“One day, you’re going to wake up and think, What am I doing here??”
I’d been warned by my friend and minister Foree, that even though living in a foreign country is exciting, and working to share the Good News about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus is important and meaningful, some days it’s hard. This past week included a few of those days.
The funny thing is, the triggers for those feelings weren’t anything big or majorly challenging. (This isn’t a third-world country. We live in Ireland—a fairly modern place with almost all the amenities you could want.)
The truth is, most days aren’t all that difficult. In fact, most days feel pretty normal. We get up, enjoy a bit of Bible reading and prayer, go to work, and do life. Even our “church-planting work” here is much the same thing you can do by just being involved with your church, whether you live in Texas, California, New York, or anywhere else. We go to worship on Sundays and help out where needed. As far as mission fields go, this one isn’t fraught with danger or undue hardship.
But this past week was weird for me. Frustrating because I wanted to take Jacob somewhere fun and the weather less-than summery. Challenging because it was our first week of summer holiday from school and I’m stretched between the guilt of not relying on electronic entertainment to babysit Jacob and overscheduling his days so we can get some work done.
On Friday, I felt completely overwhelmed and sad.
The 4th of July… the day we’d normally spend at the pool, playing in the hot sunshine and finish off by watching fireworks with my sister and her family. None of that happened. I felt lonely, like I was a million miles away from the people I love instead of just a Skype call away.
I promptly hosted my own pity party. Unfortunately, those really don’t feel like a party. They just make things worse.
Crying didn’t help. What helped was reminding myself why we’re here.
We spent Friday evening with friends and hosted a couple from OM Ireland’s Big Red Bus team. Saturday, we spent the day in Town Centre at a festival making balloon swords and animals for children and inviting the grownups to visit us at church. It was a fun and exhausting day.
The moment that reminded me why we really are supposed to be here came late in the day at the festival. I’d made a couple of balloon dogs (not easy, BTW) for two young girls and was chatting with their mom while they waited in line to get their faces painted. I asked if I could give her an invitation with information about our church. She said yes, so I got a card and handed it to her. She immediately flipped it over and read the back. She looked up after reading the card and said, “These are questions that I have.”
Honestly, I didn’t remember what was written on the back of the card and had to quickly read it myself! It says:
What happens after I die?
How can I be sure God will welcome me into heaven?
Could I know God personally?
And my heart went out to her. Someone in her life had recently passed away. The reality of her own mortality had slammed into her happy life leaving her with big questions and no answers.
But there are answers. Real answers. Answers that offer blessed assurance. I told her the way we find the answers is by looking in the Bible. It’s simple. And we don’t have to worry or hope. We can know for sure that we can go to heaven because of Jesus. We don’t have to (and can’t) rely on our own good works. But we can trust the promises Jesus has made.
She said she’d come to church sometime and see what we’re all about. If she does, I’ll be there to welcome her and make sure her girls have a good time learning about how much Jesus loves them. That’s why I’m here. Fireworks or no fireworks.
A Few Photos from The Heart of Castlebar Festival…
The Big Red Bus, a mobile ministry of OM Ireland, travels around the country putting on puppet shows and offering free crafts and face painting for children. It’s also a great place for discussions about the Gospel over tea and coffee with adults.
The puppet shows take place on the top level of this double-decker bus.
Main Street was packed with vendors and people. I don’t know who this lady is, but I love that she smiled at the camera!
Who doesn’t like Cookie Monster? I wonder, do they call him Biscuit Monster here?