Monday, November 13, 2017

M.K.s: Then and Now

So I recently stumbled across a paper (thanks to my sweet Dad) that I wrote my senior year of high school. It was a project for speech and, I confess, I was cringing a little when I re-read this old paper (that I will actually share with you here) due to its amateurish writing and my very obvious youth. But it triggered a whole host of thoughts and emotions that I felt should be written down, which then turned into this blog post. Please bear with me in this somewhat-awkward-but-very-real, trip down memory lane.

                          M.K.s: A Paradox not a Paragon
                                 
  Today I want to discuss how missions relates to everyone in general and M.K.s in particular. First of all, What are M.K.s? Well, M.K. stands for "missionary kid" or a little missionary. Missionary kids are people just like you. They aren't aliens. I admit, sometimes they do look a bit strange - even talk weird - but they are human. They have feelings just like everyone else. They laugh, they cry, sometimes they even get scared and lonely, but most of all they love. They love God and they love people.
  As people, in many cases, they act just like you would. They aren't superhuman, they do make mistakes - plenty of them. In other cases, if their actions are different than yours, consider how they grew up. For example, if they are ecstatic over peanut butter and kool-aid for Christmas, just overlook it.
 M.K.s are also paradoxes. Not paragons - paradoxes. They can fit everywhere, yet they can't fit in anywhere. They get to go the most, yet they also get left behind the most. They have lots of friends, yet they often go friendless. living in the midst of a lot of people, loneliness is no stranger to them. But - in spite of all that, M.K.s are very privileged. They are allowed to see and participation God's work first-hand. They get to travel and a get a broader perspective of what life is like for others all over the world. They get to learn new languages - and use them in the U.S. so no one knows what they are saying. They are given so many opportunities to learn, even if they don't graduate when everyone else does. They get hands-on training - better than a college class-room can give.
  Okay, so we know a little bit of who they are, but what do they do? A question frequently asked is, " Don't you get bored with nothing to do?" Well, hardly! There is plenty for a missionary kid to do. They live over there just as you do here - well, almost, anyway. What I mean is, life is made up of certain basic activities, and M.K.s do those basic activities too. Perhaps a little more or less than you do, but they still do them. They work, have school, and play by turns. They witness and sometimes even suffer persecution. One of our personal friends was talking to a Muslim priest and he said something the priest didn't like, so the priest punched him in the mouth and knocked his front tooth out. That's not a common occurrence but it does happen.
  Last of all, let's look at what M.K.s need. Just like anyone else they need a lot of prayer. They are subject to so many pressures and Satanic attack, prayer protection is essential. Many times, even all times, prayer decides the success of how an M.K. spends the rest of his life. Did you know that only a small percentage of all missionary kids return to the field?
  They also need love and support. This goes a long way with them. They accept the fact that they won't please everyone or be liked or approved of by everyone, but if they know that they are loved and supported by their family and friends it really helps. It makes decisions easier if they know that they have support no matter the outcome. And they do. God is always there. He provides love, and if they are following His will, support too. Don't pity them, they don't need your pity. But a little understanding will go along way.
 In closing, I want to say that M.K.s don't have a corner on God. God is there for any and everyone who will accept Him. M.K.s sometimes have a more balanced perspective than others, but that doesn't mean that others can't get it too. God will use anyone, any time, any place if they will just trust and obey. You can be a missionary right where you are. If I've don't nothing else, I hope I have caused you to think and helped you see things from a different perspective.
                                                                            
- by Jessica Rogers -


 so....yeah.  I felt it deserved a re-write or an update. If you still feel like reading that is..

