It's About Time.....

I think this post needs to start with an apology.

Yep, It's been 6 months since we have given any inkling that we are still alive here. We are. 

It's taken a long time to get to the place where I felt inspired to write.  

But, it's about time we post some news, updating you on our lives. The past 6 months have been filled with some of the most joyful victories. We were able to minister to many women in MamaLove as well as be a part of a rescue mission for a beautiful mother and her unborn child. Our boys are excelling at school and sports and feel this is home. 

 I have seen God move in miraculous ways.

Multiple physical healings, massive obstacles instantly moved from the path we walk on, feeding hungry children on a Saturday, and playing with 27 beautiful preschoolers in a one room schoolhouse in Salasala. I watched the hand of God keep me safe in a few car accidents that could've gone terribly wrong, and last but not least, the growth of our home church, Dar Vineyard, as we strive to keep following Jesus, standing in the gap against injustice and pouring out His abundant mercy to those in need. 

In all these things, I stand utterly amazed to see God. What an absolute honor it is to have a front row seat at the work of God for his people. I am truly humbled.

But these past 6 months have also held some of the hardest moments of my life. Countless sicknesses , car accidents where I am forced to flee from those chasing me down afterwards, power outages and broken generators, having no water for days on end, financial hardship, family stress, friends robbed at gunpoint, and let's not forget my children's unidentifiable rashes, fevers, stomach pains and sprains.

Many times, my body, mind and soul are worn thin. 

Now, before I go on,  let me stop here and  preface the rest of this writing.

It is hard to tell the things that are hard.

For me, I often feel like there's some unspoken rule that we have to abide by as missionaries, cross-cultural workers, global citizens {whatever name is popular now}. It seems like if we tell the hardships, if we really tell the world just how hard this really is, if we let our pain pour out of hearts through the vast online world, that we will be letting someone, somewhere down. 

Follow me here. 

As people who relocate to far off places to be "full-time" Christians and serve God's people through acts of love and kindness and mercy, there is a persona you {unknowingly or maybe knowingly} take on. People say  to you "I could never do what you do"  or "How do you do what you do?" "Keep Saving the World!" {insert ego inflation, please}

But, why am I given a place like that on the scale of all the  "good people" or even more perplexing "a good christian". Sigh.

If we were honest, real honest about the stress we face, day in and day out, about how sometimes, you just want to pack up and leave because you may never make sense of the suffering you see, that the work requires all of you and somedays there is just not a lot left over for the ones you love. If I told you that the intensity of continuous stress causes physical aches and pains as well as sicknesses. Or that, according to research,  1 in 2 people who come to DAR as missionaries develop an identifiable mental disorder {including anxiety & depression} in their first year. What would you say? 

Which one am I? Am I the 1 or the 2? I don't know. If I told you about the accidents we witness, the nursing mother's who have no food, the pregnant mother whose husband just beat her....I could go on... If I told you.....

But I won't, because my point is that many of us, cross-cultural workers, keep those things out of the public eye. And keep on the happy face of being a missionary. Here we are, having so much fun, "saving the world".  I will be the first to admit I do. And I am willing bet there are many other people who do.

Well,  today, I am questioning why? 

Maybe we feel we will let people down if we expose the intimate reality of hardships that come with this life and work.  We may want to keep our persona of being the "strong and courageous" servant of the Lord, in tact. {I mean, who wouldn't want accolades for having "great faith"?  Or maybe we feel like that's what is expected of "missionaries". 

Maybe we are scared of sharing our hardships because they are too heavy and hard to wade through. And we know that nobody but us can carry that part of the cross we've been given.

Do we feel like we are "complaining" and a good missionary shouldn't complain? {which is huge load of crap} I should know, been there, done that....... 

And maybe there's some of us who just simply don't want to share hard things because we can't find the words to convey it. 

But, I think God is calling me out. Calling bullshit on my insecurities of communication with those who love and support us. I think He is teaching me, day by day, to be authentic, even if it means people will think less of you, think that you are "complaining" , even if I am betraying my desire to only live in all that is good and deny the rest. 

The hard truth is that the absolute "fill your whole body" joy of following Jesus exists right along side the suffering that comes with it. I've realized we rarely have one without the other. It's a part of living life this way, as a nomadic followers of Christ. We have been called to a life where suffering for the sake of the Gospel is a given. { I am pretty sure it says that somewhere in the Bible} 

And maybe I haven't wanted to admit that.

But, lately, God is teaching me that He won't let me  hide that part away from the world.

{that may or may not be called denial} sigh. 

So, it's about time I shared some of this...... Life is hard.  {and}  God is good.

 I may never be able to convey just how hard it is, but at least I can try. Missionary life is HARD. Period. It is  a fun, exciting, adventurous, breathtaking, faith- making, joy- producing REFINING FIRE.  AND it is hard.{even as I write this, we have no water coming to our house and the electricity just blew, and I am still recovering from Typhoid} 

It's a struggle that many times you do not feel like you win. Like that movie you just watched that had no climax nor a  happy ending. You keep moving forward, get knocked down, stand back up, make some strides, get knocked down, stand back up.......on and on and on. 

Here's the light at the end of the tunnel  {I assume you were all wondering when I was going to get to that}

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. My dreams and hopes of participating in God's kingdom here on earth are rooted here. Our hearts are woven into the story of redemption that God is creating here. We don't desire anything else. 

But missionaries are no different than every other human on this planet. We don't have some super strength that allows us to lift cars with our bare hands or leap buildings in a single bound. We can't keep being knocked down without getting bruised and battered. We don't have some secret serum that keeps our hearts from breaking when the suffering around us seems too much. If we want to keep going, we MUST learn to rest and heal. Otherwise, the scar tissue that forms from each wound and the bones that don't quite heal from each tiny stress fracture will begin to add up.  Eventually a bunch of little scars and tiny fractures add up and cause the body to breakdown. 

After much prayer and counsel, we are returning to the US in a June for 12 months in order to strengthen our support system back home. We need to raise more money in order to thrive over here. We are going to catch our breath a bit and finally have some family rest time. It's been a LONG 4 years. We know Jesus is inviting us to invest our lives here in Tanzania longer and in order to do that, we have to reorganize our support foundations. We have heard God's voice clearly on that.

But, most of all, we hear him beckoning us to REST. 

Missionaries NEED rest. We are not heroes, but rather people who continue to say "yes", that is our only super power, our only courageous act. When we just say {albeit at times it's a whisper} "YES, I will continue on, Lord". Sometimes your "yes" is all you have to keep you going. 

and then all of God's people say "AMEN".

I'm glad you took the time to read this very lengthy blog post. Congratulations for getting through it! 

It's about time it ended! 

Be back soon {not 6 months from now, I promise}