Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ironic yet Refreshing

Our family has spent the better part of 3 years praying about our decision to come down here and help the church here grow. We've talked to friends, family, and elders to get advice and feedback. Jon has preached several times to different churches letting them know our plans and petitioning support. Part of his sermon includes the Francis Chan quote that I've blogged about here before--
"God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if he doesn't come through."

He's talked about how we have felt like we were too comfortable and we needed to go somewhere else so that we could re-focus on serving him and not on what it took to maintain our comfortable life. This involves a measure of sacrifice, and for most, moving to a 3rd world country would be considered a sacrifice of sorts.

Our mission (and this blog) is based on the Great Commission, which tells us to go into all the world preaching the good news about Jesus to people. We have studied and heard lessons on the story in Isaiah 6 about the Lord expressing a need for someone to go minister to his people and Isaiah says, "Here am I, send me!" We have expressed our desire to work with the church here as they desire to plant churches throughout their region of this country. It is our desire to do this work, and we have chosen to come here, to Honduras, to work with the people here.

Tuesday night we went to church and Jon and I were stunned at the material in the lesson. Josue Molina was bringing the lesson, and his topic was "What does planting churches look like?" The discussion was centered around being a reproductive, active, living church that reaches out to plant churches and take the message to places that don't know about Jesus. He read from Isaiah 6. He read the Great Commission in Matthew 28. He lined out the biblical model for mission work and how the apostles went from their home churches, sponsored by the church, into far-away lands to spread the word. They were encouraged by the brethren where they went, and sent back reports to their home church. This material is found in Acts 13-16. Then he told the people in the meeting that they needed to stop being so comfortable and step out for Jesus--being a Christian is not about being comfortable.

He told them to stop being so comfortable. The people we left our 'comfort' for so that we could come help them do their work and attain a better standard of life. We thought coming here was a little bit uncomfortable, and the first lesson we hear here is the teacher telling the people here that they're living too comfortably. Now that's ironic.

What's refreshing, though, is how passionate they are here to spread the word. This church wants to be a reproducing church. He said, "We are a church that has 20 years of history here. How much do we have to show for it?" I think there are lots of churches that might need to ask themselves that question. After 20, 50, 100 years, does a church have lots of 'children-churches' that they have planted and helped to grow? Or are they just a group of people who have met together, all by themselves, and not done much of anything outside of their walls? Reminds me of the parable of the talents. I'm thankful that I've grown up in churches that are passionate about missions.

We are so thankful to be here--to work with the people as well as to learn from them. I am sure that God will bless this work and allow it to blossom and grow because the church here is focused on doing what He wants them to do.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Smiles along the way

Monday our day of travel was so great!! It was long, but the kids were troopers and everything went almost perfectly--couldn't have asked for a better day. It is the morning after our first full day, and I just wanted to put down some of the things that have happened that I want to remember...

*We decided to get the kids their own cameras--figured that it would be a good way for them to document their favorite things along this journey. The things they take pictures of makes me laugh--but they have had so much fun playing with them. I'm impressed that they've been very careful to take care of them, and have picked up how to use them so quickly! Monday during the flight I had fallen asleep and when I woke up I looked over to see what Lawson was doing to entertain himself and he was holding the camera backwards, videoing himself singing! Hilarious! :)

*Monday during our layover in Atlanta we got ourselves settled in at the gate for our next flight, and Jon went over to the other terminal to get us Chick-Fil-A for our last American meal for a while. It was de-lish! An added bonus? He stopped and got me a Cinna-bon that I hadn't even asked for!! MAJOR brownie points! :)

*While he was gone, the kids took turns pushing Tobin around in the stroller--he was having a ball and they were feeling like such a big brother and sister! I admit that I was a little upset at first that the baby would be so far away from the big kids in age, but day by day I realize that God gave us this baby at just the right time for us and I love, love, love my family so much!

*Sitting in the airport, Jordan came up behind me to play with my hair. I don't care for this--it gives me the shivers and makes me twitchy--but it made me smile when she leaned around me and said, "Mommy! You have hair just like Belle's!" :)

*During the descent of our long flight, we started to hit some turbulence. Some people may react to turbulence with fear and intense gripping of the seats, but not our kids. Last time and this time, our kids react to turbulence with uncontrollable giggling! I'm self-conscious about how loud my kids are being in an enclosed space, but it is still so funny, and often contagious, to hear them grabbing the arm rests and giggling like crazy every time the bumping tickles their bellies!!

