Sunday, August 28, 2016

Giggles in 3 Time Zones

In Sabbath School class yesterday, we talked about interruptions. How God uses interruptions in our lives to remind us that He is here and to help us be more effective in our ministry. Countless times since I've come, I've seen God interrupt my plans for the day and I wanted to share examples but couldn't remember any specifics. So I decided I need to include those in my blog to encourage others and remember them for next time.

Last week, I saw the advertisement for the Dale Corazon hike this Sunday and got quite excited. They were going up to Ehden, a beautiful area in the mountains, and the hike wasn't going to be too strenuous. I asked every friend I could think of if they wanted to join me, but everyone was busy getting ready for the new school-year or had other plans. After talking to my sister on Friday afternoon, I decided to just go by myself. It would mean finding a taxi to get to the pick-up point about 7 kms away and spending a day with strangers but at least I would get to go out in nature which my soul craved after being in the smog-filled atmosphere of Beirut.

Saturday rolled by and by the evening I knew I wasn't going to enjoy the Sunday hike very much. I hadn't had a chance to rest as the new AVS volunteers and I were invited for lunch and then went directly to game night. Although we came home fairly early, at 11 pm instead of our usual midnight or later, I was tired. I had had several short nights at the end of the week, my room was still not fully unpacked 10 days after I'd returned, and my introvert side was beginning to insist on some quiet time alone. However, I'd confirmed my place on the hike so I had to go.

I had a very fitful night's sleep that night. I was worried about finding a taxi, as it's my experience that it's not so easy to find a taxi on our hill early Sunday morning. I didn't want to miss the bus, neither did I want to walk all the way to the pick-up point. I wasn't comfortable ordering taxis yet. I worried about feeling sick on the hike as my body was starting to feel rundown.

I woke up several times in the night but when I woke up just after 6 am, I looked at my phone and saw a message in the family group chat. My sister had just started a voice chat with my mom and brother. I'm here too! I messaged and seconds later an invite came through to join the chat. For the next hour, we laughed, talked, reminisced, and encouraged each other across three time zones. My mom and brother at 8 pm Saturday evening, me at 6 am Sunday morning, and my sister at 11 am Sunday morning.

I paused mid-chat to message the guide and say I wouldn't be able to join them. I felt a little under the weather and I knew if I pushed myself on the hike, I would end up sick the rest of the week. The guide kindly messaged back saying, Salemtek, wishing me well and that I would get better soon.

When I finally said goodbye to my family, my heart was full of joy. I knew now that I would feel much better because I'd been able to connect with my loved ones. I was thankful that God gently woke me up so I could join the call. And because it was Sunday, I could take some time to sleep a little longer.

Each day, I make my plans but I also wait in anticipation for God to shift them in the direction He knows is best. I'm so thankful that today He affirmed my need for connection and rest in providing the perfect timing so I could speak to my family. It isn't easy being far from those who understand me best but I'm thankful that they are still a very close part of my life and my heart. Just a small example but it reminded me again that God personalizes His touch in my life so I know He sees me and He cares for and about me.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Birds of the Air

To those who seek Him, God never hides His face. He says Go in Peace.

My office overlooks the metropolis of Greater Beirut where towering glass skyscrapers stand side by side with buildings still shattered by the war. Every morning I roll up the shades so I can look over the tops of the university trees and see the city. A glint of noon sun blinds me from a gray glass building, amazing me once again at the hope of a people who build in glass believing no more bullets will demolish their bright future. To the left, a crane moves methodically back and forth, adding floors to a 20-story high shell. And each morning, the planes fly by.

When I first came, I would watch those planes coming in for landing, their pencil thin bodies gliding through the air on a straight trajectory headed for the airport that is tucked just around the corner beyond sight. On the difficult days, I would long to be on one of them, taking off in the opposite direction over the Mediterranean sea towards Europe, the first stop on the way home. I knew, theoretically, that this country was to be my home for the next year and I knew also that it would be easier if I could say so with confidence.

Then there are days like today. A day when I am wrapped up in welcoming and bringing new ones to the campus, worrying like a mother bear about all the little details and hoping they will feel that this is a good place to be. A day when my feet hardly touch the ground as I scurry between offices, connecting, communicating, and coordinating. A day when I realize how easy it is to feel joy and how effortlessly everyone responds to the exuberance in my heart. A day when God whispers see? every time someone shares another story about how He has personalized a miracle in their life or someone touches my heart with unexpected kindness.

I may not know where I will be 6 months from now, but I can trust that my Father will take care of me. The days may be dreary or filled with uncertainty, but I can trust that my Father will place joy in my heart. I may not feel God's presence as tangibly as I would like, but I can trust that my Father never hides His face but is beside me blessing me with peace.

Perhaps this is the biggest life lesson I have yet to learn. To trust my Father implicitly with my life and rest in knowing He will care for me.