Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Self Supported Missionary"

The life of the "self supported missionary" is interesting. When I'm at "home" my hats change so often and so quickly that I hardly know who I am: friend, pastor, sister, aunt, administrator, co-worker, salesperson, minister, shopper, etc. I think that some people can handle the lack of routine and order but for me...sometimes I just get lost in the whirlwind of roles.

This trip has been particularly interesting as I don't have a phone and often I don't have access to a phone. It is even more interesting trying to find a pay phone. And the computer phone that I "should" be able to use is having technical difficulties.

What is even more interesting is scheduling meetings? Last time I came to the USA everyone was very communicative and I had practically everything scheduled before I left Poland. But for some reason this time almost everyone has waited until the last minute.

With all that, I would have to say that the Lord has been faithful to keep me relaxed and I have been able to "go with the flow" better than ever.

Today I surprised my brother. We had a good but short chat...he was busy at work (remember I don't have a phone to set up an appointment). So, my plans changed a bit and I did that all important shopping for necessities I can't get in Poland (I always do my shopping in Oregon - no sales tax). Plus I just love it when I can hit a sale. Nowdays not only do I find things I can't get in Poland (clothes that fit me) but they are so much cheaper. This is particularly true as the dollar continues to drop like a stone and the Polish economy continues to equalize with the rest of Europe. Later on I caught up with my brother again at my niece's U12 soccer practice. Last Tuesday at the same time I was at a U12 girls soccer practice in Thousand Oaks. Is this a pattern? What will next Tuesday evening bring? U12 girls soccer practice in Woodinville? After practice I went out to pizza with my brother, my niece and my nephew. It was a short but valuable visit.

I have to say that I really enjoy my time in Oregon. I have many friends here that great encouragment to me spiritually and personally. I don't know I just breathe better here than in California (except of course Thousand Oaks). My friends at the Shepherd's House are an oasis in the desert. Without you I don't know what I would do?

Some might ask: Have you been able to find any more financial support? And now that I have been doing this "fundraising" for more than 11 years all I can say is: Only Jesus knows! Over the years I have had people/churches that have made "commitments" to give. The reality is some do and more don't but those who do and have been supporting me have been very faithful. Above all that Jesus is my provider. He takes care of me. How much more support would I like to have a month? If I had $600 more a month I would be able to feel like I was really able to minister without finances being a burden.

Thanks for all your prayers and your friendship.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What's Ministry? What's Missions?

There are so many things that we do at "Church" that we call "ministry" or "missions" that I'm not so sure how much of it is really being Jesus and how much is doing "church".

When I look at how Jesus spent the majority of His time it was outside of the "religious building(s)" of that time. He did a lot of eating, talking, laughing (I believe) and just being in the moments of life.

Yet we Christians seem to spend way more time focusing on: singing, worship, prayer, gifts, prophesy, tongues, outreach, evangelism, organization, training, strategies, Biblical knowledge. I'm not saying that any of these things are bad, but I just wonder if we are over focusing on the details and under focusing on the foundations that Jesus showed us. And in the process we have lost the heart of what it means to minister to others.

I'm beginning to learn, see, realize to an even deeper level that it (mission, ministry) is all about who I am. The gifts, talents, and especially the character of Jesus that has transformed me.

All of those "church" things that are what we would consider as essential elements of missions or ministry are only means (tools) by which the character of Jesus can be expressed through a willing servant. However, having coffee with someone, or going for a walk with a person in need or just allowing someone to join me in my everyday life can be a greater means of ministry than any well oiled, publicized, "beautiful" church service.

Life with Jesus - Isn't all about HOW I am able to live in this fallen world in a manner like my Lord?

How I handle conflict with assertive grace.

How I answer the difficult questions of life with wisdom and authority.

How I enjoy the simple pleasure of life, knowing that my Loving Father has created them for my delight and joy.

How I relate to others, younger, older, the same sex, the opposite sex.

How I deal with the ups and downs of life: with respect for others, honor, joy, love, care, and patience.

I'm beginning to see that it doesn't matter so much what I do or even how well necessarily but rather the attitude of my heart when I do it. And if I am able to approach the situation from the foundation of Jesus my Rock.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On The Road

Traveling!? How exciting! Sometimes it is amazing to me how much traveling I have actually done over the years. It seems just like yesterday when I got my 1st passport. I’m now on #4. I remember seeing machine gun armed military in the Frankfurt airport and Communist boarder crossing requirements. Now it is just an exercise in undressing and redressing and unpacking and repacking.

All that said this trip has start with a new since of peace. There is a peace that comes from allowing God to be God in and through the circumstances of the adventure of the trip. My flight and connections from Poland to San Francisco were easy and smooth. All on time? No! But it was quite a pleasant experience.

Re-entry into the USA is always an experience of culture shock. Everything from road signs to food, cars, parking places, church experiences and shrinking egg McMuffins.

God is so amazing! He has this incredible ability to meet me where I am with exactly what I need when I really need it and it is never in the way I anticipated it would be. I have to admit that I’m just beginning to rediscover the joy of letting God be God in my life. I don’t know why exactly, but I realize that over the last few years I have become a bit of a control freak. Maybe it comes from my behaviorist teaching background or just feeling like the ucky things in life were running over me and those I care about and stealing the very essence of life. The last few trips to the States were no exception. This feeling of needing things to be a certain way led to a lot of disappointment, stress and just plain bad behavior on my part.

I realize more than ever that my disappointed expectations of others are really excuses for my frustrations with myself. My inability to clear express my needs, wants, and desires. Those times when my pride prevents me from asking for help and seeking advise.

Jesus is so faithful when I just let Him be God. I had such a wonderful time with my friends at Mountain View Chinese Christian Church. Jesus arranged for my old friend T.G. to be in town from Tennessee just for me (or at least I felt like it).
I was able to meet new friends at the Coastlands and get reacquainted with old friends. I spent some time with my “girls” as they begin a new adventure with Jesus.

You what!? It really is so much more fun to see God in the unexpected than to try (unsuccessfully) to control life.

Today I start part 2 of my 6 weeks in the USA. LA here I come

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Normal PT Day?

Today was my last day of Physical Therapy before going to the USA for 6 weeks. There seems to be progress but of course it is not as quick as I would like. My therapist Wojek is a very kind man who is compentent and pleasant to be with. Today like most days he starts with massaging my leg and foot, followed by various forms of "torture", ending with the comic relief of me attempting excersizes I'm not always sure I could before I broke my leg.

But today was a bit different. Wojek wasn't his usual pleasant self. After a few open and caring questions he shared with me the pain in his heart. His relationship with his long time girlfriend of 2 years had come to an end. Please pray for him that God would bring healing and hope. And that I would have the language and sensitivity to share the hope of Jesus into his life.

My therapy days are usually filled with meetings with various friends as well. Today was no exception. Before therapy I got the pleasure of taking to friends to the airport who will be taking care of things here in Poland while I'm gone. It was a great time of encouragement and peace about how Jesus will take care of things.

After therapy I got meet a friend in Krakow city center. It was a wonderful time of encouraging one another. It was such a delight to see someone who is also "GOOD" and to be able to encourage him to continue in those godly ways even those others would try to bring him down.

Then I met a friend I met last fall when I was volunteering at the American School in Krakow. She so enjoys listening to me talk about how to teach. She is so hungry to hear how to improve her teaching, that today she took my resume and letters of recommendation. She will present them to the Director of the Teacher's College she attended in Krakow. It is always uplifting to know that who I am and what I know can be a blessing to others. Because I know that it is all a gift from Jesus.

I wonder what Jesus is doing in Krakow? I wonder what His plans are for Me?