I am not passing judgment on anyone who has had to make the awful decision about divorce. I love too many people who have had to make that decision to believe that it’s an easy one – but I know that its an available one.

I wish so badly that Christians had been portrayed differently in this book. Then again, I wondered if the author had ever actually met a Christian that didn’t in someway fall into one of the categories. Maybe that’s the problem – the Christians that the world sees are the “God-hates-fags” “let me pray you out of your sin” types. They see us glamorize Christianity as if I’ve had no problems since I came to Christ and my life is a sunny-walk-through-roses kind of life. Maybe we as Christians have failed to spread the real message about Christ. Maybe we’ve gotten in His way. We’ve jumped on the band wagon that the “gay agenda” is ruining America and that the democrats are the reason for the moral decay in society.

I believe that it is important to take a stand against sin, but I also know it is more important to love people. I know that when I read encounters of Jesus and sinners in scripture he was hanging out with them – having meals with them. And, I don’t ready encounters where Jesus took them and their sin head on. It’s more like just being with Him changed them. Over time, as they got to know Him, they left their sin because their lives didn’t match up with His.  Even when Jesus confronted the woman at the well – he made more of a statement, “You are right in saying you have no husband. You’ve had five husbands. And the man you’re living with now is not your husband.” She was shocked that Jesus knew all about her life and he’d only just met her! It was enough to make her leave her current lifestyle and follow him. But for the most part, Jesus loved people, and that loved changed them. Jesus saw the person and he just loved – without an agenda. Maybe it’s time to set down our “Christian agenda” of being kind and loving SO that we can win people to Christ. Maybe it’s time to just pattern our lives after Christ and love people because we all need to be loved. Maybe, just maybe, the love of Christ still has the power to change lives. I’m not suggesting that we water down the truth, or stop sharing what Jesus had to say about sin. I’m just suggesting that maybe knowing how we feel about sin isn’t the most important thing when we are trying to reach the lost. We read in the Scriptures that it is the “love of Christ that compels us.” His love is enough to change the hardest heart, the most seasoned sinner. It’s time we start believing that we, too, are sinners saved by grace and to give the world a glimpse of who He is instead of what He’s against.

The thing I really believe is that if people can get just a glimpse of who HE really is that will be enough. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lord!

I think somehow your birthday must have been more like this day in Mozambique. Most folks are still going about their usual business - stores are open and vendors are selling their goods. No one knew that the miraculous had occurred, the promise had been fulfilled, that God's long silence had been broken. Oh, some here know the truth. Others - they take what little they have and get caught up in the commercialism, too. Jesus, I don't want that for them. I don't want this day to become so much about the presents and the feasts that we forget how little fanfare there was when you came to earth.
There are broken, sick, poor, hungry people all around me. Help me to see them with your eyes. Help me to see their plight as the reason you sent your son.
I will so miss being with my family today. I wish that I wasn't so sick. I wish that I felt more like celebrating. But, Jesus, this is your day. You are worth celebrating no matter how I feel. You came. The fact that you humbled yourself and came into this mess of a world is more grand a thought than I can grasp. You could have just let us go on - we eventually would have killed ourselves off - or you could have destroyed us and started over again. But instead you came. You were a helpless little baby and the God that holds the span of the universe in His hand. How marvelous is that? Welcome to our world, Lord Jesus. Welcome to our brokenness that needs fixing and our hope that needs renewing. May you find in my heart your Bethlehem. Reign unchallenged there, Jesus. No one else has every given up glory to find me. No one else has died to know me. You are worth more than a life of service or well penned words could ever express. Welcome to the slum of my heart - build up and tear down as you choose, Holy Uncreated One. I love you beyond anything else, my Jesus. Around the world today may you take great pleasure in the way we celebrate you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

At Any Cost

At any cost……are  words every devoted Christ follower  wants to say and at the same time fears saying with any sincerity to the Lord. The cost of following Him isn’t inexpensive. Many people throughout history have paid with their lives. Many continue to suffer in great ways for their faith.

Yet, every story that I’ve ever read about one who suffered for their faith, is the story of a gentle, humble person, whose love for Jesus shames me. One of those people is Marj Saint Van Der Puy. She is the wife of Nate Saint. You may remember that Saint, along with four other missionaries, was speared to death in the jungles of the Amazon more than 50 years ago.

That would be cost enough – knowing that your husband died in such a violent way and living in a country that was not your own with 3 small children. But for Marj that was only the beginning of the price that Christ would exact in her life. Before her death in 2004, she would live through the death of her 2nd husband and be diagnosed with cancer 4 times. Yet, with an unwavering faith, here is what she said about a year before her death.

