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 Lanka...it 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 experience...to 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 now...you 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!