Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Two Days Alike

Recently we've had a couple of crazy weeks in our home with lots of unplanned events cropping up. While this isn't necessarily bad, it does make it difficult to carry out a normal schedule and accomplish those tasks that require blocks of uninterrupted time. Pedro commented the other day that "no two days are alike" and it has been especially challenging for him to work on his seminary module in the midst of it all. In light of this - and not for the first time - I began reflecting on the uniqueness of our lifestyle as church-planting missionaries.

There are pros and cons to almost everything in life, and in this our missionary experience is no different. On the "pro" side there is a certain element of flexibility to our schedule which can allow for both quantity and quality time as a family. I truly appreciate that. For instance, Pedro is able to go to his office in the morning, pick up the kids from school in the afternoon, eat lunch with the family and even stay awhile to help with homework if needed. Then he typically returns to work in the evening by way of individual Bible studies, visitation and/or scheduled meetings throughout the week. Sometimes he is home by bedtime and other times he is not, but what is important to me is that our kids see a lot of their Daddy every day. I know this is not always possible in every situation and may even change for us in the future as ministry responsibilities shift, but for now I am very grateful.

On the "con" side, as I mentioned our schedule is "flexible." That means if an emergency arises or something urgent needs to be done, we can't be rigid even if we really do have other important things to attend to. For instance, our church recently began a renovation project at the pastor's house next door (which will enable us to use their patio/driveway for a children's class as a temporary fix to our space limitations.) All of the pastors have been pitching in to get the project done this week, which has meant a morning or two less of study time for Pedro but will allow us to use the new space sooner than later.

Often, the changes in schedule simply revolve around people's needs and we constantly have to remind ourselves that ministry is all about people. For instance, not long ago Pedro "lost" a morning of studying because a new believer he was discipling had a conflict at home and needed someone to accompany him to try and work things out with his wife. Three times in the past week we've had unexpected visitors stop in at our home in the afternoon. Time and hospitality are benchmarks of Latin culture (as well as being Biblical) so it's necessary to slow down and converse in those moments to avoid being offensive to anyone. On one particular day the casual conversation moved quickly into some deep spiritual struggles and at that point I had to consciously make a mental decision that this was more important than the kids' homework even if it meant they never got it done that day.

Last night is another example of having to be flexible, as we diligently tried to get the kids to bed promptly in order to allow ourselves time to straighten up the house, buy some bread and cold cuts from the store next door, whip up a batch of cookies, and have a welcoming table prepared for the guests we were expecting at 9 p.m. By 10 p.m. they had still not arrived and shortly afterward they called to apologize because a scheduling conflict had make it impossible for them to come after all. But - they asked to meet the next day, same time, same place. So, we need to be prepared to do it all over again tonight.

By the way, did I mention we need to be flexible?? :)

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