The Anomalies of the Missionary Life in the 21st Century

I’ve been asked when I was going to put up another blog, so here it is. To my blog friend Beth at National Office (whom I’ve never met) maybe you won’t need Kleenex for this one :). I encourage those of you reading this blog to share your similar experiences in the comment section.

• I can walk to the corner video store and buy a Shania Twain CD, but I haven’t been able to take a hot shower for three days (and we won’t have hot water for another week).

• We can’t buy contact lens solution here, but I can buy my specific brand of Clinique makeup (if I want to pay $45 for it).

• My entire family can go to the movie theatre, watch a movie produced this year in English and have popcorn and cokes for $15, which is less than I can buy a can of Crisco to make biscuits ($18).

• Bernie can have filet mignon for the same price as a cup of Starbucks Coffee in the states. You can buy a bag of Starbucks coffee here, if you want to pay $38 for it.

• After looking for two days for a 9 x 13 baking pan (both my Pampered Chef ones broke in transit), I found one for $29 or I could by one in a baking set for $96 (the same set they sell at Walmart for $9.99). If I wanted cookware, I could buy an entire set for next to nothing.

• Jonathan and Cori can watch Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, but I have to hang my clothes on a line to dry.

• Apartment complexes have Internet access available, but no elevators.

• If I want entertaining TV, so far I have come across the following dubbed in Mongolian: Gilligan’s Island; Shrek; Walker, Texas Ranger; and America’s Funniest Home Videos. Which would you pick if you were me?

• Our home in Mongolia never had rain until we arrived, and our home in the US hasn’t had rain since we left.

• I’m as tall my refrigerator, but I need a step ladder to get into the bathtub.

The real anomaly is the one in our hearts. I am so grateful for the things we have that we thought we were giving up, but are quite content without the things we did. I am not a contented person by nature. I am learning “in whatever situation I am to be content...� (Phil. 4:11). I am grateful for the home God has provided, especially the location. I am grateful for the team God has given us to work with and the unity we are already starting to experience. I am grateful for my husband and his leadership through this process. I am grateful for my children and what great troopers they have been.

I am grateful to God for His indescribable Gift and the privilege to be a part of bringing that Gift to this country and this people.

Paying the Price

Leaving Chicago O’Hare Airport today, Bernie and I decided to go crazy and try to upgrade our ticket to fly First Class. We didn’t want to pay the $90 it would cost, so we decided to try to upgrade using our frequent flier miles. However the airlines have been doing this a lot longer than we have and they have it set up so that you can’t really get something for nothing. We could upgrade on the spot if we wanted to pay to become Gold Card members. As lowly non-precious metal type members, we would have had to apply in advance to try to do that. Lesson learned, if you want to sit somewhere other than economy, you have to pay the price. If you want to sit in first class, you have to pay the price.

As it turned out, this particular First Class was occupied by men who paid a price. We don’t know the cost of their ticket, but they were men returning from Iraq for a two week visit with their family after an eight month stint. While we were waiting at Gate K8, they were beautifully serenaded with “America the Beautiful� by an unnamed African American tenor. Once on board the captain introduced them to everyone and they were heartily applauded. When we arrived in Nashville, their luggage was the first to come out on the carousel.

The recognition and special treatment did not come without a price. Many of the men were greeted by their family with hugs and kisses, signs and balloons. But one young man was greeted by his wife, daughter and little son who was probably about 8-10 months old. His son didn’t know him. I watched as several times the daddy would hold out his hands, but his little boy would only bury his face in his mommy’s shoulder.

It was at that point that the words to the Twila Paris song, “How Beautiful� kept repeating themselves in my ear: “Willing to pay the price.� I couldn’t remember anything else of the song at that moment and had to wait until I could get Internet access and Google it. It was very timely to remember the rest of the song:

And as He lay down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as He died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How Beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the Earth
How Beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful is the body of Christ.

As we get ready to say final good-byes over the next three weeks, I needed to be reminded of this. I have determined that by His grace I will pay the price. The end is worth it. I am painfully aware, at the same time, that my determination requires others to pay a price as well. Not the price of leaving, but the price of giving up. Our family, our friends had no say, no vote in whether they would pay the price or not. It was chosen for them. Yet, my prayer for each one is that they too will offer up the sacrifice, willingly if not joyfully. I know that as they do, they will find peace. Amy Carmichael said it well, “In acceptance lieth peace.�

The families that waited in the airport for their soldiers didn’t all get a say in their loved ones going to Iraq. My intent is not to make a statement about the Iraqi war, except to say that freedom is not without a price. Nothing of value ever is. And I wonder if that soldier has been able to hold his son yet.


Renee's first blog

It's my turn, I suppose. To blog, that is. Bernie has been doing it for a while, Jonathan has his own page of the website and now that Cori has posted a blog, I don't want to be the holdout. Unless, of course, it involves vulnerable sleeping conditions and situations where I have toilet paper in one hand and a small shovel in another.

There have been times over the past month when I have also seemed to be the emotional holdout as well. I have walked unaffected through one emotional situation after another these days. Some of you may have been concerned and some even hurt or offended. I hope not, because the lack of tears has by no means been a reflection of the degree to which I will miss family, friends, co-laborers.

Just as the trains that pass outside our new little apartment for one month here at Wheaton run on one track, so it seems does my mind and my emotions. I have been singly intent on one thing -- dealing with our belongings. Even when taking a break for things like District Conference, homegroups, special services or visiting with friends and family, my mind has always been partly on the packing task before me.

It finally hit me, and I use the word hit very deliberately. Wednesday, with the boxes ready to go the Post Office, it hit. Lest I come across as incredibly cold and calloused, it wasn't the completion of the task or the moving of stuff. On the way back from the Post Office Bernie took our dog, Chip to his new home. It's a wonderful new home and I am so grateful to God for it, but it's not our home. He's not our dog any more. He has a new family to love him, and they already do, but he was not a pet -- he was family. As I type it hits me again.

As we worked through the night into the morning, trying to accomplish what has seemed to be impossible, that is emptying our home, I was able to get back on my track. I was relatively successful until the end. I vacuumed Jonathan's room and turned off the light. As I did, it seemed as if he were there, in his top bunk as he has been every morning for the past five years, surrounded by his Titans memorabilia and his weather equipment.

Then I went to Cori's room, vacuumed it and turned off her light. The big dancing flowers Bernie had painted on her purple wall seemed lonely without her there. I felt like I was in the finale of some long-running TV series, turning off the lights and walking away. I remembered the day after putting the nail on our Christmas tree (most of you know what that means, but if you don't ask me), Cori crawling into Bernie's lap in the big chair downstairs and saying she wanted to be a Christian.

I remembered the many nights and often late into the night, singing, praying, fellowshipping, struggling, having exciting conversations and hard conversations with so many of you. While we hope to have many more of those opportunities in the future, they will have to be somewhere else, because I turned that light off too.

Okay, if this is blogging, I may never do this again because this hurts, and I prefer to holdout from hurt. Yet as I type, I remember that though the light to one season in our lives has been turned off, there really is only one Light that counts because it will never be extinguished. His light stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes, let me see, and now it is my privilege to take His light to other eyes, with the expectation that one day, we shall all share in His promise. “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine one it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it and night will be no more for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever (Rev. 21:22-26, 22:5).

And just as the former things are passing from us in this season, so they all will in this life, but He will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no mourning, crying or pain for those who are His.

I'm going to stop here, before it stops being a blog and just becomes a sermon. Ah, now I know why Bernie enjoys this so much.
Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7