Monday, November 21, 2011

what is a missionary?

long time no see, eh? sorry about that. instead of try to capture what has happened, i want to share two quotes that struck me recently. i am visiting another InnerChange team, and have the privilege of joining their team rhythms for a couple of weeks, including reading a book together. since i have a bit of extra time on my hands, i read the whole book (it's around 150 pages) .. and these two quotes really stood out to me. the book is called Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent J. Donavan -- and well worth a read. both of these struck me as right and true. i'd be interested to hear your thoughts (if anybody is still reading this.. :)

"It is a cleansing and humbling thought to see your whole life and work reduced to being simply a channel of hope, and yourself merely a herald of hope, for those who do not have it." (page 143)
"I think rather it might be put this way: a missionary is essentially a social martyr, cut off from his roots, his stock, his blood, his land, his background, his culture. He is destined to walk forever a stranger in a strange land. He must be stripped as naked as a human being can be, down to the very texture of his being. St. Paul said Christ did not think being God was something to be clung to, but emptied himself taking the form of a slave. He was stripped to the fiber of his being, to the innermost part of his spirit. That is the truest meaning of poverty of spirit. This poverty of spirit is what is called for in a missionary, demanding that he divest himself of his very culture, so that he can be a naked instrument of the gospel to the cultures of the world." (p144)

Monday, August 29, 2011

packages of books

at the moment, i am preparing to move overseas. for the second time. and it takes a lot of work and preparation! it means paring down what i own .. trying to look realistically at what i have, what i actually use, what i need, and what i can give away to people who will actually use it. and, as always .. i have 'rediscovered' that books are heavy! especially if you have a lot of them. with two colleagues who left the country before me, i had quite the little library. well over half of those books have now been given away. probably more like two thirds. and mostly, i have been glad to share!

but the books that i wanted to keep .. how to get them across the ocean? last week i went to send a small package of books in a shoebox, and was told that it would be rather expensive. when i asked if there was another way to send books, the worker at the post office said that there was another option. if the package is under 2 kilograms, they can do the slower, more inexpensive version. so i bought a couple of large padded envelopes, filled them with books, and began. in the last 10 days, i have been to the post office 4 times, each time sending between 2 and 4 packages. in the process, i have become a familiar face to all of the workers in the office (it's not a big office .. 7 people work there, i believe), and have been able to tell them why i came to romania and that it is a beautiful country with good people. sometimes romanians need to hear this .. to be encouraged!

all told.. i sent just over 48 lbs of books for just under $95. basically .. two dollars a pound. which is a fantastic price! and it certainly makes packing easier .. hopefully it is now possible for my suitcases to be underweight and not overweight! now, comes the waiting .. hoping that all the packages do actually arrive. this makes me smile .. hopefully it makes you smile too!

Friday, July 08, 2011

in season!

a few days ago i went to the farmer's market, which is about a ten-minute walk from my house. and i was so excited to see all the fresh produce available .. so many colors! mounds of fruit and vegetables giving off heady odors of summer. after wandering through to see what was available and what the various prices were, i stopped at a stand to get tomatoes and cucumbers. they are in season! which means that i got 1 kilo of each (2.2 lbs each) for just over $1. sweet!!

that night i thought i would have one friend over for dinner, but it turned out to be two friends, so we ate fresh cucumber and tomato salad with grilled cheese sandwiches. so tasty! and a gift to be able to share with friends, and have a nice conversation around the table. i become more and more convinced that the food can be quite simple .. but it is the relationships and people sitting around the table that matter! sometimes i like to make things a bit more complicated or that take a bit more time .. but mostly the conversation and being able to simply be present with those in my home is what i enjoy. and sometimes .. simple foods, like two fresh vegetables chopped and eaten together, is perfect!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

the end of the birds

a month ago i wrote about the birds who had made their nest just outside my window. at few weeks ago, the 'baby bird' which had grown quickly into a regular-sized bird, began moving his wings a bit. one afternoon, i was making coffee with a friend and we watched him hop up to the top of the metal window box, flex his wings a few times, and then fly away. and he hasn't been back since!

but i have been grateful to see the nest there each day. a nice reminder. and sometimes other birds come to investigate, so i get to enjoy their curious chirping as they wander around and look in the window. sometimes they even try the nest on for size, hoping into the middle of it and turning around and then settling down for a few seconds. one of my favorite moments was when one small bird had been hanging out while i was fixing lunch. i looked over, and i saw that he was scratching his ear! this is a movement i've often seen among dogs. and once, i saw a cow scratch her ear with her hind leg. but seeing a young bird reach up with his foot and scratch his ear put a big grin on my face. there truly are so many things in which we can take delight .. if only we pay attention!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

feeding time..

this morning, while i was fixing breakfast and waiting for my french press coffee to be ready, i had a few minutes to look out the window. and my timing was a gift! i saw one pigeon fly up, and greet the one sitting on the nest. then the fresh one came close and they did a quick switcheroo. the one who had been sitting on the nest flew off to eat something tasty, and the other proceeded to share a bit of food with the young pigeon sitting underneath him! it didn't last very long, but i got to see what baby pigeons look like .. with fluff that is yellow and black, and a hungry beak! not sure how long this stage of life lasts for them, but i'm still amazed that they set up house just outside my window!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

two visitors..

yesterday morning i went into the kitchen to make my coffee and grab some cereal and yogurt and banana. i heard a couple of pigeons outside and looked out the window to see if they were still there -- they usually fly away when i get closer. but .. outside my window i have a metal window box, or something like that. i could put a couple of flowerpots in it and grow flowers.

but one of the birds didn't fly away. she starred at me intently .. but then went about her business. i looked closer to see what she was doing, and realized that she had a bunch of sticks underneath her. what?! as i continued to watch, amazed, her partner brought back another stick, handed it over, and flew off again. apparently they have decided that this a good place to build a nest.

yesterday afternoon when i made a cup of tea, i meandered slowly over to the window (not wanting to make any sudden movements so the birds flew away). and there were no birds .. only the beginning of a nest. but this morning, she was back again! at work making things nice and comfy. don't know if they will actually decide to stay here, but even the thought of it is making me smile.

so amazing, the way that life is visible - even in strange places! sometimes i miss the obvious grandeur and beauty of the mountains where i grew up. but i know that God is at work in all places, and that He makes beautiful things in all places! sometimes it just takes a bit more looking or adjusting to see them. so today i am grateful for this unexpected and delightful presence outside my window.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

funny conversation

so, i thought i'd start off simply.
just a conversation that made me laugh.
better that than nothing, right?

a few days ago i took a seven-hour train ride that began at 6 in the morning. across the aisle from me there was a couple who had just finished an overnight train ride, and to finish their journey had another five hours on the train. so they were really tired. like about half of those on the train, they fell asleep. each having two seats to stretch out a little, with a small table between them. at one point, the wife woke up, looked around and decided to wake her husband up. their conversation went something like this..

johnny. johnny!
   hmm .. what happened?
what time is it?
  well, where is the cell phone?
in my pocket.
   what do you want me to do about it?
well, i'm too tired to reach down and get it.
can you reach across the table,
reach in my pocket,
and tell me what time it is?

i'm not sure what else was said, but nobody pulled the cell phone out to find out what time it was. and shortly thereafter, they were asleep again. but it sure made me smile. like a comedy routine .. in real life!