Long and Boring

I love what I get to do.  I love being in Ethiopia.  I love the impact we get to see in the lives of women and children.  I love where I live.   I love watching God breathe His breath on something and watch it come into full bloom – as only He can.  I love our community and the people who make it up.  I get to do something that I am passionate about and that brings me life.   I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I get to do right now.  In many ways it seems like we get to do exactly what God has made Christy and I for at this juncture in our lives.

But, I have a confession to make.  Much of what I do is long and boring.  What I do is not sexy.  While there are days that are full of the great joy and sheer terror of Kingdom living, there also are days that are full of paperwork, communication and meetings.  I spend very little of my time in direct care with Moms and their children – something very difficult for a guy like me who loves to get his hands dirty.  There are days that have incredible highs that are soon followed by unspeakable lows.  And, there are days where the lows we are experiencing have a high waiting right around the corner.

If you’ve been to Ethiopia on a mission trip (or to any country for that matter) it is probably hard to imagine that the life of someone on the field could be imagined as long and boring.  You probably hit the ground full of anticipation and passion at what God was about to do in you and through you – and He met you in it.  You jumped right in and got busy and stayed busy for a full 10 days!  You saw need everywhere and even got to meet some of those needs along the way.  You met people and had life changing encounters with them, you shared meals with friends, you visited Spirit-filled churches, you got to hear the passion in people’s stories about what they do.  You left tired…and somehow satisfied.  Your mission trip messed you up…and perhaps, even for a milisecond you left feeling like, “Man, if I could do that every day, wouldn’t that be great.”

Let me pause to say that yes, it is great.  I love what I do – I am trying to over communicate that point so that you don’t miss it in the other things that I am saying – but life on the field typically is much different.   There are normal tasks that consume huge amounts of time. There always is something breaking or broken that will take hours to repair.   Everything involves hours and days of waiting.  There are threats to process through and proposals to rewrite multiple times.  There are reports to write and staff to train and the mundane to deal with.  There are long hours – sometimes long seemingly fruitless hours… And, then into the middle of that greyish colored backdrop come those breakthrough moments where I realize that God is still at work and that He is moving in the lives of those around me…and in me.  In that way, life in the field is much like everyday life anywhere else in the world.  Often we only get to see and experience Kingdom life as a dull reflection of its true, full kaleidoscopic beauty.

So, I spend my days proposal writing and overseeing and communicating and training staff and buying things and equipping and empowering locals to do the work of ministry…that’s my job – to see locals doing what they can much more effectively do within their culture and their language than what I could ever dream of doing.  I think its what God has wired me to do.  And then, there are those moments…where I get to get my hands dirty too.  Moments where I get to interact with a child or greet a Mom…those are tender moments that are a gift…but I have to continually remind myself that ultimately they are not what I am here for.  I am here to see Jesus’ love displayed through our staff to those in need and to be a bridge to those in The West to get a glimpse of what is missing in lives there, but that people here so clearly have.

I guess I just wanted to warn you…in case you come this way to visit and want to hang out for a few days.   You may find that my life is full of long and boring, too.

2 Comments on “Long and Boring

  1. You were watching over our shoulders when we were living there, right?! You’ve just described to a “T” the comparison between our 3-month sabbatical in Ethiopia, which we considered the “3 most effective months of ministry we had ever experienced,” and our two years of living and working in the field! Days and hours of undirected inactivity! Daily life that took hours to accomplish simple tasks! Everything being way more complicated than “back home.”

    So, then, why do I sometimes still feel wistful and wish I was back in Ethiopia? I guess because, even in the midst of the mundane and the challenging, God showed up and touched people’s lives–including mine. And that somehow felt different there than it does here.

  2. Hi Anna! You speak the truth 🙂 Much love to you guys.

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