A Treasure in the Trash

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Today is March the 14th and I am one week shy of having lived in Costa Rica for 7 months.  In that time I have been eye ball deep in trying to learn Spanish.  It has been a very difficult chore and I do mean very difficult.  What we are doing is not an easy thing to do. We sold almost everything that we owned, kept about 8 suitcases worth of stuff, quit our jobs, said goodbye to our family and friends, hopped on a plane and moved to Costa Rica with plans to then move to Honduras.  About a month after we got to Costa Rica the plans changed, now we are staying in Costa Rica but we are in a sense starting over again.  The last 7 months has been filled with ups and downs and in some ways I may have lost perspective on why I am here.  Today God got my attention, loud and clear.

Being at school has been a fun experience.  I have made friends that I will be friends with for the rest of my life.  It is very awesome. It was very unexpected pero in 5 weeks I will be saying goodbye to them.  Unlike my friends at home in Washington and B.C., I most likely will not see these friends again.  Even if we are all home in North America at the same time we all live in different states. It has been easy for me to get caught up in life with my gringo friends. It’s natural that I became very close to other students.  We are all here to be missionaries, we all gave up a lot to get here, we are all struggling our way through language school and we all speak English.  None of us really lost all of our perspective but I think that God has sent a wake up call to all of us at least once if not more. Today was my turn.

It is common to have people come to our gate and ask for food.  Hannah and I have pre-made bags of beans and rice to give to the beggars at our gate and we ask for prayer requests from them also.  We were miraculously given money to buy Spanish Bibles to hand out to people and we are in the process of purchasing those now.  In addition to having people come to our gate it is a normal sight to see people going through the garbage. Since we have garbage pick up 2 days a week I have often witnessed people looking for cans to recycle,  or old tools, jackets, backpacks etc…  It seemed like they were always looking for things to make something out of. Whether it was for shelter or clothing or to sell for money for food.  I am not naive, I know that a lot of homeless people are addicts so we don’t give out money. I also know that they most likely have to struggle to find food. The truth is that I noticed it everyday and I didn’t give much thought to what life on the street is like. God was about to change that.

This morning I was walking through a park on my way to school. It is the same route that I have taken loads of times.  Today was different. Today, God had a treat in store for me.  Passing through, I saw a man digging through the garbage. He had a large clear garbage bag about 1/3 of the way full of cans, clearly for recycling. I thought nothing of the all too ordinary scene but then I saw it.  The man’s eyes got big, out of the trash he pulled a 1 gallon plastic ice cream container. By the look in his eyes I could tell he hit the jackpot. I was very curious what he would make out of this gem that he had discovered.  What was it about this piece of garbage that made this man’s day?  Then the man looked at the lid, took it off and then started to lick the left over ice cream off of the lid and out of the container.  He was in paradise!  I almost stopped dead in my tracks.  I wished I had the words to say to him, to ask him about his life possibly take him to a store and buy him an ice cream cone or breakfast. 

That scene shook me to the core.  I very literally had goose bumps and I almost started to cry.  This stranger’s day was made by somebody’s left over ice cream.  A few minutes later I was telling some friends at school about it and I almost started to cry.  God put every thing back in perspective for me today.  I went to class and fumbled my way through a presentation about the history of the radio. I got all my numbers wrong, my tenses were all over the place and it was a disaster.  That is normally very VERY frustrating for me. Then I went to my next class where I had a grammar test.  I am pretty sure that I mixed up all sorts of conjugations and participles and future tenses but I was rattled. Any other day I would have been very mad at myself, the truth is I probably would have pouted all day.  Not today- today God reminded me why I am here.  As much as I love my new friends I am not here for them.  I am here to learn Spanish so the next time I witness a similar scene I can talk to the man, pray with him, encourage him, help him as best as I can.  Instead of pouting about my bad day at school I have a new outlook, my vision and my purpose were re-aligned.  God gave me a tiny glimpse of why we are here and how we are going to be used.  Now I am more motivated than ever to learn how to help these beautiful people in Latin America.  Suddenly, it is not about me and my fears of saying goodbye to friends and moving to a town where I don’t know anybody, both of which will have happened for the 2nd time in 8 months.  Now I am ready to move.  I am ready to see how God is going to use us in His ministry.  I am ready to see how all of these long stressful days of class will be used by the Almighty, to be used to help advance His Kingdom.  The fire has been reignited in me all because of an seemingly empty tub of a ice cream and the treasure that it was to the man who found it.

