Only Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written just a general “what’s going on in life” post, but I’ve written enough topic-specific posts about different things that I thought I should do a catch-all catch-up post.

My brother Jonathan came in fourth place in the election. He was only slightly behind the third place candidate, but both of them were well behind the two candidates who made it into the run-off. He had a pretty decent lead over the bottom four candidates, however. It was, of course, disappointing that things didn’t go better, but he did a good job making a name for himself, and he ran a respectable campaign. The other candidates took him seriously as a contender, and he received some notable endorsements. I don’t know what he has planned for the future, but I think he built up some political capital this summer should he choose to use it.

For the first time in months, we had to cancel an improv show Tuesday night, because only one person showed up. We told him he can use his ticket for a future show, and, as a bonus, used him as a test-market for trying out a new game that we’ll probably bring back out in a couple of weeks. I’ll be in a show tomorrow night at Kenny Mango’s Coffee Shop in Madison (Buy tickets here and save!) and will be playing in the show at Sam & Greg’s next Tuesday. Come check us out!

The mission trip to Costa Rica that I wrote about a while back has been indefinitely postponed.

The deadline for the shuttle book I’m co-authoring has been postponed, but not indefinitely.

I got my Arlo & Janis strip in the mail last week, and it’s awesome.

Heather’s NASA blog has finished its initial pilot phase, and, rather than going into normal operations, is instead going into a second pilot phase in which we test a version with even more awesomeness.

I’ve still only taken my kayak out once. Sad, really. Of course, the weather is getting to a point where it should be more agreeable to do so soon. Probably not this weekend, though.

I’ve worked at Marshall for eight years, as of a week ago today.

OK, I guess that’s enough.

On A Mission(?)

La Fortuna, Areanal Costa Rica

Image by Wha'ppen via Flickr

I may be going to Costa Rica.

Or, I may not.

I’ve mentioned once or twice on here that there’s been a chance that I would be participating in a mission trip to Costa Rica this year. I’ve held off from writing too much about it, waiting until I knew a little bit more before “formally announcing” it.

I thought that post would come today. I got my first contribution for the trip two weeks ago. I turned in my official paperwork on Friday. I was supposed to get the trip information to really begin fundraising yesterday. So today was going to be the blog post announcing that I’m going, and telling how people could give financial support.

This isn’t that post.

It’s been an interesting journey. As I’ve written before, I’ve never had a heart for missions, I’ve never felt like it was something I was gifted or called to do. But much earlier this year, I began to feel like maybe I was supposed to look into it. When I did, I was immediately presented with the opportunity for this trip, and felt like I was supposed to pursue it. And I did. All the while, not knowing exactly what it meant; whether I was really being called to go on a mission trip, or whether I was just being called to get over myself and be willing to go. As time went by, however, I gradually progressed from being willing to go to wanting to go. However, I maintained cautious optimism, expecting that it might not work out.

I guess late last week was the point where I finally let myself believe, hey, this might actually happen. Cool.

The mission trip would be in October, through Asbury Methodist Church in Madison. One of my concerns about missions is that my skill set and giftings really aren’t in the areas that one normally associates with missions. The idea of me trying to help build a church is rather frightening, and, to be perfectly honest, I’m lousy at evangelism. I have never really had a heart for it, and when I take spiritual gifts tests, I score remarkably low. Like, you-couldn’t-score-any-lower low. I’ve long felt bad about it, because evangelism is one of those things that a one-size-fits-all church teaches that everybody should do. It’s only been very lately that I’ve started growing into the idea that, you know, actually, that’s not the way God made me. And He probably knew what He was doing when He made that call.

This trip, however, is about helping a church down there develop and grow its singles ministry. Including but not limited to a divorce support ministry. And, yeah, you know, that sounds a little more “me.”

But yesterday … Well, I didn’t find out that the trip may not be happening. Right now, the possibilities on the table are a slight chance that only two people would go, and a somewhat greater chance that three of us would go and be down there for three days instead of six. And I’m not sure how interested I am in that latter possibility, which means there’s a possibility that it may not happen at all.

Right now, I’m taking it on faith. This entire time, I’ve not been focused on how this story ends, but just on doing what I feel like I’m supposed to do as it proceeds. From the outset, I was open to the possibility that God had plans for this story that didn’t include me going to Costa Rica, and I’m trying to stay open to that possibility even if I now really want to go.

In the meantime, prayer would be appreciated — that it works out as it should, and that I know what I’m supposed to do. (Yeah, yeah, I know the latter is really sufficient — He’s going to work it out the way He wants even if I don’t ask Him to, but it can be reassuring knowing people are praying that, you know?)

And the story continues …

The Ongoing Mission

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Foreign Missionairies.”

No neat tidy essay this week. This is a topic I’m very much in the process of rethinking, so I don’t have any real answers, just questions.

And, for the actual topic, “foreign missionaries,” I’m for ’em. I don’t even care if it’s talking missionaries to foreign countries, or missionaries who are themselves foreigners, I’m all for it.

But lately what I’ve been dealing with is less about career missionaries, and more about missions themselves. Not those who go do this for a living, but us ordinary schlubs who go on mission trips.

I’ve been on two mission trips, both in high school, both elsewhere in the states. One of those was part of something that happened while I was in Indianola that’s had a lasting impact on how I view missions. On my second mission trip, I went with my church from Huntsville to Jamestown, NY. While I was in Indianola, a church there hosted a mission trip from New York. Another church sent a mission team to central America. All we needed was for a central American team to send a mission team to Huntsville, and we could close the loop. But, really, why? Why was Indianola both sending and receiving missionaries? Why couldn’t the people in Indianola who wanted to do something help the people there who needed help? Why did they leave the country and leave their neighbors to seek help from the other side of the nation? And why did people in New York drive down to Mississippi, when their neighbors were having to get help from Alabamans?

I’m all for missions, but not at the neglect of taking care of your neighbors. Get your own house in order, then worry about other people.

So that’s been part of my approach to missions.

Another part of my thought process — I believe in missions. I believe it’s part of the mandate of the church. I don’t believe that it’s part of the mandate of every individual in the church. Some people will tell you that everybody needs to go on a mission trip, but I’m not sure that I buy it. We all have different roles. We all have different gifts. Anybody that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to anything raises red flags.

But, the counter-argument to that is that missions transcends that. Yes, everyone has different gifts and roles. But missions is not one of those roles, it’s an opportunity to manifest those gifts and roles. There’s a place for everyone to use what they bring to the table. Perhaps.

I’ve also had the debate about whether it should be a calling. I’ve leaned toward, you don’t go unless you personally are called to. A friend says you should go unless you personally are supposed to not. And there’s a debate about why you should go — some say it’s selfish to go for the experience, others say the experience should be the main thing you get out of it.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there’s a chance that I’ll be going on a mission trip to Costa Rica before the end of the year. So I may have to have answers to those issues that I can live with by then. I’m not really worrying about it; I don’t feel the need to have it all figured out, I just need to know what I’m supposed to do.