     M.K.: A Paradox not a Paragon (20 years later...)
  What is an M.K.? I'm not sure anyone ever truly knows what these strange creatures are who call themselves missionary kids, least of all themselves. 
  I wrote that little paper 20 years ago now, right before graduation. having spent very little time on this side of the ocean. Fast forward about a year and half and I was married to a wonderful man from south Louisiana. Thus began my life in a culture that was, in many ways, more of a mystery than any I had ever lived in before. I my paper I noted that we are a paradox of ideas. Walking contradictions. I felt this more than ever as I tried to adapt to my new life. That is one thing we do a lot of: try to adapt to the situation you are in without looking like an idiot, or making any grave social faux pas, while also appearing relaxed and at home. Marriage and parenting added fathoms to that concept.
        I never would have imagined that I would spend the next 20 years in just one country, America. That I would not get on another plane for 10 years, that even then it would just be to another state, or that it would scare me to death. ( What happened there?) I never imagined that "Cajun" was a foreign language ( aren't we saying the same words?) or that the most complicated culture I would ever learn would be my own. (I still haven't figured out what the secret southern code is for who you hug and who you shake hands with. Anyone? a little help please...) I never anticipated how hard it would be to be the one left at the airport gate waving goodbye to Mom and Dad and siblings, wondering when I would get to see them again. Or how much I would miss traveling and all those mission conferences. Don't get me wrong, I love my life in all it's surprises and adventures since being married. We've certainly had plenty and I wouldn't trade a day of it. It's just that the adventures weren't ones I was expecting, and the biggest surprise to me was not that life changed...but that it stayed the same and I didn't. I couldn't. God was taking me a different direction.
 I won't lie, it was a scary thing when I first thought I was losing my identity as a missionary kid; and while we often are more than willing to challenge the status quo, and think outside the box, we still instinctively shrink from fundamental change. Now where do I fit in? How do I identify myself? 
 In many ways I'm still figuring that out, but the simplest answer is this. I find my identity in Christ. and I fit into His Kingdom. We all do. That is where we all find our ultimate belonging. And my mission field is right here, where I live every day. Just like it's always been, regardless of geographical location.
  In re-reading my paper, I was struck by something I wrote then but didn't really understand. And that is this: as much as we are different, we really are< all of us> the same. I understand this better at 38 than I did at 18. We all struggle to fit in. To know who we are. To feel comfortable in our own skin. We all feel the same emotions: joy, pain, fear, loneliness, love...the same God is above all, and in all and through us all...
 I'm also pretty sure we can't claim a more balanced perspective. Maybe a more multi-colored one. But to claim balance indicates perfection, and we are far from achieving that. I also hope I'm not being presumptuous in saying "us" in reference to missionary kids. I realize each person's experience in as unique as they are. These are just some observations from my own life as well as that of siblings and other family and friends over the years. 
 I may never have the privilege of traveling overseas again, though I hope and pray that I will, but I know that I'm still an M.K. My parent's are missionaries and always will be, regardless of where they live. And I'm learning about a whole new phase called 'Being a Grown-up Missionary Kid with a Family of your Own'. Who knows. I may write an update in another 20 years.

 (P.S. A huge shout out to all the spouses of all missionary kids everywhere. We couldn't do it without you.  I know I certainly got the best, and I thank God for the privilege of living life with him every day. )

JESSICA


Monday, January 30, 2017

Mopping in the middle

Do you ever find yourself waiting for the optimum time to mop? I do this all the time...
      Used to, I would do it after the kids were in bed, but anymore I'm too tired by then and always promise myself "tomorrow".  We are 10 people living in under 800 square feet (and that's counting the loft), so it's a challenge to have the floor clear enough to mop. Now sweeping...that happens 10 times a day. Give or take. But mopping just seems like one of those chores that I like to do super thoroughly and it's hard to find that perfect time to move everything enough to be "thorough". So I usually end up spot mopping and consoling myself with false promises. However, this weekend a sick little boy and a batch of baby chicks sort of forced my hand. I made up a batch of mop water and just started mopping right in the middle of the chaos. I mopped around people and under feet. I mopped under furniture and moved buckets. And every few minutes I had to shake the excess grass and wood chips out of my mop. ( I had already swept at least 4 times immediately prior to mopping.) By the time I was done my floor was decently clean. Not perfect, but sanitary at least. And I was reminded yet again that life is what happens while you are busy making plans. There is never a perfect time to mop. Or sew. Or write that thank you note. Or make that call. Or read a story to your toddler. You just have to do it. And do it in the middle of the mess and noise that makes up our lives. Because those are the things that make it lovely ( and clean๐Ÿ˜‰) and worthwhile.
Happy mopping!

