Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim!
I don't know about you but I don't often focus on freedom from oppression during Christmas.... but this song struck a chord with me this year. His law is love, His Gospel is peace, and He will break the chains of oppression that we often bind ourselves with... He will. I've seen Him do it.
Yesterday I wrote a paper and I became so immersed in the process I was no longer able to view mistakes or content objectively. At least I'm able to admit it. Think of the wasted hours of my life I would have gotten back if most of the popular Christian authors would have found someone to cut out their wordiness. But I can't judge too harshly, I'm guilty of it. You only see 40% of my original writing and I'm still way too wordy.
So I printed the paper out for my peers to read when they had time. Not wanting anyone to confuse it for the finished work... I stuck an appropriately labeled post-it ("Proofread me!") on it.
This morning I found it accidently stuck to the pages of my bible.
The "super-christian" side of me giggled... te-he* imagine finding error in the Bible...
But then I was brought back to a quote I read in a book by one of my teachers:
"The moment sin meets grace, it can no longer hide." -Scott Hagan
No, it can't hide. But it can lie. As much as the super-religious in us smirks at the thought of finding error in the bible, we live as though we have, don't we?
Because there are things the bible clearly left out, right?
Love God.... unless he asks more then you want to give. Love your neighbor... unless you have nothing in common with them. Honor your parents.... unless they're ridiculous.
The list goes on and on...
This is why the world has issues with Christians. Heck, this is the reason I have issues with Christians. We have to stop proofreading the Bible. It didn't leave anything out and it doesn't need your corrections. The reason it "doesn't work for us" is because we don't do what it says.
I'll conclude without further wordiness.... Accept it. Do it.
During my current adventure, completing a (dreaded) first year at Masters Commission Sacramento, I was given the assignment of writing out my testimony. It was then that I discovered my relatively short life in hindsight looks a lot like great bursts of energy devoted to void causes that end in disappointment right before I find the newest thing. It was like going to Office Max, buying out their store, and then realizing you hate scrap booking ten times in a row. Don't laugh. That's happened to me. I asked the teacher for a sharing time ten years from now so I could have time to do something meaningful with my life before I had to talk about it.
And the worst part of it was looking back with a objective eye at all the times "God" had "called" me to do something completely selfish. Hmmm.... In "The Root of the Righteous" Tozer says he has a feeling of uneasiness when he observes the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. We worship a christ of carnal convenience instead of the Lord of Glory.
I had only to look to my limited prayer times to realize the truth of these statements. This morning I was pineapple-slapped with the realization I come to the Lord with a list that begins in me, finds it fulfillment in me, and ends in me. I can just see him leaning over on his throne of grace going "Come oooonnnn Hannah, you've gotta give me something to work with here!"
Job 12:10 says "In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."
I looked down at my palm and pictured a lego man sitting in the middle of it telling me what color his house would be, which lego chick he would end up with and how many lego toys he would own. How would you know you little turd? And what makes you think those things are the reason I'm holding you?
Maybe the time for quests is over and the time for questions has begun. God, what is your purpose for my life?
In every Christian's heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying....
Passion is closely linked with romance, making it an aspect that cannot be ignored.
Even those who have managed to find the sweetness of an intimate relationship with Christ find themselves struggling to avoid being swept away by romantic passion.
Unfortunately for me, during the span of one moment to the next, I could easily fall head over heels with little hope of getting up without a long, hard fight.
While looking over some thoughts I scribbled down last summer, I came across this entry:
Oh, this is a funny little mess, isn’t it? How
do I always manage to do exactly what I know ought not to be done? It’s a
talent I possess, I think. Perhaps this happened because I so firmly
resolved it would not. It always seems to be when I devote myself to a worthy
cause that it begins to fail.
Love, if it can be called love, makes everything appear different then it
once seemed. Troubles that once seemed terribly significant now no longer
exist. Simple tasks suddenly have greater meaning. Willingness to change one’s plans
doesn’t seem such a bother. And added to this, one’s peripheral vision and
sense of hearing begin to suffer from constant use.
