Safe and Sound?

It’s been over two weeks now since returning. How easy it is to just get caught right back up in the busy-ness of life! I want to hang on to what I experienced in Thailand, and prevent regular life from washing over and removing the impact I experienced. I want to be changed forever!

Safe? Yes. Praise God, we all returned safely and in good health.

Sound? Well, God wants to shake us up, right? So I think soundness implies a certain fixed stability that maybe isn’t so good anyway!

Love: the over-arching theme

Instead of sharing of specific moments or favorite times during our trip, I thought I would pick one theme and share how it permeated the entire trip.

That theme would have to be the Presence of God. The Kingdom breaking into the world.

From the time we first gathered as a team, the Presence was evident. We were encouraged and prepared for the trip by the love that Mike and Emily poured into us. We were met at the airport in Thailand by Lana’s team, in love, with lais of dainty sweet smelling flowers. We were lovingly welcomed into the Life Impact family.

The Kingdom = Love

Throughout the trip there were a lot of tears shed as the spirit overwhelmed us and gave us a glimpse of the kingdom. The kingdom is surely breaking in and dispelling the darkness in Thailand and Burma. So what is the Presence, really? What is the kingdom? If God is Love, then isn’t His presence, his kingdom, love?

Love is what permeated our time together. Love is what permeates The Promise Land. Love is what permeates everything Lana is doing to spread the kingdom in Thailand.

Love is evident in the laughter that rings out whenever she is around. It is evident in the hopes and dreams being built along with the worship center, new facilities, and visions for the future. The future includes restaurants and motor bike repair shops being run by the children rescued and grown into adults on the Land. Love is evident in the worship at the Land, at FourSquare Church, in missionaries’ homes, and everywhere the gospel is taught. Love is evidenced in each and every child rescued by Lana. It is evident in the house parents who have sacrificed so much in order to live on The Land and be mom and dad to strangers. It is evident in the missionaries who have given up successful lives in the West to endure hardship, isolation and loneliness in order to minister to those in need. Love permeates everything Life Impact touches.

The major theme that I don’t want to have fade away from my own life, is the love of God, the love of the kingdom, that I am so blessed to have been able to see and experience in Thailand.

Now, my eyes are fixed to see the love of God right here, the Kingdom all around!

Hunter Gatherer

I didn’t know it before, but I think I am a hunter gatherer. For weeks now I’ve been hunting out all the little things I’ll need for my trip, gathering them in a way to see how much space I have for what I want to bring. I always thought my personality fit the farming mode – plant seeds, toil continually, and wait patiently for the harvest. And then of course more toil – harvesting, preparing, storing – and starting all over again! Life does seem to be an ongoing process of planting, weeding, watering, harvest, sort, prepare, store.

But my drive through eastern Tennessee and western Virginia just called out so strongly to my heart — that it made me think I must really be more of a hunter-gatherer. My soul just feels so at home in the wooded hills which are not conducive to growing crops!

Tomorrow we leave. I’ve just got one last errand to run — ear plugs! My tinnitus is already bad enough but after flying it’s a disaster leading to dizziness. I’ve never tried them before but this time I’m going to try ear plugs!

There’s never just one last chore or item on the to-do list. I’m afraid that list will never be blank. But I’m ok with that — I’ll come back to a list of things that didn’t get done before I left.

I don’t think God would design us any other way. I mean, what if we really DID do EVERYTHING on our to-do list? Would we feel unnecessary? Do we REALLY want to have nothing to do but praise and worship our awesome God? That sounds like a trick question — of course that would be wonderful. But really, how much more awesome to God must our worship be when it is in the midst of everything we do? We can praise and worship Him through each of our daily tasks, through all the jobs we work on throughout the day, and keep Him on our mind continually. If we had nothing else on our mind, well, it somehow seems like the praise and worship might be somehow less than.

God’s growing me in this area – to be ok with the things that don’t get done. And I praise Him for it!

Plan, Pray, Prepare

It took me a while to actually post the first entry. Now it is 10 – TEN! – days until I go! And before I go I am flying to Texas and driving a car back to Maryland!

I’ve never before leaned so heavily on prayer. I am usually a planner and over prepare for many contigencies. This time I am praying that God will supernatually prepare me to have what I need when I arrive in Thailand.

The main messages we want to bring are 1) how incredibly valuable each and every person is and 2) how much they are loved by God. Yes – each man, woman and child – is specifically valuable, especially to the God who created them! And none of us are able to comprehend the immensity of God’s love for each of us. Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of how much he might love in general, or how much he loves other people. But we often don’t fully believe the great love he has for me, in particular!

These main two messages are the very same messages that I am desperate to share with everyone I know: to my own children, of course; to each person at the karate school; to every person I see in any store I go into; and even to people I am not even that crazy about! The people I’m not especially fond of are probably the most important people to hear the message of God’s love for them!

So it turns out that God has been preparing me through all the years that I have spent studying, praying and learning all about and getting to know our wonderful Heavenly Father.  All of it, in addition to being able to share with people around me here, has also been preparing me to share with people in Thailand! (And fortunately I’ve already taken care of things like passport, vaccinations and a neck pillow for the plane!)

He is such a good, good, Father! He’s taken care of me in readying me for my trip without my even realizing it!

Thailand Mission Trip – Who, me?

Nineteen days until I begin my Thailand Mission Trip.  It begins with a journey that will take over 32 hours, crossing 11 time zones. I will be heading into a world and activities very different from my usual day to day life. Nineteen days: in a way it seems like that’s still plenty of time, yet in other ways I realize I really am not prepared!

Why am I going?

As much as I can understand it: because I have been called. God has been guiding my path for several years now. A few years ago, quite by accident, he led me to become a volunteer at The Samaritan Women, an organization that fights human trafficking on several fronts, but most visibly with their rehabilitation residence for those who have been rescued from some kind of trafficking.

Each spring I would sit in church as the body was implored to go outside their comfort zone and share the love of Jesus around the world. I would say to myself “there is so much need right here, so many people right here who need to know the love of Jesus, why would I travel outside the country?”

I’ve traveled a lot, though not much in third world countries. I lived in Germany for four years. I’m not afraid of being in a place where I don’t understand what people are saying or am not sure what I’m about to eat. Those are not my primary concerns. But I did wonder if we applied all the resources that are given for missions to the nations, if we could turn our own nation around. A thought I still have occasionally.

But this spring was different. I felt that tug, a gentle push in one direction. And so I looked into where I felt I was being led.  Then discovered “Previous mission experience required”! Get out!? Who knew?!

Then the very next day I came into work and Sensei Tony let me know of a mission team that his church was sending to Thailand. To Thailand! One of the worst places for trafficking of children! Only a few months before I had been in a doctor’s office listening to an American girl rescued from trafficking excitedly tell me that she would someday go to Thailand or Cambodia to fight trafficking! You may dismiss the hand of God, but I can’t!

In addition to many friends I’ve made in all my bible studies, classes and small groups, there are four girls in a rescue and rehabilitation center praying for me and my team. That is quite humbling.