Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Look Back

You may have noticed that I haven't posted here in awhile. As in, almost 5 months.  Pretty crazy for a guy that is in the middle of something as epic as moving to the jungle for the rest of his life.

Except I'm not.

If you don't pay attention to our main blog, you will have missed the memo that our lives have changed.  A lot.  To get up to speed, you need to read this post in particular.

As we have gone through this transition, I have left The Tinker Thinker out to rust a bit.  Partly because I have been very busy, partly because I wanted to leave that last post at the top, and mostly because I really don't want to talk about it.

How do you take dreams and plans that have developed over the course of 14 years and throw them away?

It has not been easy.  The first two weeks were the hardest, as I dealt with the reality that my life was suddenly without purpose.  If I wasn't going to Urubichá, what were we going to do?  Stay here?  Go back to the States?  What?

Like most men, I self-identify with my work.  Ask any man in our culture, "Who are you?" and I bet you one of the first three things out of his mouth will be connected to his job, most likely preceded by the words, "I am a ..."

I am what I do.

For the first time since I graduated from high school, I didn't know what that meant.  I felt like I was at the bottom of the well without a rope.  That may sound extreme, but how would you feel after seven years of study and training, two years of "developing interest," an overseas move followed by three years of learning a foreign culture and language, and suddenly you conclude that it's just not going to work right now?  In the midst of that you realize that along the way, you have overlooked or explained away a critical issue in the heart of the woman who is supposedly your best friend, your wife.  Then add the pressure of knowing that so many people have been faithfully, sacrificially giving their personal finances to get you where you are, to do a specific job!

Kaylee and I decided to make the most of the experience.  We spent a lot of time talking to God and reading his Word.  We sought counsel from important people.  We talked daily, just the two of us, about our thoughts and emotions.  The upshot of all of this is that we learned a lot about ourselves.

I used to think I was the perfect candidate for tribal missions.  I like a good adventure.  I have a wide skillset that includes construction, troubleshooting/repair, amateur and professional radio, mechanics, forestry, and computers. I like to teach.  I get excited about etymology and having that aha! moment with words.

Time to take a humble pill.

In the second week, I sat down with several sheets of paper and a pen and I started writing lists.  Why did I want to stay in Bolivia?  What were the pros and cons of moving to Urubichá?  Of staying at Etnos?  Of returning to the US?  What are my strengths and weaknesses?  And I realized (or perhaps was just honest with myself) that just maybe I'm not the perfect candidate for tribal missions after all.  Oops.

Two of the most important things that struck me were:
1.  God has not called just me, but my family as well.  That means that we need to all be "okay," wherever that takes us.  Although I'm the head of the family and we follow the vision God has given me, it's my responsibility to make sure that everyone is fine, and fine enough to be useful in His work.
2.  God's will is not necessarily singular, in the way we often think of it.  He has given us freedom in Christ, including how/where we do ministry.  I have long believed this, but had yet to apply it to this area of my life.  It is very possible that He was using my desire to live the Big Adventure to bring us to Etnos.

So, here we are.

I have traded the epic title of "tribal church-planter" for "professor of culture and language studies."  I have traded a small jungle village for a humongous city.  I have traded the "front lines" for a training assignment.

And so far, I can't complain.

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