Monday, October 26, 2009


I’ve been in South Asia for almost two weeks now. In some ways it seems like it has been years, and in others, only a day. If you have ever been able to experience a culture other than your own, you know that it can be exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. I do not enjoy being the silly westerner who knows nothing, and want to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can. I live in a crazy, loud and filthy city, and somehow still love it. Grant it, I’ve yet to hit the cultural adjustment roadblock of extreme frustration, but I’ll let you know when I get there. For now, I am going to enjoy enjoying the city.

I think my favorite part of the day is morning and afternoon tea. I now find myself building expectation every morning to having tea served, a new custom I will gladly adopt into my life. It is a simple, yet soothing part of the day, in the midst of a barrage of thoughts and activities.

I’ve yet to see any large roaches or rats. Shocking I know, considering where I am. God must have mercy on me after a childhood in Florida. We’ve had other smaller insects, in which one of my roommate gets a thrill out of killing, and the other simply gets a cup and paper to release the creature to a less threatening environment. I prefer the former.

We’ve slowly but surely started making our flat look like our home. It is pretty much a haven. I’ve developed a particular fondness for beds and firm mattresses after sleeping on a cot for the past two weeks, that felt more like a hammock. I finally got a real bed today, and it has been one of the happiest days of my life. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am particularly thankful for it. I also finally discovered why, despite spraying myself down with insect repellent before bed and plugging in a “bug-off,” I was still getting eaten up. The outlet that the “bug-off” was plugged into was not turned on, and the window screen left a crack open, which could have been sealed off, if I had only closed the window the right way. Yes, I truly felt like an idiot, but it made for some good humor, which I never shared with my roommates, who will most likely laugh when they read this;)

There’s so much about the culture that I am still sorting through, particularly in relation to my work. So many random things go through my head, a million miles a minute, and it’s only slowly starting to come together, to form full ideas, which are of course, mostly my own opinions. The difficult part is to take those ideas and thoughts, and try to juxtapose them with God’s Word. If only my ideas could be recorded as I have them, since I couldn’t possibly write them all out. When I think about the world around me, the city I am now living in, with the lens of God’s sovereign Truth, it is a whole new perspective, often difficult and sometimes ironic. It’s quite overwhelming, to say the least. Our flat overlooks tall buildings and clusters of shacks. To see wealth and poverty, heroes and perpetrators, the innocent and the abused, all in one picture, makes for an interesting internal dialogue of God’s mercy, love and justice. So much so, that I cannot even verbalize it yet. It’s a process, and I’m still working through it with God.

And amidst my scattered random thoughts, I am in the middle of reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, The Cost of Discipleship, and found a treasure. He is one of my heroes, who lived in a time of different circumstances, yet somewhat similar ideologies... and when referring to the Nazi regime in Germany at that time, he says:

“It is not only my task to look after the victims of madmen who drive a motorcar in a crowded street, but to do all in my power to stop their driving at all.”

And I will leave you with that.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Learned a Lesson

     As many of you know, I am headed to South Asia pretty soon, in fact, I was supposed to leave two weeks ago, but God had other plans. 

     For me, this journey to Asia to work with a human rights organization, is the ultimate... I have arrived. I have NEVER been so sure of and excited about anything else in my life. I was all set and ready to go, and God decided to pull the reigns a bit and gently say, in MY time Michelle, not yours. I ended up having some issues obtaining a visa, and therefore had to postpone my trip. 

     Now, you might be thinking, two weeks is no big deal, but to me, it was everything, it was an inconvenience. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I could say I was literally angry at God, but the past week or so, I came pretty close to it. I was depressed, angry, and you might even say, rebellious. I ignored God, and refused to spend time in His word that week. I admit it. Silly, I know, very silly. I trust God with my finances, material needs, career, family, future spouse, and NOW I decide to doubt Him. Of all the pain and trials I've been through in my short life, and I choose to get angry about something like this. 

     The biggest thing though was not knowing what the exact plan was. I like to have MY plan and sometimes forget its not MY plan, but GOD'S plan. I may never know why God chose to delay my trip; it could simply be to teach me a lesson. I learned that even though this burning passion I have is for something close to the heart of God, I still need to surrender THAT to God. Just because it's a noble and godly thing, doesn't mean I can make my own plans. God sometimes needs to remind us that HE is in control and can change our "noble" plans in a heartbeat. I cannot become so consumed with "godly things" that I forget about God himself. I cannot become so busy with fighting for justice that I forget He IS justice. HE is the reason I have dreams to pursue... gosh, He put them there! 

     So, Tuesday night I decided to get rid of my self pity and read the word a bit. And I read this:

  "Now listen, you who say, 'Today, or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" 
~James 4:13-15

     I thought, okay God, I cannot control this situation, and that kills me, but you have complete control over it, and I think I am finally deciding to fully trust you with this. I admit, I still wasn't overly thrilled, but I did give it up at least.

     The next day, I got an email saying my visa was in the mail, and the day after that, it came. 

     So now I leave for Asia in a few days, completely humbled. I WAS able to get some things done this week, that I otherwise would not have been able to do. I spent some time with people I otherwise would not have. I am rested, and SO ready to GO.

     And finally, I read this scripture last night...

     "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:4-7

Lesson learned.