 

Ezekial 16:49 ESV     “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Lyrics from Burning Clean by Stavesacre; 

“I want to be real again
I want You, Father, be real in me
And if I see you on the way down
I’ll lift your name up into His care
And if I see you headed down
I’ll do what I can to lift you up again

Burn us clean, refine this world away
Make Yourself real in me
Make us to live as You would”

My Forgotten Christmas

Hebrews 2:9 ESV - But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  

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Living in Costa Rica has had it’s challenges.  There is no denying that.  Through all of the challenges I have come up with various ways of dealing with them. Most challenges, I have tried to face head on. They are still works in progress. Some of the challenges I can do something about but they will take time.  I have tried very hard to address the difficulties that are a result of being out of my comfort zone and I think that I am doing a fairly good job at it but today I was convicted.  This morning God convicted me of the way that I was dealing with Christmas away from home.

 

Last year was my “year of lasts” and this year is my “year of firsts”, and with that comes my first Christmas away from home. Christmas here, at least now, seems so much more different than it does at home. We don’t have a wall full of Christmas cards like I am used to seeing, in fact we have only received one. We didn’t get to cut down our own tree then have hot chocolate while decorating it. I can’t get in my car and drive to the mall.  I can’t order any gifts online and have them shipped to my house.  I can take the bus to the mall but once I get there I can’t buy much because we don’t have a lot of money and things here are very expensive. I haven’t noticed any 30-50% off sales like at home.  Oh yeah, once I get to the mall everything is in a language that I do not know yet. I am learning Spanish but at this time I can barely get by. Christmas seems so out of place this year. I often find myself longing to be home with my family and my friends in the beautiful PNW, in my holiday comfort zone.  I decided to deal with the longing to be home during the holiday season by pretending that it wasn’t happening.  I can’t miss Christmas if Christmas doesn’t happen.

I have been ignoring Christmas.  I like to deal with things by joking so I would make comments about us having a white sand Christmas or the only white Christmas that I’ll have is my white legs.  While joking about it I would be longing for the cold rainy/snowy weather at home not that I like the weather but it sets the Christmas mood. This year I will not get to spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad and sister and nieces. All of the traditions with my family will not happen this year, you know, all of the stuff that makes Christmas Christmas.  As I was thinking about this God hit me on the side of the head.

How dare I try to make Christmas about me. How dare I make it about how comfortable I am.  How dare I make Christmas about my family.  Christmas is not about me.  How can I truly understand Christ’s sacrifice for us when I turned his birthday celebration into buying a shirt at Old Navy for my wife or barbies for my daughters.  Christmas isn’t about me.  I have missed the point for so many years.  If asked I would have told you that I knew what Christmas meant and I would have believed it.  It took God bringing me out of my holiday comfort zone to see how I have marginalized His son’s birth.  

Imagine how Jesus felt. He went from his home in Heaven, perfect Heaven, to life on sinful earth where his whole purpose was to die a brutal death on a cross for us.  Jesus probably missed his home but He was sent to earth for a purpose and that purpose was to die for me.  Easter is the true meaning of Christmas.  While I was trying to ignore Christmas this year because I was not able to have a comfortable season I forgot what it truly means.  Jesus was born in a manger. I am willing to bet that it wasn’t anywhere near as pretty as the nativity scenes that we see. It was a manger, a barn, a house for smelly animals that go to the bathroom where they please.  This is where the man who saved the world was born.

