Sunday, September 30, 2018

Any Prayer Requests?

I'm so thankful for the Bible Study I've joined for a myriad of reasons.  The Word of God nourishes and cleanses us, so I'm feeling spiritually fed and clean...well, sort of (keep reading).  Another benefit is that our group shares prayer requests, and we pray for one another.  I'm so blessed so have so many who pray, but it's nice to have people locally who we can share things with.

My first prayer request with this group was for continued healing for my arm as well as grace or help with the insurance--who I had a very negative and trying experience last spring after the ER, I'l add.  I felt a little silly mentioning it, but I was starting to feel annoyed and weary from the past two weeks of zero progress despite my very detailed, frequent emails.  Now I'm so thankful to have asked for prayer because the Lord knew I would need much grace and help with this process.

Normally I wouldn't open emails from the insurance company on a Sunday, but since I'm leaving the country tomorrow, I decided to.  To my chagrin, their questions were like starting from scratch; so I decided to make a quick phone call.  All I needed was the claim form after all.

But the two reps transferred to a third who had no claim number at all for me and no record at all despite my slew of emails and phone calls.   Did I want to create a new claim?  Well, no, but it seemed there was no other choice.  And here's the first bit of grace evident: I realized that my policy ends today; so if I had waited till tomorrow or later, I'm not sure I could've made the claim (perhaps since the incident was prior, but not sure).

I'll spare you the entire 42-minute conversation, but it was painful.  I did my best to be patient and polite, but thought I would lose it a couple of times after having to repeat simple details three times and repeatedly correct really simple facts.  And it wasn't because of a bad connection or that she couldn't understand me; her questions seemed like she wasn't listening.  The clincher was at the initial close of the conversation when she said I should receive the form by mail within 5-7 business days.  I very politely asked , "Did you say you're sending this in the mail?"  (I must interject that last time everything was by email; she knew I'm not returning to the US till December; and she had never asked for my address here).  When she answered affirmatively, I asked "to my US address?"  "Would you rather me send it to where you are currently?" she asked.  Incredulous and exhausted at how difficult and unhelpful the process has been--and I haven't even submitted the form!--I was able to muster a simple "yes."  

There was more, but suffice it to say that, even though I kept a calm, respectful voice, I was a bit worked up when I hung up.  On the one hand, I was thankful for the hopeful progress and could see God's hand, including help to be gracious and polite to her; but I was left with those yucky feelings of anger and frustration all wanting to mount rather than subside.  So I began to pray and started to forgive when a recent conversation with my mom came to mind at just the right time.

She had shared how, at a recent women's retreat, the speaker (Bishop Lawrence) had spoken on forgiveness and how he distinguished between forgiveness and forbearance. How we must forgive when people sin against us, but we must exercise forbearance when people don't necessarily sin but rub us the wrong way or are really challenging.   And I knew in that moment, that this was a call for forbearance.  I didn't need to forgive this lady.  I needed to ask God's forgiveness for my own lack of love (which calls for patience, kindness...and bearing all things) in this extremely trying situation.  

It was so freeing to me (and humbling).  And to think that the prayer of other women have been heard and used on so many levels through this experience makes me thankful and reminds me to not take such a valuable offer for granted. On that note, if you're wondering how to pray for me, I would cherish prayer as I work with the insurance company.  Thank you!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Leadership Development Training

Sorry for the delay in writing. I have many excuses, most of them very good. ;) Backing up, three weeks ago I was getting ready to board a couple of planes to get to Fiji. I was happy to have a travel companion this time, a young Swiss gal who is attending the Leadership Development Training. 

With Tabea 

Kennedy Training Center

I went for a couple of weeks to help support the team there. Originally we had planned to have a small group from Europe, but it ended up just being Tabea.  Of course the Lord knew this in advance and I believe orchestrated that I be there. It was so wonderful being back in this place that feels like a second or at least a home away from home for me.  It’s not just the place itself, or only the people, but the setting where people from all over the world come together to be equipped to advance the Gospel. 

13 participants from India, Mongolia, USA, several Pacific islands,
Australia, Malaysia, and Switzerland

Some of my Fijian friends: Emma who serves us and Rusila who also serves 
and wears many hats as the new national coordinator of Fiji.

I wore many hats there, while still holding online meetings and correspondence for Europe & MENA.  Here are some examples:

~Helped Tabea catch up on some personality testing she had missed the week before 

~Helped clean, organize the office, and count inventory of the materials in Fiji

It took all day, but what a sense of accomplishment to get 
through the entire container!  Anne (VP of Oceania) was able to 
send some very much needed materials to some of the neighboring islands.

~Helped Tabea & others practice the Hope 4 Kids presentation, which she helped teach this week!

Going through the H4K English!  
Tabea did a great job!...

...and then taught some of it this week!  Wow!

~Helped the participants work on their Master Plans

~Went on an OJT (on the job training, aka outreaches to share the Gospel)

~Was a listening ear & prayed with some of the girls (my favorite)

As I sat in on the talks and instruction the group received, I had a different lens than I did two years ago when I attended as a participant but hadn’t yet begun the work.  Some of the leaders really challenged us, and I took the challenge to bring my questions to the Lord too.  It was also helpful to remember the ways that God has spoken and called me up to this point, which is one of the exercises the participants had to reflect on and articulate.

Another aspect I consider a treasure is the community living. Okay, it can have its down sides for light sleepers or if you want privacy; but we can learn from and enjoy each other in such settings that we don't on our own.  

My final take-away was unfortunately an injured arm.  (Which is one of my valid reasons for not writing sooner as it’s slowed me down a bit!).  I was playing volleyball with the islanders.  I don’t regret playing; though I predict it will be my first and last time in my 4 years here.  

With Serai, who I met four years ago during the internship.  Wearing a makeshift 
sling that one of the participants with an engineering background rigged up using Tabea's scarf.

Please be praying for this group who will soon go back to their home ministry settings.  May they take back what they need for the tasks ahead.