Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mi casa...tu casa

Our visit to Florida is the first trip out of state we´ve taken in our season of raising ministry support. We came to share our work as MAF missionaries with churches, individuals, and also to say good bye to my grandparents who also live in this state. We have been very blessed these many months in that most of our ministry support has come out of Southern California. Although we attempted to come to Florida earlier this year, the doors of opportunity had not yet opened and life went on as usual. Recently, we contacted churches in one final attempt and this time the doors flew wide open. I attributed this occurrence to the Lord´s perfect timing as Tony and I prayed that the Lord would show us His will and not ours.

One of the most humbling aspects in this trip has been staying in people´s homes. In the past, we would make airline, hotel, and car reservations and rely on our efforts to travel outside of California. This season of life requires that we travel more frugal than before even though much planning goes into every city we plan to visit. The folks we´ve been able to stay with were once strangers. All of them were once contacts we had been given by friends who knew we needed a place to stay. Now, these strangers have become our friends and their hospitality has been a blessing to us. ´´Here, take what you want from the refrigerator. Mi casa... tu casa.´´ It´s humbling to say the least to have people who didn´t even know you a week ago, open their homes and treat you like you like you are already a part of the family. It´s a great lesson for me in the area of generosity and hospitality. As Jesus traveled from town to town by staying in people´s homes, I realize there is more to be gained by humbling myself and taking notes from those who are willing to make themselves available so that others may be blessed.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forty weeks and counting

We have just concluded over forty weeks of Ministry Partnership. This simply means that Tony and I have been raising a team of prayer partners and financial supporters for the last ten months. The number forty has often been associated in the Bible as a time of testing and transformation. For example, Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days in the wilderness (Mark 1:13.) In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were led by God to the desert for forty years in order to test their hearts in light of his commands (Deuteronomy 8:2.) Although we have not been led to the desert or been subjected to relentless temptation by the Devil, we have learned many lessons in these past forty-two weeks.  Tony and I have undoubtedly felt tested and at times even transformed as a result of learning how to walk by faith since embarking on this new season of life.

Here are few lessons I’ve learned in the process:

1) Trust in the One who called you into missions.

Even though some have told us this is not the right financial climate to enter missionary service, we have learned that the Lord has been faithful in putting together a team of prayer and financial supporters in an amazing amount of time. If I lean on Jesus and don't rely on my wits and good intentions, I sense His peace and joy in my heart.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

2) When you have a bad day and doubt the call, count the many times the Lord has kept His promises.

There have been plenty of times where I have lacked confidence in stepping into a new role.  The task of leaving everything behind and setting foot in to the unknown can be a bit disconcerting.  It is in these times where I will go for a walk at a nearby park and think back to the many instances where the Lord has been there to sustain me in my times of weakness. Therefore, I press on because He alone provides me the strength.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

3) Give thanks to the Lord for the way the day turned out.

I have never felt so out of control and yet so at peace at the same time. This new reality has become a new way of life for me. There have been plenty of rejections, cancellations, postponements that would have sent me packing twenty years ago. It has been my experience that many of these negative experiences have turned out for the better. For instance, a canceled appointment opened a time slot that was filled by a pastor who wanted to hear our work. The pastor encouraged by our work with MAF, decided to have us meet the church’s missions board so we may be included in next year’s budget. This is not an every day occurrence but one that reminds me to give thanks to the Lord for He is clearly at work.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29

4)Seek balance and don't forget to smell the daisies.

Ministry life can be all consuming at times. Tony and I have often looked at each other and without a hesitation said across the room, “It’s time for a walk….” And so with that invitation, we’ll leave the pile of work and abandon the emails and go for a long walk around a city park. After strolling in the park and sharing with each other, we’ll then return to the work that was left unattended and realize the Lord was at work even when we are enjoying His creation and resting in His sovereign hand.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

These are only a few of the lessons I have learned along the way. Some of these lessons I had read about in missionary biographies but now they are personal accounts.  There are more lessons yet to be learned in this journey of faith.  Although the road can get weary at times, we are sustained by the prayers of God’s people. Tony and I are encouraged that we are not alone as we step out in faith.

As scripture often reminds us,  And I  pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:18

**As of this past weekend, we have met our ministry support goal set by MAF. We are thankful to the Lord for His promises. Tony and I are blessed to have such faithful partners. Praise His holy name !