Misplaced, and Awaiting Home
Misplaced. Our family has been in this “place” before but not quite to this extent. Five years ago before we left for mission service to Papua New Guinea we spent three months somewhat homeless. We had already left our job and home on the border of the Navajo reservation, expecting that we would leave right away for PNG. But God had other plans. Instead of flying out soon after leaving our job and home we spent three months bouncing around between friends and family on the other side of the country waiting for our visas to come in. Eventually they did. But not before we had a chance to see what it felt like to have to live in other people’s homes being reliant on their schedules and not having our own space and schedule. We survived fine (truly better than fine), and were extremely grateful for all the hospitality shown to us... but after 3 months, we were ready to move on to our new home.
We are once again “in between.” After leaving our home on the border of the Navajo reservation for now the second time we are once again “homeless,” at least in the sense that we have no real space to call our own...not for now anyway. This time God has called us to the jungles of Guyana. This time was somewhat similar (but only somewhat) to the last time we left for overseas mission work. We left our home and job in May of this year and spent two months staying with family on the east coast, however this time we sensed we had purpose in our interim while waiting for our Guyanese visas.
My father ended up having massive heart surgery during the exact time we were in between our last job and our new mission. God had in His mercy allowed us to be available and in the right place at the right time to help and stay at the hospital during and after the surgery. And to be able to spend precious time with my Dad and family. I wouldn’t trade the time spent with family for anything else. Even though we were still not on our own schedule this interim, somehow with a purpose it seemed to us to have purpose...and we were beyond grateful for God’s timing.
Another large difference; last time we left for PNG we had a home waiting for us on the other side. We arrived late at night and went straight to what was to be our home...beds had been made, the house had been cleaned for our arrival and we were home right away, immediately.
This time upon arriving at the village we now live in we did not have a home awaiting us. We knew we wouldn’t. We have been planning since committing to come to Bethany Village, Guyana that we would be building a home for our family (as God and time provide for us to do so). We have been preparing ourselves to stay in whatever was offered for us to stay in until a place of our own could be built. This was originally tough for me to submit to, but God continues to show me...it is what is best and there are great lessons to learn from waiting.
This is where things have been very different for our family and it is teaching us much, especially me. The last few weeks since arriving have been a true lesson in humility and getting out of my protective shell.
We have been kindly offered to stay in a one room apartment attached to the boy’s dorm on the campus in the village. The room has two beds, a toilet and a shower separated by a curtain and no kitchen.
We walk each day, each meal, to the campus kitchen to prepare food for our family. We share the kitchen with any groups that are on campus while school is on break. God is teaching me that nothing in this world belongs to me—He owns it all. Jesus was fed by many whose hospitality He graciously accepted--He didn’t have His own kitchen either...and when He and His disciples had very little to nothing themselves, He fed the 5000...in little or in much I am being taught to be content.
I am learning that I don’t need my own kitchen to be at peace. I regret to say that when we first arrived I didn’t realize this. When the first group of 26 people came onto campus that I would be sharing the kitchen with, I felt a deep need to make sure our food was marked or set aside so it wouldn’t accidentally be eaten...only to be humbled when my wrong thinking was exposed. The sweet and wonderful people in that first group ended up offering to feed us almost every meal! This was our first week in the village and I had not yet been able to purchase much food, so their generosity ended up being a huge blessing to our family. How single minded I had been. I mistakenly thought I needed to supply our need, when Jesus was waiting to show me that kitchen or no kitchen, He would supply all we needed and more!
Our family shares one shower and toilet with three bats that fly from behind the toilet when you turn on the lantern. I am learning to be grateful for this little bathroom that is inside our room instead of outside. As we walk through the villages I have seen that most homes have far more family members sharing one toilet and typically it’s an outhouse a decent ways away from the house. We have it quite good indeed. As for showers I imagine this is a luxury for many here, as I see the creeks and streams are being used for bathing spots. I am beyond thankful for our shower.
We have two beds in our one room and a dividing wall that doesn’t reach the ceiling between us and the boys dorm which occupies most of the structure. The second group that has come since we arrived is here now. We have a group of about 20 boys and teens staying next to us for the next 10 days. In a word my challenge this week has become...Privacy. Shortly after arriving the highly curious group of boys couldn’t help themselves but to climb to the top of their bunks and peek over into the room where we are temporarily living. Not a great issue until you desire to take a bath or are preparing for sleep at night!
Privacy. It’s something I highly prized before. To some extent I am an introvert who truly values quite space away from the noise of life after a busy day. But. God is teaching me to live more by His ways than my own. When I stop and think of the life of Jesus, he rarely had privacy. He spent His life among the masses, on display, and I imagine He did so with patience and grace. I am learning how to be graceful in an otherwise grace-challenging situation.
Privacy. It’s something I am learning to graciously yield for the greater cause of reaching even one soul for Christ.
I know Jesus also had His times He was able to pull away and go to the mountain to be with His Father, so He too is teaching me to find the quite places amidst the chaos, but to view it differently. It may not be my own home (for now) that I retreat to, but it can be a peaceful moment down at the creek alone while doing laundry, or brief moments in the kitchen in the early hours where I can seek Him while waiting for our meal to cook. I am learning to steal away at each possible moment to make sure I stay connected with my Father in heaven also.
Truly, I know our current situation, our being “misplaced” for a time, is a divine intervention. I know God needs to retrain my selfish tendencies to His ways. He is mercifully finding the best ways to show me His ways. He is mercifully trying to reach each of us to retrain us to His ways. He is mercifully showing us that we are but pilgrims here in this world, and that He is fitting each of us for a better home, a permanent home that we will never again be misplaced from!
Sometimes what feels like a trial, I am certain is His most gentle way of reaching the things in us He needs to mold and change. For me, God has been showing me that my deep need for privacy, space and quiet...needed to be reevaluated through His eyes and ways. He needed me to step from my comfort zone out into an uncomfortable place to be more useful for Him and His service. He is gently showing me that I can not reach others from the comfort of my own space, that I must get out and mingle in order to get to know the very people we are here to serve!
He is also teaching me one of the most valuable lessons I can imagine which is to be content in every situation He places me in, whether in much or in little, to live as He lived, graciously accepting whatever my lot may be.
I am certain this is something He desires for All His children, to be able to graciously say “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say...it is well, it is well with my soul.”
I am praying this week that it will be well with my soul as I try to learn the lessons God is gently seeking to teach me.