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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stranded in NC -- and Africa

“But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name.” – I Peter 4:16 (NLT)

By comparison to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, I am really not suffering this week. But by comparison to my usual nice, comfortable, predictable life, I am totally suffering this week. I wish I could tell y’all that I’m just walking around praising His name and thanking God for the privilege of participating in His work. But to be honest, I’m struggling here. I miss my husband terribly. My children miss their Daddy terribly. We’re all sick with colds and I’m running seriously low on patience.

Absolutely nothing about this week has panned out as I thought it would. Even today – I was planning to head back to Atlanta with the kids first thing this morning. We’ve been in North Carolina all week and it’s been wonderful to spend this time with my dear family – indeed, I don’t know what I would have done without them this week. But it’s time to get home. I have things to do, bills to pay, the usual stuff of life… But no, I’m not going home today. Because the stinkin’ snow storm of the century has overtaken Eastern North Carolina. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or anything.

And then it occurs to me... I'm stranded, just like Dan. Well, not "just like" Dan. His situation is a bit more intense than mine. I'm "stranded" in a large city in the good ol' USA with my Dad and three of my children. My sister and her family are right down the street. Despite the snow, we have power and phones and (obviously) internet access. We built a snowman, went sledding, now we're sitting by the fire eating lunch.

On the other hand... Dan is stranded (really stranded) in Africa right now. He spent Christmas on the other side of the world away from his friends and (almost) all of his family and has very limited access to internet, email or phone. He's caring for our two brand new children who he barely knows and who speak only a few words of English. He is washing their clothes (and his) in a bucket. He's sharing a bathroom, living room and kitchen with an entire group of people he just met last week.

And is Dan complaining? Is he wandering around like me asking God to hurry up and teach him this lesson so we can move on already? Nope. Dan is not having an easy time and he is suffering -- but he is praising God and he is thankful to participate in His work. He's taking time to learn what he can and what God wants to teach him from this experience. Take a look at the email I woke up to on Christmas morning, from Dan:

Subject: The Curse of Abundance

One of the families we are staying with at the guest house brought

bubbles for each of the kids for Christmas morning. They were so
excited at breakfast about blowing bubbles they didn't even want to
finish their food. That in itself is big.
After eating Hannah and Joseph went outside and I showed them how to blow bubbles
and they took to it immediately. Each bubble was valuable and had to
be pointed out to me. "Daddy, you see. Daddy, you see." Especially the
ones that landed in the grass and didn't pop right away.

Dan has had a restful and sweet weekend with our new little ones. Their Christmas was not full of toys and Santa Claus and everything we associate with Christmas here in the States. It was just about being with each other and with our Lord. May we all take time to learn these lessons and to get our priorities straight.

 Please pray for my dear, awesome husband as he pushes forward tomorrow and tries, once again, to secure a visa appointment with the American Embassy. Please pray that he will be granted this appointment and that they will all be on that flight late Wednesday night. Pray for our friend Judd (who has just arrived in Kampala!) to help Dan this week and for his wife and family at home in Atlanta.

Blessings to all and stay tuned. We'll keep you posted on anything that develops this week.


Jane said...

praying you all make it home soon!

Jennie said...

Shelly, I so appreciate how you share so candidly. Please know that I have been praying for you constantly.

sara said...

Praying for you heart! and for Dan, Judd and the kids to be on that flight home THIS week!! ah...won't stop praying friend!