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Just Keep THAT Door Closed!

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Just keep THAT door closed!

 

     Recently, I received a word from God about something I could do that would guard my heart from the destructive temptation to surrender to the pain of being separated from my son, daughter in law, and grandchildren. 

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. Proverbs 13:13

    When I think of my grandson who is almost 2, who hardly knows me, and of my grandchild due in March, who will be about 5 months old when I get to hold him/her for the very first time, or when I think of how much of my son’s life and accomplishments I am missing out on because of the vast distance between us, or being denied the pleasure of watching my daughter in law’s expanding frame as my grandchild develops within her. . . Well, honestly it’s a bit overwhelming and it becomes a gigantic struggle to squelch the emotion I feel rising within me.

     That’s when God had me make a mental picture like the one above and imagine that all those emotions reside behind that door. When thoughts enter my mind that would tempt me to open that door, He whispers something like:

“If you open that door and surrender to those emotions just know they will destroy you and create burdens for your son that you would not want him to have to bear. It will be healthier for you to keep that door closed. I had to give up my son, too, so I know of the intense pain you are suffering. Allow my understanding to be your comfort, for my grace will always be enough and sufficient.”

     Just think about it.

     What would be the end result if I allowed those emotions to have sway in my life? I would become a miserable person and likely I would begin to move away from God. Eventually, I might even harbor a growing resentment toward God for taking my son away from me. 

Nope, that’s not for me.

     In Jeremiah 29:11 God reassures me that He has good plans for my life. It is my full intention to revere God’s word and to cooperate with Him as He works out those good plans. I desire to walk this path successfully He has chosen and prepared for me. Proving to all who have reason to notice, that living life according to God’s plan is the very best kind of life to live!

 

    

Back to the Bush: Eyes to see the beauty!

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A view from bush camp!

2-13-13

Bush Camp

     I stood gazing upon the landscape laid out before me.  A landscape that in my personal opinion left a lot to be desired. Dry and sandy riverbeds with sparse muddy puddles left me feeling deprived. I longed for the tall proud oaks and abundant broadleaf trees of my homeland–thorn trees called Acacia trees, and cactus trees held no allurement for me. The absence of lush green grass that you could run barefoot through was disappointing. Instead, sturdy shoes were required when walking about in the dry yellowish grass that grows in the savannah; for stickers and undesirable creatures call these grasses home.

      Admittedly the breeze was pleasant most often, but there were times when about all it accomplished was to stir up the dust, making our daily lives anything but pleasant. 

     While the sun made wearing a hat mandatory, shade of any kind provided relief. However, wildfires (almost a daily event), caused by the burning sun on the dry grass or by humans, kept the air scented with smoke.  And, oh yeah, not the pleasing fragrance like that of an oak fire but more like the foul smell of  locust wood. 

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Yet, my reality of bush camp, I discovered, was peculiar only to me. For instances, read the list below of how one of my friends described his reality.

-good food

-beautiful landscape

-little to no stress

-good fellowship

-lots of time with God

-time to learn and be equipped to serve God

-time with family

     Come on folks, can you see the obvious here?  I was so focused on my disappointments that I was critically blinded to the beauty and blessings that were all around me. I allowed fiery dart thinking to cast a veil over my sight, thus preventing me from seeing the beauty and wonder that my friend was blessed to see. The following verse stings me a bit!

 

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people. They have eyes, but they don’t see. They have ears, but they don’t hear. Jeremiah 5:21

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Lounging by a cactus tree!                     While I can’t say I was as opened as my friend was to the beauty around us, I did have my moments!

Back to the Bush: School Has Begun

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Our humble classroom!

I taught the preschoolers!

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My friend taught the older children, K-3rd graders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 2/11/13 and Classes have begun!

     After much preparation, many anxious moments, and what seemed like a million logistics to coordinate, Kelly (not her real name)  and I finally were able to be about the business of teaching our students.  Our school consisted of seven children:  four preschoolers, one kindergartener, a first grader, and a third grader.(Classroom size a teachers dreams of)  I was to teach the preschoolers and Kelly was to teach the older children.  Considering my friend and I were former high school teachers, the adjustments we needed to make were challenging.  (But by God’s grace we did it!)

     My first day with my preschoolers revealed I had too much lesson time and not enough playtime. (I was a former high school teacher, remember)  Therefore, I adjusted and came up with a plan to work on the alphabet in the first part of the morning while interspersing story time.  Snack time (a vital part of any preschooler’s day) happened around 10 a.m. Then after snacks I concentrated on math concepts, mostly about counting, and, of course, interspersed with the reading of stories.

