Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Anguish

At the end of our travels we take some time with our teams to talk about the changes that occur within us when we return  home. We leave a small footprint on the place we have been but the mark on our heart is huge in comparison. We do not fully appreciate all that has occurred until we process all that has happened and even then…it often takes a lifetime to work through.


I stood outside yesterday morning just as the trees began to 
 rustle and blow…a breeze was coming and the wind chimes began to sing. I heard the leaves stirring in the trees (God's wind chimes) and I closed my eyes. It felt so soothing to me and I began to cry. Beautiful, sweet, quiet tears which meant the floodgates of my heart were about to open and I was ready for what God would have for me. I sat in my favorite chair in the shade and waited. He had one word for me….Anguish. The word rocked my heart and soul and then my tears turned to sobs. I had forgotten the beauty of the anguish.

I have alluded to this past year as being hard. I have struggled with my calling and all the busyness associated with the changes in my life. I had asked God for a life of ease. I wanted to have the life I perceived others had. I did not want anguish, I did not want my heart wretched and torn. I fought God, and had a million reasons why I needed the break and then went through the motions of life. I had never felt so lost or weary.

For a few of you who traveled with us to the Solomon Islands we heard the words of David Wilkerson on anguish and then I read the account of an ordinary man God called upon to carry the burden of God's own heart. That man was Nehemiah. When I sat outside yesterday these words flooded my heart...

What happened Nancy to your anguish over the things that break My heart? You, who have touched the hem of my garment have now  asked me for a life of ease…Is this really what you want my beloved?  Can you settle for anything less than what I have already shown you?  You have seen the sacred places, the places that break my heart and shared my love with people in places where no on else dares to go. I have broken your heart and then given that heart a capacity for love you had never known existed before. You go in My name and you bring the message of who I am. You care and love those who are forgotten and downtrodden. Whatever happened to the anguish of your calling? Your passion to love was born in that place…that place of wretchedness and heartfelt pain. I have shown you extraordinary…could you ever settle for the ordinary again? You have seen the work of my Hands and I know you are in awe of this. Do you really want this life of ease my beloved?

I had been asking God for ordinary when I have lived the extraordinary. I had wanted ease over anguish


Right before we left Fiji I had thought about pearls. Pearls are in great abundance in the South Pacific and I am a lover of pearls. A pearl is formed when trauma (or disruption of the ordinary) has occurred on the fragile rim of the otherwise tough shell of the mollusk. As part of the healing (restorative) process a pearl sac is formed and over a period of time layers are built up and eventually a beautiful, resilient pearl forms. I am a pearl to my God. He has cultivated me and allowed me to become something I could not have been without His constant influences. He allows me to be at the hem of His garment and to see the
Works of His hands. He has called me by name and I am able to see the bits and pieces of the anguish of His heart. I am His beloved. I live in those places and I long for those places. My heart is home in those places. Lord, true joy, comes out of anguish. I can be no other place...




Friday, August 16, 2013

Home Is Where the Heart Is


Home conjures up many images for me…the place where family is, a sanctuary or place of refuge that is always open, a place of familiarity and unconditional acceptance, and, as my dear friend Nzash says…airplanes. The place where I am and whose 'front door' opens to the place I long to be. I find that statement to be so true as we land again in the Solomon Islands.


I am home again in Verakabikabi. These words bring tears to my eyes. As we head up the red dirt road my heart swells and I am happy to be back to this place that holds a part of my heart. It seems as if only a breath has passed and I am back with those I have come to love so very much. I know they are waiting for us and will greet us with their traditional dance and music. I am excited to share in this moment. The daughter of the chief is waiting for me. She thanks me again for making the home visit last year to her ailing father. He passed away this May and while they are all grieving his loss, they are excited for the gift and legacy he will leave. He has given land to the church and this trip will begin the building of a new church and medical clinic.

We will travel daily in the back of a flatbed truck  to places like Antioch, Tina, and Matanga. We are a well equipped team this year. Two physicians, four nurses, two dietitians, a master gardener, and a construction team. We travel to beautiful remote villages which have never had 'guests' before us. In anticipation of this, some of the chiefs in the neighboring villages  will come to see us on our first clinic day so they will know how to prepare for us on the day we are in their villages. We are greeted with songs everywhere we go and made to feel so very welcomed.



 We are met by a man named Matthew and his friend Daniel who came to see us last year. 
Matthew is 81 years old and he walked four hours today for his "follow-up" visit in our clinic today.
I cannot tell you how honored I am to see and care for him again and hear the details of this last year since I saw him last.


The construction team has laid the beginnings of the foundation for the church and medical clinics. We met with the Minister of Health at the construction site and were given his blessing and support. The village of Verakabikabi will make the 5,000 bricks need for the building during the time we are gone. This is their contribution towards the project and it is huge.


