Thursday, January 21, 2016

The reality of hard emotions

A woman at one of my mobile clinics (photo by Nathan Clendenin)

(The front of my clinic - El Arbol de la Vida - logo designed and painted by Madison Pettengill)

When we arrived in Honduras, we arrived to an empty airport, no one waiting for us, and no clue what we were going to do, what kind of ministry we were going to start, or what life would look like.  We are now leaving Honduras the same way - headed to the airport by ourselves, leaving quietly and moving toward the new path that God has placed before us.

We have taken time to say good-bye.  In a previous blog I wrote about our time in the village that Madison, Mike and I were able to see so many Hondurans we have known to grow and love over the last 8 years of our lives, but we leave knowing that we will most likely never return. This is heart is starting to feel the impact of the reality of what is going to happen...I've been weepy, thinking of how my life has been impacted by the beautiful Honduran people I've come to know, and those who I've treated, the clinics I've put on, and the thousands of children who came through my children's program.

In addition, we had to leave our dogs - who have been an important part of our lives...we are leaving our daughter, Madison, so very far away, and 8 hours time change difference.  We are leaving our parents, who are entering later stages of life...our friends seem like they are so very far away (and they are).  All of these things are pressing deeply on our hearts.

My brother wrote something to me that truly spoke to my heart and speaks volumes to the life we live and will try and replicate in Africa.  He quoted a Greek proverb - "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."  I don't know what lives I've touched, I don't know if anyone heard the words I spoke...I don't know if the children I cuddled and gave clothing to and food to will go hungry tonight, or even remember who I am.  But that's not my job...that's not the thing I cling to.  I cling for that shade that I pray they will have...that I've planted the tree, and now leave it to flourish.  I will most likely die and people will not remember who I am, and not know what I've done...but the tree....the tree will be there - and there I pray that the roots are deep, and many shall be able to sit under. 

My clinic in Honduras is called the El Arbol de la Vida - the Tree of Life.  The bible reference for this is from Revelation 22:1-5..1Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. 

In 18 days Mike and I leave Honduras...for good...I pray the roots have grown deep, the tree is spreading it's branches, and that shade is soothing to the soul.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why Belgium?

Part of mandatory training for our mission board (MTW) is to attend a month long training of cross-cultural acclimation, language acquisition skills, and navigating a place you've never been to before.  We did our training in New York.  However, MTW has moved all of their training over to Belgium. 

Part of my group
But why am I here?  Good question. I'm here to act as a mentor for new missionaries.  I have 5 people I am mentoring and we meet as a group and individually.  They also have personal journals they submit to me to talk about how they are processing things, and what they are experiencing.  In addition, they submit three different cultural analysis papers.  These papers give them structured ways of looking at a culture and making observations about it.

During the week there are practical lessons about team dynamics, language acquisition, etc. And then on the weekend there are some churches that have activities that they are involved in.  This is a great way to get to know a community, a church body, and figure out ways to figure things out!

It's my first time to Belgium and I'm really enjoying the mentoring aspects and training aspects of being here.  In addition, we have the opportunity to see some of Belgium on the weekends in our "free time."