     Parents came to pick up their children for lunch around 12 ish.  After a lunch break, it was back to the school house and we enjoyed play time with our kiddos; not the formal learning as in the morning but learning on a more casual basis. Nature hikes, chalk drawing on the big ole rocks by the camp, singing, playing board games (a favorite was Candy Land), etc. defined our afternoon school day. 

     Reflections!

    My anxious feelings began to subside once I had a grasp of exactly what I would be doing.  And while this did help, I found that those anxious feelings were now being replaced by feelings of inadequacy. (Plain and simple, I didn’t think I knew how to teach preschoolers, for I wanted to do more than just babysit them.)  The fiery darts were working on me with a vengeance.  My son was my greatest source of encouragement. Actually, he kept me going.  We had such inspiring conversations that just when I began to feel overwhelmed God would use him to speak a word to me that would give me incentive to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

     Somehow in the midst of my feelings of inadequacy, God took my meager efforts and blessed them beyond what I deserved. I learned afresh, the awesome truth of a very familiar phrase to most Christians. I learned that,

 “our availability is more valuable to God than our ability!”  

     Looking back on my time at the training camp, it seems I whined every day to God about issues I was having with others, about the harshness of my surroundings, about feeling on the outside and not truly fitting in.  I whined about having no one my age with which to hang out or have camaraderie with. Yet, in spite of all my whining God used me. Why? Because I was there! Certainly, not because I was this super Christian who brought volumes of wisdom and ability to the experience.  It’s humbling to look back on my time in the training camp. For at first I can’t see anything but failure and inadequacy. But then when the fiery dart thinking is rejected, I hear God affirming me by saying,

“Thank you for making yourself available. That was all I needed from you!”

BACK TO THE BUSH – Base Camp Moments

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It’s 2-18-13,

 

and I just got word that we were not returning to bush camp that day as planned.  A decision was made to wait until the next day.  In my journal I made the following comment:

(Thank Goodness!)

     Unfortunately, I hadn’t made as much progress as I would like to claim in moving out of the selfish perspective that shadowed my every thought.  (Not proud of this, but I’m trying to be honest here and it is what it is! or should I say ‘was‘).

 

Remember that verse I mentioned previously, Philippines 4:6-7?

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

     Well, folks, I was struggling with that one.  It just wasn’t happening for me.  I was like a duck out of water.  I am a country gal who thrives on lush green grass, green trees of various types minus the thorns,  (the only tree with thorns around my home is locust, but it redeems itself with luscious smelling blossoms in the spring!) and four defined seasons.  I had left all of that and this new place I had come to, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired.

     After lunch that day, God ordained that I would have a talk with my son’s boss who was visiting us and would be joining us at bush camp the following day.  He was closer to my own age (it’s not much fun being the only old person around and having no one to relate to on that level) and I think that made it easier for me to talk with him.  We talked about the seriousness of the problem back in the USA of falling short of our goals for the various mission offerings our missionaries and programs depend upon. Fewer missionaries are being sent to the mission fields in large part due to a lack of funds.  Now I know that doesn’t thwart God’s plans but the sad part of that is what it does to the morale of our missionaries. Not to mention, how it deprives those of us who are to be giving to these mission offerings of the joy we could have in spending our money as God would desire and not so much on fulfilling our own desires. (Coming down off my soapbox now!)

     May I preface the above paragraph with a comment (rather humorous now but at the time I wasn’t laughing-much) that exposes more of my self-centeredness than I care to admit.  Nevertheless, here goes.

     I feel God got me to that particular mission field on false pretenses. (I may not have mentioned this before, but God does have a sense of humor at times)  For the sake of holding my newborn grandson, spending time with him, his dad, and his mom, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to accomplish that.  (Did you know that my husband, returned after 3 weeks without me? This meant I would be traveling home and changing planes 3 times from across that vast ocean all by myself.  And I highly dislike traveling alone

But God had a plan for me and it was just beginning to unfold.

This was a welcomed respite!

If I only knew then what I know now!

 

Live and Learn!

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Recently, I learned an expensive albeit embarrassing lesson and since one of the reasons I write this blog is to prepare the way for other parents who are new to the missionary life, I am honor bound to do what I can to allow you to benefit from my mistakes.  Ok, here goes.  It’s embarrassing (b/c I can’t believe how naive-ok ‘dumb’–I was!)  but if you will benefit then so be it!

When my son got settled in his new country, he soon thereafter purchased a cell phone.  And up until Easter, he always called me using a phone card.  Researching the ways and expense of calling overseas was something I had on my list of things to do but alas there was no check beside it. Oh, you know, just never got around to it!

