Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Satan Attacks...

Spiritual warfare is palpable around our life right now. 

Just as much as we have experienced the Lord in ways we never expected, we have also experienced many tactics of Satan to undo what the Lord is doing. 

We have fought physically, overcoming various illnesses that come with spending time in the bush and just living in an environment that is less than ideal. 

We have fought mentally and psychologically, putting down our negative thoughts, our strong desires to be anywhere but here, our selfishness, and even clinical depression.

It goes without saying that we are always fighting a spiritual battle. It infuses every other aspect of our lives.

But this very day, we are experiencing attacks outside of ourselves. In the past month, our hot water heater has needed to be replaced, our clothes washer broke, our computer died, and our car is facing a myriad of issues. In the last two weeks, our day guard has been robbed of all of his things...twice. And over the past couple of days, our short-term team from the States has been thrown numerous (random) road blocks as they travel to Ft Dauphin: one delayed flight, then a cancelled flight, then another over 12-hour flight delay which puts them in a place to, more than likely, miss the rescheduled flight. They were supposed to arrive this afternoon, Tuesday, and now, they'll be lucky to arrive by tomorrow.

All of these outside attacks eat away at our spirits little by little and when piled on top of each other, we can become very discouraged. Please be in prayer for us as we try to stay positive and tackle our laundry list of things to be repaired or bought. Pray for our guard as he is in a delicate situation as an employee of foreigners; for protection of himself, his family, and his possessions. Pray fervently for our team as they deal with flight logistics, sleep deprivation, and being generally uncomfortable. Pray that their flights will be worked out and that they will arrive in Ft Dauphin by tomorrow, Wednesday. 

It is in these times especially that we are thankful for you who hold up our arms through prayer as we are exhausted from battle. We know God will be most glorified in these situations.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Under the Tree

Every village has one: a meeting tree. It's like the American "T.V. room" without the t.v... and walls... and you can pretend there is a roof with the shade of the tree... you can also pretend that you're sitting on furniture when you're just sitting on a straw mat...

So, it's not really like the American "T.V. room" except that it's the social hub of the village.

It's actually quite a lovely place and much more intimate than your ordinary T.V. room. The Malagasy don't value their space quite like Americans do, but they value your presence and conversation probably more than Americans do.

I love it there. I'm not intimidated or overwhelmed.

The laughs are big under the tree. Mostly laughing AT me, not necessarily WITH me; although, I laugh too. It's contagious. And the questions come rapidly; the same questions asked by different women, garnering the same reaction each time. For example: Lehilahy sa ampela? (Boy or girl?) Ampela avao. (Just girls) *cue overly-ecstatic disbelief and comments about how Waverly and Elodie don't have their ears pierced*. In turn, I share a little American culture that girls are identified by their clothing and hair, not the condition of their ears.

We chat over a fresh watermelon, but there is a lot of time where we just sit, nursing our babies under the tree. Even that is a special time. In all of the thousands of ways we are different, breastfeeding brings a common understanding between us.

Then the men come back from their walk around the village and the women disperse to cook a meal. It's noodles today for the guests of honor, who would be me, Chandler, Elodie, and Waverly. A pleasant surprise considering the alternative, habobo (ha-boo-boo). We eat with gusto along with our Malagasy partners, Olivier and Mahazosoa the Second, while Waverly runs around with the children.

Aside from the seat of honor on the straw mat and the specially prepared meal, we don't feel like guests, we feel like friends. Life seems easy under the tree, despite the reality that life, particularly that of an Antandroy, is anything but easy. But for those couple of hours, we can lay aside the difficulties and laugh together, talk together, and share in the things that make us more alike, more like friends.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Story in 2 Parts - The Healing

Soon after we returned to Madagascar after having Elodie, the emotional roller coaster of my life remained in the valley and only sunk deeper. With the heat upon us and a screaming baby, I was struggling to cope every day. I didn't feel like myself. I thought it odd that I had yet to bounce back from having a baby. I was tired, had no energy, no patience, no desire to play with Waverly, no motivation to take care of the house or cook dinner. I felt trapped in this town and, as Chandler shouldered the burden of house duties, meal preparing, Waverly entertaining, and all of my crazy, I started to feel useless and out of control.

I think Chandler and I were both hoping the upcoming visit from my mom, stepdad, and brother would be the push I needed to bounce back. And while I was ecstatic to be with them, I was still struggling internally. It constantly simmered beneath the surface; I enjoyed each day and each event, but my temper was short and my irritability long. Then there were times, quite frequently, I believe, when my struggle would boil over and I sat with my mom or with Chandler and just cried; so desperate to be fixed and unable to find the answers I needed as it seemed that my prayers weren't heard and Scripture was silent. Even with my family there, I was drowning.

At this point, Chandler strongly encouraged me to contact our Member Care consultants knowing they would be able to shed some light as a third party. With a few emails back and forth, and a depression survey, they recommended that we come to South Africa for some help. I was willing to accept the help because I needed to get away from life and all of its demands, but I wasn't quite ready to recognize the depth of my depression or admit my need for medication. 

Just one visit with the psychiatrist made it undeniably clear that without medication, I wouldn't have a chance of getting better. My depression was rooted in a chemical imbalance that no amount of "talking it out" would fix. Gratefully, I accepted the medication and within a week started seeing some improvement. Coupled with twice weekly visits to a counselor, my psychological state was in a better place. I learned to embrace and appreciate my roles, even though they didn't meet my expectations from when I was first called to international missions. I began to think more clearly and more rationally. I set small goals for myself and started accepting life in smaller chunks instead of always looking at the bigger, more overwhelming picture. 

In hindsight, it seems so elementary: needing help organizing my day-to-day, learning to appreciate my first ministry to our family, making a monthly dinner schedule, being in the Word every day, and divvying up chores each day, but I had reached a point where I couldn't make those decisions myself. It just required too much. My counselor made reference to "a state of crisis" where I was incapable of making subjective, rational decisions. I absolutely needed help with the every day decisions.

A month later, on our return home to Madagascar, I felt hopeful and I hadn't felt that in a long time. I came across this verse in Job 5:18: "For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal." The Lord had allowed me to be wounded and injured, but He is also the One who is binding me up and healing me. It's not an instantaneous healing; it's a constant work in me. I know that as He heals me, I have to be willing to be healed. I rest in His bindings, allowing Him to hold me together (Colossians 1:17), and heal me.