My ‘heart’ language has always been English.
But I sometimes now find myself expressing my feelings better in Indonesian. 😀
My ‘heart’ language has always been English.
But I sometimes now find myself expressing my feelings better in Indonesian. 😀
We don’t choose to go to the “end of the earth”. It is not a pleasant place. We don’t belong there. We miss our home. But we go. And yet, if we go, we want to see some fruit while we are there. We want it to be a garden place where many souls find salvation in our Lord. We want it to blossom. While we don’t want to be there, at least let it be changed into something more tolerable for us. Let it be more like home. Don’t let it continue to be the “end of the earth”. And yet, it is the “end of the earth”.
What can we do? Go home?
Was that the prayer of the psalmist? No! He did not ask to go home. He did not ask for a successful ministry. He did not even ask to be happy. What did he ask? The psalmist wrote, “lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I”. He discovered the secret of climbing higher.
Whenever I come out from Kalimantan into Malaysia (be it Kuching, KL or Penang), I always feel slightly lost and dazed the first day. The bright lights of a supermarket, the big roads, luxurious houses and bathrooms (what you see as a common home bathroom is pure luxury to us, i.e sinks and taps, a sitting toilet, shower) all leave me slightly bewildered…
And yet, whenever I return back to Kalimantan, I go through the adjustment period all over again. The long drive home through the windy, narrow roads past little villages, going into an extremely small town with very, very few conveniences and amenities, also leave me feeling a little lost and sad. Thank God for my husband who really is my home and brings comfort and stability to this pining heart who really, does not fully belong in one place anymore.
In Malaysia, I no longer speak bahasa Malaysia but Bahasa Indonesia. But in Indonesia, my foreign accent and occasional fumbling of words give me away that I’m not one of them.
Nick vowed that in our marriage, we would be as Pilgrims, never quite having a place of our own. But I’m thankful that God gives us His grace to follow through what we have promised, to each other, and to Him.
I am thankful for the angels He places, the hospitality shown to us wherever we go. The kindness we experience mainly out of brotherhood in Christ, for we have no earthly, material blessing to leave them. But they continue to show graciousness and generosity to us.
Many people ask me how I do it. I don’t know the answer. If I were to think about being in Kalimantan for the rest of my life (goodbye to comfort forever, raising children away from our parents and family, no proper schools etc…) i would be fearful and unable to continue on. But God grants His daily bread which includes His grace apportioned for this day to obey Him. I obey Him a day at a time. That’s how I’m able to remain there, and do what I’m doing.
I just do it a day at a time.
I think a missionary could be one of the most misunderstood and lonely creatures on earth.
You are not understood in your new home, for obvious reasons – the vast differences in language and culture. But more than that, the very ones you serve are the least aware about your needs, struggles, and all the risks you have taken and are taking to do the things you do.
On the other hand, people back home would find it difficult to place themselves in your shoes. They usually see you as some super-sacrificial, brave superhero or, as a foolhardy risk taker who gives no thought to safety, precaution and forethought.
There is a very fine line between foolish risk taking and moving by faith, and sometimes all we do is move a step at a time, trusting God to lead us.
We are far from superheroes. I still cry a lot from homesickness and loneliness. I struggle with selfishness and apathy and impatience. I often have to ask the Lord for the love I do not have. I have never felt so wretched in the entire of my Christian life.
Paul Washer says this well, “There is no such thing as a great man of God, only weak, pitiful, faithless men of a great and merciful God.”.
I guess I’m writing this, in hopes that I would be able to explain how I’m feeling and thinking right now to someone who would perhaps, be able to catch a glimpse and understand.
That I may know I am not alone…
The bravery of God in trusting us! You say — “But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value.” That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfilment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.
We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience — all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-30). The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed.
(Taken from his bestseller book My Utmost for His Highest, reading for August the 4th)
I guess this is what I struggle most with as a new wife and missionary.
I am brought to the end of my sufficiencies as I grapple with learning a new language and culture.
Loneliness and awkwardness are now common foes I have to face on a daily basis. “Just be who you are” , you say. But how on earth? Being on a platform requires a certain bearing, decorum, an obligation to the ones who are watching you, learning from you, and sometimes looking to you for answers you do not have. I have never cried so much for a very long time, but despondency and tears are my constant companions after periods of ministering in public.
I want to live a transparent and open life before you, my family, friend, acquaintance. But it’s a different thing on the field altogether. Just as a mother is unable to divulge her worries, frustrations and problems fully to her child, so am I, on this field.
Perhaps even as I grapple through this feelings of withdrawal and seclusion, it is helping me grow in being the faithful and true companion that Nick so deeply needs, the wife to whom her husband’s heart safely trusts. (Prov 31:11)
Illness has been also a constant pain in the neck, literally and figuratively. The past month of traveling and ministering have taken its toll on our bodies, with nick and I recovering from a cold, and I, having recurring diarhhea. The pains in my back and neck have intensified, leaving me fatigued and tired even after a full night of rest.
These are some of the pressures I face as a new missionary. I wonder when I will be ‘normal’, feel normal again and function in an effective, progressive manner. Attempts thus far have felt like ‘one step forward, two steps backward’.
God, have mercy on me and make me
Love you guys. Thanks for reading. And now, for some pictures from the Kairos missions training we attended (Nick was one of the facilitators there)
Following that, we hosted a team of university students from Kuching who came to West Kalimantan for training, followed by an exposure trip to the interiors. Grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside them, and watch them use their talents, youth and energy for the Lord.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Without Him, we are nothing, and without Him, we truly can do nothing.
