Friday, October 27, 2017

What a Week!

Lots of drama and putting out fires.  I started the week talking with my cell phone provider to clear up a lot of unexpected, incorrect charges on my bill.  Then I had to call my credit card company which kept being denied by a certain merchant who lists this company as a valid payment option only to be told I need to contact the merchant directly; so I had to fill out an online form.  And that’s just my personal life.  Work has been much of the same.  We’ve had so many unexpected issues to tackle that we’ve had to put most of our to do list on hold…never good news for someone in a task-oriented position.  Sigh…

But such is life.  And God tells us “ In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)  Besides there is so much to be thankful for each day especially when we have a God who can turn a mess into something beautiful and a sorrow into something to rejoice over.  That, too, has been the case on a couple of occasions of this stressful week where I, along with others, watched the Lord take a sticky crisis and not only resolve the matter, but in a way where others were blessed; and we all get to see God’s power, might, and love at work in a way in which we otherwise wouldn’t have.

And there have also been several blessings this week like a lovely walk on one of a few gorgeous days of sunshine.  I also got to meet a non-native speaker to study the Bible together yesterday, which makes me so, so happy to blend ESL and Scripture with the beginning of a new friendship—all of which bless my heart.  And last night, I was invited to attend a ladies’ group where we talked about birth order and how it affects how we develop including our personalities and relationships.  It was quite fascinating… and quite humbling as I stumbled through my high German which was never advanced in the first place, but very rusty!  Motivation to üben, üben, üben!  TGIF!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Looking on the Sunny Side

For the past 10 days since my arrival, I’ve been disturbed at my inability to properly greet people.  I don’t remember having this problem in Germany or France.  Must be a Swiss thing.

And quite honestly, it’s not the type of situation I’ve ever thought to analyze, but there’s a window of opportunity as you approach someone on the street to exchange greetings.  I know it works here because about 1 in 10 times this past week, I got a “Grüezi”--that’s Hello--from a stranger.  And I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what I did differently than all the other times of feeling shafted. 

But today was the day.  Not only did I have 100% success rate of 8 out of 8—yes, I did count—but I also deduced what it must be.  Today, being the beautiful day that it was, I wore sunglasses.  So, my theory is it’s the eye contact!  And more precisely, the timing of it.  I still don’t know at which point the Swiss eyes need to meet the one they're greeting, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the same as an American!  I think it’s much earlier.

Anyhow, it’s such a nice feeling to get a jovial greeting back even though I’m fairly certain that I was the initiator every time; but that’s progress, right?  At least it’s supposed to be sunny the next two days.  That gives me time to practice, and maybe I can catch on to this timing thing so that I’ll be able to get in some warm greetings for the not-so-sunny days!  😎

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Perhaps it’s because of the recent weeks of studying the book of Ruth, but I’ve been very aware of God’s kindness toward me through the kindness of others.  I suppose that kindness is always appreciated at some level; but as a foreigner, the depth of gratitude reaches much deeper.  

The two back-to-back international flights from Fiji to get here could’ve been much more stressful, but I had a flight buddy on both who helped me with my bags and with some of the issues that came up.  Since my arrival, those I work with in EE—some who are new faces--have looked out for me and been very gracious with the language barrier.

Then there’s the family who is renting me their flat.  Kindness doesn’t even seem to capture the generosity and really love that I have received from them.  They constantly think of things that will help me feel welcome and comfortable and have gone out of their way to take care of me.  They’ve had me for a couple of meals and given me all kinds of extras for the flat.  The most recent is the table/chairs they put outside for me to sit in the sun and the scooter they offered me to get to the train/bus more quickly.  Not quite sure if I’m ready for that, ha, but those are examples of their kind hearts being put into action.  

Thankful for a spot in the sun!

Like Ruth, I feel so humbled and thankful for the favor and kindness being shown to me by those who have no reason to help me.  And they not only reflect God’s nature of kindness, but are the channel through whom I get to taste and see this kindness.  I’m thankful we have a kind God who extends His kindness through others.  I hope to be a channel of His kindness as well.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vocab Word of the Day...

I learned a new German word today: Nebel.  It means fog.  The couple who is renting me a place to live has been so kind to me and offered to take me to a church this morning about 20 minutes from where we live.  It was about 48 degrees and heavy fog as we left.  After the service was over, the fog was still there.  They asked if I’d like to go up to the mountains and get above the fog and clouds.  Yes, please!  Had I known there would be an hour hike involved in my afternoon, I wouldn’t have worn white pants and 3-inch boots!   But I have no regrets as it was so beautifully breath-taking as we had our lunch outside looking at the Alps, and I absolutely love hiking.  And by this time, the weather had warmed up to the 70’s, which made it a bit warm, but again no complaining from me.  

View from the top of the tower of Lake Zurich

At one point, I was telling them how it is so amazing how changing your position/location can provide such a different perspective!  I think about how things in life can sometimes be cloudy, and it’s hard to get our bearings straight and know how to think and pray at least for me.  But maybe what we need is to get out of the spot we’re in so that we can gain a different view.  And then, of course, there’s God’s perspective.  While we don’t necessarily have to climb a hill or mountain to have that, it does take intentionality to get away from the “fog” of life and also to choose His ways which are higher than our ways. 

He promises in a psalm, which just happens to be on a picture in my room, (translated) "I will show you the way you should go; I will lead/guide you with my eyes." I hear that the fog, though sometimes fleeing, will most likely stick around till February!  I won't be here that whole time, but still, that’s plenty of time to practice this concept.  Hopefully I’ll get some more get-aways in the future.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Few Takeaways From Fiji

My first night in Fiji was a bit surreal as I walked to the cottage where I’m staying under the starlit sky.  What am I doing here?  In Fiji for the third time in 3 years?!  Among these amazing leaders from all over the world? Who two different speakers praised their positions and influence for such important, eternal matters.  It’s extremely humbling and such an honor, not just to be in their presence and a part of their team, but to glean knowledge and wisdom with them and from them.

