Living overseas, there is no lack for adventure. Some adventures are memorable. Some adventures you just pray to forget.
Well, on the day I met Bruno, I thought it was an adventure to forget. But now I look back on Bruno with a fond, humorous affection. He truly was unforgettable.
It was a day like any other. I scurried to and fro getting my motherly and wifely duties accomplished.
See? Boring, normal day, right? I should have known my life was about to change, because never ever do we have a normal day on the field.
Anyway, it was time to check on the situation with the laundry. Now let me set up the scene. Our laundry room is actually a tiny bathroom. It is about a 4'x5' tiled room that includes a small sink, an Asian squatty potty toilet, and a shower corner (no stall... just a corner and a drain.) We set the washing machine over the squatty potty and use it for the water to drain out. This tiny room is prone to rats (not mice) coming up through the potty drain. Because of that, we keep a rat cage set and ready near the base of the potty for any unexpected hairy visitors. Traditional rat snap traps are very rare to find because the people of our country worship rats... therefore, the cage is the preferred method by the country... not by me. Either way, I am quite thankful to have some form of containment for the pesky critters.
Now, I know your next question. "When you actually catch a rat, what do you do with it?" I am glad you asked. We kindly take these caged critters outside to be released back into freedom. We have conveniently placed two canines outside to help them with this transition back into freedom. The canines have been specially trained to play fun games with any form of rodent.
Ok, back to my "normal" day...
I went into the laundry room to discover the rat cage was occupied. Inside this metal fortress was the largest rat I had ever seen. He wore sunglasses and a spiked collar. A cigarette dangled rebelliously out of his mouth. On his bulging, muscular arm was a tattoo of a heart that read "I love Mom." His abs were like rocks.
I grinned. This creature was rendered harmless by his jail cell, and in my mind I gloated about his transition back into freedom mere minutes from that moment. Immediately he was given the name Bruno. Tough, large, vicious Bruno. But he was in the cage and I was out. Peace, joy, contentment. I envisioned his upcoming "release into freedom," and I smiled. Until...
Suddenly, Bruno flexed his muscles. I kid you not, he grabbed the door of the cage like the Incredible Hulk and twisted the door out of his way. A look of horror avalanched down my face. I was alone in this tiny room with an escaping Bruno. I turned to run out the door, but before I could flee, Bruno (who also had the same idea of escaping his prison through that same door) ran through my feet. In the tangle of panic, I kicked Bruno into the air like a soccer ball. It felt like I had kicked a full grown cat. Bruno flew gracefully through air. I screamed. My son came running to see the commotion and began laughing hysterically. Bruno landed with a massive thud and trotted away.
I will never forget the day I met Bruno. It was my brush with death.
I will also never forget the next morning as our loving canines, with joy and smiles, let me know that they had also met Bruno and played games with him.
I am very patriotic. I love the land where I was born. The United States of America will always be precious to me even though I live in a foreign country. But I must admit, there is a country I love more than America.
One of my absolute favorite books, My People by Mike Patterson, has one of my all-time favorite quotes:
Dwelling on Heaven this morning because of Philippians 3:20-21.
Philippians 3:20-21 "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
I am a firm believer that an American citizen should be a good, faithful citizen... involved in his or her country and investing in it, sacrificing if necessary.
But I am first and foremost a citizen of Heaven. How much more should my loyalties be! How much greater should my investment be!
Heaven... my Father's country.
Heaven... the home of my blood bought family.
Heaven... it isn't just my final destination. It's HOME!!!
As a citizen of that Country, I want to represent my country well.
I hate to admit it, but when we have American tourists here in this country, they don't always leave a good impression. Arrogance, slothful lifestyles, complaining, unwise decisions, attitudes, even the clothes they wear often do not leave a good representation of The United States of America. It sometimes makes me blush. I want to represent my country well. But even greater than representing USA well...