Jesus was born in a smelly, stinky barn in a smelly, stinky fallen world with the purpose of dying a criminal’s death to save me and you.  Take a few minutes and think about that. I am serious, take 5 minutes, go to a quiet room and think about what Jesus gave up.

I gave up a town named Lynden, and as much as people would like to think Lynden is Heaven, it is not. It’s a farm community and sometimes it smells. What do you do when it stinks? You close the windows to flee from the odor.  You don’t go towards stench to give birth. Let me say it again, Jesus was born in a smelly, stinky barn in a smelly, stinky, fallen world with the purpose of dying a criminal’s death to save me and you.  Really truly think about that.  Jesus would have been humbling himself if he was born in a palace because it still was not Heaven but he wasn’t. He was born in a place that most of us don’t even want to walk through.

Now that I have spent some time thinking about what Jesus really gave up for me I am ready for Christmas.  I am ready to deal with the fact that I am away from my home. I can accept that I won’t get to put on my heavy jacket and go for my Christmas morning walk along the bridge over the Fraser river with my whole family and the dogs. I am understanding that my sacrifice cannot even compare to the sacrifice that Jesus made by coming to earth.  I may not be with the McBride family this year but I have great comfort knowing that we are all celebrating the the same thing. We are thousands of miles apart and we will be in worship together. We will be celebrating the birth of the greatest gift ever. The gift that came down to us and was born in a smelly barn in a fallen world.

 

Hebrews 1:3 ESV – He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  

Lakeside Grace

This is my first ever short story. I wrote it for a creative Christian writing class that I took in January of 2013.  It is more of an Easter story but Christ’s death and resurrection was the reason for His birth and it has been put on my heart to share it in this Christmas season.  Thanks for reading it.

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 Lakeside Grace

 

 

“I can’t believe we just did that!” Shouted Jordan.

 

 “That was the coolest thing that I have done, EVER. What in the world got in to you?” chirped an excited Pete.

 

“I don’t know,“ said Jordan, “We were just sitting down listening to him speak and I had this really strong feeling that we were supposed to go to him.  It was SO COOL, especially when those guys tried to stop us.” 

 

“No kidding.” interrupted Pete, “What was it that he said when those guys tried to stop us?”

 

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Grumped in Matt “That is what he said, it’s like he thinks that he is God or something. What a nutcase.”

 

“Matt,” exclaimed Pete, “you totally should have come with us! It was epic! I have never felt such an incredible hug in my life. It was the greatest love that I have ever felt, the way he held us in his arms… it was just…oh man, …you should have come with us Matt.”

 

“No way, you saw my dad standing over there with his friends. He would have killed me if I went up there. Besides, my dad knows the law and he teaches me the law, and that guy up there is crazy-he’s a lunatic.” 

 

“I don’t know, Matt. He sure speaks like he has authority. We have all been around the synagogues but I have never heard anybody speak like that before!,” exclaimed Jordan.

 

The three of them were inseparable. They had been best friends since they were three years old. It was not at all uncommon for them to hang out, play and talk until late into the evening.  After spending several hours reliving the day they decided to go home and sleep.   Pete and Jordan were still glowing with enthusiasm after getting to meet Jesus. 

 

 Matt, on the other hand was half playfully making fun of them. “Come on“, he would say, “you can’t really believe all of that nonsense that he was saying.  And what did he mean about being delivered to the chief priests? I hope he gets delivered to them, my dad will lock him up for good.”

 

Exhausted from the long day and feeling compassionate, Jordan sighed “Oh Matt, you should have come with us. I don’t care who your dad is and neither would you if you could have felt the intense power that was in the hug. I am forever changed!” 

 

“See you guys later…I am going to bed” yawned a drowsy Pete.

 

“Good night” replied Matt and Jordan as they too headed to their homes to get some much needed shut-eye.