And the only thing worse then the sure
disappointment stemming from unmet expectations is receiving the desired hope.
Wonderful. Now what am I to do with the possibility there may be something of
worth to be found here?
It’s never the time nor the place, is it?
Perhaps you would reply the answer lies in the
assurance of his affections. This seems a logical response. However, let us
take into account my heart rarely has and I fear never will plant
itself on the side of reason.
This is foolishness. Surely I have the
dedication of mind, soul, and heart to apply myself to the better use of my
time. Yes. If he doesn’t appear in the next few moments, that is…
The ironic truth is sometimes attaining the world's version of romantic passion can be just as wretched as watching it fall away. And make no mistake, eventually what the world calls passion will slip away.
If I had a dime for every film, book, or story written about fleeting romance...
Because regardless of how powerful the draw, passion that finds its end anywhere other then Jesus will be left void and empty.
Once again, let us redefine passion; the passion towards the special someone God places in our hearts and lives. It's called love.
And we must have the same love towards each other as Christ had towards us.
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Let us not study passion, desire passion, or acquire passion for ourselves. This will leave us empty and void, for the musician plays for the listener and the dancer moves for the audience. The passion of the Christ was not self-centered; rather, it was others-centered. He didn't suffer for himself, he suffered for others.
This is called compassion.
Compassion is always inconvenient.
I truly believe the reason we live passionless lives is because we refuse to bear the burden of passion. It requires effort and endurance we are unable unwilling to give. And if one is unwilling to sustain personal passion, imagine their response to bearing the weight of compassion.
Compassion is long-suffering.
Compassion is sweet.
Compassion doesn't want to steal what you've managed to gain.
Compassion doesn't brag about what it's managed to gain.
Compassion doesn't lash out all of the sudden.
Compassion doesn't bring up past disappointments and frustrations.
Compassion doesn't find joy when inevitable consequences overtake the foolish.
Compassion is more concerned about your victory then being thanked.
Compassion is always there to keep you safe.
Compassion is a second chance... and a seventy-seventh chance.
Compassion always believes in you.
Compassion never quits.
There is another word for compassion:
(COMPASSION) = (LOVE)
Yes, it requires much to offer compassion to another. It requires putting others first. How will we ever find the ability?
Let us not forget that we find our strength in the Father of compassion (2 Cor 1:3)... in whom we share this passion.
"Sometimes it takes watching someone love something to love it yourself."
Perhaps you are one of the
fortunate few who experiences the thrill of something immediately coming to mind
as you read this word.
Yes. I have known this.
feeling or emotion that
Passion, in its very
definition, annihilates reason and suppresses caution.
Indeed I have a passion for
Fill in the blank.
Unfortunately for me, my
attempt to replace the "dot, dot, dot" returned void. The only
comfort upon this realization was the feasible assumption I was not alone. Look
around. Passionless people surround us.
Few notice and even fewer
But not all.
No, not all.
PASSION IS CONTAGIOUS.
Donald Miller, the author of
Blue Like Jazz, used to hate jazz music. But then, one day, he watched a
street performer play jazz music for forty-five minutes. The musician didn't
open his eyes once. After that day, he loved jazz. He concluded that sometimes
it takes watching someone love something to love it yourself.
I have a "Donald
Miller" experience every time I see a dancer perform. It stirs something
in me. There is something powerful, almost mesmerizing, in dance. If a heart of
passion is being expressed in movement, I have a difficult time remaining in my
seat. My heart wants whatever it is the dancer has managed to find.
But longing for a passion is not
the equivalent of passion itself.
While a passionate person stirs a
desire for passion, man is rarely able to instill
passion secure enough in a heart to ignite a movement.
There is a disconnect. A
disconnect between our desire and our reality.
"WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS IS
THE IMAGE OF PASSION, NOT PASSION ITSELF."