“I told the Lord I wanted His will for my life at any cost. And little did I know that that cost would be, but it still hasn’t been too much. Even now, with cancer for the fourth time, I still want God’s will at any cost. This is a cost I hadn’t thought about paying, but I’m paying it. I’m paying it willingly. If I could go back and make that statement again, I’d do it again.”

I’ve just finished watching her autobiography and I am unable to find the words to describe this woman. Gentle. Kind. Unwavering. Fierce. You could just feel His presence when she spoke.

I want with everything in me to say that to Jesus. But I know that in my humanness I cling to my health with all that is within me. I cling to the people that I hold dear. I hold my finances with a tight fist thinking that my bank account is an indicator of how well I’m being taken care of.  I wrap these material things around me as if they are enough security to get me through this world – knowing full well that they are not.

The cost to follow Him……what price will it exact in my life? In yours? It makes be a little bit fearful to be honest. But as I write these words I am listening to the Muslim call to prayer going out across my city and I know that men and women are being led deeper into that deception on a daily basis. Whatever it costs me to know Him and to take His light into a broken place – it can’t cost more than the souls of His precious children in eternal darkness.

I hope that one day as an old woman I’ll be able to echo those words, “Little did I know what the cost would be, but it still hasn’t been too much.” More than anything else, I want to be found faithful – faithful to the ONE who has always been faithful to me. I am willing to pay the cost of discipleship – even unto death, if it pleases Him. I am not asking to die – I do not wish that for myself or for my family. I want to live until I am old and have the opportunity to live in the villages of Mozambique with the hugs and kisses of hundreds of children while I tell them about Jesus. I want to share my food with families who have rarely understood what it’s like to have a full belly of food. I want to laugh and weep with the ones that He gives me to care for in this place.

But, in the midst of all this, if I find out that His dreams for me are different – that’s okay, too. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Rains came down…..and I went Ker plunk!

 I don’t know what it is about Africa, but I seem to have issues with staying whole and unharmed when here. In 2006, in six months, I managed to get in an accident that cut my foot from which I got a deadly infection. I also managed to get Malaria twice and a Maticaneya (a little worm that borrows in your foot) once.

One would think that all that plus the roach, rats, and snakes (all of which I abhor) would be enough to keep me out of this country. But, alas, it did not and I find myself here once again. I really do love Mozambique – despite all of that. I love the people and the simple beauty of this place amid the backdrop of much toil and sorrow.

So… first African injury this time around – it only took 2 ½ weeks! Last Friday, I was standing next to the window of our little playroom chatting while the boys ran around in the rain. I must also mention that I was soaking wet because I had run around in the rain with the boys. It is so hot here in Beira – so hot that some days it is like the heat bubbles up from inside of you and just cooks you slowly. So, when the rains came, cold, huge drops of rain – I just couldn’t help myself – I had to rejoice in the rain.

I was drying off – standing by the window.  My arm brushed against the broken glass which had not been taken out of the window. Just so you understand – the window was cracked. There were no jagged edges or sharp pieces of glass protruding. The glass needed to be taken down, but it wasn’t dangerous! Unless you are me. Then everything has potential to be dangerous! I found the one place where the cracked glass poked out just slightly and put my arm down on it. It didn’t even hurt, but when I raised my arm up blood started to spurt out.  Victoria quickly sent one of the boys for the first aid kit and we began applying pressure to the cut to see if we could get it to stop.

In the middle of all this, the rains let up and I told Victoria I was going to the bathroom. She looked at me like I had lost my mind, “Now?”

Well, yes, now. The rains had almost stopped and I could walk across the yard to the bathroom with out getting soaked again and I had been waiting for that moment for a few hours. So, I made the trek to the bathroom and on the top step I slipped landing face first in a puddle of water – that was, I’m sure a mixture of wind-blown rain and water spills from all the buckets of water carried into the bathroom daily. There was, of course, a lot of dirt in that puddle, too.

“Caiu! Caiu!” Fall! Fall! The boys shouted. Yep, thankfully the boys were aware of my little mishap. So, I hobbled to the bathroom, and hobbled back to the waiting chair on the veranda. By now, my arm was really bleeding and stinging from the dirt I had gotten in it and there was a huge purplish knot on my knee.

Alfredo, or “Doctor” as we like to call him, another YWAM staff member, came over and tended to my wounds. Although, I am sure his doctoring did my arm and leg and world of good, and saved me a trip to the hospital, I was not impressed that day as he rubbed an ointment on my leg rather gruffly.

In the midst of this, there was a very close, very loud thunderclap which caused me to scream. I scared some of the little ones and I think the others wondered about my sanity!

