Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Popcorn in Minneapolis

I'm sitting up late, with a big bowl of buttery popcorn next to me, determined to not to go sleep tonight until I record a few events of the past weeks. So much has happened and my family keeps asking me for a post. I've officially been here for 2 months now. It will be a bit of touch and go, but you'll get the picture.

So...here are the highlights of my past month in MN.

  • Attended the Midwest Missionary Care Conference (amazing weekend! I've got a whole stash of notes; I'll blog on that one later) I went with several people from the AFLC world missions office and another friend from WI. Jessica stayed with me all weekend and I was so encouraged having her with me after some pretty quiet evenings by myself. The theme of the conference was taking care of our missionaries. How do we nurture them for long term service, for spiritual, emotional, and physical wholeness?
  • Made new friends.
  • Made a giant batch of clam chowder. (Yes, there is a story behind this one!)
  • Started attending a Sunday night Bible study on Revelation and made new friends.
  • Attended Beautiful to God conference for young women. (I actually went as a small group hostess for the girls, but ended up being so refreshed with the theme of loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Taste and see that the Lord is good!)
  • Continue to visit new churches every Sunday and I'm starting to narrow down the options. Thank you for faithfully praying grandma!!!!!
  • Started going to Wednesday night Lenten services at Faith Free Lutheran. Meet more new friends; (Are we seeing a theme?).
  • Lost my cell phone. Love my TomTom.
  • Learned how to NOT walk on the ice! =)
  • Finally receiving my MN driver's license, car title, and health insurance.
  • Listened to a fascinating lecture series on Islam.
  • Made more new friends (how many more names can I forget?)
  • Spoke on Accelerated Distance Learning at the Bible School. This is something I started praying God would open the door to three years ago. Wow, as I stood at the front of the classroom is was so amazing to look back and see the route God took to answer the prayer.
  • And tomorrow I pick up my dear southern friend, Adela, from the airport for half a weeks visit, as she tours the Bible School! Yea, fun times and pictures taking ahead.

Woven in between all of this is my new work in the AFLC Home Missions office, which I enjoy immensely. I make mistakes and blush frequently in the learning curve, but I know this season won't be forever. It is like a family here in the administration building and people have been so helpful on every side, making the transition smoother.

I won't say it's been easy, but God's people around have shared in the change with me. I am so, so, so grateful to Jesus for not just carrying me to this place, but carrying me through the change. I read this verse, Matt 25: 35-40, a few weeks ago, and they hit me so forcefully in my present situation that it brought tears to my eyes.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

"I was a stranger, and you took me in." Wow! I never understood how wonderful the testimony of Jesus is when lived out in this way, until I became a stranger myself, and experienced the warmth of someone extending a hand when I was feeling terribly lonely, inviting me over, bringing me hot bread, taking me to church, fixing my windshield wipers, shoveling my snow, sitting with me at church, having me over for a Texan supper, calling to check on me, or praying with me and for me. This is all God's lavish goodness that is totally undeserved and therefore all the sweeter. Can I be Jesus like this to someone today? Will you? Without saying words, these actions give off the fragrance of a beautiful Savior.

My friends back home ask, is it really hard living by yourself?

Yes, I do miss my family everyday. I miss talking with them at night, curling up on the couch to watch a movie with my sisters, or puttering around among all the herbs with Tricia. And I miss my church family every single Sunday. I miss all of you at Word of Truth! Sometimes all one wants is a familiar friend to sip a cup of tea with (while nibbling some creamy Dove chocolate).

Yet, in the midst of experiencing solitude, I find that I am not alone. Everyday I wake up He is enough! I'm sure this is something that the Holy Spirit has been gently cultivating in my heart for many years, but I've never had to truly test it like this, until now. That is, the peace of finding my identity and joy, not in people, but in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is such a humbling place; it has simplified my spiritual walk and gotten rid of some of the clutter. It has prodded me to spend more time in prayer. It has given me a renewed appreciation for true and godly companions, the ones who push and prod me to know Jesus more. The ones that have a vision to change the world for God.

At the end of it all, I can't help loving Jesus more.

My popcorn bowl is empty, which means this blog is about to go to bed.

Tonight I'm praying for the Punjabi people of Afghanistan, a Muslim people who need missionaries. A people who haven't even had the opportunity to know that Jesus offers them an Eternal Home. It's my turn to open the door, and welcome a "stranger" in Christ's name.