Overflow of the Heart

Today I read a very moving post from a missionary family in Ukraine.  It’s similar to the “Man in the Doorway” stories 1 & 2 I posted about earlier.

You can read the story by clicking on the following link which will take you to their website:  On Second Thought – Overflow of the Heart

Tagged

As a fairly new blogger in the blogging world, I’m learning that there are little games that rotate around from blog to blog.  I became a participant in one of these games today when I was “tagged” by Deborah at Comfort Joy Designs, who also blogs at Cup of Joy.

Here are the rules:
1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, here goes…7 random things about me (Lindsey).

1.  Food on my plate CANNOT touch.  I keep them separated, and if they should come in contact with each other, I simply do not each that small strip of mixed food.  And, I eat one thing at a time, rotating my plate so the item I’m eating is closest to me.

2.  When I can’t sleep, I picture a pitch black room with a large grandfather clock.  I watch its pendulum swing back and forth, counting from 100 to 1.  Essentially, I guess I hypnotize myself to sleep!

3.  I have narrow heels, making it extremely difficult to find shoes that fit.

4.  Other than being a missionary, my dream job would be to work as a travel journalist – National Geographic being the ultimate employer.

5.  I love, love, love Russian literature (although I don’t have time to read it much).

6.  I’m obsessed with the Romanov stories.

7.  The only hobby I’ve ever really stuck with is photography.  It brings me peace and appreciation for God’s creation.  I’m not that great at it yet, but it brings me joy.

Okay, now who to tag…

1.  Jaybrams – my brother who always has something interesting to say.

2.  Emmychka – a young woman living as a missionary in Kiev, Ukraine.

3.  Lori – a missionary friend living in Mukachevo, Ukraine.

4.   The Heart of the Matter – who calls herself ukrainiac and blogs about life in Kiev.

5.  On Writing Well – a young lady I used to ‘babysit’ (really, we just hung out) who is now all grown up and puts her thoughts and life into bits of poetry.

6.  Following an Unknown Path –  In her word she is, “a saved-by-grace american woman living in taiwan who loves photos, the written word, and her Savior (not necessarily in that order).”

7.  Chernigov (or bust) – a missionary living in (can you guess?)…Ukraine.

Another Blessing

One of the ministries that we are highly considering to begin in Ukraine is an ESL (English as a Second Language) school.  An ESL school can be beneficial in several ways:

1.  It allows daily interaction with community members.  Yes, even as missionaries it can be hard to randomly meet people and begin a relationship/friendship with them.  ESL schools bring citizens to us.  They are usually hard-working, highly-motivated individuals who seek out relationships with their English teachers because they want to learn as much as possible.  Having an ESL school would open up more opportunities for us to get to know others.

2.  It can open up conversations about God and Christ in our lives.  As the students continue to learn, they become more and more curious about who we are, why we are in their country, and why we do the things we do (ex. history behind our weddings).  The topics that are covered allow for discussion of our beliefs and can easily transition into ministry.

3 .  It brings in extra revenue for our other ministries and outreach.  Every little bit of income is always beneficial.

(There are many more, but brain’s not at 100% at the moment).

To become certified to teach ESL, it takes time and money (usually quite a bit).  We had not even thought about getting our certification yet.  However, we were approached last week with an offer we could not refuse – to attend an intensive one-week ESL certification course…all for free!!  As we no longer work and have no growing income for our time in the states, there would’ve been no way for us to attend the training.  But, God, in all His faithfulness and provision, blessed us with this gift. 

So, all of this week, from 8am – 3pm, we are sitting in a small classroom at Shady Grove Church working toward our ESL Certification.  One enormous step towards an ESL school!

And another reminder that God is truly amazing in our lives.

VISAS!!!

We received our visas in the mail today!!!  For some reason, though, they only gave us a 6 month visa…without explaining why such the time frame when we asked for several years…but, no worries, we will extend them once we are there!

Our flight out is reserved for April 7.

YAY!  Everything is now in place.

Now, back to my huge garage sale..selling all we own (pretty much).   Yes, we slept tried to sleep on an air mattress last night (tonight will be the couch and floor), and we’re living out of suitcases.  Reality is definitely setting in.

Sin? What’s that?

An interesting article appeared yesterday on the USA Today website concerning sin, its changing definition, and how it has evolved in the minds of Americans.  It’s titled “Has the ‘notion of sin’ been lost?”
Read it HERE.

I’m going to think about it a bit more and may post my thoughts later.

