Friday, September 25, 2020

Interruptions Part 2


After thinking about ministry and interruptions being the "real stuff of ministry" (See Interruptions part 1), I considered what my every day in Nigeria looked like before I returned to the United States.  I pictured with awe, like a slideshow before my mind's eye, the startling truth of how God has been revealing this truth to me over the years. 

Here are some of those slides for you: 

Interruptions slide 1: 

I'm behind the camera.

See a group of young men, gathered under a tin roof eating ramen noodles with eggs prepared by one of their friends with layered flats of eggs, loaves of white bread, and boxes of different kinds of ready to cook noodles (we call it Indomie).  See the three white ladies with a little toe-headed girl who have arrived to eat.  The oldest of the three white ladies asks the guy next to her what his language is.  Upon hearing it, she quickly glances through the list of audio Bible's on her husband's phone, which she's borrowing because her own stopped working.  She's a bit clumsy, but when she finds the language, she presses play and the young man looks at her stunned as his language speaks God's words to him. He takes the phone from her and listens before passing it on to the other guys around the Indomie shed.  They smile, humming in pleased agreement before passing it on.  When it gets back to me, the older white woman in this case, the young man asks if he can get it.  With his help, I figure out how to use the app and send him as much as will fit on his phone.  He excitedly tells me he'll give it to the others. I have yet to follow up to give him the rest.  May God be planting his seeds in this young man's heart. 


Interruptions slide 2: 

Children going home after Bible study.

I finally have a moment to think about the Bible lesson for the evening's children's Bible study when the intercom phone rings and our guard, Daniel, on the other end tells me there are 5 children there to see me.  I ask for their names before telling him to let them in.  In less time than it takes me to wrap a skirt over my shorts, I have happy greetings at my door.  I welcome my little friends in, cut them a watermelon, and ask them what they learned in school.  They ask if they can go play. They race to the swings, but one lingers to tell me how they are not understanding social studies in school, and could I help them.  We look at her homework outside on the picnic tables while her friends squeal and giggle on the swings. They all pile in the car 2 hours later and we head to Bible study together...I've looked over the lesson, and gathered my materials hastily on my way out. 


Interruptions slide 3: 

The lady I usually buy vegetables from.


I have finally arrived at the market with Mariama at my side and Lydia on my back.  Aunty Victoria (my friend and helper) walks alongside me.  She has taught me the importance of greeting everyone and not just getting down to business.  She has also taught me to speak in Hausa, how to bargain gently (not like we did in Cameroon), and how to hide frustration, remaining joyful throughout my market experience.  Everyone greets me by name "Sannu Mama Mariama!" and I reply.  They ask: "How's the family?  How did you sleep? How's work? How's the cold?" I smile and reply.  This happens approximately 30-50 times every time I go to the market.  I think it's what Jesus would do...only he'd know each of their names, stories, life history, and maladies. So, I have a long way to go, but at least I have minor interruptions!  That counts, right?

Interruption slide 4: 

I am heading home from a 7am teacher's training, and I hear a child screaming. I step in.  Things change for that child.

Interruptions slide 5: 

Aunty Mary Jane being cheeky.

We just sat down to dinner, and my dear friend Mary Jane and her sister arrive.  Yeah (Their presence always lifts our hearts)! We all sit down again to eat together.  We talk about highlights of the day.  We share frustrations.  We all laugh and cry a bit.  We do family devotions.  We walk them out, talking about important life "stuff"

Our "family"

Interruption slide 6: 

Mariama's special daddy-daughter date hair.


I'm zippy around the house, getting ready for guests arriving that evening. Mariama says, "Mommy, can you play with me?" Mariama has just received paper dolls from her Aunties in the United States.  We sit down on the floor of her room and enter into a different world together.  A world that is controllable, joyful, elegant, and everything beautiful that we want it to be where we can ride horses and eat blueberries in a picnic next to a glistening lake. We feel full and free together. 

 Interruption slide 7: 

We are driving in the United States, and we see a girl walking along the road.  It is starting to rain.  "She looks cold and sad," I say so to Mariama.  She says, "Mommy, we are going to pick that girl up, right? We have to help her." I turn the car around, and offer her a jacket that fits perfectly (someone happened to give me a bag of clothes that day).  We give her a ride, find out she's an addict, pray for her as a family.  Never hear from her again, but I learned that my daughter knows what we do when we see someone who is hurting. 

The real stuff of ministry, the spontaneous, out-of-my-plan stuff happens daily and I pray I don't despise but welcome them!


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Interruptions Part 1

 Today we talked with my mentor in Scripture engagement in Dallas, Wayne Dye, via zoom.  He and his wife Sally have greatly influenced my life and ministry.  Stories of God working in Nigeria that I've told many times on zoom calls and in person since we've come back to the United States last December felt new as Wayne and Sally resonated and teared up at the thrill and joy of people rejoicing in the Words of life with us.  

I feel so far away from those stories these last few months.  Sometimes it's hard to believe those stories  were my life, and God is still calling hearts to himself and growing the seeds that have been planted by so many through the years in Nigeria.   

I have started school activities with my two older girls.  With the twins on my back, in my arms, or on the floor finding strange bits to stuff into their drooling mouths and Mariama and Lydia engaging at their own levels with various activities, I feel every moment consumes all of my energy.  I do sometimes wonder if God has given me the joy of twins to help me see my weaknesses, and learn to depend on his strength! 


I realized why sometimes motherhood has taken me by surprise as I shared with Wayne and Sally. When you prepare to train a group of people, you study the manual, perfect your presentation...and see the words or ideas impacting the participants.  It is thrilling!  We know we're bringing something that is wanted and needed, and it is received with such joy! 

Raising children is not like that!  It's totally unpredictable.  Now, very few trainings in Nigeria ever go how I planned, so there is THAT.  BUT, while an explanation of why we don't run through huge mud puddles on the way to church made perfect sense to child one, it sends child two into a tizzy, running straight for said puddle only to fall with a splash, initiating shrill shrieks of despair! 

As I expressed how unqualified I feel in this task, remembering that this is a season we are learning through, Wayne said, "Sometimes we think the interruptions disrupt ministry, when the interruptions ARE ministry." He encouraged me by pointing out that the most memorable moments in Jesus ministry were unplanned.  Ah, may I be like Jesus in this beautiful wonder...He allowed the interruptions of ministry to reveal God's character, inviting his world into relationship with the Father who makes the most of every person and every opportunity.  To use the unexpected moments as Jesus did, and reveal the Father who is never too busy to listen, engage, divulge, bend, hold, and heal.  May I consider this season a time for spontaneous ministry opportunities, welcoming the interruptions with grace and wisdom.   

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