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IS JESUS WORTH THE RISK?

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     As I was talking to my son the other day, via Skype (all missionary parents should be aware of this technology) I asked him about the status of our missionaries who are living in areas near the Ebola crisis (and other dangerous areas), as to whether they would stay or not? His response follows:

This question is one our missionary leadership and personnel must seriously considered especially in current days. When all has been evaluated and the decision is made to stay, it has come down to THIS:

Their devotion to Christ and making Him known to the people they have been called to serve is worth whatever risk that must be taken!

After pondering on this statement, this question formed in my mind:

What if the Church in America felt this same courageous devotion to Christ?

Isolation and Togetherness; both are beneficial!

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I use these two words of contrast within the context of experiences known to a parent who has just bid farewell to their missionary child. It has been my reality that both isolation and togetherness have worked in tandem to bring me to a quiet state of acceptance and peace of mind with the departure of my only son and his family to the foreign mission field.

Of course, this work wasn’t accomplished overnight but overtime!

After all, it’s put pretty well in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV),

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.

My time of isolation!

My time of isolation began during the early days after my son’s departure. I poured everything out to God. I spent ALL the grief I felt over loosing the companionship of my son (And I can’t tell you how important this is). I had suffered a genuine loss and not only did I need to acknowledge that, I needed to mourn that loss.

God let me cry for as long as I needed.  He allowed me to say whatever came to mind, for He knew those thoughts and words had to be released and He was the only one I could trust to hear those words. With my Bible in hand and the Holy Spirit’s tender guidance, over time (and the length of that time will vary for each person) God lovingly led me to a time of peace and quiet resolve to accept His will. 

In time, I was able to rejoin the land of the living!

Gradually, I was able to answer questions from those who were concerned about how things were going with me and my son and daughter-in-law (for at that time my grandson was still a precious dream) without my eyes spilling forth with unbidden tears. That, my dear readers, was no small miracle.  

Then came my time of togetherness!

Recently, my husband and I were privileged to join a group of parents who’s children were serving as missionaries within the same mission organization as our son.  As we gathered together, we shared our struggles and experiences, finding understanding companions on every level.  We shared photos and identified with each others stories of our visits (of places most people only dream of) to where our children served. With these parents, I knew the freedom of honest feelings. With them I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. They knew that as hard as it was to make this sacrifice, when it was all said and done, it was a willing sacrifice.  And being with these missionary parents, I realized a level of joy and happiness unique to that sweet fellowship.  I felt stronger (and happier) and possessed a greater resolve to focus on the abundance of positives I knew as a missionary’s mom. 

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So you see, we need both isolation and togetherness in times of struggle.  We gain strength to endure by spending appropriate time in both. Don’t stay too long in isolation and by all means don’t go there without God.  From that blessed time of healing, you will find the strength to join together with like-minded parents in coming alongside your missionary child in proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel.  We learn how to focus less on our loss and focus more on what we and our children have gained; not to mention the people they have been called to serve. And my dear readers, that makes all we have gone through entirely worth it! 

First stop? The Nile River!

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Let me bring you up to date.  

My husband and I have experienced our first Christmas in a foreign land in order to welcome our newborn grandson into this world and to visit with our son and daughter-in-law.  We have packed up my son’s vehicle and have headed off to the place where they live.  But before we get there, we have a couple of side trips to make.  Unknown to us, our son and daughter-in-law had planned to take us on a dinner cruise on the Nile River for our first side trip.

You know, I was not aware that the Nile river flowed through Uganda.  My only country of reference concerning the Nile was Egypt (and Moses, of course)  I just didn’t remember my history and the work of the famous missionary/explorer David Livingston. 

As parents of a foreign missionary our horizons are definitely being broaden.  I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of visiting your missionary child on the field.  Being so far apart lends itself to feeling disconnected from your child and for a parent (and I feel the child as well) this is supremely difficult.  Because my husband and I were able to spend time with our son where he was serving, this disconnect was minimized.  And if the LORD is willing, we hope to return for visits as often as possible.

Not muddy like the Mississippi, but clear like the Nantahala!

Not muddy like the Mississippi, but clear like the Nantahala!

Things haven't changed much for some Nile travelers.

Things haven’t changed much for some Nile travelers.

 

My precious 3-some enjoying dinner on the Nile.

My precious 3-some enjoying dinner on the Nile.

I can't see the Nile, I only have eyes for my grandson.

I can’t see the Nile, I only have eyes for my grandson.

Deep conversations between father & son.

Deep conversations between father & son.

Happy Couple!

Happy Couple!

The negative thoughts (or what I refer to as fiery darts) are overwhelming when it comes to releasing your child to serve God in a land far away.  So take advantage of what I share with you in my blog and focus on the wonderful surprises God has in store for you because you have a child on the foreign mission field.  Yes, it’s difficult (I  cannot make light of that) but I have discovered by visiting my son on his field of service, there is more that I have to look forward to and  feel good about than I could have imagined.    You have given a great deal in releasing your child to God’s service as a missionary, therefore God has much to give you (in abundance) as a result.   Luke 6:38 says it all!

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Christmas In Africa!

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I really shouldn’t have posted that picture of the snake in the schoolhouse because it was a bit premature.  Lots of pretty cool things happened before then that I’d like to share with all of  you.  So forgive me and I promise I will get to explaining that picture soon.

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May I preface these pictures by expressing my gratefulness to God for making it possible for us to share this Christmas with our son and his family.  It’s not cheap, as you can imagine, to fly to Africa.  But thanks to God, His provision made it possible.  Our joy could not be measured.  The memories we made (which as you know is a really big deal to me) will be cherished and returned to time and time again-sustaining us in those moments when being apart becomes difficult.

Never underestimate God’s provision – esp. you missionary parents.  Just ask God to make a visit possible, then just be prepared for God to do what to you may seem impossible.

FIRST THINGS FIRST!

Shepherd's all decked out in his Christmas clothes!

Shepherd’s all decked out in his Christmas clothes!

Nammy holding Shepherd while Mom & Dad open Christmas presents.

Nammy holding Shepherd while Mom & Dad open Christmas presents.

Bet Maridith will be trying out some of these recipes!

Bet my daughter-in-law will be trying out some of these recipes!

Granma Warren's  Banana Spice Cake - all the way from the USA

Granma’s Banana Spice Cake – all the way from the USA

Shepherd's 1st Stocking - all the way from the USA

My Grandson’s 1st Stocking – fresh from Nammy’s mantel!

We celebrated Christmas just a couple of days after the fact but just as soon as we could when we got to Africa.  We traveled across the ocean with 5 lockers packed with items our son and daughter-in-law needed and along with their Christmas presents, plus their stockings (that traditionally hang on my mantel).  Of course, this was a momentous Christmas because it was my grandson’s first and Nammy was making sure he got his stocking.

This was our first Christmas with our son being in Africa.  So, it was interesting to see how it played out.  With a newborn grandson celebrating his very first Christmas, it was a given that Nammy & Grandaddy (at least) would represent the family in welcoming him.  I know my daughter’s arms were aching to hold their brandnew baby nephew.  While they didn’t get to hold him, thanks to a video chat shortly after he was born, they all did get to see him – even his Great Granma Warren and Great Granma Lane.

The next 3 weeks the Jr & the Sr Lanes romped all over this country enjoying a vacation packed with bonding moments and creating memories that we will savor all our lives.  In my next post I’ll share some of those memories with you.

In the meantime, you’ll never guess the name of the river we are cruising down!

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