So, nearly a week later, I am no worse for the ware. Still a little bruised, but just fine. As I write about the events of that day, it still makes me laugh! I have this feeling that Jesus got a good laugh at me while I lay there face down in that puddle. I wasn’t harmed – and it was funny. The only thing sticking out of the doorway of that bathroom was my two little feet while the rest of me laid in a puddle in the floor.

Without trying to over spiritualize anything, I believe the Lord sometimes gives us those humorous moments in life. They teach us to enjoy the moments were are given, to look for the good in every situation, and to not always take life so seriously. He is the laugh-giver and I am quite sure He has gotten His share of laughs out of me.

I am thankful that I am not too hurt. I am thankful that I can laugh about it. I am thankful that along this journey to His heart there is joy to be sprinkled in the midst of tears, lessons, and hard work. I am happy to have shared a sacred moment with Him in a puddle on the bathroom floor. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Me a Missionary?

Most days, when I think to myself, “I’m a missionary” I just laugh as if it’s some private joke between me and the Lord. I feel far to “normal” to be a missionary. I don’t mean that in the derogatory way that it sounds! As I see it, missionaries are these incredibly spiritual, brave people that I am nothing like. I just mean that when I think about a missionary my mind immediately thinks of these people:

Jim Elliot – who’s greatest passion was to reach an unreached people group and whose life ended at the end of an Aucan spear.

Gladys Alward – who marched over 100 Chinese orphans to safety over mountains to get them away from the coming onslaught of the attacking Japanese army.

Amy Carmichael – who left her homeland and cared for orphans in India until her death, having never set eyes on her beautiful Ireland again.

Chet Bitterman – who spent the last week of his life in captivity and was executed at the hands of Colombian guerrilla because he worked to translate scriptures for a local tribe.

These men and women, and hundreds like them, gave up everything – never returning home and losing almost all contact with people that they loved for the rest of their lives. I have a computer, the internet, and a phone. I am in constant contact with people that I love and miss. It may not be as easy as I would like – sometimes the connection is bad and sometimes I get kicked off the internet 4 or 5 times during a conversation, but the point is that I get to do it. I know that I have given up a lot, but the thousands who went before me - they paved the long, dirty road with their blood, sweat, and tears. I do not dare put myself in a category with them.

Yes, I am a missionary and I still find that word comical when applied to my name. I don’t feel like I have done or am doing something great. I am doing what He asked me to do in a place that I love. Despite the horrid heat, smells, and awful dirtiness of this place I feel at home here. I look across the sea of ebony faces each day and I fall more desperately in love with these beautiful people.

I miss people. I miss my church and worshiping with them on a weekly basis. I miss holding my nephew and late night conversations with my sister. I miss laughing with her. I miss Florida – and I was sure I was never going to say that when I moved there. Although I will always be at home in FL and I will always have precious friends there, I know that chapter has closed and will only appear sporadically in my life now that I live 10,000 miles away.  It is always sad to see a chapter in the book of your life close – even when a new, exciting one is about to begin.

And, I have to admit that I am afraid sometimes. A little bit of fear strikes my heart every time the big rat that lives in my pantry runs across my floor. I get paralyzed every time I see one of those big, nasty, African roaches in my kitchen, pantry, or bathroom. Sometimes I feel a little bit of fear as I walk through the city knowing that it wouldn’t take much effort for one of these men to harm me, and there’s not a lot I could do to defend myself. I feel fear at the thought of getting sick in a place where there isn’t good medical care.

Sometimes I’d like to sleep in a bed where the boards didn’t creak every time I moved and where going to the bathroom in the middle of the night didn’t mean unlocking 3 doors and going outside. I wish that the heat wasn’t so oppressive and I didn’t take off wet with sweat, smelly clothes at the end of each day. I’d like to drive my car up to a fast food window and order a burger and a large ice tea. I’d like to throw my clothes in a washing machine – for washing everything you own by hand is a long, hard process.

But more than my fears and wants, is my need to follow Him wherever He calls. I am more afraid of missing His adventure for my life than anything else. I can trust Him – if it means my health, my comfort, or even my life – I know that I can trust Him to be completely good to me. I can trust Him with my tears, my loneliness, and my honest-to-goodness need of a “2am friend.”

On Thursday, the boys were invited to have a special lunch, so we loaded them all up in a van and took them to town. As I climbed into the van, Little Nelson( because we also have a Big Nelson), patted the seat beside him and I knew it was an invitation to form a friendship. Until this point, Nelson and I had only shook hands and greeted each other simply. So I was excited to sit down with him. I reached my arm around him and hugged his little body. Nelson leaned into me, rested him arm on my leg and took my hand. I looked into his smiling face and smiled back and my heart was forever melted. It occurred to me then that someday Nelson would be a grown man and I could hear him saying, “One time there was this white lady who loved me and she taught me about Jesus.” As tears came to my eyes, I knew that if that’s the only thing I accomplished on this earth it would be more than enough. To love Nelson to give him the opportunity to know Jesus – it is worth all my insignificant fears, all the things I miss, and all the things I want.

