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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For Unto Us...

Luke tells a story in the first 2 chapters of his letter about real people (who, had they lived in the 21st century, we just might have been friends with on Facebook) daring to live lives of worship, and how God used them to bring about the most significant and humanity-defining event in the history of the world.  You should read their story here.

May God bless you richly by setting your heart set on Jesus this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God With Us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Indelible Wisdom

Just for the record, I love to learn about early missionaries (see On Sacrifice, On Perserverence) .  Their work, experiences, and hardships leave a deep, indelible mark of wisdom in their words.  James Gilmour (1843-1891), Scottish missionary to Mongolia, explained how God called him to his work in this way:

During the summer session in Edinburgh I thought the matter out, and decided for the mission field; even on the low ground of common sense I seemed to be called to be a missionary. Is the kingdom a harvest field? Then I thought it reasonable that I should seek to work where the work was most abundant and the workers fewest. Labourers say they are over-taxed at home; what then must be the case abroad, where there are wide stretching plains already white to harvest, with scarcely here and there a solitary reaper? To me the soul of an Indian seemed as precious as the soul of an Englishman, and the Gospel as much for the Chinese as for the European; and as the band of missionaries was few compared with the company of home ministers, it seemed to me clearly to be my duty to go abroad.

But I go out as a missionary not that I may follow the dictates of common sense, but that I may obey that command of Christ, 'Go into all the world and preach.' He who said 'preach,' said also, 'Go ye into and preach,' and what Christ hath joined together let not man put asunder.

This command seems to me to be strictly a missionary injunction, and, as far as I can see, those to whom it was first delivered regarded it in that light, so that, apart altogether from choice and other lower reasons, my going forth is a matter of obedience to a plain command; and in place of seeking to assign a reason for going abroad, I would prefer to say that I have failed to discover any reason why I should stay at home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lasts

As I get closer and closer to leaving the country I have lived in my entire life, I'm beginning to notice all the things about it that I may be missing soon. Already, I am taking note of the big and small "lasts" that may not happen again for quite some time.  Last piece of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, last time my toes are numb from the cold, last time I'll conveniently order anything off the internet, and others.

I don't say this to make you think I'm sad - no, it's more like pre-nostalgia.  Taking in and noticing all the good things here that usually I take for granted.  I am blessed in Kansas.  I will be blessed in Thailand.  Still, they are not the same, and there are things I will miss.

I'm looking forward to moving to Thailand.  There are so many good and new and different things to come.  And even so, in his grace, Jesus tells us (Matthew 19:29),"...everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  

Not gonna lie, the lasts are hard.  But Jesus promises 100 times better.  And that makes the lasts not sad, but full of anticipation for what is to come.  Maybe some in Thailand, but maybe not until heaven.  But the promise is sure.

Last day as a Food Pantry volunteer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bananas, Birthdays, and Bethlehem

It is amazing how fast time flies when you're...busy.  The past couple weeks has been a blur - and I'm writing this through bleary eyes that are ready to call it quits for a while.  Coffee at my side, let me give you a quick rundown of all the fun I've been up to lately. [I had to go to bed after I wrote this last night - posting this morning for you, though!]

Last Tuesday, I successfully defended my right to an MPH degree!  The presentation went well, several people came to support me, and I only got mildly sizzled by the questions I was asked by my advisory committee.  They must have liked my answers enough to pass me!  Praise God!  The presentation was followed with cooking mountains of lo mien and other Chinese dishes for a shared birthday celebration.  (I turned 29 on Dec.1!!)  Only, my co-birthday girl was secretly helping conspire a surprise party for me!  While we were downstairs eating with chopsticks on a festively decked ping-pong table, friends and co-conspirators alike were gathering upstairs to celebrate my MPH and my birthday with me.  I have great friends!


I also hit 83% of my needed support level before I can leave for Thailand!  I'm a little closer each day, but not quite there yet!  This elephant still needs five more bananas ($500/month) until those mountains of northern Thailand become a reality.

Lunch with a group of vet friends I used to work with was another highlight - coincidentally, the four of us all work at different places now, but somehow, adversity bonded us while we worked together a few years back, and I enjoy catching up with them so much!  We were too busy talking to take a picture.  :)

Friday I had to have a new picture taken for my driver's license, complete with helmet hair...because I got a motorcycle license!  (Thank you to my dear friend Lisa who made it possible!!)  That's right, travelers and pedestrians alike should tremble in fear at the thought of me rocketing down the road at a lightening speed of 25mph (it feels that fast, okay!?) on the back of a two-wheeler.  Whether or not I have a scooter in Thailand, I'm sure the license won't go to waste.

This weekend culminated in the event I've been looking forward to for several months: Bethlehem Revisited!  A walk-through, live nativity from Genesis to Jesus' ascension into heaven, it is alway a favorite of mine, and several hundred  1,800 to 1,900 (just found out numbers for this year) other people who come to walk through each year.  This is the first year I was able to be in costume to help lead groups, as usually I am behind-the-scenes.  Three nights, worth 18 hours in frosty weather with 200 other volunteers dressed as Roman centurions, beggars, shepherds, prophets, and angels has got to be a good time, doesn't it!?
Rachel Buffington
No picture of me in costume, since cameras aren't part of the biblical dress code!  This is a pic from last year's BR.