I want to represent Heaven well! I want to make my Father look good! I want to leave a good impression behind everywhere I go for future fellow countrymen who come behind me. How I dress, the attitudes I have, the habits I have, the decisions I make... I want them to think highly of my Country of Heaven, my Father, and my brothers and sisters.
And I want to invest in my Heavenly country. If need be, sacrifice even unto death for my Country. I want to carry into battle the flag... the bloodstained banner of my Country. So how about you? Where do your loyalties rest? Do you have an allegiance greater than earthly patriotism? Would you be willing to give up the land of your nativity for your Heavenly country? Are you representing that Country well? Are you carrying the bloodstained banner... the Gospel... holding it high so that all may see?
When the BMW Blog said it was going to do a blog hop on "10 Things You Wish People Knew About Your Field," I jumped on the opportunity... I jumped on it like a missionary when they see cheddar cheese on the shelf for the first time at the grocery store. Why?
Well, on deputation, I was asked all kinds of questions. I had such a limited perspective! I had only been on a short survey trip here in Southern Asia (country name withheld intentionally.) I didn't have the big picture, yet I had to answer questions. I want to set the record straight...
For example, on deputation I emphasized trash. Yes, there is a lot of rubbish in the city. So, yes... true story. And I thought about idolatry. Again... true. I thought about all the negative things because they were shocking to me. But my limited perspective blinded my eyes to...
I live in the most beautiful country on the planet.
Mountains that literally can leave you speechless. They are THAT beautiful.
Even the hill country is so breathtaking that you can't help but stop, take a picture, and admire the view.
By the way, speaking of taking pictures...
I live in a photographer's paradise!
Colors... stories... extremes... and rich culture. And the cutest children!!! National Geographic Magazine regularly chooses pictures from this place for the cover.
I certainly wish I was a better photographer, but I think a toddler could take better pictures than me!
I live among some of the most resilient, flexible, and content people in the world.
I watched them after the earthquakes...
I watch them now during the current petrol crisis and cooking gas shortage.
Living in relief shelters, cooking over firewood, riding on the top of buses.
They just adapt and work around the difficulties.
When I talk about how bad the roads are here (the dangerous driving, the terrible road conditions, etc) I am not exaggerating.
If anything, I am putting it in the nicest way possible so that I don't scare my Granny. No, if you haven't been outside the USA, you will not be able to comprehend it. Even well traveled people who have been to many third world countries have come to our country and admitted... these are the craziest roads on the planet. Please pray for us!
Cooking here is mostly from scratch... as in the REAL "from scratch."
If your definition of "from scratch" includes recipes with canned cream of chicken soup, a seasoning packet, or a box of anything... well, that used to be my definition, too.
Christmas is a precious time here.
It takes a lot more effort to make it feel like Christmas here, and that has caused us to treasure every moment, every decoration, every Christmas card, every scented candle...
There are a lot of fun things to do here!
Before we moved here, I thought my children's childhood was tossed out the window. I thought they would never get to experience real fun again... Boy was I wrong!
Living here isn't for the lazy or the faint of heart, but God's grace and strength are sufficient for the weak... like me!
Persecution is real here.
There was once a time when I thought I had suffered persecution... rude, anti-Christian Facebook comments or someone rejecting a Gospel tract very rudely, or being called names because I am a Christian.
But if you ever sit down and listen to the testimonies of those who have suffered real persecution, like I have listened to, you will blush that you ever considered such harmless things persecution... just like I blushed. The husband and wife (far right) in this picture shared their story with us... merciless beatings, over and over... denied public water sources... rejected by family, by neighbors, by a community.
Yet, they would not deny the Saviour.
The Gospel works here, too!
I remember on deputation, a woman walked up to me and said something that totally shocked me. I have never forgotten her words. She said, "Well, I just don't see how those people could ever get saved. They are so steeped in idolatry! That country is so dark!"
