Monday, April 25, 2011

Missionary Mama part 1

When I was in 4th or 5th grade I felt called to be a missionary while at Kids Camp.  For a few years, I was pretty sure this meant I'd live my life in a foreign country.   As I continued to grow up, it was something I filed in the back of my head.  Maybe it meant something different.  Maybe it meant just ministry.  Maybe I was just an impressionable kid.  But I have always been pretty sensitive to the presence of God, so deep down I knew there was something to it.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college and I went on my first missions trip to Mexico.  I was hooked.  I love it.  I was actually super sick when I went.  I Nyquil-ed my way through cold nights in a tent.  But I was so glad I went.  The next year, I became part of the leadership of the missions trip.  The next year, I was the trip director.  And with a team of people I started a second trip taking youth students to Mexico.  I directed that trip for 7 years and took anywhere from 175-300 students to Mexico every Spring Break.

As a youth pastor, I traveled to Bolivia, Florida, Costa Rica and Ireland on Mission trips.

God certainly did call me to missions.  As a young girl, full-time missions was my only frame of reference. But there are so many ways to be involved in missions.  I now know I will be involved in missions for the rest of my life, and that could look many different ways.

Out of all the trips I've taken, this trip probably required the most obedience.  It was easy to bring Miss Rose to Mexico with me as a newborn, a 1 year old and a 2 year old.  It was even easy to bring Gracie with me to Ireland at 3 months old (pretty sweet that she has a passport photo at 6 weeks old).  Easy decisions to make, although missions with a child is definitely more exhausting.  I won't go into detail about Miss Rose screaming for hours on the last leg home in the car or Gracie struggling to adjust back to California time.

Initially this trip to Romania was supposed to take place last Fall.  Before Lily turned 2.  When the need arose for leadership, it wasn't difficult to offer to go.  I hadn't been on a missions trip in almost four years.  And I would just take Lily.  Making it easier on my heart, and easier on Bean home with the other 2.

Then a variety of things pushed the date back to the Spring.  And after Lily's birthday.  Which meant she could no longer fly free.  I was going solo and Bean would single parent three girls for 10 days.  Several times, I thought long and hard about how to get out of it.  I wanted to go.  But I didn't want to leave my family.

But I knew I had to be obedient.  And God wanted me to go.

It wasn't easy.  It never got easy leaving my family, being away from them.  Especially when I found out a few days before coming home that Lily had been very sick, which changed everything and although Bean was doing amazing--dealing with a sick toddler, who doesn't have her mommy, and two other kids--he was just treading water, as any of us would do.

Obedience isn't usually easy.  Abraham had to put his son on an altar.  Moses' mother sent him down the Nile in a basket.  Hannah kept her agreement and gave Samuel over to Eli the priest.  I could go on and on.

God simply asked me to spend 10 days in Romania.

You know me, always full of words.  So I'll share about my trip in a few different parts.

It was wonderful.  But so is being home.

With Pastor Aurel in front of the church

Standing at the Danube River.  Serbia is in the distance.

In front of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Timisoara

Thursday, April 21, 2011

one thousand gifts: the Romanian version

Lily is still not well.  If she is still running a fever on Saturday, we'll be heading back to the doctor for bloodwork to check for mono, a bacterial infection or whatever else may come up.  For how sick she is, the doctors and nurses we've seen this week are quite surprised at how pleasant she is.  As long as her pain relievers are going strong, she's ok.  As they start to wear off, her fever returns and her throat hurts her worse.

One of the great things about my trip to Romania was time to journal, reflect and read a lot of Scripture.  It was so wonderful and I want to create more space for it at home.

Here's a little taste of my trip, by way of the gifts I kept track of.

At times it was easy to find the gifts, at times, I had to look really hard to see.
But I'm learning.  I'm learning to look.  So that I see.  Otherwise, I will never see.  Never recognize his gifts.

And still.  It's changing me.


Kissing the girls goodnight, and leaving early enough in the morning they weren't awake, no tearful goodbyes.

Scrolling through pictures on my iPhone 

Free internet in Germany at a computer sales display

A small black notebook giveaway from the computer sales display, perfect for writing gifts

Envisioning the smile on Bean's face, receiving an unexpected email

Two seats to myself on a long flight--I managed to curl up and lay almost flat to sleep for a while

The Austrian Alps from my airplane window

Munich roads winding through the countryside

Yummy soft pretzel bread w/ a cheese spread on the flight to Romania

Feeling semi-ok after 24 hours of travel

Fresh, out of the oven bread from a small bakery in a small town.  No signs or indication of the yumminess inside.  You have to know by word of mouth.

