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Learning how to focus!

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Those of you who know me and my situation are aware of the turmoil in the land to which my son has been called.  Therefore, you are knowledgeable of the dark curtain of uncertainty enveloping our family as a result of this turmoil.  You have heard the pleas for safety and are faithfully praying that impenetrable hedge of protection around them daily,

And I couldn’t be more grateful!

I confess, these days are difficult!  But there was one weekend when I knew my son, his family, and his team mates with their young families would be traveling a distance of 3 hours to their permanent home.  Three hours out in the open, vulnerable and exposed to come what may.  My son called me to let me know when they would be leaving.  Though he didn’t mention it specifically, I assumed he would call me as soon as they arrived so that I would know they had made it successfully.

Two days later, I still had not heard a word about whether or not they had made that 3 hour drive safely.  There is no internet connection in their locality but we can make connection by phone.  I made sure my cell phone was easily accessible throughout the day.  I made phone calls to my other children and my prayer partner to bolster up my courage as I faced this uncertainty.  There was a moment when my courage waned and my resistance to the possible scenarios they might have faced on the road was depleted.  Of course, the fact that the previous night had been spent in fitful dreaming about my son only served to fuel my fears the following day. 

First thing I did was call my prayer partner and ask her to pray over the specifics of the fears that were tempting to deplete me of my peace.  Then I searched in my Bible for verses having to do with protection and peace.   I went to my computer and typed in the words God’s protection and God’s peace.  Then I copied those verses onto a word document and printed them out.  I spent the rest of the day, reading those verses over and over in a prayerful mode.  My immediate fears were abated by the powerful truths of those verses.  

The next day was Sunday and because I still had not heard from my son, I kept my phone in my hand constantly (with the mute button engaged of course) just in case he might call.  My husband (being the pastor) asked for prayer over our son and that we might hear something soon.

That afternoon I decided to contact my daughter-in-law’s parents just in case they might have heard something I had not.  And sure enough, their daughter had called them  and reported that they were safe and sound.  

My son was in serious trouble! Can you figure out why?

It’s a good thing my son did not call me during those next several minutes.  I would have bitten his head off in that state, I am sure, if he had.  By the time he had called me (which was the next day) I had calmed down considerably. And I am so-o-o glad I did.   Come to find out, he HAD called me upon his arrival at their home, but for some reason, the message failed to reach me.  And another tidbit of knowledge that would have calmed my mounting fears was the fact that wherever my son, his family, and the other team member’s family went they were accompanied by armed guards.  So on that 3-hr trip, they had armed guards riding with them in their vehicles.  (I sure wished I’d known that) I found that out later when my son called.  But not knowing that, the only comforting thought I could muster during those hours of worried waiting was:

No news is good news!

What did I learn from that miserable weekend?  When the pressure is on the temptation to think the worst gains strength and momentum. Therefore, it’s vital to remember verses like the following:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7

If I ever get in this dilemma again, I will remember that, “No news is good news!”, and just camp down on that thought with all my might.  Also, I will do a better job of reining in those fiery darts of fear and implore the power of this verse:

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Isaiah 26:3

I can say that I did two things right:

 1) calling upon a prayer partner to pray over me and the situation  

2) explore the Bible for verses that spoke truth to the lies with which I was being bombarded.  

As I examined the details of that agonizing weekend, there were some key factors that contributed to my failure to maintain a clear and stubborn focus on God’s faithfulness.  As I mentioned earlier, a disturbing dream the previous night had unnerved me and my mind replayed that dream repeatedly the following day. (It wasn’t so much the content of the dream but the evil spin Satan placed upon it) When I fought to focus on the ‘no news is good news’ and the truths of God’s protection as revealed in the verses I had printed out, that dream would thrust itself back into the center of my focus.  But I did persevere and eventually, by God’s loving grace, I was released from its evil influence. 

I will wrap up this post by commenting that if I have to face something like that again the following verse will be my ‘go to’ verse for the power to fight off the fear, dream or no dreams:

God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim. 1:7 KJV

 

 

The Naming Ceremony

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Naming Ceremony!

Naming Ceremony!

 

Shortly after arriving in the village (January) where my son and his family lived, the elders began preparing for the naming ceremony.  The rice and beans were sorted (had to make sure no tiny stones or grit was present).

We understood the honor that was being bestowed upon my little grandson, and we were deeply touched. For my son and his team, it meant acceptance and that’s everything when your heart’s desire is for these people to understand who Jesus is.

Many words were spoken that I did not understand but when my son stood up and spoke using the language of the people, I knew that he was expressing gratitude and respect for the people who had allowed  his family and his team to come among them and be accepted by them.

Choosing the bull!

Choosing the bull!

 

 

Wow, what a day!  I videoed most of the ceremony.  It was a day long event.  The bull was brought up and killed.  Bobby drove in the first spear.  He went down 4 times before he finally gave it up.  I videoed all that but when the skinning and cutting started, I opted to close down my video camera.

During the naming ceremony, my son and a couple of the elders gave a short speech. Of course, I didn’t understand any of what was spoken but I was deeply impressed with my son’s speech for he spoke using the local language.  I have to admit  my eyes clouded up as I watched this ceremony unfold.

The next part was the women’s charge.  For some reason the women rubbed butter all over the exposed parts of their body, and gave my daughter-in-law some bracelets and a necklace.  I later learned the significance of the butter was to assist my grandson’s in accepting his name.  In English his name means Hunger, and White with very Small Spots.  The first name had to do with the time (dry season and little food available) and the 2nd name described the bull that was sacrificed.

