Monday, January 9, 2012

Ramblings from a Heart in Progress

Sometimes here I feel things so deeply. It’s almost like He has granted me the smallest portion of His heart and there are days when it is painful.

We took the boys to the beach on Saturday. We really had a good time. The ocean was so rough…..I got knocked down more times than I can count – much to the boys delight! They loved that I swam in the ocean with them. The boys are at times – rough and loud and little boy to the core. But there are other times when they are content to be loved and cuddled. Both are sweeter than I can put into words.

After we returned to Casa Re’Om, I decided to return to town to take a shower. The best we’ve got at Casa Re’Om right now are bucket baths and I knew the sand was never going to come out of……places without a real shower. So a few of the boys and I got on a Chapa (think a really old 15 passenger van with collapsible seats with about 26 people in it) and headed to town. Once in town we had to walk from the Chapa station through the market to my house.

The market is a scary place. Often, because I am a foreigner and because it’s easy to tell I don’t speak a whole lot of Portuguese, I am pulled and prodded in many different directions while people try to sell their goods to me. I have been told many times to keep my money close to me and not pull out my wallet in the market – it’s just not safe. Here in lies my problem:

As the boys and I walked across the bridge, there were several beggars – some with babies – holding out their hands for something – anything that someone would give them. The two ladies that caught my attention were blind. They had no idea each other was even there except for the fact that every once in a while one of them would call out for passers by to drop a few coins in their hands.

Part of me desperately wanted to reach in my bag and drop a few coins in their hands. Part of me was afraid to – especially with the boys in tow. They boys even seem to be frightened by all the attention I get in the market.

But as I looked at those ladies, I whispered, “God, how do you do it?” That question surprised even me when I heard myself say it. But, when I saw those ladies begging I felt a physical pang in my inmost being. And then I wondered: How does this God – who gave His son for redemption’s sake - look of the suffering of His children? I wanted to vomit. And to know that there is a Creator who made them and loves them, and He looks down and His heart feels their suffering so much more than I – how does He continue to look on their pain without reaching into their miserable existence and doing something?

And then I realized He did do something. He made some of His children with more blessings than they can actually ever use. And He wants – no, that not right – He EXPECTS us to do something about their suffering. I feel so convicted for not pressing a few coins into their hands. Do I not think that the God who called me here to love them can protect me? Do I not believe that He would allow something into my life that He cannot use? I know I need to be safe and wise. But, I also know that they need to know that God loves them and they can’t know that unless I step out of my comfort zone and meet their very obvious need.

And then on Sunday, I went to church with some of the boys. The church was just a mud hut with a thatch roof. It was miserably hot. I thought I had sweated here in Mozambique. But that little hut introduced me to an all new kind of sweating. But for hours they sang and clapped and worshipped their Savior. There were no voices – just the rhythm of clapping hands and stomping feet, just the harmony of voices raised in song to Jesus.

Then came the interesting part. They called me up front to preach! What do you do when the pastor is urging you to come up front and preach while people stare at you? Well… go preach! And after I finished preaching the pastor called the sick among us to come and be prayed for. So as they knelt in front of me, I reached out my hands to their heads, their faces, their shoulders and I called on the Balm of Gilead to come and heal them.

After nearly 3 hours, church was released. The pastor asked me to stand at the back to greet people as they left. I cannot begin to count how many kisses, hand shakes, and sweaty hugs I received. But, it was energizing for me. I really felt like I could have loved them all day long. I had this deep desire to learn their names, go into their communities, and share meals with them. I have this need to be a part of their lives.

I don’t really know how this will all look down the road. But, I know that God is stirring my heart for the broken, hungry, needy people all around me. I love the boys and I know beyond a doubt that I need to be here now to love them and teach them about Jesus. However, because of the generosity of many people they eat better, live better, and have more than others in their community.  I am asking God how I am supposed to make a difference in their lives and also understand this need in my soul to reach those who have even less than they.

I pray that He will make me bold. I ask that He will make my ears and tongue quick to learn Portuguese so that I can do more. I just don’t know what He is stirring in my heart. However, I understand that my heart cannot hurt nearly as much as His and I know He brought me here to touch their lives. Please pray with me as I seek to understand what is in His heart for me.

I know that for years as I have done ministry I kept looking around me and thinking that I wanted to minister to the “have nots” and everyone around me fell into the category of the “haves.”  I know I’ve been called to do more. I just can’t exactly put my finger on it just yet. Pray that He will show me what I need to know.

There is a reason this particular blog was called “Ramblings….” I know it is random and has a lot of different thoughts. But it’s also a reflection of how I feel at the moment – deep joy, pain, desperate need to do something – anything – that will ease the brokenness all around me. I have a deep need to know Him and to make Him known. There are times when I still miss home so much that I feel it physically. But when I hold my boys, when I hear the Muslim call to prayer, when I see the deep suffering of His children, I know that I need to do more. I know that we all need to do more because their need for Jesus is too great to ignore. For reasons I will never understand, He has allowed us to be His hands and feet and so I press on because today someone is depending on me to love them like Jesus. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

"We will open the book. It's pages are blank. We are going to put the words on them ourselves. The books is called Opportunity and the first chapter is New Year's Day." ~ Edit Lovejoy

I can hardly believe it is 2012! Where did 2011 ago? In laughter, in tears, in too many memories to name. I really can't believe I'm sitting here in Mozambique. It brings me a since of peace that I can't really explain. Last night as we set off our own little mini fireworks show and I held Mingolas close because he was a little timid about all the noise, tears came to my eyes. I couldn't help but thank the Lord for safe passage to a new year and the wonderful possibility of the year that lay before me.

My friend Alice says it's the year of "restoration." I like the sound of old things being restored and long-ago prayers being answered. I like the sound of closure that restoration brings. I am ever so excited to place last year's book on a shelf, knowing the final chapter has been written and I can return to it now and then to remember the lessons learned and the victories one.

As someone who loves to write, I am even more excited about this new book that is about to begin. There is something so - hopeful and wonderful - about a blank page. Anything can go on that page.....there are endless possibilities.

I know that if I wrote this story alone, it would go differently than it should. I also know if I don't write this story it will go differently than I want at times. But, I've trusted the Author so long, it is without hesitation that I hand the pen and the book over to Him. I trust that He will write a much better story than I ever could. I trust that He will write the story that will matter most. I trust that He has bigger dreams than I do.