I'd nearly lost my voice, ached all over, and ran a low grade fever for two days prior. I'm not one prone to picking up colds, somehow this one pounced on me like ugly on an ape (and here's a picture to show how awful it was - well, if you could zoom in you'd see the big bags under my eyes).
He is a sustainer, allowing me to finish strong and well, rest in between speaking and counseling (at a distance), attend debrief meetings, and enjoy a few little touristy highlights (we visited a Viking Village, hiked through a fairy/elvin enchanted forest to magical waters, and toured a KGB museum).
(in the KBG museum - a direct line to Mother-Russia)
(in the enchanted forest at the magical waters...no elves or fairies showed their faces)
In the midst of it all, I missed writing a post for this blog....and recognized right off it was perfectly OK (first time in about four years, though)!
As I wander toward the finish line of my study on what it looks like to be "seated in Christ," it dawned on me that this past ten days of ministry, I found myself seated with royalty.
Not everyone gets to sit at a table with that much greatness!
I was honored.
Nearly 100 different royals...
Different background stories of how they came to be at my table...
Different cultures, languages, areas of service all tucked into their belts...
But only one passion!
The same passion!
We were all at the same table, because we all wanted to bring honor and glory to Jesus.
We all want to serve Him and make His name GREAT AMONG THE NATIONS!
Some came weary.
Some came ready to work.
(praying over a volunteer at our personal sanctuary time one evening)
Some brought the refreshing.
We shared stories.
We shared struggles.
(My dear friend, Melody, who serves in Estonia sharing her "donut moment" and how God met her right there at that retreat in a personal way)
And, once more, my mind time-traveled across years, states, countries, languages, traditions, jobs, financial stability to a land far-away, but near-and-dear to my heart.
I was reminded of how special it is to be called to God's work, God's way, where ever God leads.
These "go-ers" love what they get to do.
(Old town Tallinn in the square at night)
Like we did, they experience the thrill of being in the Lord's service, and the fears that come with living in some dangerous corners.
They enjoy the diversity of culture, but the isolation and homesickness away from family overwhelms at the most random of moments.
Sometimes they feel guilty for having such a dichotomy of feelings.
Sometimes, it's shame that sticks to them, because they don't feel they measure up to "trusting God and acknowledging Him in all their ways?"
When I flew out of Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport last Sunday, a seed lodged it's way into the soil of my heart.
I want to water it, tend it, and watch it grow.
That will take intention.
I'm no longer on the frontlines of M-work, serving the Lord globally.
(Each volunteer brought individuals gifts of things that attendees were in need of -- all of which were a huge blessing to these gals. One commented: "My mom died this year, and my dad forgot my birthday. This felt like a gift she would have sent me, and I took it as from her." Another said, "I've needed mascara for a long time. You know on the field it is the little things that really matter. I couldn't find affordable mascara. BUT RIGHT HERE IN THIS BAG, first thing I picked up.....MASCARA!" To these ROYALS, these gifts helped them know that they were seen, heard, and validated.)
When I'm back on US soil, it's easy to forget what it's like to be thousands of miles separated from all that is culturally normal, away from family, friends and the goings on back home.
Here in my busy-ness, it's so easy to give financially to our workers serving far away, and call it good.
In fact, it's so easy to text, or direct deposit, or Easy-Tithe straight into accounts that we don't even have to think about where the money is going that is sent out on a regular schedule.
Sure, our churches try to highlight each go-er on a random basis.
We get the newsletters in our email in boxes, or they come snail-mail to us.
(Truth is that between 32-40% of our donor list reads our email newsletters...and the reports from the field are that this is COMMON!)
We glance at the pictures, read the headlines, and toss them in the trash.
We forget we are seated at the same table, and we are all ROYALTY.
These global "go-ers" are seated with us, but they have become invisible.
This was the word that struck me most as I debriefed, counseled, chatted with, and talked over meals with our royals.
It was a recurring word.
Many feel INVISIBLE.
Distanced (this was another word).
(Gift giving to the ladies was a highlight for all!)
"Invisible" ranks high in worst feeling......EVER!
Back to the seed that was planted.
Instead of being invisible, I want my global workers to feel included, seen, heard, valued.
I want to be more deliberate with those we support financially.
It takes no time at all to shoot back an email response of two or three lines to let them know I do read, and will pray right now over what is happening in their neck of the world.
I can write snail mail notes. Maybe even put a small little something inside...
I remember the day I went to the mail box and picked up a letter with three sticks of gum in it (at the time we couldn't get gum). One stick was missing (stolen in customs), but those that remained were a treasure!
Another time, a friend read a note I'd sent saying how hard it was to get plastic storage bags - and the next month, she sent me two sandwich baggies that lasted my lifetime on the field.
Prayers. Handwritten, emailed, sent in a text, or on social media...
Quotes. I still have a quote someone wrote out in calligraphy and sent in the mail to me. It meant the world!
How easy to send some encouraging Bible Verse that has meant something to me of recent, and why.
A bi-weekly, or monthly, "here's what's happened at home while you've been away" - with all the little random, crazy, stuff I overlook, but will mean SO MUCH to someone who has missed it.
I have recently learned to "WhatsApp" messages with pictures; and even connect with those on social media.
(A note at the bottom of my cappuccino cup. How sweet. How NOT time consuming.)
How easy for me to stick gift cards to Amazon or I-Tunes or Netflix in the mail or better yet, send an e-certificate to them.
(Rum-roasted almond vender on street in Old City)
I want to do more...
...and, help the invisible become more visible.
Wondering today....are you seated at a table with royalty? What do you know about them? How can you move them from the invisible seat?