India Chronicles, Part I

It's been four days since I did laundry or cooked a meal or cleaned anything, and I feel a bit useless. They won't even let me chop cabbage for dinner, so I sit and watch. Three meals a day pop-up without me lifting a finger, plus several tea-times, and someone called me madame.

I'm being served. My skin crawls a little.

The ferry

the ferry flags

We've traveled 49 hours in cars, planes, shuttle buses, taxis and a ferry, and I suppose I don't look like I can handle much more. It's grace that the women's meeting has been postponed, but I've lost my identity for the moment. 

What's a woman to do when there' s nothing for her to do? Because doing is big-time important, right?

I bring water bottles to Tim and David and try to return the tea tray to the kitchen as often as I can. Something.

I pray.

I wash some clothes in a bucket and hang them to soak in the humid air

I listen to stories and take down notes in ink and synapse, wrap-up whole life stories all neat and tidy.

I prepare notes and scratch out irrelevant epiphanies, write down new ones, scratch them out. I finally decide that all that kind of preparing is done, and now is a different time.

Time to absorb.

faithful disciples studying the Word

There are pastors who've walked 2 days from the Burmese border to get here, and they have questions like:

"What do I do with the drunkards in my church who want to quit drinking, but can't?" 

"What do I do with pastors I oversee who have to grow and sell opium to survive?"

"What do I do with the man who has two wives?"

Those are just the stories and questions I catch through translation.

I'm in the middle of not being too dramatic, and not being dramatic enough. I fear drama so I swing hard towards stoicism, cynicism even. These are the processes that get me to the place that God wants, and it's good that I'm not teaching for a few days.

My heart's a little bit of a mess.

Saturday, June 15th, we celebrate our 17th anniversary. I'm truly happy, in my sweat-soaked dress and swollen feet, to do hard things with this gift-of-a-man the Lord has blessed me with. I watch him give guitar lessons under a jack-fruit tree and I'm smitten all over again, with him and with the God Who orchestrates all this.

guitar lessons

I find two notes from my Shelby in a book and a pocket. That girl gets me from across the ocean and I smile and tuck the notes away.

Sunday morning, Father's Day, Tim teaches at church.  In typical Indian fashion I learn that I'll be sharing with a home fellowship that evening, so I spend the day preparing. I'm not a spur-of-the-moment kinda gal, but I've come to expect that everything is subject to change here and to always have something ready. You know - walk in the Spirit.

After days of stifling and suffocating heat, the sky splits open that morning and it rains like all the metaphors you've ever heard: cats and dogs, sheets, buckets. It's great relief to this Oregon-girl. I sit on the porch and flop open my Bible in true Holy-Spirit-turn-the-page fashion, and land on Hosea 6:3.

 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

He makes good on His word and comes to me in torrents. 

Goose doing the happy rain dance

In the weeks before this trip I had handed over my joy and taken dread in exchange, but the Lord opened my eyes to redeem the time and now, half a world away from some of the dearest people in my life, He pours out rain on the parched places in me. 

He was putting me in a place of receiving when I thought I was always supposed to give - that my only worth was in giving. 

When your only worth is in giving but your joy is in receiving, there's a real conflict. 

But the rain waters the earth and the earth yields its abundance and we all open hands and close around His gifts, pass them on, opening and closing like a bucket brigade of blessings. 

Exactly as it should be.

 

{This post is pulled from my journal and other bits of paper I scribbled on during our 3 week trip to India in June. I'll be sharing more, hoping to light some fires and keep mine going.}

Click to read:

India Chronicles, Part I

India Chronicles, Part II

India Chronicles, Part III

 

Linking up with HeatherGrace Laced Mondays, The Mom Initiative, Soli Deo Gloria,Titus 2sdays,MercyInkThe Wellspring, and  #TellHisStory

 

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When Light Comes

light

There are old men who prophecy about Light spreading out from a mountain-top village with spotty electricity and no plumbing.

They are weathered but not weary. The Light is in their eyes and in their foreign voices you can hear hope, audible  hope. These are men made wiser by time, men who've seen and felt destruction and tribal tension, men who've witnessed their own brand of ethnic cleansing at the hands of those who feel superior.

And when we enter their village, the first white people to set shaky feet there, they look at us like we are light and hope.

Or at least carriers.

They tell us of the prophecy and how the church and our coming, how it all must fit. We've come with one of their own, a dear brother of ours and a son of their village, a spearhead and pioneer in this Light-bearing.

They have long endurance. Hope sustains old souls who wait for Light. 

The ends of the earth can be the most beautiful and filthy and hungry and full.

Full of that blessed assurance that we in the west work so hard for. Hungry for the spiritual things we stuff ourselves with and for the extras that we toss aside.

Beautiful for the people and not the stuff.  Filthy with the sweat and soil of agrarian work and with sin that needed no western introduction.

When the first missionary came bringing Light to the valley below them, he and his wife were unwelcomed. But they were persistent with their gift and some listened, some became disciples and spread Good News. It reached the top of the mountain, it changed their way of life, it turned them from head-hunters to soul-hunters and they took their lanterns and hunted over the border.

From the highest point in the village you can see Burma. Jungles, miles of trails, uncounted thousands living in darkness and wholly forgotten by most.

But the coming of Light brings heat and burning hearts and feet beautiful with the Good News. So it spreads. The hope of old men and the Light of their eyes burns darkened jungles.

If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. - {Isa 58:10 NKJV}

 

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect ProseTell Your Story, and Crystal at Thriving Thursdays

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Here

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It's fun, it's free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back to Lisa-Jo's and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

HERE

This tiny spot that you will only see on certain maps, the place with 3 churches and 2 markets, one restaurant and less than 1000 people, it's our Mayberry.

We tried to leave here.  We looked over the mountain for a place closer to town, somewhere that didn't require you to pack a lunch and have dinner planned before you went grocery shopping.  We were newlyweds and thought we'd start fresh somewhere else.  Somewhere better.

Turns out there's no better place to be than right where God has you.

Three churches in this tiny town and in one we were married, in another we dedicated three of our children, and in the third we stretched for more grace, and we do leave here.  From this place here in smalltown, so many of us leave every year to go into so many nations.

And the nations have come here, too.  To our little country church along a windy stretch of highway, they come and share His works at Friday potlucks and Sunday service.  Brothers and sisters from countries who would never let them leave, with gospel good news they could never help but share, they stand in an old general store and worship with us.  All us country folk and this predominantly Caucasian community with a sprinkling of color and culture.

Right.  Here.

From here we launch missionaries.  And here, this weekend, we are missionaries in smalltown who make 150 peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and biscuits to feed an army,  who camp in tents and stay up late to explain gospel truths to the children of this community.

This weekend the mission field is here in a cow-pasture cleaned up for water games and Living Water.  Won't you pray, pray, pray that these kids will drink deep and never thirst again?