Let us look to Jesus's definition
whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many
infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things
pertaining to the kingdom of God.
translated: suffering or enduring; specifically referenced the time
period between the Last Supper and the Cross.
This was the passion of the
For years, "passion"
was referring to the suffering and martyrdom of the saints. Then in the 1580s,
a sense of sexual love was first attested to in the meaning of passion. And by
the 1630s, passion simply pertained to strong liking, enthusiasm and
predilection towards something.
I can just hear what must be
running through the readers mind as he reads this.
Ok, the word means something
different now. Why go back to its original meaning?
Because... my question is: has
the meaning of the word really changed? Or is it our understanding that's
You see, I believe we sell
ourselves short when we equate passion with happiness. Look again at the
descriptions and definitions of passion. Happiness may at times be a small part of the picture, but it's not the complete picture.
How many wrong notes sounded out
before the street musician was able to play without ceasing with his eyes
closed? How much time, pain, and effort went into the "effortless"
Yes, this is the key.
The reason we live passionless lives
is because we refuse to bear the weight.
The quote is worth repeating:
"WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS IS
THE IMAGE OF PASSION, NOT PASSION ITSELF."
And this is my question:
Assuming passion is contagious,
if the result of Christ's passion was the salvation of our souls, what could
this mean for believers who are willing to endure?
The only thing I fear more than distance from God is intimacy with God.
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear.
They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
All my life, at my request, "Moses" (also known as - pastors, teachers, books, worship music, etc...) has come between God and myself. You go to the Lord and I'll listen to what you have to say. You break through the barrier and tell me what you've seen. I'll memorize what you have to say about it and attempt to conjure up the same feelings. I'll stay here. You step out in faith.
I've feared the "thick darkness where God was" too much to attempt approaching it for myself. I've now come to realize the result is my relationship with the Lord is dictated by what others have experienced.
What is the bible? It's letters and accounts of brave soul's encounters with the Lord. Call me crazy, but I think it's still being written...
Do you ever feel like you're losing your mind?
I mean, literally.
Does it ever steal your sanity and then run away from you so fast you can't find it?
I'm a firm believer that if you know you're crazy, then it makes you sane on a different level. Just like if you know you're stupid, that makes you smart in a different way. But even with that reasoning on my side, sometimes I legitimately feel like a crazy person.
I live about twenty-five to thirty minutes away from the church here so every morning during commute my brain has ample time to spin out about everything. (And it's not cute, babe. It's not.) And this morning was particularly terrible because I had "one of those mornings" where I signaled to get over into the next lane, merged, and then the lane ended! Don't laugh. It happens to people sometimes.
Or just me.
I shouldn't expect anything different. It's just like how I'm always the end of a long line. Why does nobody ever step into long lines after me? I'm always right on time to wait at the end. But none of this is the point! There I go spinning out again.
During the drive here (we're back to point one) I was really dwelling on this dream I had last night... which led me to feel emotions I thought were put to rest... which caused me to question whether my healing process was actually over... which made me ponder other aches and pains in my past... which made me feel selfish in comparison to the woman sharing her troubles on the radio at the exact same moment... which led me to realize I wasn't paying enough attention to the road (see a few paragraphs up if you need further proof)... which led me to ponder if life was passing me by like the road was... which led me to....
You see what I mean? It was a blessed relief to finally arrive at the church if for no other reason then to give me something to distract me from thinking.
A "bro" on my team in Australia once said something I've been thinking about a lot lately. He said, "Men's minds are like waffles and women's minds are like spaghetti. You may have heard that before. Men can compartmentalize, but women wind it all together. I like that we're different but I'll tell you the problem with women's brains. One bad piece of spaghetti and everything is ruined!"