These are just a few things that have caused me to smile along the way so far! :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Last Sunday

Our family has spent the past month visiting our friends, family and supporters as we traveled around on our “Farewell Tour.” We spent a week in Michigan, a week in Oklahoma and a week In Huntsville, with a few other stops in there along the way. We have grown weary of packing and re-packing, living out of suitcases, driving forever and ‘being’ company, but those things do not overshadow the fun we’ve had, the encouragement we’ve received and the bonding time we’ve shared as a family. In fact, even though at each stop people were hugging us ‘good-bye’, it was hard for me to even realize it as that because we were having such an enjoyable trip, and for us it wasn’t over yet.

Even this past week at Mayfair, which has been a week full of wonderful blessings and seemingly-endless good-byes, it didn’t seem real because we were still going to be at church Sunday night. Then Wednesday night. Then Sunday again, Then Sunday night again.

When we got to that last Sunday, though, it was a little bit different. Sunday morning was pretty bittersweet. I love church, and I love Mayfair. Trying to soak it all in—good singing, a great lesson, a thousand friends in the hallways, our amazing class—I couldn’t help but get choked up. For a long time from now I am sure I will still love church, but the church that I will love will not be the same as Mayfair. I am going to miss this. Then for the invitation song we sang I Surrender All and tears sprang to my eyes.

I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all.

A little redundant, I’ll give you that, but in light of the fact that in about 26 hours my whole family would be stepping out of an airport in another city in another country put that song in a whole new light. I cried because I felt that (in my mind) there were things that I were surrendering for my Jesus, but on the flip-side I couldn’t help but do some self-reflection and question, “Do I—no, would I—really surrender my all to Jesus. That’s a tough call to answer, I’ll tell you that.

For lunch we ate with some of our very dearest friends. Among other times that we hang out, we have eaten Sunday lunch with them pretty regularly over the last few years, and Jon and I both consider them among our closest friends. Our kids are also the best of friends with each other and it has been so sweet to see them grow up loving each other like we love each other. These friends are true, I tell you. They have given so selflessly to us in every way as we’ve prepared to make this move, even though in the end it’s hard—they’ve actually been helping to send us away because they know that’s what God is calling us to do. I can’t even articulate how grateful I am that they have been so involved in our mission, and on such a real basis. For our last lunch I was focused on enjoying their company and making a good memory and that’s just what happened. We ate, talked, laughed and just enjoyed each other. Then my friend and I took our girls and we got pedicures—a memory I’m sure they enjoyed making and will treasure too.

Later, we attended our last youth event and we knew that after this we were going to pack and be on our way. For real. For good. The youth group has been a very big part of our life over the last 6 or 7 years and we love those teenagers. It was great to visit with so many families with whom we’ve built relationships and love dearly. It was heart-warming to sing in worship together. And that’s when they came. Round one of real, ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-finally-here’ tears. We got up to leave just a little bit early and people started following us out just to give us one last hug, and knowing those were the last hugs to share with them for a while truly brought sorrow to my heart. I walked away with tears streaming because standing there longer would have only brought more.

That night we headed back to the house we had been staying at to try to wrap up the packing that I’d been working on already for three days. The baby was fussy, I was hot and irritated, and we were all exhausted already. It was like an impossible puzzle that you absolutely must finish by a ridiculous deadline. My friend blessed me by dealing with the baby so I could work, and at 9:45pm we had finally gotten the van loaded up and were headed over for a couple last goodbyes.

We arrived at our hotel at 11:15pm. By the time we got a roll-away, put the kids to bed, brought the 10 suitcases up, and took showers, Jon and I laid down about 1am. I was so exhausted. I had a thousand things running through my mind, but just didn’t have the energy to type it all out—and our wake-up call was looming only 2.5 hours away!

The feeling I had was just so surreal. This move has been in the making for over 2 years, and so much has gone into the preparation for every detail. For all this time, though, it always was something we were just talking about, and was so far away. Until now. As each month this year has passed I have seen the end of September approaching, and the emotions that go along with that are just so varied. Just like in one day I experienced joy and nostalgia, laughter and tears, anger and sadness.

My Facebook status for Sunday was this:

Trying to decide whether or not to even put on mascara. I am sure that this is a day that will exercise every emotion that I possess.

It for sure lived up to that.