The night we arrived, we were served a delicious Fijian meal as we met some of the board members for EE in Fiji.  They had some of the youth put on a phenomenal drama that acted out the history of Christianity in Fiji.

Delicious Fijian Food!

A skit the Fijian youth performed

Each weekday was filled with lots and lots of meetings and discussions in how to equip the national leaders better, work as a team, and review different policies.

My favorite session was when we looked at Exodus 18 to learn about leadership, priorities, focus, and delegation.  The first nugget I’ll share was very practical: basically, the later in the day (when we have less mental energy remaining), our decision-making abilities decline; so, better to make decisions before 4 PM.  (That finding was from scientific research, not the passage).

Second, first and foremost, we’re the Lord’s servant. This speaks to me because my very role is one of a servant.  I serve a person, a team, and an organization.  I also serve those who are sending me.  While that’s so true, I must remember that above anyone else, I serve the Lord.  It’s all too easy to get caught up in our responsibilities and get our priorities off kilter.  May we keep Him at the highest place in our hearts.

Saturday was a free day where I rested, walking the beach and marina in the morning and relaxing at the center in the afternoon.  Sunday, I was asked to share my testimony at a local Anglican church where Bishop G. is a convert from a different religion.  E. from Russia gave a strong sermon, using personal examples to exhort us to take every opportunity we have to share the Gospel with those who God puts in our lives.  I think we always need this push.

With E, Bishop G, and an Aussie after the service

Many people left Thursday bright and early, giving me all of Thursday to pack and get to visit a Fijian-Indian couple I met last year at a clinic we held.  Their kindness is humbling as they don't have electricity or much at all, but they had me over for a meal and showered me with gifts.  We were all so grateful to see each other despite the short time I had in Fiji.  As I left, the Fijians predicted it won't be the last time they see me.  With this unplanned track record, I'm starting to wonder myself! 

Quick visit/meal before my plane left!

Third Time's a Charm

Well, I guess it all depends on how you define charm.  I love this place, I must say.  There have been a few differences this time around, other than the people I’m here with.  Fiji has had a terrible drought, leaving the normally green spaces brown and causing some wildfires.  Ima, who takes care of the center, was thanking God that at least we have water.  Me too!  

I still take my early morning walks, but found a new path after the first day’s dogs barking from afar.  At least they aren’t muddy walks like last year. 

Sunrise on my morning walk in the sugar cane fields

This time, there are pigs, bees, goats, and roosters.  The little baby goats are so cute and apparently know to come back to the center after roaming and mixing with other goats in the sugar cane fields during the day.  The roosters are not as loved and have been threatened by at least one participant for their disrespect of choosing to make so much noise during sleeping hours.  :)

Speaking of goats, we had the option of goat or beef curry for supper. I decided on the goat since that’s not something I eat at home.  Then later as I gazed upon the field and watched the cute little kid goats frolicking, I started feeling a little guilty about my choice of meat. 

Then there’s Felix.  That’s the rat who graces us with his presence every night.  At first, I didn’t actually see him and comforted myself with the possibility that maybe he was a mongoose, squirrel, or even mouse.  But finally one night, my eyes beheld him and had to accept the disturbing truth.

It's also been very hot, and some in the group are used to A/C, which we don't have other than a unit in the meeting room.   And the limited data and signal for Internet, which makes it feel like we're living in a different era for some.  But there's just something about Fiji with its natural beauty and slow pace which helps you to enjoy life as it is.  So thankful for my time here...once again.

Monday, October 2, 2017

More Than Meets The Eye

Well, it's been a while.  I've had much to write, but haven't had a free minute!  This past week was filled with online meetings, lots of emails to our workers to remember deadlines, preparing for upcoming VP meetings, and last-minute prep for traveling.  The time has finally arrived, and I'm en route as I type!

I often am asked what a typical day looks like.  That's hard to answer because every day is different, and quite honestly, I'm afraid if I start explaining, it would make you sorry you ever asked.  Or maybe that could be due more to my detailed personality that explains things to the tee. ;). The reality is that a lot of what I do is behind-the-scenes work.

I am learning that many things--whether decisions, projects, or even newsletters--require a lot more time and process than expected.  And when you work with others, which we all do, the collaboration of schedules and lives requires even more time.  And as I consider the nature of my own role which is more "backstage," it has me thinking about how God also works behind the scenes sometimes.

While He's shown Himself in my own and others' lives to be a very present God and sometimes reveals Himself in amazing ways on-the-spot; there are also examples in scripture where people have asked for help, and it takes quite a while before the human eye will see evidence of Him responding.  Like a man named Daniel who prayed and had to wait 3 weeks before any sign of God hearing that prayer (Daniel 10).  Come to find out, what he and others didn't see was a battle in the heavens waging war on behalf of this man and those around him.  It tells us that a holy angel who was connected to getting Daniel's prayer answered was opposed by an evil force, and they were fighting 21 days.  Now that is behind the scenes!  On the one hand, it is encouraging to know that silence and passing time does not equal disinterest or neglect on God's part.  On the other, it reminds us that there's usually more than meets the eye to a situation.

Getting back to the work I do, I don't meant to imply that it is nearly as significant as that of angelic beings, but I find it comforting to know that it takes unseen action to accomplish the goals of a much larger operative.

That said, the next couple of weeks are going to be packed.  I hope to get a post in, but if not, I'm probably making a to-do list or tracking people down to get it done. :)  Stay tuned!