The hold things up, keep things out, and keep things in. They separate, divide.
Much of the time we have been here, I have felt surrounded by walls. Some walls were good. Some... not so pleasant. My goal? Learn the difference between good walls and bad walls, fortify the good walls, and keep chipping away at the bad walls.
One of the most frustrating walls has been the culture wall. I am constantly learning about new things that keep me from being able to effectively relate to my neighbors. It's little things like pointing, or speaking too much in the presence of men. It's things like not focusing enough on my appearance in a culture where the women don't go anywhere without looking their very best... high heels and all! Slowly, I am learning how to overcome these walls.
There is also the wall of unfamiliarity. The fact is, we look very different from these people. I have red hair that sticks out like a neon sign... and freckles! Many of these people have never seen freckles. And I am tall, have blue eyes, and I am... ahem... pleasantly plump. I cannot change much about my appearance. I am who God made me. (Well, the plump part I have to blame on chocolate. Yes, chocolate made me fat. It isn't my fault. The chocolate just keeps jumping into my mouth when I am not looking.)
The people here, like people anywhere, are nervous and shy around the unfamiliar. So what am I doing about this wall? I am getting outside the walls that surround our home and getting in to the community. Jason and I continue to walk several mornings each week. And the wall of unfamiliarity is slowly coming down. Today, several people greeted us before we even had a chance to greet them. We heard children yelling "hello" to us from across fields. We are now being greeted with smiles instead of suspicious looks.
There is the wall of language. Jason is in language school, but this semester is not a good one. He is very frustrated with the teacher who does not teach. Jason keeps pounding away at the language. We have a tutor coming twice a week for an hour each time. We have such a great desire to destroy this barrier. Last night in church I actually understood a few sentences! It may not seem like much to you, but understanding those few sentences without mentally having to translate them to English first was a huge breakthrough for me.
There is the wall of persecution. I spoke with Nirmala, our neighbor, yesterday. She has not been coming to church. She finally told her husband about going to church with us. He was not happy. She is now not allowed to attend church. I told her that if she was not allowed to go to church, I would be willing to do some Bible studies with her if she wanted to learn more. I am waiting for her response. Please pray that she doesn't get discouraged. And pray for her salvation. Pray also that if she chooses to do the Bible studies, that I will be able to explain things clearly to her. There is not much that we can do about this wall of persecution. God has to tear this wall down. I pray that He softens the hearts of Nirmala's family. She is afraid to become a Christian because she would likely lose her family and her home.
Then there are the good walls. One wall that we are very protective over is the wall around our family relationships. We are fortifying this wall daily... family time, devotions, open communication. Then there is the marriage relationship. Occasionally, Jason and I are able to get some time for dates. We already have an idea for our next date. We want to go exploring farther up the valley area that we walk each morning. So one day soon we will jump on his bike and hit the road. When your hearts are in ministry and searching for God's direction in ministry, this date plan is exciting! Who knows what we will find, who we may encounter, or how many tracts we may be able to pass out!
The most valuable wall is the wall we have around our personal time with the Lord. We treasure our quiet time. Spending time with Him in prayer and in his Word builds a strong wall around so many areas in our lives. Those walls defend us from discouragement, pride, sin, etc. Since we have moved here, it has become so clear how desparately we need to stay close to Him. We are so vulnerable when we step out from under His wings.
Oh that He would help us tear down walls that keep us from effectively serving Him and that He would help us build and strengthen walls that keep us close to Him and to each other!