Here is something I'm learning - having a mind as undisciplined as mine is a hinderance to fighting the good fight, running the good race. It definitely belongs in the category of "everything that hinders" (Hebrews 12:1). Especially when it comes to the most crucial element in the life of a saint, prayer. It's not a good thing to allow the mind to sweep you away to whatever destination seems good at the time. Praying out loud helps. But even then I'm learning I must exercise caution. This morning I was furiously whispering a thousand thoughts a minute for who-knows-how-long when I heard the Lord's gentle but firm reprimand that I was sending him a lot of words but not a whole lot of prayer.
... and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5b
It was then I was able to stop. Just stop... and spend some time with Jesus. I want to encourage any of you fellow crazys out there by sharing there is sanity to be found in your times with the Lord and in the word of God. What a comfort! There's a solution to be found when you pray to Him, amen?
"It's not about what I want you to do, it's about who I made you to be."
It's been a crazy summer. Is that an understatement?
What better way to end a summer far away from home then uprooting my entire life four days after I return to move to a different city? As a mediocre writer, legendary feeler, and obsessive thinker, I'm tempted to recount every detail of how I got here for the purpose of analyzing the meaning behind every experience. I can just picture myself sitting in a bookstore, a lukewarm cup of coffee on the desk beside my computer, typing furiously to prevent a single detail from escaping my memory. It's quite a story. This is true. But I'm not going to do that. I don't think introspection is the reason God brought me to this both physical and spiritual place.
God brought me here to fall in love with him.
If you could spent a summer blind you would most certainly see the fall with new eyes. It's taken an entire summer of missions for me to realize I'm the mission. I set out, determined to do the work of God, never realizing that I'm the work of God. My time in Australia was invaluable to me because it drained me. It exhausted every effort I had to do the work I believed God wanted me to accomplish. And when I was too tired to move, no fight left in me, God took me by the hand and led me here. He led me away from everything I know. He separated me from my old ways of living and my old ways of thinking. And then, wrapping his arms around me, he asked me for just one thing. He asked me to allow myself to love him.
I have a feeling the adventure is only beginning...
G'DAY MATES! After spending the first few days running around Melbourne (pronounce it "mell-bin" if you want to sound like an Aussie), we are finally settled in and are now completely immersed in campus ministry.
I know that the Lord is good. The Lord is greater then all gods.
These lyrics keep coming to mind for our ministry here. Satan wants Australia. He wants it so bad. And he is being crafty in his assault. He has the people here STUCK in a state of apathy.
I have never encountered anything like it. I'm an American. I have an opinion about everything and everyone in America has an opinion about everything. But here, again and again, we encounter students who give almost no thought to eternal things. In fact, they rarely give much thought to serious matters in general. Our conversations with students go deeper then most have ever gone in their lives.
It presents quite a challenge, that much is certain. How do you fill a thirst people don't realize they have? How do you give answers when no questions are being asked? How do stir hearts that are stuck on the surface of things?
I realized during prayer this morning that we truly are fools for Christ. Here we are, attending school in the middle of our summer for hours at a time, in matching shirts no less, trying to combat apathy and lukewarmness with awkward questions and "chance-that-we-see-is-no-chance-at-all" encounters. Who does this? Well, we do. And for a reason unknown to us but known to God, it's working. Unbelievable.
I have so many stories to share but only time for one. Today, a fellow wallabe and I had the opportunity to chat with a student from China. La Trobe Uni is just packed with international students. We have spent so much time in prayer for these students. I want more then anything as an American student to encounter another student from a different part of the world in Australia of all places and see them come to a saving knowledge of grace. How powerful is our God to make that happen? How powerful is the Gospel to see that come to pass? Today we shared the gospel with this Chinese student and he asked for time to think it through. If the Lord brings it to be, we will meet with him again tomorrow. Please join me in prayer! We long to see a movement begin here, in the land of apathy, that will spread all over the world.
And please pray for me. Pray I would be obedient to the Lord. And please pray against discouragement and distraction. It is so easy to lose sight of why I'm here when I'm drained from a day of ministry and it can be so discouraging when you ask a question only to hear yet another student has never thought about it. Pray the Lord would wake up the sleeping students here!
