Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fall is coming

Most people have a favorite season.  Mine is summer.  I love the warmth, the sun, the beach.  I love the ability to go outside barefooted late at night without getting cold.  Taking the top off the Jeep without having to look for a jacket.  Sand between my toes.

These days I am reminded frequently that fall is coming.  Morning dew has arrived back on the scene on a daily basis.  There have been a couple mornings where I didn't dare leave home without a jacket.  Fall allergies are, well, just that.  It is definitely the changing of a season.

And while my favorite season will be gone for a while, I take comfort in knowing some of my favorite things are about to go down in the upcoming months:  hot soups to bring warmth, pumpkin-flavored anything I can think of, cozy evenings by the fire, and the beauty of fall foliage that God created for us to see.  Even today on my walk, I have begun to see the pretty colors, and heard the sound of the leaves dancing in the breeze along the pavement.  Knowing the season is changing isn't always easy, but realizing it is just a season helps put things in perspective.

"To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Day in the Life of a U.S. Missionary

About six years ago I taught a weekly discipleship Sunday School class to teenagers, and one of the things we did each week was pray for one of the missionaries our church supported.  I would email the missionaries in the week before their prayer emphasis to find out what their needs were.  During this time, I frequently found myself wondering, "What exactly does a missionaries day look like?"

Fast forward six years.  My husband, John, and I have now changed roles into U.S. Missionary Candidates with the Assemblies of God.  We work with an organization called Mercy Chefs.  In short, we respond when disaster strikes to feed the victims, volunteers, and first responders a restaurant quality meal in the midst of their hurting.  Today I found myself laughing when I had the same thought, "What exactly does a missionaries day look like?"  No two days are alike.  Today was unique, with its own set of challenges, but God had His own way of blessing us as always.

We have been on Fall Tour the past two weeks-meetings with pastors, where we give a brief explanation of our ministry in hopes that they can help us reach one of our current goals:  becoming fully funded.  We have traveled all over North Texas during these two weeks.  I still have a full time job that I have been juggling-and am very blessed to have a boss who is understanding of our role and love for missions by allowing me to take vacation time!  Ultimately, I will join John full time on the field, but for now, I am working while we are raising our budget.  Today there were no Fall Tour stops, so I got up extra early, made sure to get my devotions in, and then headed to work to get caught up on what I have missed the past few days.  Part of the U.S. Missions process requires we meet with a coach every few weeks, and today happened to be a coaching day as well.  So I took a break from work for a conference call.  During this call I had a realization that I am still not sure how to handle, "Do I have time for my job?"  The one day I was able to work this week, and here I am still doing my missions job.  Please pray with me about this-I absolutely love my job, but I don't want to stay a moment longer than the Lord wants me to work.  Since we are not fully funded and my department is in the midst of a major transition, this decision is a difficult one to make!

After the coaching phone call, John left to pick up the mobile kitchen.  We drive a dually 5th wheel truck which tows the 37 foot mobile kitchen trailer to each disaster site.  It has been in the repair shop getting a new hot water heater, and some other repairs.  While towing it back home, one of the dually tires had a blow out, and hit the tire next to it, causing it to blow out as well.  Did I mention he was in a school zone while school was dismissing?   Praise the Lord, He kept John safe!  Yes, life is always interesting with large equipment involved.  We are no strangers to vehicle issues.  Nearly every trip we have been on we have experienced some sort of truck or trailer trouble.  He called me at work-thankfully I was just a few miles away and was able to bring him a better jack than he had on board.  Again I found myself questioning, "Do I have time for my job?"  Wow, twice in one day I had this thought.  What is going on?  Lord, I need you to provide! Trailer removed from the fifth wheel, two tires taken off the truck, one spare put on, trailer re-attached to the 5th wheel, and driven just a short distance to a local restaurant.  I was grateful today that we live in a small town where I knew the restaurant owner by name, and she had no problem with us leaving it there a while.

My boss happened to be away from the office when I left work for the tire incident, so I had texted him to let him know what was going on.  He asked if we were getting rained on, because where he was, less than 20 miles away, it was pouring rain so hard that he had to pull off the highway.  Wow!  The Lord was really watching over us!  Thank you Lord for holding off on the rain!

Fast forward four hours...all six tires on the truck are replaced, and I head back to work while John heads back to the restaurant to pick up the mobile kitchen.  I spent an hour at work, and meanwhile, John gets a call...there has been severe flooding in Arizona and New Mexico, and we need to respond.  He brings the Mercy Chefs trailer to the house to load it-when it was in the shop, we had pretty well emptied all the equipment out of the kitchen into our garage.  We began by pulling all the equipment out of the garage and into the driveway...speed racks, warmers, coolers, a grill (not usually taken on our trips, but the generator has been acting up, so we need an alternative method to cook in the event it wants to quit, and thus not allow us to use the stove), Cambros, 18 cases of to go boxes, 6 folding tables and chairs, 2 easy up tents, 2 boxes of t-shirts for our volunteers, and lots of other boxes.  John worked on repairing a wheel on one of the warmers, and then...the rain began.  Again, the Lord was watching out for us.  It never rained too hard, mostly just a light sprinkling, but the cool air that came with it was a welcome change.  About that time, our boys, 16 and 18 years old, got home from church.  We wanted to go to church tonight, but had been a little pre-occupied!  They helped us get the mobile kitchen loaded a lot quicker than we could have ourselves.  Again, a little miracle from God that he sent at just the right time!

Partially unloaded from the garage awaiting to be uploaded onto the trailer

The rest of the evening has been spent moving the truck to a large parking lot for deployment, getting necessary laundry done, ironing a chef coat, packing a bag, and making final plans.  Well, there it is..a day in the life of a U.S. Missionary.  A day unique to itself, with its own bit of challenges, but time and again God proving Himself to have it all taken care of.

Would you please pray for the victims of this terrible flood?  Would you please pray for John as he heads towards southwest to respond to this disaster?  Would you please pray for volunteers to help in the relief effort, not just with Mercy Chefs, but also for all the other relief organizations?  Would you please pray for us and we continue to raise funds?  Will you please pray for God to speak to us about His timing for me to be able to join John full time on the field?