Luke 9:23And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Today I had the joy of building the frame for a new roof over a lady’s out door kitchen area. It was hot today but I enjoyed working removing the broken tiles and sticks that were currently up there. I enjoyed the joys on their faces when they looked at some of my American tools and couldn’t believe how fast they were. I enjoyed showing Fabio her son how to use a few things and what they were for. I enjoyed having him help. I was feeling good doing a job not only for free but where I bought a fair share of the materials for someone. I was thinking what a joy it is to be a missionary. Then I decided to help her more and ask her about cleaning our house a couple times a month. She has nothing, doesn’t understand many things, I am building her a roof and my friend Roberto is sorting out her utilities. She responds by trying to gouge me for a quick buck on the cleaning. She looked at me like an American with too much money and shot me a price three times normal with a smile on her face. Not only was her price high she has no transportation and I would have to pick her up an take her home. Thanks lady , but no thanks.
On top of that frustration I am afraid I have high blood pressure and have long had hypoglycemia. I didn’t eat this morning because nothing here is quick or easy. I got overheated, lost some hearing in my left ear and felt dizzy. I worked to get to a stopping point. My shirt and shorts were so sweaty it looked like I had just jumped in the river. Without even a little exaggeration I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get myself home. I got my tools got in the car hoping to get to the house and have Melissa’s help.
When I was driving up I see the whole family walking and the baby not looking too good. She was in Melissa’s arms and when I asked what was going on, she was going to walk a half mile to the doctor because of something with Alannah’s eye. Keep in mind I am barely able to drive or think. Alannah has a hard time living here. I start to get a bit worried. She is covered in bug bites, so are we, she is constantly covered in heat rash and has trouble with asthma.
I got them in the car, drove to the house to grab water and a shirt. I couldn’t have put mine back on if I wanted to, it was soaked and covered with sawdust. I also know I very much should have been going to a doctor, my ears weren't ringing yet but they were plugged and I was still dizzy. I grabbed ice water and jumped into a 15 second cold shower then got back in the car.
At that moment I no longer wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to be back in Oregon ignoring my health there. Miraculously it really was only a surface desire. Inside I knew I still wanted to be here driving to the hospital to get Alannah checked out again. Listening to her cry and trying to stop her from rubbing her eye. Even when we got to the emergency room and the fat, lazy un-kept “doctor” came in there was an acceptance that this is the price of the gospel. In fact death was paid for all of us.
He didn’t even look at her and told us to go to the eye hospital. Gave us a note to get us treated there. We were there with a baby that has a rash, is pale and has a swollen eye and he didn’t even look.
We headed off to find the eye hospital, luckily Daniel and Juliah had spotted it on our way to the emergency room. We got there to be told they were at lunch and come back at one. We got to the gas station, got home, got the other kids unloaded, I got a real shower and headed back.
The doctor was much nicer and the place was clean. They couldn’t find the problem but gave her some anti inflammatory drops. She still doesn’t look good but has her eye half way open and is watching TV.
After we got back home the guy came to repair my freezer. He missed seeing that he needed a special tool yesterday and now wants more money for the job but since I agreed to a second repair he will honor the original price.
We miss our family. We miss our culture. There is no fast food here. No movie theatre, no shopping mall. We are struggling to both love and reach the neighbor kids and yet teach them to respect us. They call our kids liars and don’t respect what anyone says but me. It’s frustrating, hot and the mosquitos are eating us.
Maybe I almost begin to understand what it means to take up a cross. I know there are people who have paid much higher prices. We aren’t heroes, we are fairly comfortable. We have a decent house, good food, a TV on the wall, satellite, movies and friends. I only think I am suffering because I love me so much.
Walking to the little store down the street I began to reflect on taking up your cross. There is a price to see peoples lives touched by the Lord wherever you are. The price is a bit of your life. That is what it means to loose it. It is no longer mine it is His. I can’t leave just because it is hard for Alannah to live here. Jesus who carried his own cross knows. He loves her more then me. He also loves the neighbor kids who spend 12 hours a day at our gate yelling for us to come out.
Right now we are finally starting to see real fruit, real opportunities for long term ministry. We seen a sprinkling of it in Foz with the kids in the favela but there was a sense that it was only a glimpse of the future. It didn’t feel established or quite real. Here there is a joy in seeing a plan come together. In writing an email to our leaders laying out goals, plans and dreams. Things are opening up and I feel like a missionary. I understand and accept my role. I even accept the pain it costs to be here. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. My flesh has no desire to post this. My flesh wants to leave for Campo Grande tomorrow or next weekend and see a movie, eat subway or burger king. My flesh wants to be fed.
How will I respond. I will get up earlier and be in the word longer. Try and be more prepared to view all the things that happened above as an opportunity for a little of the cross to be rubbed off of me and onto them.