Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Journey Back to Familiar

For those whose lives are too hectic and harried or who are just too impatient to read anything more than a couple of lines:

Randall and I got home from Brazil on Wednesday. We had a good time. The Lord is really moving down there and we can’t wait to return. Hopefully we’ll be going back in July/August. All depends on God’s timing and us selling the house and getting our vistas.

For everyone else:

The Journey Back to Familiar

Last year Randall and I read “The Dream Giver” by Brian Wilkerson. We found it to be so encouraging that we decided to offer a study on it in the fall with our small home group, (very small as there were only four of us with the occassional guest popping in). But we enjoyed it. Anyway, the book starts with an allegorical tale of a guy named “Nobody” who lived in the land of “Familiar” who had a “Big Dream”; that someday he would become a “Somebody”. It goes on to chronical his journey into “ The Unknown”. Very early on he has to leave his “Comfort Zone” and finds that the world is a great big strange and sometimes scary place. But I’m not writing a book review here. If you wnat to read “The Dream Giver”, I highly reccommend it. If you don’t, well that’s up to you.

But in this journey into missions that Randall and I have embarked upon there are many parallels to that story. Guess that’s why we found it so helpful and encouraging. We have had to leave our “Comfort Zone” many times over. This latest time involved going to a strange land that we never imagined we’d be going to until suddenly we were buying the plane tickets and packing our bags. They didn’t speak our language, their food was different (but incredibily delicious) and their customs were not the ones Randall and I grew up with. Even the night sky was different: I never knew the Orion Constellation could be viewed upside down.

So if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning you have learned of some of our adventures in Brazil. It is a wonderful wild country of beautiful people. They seem to do everything they do with their whole heart and gusto. Being hugged and kissed like a long lost relative on the first meeting took some getting used to, at first.

Portuguese is abit tricky to learn especially when you throw in regional dialects. But most people love to help you try to get it right. Dr.Tom Russell often says “we should take every opportunity to celebrate our achievements no matter how small” and boy, do the Brazilians love to celebrate. Smiling, clapping and giving the thumbs up for us even getting one word or phrase right and when it comes to birthdays and anniversaries - the whole community shows up to help celebrate, sometimes more than once.

But Brazil is not a perfect place. There are areas that foriegners shouldn’t go or if they find themselves in such areas they should keep their mouths shut and let their native friends do all the talking. Prostitution is legal there and the basic “Human Rights” that we in America have taken for granted for years are not always observed; depending on whatever the government official’s mood is on any particular day.

But after two months of doing life in Brazil, we began to aclimate to the culture. I’ll admit I was beginning to feel more and more at home, still awkward and unsure of myself, but not afraid to venture out on my own either. Niether of us speak the language very well but at least we weren’t totally dependant upon our hosts. We made friends and were beginning to find ways to minister to them. We began to see glimpses of what God’s Will is for us. HE is really doing GREAT things in Brazil and we are so blessed to be a part of it. And so it was with sadness that our time there ended, for now.

One part of me said,”It’s too soon. It can’t be over yet.” While another part said,”Whew I’ll be glad to sleep in my own bed again and have the things that make home, Home, around me again.”

The first thing I noticed upon arriving in New York was a tremendous sense of relief. Ok so the trip back was not the best experience in the world and just knowing that we were almost done with it was a releif. But it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Everywhere people were speaking English. I had never realized just how much the ambient buzz of human activity affected ones feeling of well-being. It was wierd. Maybe it was just NYC but no; the feeling continued into Columbus. The houses were different, the air was different, even the sunlight was different somehow. I looked at familiar sights as if seeing them from an outsider’s point of view, for the first time. No longer was the “Land of Familiar” familiar. It was like a strange new place that I’d only visited in my dreams or something. Nothing was the same as when we left two months ago. Well it doesn’t help that we left in the dead of winter and were returning at the height of spring. But even that familiar change of seasons seems different somehow. I guess the best way to describe this feeling is like when you first wake up from a deep sleep and don’t quite know where you are or if you’re even awake or not. Disorientation doesn’t quite fit. It’s that and something more. Maybe it’s because I’m not the same person and the me of Now is actually looking at the Land of Familiar for the first time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thoughts on Coming Home

I'm sitting here as worship is starting to kick off, listening to familiar tunes with unfamiliar words. This morning, around the world, believers everywhere are celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the day the gates of Hell were forever destroyed, and God confirmed His authority over all things for all time. Hallelujah!

Within an hour of the completion of this service, Paula and I will be on our way to the airport to start our journey back to Ohio. And while that is where I have resided for 36 years, I no longer feel I can call that "home" anymore. I am just a wanderer in this life now, always headed for my "home" with Jesus when my time here is completed.

Matthew 8:19-20 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Paula and I have been called by God to serve Him, and an early attitude of my heart has been to go where-ever He draws me. At this time, we are convinced that He has called us to Brazil. The works that are starting to bring fruit here will sweep through Brazil. I have already witnessed how God has changed lives here, and the fire He has given young believers to reach out to more of the unreached people here with the Gospel of God's redeeming love.

A place has been prepared here for our abilities, talents and gifts. I lay all that I have at His feet, in submission to His calling. Nothing has or ever will catch God by surprise, and I can know that He has it all under His control. We return to the States, knowing that our time there will be finite, for we MUST respond to His calling to return to Brazil to fulfill the purpose He has for us here.

Thank you for your prayers. Pray for the work here and that we will withstand all attacks that Satan would launch to inhibit the work or our return.

God Bless each and everyone of you!