Friday, December 15, 2006

Anna's Band Concert

Anna had her annual Christmas band concert last night. It was so fun! Next year Joshua will be there with her. It's hard to believe she is already in Middle School. Here she is with three of her best friends and her saxaphone.

Doug and Joshua being enthralled by the music.

And this is what happens when you leave Kiki and Joshua unattended in a car for too long with a digital camera. We're thinking of making a calendar and calling it "Random acts of Boredom."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Goodness of the Lord and an incredible gift

Thanks to all of you who have written and called to check up on me. I appreciate it more than you realize.

I just haven't wanted to post in a while. The past couple of months has been like spiritual boot camp. So many good things have been happening--with the new church, students accepting Christ, and new relationships forming regularly.

But on a personal level, I've just been exhausted. God has been stripping away my pride, idolatry, and weaning me of my need for other's approval. I've been forced to rely on Him alone. That has not been easy for this sanguine people-pleaser.

I've lost the desire to interact with anyone. I have really felt "different", "radical" and alone. Not only does our calling set us apart as freaks, but I have been feeling my "third-culture" ness more than ever before.

It always seems worse this time of year, during the holiday season. The whole consumeristic, excessive materialism within American culture will always be a struggle for me.

I grew up in the midst of dire poverty, and those images are burned on my heart. The contrast of my two cultures is hard to reconcile at times.

One recent source of refreshment for me, though, was the day we spent at the mission downtown, feeding the homeless and serving alongside the young men in the "cognitive renewal" program. These young men--once trapped in the bondage of addiction--are now voluntarily serving others and sharing the love of Christ.

I think God not only commands us, but has put something in us that longs to take care of the poor, the orphaned and the widow. As our hearts begin to beat in tune with His,we are compelled to serve. Left neglected, that void cries out to be filled.

I love our ministry at CMU. But I am constantly surrounded by the gifted, privileged and superior. Even our neighborhood is filled with the spiritually lost, but affluent. I long to be with the socially disadvantaged--to be the hands and feet of Christ in a practical way.

And I miss Africa--the people, sights, sounds, and smells. I long to hear the joyful singing and dancing at church, and smell the wonderful aroma of mealie-meal porridge over an open fire. I miss the children's bright smiles and joyful innocence.

Through these past few weeks, God has given me a promise in the words of Psalm 27. I have repeatedly read that passage--especially the last two verses.

Psa 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
Psa 27:14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

God is so good, and so faithful. Yesterday He truly refreshed my soul.

My husband gave me my Christmas present a little early. It could not have been more perfect, and encouraged me in such a powerful way.

Guess what he gave me? A sponsorship, through Compassion International, for the most precious little guy in all of Africa. He is five years old, lives in Tanzania, and loves soccer just as much as I do!!!

And guess what his name is??? LIVING!!!! I can now say I have truly seen the "goodness of the Lord in the land of the Living." : )

I can't wait to learn more about Living's life. In some ways, his childhood and mine are probably similar. But in other ways they are tragically different.

Does he like to eat guavas straight off the tree, and kick around a rag ball in the backyard? Has he ever climbed a baobab tree to pick a gourd, and broken it open to eat the sour fruit inside? Does he catch red velvet spiders after it rains? Does he watch the men play Mancala in the shelter by the road, or tease the ant lions until they come up out of their traps and grab onto his stick?

Does he help the older boys herd cattle and carry water from the well? Does he have his own knob-kerrie to fend against snakes and predators? Does he love the booming African thunderstorms, and the sound of the raindrops drumming on the tin roof? Does he ever walk down to the local store, and buy a hot bottle of coke and a piece of candy? Or does his family even have the few shillings to buy him a treat?

Does he ever go to bed hungry, or wonder what happened to his father? Does he have shoes to wear to school, and a sweater for those chilly mornings? Has he ever owned his own box of crayons, or notepad, or pencils? Has he heard that Jesus loves him? Does he know God has has a plan for his life?

One day I hope that I will get a chance to take my own family back to Africa. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get to meet this little guy as well. If I do, I want to be able to tell him in his heart language that he is loved and prayed for every day.

Thank you, Doug, for an amazing Christmas present. And thank you, Abba, for your goodness.