Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wrestling While Watering

"Embrace this God-life. 
Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you." (Mark 11:22-23 MSG)

Did I need another "job"? Not really! But, after winter in Bolivia––no snow here except on the mountaintops but cold--Spring has sprung. There will be no rain until November. As I walked around our property, my heart hurt to see our plants and trees suffering from the winter weather and a lack of water. Because of a shortage of water from the community well, this year our plants are on the verge of dying without dowsing them with water every day for a few weeks. Who could set aside some responsibilities to devote time to this rescue mission? I will! I will!  How could I foresee danger looming in the bushes and under the trees?

I hadn't an inkling how time-consuming this new job would be, but I did know there weren't many responsibilities I could ignore for two weeks. After all, clean clothes, eating, and daily chores and classes must continue while watering. I certainly could juggle my schedule for a mere two weeks while my husband and ministry workers tended to urgent ministry matters. I embraced this challenge with vigor, determined to see new life sprout from the branches and bushes.

Rising early, I turned on the hoses and set sprinklers in motion. "What's so hard about this?" thought the well-seasoned missionary now in her golden years. Well-seasoned on the mission field should translate to experienced with bugs, and golden should translate to caution, aging bones.

With my cute navy and white polka-dot boots zipped up, I headed out as the sun peeked over the mountain behind our property. What a gorgeous Spring morning. I felt like skipping and bursting into song, Oh, What Beautiful Morning until the first reality check occurred. To reach those roots under the trees, I had to bend down and almost crawl to the trunk to reach the roots so I could flood the area and ensure the water seeped to the deep-down roots. With never a thought as to what could be lurking there in the dark forest-like underbrush, I plunged ahead and soon encountered opposition to my watering job.

Ouch! It stung, it burned, it swelled immediately, yet not a critter or insect in sight. Quickly exiting the bushes, I checked my arm for stingers or bites. In the light, they surfaced. At least ten bites and one gigantic bite turning white as I felt faint. Oh, did I mention, not a another soul was on the property that day?

After wrestling with the tree, I then stumbled on a pick-like tool. It fell to the ground but not before the heavy wooden handle crashed on my big toe. Yikes, the dance I did that day resembled a rain dance I'd once seen on the Lone Ranger. Doing a rain dance would surely be easier than my wrestling and gardening dance in the muddy yard. But, onward and upward or better said, downward. I embraced the task. It would not be too much for me as I limped and itched to rearrange the sprinklers and move the hose to another tree. The latch caught my blouse and jabbed my side going out the gate––while wrestling the hose. Just a jab and not a stab. I would go on. Did I mention the open wound on my other big toe that had not wrestled with the pick-like tool? And, that toe also met with a garbage can a few months earlier and ended in a fracture. Maybe big toes just get in the way!

Although wrestling with danger, I still embraced the job. With a jabbed side, a swollen and red arm, an open wound on my good toe, and an injured black and blue toe, I determined to rescue the trees and plants. Today, tiny green leaves sprout from the tree tops and bushes and even a few flowers here and there.

If we embrace life as God tells us to, will we see eternal new life, sprouting Christians, and well-watered souls? Of course we will because God's Word says so. So go on, water even while wrestling with dangers that stand in your way. Give them a good dowsing! Be aware that while watering souls you will wrestle the unknown and the known enemy. Expect the injured toes, jabbed sides, and bites from the unfriendly world of darkness. But, know that new Christians will sprout and bud, and seasoned Christians will flourish because you really embrace life as God wants you to. Meanwhile, watch your life flourish, too!

What are you wrestling with today?

Let's embrace life so that nothing will be too much for us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Dancing with Ants

After church, we parked the car off the dirt road in our area to head down a narrow muddy path to Guichi's house. Guichi is our Bolivian ministry helper. His whole family awaited our arrival. They were cooking cow heart for us––yes, we love it. But, first I'd do a dance on the edge of a neighbor's dried up alfalfa field––a scary dance.

I slid out of the car into a high, hay-like area. I hit the ground and what seemed like a hundred large black ants attacked both of my legs––stinging their hearts out on my bare legs––of all the days to wear a dress, I picked this day. I landed in a hidden ant hill. The jumping and screaming missionary ant dance alarmed the neighbors I'm sure, but what did they think when Chuck began smacking my legs? I can now say I danced with ants. Hopefully, the neighbors saw an ant dance and not a missionary marriage problem.

We ran to Guichi's house. Chuck immediately gave me a cortisone shot, and I gulped down a Benadryl. I rubbed baking soda all over the bites up to my knees. There were so many bites I couldn't begin to count them all.  BTW, I am allergic. I didn't have to use the epi-pen I carry for my fish allergies. Just can't make up this stuff, and I'm a writer. Our medical experience and medical kit saved me from the epi-pen and after effects that could have ended in a hospital trip.

Thankfully, it was an ant hill and not a snake nest. I may start wearing cowgirl boots 24/7. After many years on the mission field, your surroundings are so familiar that you forget to take photos. Then, you begin to forget the dangers, too. But even though we become lax, God is faithful to protect us and give us warnings from time to time.

Do you know that ants are wise? "There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are––ants––frail as they are, get plenty of food for the winter;" (Proverbs 30:24-25 MSG)

One thing for sure, they enjoyed their Sunday feast of white meat thanks to their not so wise missionary neighbors.