Monday, August 28, 2006

His Peace

You all are the best! Thanks so much for the encouraging emails and posts. I'm excited that people actually read this kind of thing. :)

At the risk of thinking too much, which my stepsister Angela has rightly accused me of doing in the past, I'm attempting to be transparent by telling you I've struggled with this silly concern: that I will cry the whole time I'm in Zimbabwe.

Alvaro wrote: "Whatever you see, whatever you touch, its Gods desire that you do it. Don't be afraid of anything because God will be there right at your side. We are very happy that you will be able to see the children and we do not have any feeding centers.....God has the feeding centers! So whatever you do you will be fulfilling God's desire for people to hear the testimony of the children's suffering. We were entrusted with these serve and to be a steward unto them. We really appreciate your desire to know more about these children. Our hearts Blessings and love will be with you all the way. You will only be getting a taste of what Our Lord is doing. When you see the suffering....don't feel strong. The Lord needs you to be strong for them."

I know that when I am weak, I must rely more on God's strength, and that's a good thing (2 Cor. 12:9-10). But for Pete's sake, how will I be able to do what I'm there to do hiding behind a tissue the entire time? That's been my fear--that I won't be strong. I do ask your prayers in this matter, but I want to share what the Lord has impressed upon my heart this weekend.

I've been reading Oswald Chambers's My Utmost For His Highest along with my good friend Diana who serves with her husband in Athens. We enjoy discussing Chambers's thoughts by email, along with many other mysteries of faith and womanhood. On Saturday the excerpt dealt with John 14:27--"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Now, I've banked on that one for years. And I'm certain many, many folks have already drawn the conclusion I came to, but it struck me in a fresh and timely way: I wondered for a moment if Jesus wasn't a little unfair here, telling his disciples not to be troubled or afraid. Their world was about to fall apart. At least as far as they would be able to see. They didn't know what the end result of the cross would be; they didn't understand the enormous eternal shift that was going to take place in their midst. They couldn't comprehend how God was in complete control even when it appeared all hope was lost. And that's when I got it (again): we don't have to comprehend it all, either. We can just believe. We can have peace knowing that no matter what we see, no matter how things appear, hope is not lost. God is always at work on behalf of his beloved. It's okay to cry, but we don't have to be undone by the suffering or situations around us because God holds each of us under His wing. And He has plans . . .

I've added a link to Justin Nash's photos taken with Alvaro last February and to the sites of some other friends and special places. If you feel clueless about my upcoming trip and want more details about my role and how these things came about, just email me.

Besides, I'd love to hear about your journey.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Zimbabwe Minus 14

Fourteen days until I fly to Houston, then DC, then Johannesburg via Dakar, then Harare. Many friends and family members have asked to be kept in touch with my progress toward the trip, so I thought a blog might be just the thing. And I hope to have occassional Internet access while traveling so that I can post updates.

So, here's the latest: I leave September 10th and return September 29th. Praise God I'm flying the international portion not only on the same flight as my companions, Paula and Lynn, but seated in front of them. I have my airline tickets, immunizations, a bag of travel goodies from my prayer sisters Carla and Jobie, a converter, and a few thrift shop finds I can wear and leave in Zimbabwe. I also have antimalarial medicine on my bathroom countertop, a suitcase full of World Bible School materials, a promise from my SW brother Doyle Corder to fill an MP3 player with "perfect songs" at my request, four new notebooks for writing, and a very understanding husband.

Bob has been terrific about my recent scattered thought patterns. Getting ready for a trip like this is a challenge; getting ready to leave your "post" for three weeks will threaten to send you to the edge and back. You moms know what I'm talking about.

Once in Africa, the Leveretts and I will be traveling with Washington and Alice, a Zimbabwean Christian couple who will drive and translate for us. We'll spend a couple of nights in the capital city of Harare, where W & A live, then head off to visit churches and feeding centers near Wedza and Mutare. During part of our time, we will be staying at game lodges because they are safer than other accomodations might be. We will also stay in the home of brother Campion. Adjustments have been made to the schedule to allow me to visit some of the feeding centers Alvaro Dos Santos operates, though, of course, Alvaro is in the USA at present. Honestly, I'm in a fog about most of our itinerary--the people and places are so unfamiliar that I am entrusting everything to the Lord and praising him that Alice, Paula, and Campion have things taken care of.

We're not quite sure what conditions to expect. I've emailed before about the state of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Fuel, electricity, etc., are hard to come by. We understand candles are in order a number of hours each day. The weather should be moderate this time of year--Zimbabwe is just coming out of winter.

About two weeks into the trip, we will fly to Cape Town, South Africa where we will spend 5 days visiting with missionaries and with Roger and Martha Dickson of International Christian Press. Then home.

I solicit your prayers; I know many of you have been praying already. Some of you have contributed generously to this trip, and I am humbled. In whatever way you are joining me on this journey, I thank you and praise God for you.

On This Journey

Like everyone else, in a sense I'm on many journeys. Twenty-three years of marriage to an incredible husband who never lets it get boring. Nineteen years as a mom; I tear up with overpowering love and a strange mix of pride and humility just thinking about my three kids. A lifetime of writing and learning. Five years facing the reality that I'm getting older. I'm even heading off on another literal journey in two weeks--traveling to Zimbabwe to visit feeding centers and churches in order to chronicle the "testimony of the children's suffering," as Alvaro Dos Santos puts it.

But as for everyone else, it's really just one journey: Life.

I love this journey I'm on. I love that it's all wrapped up in knowing Christ. I love that despite the times of pain, heartbreak, sacrifice, disillusionment, faltering, and frustration, God is enough. A million times more than enough.

Thank you for sharing your life with me. I'm glad we're on this journey together.