Again, internet access is limited so I must be off! Much, much love!
And I would like to go on record to say... when you flush the toilet here, it does NOT spin the opposite way. I am extremely disappointed about that. I really didn't know that was a myth.
The city of Melbourne is BEAUTIFUL! You always hear people say their city is mixture of all the beauty of old world and the technology of today. But let me tell you... that is the truth in Melbourne. Most of the buildings are brick, which is my absolute favorite, and it makes every angle on the street a high fashion photo opportunity. But at the same time, everywhere you look you can see construction and improvements being made. Our hotel is smack in the middle of the city, which means we can (and do) walk or take the train everywhere. I love it!
The local people are super trendy and helpful. Yesterday we split into groups of four and went on a scavenger hunt that took us all over the city. I mean, all over the city. We had to take public transportation, walk, and sometimes run like idiots everywhere! But our mini "amazing race" experience was the perfect beginning. This is our home away from home for the next six weeks and now we all feel like locals.
The internet access is expensive so I walked to the shopping plaza to use it for free. But that means my posts are going to be a bit shorter and farther spaced then I originally planned. My battery is also almost dead... so I have to give you guys the readers digest version of everything that has been happening.
Total travel time = a little over twenty hours. Most of it in the dark since we were flying away from the sun. Totally trippy but it made jet lag almost a non-issue. It was like having a really, really long night. We're all raring to go.
Local mission team and "STINTers" = AH-mazing, lovely people. Bri, if you're reading this. Turns out I'm working with Nina, and she says hi back!
Time change = Well, it's 4:50 pm for me right now and its 11:50 for you. But we skipped a day in the air... so it's tomorrow for me.
God = So good! We got to go to church in a movie theater today! The seats were way too comfortable for church... But the preaching and the communion were amazing and much needed. We're also still being trained and prepared for when we begin our official ministry when the students start school this thursday.
I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting and better things to share but I'm running out of time and my brain is like oatmeal right now.
I love and miss everyone! I can't believe I'm on the other side of the world. It still hasn't sank in yet...
Please pray for me! Pray that God will be able to speak to me as I seek Him with my whole heart. And pray that we will be a light to everyone we come into contact with! More to come...
Oh my goodness! Australia is so beautiful! Boomerangs really do come right back to you! And everyone is feeding shrimp to their barbies... PSYCH! Actually, we're at briefing...
You laugh... but its been strange for some of us on Team Wallabe (Yes, we know we spell it wrong. I don't think we did it on purpose but we're saying we did because we're jus' coo' like that. "Representin' 'merica" - i believe is how our team leader explains it.) because it really is how we feel. We're staying at a hotel in L.A... learning everything they can teach us in a few days' time to prepare us for our summer project. I can compare the feeling of these days at briefing to when you're waiting in line at Disney Land and you think you have just one more turn around the corner until you're on the ride and then you turn the corner and there are a million people and five more hours of waiting to go on the Peter Pan ride!! Come on! Why is it always the Peter Pan ride?? Not the point. The point is we are all raring to go and for some reason none of us considered that we'd be spending several days in the States before we flew overseas.
I definitely didn't plan well for these days. I packed my bag to the exact specifications I was allowed. I didn't waste an inch and that baby is DENSE. So now I have to go into stealth mode to try to grab my toothbrush and a fresh set of clothes or else everything will explode everywhere!!
But regardless, this time of training has been a total blessing. We've been learning so many things. Goodwin, our team leader, taught us we should listen to our team leaders. He backed this up with a reference from Goodwin 4:8, an enlightening book to say the least. We also learned NOW IS THE TIME FOR P.O.O.P. - which we found out means it's a good time to bond with the People On Our Team. Was this a necessary acronym? Absolutely.
In addition to these valuable lessons, I've already started trying new things. Today I had my very first chick-fil-A sandwich. Very tasty. I walked away from the experience with this...
