J. the very worst missionary
One evening I said to Jelle, just before we went to bed: “Hey Jelle, we are moving on the 27th of October.”
“Oh,” Jelle replied, “Can I come with you?”
“Yeah, of course, sorry that I told the world first before I asked you,( I just had posted it on FB) but it just seemed to be the most reasonable date.”
He agreed and fell asleep. There is a time of thinking, considering, pondering if it is wise, good, the best. A time when mixed feelings are overwhelming and a time when that all goes away and comes back a peace that is pretty powerful. But even then, creeps it in just sometimes, somehow, somewhere, when you feel fragile: MY, ARE WE CRAZY?
This is what I wrote earlier in my journal, just a few weeks ago and I felt like: J. the very worst missionary.
I need to write, but seem to have a hard time to summarize my thoughts…
I have no idea how to describe it. Point blanc. Scared for an empty page?
What I can do is write about poor Roma, little poor hungry, bad dressed children, begging woman, uneducated pastors, teenage mothers, alcoholism, witchcraft, the life expectancy of 55, slums, bad smell of burned plastic in the villages, and this all is happening in this good beautiful Europe.
But for what am I called?
The question is if our life or being there in Osijek makes any difference for the Roma if I look long-term. Even if we live there for years, people would accept us as an old piece of furniture what you inherited from your grandma.
What if we would go for about six years? It is only after two years that we start to understand and speak the language and it is only than that it gets interesting for friendships.
What if we go for two years? As it turned out that it is impossible for someone in our family. We are as strong as the weakest in our family. What does it matter?
All that restlessness, that uprooting, all the details where you have to think about. Is it worth? It is not a new question.
There is a need. We tried to live among the Roma from the Netherlands. And it didn’t work out. We couldn’t learn the language as we hoped we could. We couldn’t befriend them and live alongside from here.
We made the choice and we got a deep peace about this decision. We know that the team there can use people like us, with our gifts. There are people from God’s body who understand the call and the desire what we have. And recognize it, stand behind us and support us in many different ways. See that we don’t do it to enrich ourselve, but to serve. There are also people who ask questions. And that helps too. Thank you for doing that.
Whatever I am thinking… It seems that we have a pretty strong desire to go against the mainstream and it is this, that I try to put my finger behind. But I can’t find it out… our deepest motivation.
I can throw with Bible verses. Travellers as Abraham and Moses are very inspiring examples, the pilgrim-songs are not only sang with my lips, but I can feel it in my bones, if that was possible.
Is it not exiles -being in exile?-
Being in exile is doing something to us. It has shaped us, moving around over the world with just a few belongings, suitcases and bags. Not too much furniture and no fat bank account. Is it not this, that we also partly want to pass on to our children? This up-rootedness with deep roots in God isn’t so bad? (Although we also LONG to settle now, find a house to live in for a longer term.. which is impossible without a big fat bank account. ) and so being very human is all too familiar.
Doesn’t it sound nice? -being in exile- it even sounds romantic, hardship, some pressure,
But there is a big difference between the force to be in exile and the choice to be in exile.
For us, it is also a choice- a luxury. We follow the desire of our heart and serve where we can. What a luxury!
I am not sitting outside any more. It is a few weeks later. Early autumn has arrived and the wood-stove is on behind my back. My thoughts didn’t stop either but go on…. It is strange and contrary to the situation of all the refugees who are forced to leave their homes and their countries, without any belongings and live in exile. Thousands of them are entering Croatia, just at the border, very close to “our” city. Close to Hungary and Serbia. This was not even happening when I was doubting and thinking.
While for now… I am surprised with God’s wonderful ways, changing history in remarkable ways and allowing us, his people to be part of it. What an honour.
The doubts, mixed feelings fade away and the peace wins again, and I can even accept it al together. And let me live following the lovely Canadian saying: One day at the time!
What an art for all of us, to be who we are, where we are.
Gerard Kelly showed this during the International Teams conference: a picture of the face of Jesus. His body present and presented on earth. His body consists of many, tiny pieces of stone. And every tiny stone is unique, but also indispensable in the big picture. There is an ugly hole when there is a stone missing. There is also a front and a back side, but that is a different story. How lovely when the picture is complete though. What a mighty art! The imagination of the church of God on earth. People who go out, people who are sending as a congregation, people who pray, people who support in financial ways. Man, to be together part of that body, each in its own way. I want to be part of that! Together.
Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God.
Let us, your servants, see your work again;
let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!
You can also start joining, to make the work succesful. We still need ten more people in the team. Do you join us? Here you can find a link to our website.
If you support our work as a family, you are supporting the ministry among the Roma and the refugees in Europe. We can’t go altogether, but be sure that there is a big need.