It’s worth so much that Jesus came and he died. Jesus died for this dirty, smelly place. He died for all the hunger, disease, sadness, loneliness, brokenness, and sin in this world. His heart breaks daily because His children, whom were worthy of His life, go to bed starving, sick, and afraid. People created in His image head into a Christless eternity every moment of every day. I have the capacity to do something about it! No, no not to the 143 million orphans in this world, but to the 25 boys at Casa Re’Om – to the poor in my city – I have the capacity to love, to share, to meet their needs. I can’t turn my back on that need nor pretend it’s not there while enjoying my comfortable American existence. If each of us who claim to love Jesus would do just a wee bit more – less children would go hungry today. Fewer people would be turned away from life saving medical care. More people would drink clean water today. He died because our brokenness and sin was too much for His compassionate heart. So, I open my heart to the “least of these” because it’s what I’ve been asked to do – and because that’s exactly what was done for me. How could I not?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My African Life

Well, between starting and restarting this blog a few times - in an attempt to figure out just what I want to say and the fickle internet which works when and for how long it chooses on any given day, this blog is way overdue! I'm not even sure exactly what this blog will end up saying - I'm just going to share some things that are on my heart and hope to goodness that it means something to someone. I also promise to be a little more intentional about future blogs!

I would have to say that the last two days have been a real turning point for me. These last couple of weeks have been hard from me. I could feel this wrestling in my soul. I wanted to be here - I thought. Being here was what I had waited and prayed for, planned for - for many months, even years. So, I didn't understand the struggle within myself. I would pray each day and tell the Lord that I didn't feel the passion that I once had. I didn't feel the overwhelming desire to be here. And, to be quite honest, it scared me. Because being here without His leading and without the passion I knew I needed seemed like a big, embarrassing, expensive mistake.

I knew that God had called me to missions and I knew that I loved Mozambique. Even more, I knew that I loved those little boys so very much. So where was the disconnect? As I prayed, I just felt God calling me to seek His face more instead of a feeling. Emotions, I knew, are more fickle than African internet and they are not to be trusted to gauge the calling of God upon. I sought His face. I asked Him for the passion I needed. I asked Him to show up in tangible ways that would show me that He indeed had brought me to this hot, dirty, smelly place.

I opened my Bible yesterday and read my daily portions of Scripture. I am reading through the Bible this year and nothing in Joel or Revelation seemed to jump out at me as if God were speaking to me. I felt discouraged and begrudgingly opened up my "Streams in the Dessert" devotional. I prayed, "You know God, I need something. I need to see that my struggle, the pain of being so far away from people that I love, the daily grind of having to learn the language, do ministry, and just exist here is of some value to you." I opened "Streams in the Dessert" and read, "For our present troubles are small and won't last long, but they are achieving for us a glory that vastly outweighs them all and will last forever." That for me was music to my ears! I knew that He saw my struggle and that He truly cared - He cared so much that He was preparing for me something that would 'vastly' outweigh what I now endured.

And then, this morning, we said goodbye to a wonderful Australian team that has served here in Beira and in other parts of Sofala province the last 3 months. I knew they were excited to go home. I was excited for them - and a wee bit jealous too! Before they left, Oliveira, my base leader prayed for them and then they asked to pray for our team. As they did, I couldn't help the few little tears that slipped from my eyes. They prayed for the work here - that the team would have the health, strength, and resources we needed to carry out the work. I realized then that God has chosen me to stay behind. I have been given the opportunity to love little boys who otherwise don't have a family. I have been given the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For the first time, I felt something swell within my heart - like maybe, just maybe a small wind was beginning to fan the flame of my passion for missions.

Do I miss home? Yes. I miss my sister, my mom, my little nephew Isaac. I want to hold him so badly I can't stand it. I miss my church and my friends. But, I am happy to be here. I am glad that He chose me to be here at this moment loving these boys. I am thankful to have even the tiniest portion of His heartbeat for the world. It is painful sometimes to see the lonely, poor, broken, and helpless. I have been given so much compared to these, but I am glad to share in His sorrow and be a part of the joy He finds in loving His children.

I know there are difficult days ahead. Days where I will still question my calling, this place, being away from everything I hold dear. But, today I can rest in knowing that He is here with me and that in Him I can do all things. When tomorrow comes, we'll tackle that together, too.