 

The three friends never forgot that day.  Jordan and Pete glowed with excitement whenever they talked about it.  Matt however, didn’t really care other than it was the day that his best friends’ lives changed.  He still thought Jesus was crazy.  The truth is, Matt’s father hated Jesus and wanted him dead.  Matt couldn’t understand how his dad, who loved him so much, could hate Jesus so much. Nor could he understand how his friends never stopped talking about that hug.  How could they worship this outrageous man and call him the Messiah?

 

Matt walked down the trail to the lake and saw Pete and Jordan crying intensely and hugging.

 

“What’s wrong guys?” He queried. 

 

Using all the strength he could muster, Jordan yelled “Your dad and his friends had Jesus killed.” 

 

Matt’s heart instantly turned hard. “So?” he scoffed at them “He was just a bum. What’s the big deal? You met him once, three years ago, and now you are crying as if your dad died.”

 

Jordan pummeled Matt with rage.

 

“How dare you say that about Jesus!” he shouted “He is the Messiah and YOUR dad crucified him!”

 

Pete restrained Jordan from throwing more punches while Matt got up and brushed the dust off of his clothes.

 

“I am sorry he hit you” Pete cried “but I don’t think you know what you are saying.”

 

“Whatever” said Matt as he glared at Jordan, “I can’t believe you would hit me.  I hope that lunatic is worth losing our friendship over.“

 

“I’m out of here” Matt shouted over his shoulder and ran back up the trail.

 

For the next several weeks Matt stayed away from Pete and Jordan. He would often go to the lake by himself to blow off steam.  He found skipping rocks helped him calm down and relax. He was furious that Pete and Jordan believed Jesus was the messiah and always called him God.

 

 “God wouldn‘t have died“ he would yell out when he was alone at the lake.  “How can anybody believe in that nonsense?”   

 

Despite his anger, Matt often thought about Pete and Jordan’s claim that Jesus rose from the dead. “What a bunch of garbage.  Nobody comes back from the dead. I saw Jesus”, he snarled “He was just like every other wing nut.” 

 

Pete and Jordan often pursued Matt but it was a one way street.  Matt made sure to keep his distance.  Pete and Jordan missed their best friend and once stopped him long enough for Jordan to apologize for hitting him but Matt just mocked them and their faith.

 

 With broken hearts,  Pete and Jordan went up the hill to the spot where they felt Jesus’ arms wrapped around them. They basked in the memories of Jesus and knew Jesus was the Christ. They wholeheartedly believed Jesus was the promised Messiah.  The two friends would also take time to pray for their friend who they dearly missed.

 

“Heavenly Father, we know that you sent Jesus to die for our sins and we are so thankful for your grace and for your son’s willingness to go to the cross for us, to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. We love you and worship you. Today we come before you asking for you to soften Matt’s heart, please God, help Matt to see the light, help him to know that you love him and will forgive him if he asks.  God we are begging, please return our friend to us. We know that through you all things are possible and we know that you hear the desires of our hearts.   In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.”

 

Another week went by and Matt’s attitude had not changed at all but the prayer for him continued. One day while he was headed down to the lake he saw Pete and Jordan.

 

 “Hey Matt, we miss you. Come hang out with us up on the hill” called Jordan.

 

“I don’t go to the hill anymore.  Why bother. You just want to relive that dumb fairy tale.“ snarled Matt “…no thanks. I’ll be just fine staying away from that place.”

 

Matt put his head down and continued on his way down the trail to the lake.

 

Once Matt got to the lake he began his routine of searching for perfect skipping stones and griping about Jesus.  Matt yelled and blamed him for ruining his life and for brainwashing his friends.  While he was yelling and spitting out insults he suddenly heard a voice come from off in the distance.

 

 “Who are you yelling at?” 

 

Startled, Matt flinched and jumped around. He saw a stranger a little ways down the shoreline. “Mind your own business” barked Matt.

 

Ignoring Matt’s rude tone the stranger walked toward him. The whole time he too was searching for perfect skipping stones to toss out into the lake. 

 

“What are you doing? Can’t you tell I don’t want you here?”  Matt was clearly not happy about this man walking towards him.

