“Because it’s uncomfortable and difficult and I don’t want to,” I said. That’s how I was feeling, so right or wrong I said it.
He just looked at me, knowingly, patiently.
It looked easier in the missionary biographies and blog posts, this serving Jesus thing. More adrenaline filled and more close the pages and fall asleep comfortably in your own bed at night after a nice relaxing meal with your family and maybe a good TV show or two.
But playing it out in real life has meant dying to myself and repenting of my selfish heart and opening up our home and being poured out every. single. day.
And now it meant opening up our home to this young couple because we felt—knew—that is what God was saying to do.
It was easy when they were just this young couple who had a baby in the middle of nowhere with nothing and I could just start a program and get some blankets and bottles donated.
It was a little harder when we had to stop our lives three times a day to bring him healthy, vitamin packed meals so that his body could stand a chance against this illness blackening his lungs.
It was more challenging still when the baby was hospitalized and multiple trips to the nearest city and the clinic didn’t seem to bring answers.
And try as I may to think of all the reasons why this isn’t a good idea, the truth is that it is a good idea and, in fact, it’s exactly what this discipleship thing is supposed to look like.
Sure, we can work to relieve their physical ailments and send them back to their tribes with healthy lungs and healed bodies. But isn’t that just treating the symptoms, not the illness?
So, we have taken them in under our own roof. For [at least] two months we will live in front of them, live with them, teach them, learn from them.
Become friends with them.
Because you expect a lot of things when you move your family to the Amazon jungle.
Bugs. Heat. Rain.
Somehow, though, you never anticipate the lonely. Our house is full of people all the time. All the time it’s full.
But there is still the loneliness of a new culture. No one who speaks your heart language. No one who understands your culture.
So some time ago I asked God for a friend.
And as I look into the eyes of this sixteen year old girl and mother of one, I realize what she must be going through. So far from her own culture, her own people, her own language with a baby to raise.
Just like me.
So we share. She tells her stories and I tell mine. Two different worlds coming together in our second languages. She’s ten years my junior and from a world more primitive than I have ever seen but there is this friendship that is being built.
I teach her to read, she teaches me to cook. I hold her baby and she holds mine.
And somewhere in there we both try to find common ground in this loneliness that comes from a foreign land.
That’s when it hits me that we are all foreigners in this land, but we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Then loneliness starts to fade and hope shines through.
And it’s two steps forward and one step back every day as I lay aside my preconceived ideas and let go of the cynicism that creeps into my heart and I lay down my pride and I allow myself to be the student and not just the teacher and I speak the truth in love, but also hear the truth with humility.
Then I realize that sometimes the answers to our prayers are found right smack dab in the middle of the uncomfortable and difficult.
And this serving Jesus thing starts to look just like it’s supposed to.