Sunday, February 27, 2011

SPLICE: Week One

I've just completed my first week here at MTI in their SPLICE program!

This picture of my SPLICE handbook was taken with my Slice Kodak camera! I'll just let you imagine the confusion and fun that can take place with the similarities in names :)

As I get ready to head into my second week, I would ask for your prayers for continued sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's leading , conviction, and encouragement. I've been to missionary seminars before, and received the benefit of so much knowledge and learning, but this week has been much more about living and transformation. Just because of the very nature of transformation, this process is very difficult. All the tears and frustration is all worth it though! As I watch the Lord shape and fashion me more into the image of His Son, I'm so grateful for the times of laughter and rejoicing that are mixed in with the hard looks at who I am, and how far I am from who I want to be.

I think the single most life-changing concept that I've been considering is the concept of embracing the good with the bad (or as it's called here, paradox). I tend to think that everything is all good, or all bad, all the time, when in reality almost everything has both the negative and the positive.

I was thinking about my anticipation of language learning in relation to this. On the one hand, I love learning languages! I love the challenge, the intrigue, and the marked achievement that comes with learning a language. So when I think about trying to learn Luganda, my first thought is YAY! I'm so excited for the experience! But then there is also the YUCK! I'm so afraid that I won't be able to learn Luganda in the time or to the fluency that I expect and desire. Through SPLICE, I have been learning to hold both at the same time.

It is a true challenge for me to be able to acknowledge and embrace that there is hardship, pain, and discomfort *along with* joy and excitement, instead of labeling something as all bad, or not worth it just because there are negatives, or ignoring and shutting out the pain and disappointment because I should be grateful and joyful. I've been seeing just how much more beautiful God-given joy and thanksgiving is when viewed with the contrast of pain and discouragement. "Counting" it all joy when we face trials is not the same as "calling" all trials joy. Finding thanksgiving and joy in Jesus in the midst of betrayal, disappointment and suffering is what we are called to do. Not mis-labeling trials as right and good.

I'm sure you will be hearing much more in the days to come of how this actually looks in my life as the Lord trains me up in His ways.

We're talking more tomorrow about dealing with conflict, so if there is something you've been wanting to confront me about, tomorrow would be your prime opportunity! :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flight Change

The past couple of months have brought so many plans, changes, and more plans! I was told at the very beginning of my deputation (fund-raising) to expect the unexpected and to fully embrace change, disappointment, and things not working quite the way I planned. In the process of making plans, and holding them with an open palm, the Lord has shown me time and again that His ways are perfect and even more beautiful than I could imagine.

The latest plan and consequent change was for my anticipated departure date. Having reached an acceptable level of support to buy my tickets, I made plans to leave for Uganda on February 23rd. I was all set to buy my tickets from my travel agent, but didn’t feel quite right about it. I decided to just put my tickets on hold and wait for a bit longer. I assumed at the time that this unease was due to some concerns about travelling to Uganda so soon after their general elections on Feb 18th. I had however investigated the issue and hadn’t found it to be a good enough reason to delay my departure. Since I didn’t know of a good reason to put off buying my tickets, several times I made a move to, and still just didn’t feel right about it. Then, in January I was surprised to learn that my sister’s boyfriend, JJ, was planning on proposing to her very soon. Melinda and JJ have been seeing each other since October, and while I knew they were very serious about each other, I didn’t expect a proposal and wedding so very soon. But propose he did the day before Melinda’s 25th birthday! I was incredibly excited to be able to secretly photograph the proposal, as well as the happy couple afterwards. This is an event both Melinda and I have dreamt about for many, many years and I’m so thankful the Lord is allowing me to be here with them for all of it. They are currently planning for a May 21st wedding here in Colorado Springs. After much prayer and petition, as well as seeking the counsel of many close to me, I have decided to delay my departure until after the wedding. I will be leaving May 29th and arriving June 1st. Melinda and I have been the best of friends our whole lives, and seeing her so blessed with this godly man is such a joy! I am so excited for Melinda and JJ, and I’m thrilled to be able to take part in their wedding both in the wedding party as well as planning.

In the past couple of weeks the Lord has brought along another unexpected blessing and training opportunity. Mission Training International provides a 3 week training for soon-to-be missionaries called SPLICE. It is an intensive program designed to better equip missionaries to deal with cross-cultural ministry. This includes not only the practical aspects of interpersonal relationships, but lifestyle and spiritual disciplines within a cross-cultural context. Because I will be in the country for a couple more months, I have the opportunity to participate in this program from February 21st through March 11. I am convinced that this training is one more reason the Lord has enabled me to stay in the US, and I am so excited to see what He does through it!

I was so excited to be so close to leaving for Uganda, but I continue to see the huge blessings the Lord is bringing through this delay. I am eager to be about the Lord’s work in Uganda, but until then I look forward to continuing to serve here and learning all the Lord has in store for me! Thank you each for your continued prayers and encouragement! You are such a blessing to me!