Well, in order to celebrate the fact that I’ve finally sent off our application to SMI, I thought just for fun, I’d run down some things that I’ve been thinking about –ways God’s been getting us ready, some solemn, some kind of humorous. Here goes…
5. Our friend and ex-neighbor Greg. Had we not met him, we might not have seen what a good fit Native missions would be for our family. Getting to know him was a privilege and taught me/us important things, like the fact that God gave us two ears and one mouth to remind us that sometimes (a lot of the time,) listening is twice as important as talking.
4. Bumping us violently off our comfort zone. Of course, if you really want to get to the beginning of the saga, you’d have to say we finally woke up and got serious about intercultural missions again when Christian High decided they didn’t need a full-time Spanish teacher any more. Not the way I’d have chosen, but if we’d have been here all this time, we probably would have been too stable and comfy (and, come on, who really wants that, anyway?) to have moved on our desires.
3. Embracing extreme frugality. Because of Reason 4, we’ve been living on 2/3 of Sam’s teaching salary for the last three years. This reason came to me yesterday, when I was perusing some information on Native Americans, and a blurb came up stating that the majority of Native people in America live on $10,000 or less a year. If they can live on that, I don’t feel we’re doing so poorly after all. We have what we need, and we are constantly reminded that God is our provider. That’s a blessing I’m not sure I’d exchange for a “normal” life.
2. Living on food stamps and medicaid. This was a hard one to come to terms with, but as a result of the whole ‘living on 2/3 of former income, with one more child to feed’ thing, it’s been necessary for us to seek help, and I’ve come to see it as a form of God’s provision. We pursued it prayerfully. In an ideal world, of course, we wouldn’t need that, but we do (shrug). We are grateful for it, and if you’re a faithful Wisconsin taxpayer, we have you to thank for providing what Sam needed for his surgery a couple months ago. If we hadn’t been covered, we’d be destitute. That simple. It dawned on me the other day, though, that this is also a preparatory thing. The people to whom we’re going know what it is to have to be on the receiving end far more than the giving end. In our culture, it is far harder and much less glamorous to receive than to give. We are learning the art of graceful acceptance, and seeing that hard work does not always, one hundred percent of the time, equal economic prosperity. When we get there, maybe we’ll be one step closer to understanding because in a much, much smaller way, we’ve been through it.
1. Being the dubious owners of a qualified Rez Car. Did any of you see the movie “Smoke Signals”? Didn’t think so. Well, anyway, if you did, there was a scene where the main characters are leaving the rez and get a ride from two girls driving a car that only functioned in reverse. A rez car. …off to check to see if wikipedia has a definition… Okay, urban dictionary has one with… some colorful excretory language. Be warned. But, still, it’s a dead-on description. Our former “rez van” has been proclaimed out of commission for the time being –after the muffler, tires, brakes, fuel pump, power steering, and now we’re back to the muffler literally tied up with a coat hanger again all went, we figured it was poor stewardship to pour more money into a vehicle with just under 200,000 miles on it and succumbing to the ravages of rust. But, still, we had the inestimable privilege of driving a car that would just about qualify (but not quite) as a rez car.
Hope you can see the humor in some of these things as we’ve learned to. As difficult as these last few years have been, God’s been giving us glimpses of the “why” behind it from time to time. I guess if I wanted to add one more, I could add our roach-infested tenement apartment in Arizona. Once again, struggle mixed with blessing. I learned various effective ways of pest management, a skill I’m sure I’ll find useful again, and learned how to turn a dump into a home. I learned that Andy Bales really was right as I drove around in our less-than-safe neighborhood delivering papers through police roadblocks at 3 a.m. –“I’m invincible until the Lord calls me home.” That quote kept me going a lot on days when I wondered why on earth God put us where he did, a couple thousand feet away from a meth lab in our apartment complex. I kind of feel bad for people who never get any adventure in their lives. You see, all this stuff I didn’t appreciate at the time was like manure in the soil. Without it, nothing grows well :).