I believe it will only be known on the last day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home.
After being here in Indonesia for nearly two months now, I am beginning to crave for odd things like jam & crackers, cake and French fries (not so odd – my all-time favourite snack!)
Guess where and when I got my cravings fixed!
In two unassuming, remote, out-of-the-way villages called Abah and Beringin!
Nick, Hengki (our missions team member and dear brother in Christ) and I were serving there last week, reconnecting with families, building bridges with new friends, giving basic medical care & treatment as well as ministering to the many village children who were so eager to learn, play and hang around us.
I was never one who needed cake or looked for cake when I was back home in Penang. Rarely do we crave for food we have so easily accessible, don’t you think? Plus. I was a butter snob. Back home I would wrinkle my nose at the taste of a cake made with margarine (toxic! Poison! Trans fats! Hydrogenated oils!) and always swore by good quality butter in my cooking & baking.
Well, our host happened to be baking on one of the days we were in Abah, and I had the most delicious margarine cake ever! And in my heart, thanking God for loving me so much to even humour such a small desire.
When we visited Kampung Beringin for the first time, we eventually ended up in a home where the host had an abundance of tapiocas. Within an hour, there were 3 plates of piping hot tapioca fries laid in front of us. I knew it was not a coincidence. This was Papa, telling me, “I love you, my precious daughter.”
He truly satisfies our mouths with good things, so that our youth is renewed like the eagles. (Psalm 103:5)
This verse became such a reality to me this trip.
How many times have we been blessed over & beyond, more than our needs but the extras. The extras that say, “I love you. I delight in you. You are the apple of my eye.”
May our eyes never grow dim to the many blessings He bestows on us each day. May we never receive our everyday providences with a sense of entitlement, God forbid that we become ungrateful or covetous.
Nick and I spent our first two weeks here getting our home into order & settling down into the church & community. Things then got pretty cruisy by week 3. God has been bringing neighbourhood kids to our doorstep regularly. Sometimes they play chess, but many times they ask to read and I have had the opportunity to give spontaneous, informal & very basic English classes to these children. Pray that I would teach skillfully & creatively to these children. I need wisdom from above. 🙂
Our fourth week was my most challenging. Nick received an invitation to preach & minister in a village 6 hours away (by bike on dirt road). I knew it was time for me to face my fears of being left in the base camp without him. Having been unwell & slightly frail of late, it would have been unwise for him to bring me to that particular village which has extremely poor sanitation & requires long hours in sun exposure.
I struggled with great loneliness the first two days of our separation. Nick himself too, wasn’t completely well during his time ministering up the mountains.
Then I came down with what I believe to be an upper urinary tract infection which brought pain & also anxiety.
Thankful for several church members who came alongside to support and help during this time. Also to the hubby who really has been my hero, comfort and strength the past month.
If there are five words I could use to describe the life that I have chosen to life, it would be “Not easy, but surely blessed”.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 that “the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”
This is certainly no excuse for husband or wife to neglect his or her marital and relational responsibilities within the context of marriage and family in the name of ministry or God. What I believe the bible is trying to say however, is that we must be so Christ and Kingdom focused, that it governs our daily decisions even in our marriage, work and how we manage our possessions. Viewing all these in the light of eternity helps us keep perspective of what’s truly important.
As Nick’s wife I am not to seek a greater work other than doing the greater work of supporting the one who is called. It is my sacrifice as I “live as though I had no husband” when I release him to go and give and possibly even lose his life for the sake of Christ. And this is where my cross is heaviest.
But this is all part of “the deal”.
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The central point of Matthew 10:34-37 is that the love of God and His kingdom must take precedence over every other human relationship.
Jesus never promised us an easy journey, but He has given us His sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:9), He will bring our work to completion (Phil 1:6) and He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. (Heb 13:5)
“People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid. I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable. Matthew 10:28 tells us not to fear things that can destroy the body but things that can destroy the soul.
I am surrounded by things that can destroy the body. I interact almost daily with people who have deadly diseases, and many times I am the only person who can help them.
I live in a country with one of the world’s longest running wars taking place just a few hours away. Uncertainty is everywhere. But I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amidst things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living in a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.”
Katie Davis (kisses from Katie)
“During the first few months I lived in Uganda, in fall of 2007, I wrote, “Sometimes working in a Third World country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eye dropper.”
Today, it often still feels that way. I have learned to be okay with this feeling because I have learned that I will not change the world.
Jesus will do that.
I can, however, change the world for one person.
And if one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for.
So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a christian. I can only do what one woman can do, but I will do what I can. Daily, the Jesus who wrecked my life enables me to do so much more than I ever thought possible.”
We have been in the city (4 hours away from our home base) for the past 2 days, having had to send some friends from ministry off to the airport and it has been a time away just to do some quick purchasing for the home as well as catch up on rest. I am also able to drop a quick line here now that I have access to the Internet from our accommodation here.
The first few days upon arrival were busy and tiring with lots of cleaning to do. (Think rat and lizard poop, spiders & cobwebs and dust aplenty everywhere).
God has been gracious, and I am well.
Please pray that He leads us as we begin to start our journey here in the interiors.
Pray for safety for Nick when he travels out into the depths of the interiors and for mine as I manage the home base alone. I’m afraid, but pray that providence will make a way either for me to stay with someone we trust, or for safety and peace should I have to remain at home alone.
It is challenging, but life is good simply because God is good and His grace is always sufficient, always present and always ready to meet us at our point of need.
Oh how we need Him.
Please us in your prayers if we cross your mind. We truly need, covet and cherish your prayers.
His, and yours in Him,