Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Miss Them

I love communication-listening, talking, writing, reading; I can't get enough of it. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am rarely at a loss for words. Like oil-well-in-the-backyard, lightening-striking, 80-degree-weather-in-January kind of rare (we are from Minnesota, people). Therefore, when I don't know how to articulate a thought or emotion, it can be...confusing. It totally throws me off my axis.

Anyway, I had one of these rare emotions that I couldn't describe when it came to how I felt about going to Africa. I knew going was right, but there was so much I couldn't explain. How do you explain to a non-believer HOW you know you've been called? They would suggest that maybe it wasn't God's will, but our will. Really? I know I've always wanted to live in a mud hut, not have real showers, be away from almost everyone I love for a year, coexist with scorpions, snakes, and insects, and be exposed to all sorts of fatal disease. Good times. Then there were the people that acted like it wasn't a calling, but rather a vacation. I would just smile at them and not say much.

I try not to make decisions based on emotion (see the Campus Crusade for Christ Fact-Faith-Feeling train). I knew all the facts behind our decision, I had faith the Lord had brought us to this point-He told us through prayer. But the ultimate decision also involved feelings: Josh and I both had an active sense of peace, an enthusiasm for the "assignment," and a burden to serve.

I experienced another overwhelming feeling, one I couldn't articulate, one that grows more intense every day. It was only through the movie Facing the Giants that I heard it described. When the lead characters wife talks about her desire to have a baby, she says, "How can I miss someone so much when I haven't even met them?" That is it; that is exactly what I feel. Only, it's not about my child, it's about God's children.

He has put a burden in my heart that is so powerful, sometimes I feel I can't even breath. I hurt for them, I cry for them, I want to hold them and put them in time-outs when they're naughty and care for them. I can't wait to meet them. I predict I'll spend a solid week just bawling after I meet them. I already love them.

But who am I, to meet such a need? Father, guide me. Give me wisdom, strength, energy, patience, love...

Their need is like none I've ever seen. My parents have done foster care my whole life, and I believe God has been using that as preparation for this time, but it doesn't compare. Disease, child soldiers, sex slavery, poverty, starvation, bitterness, and broken hearts. How can your heart not break???!!!

As the time to leave draws nearer, the greatest struggle for me becomes clear: it will be to leave the kids who have stolen my heart here. The Lovewells, Princess, and my new baby nephew have all taken a piece of my heart, and refuse to return it. But I know that I will see them again. It will be far to long a separation for my liking, but I will see them again.

When we leave Africa, we will most likely never see those kids again. I am already aware I will spend a year of my life pouring myself out, only to never see their future. From a purely logical standpoint, it doesn't really seem reasonable, does it? Nonetheless, God has so convicted me as to not even make it a choice; it is a command. A command to love and serve with my whole heart. A command to make sacrifices, to suffer for put the needs of His children ahead of my own comfort...

How could I refuse? I can't.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recent Events and Tree Farm Pictures

Last week was incredibly busy for us, with the multiple Thanksgiving celebrations, getting an assignment, my parents 25th anniversary party, getting a new foster brother, and our annual time with Josh's family to cut down and decorate a Christmas tree.

We had a good time wandering around at the tree farm, but it was pretty chilly. I was wearing half a dozen layers and was still cold, and by this point I was thinking we should just pick a decent-looking tree and go. Honestly, once a tree is decorated with lights and ornaments and tinsel, its flaws sort of seem to fade into the background. At least that was my logic while freezing.
During our quest for the perfect evergreen specimen, I decided we should take a cute family picture to commemorate the occasion. I instructed everyone to find a tree to peek out from, put the camera on the tailgate, and set the timer. The picture in which I am running and Josh and Zach are laughing at me was taken after the 2nd time I bumped the camera with my coat after setting up the "perfect shot." Yeah, I am a real professional.
Anyway, the last picture is really how it was supposed to turn out all along. In case you can't read the itty-bitty writing, it just says each of our names (l-r: Zach, Josh, Lori, Hetal, Ken, Chelsea, Nicky).
We have officially entered the Christmas season, and not just in the stores-want-your-money-so-they-put-Christmas-merchandise-out-in-September way. My goal this season is to remember to not get wrapped up in finding the perfect gifts and fitting any event we are invited to into our schedule. It's not about the decorations or events or music or gifts, or even about the people. It should only have one focus- Jesus Christ. I know that, more often than I care to recall, I have pushed Him down my list of priorities in order to make room for all the holiday festivities. The holiday dedicated to His birth. Yeah, I know it's messed up. It am trying to not be so busy with outwardly showing my love for Him that I forget to show Him my love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Man vs. Wild

One day back in early September (before our assignment to Kenya fell through), I decided to watch a show called “Man vs. Wild” with Josh. We aren’t huge TV watchers, but I knew it was a show he enjoyed, so I thought I should check it out. The basic premise of the show is that a former member of British Special Forces is dropped into uninhabited wilderness, charged with the task of reaching civilization using only what he finds along the way. Some examples of "survival techniques" presented on the show are eating raw game, eating beetle larva and other insects, filterig urine into drinking water (using a found plastic bag), spearing and eating stingray; you get the idea. It often takes days to reach his destination, and the environment is truly inhospitable.


We had recorded a few episodes, and one description said it was in Namibia, a country in Africa, so I chose that one as my introductory episode of “Man vs. Wild.” It’s a long way from Kenya, but what do I know about Africa? Any knowledge is worth something. On this particular episode, he was dropped by helicopter to a rocky coast consisting of 60 miles of desert. It is impossible to safely reach land from the water, as the piercing shoreline will demolish any ship. In fact, the reason they chose this location is that many individuals have survived these shipwrecks only to die in the desert. I looked at Josh and said (with a sigh of relief), “Praise the Lord He’s not sending us there.”

Guess where we are going, people. Yeah, that’s right. We have a new assignment- to Namibia.

Shocked? Me, too.

Laughing so hard you just fell off your chair? Hmm.

I decided to keep my mouth shut and just never say anything like that again, ever. Well, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Thankfully, the location of our assignment is pretty much inconsequential to Josh and I. We are just thrilled to have an assignment. I think we may end up loving Namibia.