The Man at the Door #2

Saturday I wrote about a man who showed up at a church gathering on Friday night. The church members truly exemplified Christ’s love and compassion. If you didn’t get a chance to read that story, scroll down to “The Man at the Door”. As promised, I will recant a story that (unfortunately) I observed several years ago at another church gathering – different church, different people, different outcome.

We had gathered in our small church’s children’s center/dining hall for a night of fellowship. The group mainly consisted of young 20 – 30 year olds, newly married DINKs (Double Income, No kids). After going through the buffet line and piling our plates with fried chicken and mashed potatoes, we sat down and engaged in conversation, discussions of our recent successes, upcoming vacations, and future adventures…which is why no one originally noticed the man in the doorway.

The torn jeans, black rock band T-shirt and long scraggly hair immediately pointed him out as an outsider. His rugged looks did not match the clean-cut, preppy demeanor of the church goers. He stood in the doorway momentarily, looking about the room, wondering who he should approach about his situation.

Soon, whispers circulated the room. A few of the bigger men stood, walked this newcomer into another room and asked what he needed. A few minutes later, one of the men returned and proceeded to tell our group the man’s story: He had come from Austin with a group of friends for a week’s vacation. Apparently, during the previous night’s activities he and his friends became separated. With no way to contact them, no money, and no way home, he was stranded in Dallas. While walking past the church, trying to figure out what he was going to do, he noticed that the church was open and hoped that someone could help him. The man, although appearing rough, was polite and respectful.

After discussing the man’s dilemma amongst the group, the “leader” phoned the pastor for suggestions. Meanwhile, possibilities were discussed: “at least give him some food,” “take him to a shelter” “pool in some money and buy him a bus ticket home,” “give him a ride to help find his friends.” Others spouted off verses completely taken out of context, just so that they wouldn’t feel obligated to help.

I will never forget the final judgment handed down from the pastor: “Escort him out of the building, watch him leave, do not give him anything, then lock the doors behind you.”

Shocked and dumbfounded, I could not believe the attitude in the room and from the leaders. Was this the way Jesus would have responded? What kind of love are we showing? Where’s the compassion? This man was asking for nothing that was harmful or out of bounds…simply some of our food and a small amount of money to get home. I turned to my husband and gave him a look of “this is wrong.” Josh returned the glance. But, we sat still. The final decision had been made and was already in process. Plus, we felt that as the youngest people there (21 & 22), it was not our place to object. So, we sat quiet in disbelief, sadness, and anger.

To this day, I still think often of that man in the doorway. I wonder if he ever saw Christians the same again – changing his thoughts about people who would help, to people who shun those who are different. From people of compassion, to people filled with pride. I also think of the verse, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) Perhaps, that stranger was an angel sent to test the truth of God’s character in our lives. If so, we failed miserably.

The Man at the Door

The church crowd slowly trickled their way into the reception hall early Friday evening. Red tablecloths and American flags decorated the large round tables, all set for the night’s festivities. The spicy aroma of seasoned tacos spread across the room and out into the hall. As the guests waited for the dinner line to open, they greeted each other with firm handshakes and warm hugs, chatting about the week’s events and the weekend’s plans.

When the dinner line opened, they quickly stacked their plates, filled their paper cups with sweet tea, and sat down to eat. Discussions of religion, family, and life events kept each other engaged in conversation; which is why no one noticed the man at the door.

The dirty, ragged clothes hung loosely on his wrinkled, weather-exposed skin. His thinning hair and overgrown beard flared out from lack of grooming. It was easy to see that he was an outsider – a stark opposite of the neatly groomed traditional Baptist men already seated about the room. At first he just stood in the doorway with his hands in his pockets, straining his neck to look into the kitchen. The smell had brought him in, and to an empty stomach, it was an aroma that could soothe pain and bring a little comfort. His eyes darted about the room, contemplating whether to ask for a little something to eat or to just turn around and leave. He hated to intrude on the lovely party, but the pangs in his stomach could not allow him to walk away. So, he just stood and waited…

Soon, one of the ladies noticed this man, walked over to him, and began to ask him questions. A few minutes later, she left him in the doorway and went to talk to another lady, who glanced in the man’s direction. One of the women went to the little money collection table and quickly began moving the accumulated cash donations and purses that were near the entrance; the other disappeared into the kitchen. And still, he just stood and waited…

until the one woman at the table motioned the man over. While she brought him a chair, the other woman appeared from the kitchen with a large plate of food and nice cold sweet tea.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ~Matthew 25:35 – 40

This is what I witnessed Friday night at a gathering where I was a guest. I cannot stop thanking the Lord for a group of people who truly understand love and compassion. I am touched and blessed. It reminds me of another church where quite the opposite happened…I will share that story tomorrow.

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