Monday, June 30, 2014

And then I became a missionary.

In preparing to leaving for Niger, I spent time this past week in Chicago for TeachBeyond's Orientation.  What a blessing to be a part of such an authentic organization and group of people who share a strong vision for changing lives by the Gospel through transformational education.  My heart is full as I think about the impact that each individual has had and will have for the Kingdom.

Over 80 missionaries were present, representing about 17 countries.  Families, couples, single men and women, each with their own story of how God has brought them to where they are now.

As I reflect on the week, I remember my misconceptions about missionaries.  At one time, I viewed missionaries with a higher regard than most other people.  I don't think I even realized that I assumed that because they received "the call" from God to serve in missions, that they were these special and holy people that were obviously better than me.

And then I became a missionary.

This term "missionary" was very uncomfortable at first.  I didn't like the idea of having this great responsibility that comes with the title.  And I especially didn't like other people assuming the same expectations about me that I had placed on other missionaries - that missionaries are holier than most.

In humility, and through Orientation, my view has changed.  I realize that I am "not called to a people or a place or a vocation; but rather, to the very person of Jesus Christ"  (Howard Dueck).

Missionaries are no different than your average Joe.  They are sinful people, saved and sanctified by the supernatural grace of God.

All of the preparing and learning I have done over the past week has been extremely helpful.  But I am continually reminded that heart preparation is the best way for me to really be ready to leave when August 1st comes.  I am reminded that the Lord is still the most important relationship I will ever have.

My status as "missionary to Niger, Africa" may sound like I am set apart somehow as a Christian.  The truth is I still struggle.  But my goal to honor and glorify God remains the same.

Join me.  Accept your calling, not to a place, people, or job; but to God, Himself.

"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."  -The Westminster Shorter Catechism

P.S.  Check out more TeachBeyond Orientation pictures on facebook!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Missionary Kids

Tonight I had the privilege and honor of sharing my heart and vision with a beautiful group of people over a delicious dinner and dessert.  I left encouraged, and my heart is full.  Thank you, Lord.  Some of what I shared had to do with MKs (Missionary Kids).

Two summers ago, I spent a couple months with a missionary family in Budapest, Hungary.  This beautiful family of 6 opened my eyes to the strengths and challenges that missionary kids face.  After observing and conversing with the parents and kids about the struggles and joys of raising a family and growing up abroad, God began to grow in my heart compassion for MKs.  I am thrilled to be able to serve, teach, and love these types of kids at Sahel Academy in Niger.

Watch this video to understand a bit more about TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and MKs (Missionary Kids).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's best that way.

A pastor recently spoke about "counting the cost."  As I raise support, I feel like that is all I do.  But with only 7 more short weeks until I plan to leave, I have had very little time to really think about this HUGE transition ahead of me.

Not only will I be leaving everyone and everything I know, but I also will be going to a place where I am known by no one.  Everything will be completely unfamiliar.  I do not speak French, which will make simple things like getting groceries a challenge.  I will have to set up my own second grade classroom for the very first time ever.  I will have to eloquently and creatively inspire learning in the hearts of 17 little seven year olds.  I will have to adjust to living with complete strangers.  I will face loneliness, heartache, and struggle.  I am about to move to the least developed country in the world.  The road ahead has a cost.


Jesus Christ paid the price so that we, as Christians, can be a part of the Body of Believers.  Even in Niger, I will have the privilege of meeting brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted into the same Family because of His precious blood.  I may not be known by others, but I am known by God Almighty.  I will have the opportunity to learn a new language, experience a new culture and people, precious to the heart of God.  I will finally be able to apply four years of training and education as I set up my first classroom.  I have the privilege of getting to know 17 beautiful second graders, whose smiles and even frowns, I'm sure, will make my day - a daily opportunity to learn from the heart and faith of a child.  I will bond with once complete strangers as we laugh and struggle together.  I will face joy, purpose, and victory.  I am about to move to a place where lives will be changed and transformed by the Good News.  The road ahead is rewarding.

Although I can be tempted to say that only the exciting moments of joy and victory are of the Lord, I would argue that the moments of exhaustion and disappointment are just as necessary.  God desires us to encounter both emotions, not just because we are created in His image and therefore we emote, but also because it is through these experiences that we will encounter our NEED for JESUS.

When I embarrass myself in the market because I said the wrong thing or when I completely mess up a lesson, I can say to the Lord, "I trust you!"  And when I make friends with my roommates and help a second grader have an 'aha!' moment, I can say to the Lord, "Thank you that I trust you!"

What a beautiful thing to know that God is TRUSTWORTHY.

EVERYTHING belongs to God and He is absolutely worthy of it all - my time, my energy, my heart, my money, my friends, my job, my family...EVERYTHING.

It's best that way.  Yes, there is a cost.  But His reward is greater.

So I will continue to TRUST, or "lean into," the One who knows my thoughts before I think them and who numbers the hairs on my head.  May we all learn to TRUST our Abba, Father with EVERYTHING.


"Then the king said to Araunah, '...nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.'" - 2 Samuel 24:24


"Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there; but all of it is TOTALLY MEANINGFUL." -John Piper
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18)