 

“Why are you so angry? Why are you yelling at Jesus? Is he here?”

 

“No, he’s dead.”

 

“Are you sure?” questioned the stranger. “Why are you so mad at him anyway?”

 

Full of angst Matt growled “He ruined my life. That lunatic hugged my two best friends and now that’s all they talk about.  They say his hug was love-filled, they say that he rose from the dead. They even claim that people have seen him since he supposedly rose from the dead.  They say that he took the sins of the world to the cross, whatever that means, but I know that NO MAN rises from the dead.”

 

Matt paused to pick up his first stone, a near perfect skipping stone, and gently lobbed it into the lake.  As angry as he was he had to smile because he just set a personal record -17 skips.

 

The stranger also smiled at Matt’s beautiful throw. “Excellent Skip!” He exclaimed.

 

“Thanks.” Matt began to feel lighter; different than he had ever felt before. The Stranger was only a few feet away now.  Matt eyed another nearly flawless skipping stone. He picked it up and again, effortlessly chucked it into the lake…19 skips this time.

 

“Wow! Did you see that? That was my best skip ever?”

 

“I know.” said the stranger. “That was a great throw.”

 

“What are you doing down here?” asked a puzzled Matt.

 

Skipping his stone the Stranger said, ”I am here to meet someone who I dearly love.”

 

Matt did not really hear the man’s answer, he was too in awe of the strangers skip. “40 skips!.. WOW! That was awesome!”

 

“Thank you.” smiled the stranger, “Do you come down to the lake often?”

 

“Yes I do.  It’s how I try to relax. I have been so mad lately.  You know what,” vented Matt, “I would like to experience what my friends did. I would like to feel God’s hug but I want to feel it from the real God not the guy they saw. Besides Jesus was crucified. And like I said already, NO MAN rises from the dead.” The whole time Matt said this he was looking for another stone to skip.

 

Suddenly Matt felt overwhelmed with love. It was the most perfect love that he had ever felt.

 

As Matt was having this thought he realized that the stranger was standing right beside him and he had his left arm around Matt then reaching over with his right hand he put the third stone, a perfect stone, in Matt’s hand. Just as Matt took the stone he noticed the scar on both sides of the stranger’s hand, he quickly glanced at the stranger’s feet and noticed scars there as well.  He started to cry tears of embarrassment and remorse.  Through the tears he managed to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I know that you are Jesus, the son of God”

 

Jesus hugged him even tighter and said “You are forgiven and I will see you again soon.”  Then Jesus disappeared.

 

Matt stood quietly by himself staring at this perfect shaped rock. As he was looking at it, he noticed two marks, one on each side of the rock both exactly in the center.  Right then he knew that this third stone was to be kept as a reminder of the grace that he received at the lake.

 

 

 

The end.

 

STOP, DROP & PRAY

Sometimes life is hard.  I am now about 9 days removed from one of the worst days of my life.  It was more than I could handle.  I truly thought that I was losing my mind.  I know, I know, people love to say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. I don’t really know what that means but I can assure you that last week was more than I could handle.  It didn’t kill me but in the moment I wished that it would have. It would have been way easier.  No, I am not suicidal. No, I did not contemplate suicide.  I did ask God why he wouldn’t just take me home now. That would have been easy.  Instead I heard nothing.  No still small voice. No phone call from an old friend asking how I was doing.  No surprise email stating that they felt an overwhelming urge to pray for me and they wanted to see how I was doing.  None of that happened. Instead I was left alone to “Deal with it.”

For those of you who do not know, I am currently at language school in Costa Rica.  I am learning Spanish so I can become a full-time missionary in a Spanish-speaking country.  I love Latin America.  Last Tuesday I was studying Spanish and I could not understand the grammar that I was studying.  It started out well then I got stumped.  At first it was just a learning issue.   Time would help me to understand Spanish verbs.  Then it turned into more. Then The devil had just found his new punching bag. Lucky me.

