Monday, June 24, 2013

seven more days

I love Skype. I can connect with friends and family all over the world through a computer screen. Such a crazy concept. We had a couple of minutes yesterday to chat with the missionaries in Machava; it didn't hit me until then how much I missed them, their uncanny sense of humor, and, most of all, their joyful spirits.

The Bragas and Marcolinos are perfect examples of people living out the Gospel. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to spend my summer with them. Not only was it an amazing experience, but it also opened my eyes to the daily struggles for these missionaries. Not knowing when money comes in. Threats from the community. Robberies. Exhaustion.  I even experienced some struggles on my end, and I was there for 10 weeks! At the end of the trip, one of the main things I learned was how real spiritual warfare is.

And as we're closing in on our trip, it's becoming more real to us how real and powerful spiritual warfare can be. Lies. Deceit. Inadequacy. Fear. It hasn't been the easiest road for us. But we're faithful that God has us here for a reason, and that reason is more than enough to return back to Mozambique.

Paul talks in Acts how "we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Over the course of our journey, we've experienced many, many struggles in planning for this trip. Issues with logistics, not having things go as planned, and even personal attacks. Obviously the enemy doesn't like what we're doing, so he's doing his best to distract us from God's mission. By instilling deceitful thoughts, he tries to rob God's joy from us. No one said following Jesus was safe (ask Mr. Beaver).
         Yesterday, however, after talking to the missionaries for just a couple of minutes, it made me realize that entering the Kingdom of God is doable for anyone. It requires faith, prayer, and support from your community. I was reminded of my time with them four years ago ... seeing the fruits of their labor, investing into their community, hearing stories of God's faithfulness. I remember specifically at the end of their day, I would sit around with them, eat some pao, and enjoy conversations with one another. Despite of their circumstances, they were still able to find joy in what they do. Because they were doing God's work.

To see and hear that once again on Skype was enough for me to know that this where God has us.

A year ago from today, I wrote a note in my journal for Brian to read during church service. "I want to go on a mission trip." I don't remember what triggered that thought; apparently it was important enough to distract my husband from listening to the sermon. But it was the first time in a long time we've felt the urge to go somewhere and serve others. And now a year later, here we are continuing to follow God in every step of the way. Yes there are bumps, battles, and bruises. But there are joys as well. Following Jesus comes with a price. And He's worth it.

Seven more days.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

just an envelope

I had my first meltdown prior to my Mozambique trip.

I'm kinda embarrassed about it, especially sharing it on my blog. But I think it's important to share because it's not often I share this part of who I am, especially when it comes to preparing for my trip.

A month ago, I was driving towards Newport Beach with my husband. The thought of returning to our second home hadn't hit me yet. Yes, I was excited and happy to be returning, but the thought of physically being in Mozambique again hadn't hit me. And as I shared my thought to my husband, I said, "Usually I start crying right now. Either with too much emotion or stress. I usually cry around this time."


It's almost 4 years since I've been to that beautiful place. Though it's been a while since I've gone on an overseas mission trip, some things don't change. Hours of preparation. Constant emails with the team and contacts overseas. Writing down lists and lists of needs. Losing sleep.

Yep. I knew that my meltdown was coming around the corner.

When it came, I felt like an idiot. We just came home driving from the IE celebrating Father's Day with our families. Exhausted, we still knew we had to do things for our trip. We didn't have the right size envelopes for our thank-you cards, so I volunteered to drive to Target to get it done that night. On my way there, I forgot to bring a card to use as an example; I called my husband, realizing that his phone might be dead. Every time I called him, it went straight to voice mail; my heart started beating fast. "I need to know the size so I can find the right envelope," I kept yelling in my car. And then there were the usual curse words that I threw in there, and blah blah.
      Finally at Target, still waiting for my husband to call me back, I looked through all the aisles that carried envelopes. I started piling them in my arms, like a crazy person. (Seriously, I was totally judged by the Target moms.) When my husband finally called me back, a sense of relief took over. Knowing the dimensions, I began to sift through my options until I realized none of these envelopes would suffice. Driving home disappointed (and leaving Target without buying anything), I felt like a complete failure. When I came home, I told my husband the tragic news; in turn he told me the info we wanted to write couldn't fit on the back of the photo. My heart started beating fast. "We need to get it done tonight," I kept telling myself. A sense of panic struck over. As my husband was trying to figure things out, thoughts were slowly poisoning my mind. Fear had crept in.

Still need to order crafts. Need to email Lynne for set safari times. Need to figure out shopping and packing the weekend before. Visas. Not enough with our budget. Still need to pay off stuff. You're not a good leader. Should've done it earlier. Your team is going to question you. 

"Are you OK?" he asked. Although the answer was, "I'm fine," it didn't hide the tears that were forming in my eyes. One look at my husband, and then the sob monster came out.

Why bother sharing this embarrassing story? Because these sort of things happen prior to preparing for any mission trip. As Christians, I feel we tend to fantasize the idea of missions and visualize how we want our trips to look like. Truth is: Things don't go your way. Never. You can be as prepared as you can be, but the realization of any mission trip is nothing can prepare you for the unexpected. Even the smallest, not-so-important details can set you off if it not done on your terms. Who knew that an envelop scavenger hunt would later result in sobbing helpless child?

If there's anything I'm continuing to learn throughout this entire 10-month process, it's this: God is in control. No matter what, no matter how much I try to control the little details, He is in control of everything. And until I release everything from my grasp and give it to Him, I'm stuck in a spiral of my own mess.

For the past couple of weeks of preparation, I compartmentalized a lot of my emotions about the trip. Stress. Fear. Anxiety. Nervousness. Uncertainty. All that and more was slowly building up to the point where I couldn't handle it. When I learned to let go these emotions, I felt a sense of peace. I felt like I could breathe again.

Who knew that a silly envelope would bring me back to reality...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

take me somewhere that this world can't provide

This song captures how I've been feeling lately. And I can't stop listening to it :)

[The Hummingbird Conductor Pt. 2]

Well I feel myself getting older and older
Lord, can you please make it stop?
I consume myself with the tasks of my labor
But how in the world could I ever have won?

Well I was born slaving to this way of thinking
But now I wanna be free
Take me somewhere that this world can't provide and
Change me from grain into wheat

This seems like a repeating bird
How long will it take me to learn
All the fabric of nature revers
A prayer can change all we've heard
Yeah it's true

And I wanna see your power at work
I wanna know how it feels
But every time I look in the mirror in my eyes
I see fear is my closest friend

But it doesn't end

Well sometimes I think I see God in a stranger
Down by the stream skipping rocks
Fifteen years is a long time to lay in the courtyard
Why don't you stand up and walk

And I'm tired of accepting the facts
Has changed all of that
Yeah it's true

And you make me feel like my heart is on fire
Rising up higher and higher
Help me forget what I learned of religion, now
make me again like a child

Lift your head from where you rest
There's no need to be in bed
Lift your head from where you rest
You're no longer bound to this
Lift your head and feel the peace
You are healed from broken means
Lift your head and feel the peace
You are healed from your disease

Dressed in righteousness alone
He heals the sick, He is our home
Dressed in righteousness alone
You heal the sick, You are my home

Monday, June 3, 2013

a snippet: lil' peanut baby shower

one day tripper

A few days before Memorial Day weekend, we decided to be spontaneous (well, our version of spontaneous) for the upcoming weekend. We decided to drive out to San Diego and spend a whole day at Coronado and Old Town San Diego.

It was the perfect day to be down there. Perfect weather. Not super busy. Good grub.

 Love him.