( ps. This is still Jessica, I just sometimes use Ed's profile because I'm too lazy to switch users. ๐Ÿ˜Š)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Seeing God in the puzzle



I love jigsaw puzzles. I love that you can take a mess of jumbled up little pieces, and bring logic and reason and a little creative thinking to it, and it turns into something cohesive. Beautiful.
  We have quite a few 1000 piece puzzles, but, because of our small space, I haven't been able to figure out how to work on one without it taking over the house (another puzzle:).
Until now.
I've finally hit on a working solution, and it has made me so happy. It's the little things, y'all! I realized that if I used several stacking puzzle trays ( aka old lasagna pans lined with paper). I could stack them inside a small lidded tote and put it under the bed when I have other things to do. But then I can pull them out and work on them easily when I have a bit of time. And the kids can join me too. Maybe. If I'm not being too OCD.
 Anyway, I happened to have some time today, and  I'm currently working on this amazing one that is an Eye-Spy puzzle of mixed up vintage board games. Very cool. So I was working on this one area that seemed almost complete but there was a piece that I could tell was supposed to fit and it just wouldn't go anywhere I tried it. I finally gave up and had moved on to another area when I stumbled across the piece that made that little picture all fit together. And it struck in that moment how much we do that with God. Events in life, or even parts of the Bible, just don't seem to line up or fit together. And it's because we are missing some of the "pieces". We won't see it all here on this earth, but sometimes...every once in awhile...God lets us have another piece of the puzzle that puts things in perspective. I know this is not a new revelation. It's been said many times before. But it was a sweet reminder that whether or not what I'm seeing makes sense right now, it will one day.
 And in the meantime...we just keep putting together the pieces God has already given us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Answered prayer

"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts." Psalm 145: 3-4. 
    I just hung up from a 4 hour conversation with my parents, and am overflowing with joy and thanksgiving to hear all the blessings the Lord has poured out on them this past week. He has been doing amazing things, and it is so exciting to get to hear and share in even a part of that. (Daddy has a sort of on-going joke whenever anyone uses the word "amazing" or "awesome", he will say " You mean just normal good?" but in this instance he himself said "This week has been amazing!")
  As many of you have also done, I've been praying almost round the clock over the course of this past week (and even a little before). It was just such a huge burden on my heart, and even though I couldn't be there in person, I wanted to have a part.  
  Its hard to even know where to begin with this, but I guess the first thing that struck me, was how overwhelmingly touched and blessed my family was individually by the team that the Lord sent over. One thing I had prayed for specifically was that each individual member of my family  would be ministered to in ways that they needed the most. ( The Lord did that for each of us recently with our revival meeting, and I desired that refreshing for them.) Dad and Mom both said this is the first time in their 35 years of ministry that a team has come to help and minister with them and to them. Of note, three of the people who ended up going were not originally intended to be there and took the place of someone else, but Mom said it could not have been a more perfect blend of personalities and abilities for what they needed. 
  I'm afraid I could go on and on in detail for a while, but that would make this way too long to write or read. So I'll do my best to summarize the highlights. 
   The meetings themselves went as planned with a good attendance both of the believers there, as well as some of their dear friends who have not yet come to know Christ. It has been a surprising and sweet phenomenon that my family has been welcomed and "adopted" by several families who are not believers. Some of these are important and influential men in the country. They have been building relationships  with these people and Dad said he feels that the Lord has begun breaking down some walls through this Bible conference. (Another direct answer to prayer.) 
  As a whole, the Word preached ( by several different preachers and through a translator/ preacher) was well received and blessed many, but the conference was not without its opposition. A couple of the preachers experienced some sickness, although thankfully they were still able to preach when it was their turn. Also, there was a Q&A session after each message that one person used to try to create trouble through hostile questions and challenges throughout the meetings. The Lord allowed all his questions and challenges to be met and answered with love and wisdom and grace. Instead of hindering the gospel, it merely served as an avenue for God's love to be shown in a very real and honest way.  ( 2 Thes. 3:1-2. Answered prayer.)
  You know it's been great when there just isn't enough time or space to share all the " little moments". When brethren have prayed and worshiped and served and laughed and wept together it creates lifelong bonds in Christ and in the gospel. "...an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God."
   Thank you to each one of you who have labored with us in prayer this past week. You have been a part of the work in the most vital way possible. Please continue, the fight is still on. 