The next thing I knew I was ready to break something. I wanted to rip my shirt off but unfortunately or fortunately I only brought 6 t-shirts with me and I could not afford to lose one. I wanted to punch a wall or kick a dog or throw stuff.  My struggles with Spanish went from “this is hard”  to “oh my  goodness the devil is beating the living crap out of me”.  Insecurities that I “conquered” 18 years ago came back at me with a vengeance.  O yeah, and they brought all their friends this time.  I have had bad days before.  I have experienced demonic attacks before.  I have seen, heard, and felt the voice of God before.  I was not ready for this.  I was a sobbing little baby. I was a wreck. I snapped at my daughter and that brought a whole new round of attacks.  “You are a lousy Dad?” “What kind of A-hole tells his 6-year-old daughter to shut up?”  “You should just leave now?”  “How can you be a Christian when you are like this?” “Where is your God now?” I got to hear all of that and more.  It went on and on and on for about… an eternity (6 hours). It was brutal.  My wife must have thought that I was losing my mind – I sure thought so.

I did not know what to do.  I prayed, I cried, I studied more. I went and played basketball for a while and sprained my finger. I wanted to get in my car and go for a long drive and chain smoke but I don’t have a car and I don’t smoke.  I woke up the next morning and I was sore. Yes, I was physically sore. I was emotionally sore.  I had been ran over and over and over again the previous day.  I was ready to buy a plane ticket home.  I told my wife that I wanted to be a missionary in an English speaking country. I told her how stupid I was and how I must have something wrong with me if I can’t handle the homework in beginner Spanish.  After talking to a couple friends about it I realized that I am not an idiot.  Just the opposite in fact.  I am training to be a missionary.  Once I learn Spanish I will be able to share the Gospel with many more people.  The devil does not want me to learn Spanish.

We probably all know about the devil who is roaring like a lion waiting to devour us.  I was devoured that night.  I was left alone. I let my guard down and I was mauled, chewed up and crapped out.  Looking back, I am thankful that it all happened. Now I know what I need to do.  I know why it happened.

I am one of those guys who thinks that I can do everything on my own.  I don’t like to ask for help- I want it to be offered. The devil knows that and he was letting me know that he knew that.  God knows that and I believe he was allowing this to happen to teach me to get off my high horse.  I should have immediately called my friends and said “Let’s pray.”  I should have said to my wife “Please come with me, Let’s pray.”  When I was playing basketball and was asked how things were i should have said “I feel like my life is in ruins right now and I cannot handle it.  Will you please pray with me?” Any one of those would have been better than trying to be “a man” and handle it on my own.

I learned lots of things through this experience. I am always learning to constantly rely on God for strength and power.  What started as struggle studying for a Spanish test ended with me getting 80% on the test.  The night ended with me apologizing to my daughter. I laid on her bed beside her, bawling my eyes out. Finally she said “Dad, you are getting my pillow all wet.” Then she told me that she loved me.  I went to bed, exhausted and broken, put on my headphones and listened to Demon Hunter‘s Storm the Gates of Hell album until I fell asleep.

 Lessons learned

  1. I am not in this battle alone, I have friends who love me
  2. My wife is my best friend and I can count on her to pray me through battles
  3. Do daily devotions, be prepared, put on the full armor of God
  4. Recognize the signs and pray – a Spanish test (nothing) is not more important than prayer
  5. God is bigger, rely on him wholly
  6. Control your tongue, don’t snap at your kids

I want to serve God more than anything else in this world.  I want God to use me in the biggest ways possible. I want to conquer the world for Jesus Christ. But if that is going to happen I had better be ready for the attacks.  I had better know how to recognize them when they are starting. I had better surround myself with people who will pray for me and use them when it is needed.  It goes to show you that life is not easy when you choose to be a follower of Christ.  Life is better but not easier.