Right before Easter I had been checking with my son about how to call and he had put me in contact with a friend of his who had called him on his cell.  So, I messaged this young man and he told how to dial the number.  So armed with this info, I impulsively attempted making a call.  I had waited long enough; the time had come to do this thing.

My first attempt failed. By the way, I was using my cell phone and simply tried redialing my son’s number.(It was the same # my son’s friend had given me, right?)  However, that didn’t work.  When I went to Skype on my computer and dialed (so to speak) that same number I was informed that  the number I had entered was not a working number.  Also, since I had never tried using Skype for an overseas call, I had not selected a payment plan and therefore, couldn’t make a call until I had. There wasn’t anything for me to do but google “how to make a call to an overseas country”.  So, in earnest I began my search.

My search revealed that the first 3 digits should be 011 ( US exit code; must be dialed first for all international calls made from the USA or Canada) the country code ??? then the area code and finally the phone number.  Check the following website for  more details:

http://www.howtocallabroad.com

At this point, I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number.  I considered (ever so briefly) that this call, if successful, would cost me $3.99/minute! (I had done enough research to know that much!)   Well, the conversation would be short, obviously, so surely, that wouldn’t cost me too-o-o-o much!  And even if the call was steep, hearing my son’s voice would be so worth it!

(Boy, did I get tested on that statement! Still holds true though!)

To my delightful surprise, the phone began ringing!  Then when I heard my son say, “Hello”, I yelled, “Bobby, I did it!  I figured out how to call you from my cell !”  To which my son responded laughingly, “Well, Happy Easter Momma!”  Oh, the conversation was sweet and I felt such freedom now knowing I did not have to limit our communication to occurring only when he called me!

 I love cell phone technology!

A few days later, being giddy with my new found freedom, I called my son again!  And again it was a short conversation because at this point I still had no idea how much it was going to cost me.  Curiously, I checked my phone bill but could not find where I had been charged anything! (Unbelievable!)  I  saw where I had made the call but the charge was $0.  In looking back at the phone calls my son had made to me previously I saw no charge there either.  So, in my ignorance (and this is the embarrassing part) I began wondering if I had even been charged for these phone calls!

I shared this amazing but puzzling news with my Sunday School class and they didn’t have any answers for me either at that point!

(I now think they were just being kind and didn’t want to burst my bubble!)

 It was something I gave thought to calling the phone company about but was afraid my contact with them might reveal a mistake so I decided not to mention it!

(Are you laughing at me yet?)

The day of reckoning soon came when the next billing cycle revealed the shocking reality of  a total cost of $115 for those 2 short conversations!

(Remember now that’s on top of my normal bill.)

 So have you figured out how it was that I thought I hadn’t been charged for those calls when I checked the bill?   Yep, no charge had been set b/c the billing cycle wasn’t complete!  I know, I know…”

Shortly after this personal financial fiasco, I began researching a calling card a friend from church had told me about.  For reasons that still puzzle me, it took 6 attempts at ordering the card and at this posting, I still don’t have the card!  It will be much cheaper whenever I do get around to using it but in the meantime I’m still having to wait for my son to call me!

(Good grief, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I ordered that card, ugh!)

Today my son called me and after we hung up I thought of something else I needed to ask him.  BUT I WAS NOT going to call him on my cell!  I mean my funds have taken quite a blow.  Then I thought of, SKYPE, why not try Skpe?  So, I got out the ole computer, clicked on Skype and while it wasn’t as inexpensive as the calling card it was WAY lower than using my cell.  So, I bought an hour’s worth of time and paid around $13 and made the call.  That’s when I discovered that I didn’t have to dial the 011 part of the number b/c Skype puts a + in place of the 011.

Bobby was pleased I had finally learned how to use Skype for he had suggested it before.  And until I was able to use my calling card, I was grateful to know I had another alternative.

So, there you have it!  Now, you have been spared all the bumps on the road to figuring out how to make an international call to your missionary child.  The main thing I want you to remember is this:

DON’T USE YOUR CELL PHONE TO MAKE AN INTERNATIONAL CALL!

AT&T charges $3.99/minute YIKES!

(They do have a international calling plan, but it’s doesn’t come close to Skype or a calling card!)

Calling cards are cheapest!

I use Union Telecard:

www.uniontelecard.com

Skype is a viable option.  Cost me about $13 for 60 minutes

(You’ll have to download Skype onto your computer and

there’s an app for it on your smart phone as well.)

Now to put the finishing touch on this intriguing faux paux of mine, AT&T  has what is called roll over minutes and the calls Bobby made to me didn’t cost me because of the minutes I had accumulated.

Live and Learn People, Live and Learn!

or better yet;

Let Others Live and You Learn!

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