Friday, September 11, 2015

Corners


{a rose from my bush I thought would never bloom!}

My hubby and I arrived on the mission field with 10 U-Haul cardboard boxes and 2 suitcases.
We tried to pack what we thought we'd really need.
Really? We had no idea what we were doing.
Our boxes included things like cut-in-half rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, a laptop, maternity clothes, sweatshirts, hiking boots, a beautiful pitcher we'd received as a wedding gift, an econo-size bottle of hand sanitizer, a Camelback water carrier, backpacks, Nike sports sandals, white dress shirts, and a nativity.
As you can imagine, we would have done better to maybe pack things like bed sheets, towels, study books, and NO white dress shirts.

{got our couch recovered with fake leather by the man we redoes car interiors ~ now I can wipe off all the sticky hand prints!}

Though it might sound odd, one thing I really struggled with packing, and then wished I'd packed more of, was things to make our living place a home.
Our first three years on the field we lived in three different places.
Place number one was a local third-floor apartment, which included an open space blocked from our neighbors by a tall plywood 3/4 wall {that bats and all manner of other creatures could fly over}, a bedroom for John and me, a bedroom for the pastor we were staying with, a toilet room {really, that was the only thing in that room}, a shower room {with a pit shower}, a room for our living room, a kitchen with a wooden table with a hotplate, a cupboard, a small fridge, and a tap and drain, and a balcony to hang our clothes on. We had a bar behind us, a bar to the right of us, a charismatic church to the left of us, and a mosque a few streets over.


{new lamps for my birthday to replace the bare bulbs we've had since we moved here!}

Place number two was more than we wanted, but we were desperate to find a place of our own before Carey was born.
It was a two-floor duplex that downstairs had a big living room, a bathroom with toilet and tub, and a kitchen so small our new full-size fridge had to sit in the hallway, and an upstairs landing with three bedrooms off of it, one including a bathroom with tub and toilet, and a balcony. One of the upstairs bedrooms couldn't be used, because the built-in closet had become infested with flying ants, and no matter what we did, we never could seem to get rid of them.
This house had the brand-new fashionable glass windows......with no screens. And since we don't use insulation in our roofs here, we slept in the oven that was created by tropical sun beating on zinc roofing sheets all day.
We had a small elementary school right at the back of our house, and every morning we'd wake to ten or twenty kids standing on the flat roof of the school building trying to look in our bedroom windows.

{my mother's day gift!}

The last place {and the place we still live} was a flat. God literally dropped this place in our laps. It was built in a style we were a little more used to, as many of the houses here have lots of corridors with all the rooms branching off of them. It had a front porch, a large living room, a hall, a large kitchen with pantry, a bedroom for the girls, a school room, an alcove for the washing machine and a bathroom, and a master bedroom with attached bathroom.
The hotel next door hosts rocking all-night parties from time to time.

{an old mirror my kids broke turned into a chalkboard}

The funny thing is, all these places had one big thing in common ~ they were just buildings to live in. They weren't homes.
When we moved here, we were young and enthusiastic about the work God had called us to. We didn't really think much about the importance of having a home on the mission field. We were "here to preach the gospel!" We "didn't need nothing fancy!"
Each one was just a shelter to eat in, bathe in, and sleep in.

{my "new" kitchen chalkboard made from contact paper}

How very, very wrong we were.
Isobel Kuhn was told, "When you get to the mission field, all the scum of your nature will rise to the top." As horrible as that sounds, it is the absolute truth. God has to work on the missionary before the missionary can ever do any work for God.
God uses every single available tool to help in refining the missionary. And, oh, it hurts.
It's easy to imagine yourself as a good Christian at home, but as Ruth Paxson put it,
"Let us put this best product of the flesh to the test. Let us take it from a home in which love reigned and sweet companionship was its daily portion, where books lined the library shelves, beautiful pictures adorned the walls, snow white linen covered the table, and from a community life that offered everything to satisfy the intellectual, social, aesthetic, and spiritual desires and needs. Transplant this life to an inferior village on the mission field to live within a house with several people of varying temperaments and tastes, with limited household appointments, with untaught, untrained servants, with nothing upon which to rest the eye but mud walls and dirty narrow streets, surrounded by jarring voices and unpleasant odors, and a furlough seven years off -- would this best product of the flesh stand the test and come off more than conqueror?"
While things for us weren't quite so extreme, to a newcomer's eye, they seemed the same.
And our flesh? It did not conquer.

{my hubby's old map, a dowel rod, and some twine ~ perfect cover up for an oddly placed window}

As we learned more about ourselves, the Lord began to show us the importance of a home. Not a house, but a HOME. Not because we deserved it, but because we needed it. Our job here is all-consuming, and a place to rest, a place to raise our children surrounded by the beauty the Lord allows, a place to feel safe when everything outside seems hostile, a place to show hospitality to believers and unbelievers alike, a place to laugh, and learn, and grow together, and a place to exemplify what a godly marriage and biblical child-rearing looks like are so necessary to our mission.

{inspiring words!}

It's not so much about what the house looks like ~ it's more about what happens here.
Do we live in such a way that people wealthier than us and people poorer than us can both come to our home a feel welcome?
Do I spend lots of money trying to make everything perfect, or do I use a bit of imagination and what I have available to make our home warm and comfortable?
Is our home full of life, the True Life, that makes all things alive again?
Ultimately, I must ask, Is my home a gift I can give myself, my family, my friends, those I minister to, and my Lord?

*A glance into some newly refreshed "corners" of our home.

1 comment:

  1. What a great article! My wife and I have also moved 3 times last year. You can ask her, packing is not my strong suite. The homes we have had were not fancy in any way. My wife took the time and really got creative. I love our home and I could not ask for a more loving wife. Amen.

    Fred Richardson @ SGK Home Solutions

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