Ephesians 6 10-13 esv  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Caleb McBride

 

Our Journey Begins

We made it.  Hannah, the girls and and I have finally made it to San Jose, Costa Rica. In some ways it seems like the journey is just beginning. In other ways it feels like it has been on going for many years.  The actual working towards our move was about 2 1/2 years in the making.  The getting prepared was a lifetime in the making.  

When Hannah and I were dating we discussed the possibility of someday becoming full-time missionaries.  We knew that someday we would move somewhere in the world to share the Gospel of Jesus.  We also knew that we have plenty of training that could help people out with basic life skills.  I am a plumber and Hannah a dental assistant. We felt that we had lots to offer, contrary to what some people have told us.  More importantly we were willing to go. We were seeking God and being obedient to his call.

A few years ago,  when we first were considering full-time missions, we had lots of earthly obstacles.  We had just built our dream house. It had a nice big back yard with an amazing view.  We built it thinking that we would live there forever (In retrospect, I think we were being defiant). It had a big mortgage, I had a good job. We had 2 dogs and nice truck and a nice car. We had it all. Something wasn’t right. I was supposed to be happy but my life still seemed a little off.  The construction market was up and down and that contributed to some of the “off feelings” but I knew that it was something deeper than that.  God was leading me just like he had been leading me all along.  The difference was this time I was pursuing, not running from God.   

After lots of prayer we decided to sell the house. We talked to the mission director at our home church and asked when the next trip to Honduras was.  We were told we could plan our own mission trip as a family and go, so we did.  We left on the last Friday in August, 2011. We signed the closing papers on our house the morning that we flew out to Honduras. We flew home on a Sunday and had to be out of the house by Friday night. Life has been a whirlwind since we decided to pursue this calling.  We were in a rental house for 2 years before moving to Costa Rica.  We had several fundraisers, which went really well (although we are still in need of monthly support but that is part of living in faith).  We took a missions class called “Perspectives” that was 3 hours a week with about 5 hours of homework per week.  When things just seemed to slow down I got put on a construction job that was about 2 hours away from my house.  Life was very busy. We had to get rid of our dogs, our stuff, find places to store some things that we are keeping, We had to say “see you later” to some people and “goodbye” to others. Then we had to get our life into 8-50 lb checked bags and 8 carry-ons. Now we are in Costa Rica. I am a day away from starting language school.  I haven’t been to school for 18 years or so and I was never very good at it.  Imagine getting your life into what you can carry then moving to place where you don’t really know anybody and you don’t speak the language. It can seem a little overwhelming.

 Like every major decision that people make, we have had our “great” days and our “what are we doing” days.  We have learned a lot about ourselves in this journey.  God has taught us even more.  I am one of those people who always wants a sign from God. I want to be sure that I am doing the right thing.  One day while praying and asking for a sign I heard a voice. It was as clear as day and HE whispered to me “How can I teach you faith if I have to keep giving you signs.”  Okay God, I get it. I am slow, very slow but I get it. I will pursue this missionary life.  I will be ready for the detractors because my faith is not in people (If you are like me and your love language is “words of affirmation” then you will understand how hard this can be for me ).  I am ready for the difficult times because they will come, the proof is in the Bible.  I am ready to be used mightily and I trust it will happen. I pray I will be humble and Christ-seeking through it all. I am thankful that God has brought us here and I can’t wait to see what is next.

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                Hannah and the girls at our new home while we are at language school.

Lessons from the Sixth Grade

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The other night we had a fundraiser. We thought it would be fun to have the improv comedy group The Panic Squad perform. Our thoughts were confirmed, and the night was a big success. Everybody seemed to have a wonderful, laughter-filled evening. Before the intermission, the M.C. interviewed us about our plans to move to Honduras. The questions were great. I felt like my answers were not. I was very distracted by my daughter who, as I was holding her during the interview, whispered to me “I have to go poop.” Between trying not to laugh, praying for her to not have a bathroom tantrum, or an accident, I had a very difficult time concentrating on the interview after that. I felt very discouraged at the conclusion of it. Such a great turnout for the event and I tanked the interview.

