This from Lena:
Our first term in Peru was a whirlwind of adjustments. New language, new culture, new everything. We were blessed to have formed many new friendships that showed promise of taking root, even in the midst of the chaos that characterized those first two years. We left for the States for itineration exhausted, yet certain that we were on the right path.
Now we are half-way into our second term, and as I contemplate the last two years, one word that jumps to the forefront of my mind is “deeper.” Peru feels closer in every way…closer to that core that I consider my own heart, much more vulnerable. Friendships have gone to a level where it hurts when there is dissonance, where real ministry, real honesty is taking place. We are taking ministry risks that we didn’t the first round. We struggle with how much of the beliefs we hold deeply are truly Biblical, and which ones are just truly American. Much of the free time that we spent in the past in the missionary community has been limited by the increased investment in Peruvians (this is really good, although we miss our other friends!). We take the bus to scary parts of town. I drive 50 minutes on Wednesday nights to be with the young women of our church (where taxis won’t go if you tell them honestly where it is), and I have dings all over our Speed-the-Light van to prove it. There are even babies being named for us!
Sometimes I fear being rejected by the Peruvian church over non-core issues of how we express our Christianity. Sometimes I fear that I will be judged for my own sinful ways, which are all-the-more obvious through the eyes of another culture. We Americans are boisterous and opinionated. We laugh, we cry—so much of what we feel and think is right out there all the time, and I am a perfect specimen! Peruvians are much more reserved, only trusting their heart with a few. I wonder how odd I must seem, how often they have to extend grace to me, and I think that is what hurts the most….That I have come to bring grace, and instead, I find myself coming up short, and very much in need of grace from my dear Peruvian friends.
One day in particular, I was struggling with this issue. My self-protective instincts cried out for shelter. My flesh just wanted to run. There are ways to still be a missionary and hide. You can stay active in ministry activities, and no one has to know your deep heart. You can keep it superficial if you work at it. Don’t mix your lives with theirs. Don’t open your home and all you do or don’t have to others. Keep corners of your life insulated.
But I can’t.
Jesus went all the way. If the Father had given him a pep talk before He came to earth, I can imagine it might have gone like this:
“Ok, Son, this is going to be hard. You are going to make yourself completely vulnerable. You will always walk the earth knowing that they have no idea who you are, and when you teach, they are not going to get it. Some people will start to receive you, like they were waking up from a long sleep, but that will be as good as it gets. The rest will be ignorant and frightened of you—they will go straight to self-protection and attack you verbally and physically. In the end, even the ones closest to you will abandon you. But hold on, because what you do on this earth will rescue them in the end.”
I don’t at all claim to have walked in this sort of rejection, but my frail human soul fears it. I confess that I am the kind of person who struggles not to analyze the small talk after the party. (“What did he mean by saying I looked healthier? Was he saying I looked FAT?”) I hate feeling misunderstood, and I hate even more being understood perfectly and being wrong or sinful.
Deeper is harder. Deeper is an emotional rollercoaster. Deeper is unknown. It is also an adventure. When I risk going deeper, I feel like I am doing what I was sent to do. When I don’t, I am miserable.
So deeper it is.