Agriculture sustainability and nutrition were taught this year and the villagers were in awe of all that they learned. We all learned so much on this trip and for that we are enriched beyond what we could ever say. The Solomon Sun newspaper did a front page article on the medical clinics and agriculture teachings and we were honored by their support.



At the end of our work day we join the construction crew at the work site. We are served tea and small cakes by our friends. The clouds begin to gather in the sky and sometimes we are caught in a rainstorm. It is a time of delight that we share together and I can think of no better way to end our day.

I think from God's perspective it was just a heartbeat since we were here last. He was working out the details of a perfect plan. I have come to realize in these moments that sometimes I am the work that needs the perfect plan and Hand of God and sometimes I am apart of His Hand. Either way, I am far richer at the end of the day.









Bridges

If you asked Tom or I what was the most memorable part of our time in Fiji you would get two different answers. We would, of course, both be right. Some amazing things happened but at the end of the day, we would both agree it was the handiwork of God that prevailed.

For me, it is a collection of small things all coming together. The beautiful 'hodgepodge' of people God throws together and then the beginning of relationships and memories that will endure a lifetime. I have traveled to the Fijian Islands for eleven years now and my relationships with the locals is like family to me. We sleep in the home of Tuey and Anna in the village of Nabouwalu and their grandkids call me Sithee (arabic for grandmother). They wait up for us at night and see us off each  morning. I spend time on the kitchen floor with the ladies as they endlessly prepare our meals. It is a family affair as we prepare lovo (BBQ) together. We sing together in the evenings before we go to bed and bathe each night in the coldest water ever!

I get to know people in some of their most vulnerable moments. Most are out of their comfort zones on the mission field and so we share life and our stories together. I savor these moments and are enriched by them.

Caring for the people in Fiji is an honor. Six medical providers saw and average of 200 people each day…listening, caring, teaching, touching, and praying for each and everyone that came to our clinic. We held our clinics in some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We gave physicals to the school kids…rows and rows of children in their bright pink uniforms waiting for their exams. We saw pregnant women who had never heard a fetal heartbeat. We would turn the doppler up high and a hush would settle in the room as everyone listened to  the sounds of the baby's heartbeat for the very first time.  Then, there would be tears of excitement by everyone.

In the Kymbalan language, the term diyoto means 'the coming together to work together'. In Fiji, the same concept occurs with great ease. The medical clinics are used in multiple ways. A tangible way to show the love of God, teaching health to those who have no other options, caring for the poorest by cleaning their wounds and treating their ailments, and then, bridging the way for others to follow when we are gone. We travel to places where no one else has ever come before. Medicine is the way in for those missionaries who remain long after we have gone. The impact of this made such an impression on both Tom and I this year.

We have been a part of something so beautiful and yet we have only seen a mere
moment of all that is yet to be. God is not done…things are still happening. I am excited to see what will transpire.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Refinement

I was thinking about the words of a song by Ginny Owens this morning…one I have not thought of for quite some time. They seem so appropriate for this season of my life.



It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

It is the beginning of my travels and I as I sit here I know parts of this journey have not been easy…but without doubt, I am not alone.

I have long given up the notion that these are 'trips' I take to do 'good works' but a part of my life and calling. I found that I struggled some this year with that calling and many times wrestled with God asking 'for a life of ease' instead of asking for endurance and perseverance. It was a year filled with so many changes  I think I just grew weary and so many things felt hard.

Something happened right before we left and I have found myself thinking of it lately.  Tom and I  recently celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary in Pacific Grove. I was sitting in the courtyard of the Post Graduate School enjoying the cool breeze and listening to the faint sound of the waves as they hit the shoreline. I looked up and I noticed I was sitting in front of a beautiful array of flags from  countries around the world. I have always enjoyed traveling and so the beauty of this caught my attention. Almost, as if on cue, I  began to hear bagpipes playing inside  the Officers Club for what may have been a retirement ceremony. The timing of this  was overwhelming to me and I began to realize that this was no accident. As I began to fully appreciate the beauty around me God had one more exquisite gift for me to enjoy. The most impressive peacock I have ever seen walked in front of me displaying his full plumage. His wingspan was at least six feet wide and it was as if he appeared out of nowhere to suddenly stand before the flags and let his beauty take my breath away. What a beautiful gift it was. It was unforgettable to me….



I have just now begun to understand the depth of that moment. My life is that moment, filled with  incredible beauty in the gifts that God has given  me. The gifts are intentional on His part and He fills them with the things that give me the deepest satisfaction and joy. It is also intensely hard at times but I am beginning to remember that I am not alone in those times either. I remember He has given me intensely hard and incredibly beautiful and I shall settle for no less...