Delicious soups all week

An iPhone adapter to charge my phone, to play games on our many van trips, to look at photos or share photos with others.

A friend who blessed me with the adapter

Getting to bless our interpreter with the adapter at the end of my trip, because he didn't have one that plugged into the wall

Vegetables for breakfast

Lots of homemade bread

An outhouse with a hole to squat over, instead of a nasty seat to sit on

International minutes on a SIM card, getting to talk to Bean twice

Faith for healing

The privilege of prayer

Speaking spanish with Romanians who work in Spain

Seeing God touch our team

The gift of words

Important lessons learned

Life stories shared

Listening to worship on my iPhone in a foreign country

Seeing Bulgarian and Serbian countryside from a distance

Dipping my hand in the {cold} Danube River

Fingernails that stay dirty, Tired feet, sore muscles, tender hands, all saying I worked my body today

American-style pizza in Romania

Homecooked meals fit for a king

German chocolate bars

Strong European coffee

Patience practice

A van drained of the wrong gasoline, finally running on the right gasoline

Experiencing the history of Romania, the freeing from Communism, the hand of God

Free wifi at the hotel the night  before we go home.  Finally, outside contact again.

Family and friends coming together to help Bean care for a sick Lily

Plenty of sick hours for Bean to utilize

A husband, who cares so well for our family

Lessons of faith

A plane waiting for us 

Free movies

Plenty of food and drink

More faith lessons

A short ride, to an unexpected hotel stay--thankful to at least be in the USA

A room to myself, a heavy robe and soft bed

One last set of clean clothes

One more hot shower, time to shave my legs

Medicine, calming my stomach while in flight

The pure joy of expectations

Counting hours instead of days

Library books

Christian fiction, that teaches me important spiritual lessons

As easy switch to a morning flight

Getting to the gate just in time

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato

Seats together, in an exit row, towards the front of the plane

One last book to read, to finish

Holding and kissing my loved ones once again

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home sweet home

I have been home for about 28 hours now. It was a joyful reunion with my family, 12 hours later than planned.

The journey home was quite eventful, involving draining a diesel van of unleaded gasoline that it had mistakenly been filled with, delays and a near-miss of our overseas flight (big ups to the peeps at the Munich airport for holding our plane), and then a cancelled flight home requiring a stay in a Chicago hotel and jumping through a lot of hoops to get on a morning flight home instead of the evening one.

But I'm home. It's been joyful.

I'm also exhausted. The adrenaline has finally drained and I'm feeling the hours of travel and many hours of missed sleep.

And the baby who finished antibiotics the day I left, had another double ear infection while I was gone, and now has a fever again in spite of being on antibiotics again.

It was a wonderful trip I plan to share more on. Once I don't feel so tired and I don't have a sick baby.

It's real life.

And I still love it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Leaving on a jetplane

I've had so many blogging ideas lately. But they remain swimming around in my head.

I'm sitting at Gate 36, waiting for the first leg of my flight to Romania. I'm leading a team from my church. We will be doing some construction, Children's ministry and dental outreach.

I am very excited to go. I haven't been on a mission trip in 4 years and it's something I really enjoy.

However, I already miss my kids. And my husband. I can't believe I won't see them for 10 days. We have great family and babysitters to watch them while I'm gone. Since I work during the week, a lot of it is already in place. Bean will probably go in late to work most days, which helps too. Bean has a great calendar going and a menu for all the days I'm gone. Yes, he rocks!

The girls know I'm leaving although Miss Rose is the only one who really understands. I left a paper bag for every day with small gifts for them to open each morning.

It's a good lesson for all of us in obedience. If God calls me, they are called too. Which means I go and they stay. Both are important callings.

Gracie turned 4 yesterday! We celebrated with a party on Saturday where she added 6 more stuffed animals to her collection. She was very excited to get a pillow pet as well! Yesterday I took the girls to Sea World in the morning. We crammed in as much mommy time the last few days as possible.

I left the house at 5am this morning. Putting the girls to bed last night and saying goodbye that way was much easier than leaving while they were awake. Their first gift today is donuts for breakfast!

So, I'm leaving on a jetplane. I know it's going to be an experience for all of us!

I won't be around these parts for a few weeks, but when I come back I'll have lots to share.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone