Monday, July 31, 2006

The Prologue Continuation

So before I continue on with this prologue, I am going to quote a scripture passage which has been claimed for our family and truly expresses things better than I could ever put them into words...

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. "When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

Jeremiah 29:11-13(a)

Pastor Habs said he and Mrs. Habs would be praying alongside us as we began to again prayerfully consider it. Right around the time this email was sent, I also started attending a missions seminar put on by Pastor Jolly. I basically went to it, because I wanted to have a better understanding about missions and I guess you could say I wanted to hear someone's point of view who was closer to our age. I couldn't have even began to envision where it would end up leading us.

Mr. Cinder and I began discussing Sri Lanka and also weighing whether it was just that God wanted us to go missional or if it was specifically to be Sri Lanka. More than once it was asked, "Why not least then you are still on the same continent...not so far from far less danger?" After a lot of prayerful consideration, the response we heard from God was this, "What's the sense of deciding to go missional if you aren't going to go where I am prompting you to go?" Really, there's no disputing any conversation from God and He truly made a very valid point. If you are going to step out in true and complete trusting faith, then you have to lay everything aside and allow Him to completely do the leading, no matter what the path it might take you down and despite everything which might come with going down that path! In retrospect, it's a whole lot easier to write that line than it is to truly live that out. Throughout the decision process for this trip, we really had to deal with a lot of our apprehensions or fears, a lot of "what-if" questions, giving over of the reigns of control and the ultimate realization that God knows what's best for us and He also knows what we are capable of, even when we can't see it!

So, after a couple of weeks of pretty intense prayer and discussion and a lot of awesome information coming in from the missions seminar, the prompting continued to come stronger. The eventual bump to the next level came with a very simple question from Pastor Jolly..."Is the spirit of God talking to you?" You know, it seems like a pretty relatively simple question to answer, but the only response I had to it was..."I honestly don't know if it's God speaking or simply me prompting what I would long to see take place." At the time I wrote that reply, I still truly didn't know for sure if it was me or God prompting the vivid visions of teaching Sri Lankan children and basically just coming alongside people to offer them fellowship and friendship.

After another week of sleepless nights due to intense prayer, with a fairly simple request..."We need make the roads meet and help to make the roadblocks disappear if it's truly a calling from You and not from self." He works in the most amazing ways and within very little time, He help to make all the roadblocks essentially go away...if there wasn't certainty before this, there was definitely 100% certainty following it. While there had been a lot of negativity in the winter when we examined the possibility, God had now paved the road in such a way that people around us were excited about thepossibilityy of going missional and brought support to us in a huge way. Where we thought there would be difficulties finding someone to look after our kids for the duration of the trip, it was quite the opposite. Family truly stepped up and said they would help to care for our kids, in order to make it possible for this trip to take place. Our kids now get to go on a little mini vacation of their very week here and one week there and they are pumped to have this happen! People immediately in the fall began saying that they would be there to help us through prayer support, financial support and whatever other ways we needed.

I have to say that the winter and spring of 2006 have been extremely interesting and SO exciting. It truly feels like we are living in a dream right now! You know deep down inside it's reality and happening...I honestly can't bring it into words. I'm counting sleeps (I don't honestly know I've counted sleeps for anything in my adult life...WELL...okay, with the exception of the anticipation of becoming Mr. Cinder's forever sidekick 10 years ago), being awaken at night, partly because of the vivid dreams beginning to go through my mind (some would say this is the effect of the malaria meds...but really, who truly knows) and simply just because I'm prompted to be in reflection or prayer.

Time and especially summer has honestly flown by in the blink of an's seems like only yesterday and not 13 months ago, that we were making the final decision to leave what was familiar and take that leap of faith yet again. Only a few short months ago, we received the go ahead to be on this we've blinked and Mr. Cinder and I are only 9 sleeps away...Pastor Jolly and Padawan are only 4 sleeps away!

Well, this is where I'm going to end the prologue and now begin to pour out this God-venture...I'm going to close with this two very poignant passages of scripture, which God brings me to on almost a weekly basis...I think as a true reminder of who He is and also in terms of how much His hand is truly on us and this journey...

"God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you. Don't be intimidated. Don't worry."

Deuteronomy 31:8


I don't even really know where to start the journey with this new blog. My dream for it is this...that it will be the house for my many memories which we bring home from our first missions trip abroad! How do you ask did it all come about? That a wife and mother of three, along with her hubby, would embark on a trip which is going to take them clear across the other side of the globe. Well, here goes my first entry and this is how it all came to be!

I find it so very interesting as to how God speaks and calls people in such vastly different and very personal ways. How He truly knows what we are made of, even though we sometimes don't have the foggiest clue...and He then calls us on it and uses it as a means to stretch us to brand new levels and just bring us to a place beyond our wildest dreams.

This journey all started almost two years ago, when our friend, who also happened to be our pastor and my boss, announced at bible study that He had been asked to go on a teaching mission to Sri Lanka. I remember saying, "You're going where?" and trying to locate on a map where this little country even was. I also remember very clearly the tsunami and the devastating effects which it had on so many people and countries, including Sri Lanka. We wondered what it would hold for this pioneer voyage and in the end, God had His hand on all things and the trip went on as planned. When our friend got back, we talked at great lengths about his trip and what he done. We talked about the people, their culture, the country and the plans for more trips in the future.

As these conversations went on last winter, my heart was prompted in quiet and gentle, yet very apparent manner. Sri Lanka was strong in my mind and on my heart. Mr. Cinder and I began to discuss the possibility of us embarking on a mission such as this one. So many issues seemed to stand in the way...our kids, our jobs, our ministries, the financial aspect, the danger aspect, etc. Many around us said it just wasn't a reasonable choice to make...wasn't a sound or very smart decision to make. After careful consideration and a lot of prayer, we ended up dismissing the possibility of Sri just seemed unreachable, too risky without any strong support and therefore became a distant dream.

A few months later, God provided opportunity for employment which seemed more secure and a much better working environment for Mr. Cinder. After prayerful consideration, the job was accepted and then began the agonizing task of selling a home, uprooting our family, leaving the comfort of our church family where we were connected and all the friendships we had worked so hard to forge...then purchasing a new home, finding a new church home and beginning the hard task of trying to fit in, find your place, make new friends and simply make a new life.

Mr. Cinder started his job in the new city and the kids and I stayed behind to wait for the house to sell. The month we were apart proved interesting for me. You see, I was angry with God and my husband for making me leave everything I knew, move and start to build my life over again. The most important point for our family throughout our move, was that we would follow God's leading to find a church for our family to worship in right away. Once we knew where we would go to church, we began to receive their e-bulletin, so that we would know what was happening in the church and would begin to feel some connection, even though we were still in another city. I remembering opening up the first e-bulletin and reading a letter from the Associate Pastor, telling about his upcoming missions trip...the second team to go to Sri Lanka. I remember sitting in unbelief at my computer as I read the letter. I heard a still small voice which said, "You may not be at the church yet, but this will be one of your pastors. You know what comes with this trip to Sri Lanka and you will stand in the gap and support this mission through prayer." I found myself praying for the team's protection...spiritual, physical and health. Praying that God would have His hand upon the mission.

The day finally came for our moving truck to make it's way to our new home. We were met by a friendly group of people from what was to become our new church family...we'd only attended one service there, yet they came to help us, to welcome us and to simply extend Christian love, fellowship and eventual friendship. To this day, it's truly overwhelming...their generosity and kindness. We had absolutely no idea the plans that God would eventually have in store for us. As the unpacking of the truck came to a finish, I heard a conversation between some of the men and Pastor Jolly, talking about his recent trip to Sri Lanka and the upcoming presentation he was going to have, to talk about his trip and also give a visual through the pictures he had taken. I decided that I was going to go to this presentation, as I wanted so badly to see where our friend, Pastor Habs had gone that winter. That had to have been one of the most scary experiences I have ever endured. I honestly hid behind the sanctuary doors of the church, because I was scared so stiff, that I couldn't make my feet move, one in front of the other. I did eventually make my way in and the people were so inviting and gracious! It was such an amazing see pictures and recognize them, because of Pastor Habs stories from his trip. The Sri Lankan children in the pictures captured my heart! When the presentation was done, I went home and really didn't think much more on it at that time.

Anyone close to us knows it was a very difficult transition, especially for me. I hit some very low points in life throughout the fall, but the amazing thing was, that despite the anger I felt about the move and the low points I hit, it was one of the most powerful moments in my life, my marriage, my family! As I struggled with the day-to-day tasks of unpacking and essentially trying to survive, God began to speak to me in a clear and gentle voice.

He said, "Cinder, what about Sri Lanka?"

I said to God, "Look at me...I'm not a missionary, at least not one which leaves the country."

He said, "You said there were so many reasons why you couldn't even begin to consider it. They're gone are free to now consider it again. Think about it, pray about it, talk with Mr. Cinder about it and when you are ready, we'll discuss it."

I just thought it was crazy to even be considering something which we had already dismissed, despite the fact He truly had taken away all the apparent obstacles which we seemed to face the first time. I remember emailing Pastor Habs for advice...I don't know if I thought he would agree that it was a crazy idea...I think I knew deep down inside what he would say and maybe that's why God led me to send that email! His advice was simple...God called us to be good stewards, but didn't always call us to be safe. Making faith steps also sends a very positive message to your kids about trusting God. Sri Lanka can be a dangerous place at times, but so can our cities. Keep praying and asking for God's guidance!

Well, it's late and this is where I'm going to end for tonight...I'll continue on with this lengthy prologue over the next few days and then once back from the trip, hopefully will begin a journal of the many life-changing memories!