God’s Grace To Me in Plan B

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

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This place was Plan B.

Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.

I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time,  I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.

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These Days were Made to Be Enjoyed

 Five Minute Friday: ENJOY

“We have established an after-dinner routine that I quite enjoy. Usually, we are in such a hurry to get to it, we leave the dirty plates on the table and run off to tie shoes and zip jackets. The kids wait on the porch or rush the front gate to start down the hill on our family adventure. The crisp air and view of the mountains takes my breath away in the best of ways.

I gaze at my children whose hands are grasped together and grins are adorned with splattered spaghetti sauce. In our haste to start our stroll, I had forgotten to clean them up. I smile sheepishly at the aunties we pass along the way who signal their disapproval. Nothing could rob me of the joy of this moment.

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Except maybe when the kids’ smiles cease to join us on our walk. When their feet drag and the pitch of whiny voices reaches as high as the mountain peaks. On these days, we cut the length by a lap and hope for a better run the next time. I remember all the peaceful and wonderful moments we’ve had along these cracked roads and trust we will steal a few more amidst the hurriedness of busy ministry life. I wonder when they’ll start wiping their own faces and racing ahead of us instead of walking hand-in-hand at parents’ pace.

The good and the bad days. The long walks and the short ones. These days, precious and few, were made to be enjoyed. Sometimes, we just have to try harder than others.”

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Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).

Do We Have Anything in Common Anymore?

Five Minute Friday, COMMON
// indicates when my 5 minutes ran out and I kept on writing anyway!

After a year and a half in Nepal, I am returning to America for a 3 month visit in 10 DAYS. Someone asked me the other day what was the first thing I wanted to do when I returned aside from visiting my family. My mind went totally blank. I said, “Go through a drive-thru?” just because that, even after only 18 months abroad, seems like a total novelty to me.

But I also very much look forward to coffee dates and lunch meet-ups with my mom and other friends. I imagine myself sitting across the table, chit-chatting the day away, and I realize… my imaginary conversation is happening in my second language! I try to re-imagine, and I can’t think of anything to say in my first.

I wonder if they will think I’m as weird as I feel like I’m going to be. Will we still be able to hold a conversation free from several awkward silences? Will their babies I’ve never met be scared of me? I wonder if they will think the stories I tell are interesting or just strange and unrelateable. Will we have anything in common anymore?

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My husband assures me that these fears will be unfounded (although there is no guarantee their babies won’t be afraid of the crazy person declaring herself their aunt). My friends that loved me before I left have still loved me with all the distance and silence between us. We might not pick right up where we left off, but maybe that’s why it’s called catching up.

We may not find common ground in our recent cultural experiences, but we will find it elsewhere. Maybe this table where we sit needs a perspective only my strangely unique experience could bring. Maybe more, this friendship needs me to not worry and just show up. To sit across the table with my biscuits and gravy (Bob Evans, y’all) and sigh. It sure is good to see an old friend.

Thank God for the Pit Stops

Five Minute Friday, JOURNEY

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“We traveled for two years and visited over 200 churches sharing about our missions endeavors. We spent A LOT of time on the road and racked up thousands of miles. Along the way, we made lots of pits stop. Generally, we just stopped for fast-food and potty breaks, but occasionally something else would demand a stop. We were too tired to keep our eyes open anymore. Our toddler ran out of juice. Flat tire. Nauseous pregnant lady. Saw friends getting off and exit and had a spontaneous double date at Waffle House.

These unplanned stops often weren’t welcome on our journey. They seemed to be an inconvenience when we just wanted to get from point A to point B. But they were necessary. We needed to stretch. We needed to rest, run around, stretch our legs, and nourish our bodies. We needed the pit stops.

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I think of the pit stops along the way of our journey to the mission field. The financial support that got a slow start. The family member that spent months ill before passing away. That car accident that rocked our world, took our baby, and canceled a whole month of meetings. The waiting and waiting and waiting for a visa that never came. These things were all unplanned and unwelcome.

But these times were all a part of the journey. They have made us the family that we are, serving in the country where we serve. During these times, we have been forced to seek the Lord and know His heart better. We have learned about ourselves and about each other.

We’ve learned to thank God for the pit stops.”

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Finding the Mission Field Outside my Front Door

Day 21, Five Minute Friday Prompt: PARK

The walking bridge in the main intersection near our house has been torn down. Major construction to replace it has begun as well as efforts to improve the traffic flow that jams it up on the regular. A temporary wall has been built which blocks off most of the intersection and re-routes every traveler.

In short, it’s a HUGE inconvenience. My husband has had to leave much earlier and has come home late every day. I am not able to get a taxi to come get me or find space on a bus to take me down to the main chowk where I’d just end up sitting anyway.

I’ve been parked at home all week. I have felt stuck and stir-crazy. I usually only get out once or twice a week anyway, but being forced to stay home makes me want to rebel.

I’ve gotten to know my neighbors a little better since we are all home-bound. Today, I sat with a sweet older lady as I waited (and waited and waited) for my daughter to come home from school. She told me that she briefly lived in Ohio as well as Israel and Beirut (where she survived a bombing). She has come back home to see her grand babies grow up.

I remember that in high-school, I used to ask God every day to give me a mission field. I didn’t realize at the time what a brave and scary thing this was to do.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am not as faithful with this prayer but realize I need to be. Because the tree and little patch of grass where my kids play ring-around-the-rosie is a mission field. And the little concrete slab next to a little bench where the same four ladies sit every night is a mission field.

I live the Golden Rule by seeing the humans among the harvest and by noticing the need right outside my front door. My ministry may not always be formal. Sometimes it’s not fancy at all: just two people sitting on a bench chatting the loneliness away.

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Sometimes God asks me to wait. Sometimes He parks me in the lane that’s not moving. Sometimes He asks me to follow him inch by painful inch performing small acts of service to Him. I have to trust that God will use me where I am in all the little ways I’m able.

Soon, I’ll be in America, away from this mission field for a short time. I better start praying now for that daily gift of ministry. I’m guessing most days my mission field will consist of two tiny people and the ministry opportunities they bring to me as it most often does now.

Is God asking you to serve Him in a waiting period?
Are your eyes open to the mission field on your door step?

Talk to me in the comment section!