Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Sermon of a Missionary Mom

I was asked to speak a couple of times while we were in the States last year.  I am quite shy and get tongue tied quite easily- so I wrote it out.  This is a reflection of our first 2 years in Kenya and hopefully an encouragement to other mothers.

About the time I was 18 years old, the Lord opened my eyes to the world beyond my neighborhood, beyond my city and beyond my country.  Slowly my heart began to dream about being a part of Kingdom work in another part of the world.  My eyes were fixed and doors began to open.  I chose social work as my field of study and had a vision to help the orphans in some small corner of the world.  It was a dream that made my heart soar.  God brought Kyle into my life way back in the 10th grade.  He was this sweet, kind and cute Christian guy.  My first memory of him was when we were first practicing in the Broken Arrow High School marching band.  I was standing all alone on the 40 yard line completely confident I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Who knew maybe I had been assigned some marching solo.  I remember him walking up to me in his low top Converse and kindly asking me if I needed help.  I politely said "no, I'm all right."  He looked at my coordinates and graciously told me that I should be on the other 40 yard line.  What?  There are two 40 yard lines?  I swiftly went on my way and he saved my major humiliation.  Our paths kept crossing, but it wasn't until he shared his dreams of being a doctor and working overseas and serving the needy that I fell in love.  And that was love at first sight for me.

Kapsowar, Kenya was our dream come true!  We traveled with 3 little boys to our new home-sight unseen.  Although our hearts were filled with anticipation and excitement, we also knew deep down this decison would come at a cost.  And for us the biggest cost was leaving our family and friends behind.  We grieved and felt a big hole in our lives.  Our kids would no longer attend the birthday parties of their cousins, no longer see Grammy and Papa every Sunday at church; they would not be able to attend school with other children that speak their language; not be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by every aunt and uncle that loves them dearly; Christmas without seeing Nana's eyes sparkling as she watched them open their presents; no children's church with a craft time and comfy chair to sit in.  These were the big sacrifices for us.  The little ones were life without mac n' cheese and fruit snacks, bathing in dirty bath water before you enter the bath, power outages that last for days leaving them scared to tears in the middle of the night because it was so dark they couldn't see to get to the bathroom.  And the list could go on and on.  But the more important thing to dwell on is the blessing in the sacrifice.  The joy in the suffering.  I can honestly say that more days than not my spirit is content.  I am at peace and feel genuine joy.  There are days when I am tired of being watched, when I cry out for God to provide deep friendship for my family and I.  There are days when I feel intense loneliness and longing to return to my culture, my family, my friends.  these needs keep me on my knees, praying that God would be enough and the rest is just "extra".

And God provides.  My life may look a little different then most physically, but as mom's we have a common ground-our children-our mission field.

We came to Kenya with a family mission Luke 9:2 "And He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick."

This is a pretty heavy verse and mission especially for a 2 year old.  We looked at the life of Job.  A servant of whom the Lord was greatly pleased with. We looked at how he lived his life for our inspiration.

Job 29: 12-16
"because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.  The man who was dying blessed me, I made the widow's heart sing.  I put on righteousness as my clothing, justice was my robe and my turban.  I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.  I was father to the needy.  I took up the case of a stranger.  verse 24 says, When I smiled at them they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.  verse 25 I was like one how comforts mourners".

These are all amazing, yet simple ways we can "preach" the kingdom of God and "heal" the sick.

Daily we are facing the poor.  They knock on my door asking for help.  I buy their lemons, avocados and pumpkins.  Not asking for their price, but paying what the Lord thinks these items are worth.  Paying what this man or woman needs in order to get his "daily bread".

Education is not a right in Kenya after the 8th grade.  There are many children without fathers to provide for them.  We often feel the Lord prompting us to pay school fees for a child whose father abandoned them.

v. 13  Working at the hospital gives us ample time to be around those that are dying.  It's not just Kyle, but all of us.  We have brought clothes for warmth, toys for fun, food for hunger and prayers for peace.  If our family can provide any of these things in the Name of Jesus during someone's last days.  We have brought "healing".  It may seem small, but we feel the Lord smiles upon it.
v. 13 "making the widows heart sing"
We have a friend, Jane, she is blind.  She is a mom and she is a widow.  She provides for her family by knitting sweaters for the local schools uniform requirements.  As me how she does it-I don't know, but it is only the gift of God has provided.  She hugs the children and in a week they have a perfectly fitted sweater.  Her machine for knitting broke, unknown to us.  We received a call one night.  She told us that she had nothing to feed her family for dinner.  And no money to buy anything.  Sometimes I think I have "nothing" to cook for dinner, but it has never been that literal.  I couldn't imagine her heartache, her fear, what she felt.  The panic of knowing your child will go to bed hungry and wake up and go to school hungry the next day.  I thought to myself-there is something small we can do about this!  We got in our pantry rummaged through our overflowing pantry and fridge.  Found food for their dinner-food to fill their bellies.  I am pretty sure I heard a widow's heart sing that night.  In Matthew 25:35 it says, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you have me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  I needed clothes and you clothed me.  I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  v. 40 goes on to say, "Jesus will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