...and a coupon for another free chick-fil-a sandwich, which some guy named Erwin guaranteed would work at ANY chick-fil-A ANYWHERE in the United States. Good deal.
I know what you're thinking... what could possibly compare? I should just wrap up now.
In all seriousness, there is something better to share. Something more valuable then team preparation, building relationships, and a free chick-fil-A stomachache. Commissioning.
Our leaders and staff wanted to officially send us off in the best way possible. So our "servant-leaders" washed our feet and prayed for each and every one of us. And then we ended with group prayer. I really needed every moment. It was such a blessing to experience the shift from feeling like I was chasing, pushing, and working to go on this summer project to feeling like the Lord was sending me through the prayers of his leaders. It was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. The Lord has handpicked this team and tonight we were bonded through prayer and His Spirit. He is going to dois doing amazing things! So I consider this the beginning of an amazing thing... because we have officially rounded the amusement park corner and the boarding platform is in sight.
And this ride is going to be even better then the Peter Pan ride.
Dear Lord, I sure am thankful for the peace you've given me the past few days. If I had spent all that time feeling the way I'm feeling now I'd probably curl up and die. Lets do this. You know, I keep thinking about something Pastor Tim said in a sermon he gave about Moses a few weeks ago.
Moses committed himself to doing God's work but he didn't commit himself to the God whose work he was trying to do...
Sometimes I think I do that. So God, I don't commit myself to the idea of serving you. I don't commit myself to the anticipation of personal growth. And I don't commit myself to winning souls, planting seeds, or lighting fires. I commit myself and next six weeks to YOU.
God, I think it's an amazing thing that you had some work to be done in Australia and you searched the entire earth and decided I was the right one to do it. Give me the strength to fulfill your plan for me each day. Prepare the hearts of every person I come in touch with. Be sovereign over our trip, Lord. And above all else... bring glory, honor, and praise to yourself. Be lifted high in our lives, God.
I'm not getting on the plane by myself tomorrow, Lord. So I sure hope you're planning on coming with me...
Also, thank you for the cheesy bread for dinner. That was yummy.
You guys are on my mind today. We have five days until we leave!!
I hope you're prepared for the time of our lives becuase I know God has awesome things in store for us. I'm so excited to share the gospel and see Harry Potter. Perhaps even at the same time. I feel like I should warn you... I'm scared of butterflies and I'm what you might call a "cry-er". Whew, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now you know the real me : )
I know some of you guys are scrambling to get the last of your support money in and I just wanted to throw this out there...
2 Kings 6:24-7:20
Consider it thrown.
I know this passage is a little intense and possible just a touch crazy (Old Testament, what's to be said?) but I always think of it when I think about "impossible situations" like ours. Overnight God completely changed EVERYTHING in a way everyone thought to be impossible. I think He can do the same for us. The least of our worries is money. So don't worry. He has a plan.
Only six more days! So you know what that means...
The good thing about a trip that lasts six weeks is you know doing laundry and taking one or two trips to the drug store while you're there is going to happen anyways. It takes the pressure off. But the bad thing is you feel like you're leaving for your entire life. I don't want to forget ANYTHING! I've found it's helpful to make lists.
Things I know I have to take...
-Justin Bieber album with bonus tracks, poster included
Things I wish I could take...
-my overalls ("Over all" they are awesome! Buh dum chhh! Drum roll. That was a drum roll. They're shorts though... so you know... probably won't work with the climate.)
Things I know I can't take...
-lucky rock collection -all nine seasons of Little House on the Prairie (probably going to have to pick four or five)
-egg salad sandwiches
Things I know I probably shouldn't take...
-Justin Bieber album with bonus tracks, poster included
And thats all I have so far. Oh! That's not true. I also have this helpful visual aid.
Did you know... For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians.
You probably didn't.
And did you know.. Australia is the flattest continent.
You do now.
But did you know... I leave for Australia in one week!