As I was making my rounds during the intermission, talking to people about the night and our Honduras plans, I had the great pleasure of meeting many people for the first time. One person stuck out above all of the other people though. His name is Derrick and he is in 6th grade. He was with his parents and they were urging him to say something to me. With the help of his mom and dad he gave me $10 towards our mission. His mom told me that it he was so moved by what we said about Honduras that he wanted to donate his $10. She made a point of letting me know that Derrick wanted to give us the money, his own money. Not money from his parents to give to us like I give my girls to give to their Sunday school class. It was his money. I can assume by the way that Derrick’s parents were talking to me that he did not have a giant savings account. He probably had to do a lot of chores for his allowance and being the age that he is he was probably saving for a video game or a skateboard or any other number of things. Instead, he chose to donate the money to us. I was humbled to say the least. Truthfully, I do not even want to use the $10 bill from Derrick. I would rather pin it up on the wall as a constant reminder, from God through Derrick to me, to keep my heart in the right place but I feel that it would be a disservice to Derrick’s willing heart.

God showed me some important things in that conversation.
1- God can use me even when I “tank” an interview;
2- No donation is too small to make a difference;
3- I want a heart like Derrick’s.

He was so happy and nervous to meet me and donate his money to us. While talking to Derrick and his parents I could not help but think about the widow’s offering in Mark 12. It is the story of Jesus watching people put their money into an offering box. Mark 12:41 says that “many rich people put in large sums” then along comes a poor widow and she puts in two small coins that equaled a penny. After seeing this, Jesus called over his disciples and had this to say to them “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering . For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Derrick’s offering seemed to equal the widow’s offering. He gave all that he had and he did it with a smile on his face.

God really taught me a lesson that night. We are leaving to go on the mission field and I know that in many people’s minds we are giving up everything that we have. I also know that there are some things that I am not giving up and to be perfectly honest I don’t want to. Some things I have to give up, like my dogs – I cannot take them with me. As much as I would love to, I cannot. So, I am giving them up, not really willingly, but more out of circumstances. Some things I am not giving up because I don’t have to…yet. Thanks to technology I can take my entire music collection in a hard drive rather than having to bring (or leave behind) boxes of music. I can bring books on my tablet and not need to ship a small library. I will still be able to connect with my family and friends via Facebook, Instagram and Skype. I will be able to use those on my tablet, my computer or my smartphone. Now that brings me to this… will I be as willing to give up my electronics for the work of God as Derrick was willing to give up his money for the work of God?

It has been 3 days now and that question is still haunting me. To quote Kip Dynamite “I love technology…” I really do. I enjoy having access to everything at the tip of my fingers. I love to read the news on my phone during my lunch break, I love to text my wife during the day, I hate to love the Facebook. I like having Google voice so I can call my parents and sister without paying long distance fees. Do I enjoy these things too much? Am I really willing to sell everything and give it all to the poor or just give up most things? Am I putting electronics before God?

I pray when God asks me to give up these things I will be obedient. I say “when” because I will not have full access to all of these things in the near future. I say “when” because I have noticed in my life when I really love material things God has had a way of taking them from me. Another of my prayers is for God to help me finish the Kip Dynamite quote as a song to Jesus “I love technology but not as much as You, you see.” I pray that God will give me the heart of Derrick, my new hero.

 

-Caleb-

Boring the World One Blog at a Time

I recently took a writing class at my church and I discovered a new passion.  I decided to start a blog and now I can bore the entire world with my thoughts, if they choose to read it.  Seriously though, I am going to blog about life, my perspective on the world, my adventures of moving my family to Central America and whatever else is put on my heart to write about.  Mostly things that probably won’t make the cut  for our mcbridemissions.com blog page.  So if you feel like following me along on this journey please do.  Hopefully we will laugh together, cry together, grow together, be bored together, learn together and a list of other “togethers” One thing for sure is that I will probably put my foot in my mouth and that is sure to make my “misery loves company” friends very happy.

Good night,

Caleb