Honestly, I was so offended I had to bite my tongue. The statement reeked of pride as much as it reeked of ignorance. You see, it isn't how beautifully we speak, how dynamic we are, how creative we are... the power isn't in us. It is in the Gospel. The Gospel is perfect for every culture, every race, and every sin. And when it comes to being lost sinners? Well, we were all in the same exact boat... the sin of idolatry as well as the sin of pride... all rowing swiftly together toward destruction. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
It has been said that this is spiritually the darkest country on the face of the earth.
But let me shout it...
Let me shout it loud and clear...
the power of the Gospel isn't effected one bit by the level of darkness.
Want a little more good news?
This country is listed as the fasted growing Christian nation in the world right now.
Yes, the Gospel works here, too.
Thank you for joining me on this journey as I thought about 10 things I really wanted you to know about where I serve. Please continue on to the next blog post on this blog hop...
Take a trip...
Head on over to the >>Whither Thou Goest<< blog.
So, I married a boy scout…
Almost 20 years ago, I said I do. I knew I was getting an amazing husband. I just didn’t realize how much God had prepared him for all that we would be doing. Looking back, I think it’s quite amazing to trace God’s sovereignty, positioning him in all the right places to learn things and grow. Some of the things I never thought were that big of a deal. Now I realize our lives depend on it.
When he was a teenager, he had a dream… a fantasy that most teen boys in the States has. He wanted a dirt bike. Now, I personally have never wanted anything to do with a motorized, two-wheeled death mobile. He finally got one for Christmas from his parents. He rode the mud out of that thing. He zoomed all over the place on the mountains around his house. He could drive that thing like a pro. He and that dirt bike were like one. Seems like a nice, teenage pastime, right?
But then, three years ago, we moved here. Yep, he was ready. It’s like a two-wheeler wonderland. So, I had a crash course in learning to drive a scooter (thankfully, not literally.) But Jason… he took to his motorcycle like a duck to water. And for a long time, our family of five got by without a car just fine. He is able to ride that thing everywhere, saving so much fuel and money, too. And considering these are some of the most dangerous and chaotic roads in the world… his skill and wisdom in motorcycle safety is priceless. Never thought I would be so thankful for his dirt bike from his younger years.
Then I think about when his parents put him in the boy scouts when he was young. He learned so many skills. That guy can tie a specific knot for every situation… and trust me… he has!!! But what really has me reflecting on his years as a boy scout… the boy scout motto. Be prepared.
Never have I been more thankful for the training he received than I have been in the past several months. Almost two weeks ago, he got word that trouble was brewing and there would be a petrol shortage. He didn’t waste time. He prepared. Then he got word that supplies would not be coming through the border. He didn’t wait for the crisis to hit. We went to the store and stocked up. Every time I turn around, he is making a decision that keeps our family ahead of the crisis.
Just last week, he went to the bicycle shops and made sure we all had bicycles in case we finish our petrol. Always preparing.
The other night we were talking. He admitted he wondered if he had prepared enough… always thinking about what else he could do. It touched my heart to see how serious he took it. Then he said it. “I know that the decisions I make effect my family.”
And I look around at the other men serving in this country. I see the things they are doing to provide for their families. It’s a thing of beauty. Few of them have ever faced a situation as extreme as what we could potentially face in the next few weeks, but they are like little ants, scurrying around and preparing for the coming winter and trying to stay ahead of the crisis. They do all this while balancing the demands of ministry. I am so thankful for godly men who prepare for their families. I am even more thankful for the ways God has prepared them for serving here. They may have never realized at the time what God was doing, but He was ordering their steps.
Psa 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Our family’s key verse through all of this has been:
Pro 21:31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.
I not only love that these men take their role of provider and preparer seriously, but I love that they also acknowledge that God is the true provider. They can prepare as much as they can, using the wisdom God has given them… but ultimately God is the only one who can truly sustain us. I have watched on the sidelines as these men have not only matured in the realm of being the head of the home… but I am also watching them grow in their trust and faith in the Lord.
To the men serving here, and especially to my own husband… thank you. Your families love you and appreciate all you are doing.