What is a Friend?

Since I’ve arrived here, with the help of a kind coworker, I have been able to start attending a church and get involved with their young adults group. Tonight I attended the first official Bible study since I’ve been here. Since attending a crayfish boil and bowling with them I was very excited to begin to dive into the Bible with them and develop a spiritual community with them as well as a social community. And I was by no means disappointed.

The bulk of this post will be me attempting to repeat or restate what the young adult pastor addressed tonight, because it struck me so much I feel it is more than worth repeating. So here it goes…

First we looked at Philippians 2:1-4, so let me write it out for you here:

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on once goal. Do nothing out of rivalry of conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

What we then spent time discussing is what you expect from a friend. What do you expect from your friends? Loyalty, respect, confidentiality, patience? I’m sure all of our lists differ to some degree, but in the end we expect a lot more from a friend then say someone you cross paths with at the store, or any acquaintances you have, some even expect more from their friends than some of their family members. Friendships can be strong bonds and vital relationships. As young adults we discussed the trials of finding and making new friends. Then the whole discussion was turned around. Yes, we expect a lot from our friends, but we” have to be a friend to have friends”. An easy concept, yes? But if you all are anything like me, this isn’t something you might give much thought to. Usually more attention is given to, “why doesn’t she ever call me to hang out?” or “when we talk why doesn’t he ever ask about what’s going on with me?” and never about how I can be a better friend to them. A tip the pastor gave was to just ask someone how they are. And to not just accept the standard answer of “good” or “fine” but to ask, “how are you really”. And listen. Really listen. Invest that small amount of time in someone else by sharing in their trials, griefs, or joys.

Now, with that being said, I do believe this is a technique that we can be utilizing in our everyday mission fields. I know I will be more consciously using this throughout both my work setting and my social setting. I’ve had to shatter my own comfort zone while on my placement site this last month, and reach out to women who seem like they don’t want to have anything to do with me, but if the time is taken to ask them how they are, and not just in passing, they will allow me to share in their pains, and at times I’ve seen smiles that stay hidden most of the time. And, ladies and gentleman, smiles are a beautiful. Obvious statement, but I think it’s worth continually repeating. This has effort has been an off and on struggle for me and I imagine it will continue to be so. But, the relationships make the struggle and effort more than worth it.

It was also brought up that, surprise surprise, God wants our friendship too! Reach out to Him as much as you want Him to reach back. We were given a sheet of paper from the pastor at then end of the study that said this:

“When you wake up, remember that Jesus is present with you as a friend. You are already on His mind. Invite Him to spend the day with you.

When something good happens, even if it seems small or insignificant, express your joy or gratitude with Jesus in the same way that you might with a close friend.

When someone else’s need interrupts your day, seize it as an opportunity to serve Jesus as you would do a favor for a good friend.

Throughout the day, whenever you are tempted, anxious or discouraged, take that emotion as a cue to remind you that you are not alone. Take a moment to talk to Jesus about your concern in the same way that you would a close friend.”

Join me, friends. Join me in consciously not only looking out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. Throw away rivalry and conceit and chose humility.

Love and blessings all. Until next time.

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Pray Constantly

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer. When I try to think back to when I was taught to pray I cannot put my finger on an exact time or experience. Prayer has been apart of my life for as long and I can think back and recall. I recited bedtime prayers, I learned to pray for help and guidance, and I learned all of the proper prayers in church, but often times, little thought was actually given to what I was doing or why. It has become habit, which as many of you who read this might know, this can be good and bad.

The work I have gotten involved in here centers around confidentiality and safety for obvious reasons. Some of the stories the ladies have confided in me sadden my heart and make it heavy. Others are uplifting and full of hope. Either way, I will not share them, because they are not my stories to tell. I will carry them with me and feel blessed that someone wanted to share a part of their life with me. I have not had this outlook this whole time, however. I’ve been struggling with this since I got here and I suspect that I will continue to as my time progresses here. But, this week, after I had dropped a resident off at her destination I was heading back to work and wondering what to do to be of any help while I’m here and whom I can ask for help and I all of a sudden just felt an urging voice say, “tell me”. I immediately began to unload what burdened my heart, out loud, not caring that others were seeing me talking to no one. Doing so caused me to feel an overwhelming presence in the car with me. He was there with me in the car, He is there with me as I go though each day, and He’s here with the women whether they know it or not. I may not always know what to do, but I don’t think that’s important, because God knows why I am here, and I have all the confidence that He will keep me posted.

This week I was reminded that prayer is not something to be memorized or something that must follow a script. There are no rules of when and where to pray. Prayer is personal and intimate. What prayer is changes from moment to moment. 

▪   Pray to show praise

▪   Pray to express grief

▪   Pray when burdened

▪   Pray when confused

▪   Pray when you see God’s sense of humor

▪   Pray when feeling joyful

▪   Pray when you feel no one else will listen

 

Pray Constantly. His will, not my own, be done.

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Changes and New Beginnings

Well, it’s finally happened. After months of applying and waiting I have been trained in New York and officially commissioned as a US-2 Missionary on August 3rd. And time has moved quickly, as time does, and I have just completed my first week on my site in Farmington, New Mexico. I have been working at the Navajo United Methodist Center with a program called New Beginnings. New Beginnings is a transitional living shelter for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence.

My parents and I pulled in on site last Saturday morning we were immediately greeted by the director and her husband, given a tour, and shown to my new home which is a trailer on site with the residents. I immediately realized that I couldn’t be late to work seeing as my house is only 50 ft from my office, I assume “getting caught in traffic” would not fly as an acceptable excuse. As the week went on my trailer has been cleaned, rearranged, and things have been put in order. I am so thankful to the work groups and volunteers that have been helping to spruce up my trailer.

My week was spent shadowing the staff, learning the layout of the town, and meeting the residents. The highlight of my week was spending time with a mother and her child as she made Navajo fry bread, which is amazingly delicious and should only be discussed according to taste and not caloric content as one of the main ingredients is lard. We enjoyed some first simply with salt and then made the rest into tacos. The three of us sat and enjoyed easy conversation together over a wonderful meal and lingered at the table until the setting sun dimmed the kitchen. We then made a team effort to clean up and as I returned home I thought to myself, what a simple interaction, but perhaps ministry through presence can in fact be a useful tool. After all, how can we speak of change if we aren’t at first willing and present?

Most of my week was spent listening to others. From the welcoming staff, to the residents, to the people in the community. And while I am still not quite sure what my place or purpose will be here, I am just resting in God’s love knowing that He is taking care of me and that I have been provided with a wonderful community to become apart of and to learn from.

They say you learn something new everyday…Things I’ve learned this week:

  • Trailers make funny noises. During the day they have perfectly logical explanations. At night they are clearly caused by characters from horror movies or Big Foot (I hear he lives near by).
  • Always make your bed. You never know who is going to want to “see how you arranged your room”.
  • Prairie dogs make good neighbors, unless they try to start tunneling under your home.
  • You will never stop being your parents’ child, no matter how old you get.
  • People deserve to be heard and understood, no matter how simple the interaction.
  • God’s love and promises are unfailing. 
  • Being willing and present will be my first priority.

“Just as a single stroke of white paint on a canvas can completely change the feel of a picture, a single point of divine light will transform the blackest, most hopeless life into one of promise, potential, and ultimate glory. God’s light is always shining, and always ready to guide us in His pathway.”

               -Thomas Kinkade: Every Day Light

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