In Job 29:24 it says, "When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them."
I have 2 children who provide this in abundance.  Isaac will run full force to give a smile and hug to almost anyone.  We often have doctors stop by weary from a long and grueling day just to get one of Isaac's hugs.  It brings healing to a tired soul.  Ariella's entire body smiles when she smiles.  Her face radiates light and shines Jesus to all those around her.  This act should not be underestimated or undervalued.  It is priceless and brings healing.

v. 25 says "I was like one who comforts mourners"
The older 2 boys have a little "mission" of their own-to provide "fun and friendship" to the kids in the hospital.  Our hospital is funny.  You can't leave until you pay your bill. Even if you are better.  Your trapped until the bill is paid.  In essence you are a prisoner.  For kids being cooped up is like jail.  Often we find kids there for months at a time.  Their parents have left to try and find money for their bill leaving them all alone.  There was one boy in particular that Hudson was drawn to.  He told me that he couldn't walk home without stopping by to say "hello" or color a picture with him.  The Lord tugged on his heart and he chose not to ignore it.  Hudson's visit was the highlight to this boy, to this "mourner" who was grieving his freedom, his family.  You will often find Hudson walking up to the pediatric ward with a backpack full of fun-stickers, bubbles, colors -you name it.  He is ready to bring joy to someone's day.  There was a boy named Titus.  Titus was 3, just like Jude was 3.  Titus had fallen into the cooking fire and was severely burned.  We met Titus on our way home from church when we stopped by to say "hi".  Jude noticed him crying in pain.  He was trapped in traction.  It was like a cage surrounding him.  He was unable to move.  Jude was drawn to him.  We went home and made him a beaded necklace and tied a shiny turtle on it.  We went back to hang it about Titus' head.  We instantly heard him stop crying!  We prayed for him.  Jude always remembered to pray for him every night before bed.  His prayer went something like this, "please help the boy, Titus, who's 3 like me and who got burned really bad feel better really soon."

I think what I am trying to encourage you with is that God cares about the little things.  Because the little things are big things to God.  And the "little things" - our children are God's gift to us as moms.  They have so much to offer this world if only we give them the opportunity to shine.  If we give them wings to soar.  If we allow them to bring "healing" to this hurting world.  A world desperate for band aids, for beaded necklaces with shiny turtles, for bubbles, for smiles that radiate the Kingdom of Jesus-the light of His glory.  Love the "little"years.  Seize every moment of them.  God treasures them and longs to use them in ways our minds cannot fathom.  This is why despite what the world would see as sacrifice or suffering- I see joy, I feel content.  Each of our days is full of mission-full of purpose.  And for this I humbly fall on my knees and say "Thank You, Lord!" 

Let me leave you from a quote from a blog I read a long time ago.
"We've chosen this life of changing diapers, watching our waistline expand to accommodate a growing nugget, and being on the never ending rotation of meals and baths.  Because the truth is we've been entrusted to royalty, every parent has been.  We've got babies to raise up so that when their little feet hit the ground, the enemy's heart trembles with fear.  They're awake and they're coming.  They're coming to lay hands on the sick and see them healed.  They're coming to shake the kingdom of darkness and forever change the world around them.  And it begins in a diaper gripping sippy cup."


9 comments:

Tara Hicks said...

Vanessa, I am touched by your honesty and your heart. I have to share that we are studying missionaries at our church with our K-4th graders. We showed them one of your end of the year videos. We explained about your kids and how they minister too. Our kids were amazed! They want to do something to bless your kids. I have some ideas. Do you mind emailing me when you get a moment and maybe we can make arrangements to get some small blessings your way for your kids.

Tara Hicks said...

tarahix@gmail.com

TFI thefamilyinternational said...

It almost fall my tears down while reading this. I've learn a lot and thank you.

God Bless you and your happy family.

Travis and Marlene said...

Wonderful (even though I've read it before! Keep writing - you are gifted at it!
Love and miss you all!

Madden Family said...

Loved reading this today...thank you! So thankful for you and your sweet family...praying for you, rejoicing with you!

John and Jessica Cropsey said...

Vanessa, thanks so much for this post. It was a blessing to my soul and a great encouragement to me as a father. John Cropsey

The Bergs said...

Hey Vanessa! So great to meet you and your ADORABLE, SWEET AND PERFECT kids at the Mennonite Guest House today. I haven't read your post yet, so I won't tell you I enjoyed it - yet. (But I'm sure I will.)Just wanted to message you and leave our blog before I forgot your address!

So fun to meet you, and hope to meet up again someday.

Love,
Linda Berg
www.bergfamilyafrica.blogspot.com

Craig W. said...

Amazing . . . brought me to tears.

Cathy and Ben said...

Our hearts have been touched and lifted by your faith story, Vanessa. It has been an honour to get to know more about you, having been blessed over the past few years by your warm, caring and competent hospitality during our working visits to Kapsowar. You bring joy to all who enter your home and your ministry grows with your input into your children who extend your reach to many. We love you!