Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blessed by Required Training

It was required of me to go to Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado for some training before heading to the mission field.  I had to be gone for five weeks.  This first three weeks has been called SPLICE.  SPLICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Cultural, Endurance/Enjoyment. 

At first I tried to get out of the training.  My first tactic I used was stating it cost a lot of money.  But doesn’t college training cost a lot, too?  The cost of SPLICE included housing and food.  (The quality of this training has rivaled any college class.)

Then I said I knew a lot about cultural differences.  After all I have had a Pakistani brother-in-law for over 37 years, had exchange students from three different countries live at my house, and gone on short-term mission trips several times.  I really thought I understood the cultural aspect and didn’t need to spend money for this kind of training.

I finally gave in and came to the training.  WOW!  This training has been great.  So much has been covered in the class times and yet it has just scratched the surface.  They gave us homework as well as simulation situations.  We had growth groups and coaching times.  We’ve laughed, cried, and prayed together. 

Well, I thank God that I this training was ‘required’.  It has been three weeks of living in community with other missionaries getting ready to go on the field.  We’ve eaten together, shared common areas together, worshiped together, trained together, as well as had fun together. 

The missionary families here are heading to South America, Central American, Haiti, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Eastern Asia.  There are people leaving for the Middle East the day after we end.  Others will be leaving the country in early October through the end of the year.  There are others of us who are still finding people who will partner with us in our ministry to get us to the field, so we are unsure when we can go.

Next week starts two weeks at MTI for their PILAT program.  This is a training to help missionaries get ready for for language learning.  I’m looking forward to this now, too.

Anyone planning on heading into a new culture for missions, I highly recommend SPLICE.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living Water in the desert

As I was reading a devotional recently I was struck by the realization I needed to share with you some of my history.  In the devotion ‘God’s Recruitment Strategy for Leaders’, the author wrote, “When God calls one of His servants into service, there is often much travail.  There are many examples where God makes His presence known through circumstances that tax the individual to his very soul.”

He listed Biblical examples of this:  Saul/Paul – blinded on the road; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – thrown in a furnace; Daniel – thrown in a lion’s den; David – had to live as a fugitive.  I thought of Joseph being sold by his brothers!  These situations helped prepare these leaders for their service in the kingdom.

We don’t usually grow deeply in our comfort zone.  In the desert trees can only survive if they push their roots far down to the water table.  These trees can withstand stronger storms better than ones in the tropics.  “In the same way, God brings us into extremely difficult situations in order to prove His power and drive our spiritual roots deeper.”

I graduated from Cincinnati Bible College (now called Cincinnati Christian University).  I married a man going into the youth ministry just six weeks after graduation.  I thought we would live ‘happily ever after’, after all, we were serving God in the local church.

My husband was living two lives.  One life he was a minister and husband; and the other he was a man giving in to the sin of homosexuality. I had known he had been molested as a child and knew he had lived the lifestyle in the past, but he had asked God to forgive him and wanted to live a Godly life.  If God could forgive him, I could forgive his past. 

He hid his sin well, for a while.  I don’t know how many times he would rendezvous with others.  By the time I realized for sure what was going on we were in our third ministry.  Life was hard, very hard. I endured trials through leaving that ministry, trying to be his encourager, moving four times in two years with three young girls.  I read Hosea, often.  I felt like Hosea.  How many times was I to forgive him.

In the dry desert of my life I dug down.  I just wanted to bury myself deeply in the sand.  Maybe the hurt would just go away and I would have my husband back, but as he should be.  Life got harder and as I was digging down, I realized only God would be able to help.  I knew if I dug a little deeper I would reach the Living Water.  I cried out to the Lord and asked Him to help me do what was right. God lead me to confront him and have him choose which lifestyle he was going to follow.  He made his choice and continues to live in that way.

I felt raw, used, stripped to the bone.  I had a big D – divorced – that was mine to wear in shame.  I loved my years in Bible College and being a minister’s wife.  I asked God how could you use me now?  I felt ruined.  The only thing left was to serve God in little ways.  I could try to be a good mom, right?

God hadn’t given up on me.  A few years passed and I was asked to volunteer again at camp.  A couple years later they asked me to dean a week of camp and I was amazed.  Maybe God could still use me.  I felt the call to go into missions about the same time and realized it would be in the future to some unknown place.  “Use me, Lord!” has been my prayer, “I am rooted in You!”

Lord called me, not the ‘on top of the world’ Bible college graduate, not the ‘minister’s wife’, but the broken woman who had to struggle to reach down deeply to cling to the Living Water.  I’m not on this journey alone. 

God has called me to work in Verona, Italy.  I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing there, but I know God has never led me astray.  Where He leads, I will follow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Traveling Adventures

I'm taking off soon for a very long trip in a car alone.  I'm headed to some training that puts me 2 steps closer to actually moving to the mission field.  I'm excited.  So excited that last week I made my packing list and started getting things gathered together.  I went to the store and bought healthy things to eat along the way.  I've paid all my bills through the end of this month.  I got several books on CD checked out on the vacation plan.  I think I'm ready to put the stuff in the car and take off.  But, I have to wait a bit longer. 

For most people, what I just described might sound very normal for a person going on a long trip.  But, what I normally do is to have things in my mind and wait until the last day or two to gather things together.  Then it is a very short night before I leave.  I'm exhausted to start. 

This time, I am feeling refreshed and ready to go.  I've mapped out my journey, talked to people on the other end, and have a plane ticket for my nephew's wedding (already bought present and it's in the city of the wedding!)  I want to go learn!  SPLICE and PILAT are two training sessions that will help me once I get to Italy.

In other news, I've created a packet of information about my mission.  It has a brochure, a statement of my beliefs, a DVD that is a 3 minute message about who I am and why I feel called to go to Italy, a prayer card for people's refrigerators, etc.  Tomorrow I am going to the area churches and ask to briefly talk to the ministers about this mission.  I'm praying for God to speak through me as I share with them.  I'm going to try this 'cold call' plan because I keep hearing I should get out of my comfort zone. This is not in that zone at all.  I'm excited to see what the Lord will do with this, because it is all for Him anyway!

So, little traveling around tomorrow ... then the big adventure ... all of this leads to the bigger adventure of the mission field.

Fiducia di Dio!  Trust God!

Until next time!