Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Greetings from the Land In-Between

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Minnesota is my current base of operation where I am having my first Home Assignment (or furlough) since going to Brazil in October of 2007, but the whole process of a home assignment feels a bit like being in the ‘land in-between’ – meaning not sure of where you really fit. 

A Home Assignment, I have learned, is “an integral, inseparable part of the work of a missionary, to be entered into as seriously as any other part of his/her vocation. In the Church at home, there is not any recurring period in a career comparable to the missionary’s furlough. The man or woman who works at home has no opportunity each four or seven years to become a new man or woman, and perhaps this is one of the chief causes of the staleness amongst us which we deplore. For the missionary, home assignment is enforced because of the combined effect on body and spirit of alienation from home, climate and unequal battle against evil.”

For me, I personally experienced a strong spiritual battle in the last year that left me needing to come back to the States for a time of spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery. I needed rest, time with family, and time to get centered and re-focused on the next steps that God has for me. I have been blessed to receive wise counsel and prayers from close friends, family and supporters – without them, I would still be in the ‘desert’. I thank God for each and every one of these servants.

Debrief

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I imagine most of you have seen the movie  “The Return of the King” (Lord of the Rings).  The last segment of this movie shows the four Hobbits in a pub clinking their mugs together – no one else in the room had any idea what they had been through. 

This is a great analogy of what missionaries coming together for a debrief session experience – we get together with our suitcases filled with experiences, feelings, hopes, griefs, uncertainties, and questions. And then those items get unloaded at a debrief session, amongst others who know, like no one else on the ‘outside’, what it is like to travel the road we’ve been on. 

Debriefing is a Biblical idea, practiced by Paul and the Antioch church (Acts 14:27) Peter (Acts 11:4) and Timothy (from Paul, I Thes. 3:1-6) among others. I was blessed to be able to visit my mission headquarters in Colorado for a debrief session with other missionaries back in the States on home assignments. This was a great time to verbalize thoughts, feelings, experiences; to normalize in a group of people who understand what you have been through, and to contextualize – putting these experiences into the context of our lives and seeing how God is using them to prepare us for the future.

Connecting

I have had the opportunity to share about my ministry work with church groups and some of my donors, as well as attend a retreat with Brazilian women who live here in Minnesota, which was really neat. At one event I attended, I went as a guest, but one of the speakers didn’t show up; the coordinator heard I was a missionary and asked if I wanted to share ‘last second’. The missionary motto “be prepared to preach, pray or die” certainly took on new meaning for me then! I enjoyed getting to meet new friends.

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Brazilian Ladies retreat

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Church visit

P1160089Visiting with a dear prayer partner – this godly woman is such a blessing to me!

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College Missions Fair – talking to college students about missions

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Enjoying time reconnecting with family

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Enjoying my first autumn in 5 years!

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I think missionaries have a unique perspective on time, as we regularly make transitions between places so different, seemingly popping in and out of a parallel universe rather than traveling across the same planet. These transitions are good reminders that we are sojourners engaged in eternal matters, aware of the brevity of life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 2012 – Preparing for a change in scenery

This month I have been preparing to go on my home leave (starting March 2012) so have been cleaning, packing, and getting numerous items arranged for my time away from Brazil.

One great blessing was finding a person to rent my apartment while I am gone. I had been considering giving it up, but through a mutual friend, found a wonderful Christian girl from India who is in Sao Paulo working for six months-the same amount of time of my leave-and was desperately looking for a furnished place to live. It’s so great to see how God worked that out for both of us! Please pray for Lisha as she adjusts to life in Sao Paulo and being away from her family and things familiar. P1120548At the Lar, my students were all quite sad when I told them classes would not be starting up right away. However I have arranged for one class to have English during  my leave. I have asked two of my top students to be ‘student teachers’ to the younger class I had been giving classes to last year. Since this class learns very basic items such as numbers, letters, colors, and greetings, I knew these were subjects that my students could teach. I have been busy getting all the materials prepared, copied, and organized into a folder for them to use with the class teacher during my absence. We even put up English posters in the room, which the teacher was very excited about. Please pray for Meuriam and Jessica Kelly as they become ‘student teachers’ this year – they are both very nervous, but I know they will do a great job!

P1120596 Above, Professora Neia, myself and Meuriam. Below Jessica Kelly

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The Lar had a visit from Ronald McDonald this month as well, who presented some lively skits, songs, and other entertainment. Some of the kids thought I brought him from the US (he’s American, right?) No – I didn’t!  ronmcMy room is ready for a long absence – everything is covered to keep the dust off! Bye bye room! See you in September!

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My desk is under there somewhere!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 2012 – Reading Week during the holidays

This month I returned to the other project I had worked at last July, Casa Esperan├ža (House of Hope) in the Buraco Quente favela to help with the reading week they held.  It was nice to see some of the kids from the previous reading week, and they remembered me too!

At the end of the week, they were eligible for prizes based on how many points they had earned by how many books they had read.

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What a little reading can lead to . . .

This day (January 28) in World Evangelism History

On this day in 1906, Oswald J. Smith, who would become a powerful missions advocate and spokesman, was converted at an R.A. Torrey crusade in Toronto, Canada.

A sickly teenager, the doctors did not think that Smith would live to manhood.  He didn’t do much physical work and walk only short distances.  Because Smith didn’t do much outside, he learned to read, a lot.  And he grew to love it, especially reading the newspaper.  As he read, he continually saw articles about Torrey and his crusades.  The fact that so many went to hear the man intrigued the young teen.  When he found out that a crusade was being held only ninety miles from his house, he knew he had to go find out what this man said that everyone found so important.  So he set out on a train with his brother  to hear this famous preacher.

At the meeting, Torrey preached out of Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  The words pierced the heart of young Smith and he struggled within himself.  But he record what happened next:

“Then suddenly, it happened. I cannot explain it even today. I just bowed my head, put my face between my hands and in a moment tears gushed through my fingers, and fell upon the chair, and there stole into my boyish heart a realization of the fact that the great change had taken place. Christ had entered and I was a new creature. I had been born again. There was no excitement, no unusual feeling, but I knew that something had happened, and that ever after all life would be different. That was January 28th, 1906, when I was 16 years of age, and it has lasted to this day. Yes, and it is going to last, praise God, throughout the countless ages of eternity.”

Oswald J. Smith never got over what Jesus did for him that day!  And this amazement at his salvation would drive Smith to become one of the greatest missionary advocates and supporters of his day.  Over the next eighty years, he preached more than 12,000 sermons in 80 countries, wrote thirty-five books (with translations into 128 languages), as well as 1,200 poems, of which 100 have been set to music.  He raised over $14 million dollars for missionary work.  He founded the Peoples Church in Toronto.  He was the major advocate for the faith promise offering, sharing the idea in hundreds of churches.  And all of this grew out of what God did in the heart of a sixteen year old boy at a crowded conference hall.  In a testimonial song he wrote, Smith says:

Saved! Saved! Saved! Oh, joy beyond compare!

Christ my life, and I His constant care;

Yielding all and trusting Him alone,

Living now each moment as his own.

Source:

Believer’s Web 

  Oswald J. Smith