Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lessons from Community

Accountability: Man-that word can be terrifying sometimes. But it can also be such a sweet experience..one that leaves you feeling renewed/encouraged. I think that accountability goes hand in hand with community, and both of these areas can be a struggle when you are living in a place where the beliefs are so foreign to your own.  However, because of amazing friends and technology, I am learning that this can also be a time where you truly learn the beauty of these two aspects of our faith.

I am so thankful for the friends that He has placed in my life to walk alongside me in community and encourage me in accountability. This past week one of these friends shared with me a verse that she was memorizing for the week, and one that she was going to lift up over our little group. The verse was Colossians 1:11-12. In the middle of those verses it talks about endurance and patience with joy. While typing the verse out she capitalized that part, so obviously it stood out to me. I thought about what that looked like..endurance AND patience WITH joy. So many times I compartmentalize those three aspects of my faith. Endurance. Patience. Joy. Those things alone are often a struggle, but combined..that's a whole new ballgame, y'all! 

A couple of days later I was reading the parable of the sower in Luke 8. This is a common story to many of us, one I've memorized and thought I knew well. I read to the end of it, and something hit me right in the face.

"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience."
 Luke 8:15 (ESV)

The good soil isn't just those who hear the word, and do it. The good soil refers to the people who hear the Word and bear fruit with patience. Endurance with patience. This is something that can be hard for me to grasp sometimes over here. I want things to happen on my time schedule, the way I think they should go. So often that is just not the case. Through these times, though, I should endure and be patient. Not only that, I should have a joyful heart as well. I know the Father is working. That should bring me great joy regardless of the timing of things. I know that He has placed me here. That should push me to endure through all circumstances. I know that He has given me a love for these people. That should cause me to practice patience with every situation I am faced with. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that these three things are so beautifully intertwined. You shouldn't have one without the other. 

From that one e-mail, the Father taught me all of this. How beautiful is community and accountability? I am so thankful that even though these friends are all over the World, they are still in my life to push and encourage me. This is how the Body was designed to operate, and I'm so happy to be a part of it. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not Quite There

I hate to disappoint the vast number of you who think that I am fluent already. I know, I know..I've been studying language a month. I should almost be like a professional now, right? Oh man, if only that were the case. Here's just a little glimpse of what me trying to speak the language looks like on a daily basis:

Setting: Local market, helping a friend sell vegetables at her booth.

Me: (pointing to local vegetable) What is this called again?
Language Helper: Huh?
Me: How do you call this?
L.H.: Naka lanuy waxe.
Me: (talking to women passing by) Beggnga lanuy waxe? Beggnga lanuy waxe?
L.H.: (laughing uncontrollably) Wait, what did you ask me?
Me: What is this vegetable called?
L.H.: Oh! That vegetable is called jaxatu! I thought you were asking me how to say "how do you call this."

So, to break this story down for you: Beggnga=Do you want? lanuy waxe=to call this. Beggnga lanuy waxe?=Do you want to call this? Basically, I was looking at women passing by and saying, "Do you want to call this?" instead of saying, "Do you want a jaxatu?"

I wish I could tell you things like this were a one time occurrence, but they aren't. My language helper and I have decided that I am pretty fluent in Englof-a mixture of the languages. Most of my sentences sound like this:
"Demb, waxoon naa sama yaay ak sama rakk bu goor went back to ecole."
*English words are also usually muttered..so it really sounds like I'm not speaking any kind of language.*
So, for those of you who are aiming high in your thoughts of my language skills, I give you a sincere thank you. However, I thought I'd give you a little dose of reality...I'm just not quite there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learning to Love

I'm finding that it is so easy to fall in love here. How can your heart not be moved when you are surrounded by faces that look like this on a daily basis? I know I'm biased, but I think this country has the MOST beautiful people in the world-inside and out. How do you restrain yourself from wanting to hug them and provide for them in every way possible? 

I've struggled with one main thing since coming here, and was reminded of it the other day while reading. In Luke 6 Jesus is talking to a group of people, and He states that we are to give to everyone who begs from us. That held my attention for a moment. As I was reading this, I was preparing to go out for the day with a group of University students to supply a village school with thousands of pens, notebooks, and gospel tracts. As we were meeting one need, I saw so many other needs that these people had. Clothes-shoes-medical care. Serious issues. As I read in Luke I questioned, "What does this even look like here..a place where the needs can overwhelm you?" I was reminded of the story in Acts 3 where Peter and John do not hand out anything of worldly value, but give a beggar so much more. If you look into the eyes of the people here, all their worldly needs fade and you see their hearts. You see that they need so much more than clothes, shoes or medical care. While these needs are serious and need to be met, their hearts ache for so much more...and that is something I can tell them about. The greatest time spent in each village school were the minutes an American University student stood up and told of a love that compelled them to leave their homes in America, travel thousands of miles, and give a small gift in hopes that each student would accept a gift of love much greater. While thousands of notebooks were handed out, thousands of students were able to hear truth. Places where truth is so hard to reach. Places where the enemy has so many ensnared. 

Please continue to lift these beautiful faces up. Please continue to ask that the Father would continue to give me discernment on how to love when the needs can be overwhelming. Also-after seeing these faces, I totally understand if you can't help but come visit..we'll make room for ya!