Monday, December 22, 2008

The breakers

If you are really quiet here at night you can hear the surf as it comes in and breaks up on the reef near the shore. It is a beautiful sound. During the day, you can see the white caps of waves a fair distance away from the shore. When the white caps contrast against the blue sea, it is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see. That which sounds beautiful at night and looks beautiful during the day is actually a pretty violent process. The reef seems to beat water up pretty hard by the time it gets to the beach. I suspect that if one were trying to get through there in a boat, you might find out the hard way that this seemingly beautiful approach is rather perilous.
I have discovered a similar truth in the last week. The place that we live in is beautiful. The people that we live with are dedicated and wonderful Christian missionaries. We know that we are supposed to be here. But coming here is difficult and learning to live here is costly. If you don’t know the way, there are plenty of breakers. I have been trying so hard to hold it together the last couple of weeks – it is time to let a little bit of out here in these pages. I’ve been rushing around trying to keep language school, work, missionary work, parenting, and Christmas for our family all in some sort of balance and doing a terrible job of it. It is just too much to do and instead of recognizing that, I’ve just kept going and going.
The stress of living in a new country is a constant, tiring stress that says nothing is really familiar, nothing is common. We love the newness of it and the “differentness” of it - but it carries a price in stress and worry. Is it safe? Does it cost too much? Can I eat that? How do I say that in Spanish – how do I get what I mean across to the person across the counter? Are my kids safe? Are they happy? What street was that on? How do I get there? Questions like these are just never ending right now. It brings with it a tiredness of the soul that I wasn’t expecting. Christmas has magnified this a bit. We feel obligated to try and get the right gifts for the kids. We want to send meaningful cards off to our friends and family in the states so that they know how much we miss them. The normally busy La Ceiba has turned in to a mad house of traffic and people. There isn’t a mall in every city here – the mall and the shopping in La Ceiba serve a huge surrounding rural area. All of the people in Northern Honduras seemed to be in La Ceiba last week for Christmas shopping. We are out here in the relative tranquility of the hospital now, but I hear from those that went to town today that it was even worse.
As someone who has been pretty good at worrying before ever coming here, I’ve found many new ways to do so and frankly, I’ve been losing my grip on reality over the last two weeks as I’ve rushed around to try and meet too many deadlines, too many expectations – all placed on myself by me. The thing that I’ve lost is that sense that God is in control and that I just have to follow His leading. A counselor once told me that I was trying to “elbow my way into the Trinity”, I still think that it is the best description of me when I’m struggling that I’ve ever heard.
The sin of trying to control one’s own destiny may not be very high on the list when we think about sin – but I guarantee that for me it is dreadfully evil. I completely deny God’s sovereignty over my life when I try and be sovereign over my own life. Business and burdens become the “breakers” that my efforts crash over as I try to accomplish everything, leaving nothing undone but the most important things. When God says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”, I believe He means that we are allowed to cease striving when we come to Christ. We don’t have to impress anyone (or everyone, in my case). We don’t have to control everything. We can recognize that God loves us simply for who we are in Christ. We can realize that Christ is in control and that we no longer have to try and maintain that illusion that we are in control. What a wonderful blessing! Cease to strive; rest in the completed work of Christ. What a beautiful concept. This thought rescues me just as I am about to be strewn to bits in the breakers. Suddenly a pathway through the reefs appears before me:
John 15:5 (New International Version)
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The sound of the waves grows louder as I end tonight. They are a blessed reminder in that they toil without ceasing, yet they never cross the boundary that God has marked out for them. Please help me to abide in you Jesus that I may bear fruit and please help me remember that apart from you, I can do nothing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why we can't send gifts from Honduras to our beloved family in the southern United States.

I am proud of my southern heritage, and I am very proud of my family from Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee - all of which wear shoes most of the time.

Having family from the south does present some difficult challenges as we consider what to buy them for Christmas.....

video

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mumbai

I confess that I haven't really paid attention to what happened in Mumbai last week. We were in Balfate getting stuck in rivers (and swimming across others). We were walking on the beach and enjoying the company of the other missionaries and finally, celebrating Thanksgiving. I had heard of the siege in Mumbai, but it wasn't until I read about it from an Indian missionary brother of ours that I finally "got it" in terms of how horrible it was.

Bro Ghuna Kumar is a man that we have had dinner with once, so I can't say that I know him well, but I do know him to be a man of God. I've received his newsletter (subscription info below) for about a year now and I've found it to be a good source of information for events in India. His reporting of the persecution in Orissa, for example, has been factual and "level-headed" to the best of my understanding. That said, when he described the recent tragedy in Mumbai as "India's 9/11", that got my attention.

Please read the item from his newsletter below and please join me in praying for the dear souls in Mumbai that were lost as well as those that are left behind to cope with the violence. Please also join me in agreeing with Bro Kumar that the severe escalation between India and Pakistan will subside before war breaks out.

Lastly, let me point out that Bro Kumar states that the killers are from Pakistan as a fact. I have no idea if this is true. It may well be a fact. It seems to me that there is still some question as to where they are from - but I am just not in a place to make any judgments on the validity of that point.

DF -- 1 Dec 2008

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SUNDAY SCRIPTURE - 30 NOV 2008
R. C. GHUNA KUMAR
Dec 1, 2008

India’s 9/11 took place on 26/11 in Mumbai. It was like a war in Mumbai. About ten terrorists who belonged to Pakistan and who were well-trained entered Mumbai through sea route and stormed Mumbai with bullets and bombs. They targeted 12 places. The well co-ordinated attacks have been claimed by an organization called Deccan Mujahideen. The terrorists targeted landmarks like Mumbai's Taj Mahal and Oberoi/Trident hotels, a Jewish centre, as well as Mumbai's main train station, a hospital and a popular restaurant. They killed the people indiscriminately with machine guns and grenades, and then took hostages, especially looking for American or British passports holders. Their aim was to destroy all these places and kill over 5000 people and bring the economical capital to a collapse. Their target was also the foreign nationals and Jewish people. It was a monstrous act for them to kill the young Rabbai Gavriel (29) and his wife Rivka (28) along with their four friends leaving the two year old son. The rabbai was in charge of the jewish center at the Nariman house, Mumbai. The two year old Moshe Holtzberg kept crying “Ima Ima” in Hebrew which means “mummy, mummy” during the memorial ceremony. They killed over 195 people and among them were 25 foreigners who included 5 Americans and 5 British. The terrorists were of ages between 18 to 24. One of them namely Ajmol was caught and it is reported that two of them escaped and the rest of them were killed. In the whole operation which lasted three days, 30 police men and 3 commando chiefs were killed. This has brought a real terror to the people of Mumbai and to those who live in cities. People of India are shocked and grieved because of this gruesome incident. Some of you called me and also mailed me to find out if I was in Mumbai at the time of attack. I am so thankful for your concern and enquiries. Please pray that the tension between India and Pakistan will subside. Both the countries are amassing the troops in the borders. I believe the terror attack was done by certain elements of Pakistan. May be Pakistan should take measures to clear of the terroristic groups rather than encouraging them.