Monday, January 23, 2012

Messy Missions...

(I've been trying to write this blog post for a week now. I'm having a little writers block because my processing of everything around me is going a little numb. ha. This may be heavier than you want, and sometimes I read it and think someone with schizophrenia must have written it because it's all over the place, but hey... enjoy the tornado...)

You know, before we moved to Zambia, we thought we "had it all together" when it came to orphan ministry. After all, we were working for one of the largest mission sending organizations in the world... and were marinated in the American world of "orphan care." So... surely, we should have a little heads up, right?

This reminds me of college. I spent a total of 6 years in school after high school. After I received my Master's in Clinical Social Work... surely THEN I would be prepared for the job, right? (please catch the sarcasm). I remember spending my first year, with a full caseload of over 150 mentally ill clients thinking "What in the world am I doing?" After 7 years of working in the mental health profession, I realized all I DIDNT know... and learned a few things along the way. So... yes... this is pretty much the same thing.

You can spend months training, reading, speaking to others, seeking support (all of which are very worthwhile and lifesavers) But NOTHING prepares you for life on the field, except that... life on the field. What was "best practice" in America looking into the field has now become very blurry. The ideas... and the practical execution... 2 different things.

So... wow. Here we are.

Words to describe our first 4 months:

emotionally overwhelming: both good and bad
learning boundaries
little family time
full of vision
and last but not least...

Don't get me wrong... This isn't meant to be negative AT ALL. When I think about our first 4 months, I think it is a mixture of the greatest joy and the greatest sorrow. It's simply amazing how the two mix.

But I say this because I've been asked privately "how are you all REALLY doing?" The truth is that it's all a little messy right now. What's the right balance between family life and missions? How do you set boundaries, and what are they to be? What's the balance between giving your life away and destroying it all in the same token. Of course, we all have our AMERICAN ideals as to what the answers are... but ultimately, lived out... it's a lot messier than that.

Balancing this....

and this...

with this...

Your idea of how family should look is built upon culture.
Your idea of how family should function is built on culture.
Your idea of how much family time... or even the concept of "family time" is cultural.
Is it necessary to remain healthy? Yes... but ultimately the Bible must be our source.

To say this... we've felt swallowed whole by need. EVERYONE has needs around us. And we are learning that just because we COULD meet the need, doesn't mean we always SHOULD. We are learning. Of course, it's easy to apply that to adults. Try applying that to children. That's the blurry part.

When I look at the life of Christ, ultimately, he gave his life away. And we are trying to do the same, while still very much loving each other in the meantime.

The past few months have been difficult for us, the learning curve is HUGE, (and honestly, if you've never lived in a a foreign country for a long period of time, you can't understand) and we are praying for grace to be extended to us... grace for us to give each other in our marriage... grace to give to our children and them to us... grace from our many employees at our home and school... grace from our fellow teammates... grace from our supporters at home... grace from our families in the US... lots and lots of grace. We aren't going to do this perfectly, but God will give us the grace and strength we need to do it the best we can. The truth is, our family will never look like it did when we lived in America... and I'm grateful for that.

Besides, I don't want to live the kind of life that I could do on my own... "apart from me, you can do nothing."


Saturday, January 7, 2012

If there were no Lifesong...

We are just completing our (the McBs) 1st end of year break. It was one month. Some would think that with school being out, things would be easier here... a little slower. We've found this to be the opposite. I've found myself over the last month consistently concerned about our Lifesong children while on "holiday."
I have seen some in the streets, at the market... and they look different. They look tired, hungry, and more dirty than usual. Especially the younger ones. One of Z's good friends at school, Dennis, came to visit a couple of days. He reeked of urine, as his clothes hadn't been washed in days. He was hungry, but so happy to be in our home. Dennis is the #1 student in his class.

Clement, a 14 year old with major hearing impairment (anyone out there know someone who could hook us up with a cochlear implant?) had malaria and was hospitalized over the break.

(Clement is the 2nd from the left in the white shirt)

Richard, a young man who lives with his older sister... yet she's been gone for a month, has been able to work on the farm to help him buy food during this "holiday" break.

During this break, one of our brightest students showed up at our home after being beaten by his step-father. He now lives on campus with our foster family and is learning what it is like to be in a good family.

If there were no Lifesong...

Many children wouldn't eat
Some children would die from malaria and other diseases because of no medical care
children would remain in abusive and neglectful environments
and there would be many of our caregivers without a way to earn a living.

During this break, I was able to see what their life would be like if they were not given the opportunity to go to school. It means more than education... for some, it means life.

So grateful I get to be a part of making a difference... and for those of you partnering with us, you can rest assured you are joining us in making a difference too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

... stories are still being written...

Hey dear friends! I don't have much time to write. Power & water has been off and on for a week and we have no internet... unless I go searching and bumming for it. (like right now)

I had such great visions for this blog... how I would be able to share everything, all that God was doing here... with you.

Obviously, that's been a little unpredictable. Power, time, and... oh yeah... did I say power... has proven to hamper this little blog of mine. But, what I want you to know is that God is still writing stories. He's writing them every day. Over the last week, we've celebrated, cried, been frustrated, been reminded of our need for God and his strength. Over and over... God is making beauty from ashes... I wish I had time to share them with you now... but until then, continue to pray for us, for our family, and for our children. We start school again this next week (they work on calendar year) and we are so excited about what God has in store for our children... all 218++ this year. Pray God blesses this week! Much love and prayers to each of you!