I often wondered how missionaries in the past, and their families, dealt with the separation that inevitably happens, not only due to distance but to a way of life that is entirely foreign. I am not actually speaking of the lives of those they come to serve, but the lives of the missionaries themselves. While up one night and hoping for an email I started reading update letters online from those with whom Young Man is currently serving. Such vivid pictures are painted with each sentence that you read. You see the want and need of the nationals, and you see the ache of the missionaries as they try their best to do the Lord's bidding.
I was speaking with a friend and former missionary who said, "You have to realize it's 24/7 while you're in the field. There's not really any time off." She also mentioned that she hoped he would experience some things that weren't so ideal. In other words, she wants him to understand the reality of it all.
Email makes these differences seem small. Short clips on TV make it seem as if the problems may simply be solved by tossing money to those in need. But, it's really not that simple. And, although Young Man has been able email to us and we can hear from him frequently, we are not there to see his face as he lands in Africa for the first time. We are not there to share his excitement and perhaps a bit of fear as he flies in the mountains for the first time. Nor are we there to watch the concern grow as the expected emergency patient they flew to transport never arrived. These are all things that he hints at in his letters, but we still can't understand.
However, I am thankful for the glimpses he gives us, his family and friends, of what he is doing to serve the Lord in Lesotho. I am thankful also for the few conversations we had before he left about why he was choosing MAF, at least at this time. These are all his thoughts from the other side of the world.
On May 28 we received our first email from him after his departure on May 24. This is what he had to say:
Hey Mom and Dad,Just wanted to let you know that I got here safely. I have already been able to fly once, watch one of the guys putting the wheel assemblies for one of the planes (which is undergoing routine maintenance) back together, help out with an oil change/filter change/air duct replacement/cowl resetting, we have started a project making a couple of metal step stools out of square metal tubing, and we have started on a project to pave the fuel pump area. We have dug and leveled and tomorrow we will begin setting the pavers. So far the food has been great and I've had no illness. Our first day we had steak and papa (a corn-based food similar in appearance to mashed potatoes but firm enough to eat with fingers) for lunch, and for dinner we went to Melvin's house and had a beef stew on rice and some cole-slaw. After that I enjoyed Ice cream at the Clark house, which is where I am staying, with Roger, his wife, and three children. The second day we had dinner at Mike's house, which consisted of roast, mashed potatoes, and a mix of carrots and onions cooked together. Afterwards we played Settlers of Catan. Tonight I ate at the Clark house (each one of us ate at the house where we are staying), it was taco night and dessertShortly after he wrote that I found the email address to the family with whom he is staying. I wrote them and then asked them to give him a hug for me. He sent back the following email , joking about my lack of reply to him directly... funny boy. oh yeah..
was M&Ms, which they appreciate very much,along with the chocolate chips, and Parmesan cheese,which the kids refer to as "shaky cheese". I have learned a few words in Sesotho, and am able to greet people now. The weather isn't too chilly except at night, and although it has been dry so almost everything is brown, the mountains and landscape here are beautiful. I wish you guys had seen one of the runways we landed/took off of. At the end of the runway is a very large drop, so the plane doesn't climb so much as the ground just drops out beneath you. I had forgotten my camera that day, so no pictures of it, but we may end up there again. We'll see. I'll try to e-mail you again at some point,
depending on my schedule.Love,...
I don't get a reply? :(We finished the pavers today and it looks great. One of the nationals who sometimes comes around the hangar helped us. He says some pretty interesting things. He says his name is Charles, but I'm not sure, due to some other things he says as well. Some guys at the hangar said he was walking around one day telling everyone that the airstrip was his and he had been there 900 years. He also told us that he was in the Royal Air Force and flew a Spitfire (a WWII propeller plane). Anyway, we got to talk with him and he helped us digging and finishing up some of our work around the pump. He was constantly singing "Play us some music, play us some R&B." and some other various snippets of songs. He's a pretty funny guy. We may have a chance to witness to him during some of our break time if he comes around again. I don't know what we're doing this weekend; we may be going on a hike and watching some of the guys fly their RC planes. Anyway, I may check my e-mail again in a day or two to see if I merit a reply. ;)Love,
And tonight we received this email. It may be his last while there. His scheduling and level of rest will decide that for him.
Hey mom,You can distribute this to the list if you would like.It's been great so far. On Saturday Justin and Amanda drove us students across the border to Ladybrand, South Africa, where we met up with Brian and Jason and his wife (whose name forget at the moment) and we then continued into the countryside, down some dirt roads, through some cow pastures, and finally arrived at a small cliff overlooking a field below. We made it safely, although there was one close call when we almost drove into a three foot deep hole hidden by brush, which Justin spotted just in time to warn Brian, who was driving. We hiked down to the cliff and had lunch, after which we flew some RC gliders which the guys had. One of them was missing winglets, and since we had forgotten cardboard for repairs, Brian and Justin wrapped tape around some crackers which we had brought, attached them to the wingtips, and were able to fly the glider in this manner. We then returned to Lesotho and ate at a place called Nando's, which serves various chicken dishes spiced with "Peri Peri" which is a hot
mountain pepper. We then returned to the Honakers where we competed on the wii
in tennis, bowling, boxing, and Mariokart. On Sunday, we visited the church which the Honakers, Hulls, and Clarks attend. It was amazing to see the energy and enthusiasm of the praise and the way in which the pastor spoke to the congregation. We met in a large tent and it was extremely cold. There were three space heaters along the center aisle, but only two worked, because one was out of fuel. After church, I returned to the Clarks' house to get ready for the "bry" (I'm not sure if that's how to spell it, but it's basically barbecue). We ate pork pencils, cheese grillers, pork wheels, and other various meats, along with chips, mashed potatoes, a coleslaw-like salad and some other foods. All the MAF Families and a few others attended. We played volleyball for a while before the students left to visit "Jewels of Hope", an organization which Barb helps to run, which is designed for kids who are living in broken or struggling homes, and who would have to leave school to support their families. They are divided into groups of twenty and are discipled as well as helped
financially. They are taught how to make jewelry and provided with materials. The jewelry is then distributed in various ways and the income returns to the kids. After this visit, we returned to the bry, which was winding down. A couple of families had left but several were still there. The kids (and some adults) were jumping on the trampoline and playing around for a while before we went inside and talked while the kids played Wii. After this, I returned to the Clarks' house for a dinner of popcorn, cheese, and apples while watching "Yours Mine and Ours". Today we extended the pavers by the fuel pump to make the area look more balanced, and then I was able to fly with Jason for a code 1 medical emergency. We arrived at the airstrip (which was at Mabetang Village if my memory serves me well) to find no one there. We climbed a short while up a hill which abuts the strip and looked down into the village below and saw no one except a few people carrying bundled wood on their heads into the village. We waited for around 50 minutes and no one came. So we are still not sure whether they were not ready or what had happened. We may find out soon if we are able to contact them again. Tomorrow Daniel and I will be flying to Bobete, where we
will spend a night at the clinic. We have been lent sleeping bags and have been warned to take extra warm clothing, since it gets even colder in the mountains then here in Maseru. I may e-mail one last time before I leave, but it will depend on time constraints and fatigue. Thank you all for your prayers!Love in Christ,
These are the thoughts of Young Man from the other side of the world. I am so grateful that we can remain in contact even though it is not the same as being nearby. I remember feeling this same feeling when Senior Son served in Rwanda for a few weeks. I wanted to be there to hear him, to love him, to pray for him and with him, but the truth is that as a mother I have to let go and this is what it looks like from this side of the world... love, joy, pride, peace, wonder, awe, thankfulness, surprise.
God is good. All the time.