I found all this information on wikipedia. Except I did all the math on yahoo answers. But I searched for both those sites on google. So google wins. But that is not the point right now. By the way, I did try to ask yahoo how many moments were in a second but it told me not to push it.
I have officially reached the $5000 goal! Thank you so much to all those who supported me with prayers and/or money and/or encouragement and/or hugs and/or cake and/or snuggling. I LITERALLY couldn't do it without you. Especially those who offered snuggle support. I require three times more snuggling then the average person, I think...
You know what I'm looking forward to? In Australia, I will be the one with the accent. I can't wait to be the one to smile and pretend I don't know how strange I am pronouncing my words.
I will be doing my best to keep all y'all at home updated. (I say y'all now) But who knows?
It's been a long day and my brain is mushy. So I'll have to post more tomorrow. I just wanted to take a moment to let y'all (see?) know that operation summer project is a go!!
side note: The Australian national anthem's title is way more B.A. then ours. We need to work on that.
What a trip! (A true statement and a fun catch phrase.)
The days began with bowls of cheerios and coconut flavored powdered milk and ended with chasing twenty-something kids around while desperately attempting to plant some eternal truths into their little minds. Throw in some backbreaking construction work in the middle to complete the picture. It was a challenge, that much was certain, maintaining a servant's heart and attitude in the midst of it.
Throughout the week I relished the opportunity to take the Jamaican missionary's version of a shower. But I didn't devote much brain power obsessing about the cleanliness of it all. You need only a minute or two in the humidity to resign yourself to the fact that all of you will be slightly damp and sticky all the time. Oh no, I was just thankful to have a moment alone to process the events of the day. The cool water and the sweet smell coming from my travel size shampoo were just added blessings.
The problem with taking a shower in the dorm we were staying in was the water could and would simply shut off at any moment. The quantity of water available was limited and there were fifty-plus people on the trip, the majority of them women. It helped that it only rushed out of the pipe in one temperature - ice cold. And even the sticky heat of the day didn't diminish this factor's ability to encourage the ladies to keep the showers short. But one could never be too careful. It was one thing to be a little dirty or a little sweaty at the end of the day. It was quite another to be covered with soapy suds and have the water stop running. The shipment of water wouldn't be delivered until the next morning so there wouldn't be a whole lot of options at that point.
I always played it safe. I would take a bucket and fill it with water and simply use the ol' pour-shiver-soap-and-pour-again method. After all, it was near impossible to stand under the icy water for more then a few seconds anyways. I gathered everything I needed, filled the bucket, stepped into the shower, and braced myself for the certain shock of sudden hypothermia, when I found myself face to face with my worst fear.
Mock me. Tease me. Judge me if you will.
Butterflies scare me to death.
And moths are far worse because they look like butterflies that have been dead for a long time. And there was a giant one, sitting just as calm and still and ugly as you please, right at my eye level, a couple inches from my face, on the shower curtain. My fear of these... creatures... almost prevented me from coming on this trip at all. I've heard stories about the legendary Jamaican bat moth. Sweet mercy! It was enough for me to cross the whole county off my "to-visit" list.
And as I was standing there, frozen, I realized something...
I am not dead. I am not even hurting. Shocked? Very. Uncomfortable? You betcha. But I'm not dead.
This was a profound moment.
I am standing literally face-to-face with one of my biggest fears and... it didn't kill me.
You know, earlier in the week I went with a group of high school students to a Jamaican infirmary - a care home for those who have nowhere else to go. The patients suffer from a range of illnesses from missing limbs, blindness, and physical injury to mental disorders. Because of some unexpected changes in plans, the students and I were not given much warning before we arrived. We knew we would come at some point in the week, but the day we ended up going was the first full day we spent in Jamaica and none of us were prepared to make the visit quite so suddenly. I remember stepping out of the van, my nervous companions huddled around me, realizing we were surrounded by a thick cloud of fear. It was a heavy, dense smoke that swirled and settled around us, obscuring our heavenly vision. But there was no backing out. After taking some time to pray, directly into the smoke we walked. And it only took me a moment to realize... there was no fire. The patients were people. They weren't "its" and they weren't without emotion or feeling. They were people. And I watched hearts be touched, faces light up, and walls broken down. And I saw tears of pain exchanged for tears of joy. And I saw the eyes of the student's hearts open just a bit wider. And the smoke(screen) of fear was transformed into mere memory as lives were changed. We faced what we feared.
