Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finishing Well

A few weeks ago Gary asked us to make a plan for finishing well. At that point we had 8 hopeful weeks with which to meet with friends, take care of details and wrap things up. Most of that time has passed, and I am sitting here wondering what I have done with it. Usually writing out thoughts is the only way for me to make sense of my emotions, so with this attempt I will delve into those oft avoided “deep places”.

When an uncertain future pokes its pesky head out in my life, I immediately retreat and think of how in the world I got to where I am. My flesh wants to scrounge up every painful past memory, or every stupid personal mistake.

I think left on my own – I would self-destruct.

But, I have Jesus. I do have hope. And I have the immense privilege of seeing how He has been sovereign over my life in spite of my mistakes and my past. For some reason, He brought Italy into my life and has led me on the most exciting journey.

Because of His love for me, my heart is drawn to tell others. To go and tell others; yet another unexplainable thing in my life. My flesh longs for comfort, financial security, and a “normal” life and job, but I know in my heart of hearts that very “dream scenario” would leave me dissatisfied and depressed. So, in obedience I am a missionary.
Really, I have a hard time believing it myself. Why would He choose to use me?

My life is not my own. It is that very statement that I will constantly not understand, fight against, and strive to live up to.

How do I finish well, if I don’t feel like I’ve even started? How do you know you are doing all you can to share the Gospel? Why after 10 months, is it still so hard to go on campus? Don’t things eventually become routine, easier, more like a habit? Or is there more happening than I can see with my very earthly perspective?

I am a jumble of questions. And those were just the beginning. If only you could see the world inside my head.

In a joking manner, I have claimed to be bipolar. Dual personalities rule my body. Beyond my odd peculiarities: bold and shy, serious and goofy, organized and laid back, I know that a much deeper dichotomy battles within me daily. Flesh vs. Spirit. It is a war and living in Italy has made me feel this war deeper than ever before.

My flesh wants to cut ties and get outta here. Go back to my life. The one where I am in charge. I am wickedly selfish.
I want Chili’s, Target, the Village, and the chicks to make me comfortable, feel in control, and happy.

But, my spirit longs for Italians to believe in the one true God. For all people for that matter. My spirit says to come back here for another year.

The battle rages daily. Every minute really. Dying to self is painful.

I don’t feel like I’ve started because, I feel like I have spent this year being worked on internally. Slowly but surely I can feel the Lord transforming me. His work is never done in my heart. He is making the Gospel real for me daily.

Is there a way to leave a mission field without regrets? I haven’t been bold enough, I haven’t met with that person enough, I didn’t pray enough, I wish I had an answer for those hard questions…. Or do you leave knowing that it’s not up to you.
Salvation belongs to the Lord. But my heart wants to know if He has considered me faithful.
Have I been a fragrant aroma, Lord?

When my head goes to this place, I instantly want to say, “Chill. You’re coming back next year. You can make up for it. You’ve got time.” But I don’t want to gloss over this feeling. Plus, I will just be setting aside these emotions for another year.

I have seen the Lord work this year. In me, in others, and in Italy. I look forward to seeing more of that change. I am scared of new challenges. I am scared of not being good at my new job. I am scared of not knowing what happens after Italy.

Will I trust Him? Where will I run? Is it worth it?

I know there is only one answer to those questions.
Yes, I will.
To Him, my only satisfaction.
I wish I could say that I was always confident in them.

Finishing well. What does the Lord expect? How do you leave a place and people you love, knowing that their spiritual well being is still undecided.
It isn’t finished.
I don’t feel finished.
If anything, I feel like I can see the tip of the iceberg of all the things I need to surrender to Him, the things I need to learn.

Lord, keep my mind on you. Let the packing wait. Thanks for the struggles, lessons and hope that let me know You are here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pass the Proseco, please.

All year we have been trying to find a way to get more women invovled in the ministry here.
We meet a ton of girls on campus, but they never seem to come to any of our activities or outreaches.

Why is that?

We have racked our brains for a good answer.
There could be many factors:
-Late nights means not as safe
-They don't like coming alone
-They are suspicious of us

So in attempt to reconcile this situation, we looked at our options and decided to be culturally hip.
Oh yeah, hip.
We have had three sucessful weeks of Thursday Night Girl's Aperitivo.
Okay, not the catchiest name, but it's working.

Aperitivo is the Italian version of happy hour.
Around 6:30 everybody goes to their favorite spot and for the price of a cocktail you get all the yummy food at the buffet.
It's wondeful.

Katie, Simona, Nicole and Ina hanging out and having fun.

And we have girls coming!
Slowly but surely, our friends are meeting us outside of campus.

Lea Anne and I with our super cute French friend, Clementine.

And as a bonus, we get to spend quality time with each other--just girls.
Never underestimate the power of a good girl talk.

My amazing teammates, Nicole and Lea Anne.

Please pray for this time. Pray for girls to be interested and for good conversation to happen.
Pray that this would be a safe place for them to ask questions and get to know us.

And cheers!