Romans 8:28


It is always a humbling source of awe and wonder to see the way the Lord works in our lives.
 Usually I see it in retrospect.
 But it never fails to fill me with a sense of both my own unworthiness and His powerful love. 
And as much as one would think we would never forget the details of these things, our human frailty all too often leaves us questioning His care when for brief moments we lose sight of where His hand is and what He is doing. Which is why I have to keep coming back to writing things down. 
 Recording them, if you will. There have been many times when it has felt useless or pointless to write stuff down because "I had nothing to say". Because I didn't even know what I was thinking myself and I certainly didn't want to invite anyone else to my muddled pity party of lost perspective. 
 But this isn't about me. Or my family. Or any one person or group of persons. This is all about God. And what He is doing and what He desires to do in us and through us for His glory. He desires that " all should come to repentance". He desires that we "be conformed to the likeness of His Son".  He desires for us to trust Him no matter what. Not just trust that He is all powerful, but trust that He cares about each one of us individually and that His purposes are being carried out even when we can't see how. And that He is working all things to our good in spite of what circumstances look like in the moment. 
 We've had some faith testing experiences this year. We were some of the many whose homes were flooded back in March.  Now, I'm not relating any of this in an attempt to elicit sympathy or pity but rather in order to record what God has done for us. If I was just telling about all we lost it could definitely seem discouraging. And I won't lie and say that it wasn't disheartening after 2 1/2 years of work to suddenly "lose" everything we had been working toward as well as a good percentage of our personal belongings.
  But God... 
He is the difference. He takes the discouraging and turns it into an account of His power and grace. He has shown Himself strong on our behalf in so many ways. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love and help from family and friends. There were some big things we were able to rescue ( like our brand new deep freeze) that were pretty essential. A few of the major appliances. A lot of the biggest power tools, etc. All of our electronics. There were many little things that helped encourage us early on. Then the process of trusting the "what next?" to the Lord was another challenge.  
 But let me just jump ahead and say that what we lost really can't be compared to what we have gained. In experiencing the Lord's provision. In learning how He is always faithful. In seeing how He cares. Yes, He Cares!  
 It wasn't a magical experience. It was hard and dirty and discouraging and slow. But the Lord never promised us easy, or convenient, or pain free. He promised to be with us. It might seem He's asleep in the back of the ship while there's a storm threatening to drown us, but even in that He is the Master of the wind and the seas. And He wants us to have faith in both His ability to handle the situation as well as His love for us. 
  They say there are levels to learning.  I believe there are levels to faith too. I would have said I firmly believed everything I've just written for a long time. But there is a level to my knowing now that wasn't there before. And it's been the same for each of us. It's been a strengthening experience for my children's faith too. They have seen the Lord provide and rescue and restore.  
 Just before moving back home we were able to take a family trip out to Colorado. It was primarily to be at Ed's brother's wedding, but ended up being a vacation we all desperately needed.  It will require its own separate blog post, but was yet another token, to us, of God's loving care.  And on returning from the trip we moved directly back to our homestead. 
  We have been home 2 months now and life seems normal again. (Although I'm not sure we will ever be "normal". ) We are richer than we were before. Not in material things, but in things that can't be measured or counted. 
 And just so you don't get the wrong impression, I haven't stopped wanting to fix the siding or paint the walls. But I don't want that to be all I focus on or think about. I'd like to continue to celebrate the little victories without having to see the whole picture.  Or even the big victories. 
  Speaking of big victories... This whole blog post got started by a conversation with my folks. And an update on specific answered prayer.  I'll let you read that update here if you are interested. 
 And I think that's enough writing on my part, for now.