A few days after the infirmary visit, we visited the orphanage. At this point in the trip I figured I had already faced what I feared the most and I jumped right into this experience with enthusiasm. I was looking forward to playing with the kids more then anything else on the trip. The first thing I saw was a roomful of darling babies just waiting for us to hold them. I didn't hesitate a a moment and soon I was holding a beautiful 8 or 9 month old baby girl. She smiled with her whole body and her little hands held onto mine with a powerful grip. I was sitting on the bed, talking to her and smiling into her darling face, when I froze. It hit me like I walked full force into a brick wall. Why are you here? And I remember seeing my reflection in her dark, smiling eyes.My heart iced over. I found out later that her mother was bipolar so she was unable to take care of her and her father was nowhere to be found. It hit me really hard that she was alone. And then came one of the darkest moments of the trip for me. It was time to leave so I set her in the crib and she turned and looked right at me and her beautiful eyes filled up with tears. And she held out her arms, like so many babies do, and silently asked me to pick her back up. My heart could barely stand it. Tears came in a rush and they didn't stop until we were almost back to base. And at some point in the cold pain I realized I was facing another fear. Where was God? My thoughts became torturous as I wondered how old she would be when she came to the realization she didn't have what I had growing up.
I shared my grief with one of the leaders on the trip and he told me something I'll never forget. He looked me in the eyes and he said: Hannah, God is providing for her. She was alone and now she has a roof over her head, food to eat, and caregivers surrounding her.
And I told him that didn't seem like it was enough. I didn't want better then the worse case situation for her. I wanted the best for her. And he told me: What was chosen for her is not your decision.
I then realized the cause of my grief was fear that God wasn't big enough, wasn't present enough, or didn't care enough to finish what he began in her life. And that is simply not true. Tears come, even as I write this, because I could hardly stand the thought of the suffering alloted to her. But what he said was so true. That was not my choice. If I had the choice would I spare my child the burden of pain? Yes, I would. Did God spare his child the burden of suffering and pain? No, He didn't. Thank you God, that you didn't. That is why He is God and I am not. And the hardships chosen for Christ were chosen for a purpose... and so were the hardships chosen for that sweet baby girl.
A day or two after this experience, I was privileged to hear several girls share their testimonies. I was given a heavenly glimpse of the churning, raging, and rolling emotions that hid beneath a calm exterior. I noticed that each and every heart was in a different place for a different purpose. And I felt so inadequate. So powerless to help. What could I offer these girls? And this realization scared me. Another fear to face. Why was I of all the people on the planet brought to Jamaica to minister to these beautiful young women?
I was shocked at how the Spirit moved. I listened and cried with the girls. And on several occasions, I was given the words to say. I prayed at the beginning of the trip and I presented a serious request to God. I said, "Lord, if you don't have a holy fire to send for this offering, if you don't have a specific purpose for me there, if I'm not going to be of any use, please send someone else." I feared God wouldn't show up and I would be stuck in my own inadequacy. But when I came face to face with this fear I realized something. I always had the head knowledge this was true. But for the first time, I truly KNEW it to be true.
God does nothing without a purpose.
All of these lessons and memories flashed through my head in about 6.4 seconds as I stared at that ugly moth. A fear that almost prevented me from even having the opportunity to face these other fears. And here I was, facing it face to face, just has I had been facing the others...
And ok, yes. After getting over the first few seconds of shocked, frozen silence after nearly kissing the thing, I did whimper and whine a little, jump out of the shower, and then run down the hall to find my dad to get rid of it.