Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kenya and Missions (AKA, That Missions Post I Promised You Weeks and Weeks Ago)

I haven't posted about Kenya in awhile. I think the last time I posted about missions, it was that "Ahh! I feel like God calls me to do something in my life and then makes me physically unable to do it!" post. But I've been thinking a lot since that post. And here are a few of those thoughts.

First, I've been struggling with the fact that the opportunity God seems to be calling me with is not necessarily where or what I thought it would be. I love East Africa. Uganda was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. But it was also my first time spending a significant amount of time outside of the United States/Canada, so of course it seemed like the most amazing place in the world. Even on the trip home, though, the three days in England made me feel more like I "fit" in that country than the weeks I spent in Africa. When I think about those cultures where I feel like I belong, I think about Hispanic or European or even Middle Eastern cultures. I don't automatically think "Africa!"

Also, when I initially thought I was being called to teach overseas after graduate school, I felt like I was being called to teach in a secular school in a mostly non-Christian place. I thought that a lot of what I was called to do would be evangelism and being a light for Jesus somewhere where not very many people knew him. By my senior year of college, I was fairly convinced that I should live in a Muslim nation. I didn't think that teaching overseas would mean teaching in a strong Christian university in a country which was 45% Protestant and 33% Catholic.

I still don't know what I'll end up doing after grad school--even if I'll end up overseas or not. I have been thinking and praying about it a lot, though. I've realized that missions isn't about going to a country where you feel like you "fit." I love the way that the book of Hebrews talks about the men and women of faith: they had "acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" because they were "seeking a homeland" (Heb 11:13). Our homeland is the new heavens and new earth. If I teach in Kenya long-term, I'll be so fortunate that I will be going to a part of the world I love, even if it isn't on the top of my list of "places I feel I belong."

In response to my "but this place is sooo Christian!" thoughts, I've started to think that part of my desire to go to a Muslim nation comes from a selfish desire to do something "hard." I want missions to be difficult and challenging and--honestly--impressive. I want to go somewhere where I can really explain to people why I need to be there and what awesome sacrifices I'm making in the process. I don't want people to look at my life and say, "Well, yeah, that's easy." And that means that I'm thinking too much about myself. I have this idea that what I do matters, and that my efforts mean something, and that I know better than God does where I can do him the most good. Maybe God sending me to a Christian nation is his way of saying, "Anything I do through you is because of my power and for my glory. I don't need you here--I've done a lot here without you. But I'm choosing to let you be one of my instruments in this place."

Like I said, I don't know where I'm going to end up after graduate school. I don't know if I'll end up in Kenya or South America or the Middle East or even the United States. However, my prayers and Bible study have led me to the conclusion that I should pursue the option of teaching in Nairobi next summer. I've already figured out a preliminary budget and figured out how much I can save toward the trip and how much support I would need to raise. In the fall, I'll contact the university's US office in the Twin Cities to talk to them about whether it would be a viable possibility and how I should go about planning for it. I'm open to the possibility that God might say "no" at some stage through health or money, but I'm also excited that he might continue to give me yes-es.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joss Whedon Blog!

Those who have followed my blog for awhile have, no doubt, become accustomed to occasional, long, enthusiastic, Joss-Whedon-related posts. I know that, at best, 25% of my readership is even slightly interested in Joss Whedon. Yet every once in awhile, I force everyone who reads my blog to sift through my complex (and frankly amazing and fascinating to myself) thoughts on Buffy, Dollhouse, Angel, etc.

I can't promise that those will stop, but I can announce that some of them will shift over from this blog to a blog where they truly belong, "Let's Get Jossed!" I'm starting this site with my friends Ian and Tricia, fellow Whedon lovers who are excellent writers and insightful thinkers. If you're at all interested in Joss Whedon, I recommend following the blog and experiencing their awesomeness.

The blog is at letsgetjossed.blogspot.com. It will be updated weekly, and it will be all Joss Whedon all the time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sleepover!

Last night, I had five of the youth group girls over to my apartment for a sleepover. It was great. Moments included . . .

1. Food. 5 girls eating 4 frozen pizzas, 1.5 bags of popcorn, a cake, and approximately 4 liters of pop. (I ate lasagna and cookies which were friendly with my crazy food restrictions.)

2. Watching Hairspray and falling asleep to Secret Garden. (Except that I didn't fall asleep until afterwards 'cause I'm a good adult like that.)

3. The following conversation:
E: How old are you?
Me: 23.
E: No you're not! Are you really?
Me: Uh, no. You're right. I'm not. I'm 25.

4. A game of truth or dare in which I ended up holding a giant ice cube in my mouth and daring a girl to put ketchup on her forehead. (Don't worry. We washed it right off.) I also ended up telling the girls that the two things I look for most in a future husband is that he needs to love Jesus and inspire me to love Jesus more and that he needs to love stories. Yep. Good priorities, I think :-)

5. Playing Apples to Apples and Would You Rather.

Overall, the entire event made me feel like I was in college again. Yes, I know these were 12-17 year olds. But either they're mature or I was immature in college because it totally reminded me of eating crazy amounts of food at crazy times in the night and giggling over silly things and playing awesome games. I suppose I did all that in high school, too, but less often. Which leaves me with the conclusion that college is just high school except that you get to do the cool parts way more often and leave some of the social awkwardness behind.