Friday, November 20, 2009

call or family and the red white and blue (several)

I have been living in the United States for 5 years and 5 months. And have not been overseas for 3 years.

it's been a long, long.... long time. (Beatles)

When I moved to California for college, I was afraid that I would get stuck in the U.S. and never live overseas again. Now I'm not really afraid, but am still wary of it. Part of me thinks that if I don't move overseas soon, I won't actually live there. And I don't want to get to the point where I'm okay with that.

I appreciate the U.S. very much. Especially its value on creativity and the arts, hobbies... garage sales... chatty people... free summer concerts... fireworks in July... and lots more.

above all--
glorious beauty. Almost every single day I look outside and think, "Wow, I get to live here."
It's the loveliest place I've ever lived, as far as space and mountain and a clear blue dream of a sky (last phrase borrowed from e. e. cummings, I think) are concerned.

And of course there are things that make me itch for a long plane ride to the equator or just to somewhere far, far away.
But I don't really want to get into all that here, and really things don't bother me as much anymore, unless I'm already grumpy. Only one thing I will mention--it always really bothers me that on U.S. holidays, flags invade pretty much every local church, and the global flags are taken down from outside the World Prayer Center, replaced by the red white and blue (U.S.'s, not Taiwan's. Just in case anyone was wondering which red white and blue flag I was talking about). hehehe.

the church does not cease to be a house of prayer for all nations on Veteran's Day.
Now, don't get me wrong. I truly and deeply appreciate what the U.S.'s armed forces do for this nation, and have had the privilege of seeing more firsthand this year what that entails. I truly respect and support them.

But the church is the CHURCH---catholic { = world-wide}, global, united.
It is not the American church. Why take down flags that, for many, are a rare reminder that there is life outside this great nation?

(yes, the church is local--by all means, pray for your military in church, but do not forget that we are more than what we see.) There, hopefully that covers offenses.

As far as travel goes, God has been tiding me over with little international surprises, such as~

On Wednesday two women came into Wisdom Tea House, and one of them chatted with Tom about possibly adding a vegan dish, other than salad, so that her husband could visit. She was very polite, and the accent was so familiar that at first I didn't even notice it until slowly it dawned that....

"Ma'am, have you ever been to Singapore?"

"Yes, I grew up there!"

She was Singaporean, and had moved away in '98, just when we had moved there! And had lived in Jurong, and also missed chicken rice. Her Swedish husband had picked up some Singlish from her, and actually dropped an, "Ok, lah!" in a business meeting!

She said I was very Singaporean, which was very nice of her (my Singlish isn't great). :)

I excitedly told Mary Anne, the cook (who's Irish and prophetic and just an awesome lady) and Stevie, one of the dishwashers, but realized I couldn't explain how rare or deep the two minute connection was.

Last Sunday I went to New Life and was early for the prayer meeting but too late for the evening service, so I slipped into the last 40 minutes or so of a Perspectives class (class about missions, international ministry). The speaker grew up in Nigeria and was involved in World Outreach, I think.

I appreciated what he was saying, and after he mentioned that his grandparents had also been in Nigeria, and his father grew up mostly in boarding school in Africa and eventually going back there as a missionary---I determined to try to talk with him after the session.

I asked him (Tom??) if he knew Ruth Van Reken, who wrote, "Letters Never Sent" (re boarding school in Africa, child of missionaries and a missionary) and co-wrote "Third Culture Kids" with David Pollock. She was my group leader and counselor for my re-entry seminar right before college, with other missionary kids. I love her.

And he did!! He had gone to an international school in Nigeria with her sister. And "Letters Never Sent" rips him up, too.

I had a burning question that I had to ask him: "Do you think we are called first to our families (called to be a godly wife, mother, husband, etc.), or to the mission field (career)?"
He translated it to be the classic "family or call" dilemma, although I think that family roles are callings, too.

Joe said that his grandparents would have definitely said, "call first." And his father would have admitted that there was a terrific price to pay (he was the one who barely saw his parents, in boarding school). His father and mother moved back to the U.S. when their kids were in high school specifically to ensure that they transitioned and that they were connected as a family.

And he himself? He didn't really give me a straight answer, but just that he had 'reservations' about the 'call first' mentality.

This question means a lot to me.

Used to assume that you had to 'hate your father and mother' and take up your cross.
Then I realized (loophole?) no, you're called to be your children's parent as much as you're called to any nation.
Now I'm questioning whether that is truly Biblical, or if I'm twisting the gospel into something less offensive.

AND I've decided that if I ultimately decide that we are supposed to put ministry first, I will never ever have kids. If family comes first, then of course I would love to have kids. If not, I'll work in a school or orphanage or something. :)

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