Next the meat was cooked along with the rice, beans, and a tasteless concoction made from corn meal called posho.  They stood in a long line waiting their turn to eat.  First the elders, then the women, lastly the children.  The comment was made that even the children would eat today.  Each brought a container be it a plastic pitcher, plastic bag, or tin can.  However, the elders got to eat out of the plastic bowls in my daughter-in-law’s kitchen. I suppose that sometimes the food runs out before the children get to eat.  But not this day, for there was plenty.

DSC_0352

 

 

Once the ceremony was complete the fun part of the celebration began.  All gathered in the open area in front of the compound.  Even though there were no musical instrument, the blending of the people’s voices made for a very energetic and happy type of sound.  Of course, that familiar African trill (seemingly only done by the women) could easily be heard.  And to the beat and energy of the voices, the people added their characteristic jumping.  And believe me, they seem to defy gravity when it comes to how high they can jump. ( I regret I don’t have a better picture.)

 

Let the dancing begin!

Let the dancing begin!

 

I learned a lot about the importance of accepting and showing respect for one’s culture that day of the naming ceremony.  These people have pretty much been rejected by outsiders, like us and even their own countrymen. But when my son and his team entered that village one day bringing their families with them, establishing their homes among them, and set about learning their language and culture (so they could better communicate and understand them), these people slowly began letting down their guard.  As the trust level was built, and genuine honor and respect was displayed for the locals, then they became open to hearing about the God that these white men and women wanted to tell them about.

As the parent of a missionary knowing that your child’s obedience ‘to go’ and your responsibility ‘to release your child’ is responsible for expanding God’s kingdom to a people many have rejected offers the solace that’s needed when these sacrifices are made.

When I begin struggling with the separation anxiety of being so far away from my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, I have discovered time and time again that if I focus on Jesus and the work my precious ones are doing in His name, my peace returns.  Here’s a few of the verses that sustain me.

This will not overwhelm me.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. Lam. 3:22-23  

If I keep my focus, I’ll know peace.

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Filling my mind with happy thoughts trumps the negative thoughts.

“Finally, brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Philippines 4:8

There are many more verses that God has used to strengthen me and offer me comfort as I make this life journey with my son.  And because God has been so faithful to daily give me what I need for this journey, I have found that I do get overwhelmed!

Sometimes, when I think of the glory God is receiving as His kingdom is being expanded through the efforts of the team my son serves with, then, yes, I can get a bit overwhelmed.  And that’s a joy that no words can express.

 

 

We had arrived!

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Home Sweet Home!

Home Sweet Home!

Well, those words certainly have a variety of connotations but what they mean here in this blog is that finally my husband and I had arrived at our son’s home. We had left our home the day after Christmas and after a long plane ride and a few days in the capital city and a couple of sight seeing trips, we had finally arrived at the place our son calls home.  I was impressed at how well our missionary organization had provided for my son, his family, and the rest of the missionary team he is a part of.  Now when my son talks about his home and it’s surroundings and the people who come and go there, I now have a visual that comes to mind.  And for this mom, that’s a big deal!

This isn’t unique to my son, however, for I felt just as strongly about this when my daughters moved away from home and put down roots elsewhere.  When they talk about their friends, the house they live in, the church they attend, etc., it’s extremely important for me to be able to picture all this in my mind.  Helps me feel connected to them.  I’m sure you moms out there know exactly what I am trying to communicate here!

There were some adjustments that needed to be made for while they have electricity (provided by solar panels) they have to be miserly in their use of it.  There is no washer and dryer, but a couple of local ladies have been hired to help out with that.  This is a win/win situation for in providing the help needed due to lack of a washer and dryer, these ladies are able to earn a much needed boost to their income.

A shower is taken by warming up water on a propane gas burner (no hot water heater, you know), then pouring the water into a bucket that is hoisted by a pulley above one’s head in the shower stall. The bucket has a shower head attached to it which sprays out the water rather nicely for a very efficient shower.

Since they have a french press coffee pot (you know conserving on their use of electricity) I attempted to make coffee the following morning and actually I can’t say I did so good.  Was kinda weak!  But not to worry, for my daughter-in-law gave me instructions on how I could improve and my next pot was much better.

My newborn grandson was a big hit with all their friends.  Many of them had never seen a white baby so he was a novelty for all.  As he was passed back and forth among their friends, I beamed with pride at how well my little grandson behaved.  I think I was equally as proud of his mother.  God has given her so much grace to trust Him with the well being of her baby son.  She did not freak out over the cleanliness issue we American mothers would have been accustomed to.  These people are not on the same page as we are when it comes to personal hygiene of American standards, obviously, but my daughter-in-law, understanding the power of being sensitive to their culture so as not to offend took it all in stride.  She has a firm grasp of the importance of building relationships in order to prepare the way to tell her new friends about Christ.

A Mother's Faith!

He’s in Good Hands!

*      *      *      *

It’s not easy having a grandson that I can only see via a fb picture or video.  This is, I suppose, the hardest thing about being a grandmother of a missionary kid.  I realize the importance of finding  (God’s way) to deal with this harsh reality.  I tried as much as I could to build up a store of hugs and kisses and memories while I was with my baby grandson.  And now that I’m home, it does help to know that I had those precious moments with him.  But my sweet grandson is changing and growing every day and I’m missing all that.

I could dwell on that and make myself miserable.  I could, but I WON’T.  I’m relying heavily upon such scriptures as:

Philippines 2:13, “For it is God who is working in you. (enabling you) both to will and to act for His good purpose.”

AND

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”

AND

2 Corinthians 9:8, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

I am simply trusting on God to impart His peace and strength to me as I learn to live the life of a grandmother of a missionary kid (MK).

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